The Dao of Frances Hausman

There’s a scene in Dirty Dancing, arguably the greatest movie of all time (I said arguably), in which Johnny cries out to Baby (real name Frances Hausman, but you knew that) that he’s so petrified of life and she’s not afraid of anything. Of course by “life” he meant he was too scared to stand up to that twerp Neil, who was infuriatingly insisting that the dance finale of the staff talent show be the pachanga. Baby tried to encourage him to fight for his vision and overcome his feelings of intimidation (you know this as well). Johnny burst forth with differentiating between him and her; he was poor, at the mercy of The Man, and afraid to lose his job. She was wealthy, privileged, didn’t have to fear being ejected from the Catskills, and was an inherently courageous girl “not afraid of anything”. “Me?? I’m afraid of EVERYTHING!”, she replied. It was an exchange of honesty that added new depth to their summer romance, as did changing in the car en route to the Sheldrake to perform the mambo. This all came to mind recently when a few women told me they look at me and see a women afraid of nothing. They were specifically talking about becoming a DJ, but also other major transitions I’ve made too. I was taken aback since prior to the DJ thing as well as those other major shifts, I felt like a young girl who was absolutely petrified of all of it. I was literally riddled with fear. I’m doing tons of shadow work that began years ago but majorly intensified this past summer. The realizations of things I need to look at keep coming in waves, some violent and some more subtle. But all contain the underlying common fear factor. I have been storing a large body of fear since childhood that I’m just now learning to manage. I am learning this with a book you all must order right now.  I’m serious. It’s medicine in print. There isn’t a human on earth who shouldn’t read Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. Dana, I love you so much for telling me about this. Our culture teaches us to distract ourselves from anything unpleasant and to run from any negative feelings. The mind is on board with this since the function of the mind is to keep us safe. So it strategizes and we listen to protect ourselves from further pain. The mind might tell you to drink, pop a pill, work out, turn on the radio to drown out your thoughts, seek physical affection to soften the edge of hurt, turn on the TV, call a friend, or engage in an activity in which you excel. Some means of distraction are problematic and some are positive, but all are a means of avoiding pain in the moment. Friends, hugs, music, and going to the gym are great; just don’t use them to keep looking away from your deep reservoirs of icky stuff. The more we resist any form of hurt, the stronger the beast becomes. The more we try to stuff it down, the more we leave it alone to regenerate. This is why we can feel consumed and powerless when the wave of your personal pain body hits. It can be anger, sadness, frustration, self pity, fear etc. It hits without warning at unexpected or expected triggers. But here’s the thing, it’s hitting us to inform us that we need to direct our attention there. It’s not there to torture us. It’s there to lead us down the path to self healing. But first we must enter thorn covered gates of pain in order to open into the field of loveliness and warmth that resides within. There’s no way to skip the line. Sorry, Jews, I know how much you hate waiting on line. I’ll give you an example. The other day I was having a really good day. Then something happened and I was seized with terror. Bat to the knees, chest and head exploding terror. It was a very tough trigger and my entire system reacted as it always has. I was going to be in trouble. I was going to be punished. I felt hunted and victimized.  I was in a state of genuine fright. Fear is the great anticipation of pain, and I was being faced with a situation that was guaranteed to be painful. I was in my car at the time. My hand instinctively reached to turn on the radio, since that’s what it’s always done. My brain sent the message to my body to distract me to protect me. But this other part of me said, no, I’m going to feel this now. I imagined my little self staring at this Fear Thing. It was ME seeing IT, not the other way around. It’s like confronting a bully that will always inevitably begin to skulk away after it realizes it has far less power than previously thought. I saw the fear, fully knowing it had come to visit me in that moment. I neither identified with it nor pushed it away. I didn’t ignore it or sweep it under the rug with its ancestors. I allowed it to be there and guess what? It passed through me quite quickly. My day resumed normally, productively, and fairly well. That moment of fear didn’t throw it off course. I kept my composure throughout by holding myself with clarity and awareness as to what was occurring. Such is the nature of the human condition. We are electromagnetic fields of constantly changing energy. We will be visited by thousands of joys and sorrows, all of which will leave only to return and leave again. The only constant is us and that inner spaciousness that is our design. We know it’s there because that’s what allows for thoughts and feelings to fill it temporarily. Only that which was once empty can be filled. It’s knowing how to hold onto true self love during these crazy fluctuations that creates a much better quality of life. There’s peace in knowing we aren’t out of control and at the mercy of external forces. Running away from anything reinforces the notion that we are too weak to handle what it is we are trying to escape. It’s not true though. Thoughts aren’t the truth. Ironically, the great strength in self care and self healing comes from accessing this incredible ability to direct tremendous compassion inward. We have such an easier time giving compassion to others. It’s much harder to give it to ourselves. It’s something no one else can do for us, which is what makes it such a magical power. Through whatever seemingly awful feeling that’s overtaking us at the moment, the gentle goal must be to hold ourselves with tender love and compassion as it passes through our person. Imagine yourself as a three year old who is afraid/angry/sad/ashamed and comforting that child with this protective love no matter what it’s going through. This is done while fully acknowledging and seeing whatever monster has come to visit. Just as it came, it will eventually leave. What will remain will be your ability to love yourself unconditionally through all circumstances. I’m really oversimplifying this, but this is the key to accessing the Buddha nature within you. You have it. You really have it. It’s seeing ourselves with a wise, clear, loving heart and not running from anything that eventually enables us to act well despite the fears and shames. This is a lifetime of practice but trust me, it’s the key to a better life. As we heal on an individual level we then start to heal those around us, which then begins to heal the greater collective. That’s what is meant by love and compassion originating from within, and what it means when we hear we can only love others as well as we love ourselves. I had no idea what that meant until I read this book and started listening to the loving wisdom of Jack Kornfield (podcasts and you tube). These daily tools have been life altering. The world is already a different place to me, and I loved it before. As I’m learning to manage my fear by holding myself with unconditional love, I think back to how I began to shift my life several years ago while being consumed with terror. I did it because I had another set of fears that were stronger than feeling inadequate, small, and intimidated. That was the fear of regret. The fear of regret outweighed the fear of throwing myself into the unknown of a new identity and new life. That’s what I told those women who see me as this brave woman taking her life by force. It’s not that I wasn’t scared. It’s that I was able to find that part of me that refused to go down without trying. Being brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared. It means you are but you go forth anyway. Thank you, Fear, I see you. You can sit next to me. You’re less scary when I give you permission to visit. But soon I’m going to get up and live my life according to my truth. Thank you for redirecting me to the inner teacher of love. I couldn’t have gotten to her without you.

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