When we see so much death and tragedy unfolding around the world it can feel like a dark wave is washing over us. Even though we know we are most likely safe, death can feel like it’s just around the corner. There are moments when it feels like the fear might overwhelm us.
We always know that the possibility of dying is real, but the fear of death feels palpable, right now. Those of us who experience some level of anxiety during normal times – which is all of us – are feeling anxious more and more. Not all the time, but more than before. How could we not? This is not a normal time.
There are some of us with much more acute anxiety than others and we can only begin to imagine the suffering that this is causing them.
What should we do when we feel the dark imaginings of our fear?
There are things we can do to abate our fears pre-emptively – mindfulness, eating healthy, exercising, to name a few. But what should we do in the present moment when we can feel fear crawling over us?
Wishing fear away will not do us much good in the moment.
We must bring our awareness to our dark imaginings as they unfold. This doesn’t mean that we lean into them. We can see the hole without diving into the hole. Though some times we are already in the hole. Either way, notice what it’s like, to exist and to feel the fear in that very moment. We must begin by noticing the sensory details of our present moment experience.
What is your breathing like? Are there images floating through your mind? Are you feeling pain or constriction anywhere in your body?
When we investigate our present moment experience, we do not need to do anything to make our experience any different than it is. Even if fear is there, when we bring all that we are experiencing into the light of our awareness, the moment begins to dissolve. And the next moment will emerge. In this way, we can accept everything that occurs in any given moment. We will not implode. We will still be here. And the waves will pass.
It can be terrifying to look at our fear, but this is where we begin. When bathed in the light of attention, the grasp of fear will gradually abate. Nothing can last in our present moment attention beyond this very moment – if for no other reason than because the next moment will arise. And if we’re paying attention to the moment we are in, we’ll realize that a new moment has begun.
The fear may return a moment later. Some times, we need to bring our awareness to the present moment again and again for the waves to pass. But the waves will pass, and we will still be here, and we will be okay.