Letting Go of Fear


I have no fear, I have no fear, I have no fear, I am fearless, I have run with the bulls, I have no fear, I have no fear…

Frankly, running with the bulls is beginning to look appealing at this moment.

My partner and I have now done 2 of the 8 practice groups on Letting Go of Fear at Cambridge Insight Meditation Center.  The first week, you needed to acknowledge 3 fears a day.  This week, you need to also track how you know you’re afraid–where does it show up in your body, actions, emotions, checking out, etc.

I have decided that watching 3 episodes of America’s Next Top Model in a row on my partner’s laptop probably needs to go on my list of checking out because of fear list.  Because why the hell else would I watch that stupid show?  Unless it was to validate how mean women can be to each other?

Then, of course, my partner and I had a fight.  I am morally bound not to say what jerky thing she did.  So I am not saying it.  Notice me being moral.  I cannot tell you how difficult this is because I think the whole world should be ON MY SIDE.  Of course, this is impossible, because my partner does her meek, I-am-an-angel routine and people are like, “Lyralen, clearly she doesn’t mean it.”  This makes me want to kill.

Then, my yoga group is in this place of not yet having defined itself and I am in a panic, because unsafe groups freak me out.  You know, when, in Buddhist terms, everyone acts unskillfully, at first without knowing it with all good intentions, and then, later, from a place of being triggered.  Some people would trust it would all work out, but I’m remembering the Unitarian women’s group and how, after the leader left, there was so much struggle for control.  The first time someone was mean to me, I quit the group.  And you know, I don’t think that was a mistake.  People continued to get their feelings hurt…and no one wanted that, but it happened anyhow.

Mostly, though, because I like to globalize, I comfort myself with thinking about delusion, disappointment and lies.  Outside of the obvious fears–death, violence, etc–I am most afraid of lies, particularly my own, but almost as much the lies of other people.  And I don’t lie, lie; I’m ridiculously honest.  But I have delusions, and like my angel of a partner, I project an image to color how people see me, and that, too is a lie.  Everything in Buddhism and Hindu/Yoga philosophy is about dukha (suffering) and its causes.  Avidya, translated as ignorance or misperception, is perhaps the greatest cause of suffering.

My current delusion:  that the yoga group will be different from every other group I’ve ever joined, and will be safe, non-harming, without back-biting, power struggles or judgment.  What I should know: every once in a while you get a group in which struggles are minimal and everyone grows, but you can’t ever tell ahead of time when that’s going to land.  What I know: the miracle groups like that are highly structured, usually ahead of time, to minimize group dynamics and struggles for leadership.  But then, that’s me wanting to control things to do what I know.  There are no guarantees what I know will work.  Or that what’s failed in the past will fail again.

My ongoing delusion: that my partner and I are truthful people.  I mean, COME ON!  We both come from families in which delusion, denial and image-projection reigned.  It’s impossible to avoid these things.  They are samskara, the patterns burned into our brains.  This is so DISAPPOINTING!

I found myself, this week, flashing on a memory of my parents coming to meet with the disciplinarian at my high school.  My father, Mr. Charismatic, turned on the charm.  He was seemingly cooperative, funny, warm, caring.  My mother sat silent in her chair, exuding rage and ice.  I watched them, furious, but tempted to be charmed by my father, even though we were all there because of him and only the disciplinarian didn’t know that.  I had a moment of empathy for my mother, because how could she ever compete with that charm?  He was good.  Really good acting ability.  It was a performance, and she knew it, but no one else would, and she knew that, too.  She used to complain about it to me, but I didn’t like her well enough to try to imagine her life.  The impossibility of telling the truth when his performance guaranteed no one would listen.  The suffering and silence and fear of judgment–and the judgment.  “Everyone likes him better,” she used to say.

I say that about my partner.  I say it as a joke, but this week, thinking about my mother, I realized it’s not really funny.

It’s like this–we’re in couples therapy.  (OMG, yes, this again.)  I’m sitting there, projecting strength, confidence, and an attitude of I-don’t-need-anyone.  This is a performance, of course, and the therapists all buy it.  My partner sits there projecting meekness, I-am-an-angel and if you help me that’s great.  This is also a performance.  Besides the fact that the couples’ therapists are all insane, the performances make it impossible for anyone to help us.  Because neither of us is telling the truth.  As afraid as I am to admit it (putting that on my homework sheet for the week), we’re actually in couples’ therapy because we need help.  And as for who wants the help and is willing to accept it–the performances would have to be dropped to find the truth about that.

And because I study Buddhism, I know that underneath that performance is another, and another, and eventually, hopefully, we stop trying to fix it by figuring it out and just sit with the fear, and the suffering, knowing these things are not who we are.

I’ve been doing that this morning.  Watching the fear and hurt in my body, knowing they are not me.  Watching the thoughts that arise, the self-doubting thoughts of fear:  Am I as crazy as my parents?  (Clearly, no, but I am like them and this is disturbing.)  Am I fated to live out their samskaras?  (Clearly yes, but samskaras can be avoided and eliminated.)  If I drop my performance, will I be safe?  (Jury still out on that one.)

I claim to be committed to the truth at all costs.  Then, the truth is that I lie, in my performances in life, in the stories I tell myself that are inaccurate.  In this, I am like every other human being, not worse or better.  And so, stripped of the latest layer of delusion, I sit, with truth as I can see it, just being aware.  And there is peace.

This blog comes with a warning–if you decide to take the Letting Go of Fear workshop to learn what you’re afraid of, or that you’re afraid, BEWARE!  You will get what you came for AND THEN SOME!

Of course, learning to find peace in the deeper samskara patterns creates new freedom.  Just don’t expect it to be a really fun ride.

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