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Why do we think time is linear? It’s because we don’t perceive the now. Our minds are constantly in the past, focusing on our memories; or in the future, focusing on our expectations. But both of these states of mind are breeding grounds for fear.
When we fixate on the future, for instance, our minds create numerous “could happen” and “might be” scenarios, heading down a trail of not-so-good possibilities and outcomes. And the truth is, despite our placing credence in these thoughts, our imagined scenarios rarely happen as we thought they would.
Only the Present Moment Exists
Spiritual teachers have told us that life is unfolding in the now, however, and that only the present moment exists. This has also been confirmed by science — through Albert Einstein and others.
If we can pull our attention back to the present moment, the fear subsides. Here’s how to shift into the present and detach from our fears:
1. Acknowledge your fears by witnessing your thoughts.
Bestselling author and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, “Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay.”
We are always choosing what thoughts to energize. Random thoughts come in, but then we attach to them and take them one direction or another. Or, we choose to let them go and not attach to them. Either way, we are energizing one direction or another. Even when we sleep, there is a higher part of us making decisions.
Witnessing our thoughts is a recommended spiritual practice, one commonly referred to as mindfulness. Watch how you have a thought and it leads to another thought, then another and another, until you have a whole trail of thoughts. Notice that these thoughts are always about something in the past or something you think will happen in the future.
2. Let yourself lose track of time.
We have all experienced beautiful moments where we lose track of where we are at, what day of the week it is, and what we are doing, and then our mind stills. Athletes call this “the zone.” The problem is that most of us don’t trust that these glimpses are real as they happen so infrequently, or we believe that we have to do something extraordinary like climb a mountain to experience them. And many of us are actually scared when we experience something so out of the norm.
But we can access this state frequently, and we want to allow ourselves to visit as often as possible. This reinforces our true nature, where fear cannot survive. We don’t have to do anything to get there except release what’s preventing us from seeing that it’s our natural state.
How do we center ourselves in the now? Here’s one exercise to practice: Very slowly look at what is around you, the contours of your hand, and so forth. Be present to how you turn your head when you do these things. Witness yourself taking these actions. What part of you is witnessing this?
3. Connect with your heart.
Centering in the now also places us in the heart, for this is the seat of our consciousness. The electromagnetic field coming from the heart is 60 times larger than the one coming from the brain. Carl Jung, who established analytical psychology, said, “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.”
Gratitude is key for centering us in the heart and the now. Operating from a heart space opens us to greater compassion on ourselves and others and dissipates fear. It also releases blame and judgment, which is badly needed in the world today. But for most of us, our default is blame, so we have to pay attention to our thoughts and consciously move to a heart awareness. We need to ask ourselves what we want to put into the world and if this is how we would want to be treated.
Centering in the heart and the now also has a way of dissolving all of our problems — or at least helping us see them in a different light. The more we practice this, simply through awareness of it happening, the more it will happen. We are only reinforcing what is already there versus reinforcing something false — as the vast majority do almost every moment.
When we center in the heart and the now, it gives us the opportunity to make incredibly healing choices as we are not reacting unconsciously from fear anymore. We can choose love over fear, compassion over judgment, forgiveness over hatred, and grace over condemnation. All of our decisions will be exponentially more effective and right for us and everyone involved.
Making Room for the Joy of the Present Moment
As you sit here reading these words and are focused on it and nothing else, everything is in perfect order and you are perfectly okay. It’s only when you allow your thoughts to stray to the future or the past that fears arise. By worrying about future issues, like, “How am I going to pay this bill?” or “How am I going to get that promotion?” or past ones, as in, “Why did I say that yesterday?” you create an infinite number of problems for yourself, none of which can be solved.
Instead, stay in this moment. Be grateful for the simplest things, including the fact that you’re breathing and that you can read these words. When you do this, you make room for the joy of the present moment. And in that space, there’s no room for fear.
©2020 by Lawrence Doochin . All Rights Reserved.
Book by this Author
A Book on Fear: Feeling Safe in a Challenging World
by Lawrence Doochin
We are meant to live in joy, not in fear. Even if everyone around us is in fear, this doesn't have to be our personal experience. By taking us on a treetop journey through quantum physics, psychology, philosophy, spirituality, and more, A Book On Fear gives us tools and awarenesses to see where our fear comes from. When we see how our belief systems were created, how they limit us, and what we have become attached to that creates fear, we will come to know ourselves at a deeper level. Then we can make different choices to transform our fears.
For more info, or to order this book, click here. (Also available as a Kindle edition.)
About the Author
Lawrence Doochin is an author, entrepreneur, and devoted husband and father. A survivor of harrowing childhood sexual abuse, he traveled a long journey of emotional and spiritual healing, and developed an in-depth understanding of how our beliefs create our reality. In the business world, he has worked for or been associated with enterprises from small startups to multinational corporations. He is the cofounder of HUSO sound therapy, which delivers powerful healing benefits to individuals and professionals worldwide. In everything Lawrence does, he strives to serve a higher good. His new book is A Book on Fear: Feeling Safe in a Challenging World. Learn more at lawrencedoochin.com.