Fri, 19 Aug 2022

By Suvir SaranNew Delhi [India], December 29 (ANI): Nearing the end of 2021, I am in a bittersweet frame of mind, ruminating on all of the loved ones I have lost to COVID. I feel exhausted and broken, yet I know that to honour them I have to find a way to move forward. I need to rise again and embrace life with gusto.

The external world is not going to make this easy; 2022 is headed to an ominous, fear-inducing start. Public health is at an all-time low, the climate crisis is accelerating, and our social fabric is fraying. Is it any wonder that anxiety disorders have become endemic across the population? So when I came across the book, 'Unfear' by Gaurav Bhatnagar and Mark Minukas, my interest was piqued.

I was surprised to find, in the first chapter of a "business book", a story my grandmother told me when I was a child growing up in Delhi: the myth of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk. At a time of unceasing death and warfare, every being in the universe, from the Devas (demigods) to the Asuras (demons), came together to churn the Ocean of Milk to produce the Elixir of Life, which would bestow vitality and prosperity upon them all.

As they churned the ocean, all kinds of positive things emerged, including gems and the Wish-Fulfilling Tree. But as they continued to greedily churn further, a deadly poison flowed from the ocean as well and started killing humans, demigods, and demons alike. Worried that the poison would eradicate all life, the demigods, demons and humans asked Shiva, one of the three supreme deities, for help. Shiva took the poison into his mouth and held it in his throat. He did not swallow it, so he was unaffected by it. Cleared of the poison, the universe of living things thrived. Holding the poison turned Shiva's throat blue (Neela), and he was henceforth called Neelkantha.

'Unfear' invites each of us to be Neelkanth in our everyday living that can be so full of chaos and stress. To hold fear in our throat without letting it poison us; to reframe fear, so that when faced with it, we don't further chaos by collapsing into fight or flight responses but rather create learning and growth, both for our personal well-being and for the well-being of others.

As I delved deeper (both into the book and into myself), three of the authors' concepts provided me the impetus I needed to move forward.

First, fear is a natural human emotion, neither good nor bad. What makes it restrictive or expansive is the story we associate with it. Rather than focusing on the adversity I face, I need to focus on the story I am creating around it and ask if the story is holding me back or creating the space for me to move forward. As the authors say, "The story we create about fear matters more than the fear itself."Second, I am both the actor and director of my life. When I experience my life as just an actor, I am at the mercy of what life throws at me. I become my thoughts and emotions. However, there is also a part of me that can observe myself, my actions and my behaviour. Therefore, I am bigger than my thinking and way richer than the emotions I show. From this place of observation, I can direct and be the active cause of my life rather than just an effect of it.

The final idea comes from Advaita Vedanta. We humans are/have infinite potential. The life force that manifested the Universe is the life force that lives within us; it is the font of our own creative potential and actions. We will never be depleted because there's always something more, newer opportunities and possibilities, that we can call forth in response to whatever life throws at us.

The good news is that we already carry an unfear version of ourselves. We just need to release it. As Michelangelo said in 1495 when he finished Angel, an early masterwork: "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." In much the same way, the unfear individual already exists within us. We just need to chisel away at the stone to set it free.

Understanding ourselves as infinite potential allows us to be creative (director) in our response to any life situation, and also gives us access to an unlimited source of energy to face life's challenges. When we live from infinite potential, we are vibrant, inexhaustible, creative and joyful.

Nothing out in the world may change, but when what is inside changes, our experience of life is transformed. So that is my resolution for 2022. Let the world bring what it may, I have the power to alchemize it into learning, creativity and joy.

I choose to focus on the story, to be the director of my life, and to recognize the infinite potential I hold within myself. And my heartfelt wish to you, dear reader, my fellow traveller in this journey of life, is that you do the same and create for yourself an unfeared, productive, and joyful 2022.

Disclaimer: The author of this opinion article is Suvir Saran, who is a Chef, Author, World Traveller. (ANI)

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