Fear and Fearlessness

Acknowledging fear is not a cause for depression or discouragement. Because we possess such fear, we also are potentially entitled to experience fearlessness. True fearlessness is not the reduction of fear; but going beyond fear

In order to experience fearlessness, it is necessary to experience fear. The essence of cowardice is not acknowledging the reality of fear.  Fear can take many forms. Logically, we know we can’t live forever. We know that we are going to die, so we are afraid. We are petrified of our death. 
On another level, we are afraid that we can’t handle the demands of the world.

This fear expresses itself as a feeling of inadequacy. We feel that our own lives are overwhelming, and confronting the rest of the world is more overwhelming.

Then there is abrupt fear, or panic, that arises when new situations occur suddenly in our lives. When we feel that we can’t handle them, we jump or twitch. Sometimes fear manifests in the form of restlessness: doodles on a note pad, playing with our fingers, or fidgeting in our chairs. We feel that we have to keep ourselves moving all the time, like an engine running in a motor car. The pistons go up and down, up and down. As long as the pistons keep moving, we feel safe. Otherwise, we are afraid we might die on the spot.

There are innumerable strategies that we use to take our minds off of fear. Some people take tranquilizers. Some people do yoga. Some people watch television, or read a magazine, or go to a bar to have a beer. From the coward’s point of view, boredom should be avoided, because when we are bored we begin to feel anxious. We are getting closer to our fear. Entertainment should be promoted and any thought of death should be avoided. So cowardice is trying to live our lives as though death were unknown.

There have been periods in history in which many people searched for a potion of longevity. If there were such a thing, most people would find it quite horrific. If they had to live in this world for a thousand years without dying, long before they got to their thousandth birthday, they would probably commit suicide. Even if you could live forever, you would be unable to avoid the reality of death and suffering around you.

Acknowledging Fear

Fear has to be acknowledged. We have to realize our fear and reconcile ourselves with fear. We should look at how we move, how we talk, how we conduct ourselves, how we chew our nails, how we sometimes put our hands in our pockets uselessly. Then we will find something out about how fear is expressed in the form of restlessness.

We must face the fact that fear is lurking in our lives, always, in everything we do.

On the other hand, acknowledging fear is not a cause for depression or discouragement. Because we possess such fear, we also are potentially entitled to experience fearlessness. True fearlessness is not the reduction of fear, but going beyond fear. Unfortunately, in the English language, we don’t have one word that means that. Fearlessness is the closest term, but by fearless we don’t mean “less fear”, but “beyond fear”.Going beyond fear begins when we examine our fear: our anxiety, nervousness, concern, and restlessness. If we look into our fear, if we look beneath its veneer, the first thing we find is sadness, beneath the nervousness. Nervousness is cranking up, vibrating, all the time. When we slow down, when we relax with our fear, we find sadness, which is calm and gentle. Sadness hits you in your heart, and your body produces a tear. Before you cry, there is a feeling in your chest and then, after that, you produce tears in your eyes. You are about to produce rain or a waterfall in your eyes and you feel sad and lonely, and perhaps romantic at the same time. That is the first tip of fearlessness, and the first sign of real warriorship.

You might think that, when you experience fearlessness, you will hear the opening to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or see a great explosion in the sky, but it doesn’t happen that way. In the Shambhala tradition, discovering fearlessness comes from working with the softness of the human heart.

The birth of the warrior is like the first growth of a reindeer’s horns. At first, the horns are very soft and almost rubbery, and they have little hairs growing on them. They are not yet horns, as such: they are just sloppy growths with blood inside. Then, as the reindeer ages, the horns grow stronger, developing four points or ten points or even forty points.Fearlessness, at the beginning, is like those rubbery horns. They look like horns, but you can’t quite fight with them. When a reindeer first grows its horns, it doesn’t know what to use them for. It must feel very awkward to have those soft, lumpy growths on your head. But then the reindeer begins to realize that it should have horns: that horns are a natural part of being a reindeer.

In the same way, when a human being first gives birth to the tender heart of warriorship he or she may feel extremely awkward or uncertain about how to, relate to this kind of fearlessness. But then, as you experience this sadness more and more, you realize that human beings should be tender and open. So you no longer need to feel shy or embarrassed about being gentle. In fact, your softness begins to become passionate. You would like to extend yourself to others and communicate with them. When tenderness evolves in that direction, then you can truly appreciate the world around you. Sense perceptions become very interesting things. You are so tender and open already that you cannot help opening yourself to what takes place all around you. When you see red or green or yellow or black, you respond to them from the bottom of your heart. When you see someone else crying or laughing or being afraid, you respond to them as well. At that point, your beginning level of fearlessness is developing further into warriorship.When you begin to feel comfortable being a gentle and decent person, your reindeer horns no longer have little hairs growing on them – they are becoming real horns. Situations become very real, quite real, and on the other hand, quite ordinary. Fear evolves into fearlessness naturally, very simply, and quite straightforwardly.

The ideal of warriorship is that the warrior should be sad and tender, and because of that, the warrior can be very brave as well. Without that heartfelt sadness, bravery is brittle, like a china cup. If you drop it, it will break or chip. But the bravery of the warrior is like a lacquer cup, which has a wooden base covered with layers of lacquer. If the cup drops, it will bounce rather than break. It is soft and hard at the same time.

-Chögyam Trungpa

  This article was excerpted from the book : Shambhala: The SacredPath of the Warrior, by Chögyam Trungpa, © 1999 by Diana Judith Mukpo. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Shambhala Publications Inc.

when life gives you lemons, use the juice to make a corpse reviver #2 cocktail, use the peels for a prosciutto and lemon cream sauce, use the seeds to kill any internal parasites (good riddance) and then when you’ve finished that, you might consider walking a path with fewer lemon trees.

#breakti #wisdom

breakti: funky freezes meets fearless freedom

my girl, sasha lays down some amazing and inspiring words in support of Breakti® Movement.  big love.  click on the links to read the whole thing.  dope dope.


“we can take on our fears one at a time, the small ones first, chipping away at them until we find ourselves fearless and free of our controlling minds.” john douillard

as the universe always has magical ways of putting the puzzle pieces of life together: i happened upon anya…

The Art of Keeping It Real

Well friends, it’s true…  nothing in this life is promised.  I have had to learn and relearn that in the past few months in many ways.  So I ask myself and I ask you, how do we keep it real for ourselves when we have no idea what’s coming our way?   How do we continue to show up, be present and REPRESENT when our loved ones are sick, our relationships are challenging or the path we have chosen feels shaky or like it needs a shift?  

I am reminded again and again that the way that we show up for ourselves reflects so clearly in how we show up for others.  Keeping it real means we start where we are, we work with ourselves in a way that is both disciplined and gentle, and not just with the parts of ourselves that we like, but also what Abdi Assadi calls the Shadow (thank you, Sangeeta).  We gently stay with ourselves through the greatest inner battles and instead of turning on the TV, grabbing that bottle of wine or reaching for the ice cream to dull the pain, we allow ourselves to witness, to listen, to experience our situation as it is.  

Breakti has taught me to stay, even when it’s hard.  It has taught me to open my heart, even when it hurts.  It has taught me to see my students, my classrooms, my journeys as little gems and nuggets of amazingness waiting to reveal themselves.  All of that requires that I show up first with myself and own my personal experience.  I must keep it real with ME before I make space for anyone or anything else

My recent trip to Virginia opened so many windows for me into the darkness and light that we all share.  As in all my Breakti classes, I challenged the students to step to their edge with playfulness and humor.  I asked that they make enough space to try something new, perhaps acheive something they didn’t know they could do, and be able to laugh and lighten up a little.  They fully stepped to the challenge and owned every part of themselves.  So rad.  

In my Space workshop, we talked about keeping it real.  We discussed the shadow.  As I mentioned in class and I will say many times again, we NEED the darkness in order to see the light.  We need silence in order to hear the beat (and in order to have the beat even exist), and we need every part of ourselves to be honored and owned so that we can witness our relationships and paths clearly and from a place that is whole.  THAT is keeping it real.

Join me for my last class of the year in NYC, and perhaps together we can step a bit closer to keeping it real.  

Click the below image for more info and to register. 


Breakti is about cultivating our relationship to our own practice, relationship with our self, as well as how we interact with the world… 

Breakti is about embracing change and fearlessness by facing our challenges with gentleness toward our self and others.

Breakti is about handstands, but it is also about heart. 

Breakti is about the rhythm of music, but also the rhythm of life. 

Breakti asks us to BREAK our habitual ways of perceiving ourselves and the world through the act of stepping into the fire, the circle, the cypher, the moment. 

Are you down with Breakti? 

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