In mid-August 1996 I was sitting on the sofa in my living room. The final papers for my divorce had come through in April, a death knell tolling the end of my life as I had known it. I had no one to be a mirror for me, no one to share my life with, nothing left to define me.
My regular employment had fallen away, and for several months I had been scrambling internally to hold my tenuous-seeming existence together. I did not yet have a clearly conceived direction to move forward in, and I could barely make financial ends meet.
During the last few days I had been experiencing sporadic panic rising out of nowhere. From time to time I could feel my heart pounding and my breath becoming shallow, and the sense of panic was so acute and disorienting that it terrified me. I tried to do everything I could to avoid it, and I reacted as many of us might in the face of rising terror: I kept myself distracted with pointless motion. I threw myself into the habitual humdrum of daily life, into rote activities that gave me some sense of normality, of security – of sanity. I took refuge in doing the things I knew I was competent at: vacuuming, cleaning, cooking, paying bills and offering my one-to-one therapies.
Though occasionally I would call a friend for a chat, I felt deeply alone. I was constantly cold and no matter what I did I could not get physically warm. I was desperately trying to cobble together something that resembled my previous existence, a life that would give me some sense of connection, nourishment, and safety.
I had tried all my age-old, stalwart remedies: I took walks in nature, I meditated, chanted, and read calming words of wisdom from books by enlightened masters, but still the fear would not be assuaged. I was on the run, being hunted down, not by something outside me, but by something more immediate, more terrifying, something almost alien arising from within. I wanted to jump out of my own body to get away from it, but there was no escape. Like most of us I had fear of fear, and no one had given me a set of instructions marked, ‘What To Do in The Face of Overwhelming Fear’.
Turning towards fear
My mundane avoidance strategies and activities became increasingly ineffective at keeping the fear at bay. Nothing was working, and I had no idea what to do next. I caught myself vacuuming the living room carpet for the second day in a row, and I suddenly got it: I realised that I could not run any more. I would have to face this tiger and look it in the eyes.
So I sat down and closed my eyes. Though my heart was thudding in my ears, my face was flushed hot and my breath was thin, through some force of will I turned towards the fear. I welcomed it to ‘come and get me’, and I sat still and waited. Everything seemed to swirl out of control. It felt like I was going to be pulled apart by the force of it. In my head I shouted,‘What is this fear about? What am I really afraid of?’ And I willed it to reveal itself.
The swirling chaos began to subside. Time seemed to slow down, then stand still. Eventually a reply arose within, ‘You’re afraid that next month your ex-husband’s maintenance cheque is not going to come in. You’re afraid that the rug is going to be completely pulled out from under you again, and what insubstantial security you have left will be ripped from you. You are terrified that if you don’t do something now you will be unable to pay your bills, cast out of your home, left alone and destitute.’
I opened my eyes, ‘Shit! Is this what I’m afraid of?’
Some deep inner awareness knew that this was exactly what was going to happen – my maintenance cheque was not going to arrive – and like a good friend the fear had been trying to get my attention for days, trying to get me to wake up and take action, but I was so afraid of facing the fear that I had been on the run since the first trace of it arose, and the more I ignored it the more insistent it became. The fear was trying to warn me of what it perceived as an impending disaster, one that did in fact happen when my cheques not only failed to arrive at the end of that month, but stopped altogether.
The difficulty was that even the unconscious possibility of being left without my meagre financial support was so daunting, so terrifying that my mind recoiled and closed down. It was like a physical vice had clamped down on my ability to access any positive action, answers, solutions or support. I was absolutely frozen and immobilised.
The something inside me said, ‘Stop! I am not letting this fear control me in this way!’
And then I did a radical thing. I decided it was time to face not just this one fear about a cheque not coming in, but to faceevery fear that had ever existed, every fear that was secretly lurking inside my body, poised, ready to do its dirty work.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Taking out a spiral-bound notebook and a pen, at the top of the first page I wrote in bold, ‘What’s The Worst That Could Happen?’ as if I was calling up to the surface every fear hiding inside me. I was determined that my fears were going to come up, come out and be fully exposed. I summoned my courage and opened my being wide, as if willing the full power of these lurking fears to come to the surface, and I genuinely asked myself, ‘What is the worst that could happen?’ genuinely wanting to know the answer. Soon I found I was dialoguing with myself.
‘OK. So let’s say that the cheque doesn’t arrive. Then what?’
When I asked the question the panic started to arise and swirl again, but I willed myself to stay wide open in the fear, to face the naked truth of the worst that would happen.
The fear became even stronger and, as I surrendered fully to it, the next answer arose, ‘Well, if the cheque didn’t arrive it would mean I couldn’t pay my bills, couldn’t afford to eat.’
I felt sick at the thought of such a possibility. Fear swamped me anew as once again I asked, ‘OK. So if that happened, then what would happen? What’s the absolute worst that would come out of that?’ I realised that, even with the most tolerant and loving of friends, eventually I would wear out my welcome and would have to leave.
This time, I asked the question, ‘OK. So if that happened, that your dearest friends turned you out, then what’s the worst that could happen?’ A picture of me lying in the gutter in New York City, my hometown, arose. I was destitute, in rags, with sores on my face and with not a soul to reach out to me. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of helplessness, of hopelessness. All my education, my degrees and certifications rendered useless, like so many bits of trash. I felt I was an abject failure, and there was no hope to be found.
A part of me knew that such a ludicrous thing would never happen, and yet I was constant and determined that I would meet and face the deepest, darkest fears, no matter how ridiculous or impossible they seemed. If these fears were stored inside me, I was committed to meeting them. They were not going to run my show anymore.
So I opened completely to the truth of how appalling this picture made me feel. By this point I was lost in hopeless failure, feeling worthless, useless, and I was forced to openly confront my deepest fear head on: that I did not believe I had what it took to survive; I was so worthless, so incapable that I just did not have the ability to take care of myself. I was beyond salvation and filled with self-disgust. I had reached rock bottom.
So I asked again, ‘And if this were to happen, that I would end up penniless, starving, dying in a New York City gutter, thenwhat’s the worst that could happen?’
Something already knew the answer, that death would come for me, and I would perish. This was the core fear at the root of it all: that because I didn’t have what it takes to survive, I would die.
Again I asked, ‘So if you died, then what’s the worst that could happen?’
Something inside me opened to the possibility of death. For a moment it felt as if I was being pulled apart by some unseen force, panic kept coming in waves, and I felt like I was drowning in a swirling mass of deconstruction, fighting for my life. Then eventually something quiet and still beckoned me, and invited me to stop fighting the process, even though I couldn’t understand it. That same presence wordlessly invited me to let go, to surrender completely to the disorienting confusion of it all.
And something did let go. It began to feel as if everything was dissolving into a vast field of blackness. My physical form seemed to become insubstantial, non-existent, to disappear into nothingness, into pure awareness.
The universe as one consciousness
Everything became timeless, infinite. After some time, the awareness started transmuting into particles of light – a vast, sparkling, scintillating field of light, a presence that waseverywhere, permeating everything. The field was endless, formless, and all of life was arising in it, was being embraced in it.
I experienced the whole universe as one consciousness, an all-inclusive potential waiting to manifest and express itself as form, as all of life. And I recognised that this pure potential was my own soul, my own Self. I realised that this that I am is permeating everything, and that all of life is occurring in me, as me. There is nothing separate from me, nor am I separate from anything in life.
Then came the realisation that in this potential everything is available: all genius, all wisdom, all love, all creativity, all answers. In fact all of life is born, sustained and dies away again in this vast field of unborn potential. In this presence all possibilities exist.
All possibilities exist
I sat in wonder and laughed at the ludicrous cosmic joke of it. In meeting my greatest fear – the fear of not having the ability to take care of myself, not being able to survive on my own, that I would die alone, destitute – I had fallen into my own soul. In a simple act of opening into the most frightening of possibilities, my own death, I had found liberation.
Through Journeywork I had already discovered that when we fully surrender into the core of our worst, most painful and debilitating emotions, we will be carried into the core of our own being, into the enlightened, awakened presence of our essence.
But like almost all of us, when my deepest, most primal core fear was exposed, I froze. I shut down. I ran. And it was only when I stopped, turned and offered myself completely into the fear, letting it ‘annihilate’ me, that I was able to open freshly into the pure unbounded presence that is my own soul.
What had I been so afraid of – that I would shed some old clothing?
Calling forth the answers
I was sitting there with my eyes shut, resting in this pure radiant presence, in an ocean of certain knowing that this presence was patiently waiting to use me as part of the creative solution to the impending crisis in my life. I realised it was waiting for me to call forth the answers that were there for the taking.
So I opened my eyes and reached for my spiral notebook again, knowing that those old fears could no longer own me. I opened wide into this field of pure potential. Even with my eyes wide open it was still palpable, still vast, redolently omnipresent. And I asked, ‘If this infinite presence could create the highest and best in my life, what’s the best that could happen here?’
What’s the best that could happen?
I wrote these words at the top of a new page, and the answers started pouring onto the paper. I felt like I was a scribe for grace, my only task to keep asking, ‘What’s the best that could happen?’ letting this field of presence do all the rest. I could barely write fast enough as a new dialogue began.
‘What is the best that could happen?’
‘Well, I could get real and acknowledge that the cheque will probably not come, and that I need to take clear, decisive action. So the first thing I need to do is cut my bills in half, by getting a housemate who can take the second bedroom and split the rent and utility bills.’
‘OK, so let’s say that tomorrow I go to the meditation centre and I find someone suitable who would like to share the apartment with me; then what’s the best that could come out of that?’
‘I would start getting real about my general finances, and would start to budget properly. With my living expenses cut in half I could start getting creative about how to bring in more income.’
So if that happened, if I took proactive steps to increase my income, what would that look like? What’s the best that could happen?’
The answers came flying out of the emptiness, as proactive ideas and the larger vision flooded my awareness. As I looked at the long list of ideas I had written and felt the huge power of what was possible, I compared it with my list of old fears. The list of fears was much shorter.
I asked myself, ‘Does this vision of possibility and action give me enough leverage to want to do a full Journey process to face and fully clear out my worst fear – of not having the ability to survive and take care of myself?’
The answer was a resounding, ‘YES!’
So that was what I did. I took a couple of hours with a friend and underwent a full Journey process, to clear out and finish with the old fear-consciousness. And in doing that I opened the door for all those possibilities to come true. And come true they did!
And surely, if humanity is to survive, a shift in consciousness like this on a global scale, is just what we need. The infinite field of all possibilities is waiting for everyone.
Time to live in conscious abundance
It’s time to wake up and expose your own worst core fear. It’s time to open into it, beyond it, into the vast potential of your own soul. It’s time to clear out your patterns of shutdown, finish with your stories of limitation. It’s time to clear out the silent saboteurs that have been running your life and begin opening into your true potential.
It’s time to become part of the co-creative dance of manifestation, and to live in conscious abundance in every area of your life. It’s time to be part of the shift in consciousness our planet needs.