Fear can be a crippling emotion to experience, it can cause panic, anxiety, and stress that causes us much suffering in our lives.
My own personal experiences with dealing with fear, and how I have moved forward learning the necessary skills to live a happier life, may also help you.
I would love to share these skills and understanding I’ve gained with you today.
First let me explain my first hand experiences dealing with that onrushing, seemingly uncontrollable fear that can have crippling effects on us.
My first story comes from what seems like a long time ago now, a time when I lived in South Africa. This was during the now historical time of Nelson Mandela’s first and second run as president, the great man had just been released from prison.
It was a troubled time and no one knew what would happen next, Zimbabwe had seen a change in ruling power and an explosion of revenge killings had arose.
To make matters harder for the people of South Africa it also had at this time a 50% unemployment rate with no government help. Crime was high and rife, Jo’berg was considered the 3rd most dangerous city in the entire world. The first two on the list both had wars going on.
Everyone lived behind bars. Every house had these big security windows and gates made out of think metal to stop intruders. I grew up in safe and secure England and I remember my first impression of living like this as feeling like I was living in my own paid for prison. Strangely you quickly get used to it.
It was a worrying time indeed
My house was broken into twice in my 7 odd years living in this wonderful country both times with us inside the house.
The first time this happened, fear crippled me.
At about 3am whilst fast asleep the sound of a broken window awakens me. I’m instantly alert, lying in the darkness and trying to figure out, did I really hear what I thought?
Then that unmistakable sound of crunching glass underfoot.
Fear propelled me out of bed, I leapt for the light switch and turned it on. It was as I did this that fear turned to panic and held me tight, I couldn’t move, I was standing there in a pair of boxer shorts illuminated by the light I had just turned on. what had I just done? Why had I turned the light on to reveal my position? Now I’m going to be shot! I froze unable to decide which way to turn.
Fear had turned to shear panic and that panic held me firm, frozen.
Luckily my presence and noise in getting up to turn the light on was enough to instal fear inside the intruders who also panicked and fled the scene. I still feel I’m so lucky to this day. I honestly thought I was going to be shot.
The whole incident left its mark on my mind and I had now seen how fear can have considerable power if we let it cripple our thinking.
My second story comes from the same time in my life. Again living in South Africa where I used to surf. Now me being me I never do anything by half, and I used to surf big big waves, sometimes faces the size of a second story house.
On just another normal day, I was meeting a group of surfer friends at the beach carpark to go for a fun filled surf session with mates. We arrived at the beach to find huge waves almost instantly closing out the entire bay. Not really good for surfing.
A close out is when the wave crashes all in one go along the entire line. To surf you need something to crash it’s white water and peel one way or the other. A close out isn’t a good day to be surfing. And these waves where at least 20ft or 3 times over head.
We all stood in the carpark in admiration at the shear size and power, the sound was like thunder. A friend of ours comes out of the sea and walks up to the car park carrying his broken surfboard. There’s NO surf today. He throws his board to the ground swearing as he did, grabs another board from the top of his car, turns and heads back out to sea.
That was all I needed. I grab my board, suited up and paddled out to meet him. Lying flat on a surf board as a 20ft wave comes at you is mind blowing, and if you live in a two story house, lye down flat on the grass and look up, that is roughly what it looks like. A giant slab of moving water the size of a house. I was able, capable and could surf. I felt good. I wasn’t frightened or scared, just excited to be part of this energy.
What came next taught me the most valuable lesson I’ve ever experienced with fear.
I dropped down the face of some monster wave, bottomed turned and tried to slot under the lip that had thrown itself over the top. I missed and got thumped by 10ton of water, I relaxed and waited, being tumbled this way and that, that’s all normal, it’s like going through a washing machine, but you learn when to swim for the surface and when to relax.
Finally the turbulence subsided and so I swam to the surface, pulled my lease cord to find a snapped board. The next wave was coming!
I took a massive breath and dived down as far as I could. The turbulence again subsided and I swam to the surface. My lease cord had ripped from my leg, and when looking at my position i had drifted towards the rocks. But no time to think!
another wave came, then another and then another.
With each wave I casually and confidently dove as deep as I could holding onto kelp to try not get pulled further into the rocks. Every time I came for breath I could see I was slowly getting closer to the rocks. Every time I came up to take a breath more and more people were also gathering along those rocks.
Amazingly at this point I’m still feeling ok. In my mind I’m still confident, I was a strong strong swimmer back then, and could hold my breath on land for almost 4 minutes.
The next thing that happened changed all that!
As I came up for another breath a man with hands on top of his head leapt two or three rocks towards me with panic written all over him, his face told me I was a dead man!
Fear came flooding in, so intensely, and so quickly it became all consuming. There was nothing I wanted more than to live!
I didn’t want to die, I wanted to live, the panic that fear manifested into found me swimming directly at the big waves, I had no logical thinking left, I was on auto pilot. I wasted what little energy I had left very quickly.
I never thought of my family or past events, I was in the moment fighting for my very life. And I was loosing. The panic was using my now very little energy twice as fast and I couldn’t hold my breath for as long as required. It was coming to a crunch point!
I was going to die! Right here, right now!
Then Everything Inside of me calmed for only a few moments, but those few moments I can still clearly remember, everything in life felt so perfectly perfect, that mere words can’t justify its perfectness. I watched as a big wave pitched higher and higher in front of me.
This was my wave!
I was completely calm and had perfect presence of mind. I instantly knew everything was just the way it was always going to and always will be. My whole life had led to this one moment, every decision I had made always led me here to this one wave that was coming, this wave was my my wave, my destiny.
I choose to drown rather than be smashed onto the rocks and took my last deep breath!
Don’t panic, obviously I survived or I couldn’t write this.
I was pulled out by the sea rescue who had been all around me yet I hadn’t noticed. A helicopter had even been dispatched and two jet skies were all around me, yet I hadn’t been aware. I was checked out and fussed over for a bit, then sort of left to my own devises. The shock of what happened left me numb and completely out of it.
I had no idea how I got home, I just remember my girlfriends father found me in the bath still in my wetsuit, just sitting starring at the taps. I have no idea how long I had been there. Post traumatic stress hit me hard and for the next two years I couldn’t work life out. It had changed something about my fundamental understanding of life. I know you hear people say that a near death experience leaves you feeling more alive then ever before. I just felt like crap, an almost insignificant feeling.
Ok so that’s a rather dramatic story but one I do enjoying telling.
So how did I move forward, learning the necessary skills as I did. Well It was a long journey for me, a journey that took me across the whole of Asia searching for the answers. Eventually becoming a Buddhist monk to learn those vital skills needed to master the understanding of my mind.
And I want to help you learn them too.
The foundation to overcoming fear is to really understand what and who fear really is. Just like in the second story, I had to face my fear head to on to really understand it. Meditation is that very foundation and key to facing your fears head on, but all in the safety of your own home. This is the very starting point in knowing fear, anxieties, stress, anger and any of the 108 defilements or destructive forces of the mind.
My soul aim here at 4enlightenment is to provide a safe place for you to explore with others this wonderful art form called meditation, too bring inspiration to you from my own personal story to help you face and overcome your own problems. As a former Buddhist monk I learnt amazing tricks and techniques that truly work in our daily lives. I understand the human consciousness and have slowly worked out how I transfer my knowledge to help others, Slowly over the next couple of months this website will grow into the vision I have to help you and others, eventually establishing an international charity based on kindness.
It would be wonderful if you could join me for the journey
To learn More About Meditation & Mindfulness
*Dhamma Tāpasā is a trained former Buddhist Monk and the spiritual name given to Andrew Hallas. An inspirational teacher of mindfulness and meditation techniques through the art of storytelling. Dhamma Tāpasā is able to capture our imaginations whilst teaching us valuable moral principles and deepening our understanding of the human consciousness and the everyday problems we face.