My post yesterday on embracing pain left me thinking about how much fear a lot of us have about facing pain and the many ways in which fear can show up and cause problems on a spiritual journey. As always, in keeping this short I am not being exhaustive here so there will be more at some point.
In 27 years on the journey I’ve assisted some of my teachers in classes, taught a lot of classes and participated with a lot of people as a student in classes and I’ve encountered a lot of ways in which fear can impede a journey. Sometimes it’s fear that life will change and the change will be painful. I’ve seen a lot of people who talked about the new life or new career they wanted while clinging so hard to their current job or relationship or circumstances that there wasn’t room for something new. I think that’s fear that letting go will wind up hurting and the fear winds up trumping the longing for being new.
Another fear relates to our (American) societal tendency to feel that we should be happy all the time* and it translates in spiritual seeking to an expectation that all spiritual pursuits will lead only to serenity and bliss and, hopefully, nirvana. The thing is most spiritual practices contain the possibility of touching into some issue or emotion. I’ve long felt that all those deeply hidden issues and beliefs and traumas are really the main point of “detachment”. They’re the strings that keep us stuck in the past and in feeling separate from our divine natures.
I used to be one of the ones who resisted emotional work – my ego was so determined not to do it that for a long time I didn’t even realize I was resistant. I finally had to acknowledge that the main thing blocking my path to a new life was me and I dragged my heels all the way to the Fischer Hoffman process as facilitated by the late Ellen Margron (she’d been doing it for many years and had developed her own version which was quite different than the process as it’s currently done at the Hoffman Institute). It was hard for me but eventually I started releasing big time and that was when transformation began on so many levels.
Sometimes the journey demands facing painful truths or shaking up what has been familiar or comfortable. Sometimes a practice opens some deep pocket of grief or anger. A lot of people will give up a practice that ever makes them feel that way. Others will do the practice with such control that the possibility of release and freedom is squashed. Either way a great chance for getting free and moving closer to your essence is lost. I’ve come to love facing the fear and the more I do the more I realize that it often only takes a moment to face a tough issue and the result changes the rest of my life.
This post is for Jenny Matlock’s AlphabeThursday, which is “F” today.
* I have a theory that the “pursuit of happiness” has somehow become a belief that Americans have a right to be happy all the time, or think something is wrong if they’re not happy all the time.