712th Week:  Meeting Fear with Your Heart

There is no question that we live in a time of intense crisis and disruption.  I think of the indigenous prophecies I have heard about this time and the one that constantly comes to mind is about how we are in the darkest time of a “dark age”.  I don’t remember where I heard it, but it may be a Hopi prophecy or from some other indigenous nation and, when I heard it, it struck me that being at the apex of a “dark age” implies that there will eventually be a swing into a new cycle.

At this moment in time, and this possibly feels more extreme because we are globally connected via the Internet and are much more aware of what’s happening in other places on our planet, it seems that fear has become an even stronger driving force behind much human interaction and activity.  It’s not the whole picture by any means, but it seems to be what is in the foreground of awareness much of the time.

The question arises, how best to meet fear?  For some, anger and aggression are the answer, even though these responses don’t tend to lead to solutions that include the well-being of everyone involved. For some, disconnecting and no longer engaging in social concerns is a way to fend off, or ignore, situations that generate fear.  For others, fear is a call to strengthen heart perception and intelligence, and to make a commitment to focus on love.

I know it may sound a bit hokey to say that love is the answer to fear, but I have found that shifting into heart perception and drawing on heart intelligence creates an awareness and responsiveness that can enfold fear and create a more inclusive perspective about that which is feared.  This doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when what is feared is capable of causing great injury, pain, and destruction.  It does mean that, even when we must act against that which is feared, we don’t join it. It is a very deep practice to be able to respond protectively when needed without leaving the heart’s awareness that love can accompany even this.

Because I experience us as living within an environment of collective consciousness where we all affect one another all the time, usually unconsciously, I don’t want to resonate with the collective fear and anger that pervade the current climate of our interpersonal world.  I have found that when I resonate with love, no matter what actions I may need to take to correct situations that are unacceptable or dangerous to me or others, I don’t fall into an intensified grip of fear or hatred.  I remember that we are all connected, that everyone wants the same thing, and that when fear is in the driver’s seat the brain goes into a threat response and is incapable of seeing creative options.  Fear separates us; love reminds us that we are all one human family, that we are all connected.

For this week’s practice, I invite you to play with shifting from your head/mental/logical awareness into your heart perception and intelligence.  To do this, bring your awareness to your heart space (which is bigger and more expansive than your physical heart) and breathe in and out a few times through your heart space.  Then, become aware of something you fear, or something that has activated you, and consider it from the perspective of your heart.  Ask yourself, “What would my heart say, think, or do about this?”  Then, be open to whatever drops into your awareness and notice the quality of that response and how you feel about it.

It can take some practice to shift to a heart-centered awareness, especially because our culture is so mentally oriented and tends to value rational thinking over intuitive and other felt-sense ways of knowing.  The key part of this practice is to notice the difference between what your mental process says about fear, or a problem, or a situation, and what your heart intelligence has to say about it.  One of the benefits of including heart perception is that it offers information that the head doesn’t tend to have available.  Then, working together, head and heart can be a powerful team in the presence of fear.

As with all these practices, there’s no right way to do this one.  Instead, there is an invitation to explore what supports an internal sense of well-being, what contributes to a quality of inner life that nourishes and uplifts you.  Remember to bring along curiosity as a constant companion and to pat on the head any judgments that may arise as you play with this practice.  As always, allow any judgment to move on through, just one more thought arising within the stream of consciousness.

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