The Fear Button Show

Fear is an emotion. Emotions are often called feelings. That is because we feel our emotions. Fear is related to flight or flight. When we are in fight or flight, our senses are more engaged. Our bodies are literally preparing to either fight whatever is stimulating the emotion or run like hell from it.

My father has had some profound medical conditions, which have altered his outlook on life. He had pancreatic cancer and as a result of surgery, they had to also take his spleen, a major defense in our fighting off infection. He gets sick a lot. We, as a family, have had two moments when doctors were telling us to prepare. The second time that nearly got him was sepsis or blood poisoning.

Dad tells me, and I believe him, that he is not afraid to die.

He told me recently he now practices not worrying, everyday. When he begins to feel stress coming on, he stops himself and asks, “Can I control this? If yes, do something about it. If no, don’t worry about it.” He tells me that he has gained more and more control over his fear (worry being a fear), which has lead him to a greater mental state of peace. And I agree. As his son, I can see it.

Fear is such an intense emotion. I like to describe emotions like pulsating energy, a feeling which is definitely a body experience.

We cannot control what chemicals our body chooses to release, what stimuli we encounter, what feelings come up. We can, however, develop a greater sense of consciousness around or within our emotions. I say, “within”, as emotions can at times feel like spiraling storms. They can be so all engulfing. And artists, I believe, are naturally more sensitive. They feel greatly. It is their sensitivity that nets the stimuli they engage, which is their source of artistry. We can, however, learn to become more aware and in doing so, quiet the energies and choose our thoughts.

We can develop our minds towards achieving a greater degree of conscious awareness by meditating. While sitting still, meditating, watching our mind, we can begin to watch our thoughts, as if they were scenes from a movie, unfolding upon a screen. Next time your fear button is hit, in the storm of emotion, try to remember, to watch the show, as though someone hit the fear button and the gates opened.

How does this tool of watching thoughts help us? We become more aware of what thoughts we are having and can work to relax, breath, release. If emotions are still too much to let go, then we do our best to consciously act through them. We go forward, we allow fear to be there and we do our best to harness its energy.

Also by watching our thoughts as a tool in artistic creation, we can use this tool of awareness when purposefully engaging our imaginations.

Want a tip on meditating? Here’s a How To article.

Jim Hart is the Director of Arts Entrepreneurship at Southern Methodist University and founded The International Theatre Academy Norway (TITAN). 

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