“Fear can only be experienced outside of the present moment. If we want to live without fear, then we must always be present…”
Where does Fear usually exist?
If we want to avoid fear, then we must first learn where it lives. In most cases, fear lives is in the future. People with anxiety disorders, which is the highest form of fear, are thinking about the future and all the things that could go wrong. We’ve all experienced this type of feeling at some point. In fact, it happens on a regular basis. Whenever we’re in a “hurry”, that is a fear-based thought about the future. We are afraid of being late for whatever reason. If we really think about it though, most of the time, we aren’t going to be late and if we are, it’s not a very big deal. Another example might be when we tell a child “don’t do that or you’ll get hurt”. This is a projection of fear about the future. In most cases, the child could continue doing whatever they’re doing with little or no consequence. But our fear about the worst-case-scenario compels us to tell them to stop.
Can Fear exist in the past?
In rare cases, we experience fear about the past. Typically when we fear the past, what we really fear is the future possibility of what happened in the past happening again. But, in some dramatic cases, people can actually fear their past. They can fear even thinking about it because it was so traumatic for them. This is rare but worth mentioning. More often than not, fixation with the past leads to depression vs. fear or anxiety.
Where you will not find Fear…
In the present moment, that pure and precious moment that keeps recycling itself over and over, there is no fear. None at all. There is no fear, no judgement, no anticipation, disappointment, none of that! All that exists in the present is just that…the present moment, which is a beautiful thing. Fear can never exist in the that moment. If fear surfaces, it can only be the result of an escape from the present to visit the future or past.
How do we experience the present moment?
We experience the present moment whenever we experience what’s called “timeless awareness”. For most of us, this happens when we’re doing something we really enjoy. It could be playing golf, painting, volunteering, building something, creating something, etc. Whenever time seems to just fly by, we experience an unbounded inner joy and our mind drops the worries and to-do’s floating around…that’s it. That’s textbook present moment awareness.
This can also occur in meditation. In meditation training, we learn to follow our breath as a way to connect with the present moment. If we start to pay attention to our breath, then our mind empties out all the other thoughts and begins to quieten. Its very powerful. Especially for those of us with a lot on our mind! Every meditation is about present moment awareness. You can experience it any time though, not just in meditation or performing your favorite activities. You can experience this feeling of unbounded joy all day long if you choose to do so.
How can we avoid thoughts about the past and the future?
We can’t. Not entirely. We still have a future to plan and we should always learn from our past. However, we can be present while thinking about the past and the future. For example, we can create our financial plan or retirement plan in the present moment. Planning for the future in the present is ok, but it’s a slippery slope, so be careful when walking on it. Our mind can more easily get lost in the future when we’re in that space. It’s literally just one thought away from fear arising in the form of a thought like “what if I don’t have enough money in retirement?” or “what if we’re picking the worst investments ever?”. Be conscious of what we’re doing and know that the slope gets slippery when we visit the past and future. When we reflect on the past, we should visit it swiftly. Not quickly, but swiftly. Don’t be in a “hurry”, but don’t linger around in there either. We need to just find the information we’re looking for and quietly walk out of that space and back into the present moment. We can do this all day long once we’ve had enough practice and still maintain your present moment awareness.
The purpose of this article is to remind us of the power of present moment awareness and how easy it can be to remove fear from our lives. Hope it helps!