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Acutely aware of the fear of life

Unfortunately, I'm still posting in the recovery section of this forum because I'm acutely aware that the fear of life is actively dominating my mind. It's comical, but I've observed that there's something full-on determined to hold me at arm's length from life. I have lovely spring weather, amazing friends and family, blessings all around, and yet something wants me to escape from all this. It doesn't matter what the escape is... anything at the ready... drinking, smoking, reruns of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills... you name it! I am completely convinced that I've genuinely seen myself over and over again, and yet it seems I'm so adverse to meeting life right where it is. Well, for whatever it's worth, that's my post this evening. I'll keep looking as much as I can remember to do so. Grateful for everyone in this forum.

You show a good understanding of the cause of the problem when you write that you have "observed that there's something full-on determined to hold me at arm's length from life."

That's exactly true, and that something determined to keep you away from your life is your mind, which has been crippled by the fear of life itself, and paralyzed by the energy exuded by that fear. Looking at yourself destroys the underlying context of fear, but although the fear of life is gone its effects will take some time to die off. It is those lingering effects that cry out to you to escape before you forget to be afraid.

It is not your fault. Your personality, like for most if not all of us, was damaged by having taken birth in the fog of fear and it will take some time to recover and heal. The prime directive of the fear is to forbid direct contact with life. The irritation you feel about the persistence of the symptoms is itself one of those symptoms, and it works by pulling your attention away from life as it is to the irritation and confusion about it.

You need not wait passively for your mind to clear of these aggravations. If you are willing to take on the practice of self-directed attention as you recover, you will learn to take intelligent and self-reliant control over your attention. It can be very hard in the beginning, and might even seem impossible, but you will begin to notice real progress within a month or so, and as you gain in strength, even the difficult process of recovery from fear will come to be deeply satisfying.

Here is a link to the ebook with instructions for the self-directed attention practice. Please take this seriously.

The Just One Look Method

Dear John,

Thank you for the thorough and thoughtful response. I have read all the supporting materials on your website, and will faithfully attempt the attention exercise, even as everything in me seems to want to resist it. The instructions on the attention focusing and on the looking are very clear and each make perfect sense. I have only one lingering question. Is the focusing of attention on the breath intended to make it more likely that I will readily focus on the sense of "me" throughout the day? I wasn't entirely sure about the relationship between the breath and the looking, but this is my assumption, and I wanted to make sure I had that right.

Turns out that the act of looking needs to be done just once. It is common for people to glorify the looking and assume that the more they look, the quicker they will be finished with the misery created in fear. This is understandable given the fact that nothing useful can be done to cure the mind's madness until the fear of life is cured by the act of looking at yourself-at your me-at least once.

But once you have done that, the disease is cured, and repetition, although sweet, is absolutely optional. Once you have succeeded in that really simple task, what remains is the recovery, which can be difficult and painful, and can persist for a long time unless you take direct control over the development of your mind as it heals from the disease.

And that is the purpose of the practice of self-directed attention. As you work with it, you will come to see that:

1. Your attention is the only phenomenon over which you have any control at all;

2. Gaining effective control over attention is extremely hard in the beginning, but can be accomplished more quickly than seems possible when you first begin to work with it;

3. As skill and understanding grow with practice, you will begin to see the true and deeply satisfying nature of the human mind. The childish fear-driven hunger for a stroke of magic to take away all difficulty and even the need for work on yourself will vanish. In the end, you will come to love your human life precisely because it takes clarity, patience, and skillful work with your attention to bring it to fruition.

Got it! Thanks so much!


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