The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

the Hero's Journal #2

Hero Rejects the Challenge.
Why?  Because a challenge great enough to really expand you, or move you to the next level, will threaten your ego. Such a change is interpreted as "death," and will trigger the same fear response.  I remember attending a sexual magic workshop once, and all I was being asked to do was go back to my cabin and make love to a beautiful woman. I freaked out, and had such an extreme fear response that it felt as if I was going to die in the morning.   If this seems rediculous, you have to grasp what sexual magic is.  If you've never experienced it, consider that there are countless discipllines that alter consciousness through control of breathing alone.  Modifying the body's orgasmic response is exponentially more powerful.  The intensity of an orgasm is in direct proportion to the amount of your ego you release at that moment.  In other words, the more YOU are there, the less the pleasure is.  There should be a momentary sense of dissolution of ego boundaries between you and the lover, or you're doin' it wrong, friend.  Now, in such a workshop, we were playing with this response in fascinating and direct ways.  In other words, we were creating a Pavlovian Stimulus-Response loop between an egoless state and the most powerful positive sensation your body is capable of experiencing.  The ego, knowing it cannot compete, strikes back with its strongest weapon: fear of death.  I asked Swift Deer, the workshop leader, what I should do.  He said I should go out and talk to a tree.
For those of you who don't know, the "Talk to the Tree" exercise  is done something like this.  Find a friendly-looking tree along a moderately-traveled road. Connect with it emotionally. Then wait until another human being walks by. Note the way your posture and carriage and facial expression shift as soon as there is another person.  This is the "mask", the ego weight you carry to conceal your true self from the world.  It is the cost you pay for being inauthentic.  One of the secrets to Mastery is to be the same way with people as you are with the tree.
Well, I leaned my head against that tree, and sobbed my eyes out.  And I found my self saying, (to the tree.  Believe me, I know how nutty this sounds): "how can you do it?  how can you jsut be the same, no matter what?  Whether it's hot or cold, whether it's snowy or rainy or the sun is shining, whether they love you or hate you, how can you just be the same?"  And in some odd tree way, it answered me.  "I'm just a tree, man," it said.  "My roots go down, my branches go up.  I'm just me.  I can't be anything else."  Implicitly: so why try to be?
I got it.  And went back up to finish the exercise, and finished the rest of the workshop.
But we do.  And the fear of dying, of shattering the ego walls, paralyzes us.  F.E.A.R.  We've all heard it: False Evidence that Appears Real.  And there's another acronym just as accurate but less appropriate for mixed audiences: F%$# Everything And Run.
But running brings us to another, and incredibly powerful exercise for dealing with fear.  It requires that you have a physical activity that will take you into second wind.  Walking, running, clubbells, kettlebells, jumping rope, swimming, all will work.  This exercise, taught to me by Coach Sonnon, is so powerful it is almost like magic. 
all right. 
1) Sit for 10 minutes and bring the emotion of fear into your body.  Powerfully directly.  Imagine worst-case scenarios, whatever you need, until you are shaking, crying out of your nose, sobbing.
Ten minutes.
2) Now begin your aerobic exercise.  Continue until you reach second wind, and for at least five minutes beyond that place.
This just flat works.  The reason is that the physiological profile of hormone dump during cardio-respiratory distress is very similar to the hormone dump during extreme fear.  Instead of calling it "Second wind," call it "Second gear"--a cortical response, a neurophysiological adjustment to increase efficiency so that the body can function under the specific stress.   CRD is more primal than any fear you are likely to have locked in your body.  When you take this physical road, you are hitting the "reset" button on your neurology, clearing out years or decades of fear response in minutes.  Bizarre as it sounds, you can get a 20% (approximate, subjective) reduction of fear IN YOUR FIRST SESSION.  Then, of course, practise this a couple of times a week as needed.
This is an example of a "mastery" technique.  This is not a game, and I am not b.S.-ing you.  You've just had a "hidden secret" placed right in front of you, for free.  All you have to do is try it.  Any aerobic activity that will trigger a "second wind" response will do it (second wind usually kicks in after 13-18 minutes of steady-state exercise).  This is why you MUST engage your body when you seek Master.  The mind will deceive you.  The body, subject to physical rule and laws, cannot.
The "Five Minute Miracle" will get you started integrating mind and body, the cheapest and most efficient method I know.  Check it out!

1 comment:

Emily said...

I enjoy reading your posts - down to the science you are! Since leaving a job as a consultant for the movie studios I've gone wild. I dove head first into world philosophy, spirituality, art, dance, theater, fitness, etc.. I've definatley been using the technique you described for releasing fear. I'm actually on to a serious inquiry into pure faith walking. I'm challenging the belief one has to work at all. Can I simply manifest money and continue immersing myself in the things I love and reach a bridge at some point where money is involved in what I love. I believe I can. Pure faith.