A few nights ago I got sucked into the movie The Lovely Bones. I started watching and quickly realized that, as a movie about a girl who was brutally murdered and who watched and influenced her family from a gazebo purgatory, this was not a movie I should be watching before bed. But the craft of it was exquisite. The images were sumptuous and the performances were intimate and so heartfelt that I kept watching. I went to bed with a feeling of fear bubbling up inside me that I have not experienced in a long time. That fear was wrapped up in the image of the murderer of the movie. Needless to say, I did not sleep well!
So last night, before bed, I consulted the writings of Sally Kempton, who gives tools for dealing with the distraught mind with beautiful clarity. In her most recent article she discusses the senses and how the Tantrikas held that enlightenment was gained through the senses. When we experience delight from the senses, food, art, etc., we should focus on the sensations within us. Know those inner sensations to be the source of the pleasure we feel through the senses, not the stimuli that appear to create the sensations. We should wonder at the source of those inner sensations and we should think about from where they come and to where do they go?
I got to thinking whether that would work with any emotion and any sensory stimuli. Could my fear, in fact, become bliss if experienced as an unattached and impersonal creation based on stimuli. After a few moments of contemplation on the object of my fear (the image of the murderer), I found a burst of intensity of the fear in the form of a gripping in my belly, a tightening in my legs and hips and constriction of my breath. Knowing that I did not have anything to actually fear, I realized that fear was just a name that I associated with those particular sensations. What would happen if I gave it a different name? I smiled as my smart-ass mind thought of “Clyde” or “Felicity.” With that smile came a large dissipation of the fear; a spacious bubble wrap that surrounded the fear and escorted it out the door. When my ego did not have a name to attach to the sensation, it let go and fell back into waves of contentment.
I felt a beautiful moment of clarity. That success was due primarily to the fact that there was no real object worthy of my fear. After all, there are certainly very real things to fear in this world. But those things that should be feared will be there whether I fear them or not. So I aim to not be afraid and not to clench my belly and constrict my breath. I know that I will experience fear again, but I hope to remember that experience of impersonal Awareness which helped me find clarity.
Ultimately, it was simply a moment of practice. Practice for when I will truly need that skill such as in times of deep fear or sadness. Practice of remembering that my ability to surf the inner sensation waves is as real as the sensation waves themselves. Practice for remembering that connecting to that impersonal Awareness makes us stronger. A practice of remembering that we are more powerful than we know.
Thanks for reading!