This week I offered a talk on "Working with Fear" and next week a talk on "Working with Pain." Fear and Pain obviously are linked and the basic approach to working with them is to cultivate loving presence. We locate the unpleasant and explore what it is like to hold our experience in nonjudgemental awareness.
I wrote a 'dharma rap' song a number of years ago that kind of sums it up:
When we live in fear
We live in reaction
We don't live full
We live just a fraction
Of what is potential
Of what could be.
When you release your fear
Then the energy's free.
A little corny, but there you go.
When we're in fear, the amygdala lights up. This little strip in the brain gets activated and we move into the classic response of fight, flight or freeze.
What calms the amygdala?
Just turning your attention to the fear begins to calms the whole system. This, of course, is counter-intuitive. The last thing we want to do is to pause, feel and investigate discomfort.
This is what the Buddha talked about when he said engaging into these practices is like 'swimming upstream.' When we turn in to the discomfort we can start to calm the system and begin to cultivate a state conducive to insight and new possibilities.
I'll have the talk online soon.
In the meantime, in something barely related, here's a cool video called "I Can Soothe Your Pain." While the suggestion is the singer can do this for his love interest, ultimately we can do it for ourselves.
I think the video could qualify as a "Happy for No Reason" video because he obviously loses himself in a creative flow. Being that absorbed, it's hard to imagine him not feeling happy while he's cranking out this amazing tune.