“To practice the dharma is not about overcoming fear altogether or pretending that we are fearless; instead, it is to change the way we react to moments when we’re afraid.”
As we prepare for Halloween, it seems there are a lot of scary faces and pumpkins around. I mostly chose fun characters on Halloween. Once I remember having a scary costume. Being a teen was hard. When it was time to stop trick or treating, I stood in the front yard. Trick or treating was never something I enjoyed. Going up to strangers’ homes and knocking on doors was the scariest part of Halloween then. That one Halloween, I dressed as a ghoul or as death. I never quite knew what it was myself. I stood and waited in the dark for cars to pass then posed as a statue.
Who knows why I chose to do that. Perhaps I was trying to deal with my inner fears of being discovered as a lesbian. It could have been my dealing with a death wish I had because of my first bout of real depression. I didn’t get along with my parents. Living in a closet is hard as an adult and one’s teenage years are their own kind of hell. I was afraid of being found out for who I was. That was the real fear. It was a reasonable fear too because in the 70’s of the South, and sadly even now, the threat of being shot was and is very real.
We learn early in life to be afraid of anything that has caused us pain. In its healthiest form, this is a good way to ensure our survival and create the conditions necessary for safety and well-being.”
~by Pilar Jennings
It took years of prayer, journaling, and counseling to accept that my biggest nemesis is fear. When there is nothing to fear, my mind tends to make up things. In Pilar Jennings’ article, Fear, she discusses how hard it can be in this day and time to discern something causing an illusionary fear and what is a real fear. Her article offers some important points for all of us to consider in this volatile world.
All feelings come and go, and are by their nature ephemeral. But if we don’t train our minds to see that, we end up riding life like the old roller coaster at Coney Island that threatened to hurl people from their seats every now and again.
~by Pilar Jennings
In the practice of prayer and meditation, it is oftentimes fear that distracts. One of my favorite Bible verses comes from John where Jesus encourages disciples to take courage because he has overcome the world. That is a good prayer for centering oneself when fears get out of hand. Yet, it is also important to face the reality of our personal fears so that we may lead a more full life.
There are many ways we can face our fear. Creating a journal has been a vital way to deal with life for many people. Sometimes you can talk to a friend, a priest, a lama, or counselor and that helps. Being honest about our fears is the hardest thing in the world to do. Why? Because it makes us vulnerable. When we are vulnerable many think we become weak. Instead, being vulnerable gives us to the strength to move through the fear or overcome the fear. Sometimes, we see that we had no reason to fear at all.
During this Halloween, I encourage you to think about what fears are in your life. Because I am still transitioning from living in Sylva to living in Beech Mountain, my fears are in my face. I live in a new place. My church is new, my community is new, and I don’t have snow tires yet. That doesn’t mean that my life is over. It doesn’t mean that I won’t have friends. All this means is that facing my fears means I can stop seeing the changes as scary and begin to see them as what they are. Merely changes. There will be new friends, new joys here in this place of solitude. All I have to do is look for the light.
Please check out the Tricycle Magazine articles referenced:
The Gift of Fear By Dharmavidya David Brazier
Fear by Pilar Jennings
Day of the Dead Coloring Book can by ordered by contacting Kay Larch in a private message.
Samhain Fun is carved by the same artist who designed my book! Jennifer Lynn