Why do we do what we do?
More often than not, it is because we are scared. When I was young, my parents and my teachers made a big deal out of the importance of studying. “If you don’t study well, you will not get good marks. If you don’t get good marks, you won’t find a good job.”
Later, I encountered other fears too. What would my parents think of me if I did this thing or that thing? What would my friends think? I have to take care of my body otherwise I will be weak. If I don’t eat, I’ll become too thin. If I drive fast, I’ll have an accident. If I don’t drive fast, my friends will think I’m scared and they won’t like me.
The more I walked the path of Yoga, the more I realized how much control my fears exercised over me. They were inherently what made me reactive to life. They made me do contradictory things that made no sense. They were the primary cause of internal conflict and strife. And perhaps most importantly, they made my mind shallow. They incited me into looking for quick fixes for everything.
Whenever I realized that I feared something, my first reaction was to how to get rid of that fear. Except… the more I tried to get rid of those fears, the more they took hold. Every attempt at getting rid of those fears merely led to inventive ways of escaping the fear. And all the while, the fear became stronger and stronger.
Have you had a similar experience?
Fear is the greatest destructive energy present within us. I can’t recall ever taking a good decision while under the throes of fears. What helped me break free of the shackles of fear was the path of Yoga.
Here’s what I learnt during that path:
It isn’t about getting rid of fears. It isn’t about learning the cause of my fears. The key to conquering fear lies in observing the process of fear. Observing without analysing. Observing without judging.
Something magical happens when we observe without judgement. It is as if the chains that bind us simply melt away.
Here’s an exercise that I used to do:
Sit. Relax. Bring your attention to the space between two breaths: the pause between breathing-in and breathing-out, and the instance between breathing-out and breathing-in.
Now, pick an important decision that you made in the past week or month. Ask yourself, why you made that decision. Was the motivating factor a fear of any kind? Perhaps the fear of perception of others? Perhaps the fear of failure? Once you’ve reached the fear, don’t try and evade it. Look it straight in the eyes. Observe it. Observe what it makes you do. Don’t try and evade the fear. Don’t try and get rid of it. Just watch.