“I dislike public places. I am afraid of the dark. I don’t like being around so~and~so. Empty parking lots make me nervous. I am claustrophobic. I wish I could start over again knowing what I know now, so that things would be different.”
All of these thoughts are fear~based, originating from an inside source that has nothing to do with the outside object. Without your thoughts you are neither afraid nor unhappy, phobic nor particular. Once you are ready to integrate silence into your daily practice, you realize that there is no situation in which you can’t thrive, no person you can’t be around, no dark corner you are afraid to venture into. Without your opinions of the past there is no regret.
Maybe you are someone like me, inable to hold focus for long increments of time. That doesn’t mean you can’t integrate silence in short bursts, which are the baby steps towards the quieting of thought that causes you to open up to all possibilities; charging out into the world unafraid, starting each moment as if it were the first, calm and prepared under any conditions. Silence allows you to sidestep long hours of wondering at the source of your fears and trying to piece the big picture puzzle together.
For most of my life I’ve been afraid of the dark, which is ironic considering that I wear black clothing almost unanimously, and listen to black metal music. By all accounts I should be comfortable with the darkness, but I’ve not been since I was young. I remember being about 13 years old and having nightly insomnia. Everyone else in the house would be asleep and I would be wide awake…and terrified. After the movie “Aliens” came out I would hear the skitter of a little face~sucking alien creature beneath my bed, but before that there were witch faces outside my window and things in the closet.
Even after I grew into an adult I couldn’t walk down a dark street alone without fearing for my life. I saw people who weren’t afraid of the dark and wondered at how to be like them. A dark room was okay, and even a dark walk in the woods with friends, but once I was alone I was being eaten by random coyotes or attacked by mountain lions in my mind, with no one to ever find my body.
Recently, due to a landslide epiphany, I was able to hold silence in my mind for over a week. One night I was laying in bed talking to my Other and suddenly realized I was no longer afraid of the dark. When silence is held in front of you like a lantern there is no road too dark to travel. Without my own thoughts there is nothing in the dark to harm me, and if there was my fear would most certainly keep me from taking the best route to avoid it. Within silence all answers are available.
I’ve always disliked shopping of any kind, to the point that I’ve avoided it at all costs. I’ve often pondered whether or not some childhood trauma took place in a grocery store that caused me to dislike it. It’s been a long lifetime of trying to force myself to get over it, chiding myself for not liking it and even bribing others to go for me. At the very most I would just force myself to go, knowing that I would dislike it the entire time.
None of that is real. It’s all resistance, even the trying to figure out where the strong emotion came from.
Give it a try, with any event or idea that is distasteful to you.
The next time you are going to have to be around someone with which you have an uncomfortable past, or someone that you don’t enjoy being around, try and hold the silence as you interact. Let thoughts of your past, or actions they have taken in the past which have made relations uncomfortable or unsavory, pass you by like passing through fog. As the thought creates itself with words you hear in your head that are explaining the circumstances, stories and rememberances, cut it off in mid~thought, going deaf to the remaining dialogue that would have followed. Keep dropping thoughts off in mid~stream as often as you think of it. Deal with the person as if you have no history, as if you have just met them for the first time. When they ask a question don’t allow yourself to wonder their intention behind it, simply answer the question as it is asked. Keep everything as simple as you can. Be in the moment, taking each second separately from the next. This is what it means to Be, existing in each moment without a past or future. What’s most amazing about this process is that it almost always causes a noticeable positive change in the person you are allowing to be just as they are.
Next time you are walking down a dark alley, imagine that you are a basket with a hole in it. Each time a fearful thought arises, let it drop through the hole onto the ground and leave it laying there alone as you walk away. You can do this any way you want. I like to breathe away the thought, focusing on my own breath and nothing else, allowing thoughts to pass on by without getting caught in their many dramas. This is difficult to accomplish with fear, because we think we need it to alert us to danger or to keep us sharp and on our toes. None of this is true.
It seems unrealistic that silence could be the antidote to fear or the answer to anything. We fear that without thoughts we won’t be prepared in case of emergency, we’ll miss out on opportunities or we’ll not say something we should have. This is all ego talking. In fact, the real you knows all the answers, feels when something isn’t right and responds to it appropriately. The real you always takes the high road and gives advice when it is wise to do so. The real you is clear and certain, and only ever speaks the truth.
Let yourself be the real you. Let go of your phobias and obsessive compulsions. Let go of all the painful bruises that you’ve associated with people and places in your world, so that you can go anywhere and be with anyone without pain or suffering. Find silence any chance you can, and do it as much as you remember to. Even if that’s once a week, it’s better than not having done it at all.
I, daughter of the Moone, can now walk beneath my Mother at night and have no fear. I can dance in the darkness, the blissful, solitary waltz of It and I. I can see the best in people and treat each the same. I can be a true friend because I don’t need them to be anything other than they are, because I am who I am.