Fearless Life – Letting Go of Anxiety

So yesterday, my wife and I attended our first meditation event led by Pauline Kinrade who has been studying and practicing meditation and modern Buddhism for over twenty years. The event was run through the Kadampa Meditation Centre Liverpool.

I wanted to do a blog on the event and share a couple of snippets, but obviously not too much as then there would be no point in any of you going 🙂

What I want to explore with you is:

  • What do we want the most out of life? What is our biggest fear?
  • The Professional Mind.

OK, first of all, with this being our first meditation event, we really didn’t know what to expect. I was thinking it might be a lot of meditating, so what should we wear? Should I take my meditation cushion? And joking with my wife about who would fall asleep the first, because during long sessions of meditating I have been known to doze off. Then like all blokes who doze off on the couch, simply say “I wasn’t asleep I was just resting my eyes!” 🙂

Anyway, the event turned out to be a really nice mix of different meditation techniques and teachings from Pauline, who covered some really interesting topics about the mind.

There were some Buddhist religious moments during the event but nothing that made us uncomfortable or made us feel pressurised into taking part. I’m not a Buddhist by the way, not that I take issue with it and in my humble opinion, there are some great learning we can take away.

OK so lets get started.

What do we want the most out of life? What is our biggest fear?

In this part of the event, we explored what it means to live a fearless life. How we can manage anxiety. There were a couple of points I want to cover with you that I found really eye opening.

We were rhetorically asked about what would be the one thing we really want in life and what would be our biggest fear.

Now whatever your specific responses to this are, I’d bet that the thing you really want would lead to your happiness, and the thing that is your biggest fear will bring you suffering. Am I close?

One persons fear could be something that makes someone else happy.

OK, so a quick question. Is it reasonable to assume that one persons biggest fear, could make another person really happy? For example, one persons biggest fear could be flying in a plane, whereas someone else might really love flying in a plane right? So these feelings are simply perception, one view versus another view. They’re kind of an illusion that we create. Regardless of what these two people are thinking, the plane will still take off, fly and land. Are you still with me? 🙂

Now it absolutely depends on the situation, but, for those that suffer with anxiety, it could really help to think about this. So for me, I can sing and play guitar in front of as many people as would like to hear me play. People say to me, “I could never do that, do you not get nervous?” I say no, not at all, because I love doing it and I’m confident in my ability. BUT, I’ve done best man speeches for my brothers and I brick it every time. And that’s just talking! However, with the speeches, I would be worrying about what ifs and buts. Creating a negative illusion in my head resulting in worry or anxiousness. This isn’t the reality. The reality would be that I would get up, do my speech, chances are people would like it and we’d all move on.

So in my speech example, if I can change my perception of what the experience would be like, it could be something that I could get through without worrying, or possibly even enjoy.

The feelings we have are perceptions. So whatever you’re feeling anxious about, spending some time meditating on it could help change your perception and reduce your anxiety.

the professional mind

Right then, this snippet is kinda linked to what I’ve mentioned already. Having a professional mind can help you live a fearless life and help with anxiety.

OK, so what do we mean when we talk about a professional mind. Well it’s easiest done with the example that Pauline gave during the event.

Nurses and doctors deal with some pretty gruesome sights and still act professionally, through training. What if we could train our mind to act professionally to help deal with bad things that come our way?

You walk into A&E with a big cut on your finger, in fact no, your finger is half hanging off. It looks really really grim and there’s blood everywhere. Sounds horrible right? Now what does the nurse of doctor do when they see it? Do they pull away and start being sick into a bin in the corner of the cubicle? Do they shout in fear “that’s disgusting!!!! Take it away!!!!” ?

Would be funny if they did 🙂 But no they wouldn’t. They’d immediately try to put you at ease and help to stick your finger back on.

So taking this example into things we fear or things that make us anxious, if we can spend time training our mind through meditation, just as a nurse and doctor has to train, we can teach our mind to be a professional mind ready for what comes through the door. That’s not to say we should become boring and professional all the time, simply that we can become more prepared and accepting that sometimes, in life, bad things will happen, it’s how we deal with them when they happen.

By doing this, we can become more resilient when life throws us a forking shirt sandwich for example 🙂

So there you have it, two teachings from Pauline for living a fearless life. Try to understand that our feelings, especially when it comes to fear and irrational fears, are simply a perception. It’s likely that the things we’re worrying about are either something that only might happen, or something that would never happen. That’s not to patronise anyone suffering with anxiety, I know first hand how bad it can be. It could really help you to have a change of mindset, but accept that this may take time. Also, why not try to aspire to have a professional mind – not a boring one – and prepare yourself for what life throws at you.

Pauline Kinrade looking great and me with weird looking intense eyes…I have no explanation 🙂

There were lot’s of other lessons at the event to help deal with anxiety and become more fearless. And I certainly learned some new techniques for meditating too. So all in all our first meditation event was a good experience.

I will definitely look out for future events by Pauline Kinrade and the Kadampa Meditation Centre Liverpool.

Take care of yourselves.

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