Tag Archive | fear

THE EYE OF THE STORM

Storm 2

All of my life I’ve had extremely vivid dreams that become, sporadically, lucid or prescient dreams, and the lucid dreaming has become more consistent over the past year. Whether vivid or lucid, these dreams contain mirrors and messages for my waking life, often alerting me to information I need to receive, decisions I need to make, patterns I need to shift, or taking me to a new level of awareness.

Early this morning I had a vivid dream that feels relevant to the collective, with layers of metaphor and messages, so please stick with me until the end…

I was working at an early-model home computer. Although security was installed, I had inadvertently allowed a virus to infiltrate the system and disturbing pop-ups had taken over my screen. I could hear my boss coming and panicked because I couldn’t exit out of the system. I quickly pressed “power” and shut the system down, hoping it would reboot. 

Next, I was in the backseat of a car driving through the night. My boss, his wife, and their daughters were in front and I assumed I had become their nanny. In back with me was a little boy playing on the floor. He was tired, cranky, and not wearing a seatbelt. I understood that he was neglected and isolated from the rest of the family. I arranged a pillow and blanket for him on the seat, which he immediately relaxed into. I said, “You can stretch out and go to sleep; I’ll be right over here.” 

We arrived at a hotel in the middle of nowhere. It was just me and my boss unloading countless suitcases from the back. I was loaded down with three bags but couldn’t find my main suitcase. Suddenly, I realized I had left it in a previous hotel and, devastated, dissolved into tears. I didn’t understand why I was reacting so strongly but it seemed as though everything important to me, everything I needed, was in that suitcase. I told my boss that I had forgotten the suitcase due to my exhaustion and rushing to leave. He turned ice-cold, stared at me with dead eyes, and said, “I hate people like you.” I was weeping, ashamed, feeling completely worthless. Then I spotted my suitcase standing up behind three other cases in the car and exclaimed with joy, “I found it! It’s here!” It was a vintage green suitcase that belonged to my mom in our real life when I was a child. 

But my boss didn’t care; he hated me now. I sorrowfully dragged my suitcases behind him into the hotel. The rest of the family was there and we spiraled around in a circle, past dozens and dozens of rooms, until we stopped at one. I finally put down my bags and my boss looked at me with that hatred and said, “You’re 108.” I realized I was alone and we had passed my room a long time ago but that he wanted to make me suffer. 

I couldn’t stand being there and called a cab to take me to find some food. A woman arrived in a black SUV. It was night and we passed a gas station with several cars in the lot. From the license plates, I tried to determine if we were in Oklahoma or Nevada. I decided on OK because of the driver’s accent. 

We drove along a dark highway and all of a sudden a huge portal of white lightening lit up the sky, illuminating a terrible formation of funnel clouds from within and without. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. The driver gasped, slowed down, and said, “Will you look at that!” As she slowed, I could see a row of people standing on the median, also looking up at the sky. I urged the cabbie to drive as fast as she could to outrun the storm. She did, but as I watched the sky, I saw another terrible formation to the side of us. I screamed at her to drive even faster, to get away from the storm. 

The driver turned onto the road leading to my hotel and we were faced with a third formation, the most massive and apocalyptic tornado, directly above and in front of us. We had no choice but to drive straight into the storm. I was filled with fear, clutching the door handle in the back set, and closing my eyes. I could hear the driver exclaim as she tried to keep the SUV on the road, could hear the debris hitting the car, and could sense the darkness that we couldn’t see through. I knew that my life was out of my control–that at any time the car could flip off the road or be sucked up into the air. At that moment, beautiful music filled my awareness and I felt cocooned into the most tranquil and peaceful state of mind. I thought to myself how strange it was to feel that way when I knew the storm had us in its grip.

Then we were turning into the parking lot of the hotel. I urged the driver to come inside with me to take shelter. She said, “No, I think I’ll keep driving,” and rang up my tab on a little paper. I said, “I’ll pay you but please come with me! Don’t go back out there!” And then I had to run for shelter without waiting to see if she’d follow.

The hotel had became a rustic hostel or inn. Directly inside, the innkeeper held a basement door open while people ran down into the shelter. I was once again laden with bags and looking for a place to land. There were many people my age socializing in little groups. I knew I would be welcome anywhere but felt too insecure to impose myself. Then I became distraught again, believing I had lost my purse with the money to pay the driver. The driver, who had followed me down after all, caught my attention and said, “No, you still have your purse with you.” I was trying to get out my wallet and looking at her tab which said $200 and didn’t make sense. Then I thought, “Just settle and get safe. You’ll pay her in a minute.” 

I found an old chair and put down my bags, thinking, “I’ll just be alone.” I felt sad about it. Then a guy came up behind me and said, “Would you like to play cards?” I wrestled with what to say because I didn’t know how to play cards but I wanted him to stay. I turned around and he looked taken aback and said, “I’m sorry. Nevermind.” I said, “You want to play cards? Sure. I don’t really know how…” He smiled, holding out his hand and introducing himself. I shook his hand and told him my name. He said to me, We’ll stick together.” Over his shoulder, I saw yet another terrible tornado headed straight for our inn. I said, “Let’s go down now,” because there was another small room below us. 

We called for everyone to follow us, to shelter even further, and it sounded like they were. But we found ourselves alone in the dirty basement room filled with cobwebs. We sat on the floor against the wall but I didn’t feel safe so I crawled under the stairs and looked at the guy. We were both silent and then I told him, I’m scared.” I could hear the tornado bearing down and people screaming in fear above us. One man shouted, “Stay behind the pillar!” I could hear debris hitting the inn. I didn’t know how it all would end. Then, that beautiful music returned, and I felt myself sink into a cocoon of peace, warmth, and tranquility. I became aware that I was asleep and could wake up if I wanted to. I slowly floated into consciousness and woke up in my bed.

While much of this dream carries personal meaning for me, I feel that there are also affirmations and messages for the collective:

  1. We are caught in a great storm that we cannot ignore, outrun, or hide from. There is nothing to do now but face it directly, without knowing how or when it will end.
  2. We are human and will absolutely experience fear, uncertainty, grief, and the wildness of stepping into the Unknown. 
  3. Many of us will walk through an Ego Death, where everything that formed our identities is stripped away. The things that made us valuable to ourselves and to the outside world may not sustain any longer: money, jobs, security, relationships, image, projects, addictions, party lines, networks, health, or even our own lives or the lives of people we love. Who are we when we are all that remains? Can we love what’s left of us?
  4. We need each other.
  5. We each hold the capacity to become the eye of the storm. When all around us rages and dissolves, we can choose to surrender into the peace that is beyond all understanding.
  6. We are more than our former identities, our old ways of functioning, and our present circumstances. What do we want to wake up to? Who do we want to become?

I AM BRAVE AND STRONG

The Line

When I was a child, I was afraid of everything, all the time. My Top Five Fears were:

  • Nuclear war with Russia
  • My parents getting divorced or something happening to my sisters
  • Tornadoes
  • Getting an incurable disease
  • Auditioning for the plays I loved to do

To cope with these fears, I:

  • Cultivated a life-long battle with insomnia by staying awake all night, kneeling beneath my bedroom window, watching the sky for signs of a missile attack.
  • Obsessed over every word, fight, emotion and unspoken dynamic in my family. I bossed around my sisters, which they LOVED (sarcasm).
  • Went into hysterics every time there was a thunderstorm. I lived in Indiana, so this was an every-other-day occurrence.
  • Compulsively watched every Made-for-TV, Disease-of-the-Week movie about kids dying from illness.
  • Forced myself to audition through uncontrollable nerves that prevented me from landing the roles I wanted.

On the slightly healthier side, I had a mantra I repeated whenever I was terrified to go through an experience. I would imagine myself as an adult and say to myself: When I’m 23, I won’t be afraid of this. When I’m 35, I won’t be afraid of this. For some reason, knowing that I would someday outgrow the fear helped me to move through it in the present.

My entire life has been an exercise in overcoming fear. Nearly every relationship I’ve formed, trip I’ve taken, audition I’ve shown up for, conversation I’ve had, and new experience I’ve tried, has been dearly fought for through a fog of fear. I’ve been pleased to discover that, indeed, as an adult I haven’t been so afraid of the things I feared as a child. I’ve also learned that repetition and practice is my best ally and the foundation of confidence.

For the past year, I’ve walked through much of what many people are starting to experience now: health challenges, job loss, housing loss, no regular income for a year (and still none), fear, uncertainty, and social isolation—all while navigating crippling grief and heartbreak. None of my financial, housing or social challenges have resolved yet, although I’m deeply grateful for the return of my health. I was hoping to turn a corner soon but may have to exercise patience even longer than I was expecting, as jobs continue to fall through and social opportunities decline. It has been surreal to witness the current climate with a feeling of familiarity instead of novelty. To that end, I’d like to share some of the things that have been helpful to me, with the hope that they will be helpful to others as well.

I believe that learning to face and manage fear is our hardest but most important task:

  • Feel fear whenever it arises, without resisting or ignoring it.
  • Acknowledge it and allow it to move through and out of your body.
  • Become an Observer. Step outside of the paradigm of fear, realizing that it is not you, and that it can be experienced without it having to mean anything.
  • Get present. Feel your breath moving in and out of your body. Get in touch with your senses. Recognize that, in this moment, you are almost certainly okay. This is true even within difficult moments, if you take them one at a time.
  • Connect your Mind and Body. Our feeling of separation from the Whole is what causes most of our suffering and this is true when our bodies feel disconnected as well. When we walk around with racing brains and numb bodies, it’s a recipe for fear to take charge.

My Favorite Ways to Ground & Connect:

Meditation. If you do nothing else for yourself, even 10 minutes of meditation per day will change your life. When we become still, we discover that we are not our bodies, our relationships, our jobs, our finances, our successes, our failures, our environment, or our politics. We simply are…something much greater and deeper than any of those things. We step outside of identification with the personality. Connecting with the Source of who we really are is the beginning of the end of fear. Here’s a meditation practice for Inner Peace.

Nature. Getting outside is truly the best medicine. In a world that moves fast and revolves around technology, nature has a different rhythm. It is slow, cyclical, seasonal. Things come and go, rise and fall. Connecting to nature’s rhythms can provide immediate relief from fear, anxiety and depression, and give us the fortitude to move ahead.

Yoga / Walking / Dancing. Any exercise that connects the two halves of the brain, drops you into your body and releases endorphins is a fantastic way to combat fear. When I couldn’t do any exercise at all, I missed it terribly, but the benefits were still there when I remembered to align with my breath and inner spaciousness. My favorite at-home classes are Yoga with Adriene.

Breathwork. Most people are breathing shallowly, from their chest, or unconsciously holding their breath. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing and pranayama techniques strengthens and settles the nervous system, boosts immunity, processes old trauma, releases stuck emotion, and helps us to stay mindful of the present moment. I’ve even used this on an airplane during bad turbulence and it worked. Here’s a great series to learn some basic breathing techniques.

Tapping. EFT Tapping provides almost instant relief from anxiety, spinning thoughts, fear, and physical pain. It’s been proven to be as effective as acupuncture and can be done safely and easily by anyone, anywhere, of any age. My favorite Tapping coach is Nick Ortner.

Chanting. Chanting a Sanskrit mantra along with music is a powerful way to focus one’s mind and energy. In Kundalini Yoga, one aims to chant for at least 11 minutes; I can promise that you will feel differently when you end than when you began. I had chants playing on repeat during my hospital stay, through the late hours when I couldn’t sleep, and it was incredibly comforting. My favorite music for chanting is White Sun.

Journaling. Many years ago, I began doing Morning Pages, which is at least three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing first thing in the morning. This practice has brought me more clarity than almost anything else I do. It’s a great place to dump the fear so that it leaves your head and doesn’t dump onto other people instead. Here’s the explanation of Morning Pages from Julia Cameron.

I can honestly affirm that walking through fear builds strength, resilience, confidence and compassion. There are many gifts to be found within this tumultuous time. We humans have been and will continue to be challenged for as long as we inhabit the earth. The only difference now is that we are much more connected through technology and so everything can appear to be worse or more overwhelming (which, objectively, it is not). I make a habit of limiting my news and social media intake and try to observe the fear, non-judgmentally, instead of participating in it. This is a choice that each of us has the power to exercise and it’s a choice that uplifts the collective instead of taking us all down in a toilet-paper frenzy.

My almost-three-year-old niece has an adventurous spirit and often says to me, “Don’t worry, Aw Daw (Aunt Dawn), I save the day!” And then she’ll repeat her own mantra: I Am Brave and Strong. I love to witness how she has already outgrown so many of her early fears and I hope that her spirit stays wild and free as she walks through this world. We are all brave and strong; let’s keep reminding each other of that.

#52FilmsByWomen: RED ROVER

 

red-rover

42/52 RED ROVER

Brooke Goldfinch is an Australian writer/director who made this short film exploring the last day before the end of the world. A cult has gathered to “drink the Kool-Aid” so to speak but two young members refuse to believe in or cooperate with the end of days. Goldfinch was fascinated by how people might spend their final moments on earth and her film is a transcendent meditation on faith, love and hope.

Goldfinch is currently writing her first feature, which I eagerly anticipate, and you can WATCH RED ROVER HERE.

 

 

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