The intention of spiritual practice is to move toward a continuous state of wholehearted involvement in life. One of the first things we notice when we orient toward a path of practice is the resistance blocking our path. When people describe resistance, they often talk about how they feel blocked, held back, or cut off from themselves. One way resistance manifests is clenching in the body; most notably in the stomach, neck and chest. This barrier of resistance is our bodies natural response to fear. When we feel threatened, our body restricts to defend and protect itself.
Fear is the reaction to potential suffering forecasted by our minds. Whether the fear is of death, being fired from our job, social rejection, or the loss of a relationship, it is never rooted in the present moment; it is always about that which does not yet exist. Because fear lives in our imagination, learning to ground our minds in the presence of the current moment, will naturally snuff it out. And so the first step to releasing fear, is to turn courageously towards it, as it is, in this moment.
When it comes to fear and life, we ultimately have one choice; do we want to turn towards it and deepen our involvement with what is truly here, or run from it? Many people, including myself when I started practicing, feel that turning towards and looking directly at the pain behind our own suffering will be too much to bear. That we simply can't handle the monster that we've spent so many years running from. And because of this fear of feeling overwhelmed, we often turn our attention elsewhere. in this moment of avoidance our attention shifts from the connected presence of this moment to a fear-based separate sense of self that lives in the past and the future. Essentially we move from living with life to living in thought. How amazing it is that this subtle shift from moment to mind, is the root cause of our suffering.
From this place of being cut-off from the security of eternal presence, we move directly back into our fear body, and because the fear body is painful, the search for relief begins. We search for just about anything that is intense enough to give us small pockets of temporary relief. Often this intensity is found in romantic relationships, movies or TV shows, drugs, sex, or work. There is nothing wrong with any of these things, they are just insufficient at replacing presence as the primary means of our happiness. This cycle of avoiding whats here to seek reassurance externally ruthlessly reinforces the grip of our suffering.
What we are truly seeking and failing to find externally is the deep, warm, and boundless intensity of the true nature that lies at our core. But to get there, we have to will the courage to stay in the pain of this present moment while driving our intention toward our deepest intuitive truth. On our intentional journey inward, we face and eventually pass through the surface bonds of fear and resistance toward the rich, secure, and ecstatic force of life... So it all comes down to a very simple question. Would you like to really live your life, or avoid it?