Having seen skeletons and spider webs hanging in front gardens and children dressed up as scary witches and devils, Halloween brings a sense of spookiness around and taps into one of our primal feelings – fear. It seems to be everywhere I look. I open my email and I receive message about spyware programs, I sit on the tube and the headline of metro paper is about Ebola. I speak to my nanny and she is talking about what happened on Crimewatch and she is reluctant to even open the door to our neighbour who has come unannounced to give us some hot chappati's! The underlying emotion or feeling that these news headlines and programmes are using is also one of our most primal emotions – FEAR.
Fear is also one of the emotions that is required when we’re faced with threat. It allows us to act to bring us back to safety. It allows us to be careful and take informative risks. I read a fascinating book called' Why Zebras don't get Ulcers'! The book aims to describe how when faced with a threat, as when a zebra faces a lion and the prospect of being eaten up, all the functions in the body react in such a way that he is able to run. The emotion of fear prevails which enables him to get going.
However, Ebola virus, malware, Crimewatch is different. This is a fear that sits with us. These kind of headlines and programmes allow us to think and feed upon fears from the past and strengthens our unwanted patterns. It takes us into the realm where questions like 'what if', 'should I' arise. And slowly and steadily notches-up the anxiety meter. That's right, fear and anxiety are directly proportional to each other and go hand in hand. ‘What if’ I go to India and on my travels my children contract some kind of virus? ‘What if’ my children play with loom bands, they will get cancer? These are the questions arise in my mind when I read the papers because this is the news that is all around me.
The idea is not to ignore the facts completely or deny any feelings. The facts can be easily manipulated and it is the job of our intellect to find meaning and relevance of the context. If I was going for a charity project in the slums in India that might be contaminated by dirty water and mosquitoes flying around, then I might consider vaccination but if I am going to my parent's house where every fruit will be washed with mineral water, then the fear of contracting an illness like jaundice or typhoid is unfounded. Similarly, the chances of sitting next to a person with Ebola virus on the tube in the UK are also rare.
The mental company that we keep is an essential tool towards managing our fear and anxiety. By mental company, I mean the books we read, the programs and films we watch. If we constantly indulge our senses towards negative things, then slowly we will take those qualities and the associated feelings such as fear.
If we are to evolve in our understanding, it demands that we shift perspective often enough, often out of our comfort zone - that we take a step, maybe a leap of faith, and learn to trust and surrender. If we grasp on the information, knowledge or proof, that is part of our conditioning and enslaves us into a system that is manipulated by the few, then we never move far from our state of fear.
Fear is not a disease but chronic feeding of it can lead to disease. I can choose to feed and make myself miserable or I can choose to engage with it in a way that it allows me to make informative decisions and surrendering to the opposite primal feeling of FAITH.