“What is the biggest thing that stops people from living their lives in the present moment? Fear—and we must learn how to overcome fear.”—Brian Weiss
Consider the last time you experienced a fearful thought or emotion? Think about the situation that caused you to experience this. Now, how did you feel twenty-four hours following the event? Were you still experiencing the emotions or did your attention move to something else? Fear is debilitating and can wreak havoc in our lives if we are unaware. In this period of uncertainty, fear is projected into our lives without our permission. The news and social media is filled with catastrophic events worldwide. Fear is sold to us on the premise we will tune in to the media networks that promote it and remain in a hypervigilant state. But as you know, this comes at a cost to our sanity and long-term health. Assuredly, we can find many situations to be concerned about in the world, yet when we buy into the narrative fear promotes, it steals away the richness of the present moment.
It is impossible to experience the aliveness of the present when we are caught in fearful thoughts. We are projected into the future and experience a cocktail of chemical reactions that cause stress to the body. However, we can learn to turn down the volume of fear by shifting our awareness to what is happening within us. By this I mean, finding practices that help us disassociate from fear. For example, I enjoy swimming and other forms of exercise. When I swim laps at my local pool, I don’t experience fearful thoughts and even in the ensuing hours, I am still on a high. This is also true of other hobbies such as being outdoors, reading and socializing with friends. I try to tune in to selective news reports to remain informed of current events within my region and globally. The internet is a wonderful medium that has brought freedom to our lives but limited us in the way we interact with it. Many people develop addictions to surfing the internet or scrolling through their phones. How about you? How do you interact with social media and the news? How do you respond to bad news? Do you feel sad or depressed? This is one effect of news addiction, it keeps us hooked like poker machines with their flashing lights and sounds. But we have a choice and can limit our exposure.
“Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry—all forms of fear—are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”—Eckhart Tolle
Fear steals away the wonderment of the present moment and offers little in return other than stress and disappointment. It is not a responsible giver but takes away our joy and well-being. If we subscribe to the narrative it promotes, we have no choice but to buy into its way of life. When we do, we are at its mercy because it has sold us a fictitious way of life-based on one aspect of reality. Life is not about fear and disasters because what we look for, we are certain to find. If we go looking for negativity and disappointment, we will find it standing on a street corner waving to get our attention. Though, if we look for joy, bliss, and happiness we must intentionally cultivate them and give them space to flourish. As mentioned earlier, we ought to find activities or hobbies away from technology that invigorates us. Constantly browsing the internet and playing violent video games are not forms of joy and happiness. They are escapism and addictions and we mustn’t convince ourselves we are having fun. Granted, if you are sixteen years old and wasting the afternoon after school before your homework that is a different story. Nevertheless, peruse activities that feed your soul and give you a sense of accomplishment and nurture feelings of love. Find something that contributes to your personal growth rather than stealing away time because you are bored.
Are you comfortable with the ideas expressed so far? Does it make sense that exposing yourself to fear diminishes your ability to enjoy the present moment since you are transfixed on what can go wrong? The future will take care of itself. There is nothing to do other than let go of disempowering thoughts and emotions, to enjoy the wonderment of the present moment. Considering this, give some thought to activities you could devote more attention to that nourishes your soul. What habits would you like to reduce or eliminate altogether? Is it screen time on your computer, TV or smart phone? If so, don’t download an app to reduce your screen time but make the intention to do so and follow through with it. After all, fear will prevent us from feeling the aliveness of the present moment as long as we create a home for it to flourish. We must let go of its negative state so emotions like love, joy, and happiness can fill the void.