Fearless in Fear

I see now how much I was afraid of before discovering the Balanced View Training. What would or could happen that I didn’t want to, that I’d have to do things I didn’t feel like doing, social anxiety, confusion and sadness. Life felt like it was more about actively avoiding things I didn’t want to experience than anything else; constantly categorizing everything into good/bad/indifferent like a robot on autopilot.

My partner Max and I had attended a number of in-person Balanced View trainings, mostly in California, and we decided I would attend the next California gathering alone for the first time. I’d be journeying there from Vancouver, Canada; ~16 hours of driving taking the fastest highway, and 25+ hours taking the coast. We have a hybrid car that makes driving a good money-saving option, so this is usually how we get there.

At first it seemed okay that I’d be driving there alone, but as time crept closer to leave, the fears got wild: What if someone rapes and kills me at a rest stop? What if I run out of gas in the middle of nowhere and my phone is dead? What if I’m driving perfectly but someone suddenly swerves into me from oncoming traffic? All the absolute worst scenarios were raging in my head, and I found their intensity very convincing! I wrote my trainer Mia about it, and that was a good move. Fear kept arising, but something in me knew I should still go for it regardless of how intense and relentless the stories were.

The trip began with a perfect opportunity to relax when I was sent to secondary inspection at the border, standing in what looked like a snaking amusement park line for more than two hours before speaking to a border guard who was to interview me. I ended up showing him my website on his computer and talking about art I make, nothing heavy about the situation or talking to him. The thoughts of where I should be by now or all the time wasted standing in line amazingly wasn’t the focus or what I related from.

When I was free to go, I just felt happy to finally be on my way. I listened to Balanced View talks most of the time, and that was immensely helpful. If fears or frustrations arose while driving the busy highway 5, listening to the talks naturally reminded me that I didn’t need to go with that data, and in fact there was nothing wrong with the data itself or experiencing it.

The training was beautiful, and a new experience to be there without Max and see all was well. Driving home went just as smoothly as getting there. The border guard on the way back gave me a bit of a hard time, but luckily not to the point of sending me to secondary again! I made it home safely and was greeted by my sweethearts Max and Sprout.

A year later when the training was offered once more, Max couldn’t get the time off work, but I was again in a position where I could go. This time, I looked forward to the journey by car and was excited to take the scenic route along the coast; taking my time over a few days driving only 7-9 hours per day, sleep in my little makeshift bed in the back of the car, and enjoy the many incredible state parks and beaches along the coast of Oregon and California. My only vivid resistance was crossing the boarder, given my experience there and back last time. But I knew I was going even if they sent me to secondary inspection both times, so just planned ahead for that and left a bit earlier than I usually would.

The morning I was to leave, I felt so tired and lazy about it, and thought over and over that it would be so much easier to not go at all or have to deal with cold border guards and waiting in giant lineups. Max assured me I’d have a good time once I was out on the road, and he always seems to be right when he makes proclamations like that. I let my heart lead the way and drove into the unknown.

I was in a car lineup to the border for about an hour and a half; the perfect amount of time for all the worries to intensify! Imagining all the time I’ve waited in the border line plus if they send me to secondary, that would officially be too much and would affect the rest of my trip and where/when I can stop and that is not good, etc. Once it was finally my turn though, I breezed right through without issue. Yet another potent example that intensity of data or what has happened in the past doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what will happen now.

Once I reached the 101, as Max had assured, I was happy to be there. I listened to Balanced View talks, music, podcasts; enjoying the more easygoing flow of traffic compared to the busier interior highway while surrounded by trees and awe-inspiring beaches along the way. Sleeping soundly in rest areas, I’d wake up and go for little morning hikes on nearby trails before finding coffee and driving to the next nature spot. Every moment of the way I felt so fortunate to be in the position to enjoy the drive and its nature, and be heading to a gathering that has powerfully exposed and opened me to so much with every attendance.

At one point on rustic highway 1, I noticed there were more miles to the nearest gas station than I had left in fuel. I remembered our car goes into pure electric mode if it’s driven under a certain speed and not going uphill, so I kept under that speed and watched the little “EV” letters light up whenever possible. Eventually, the amount of gas I had left slowly surpassed how many miles were left to the station! As it did, I was relaxed but alert, not knowing if the EV plan would work, but again remaining open and responsive without panicking. Such a nicer way to face whatever arises.

The San Rafael training was perfect. Each time I attend, I see how far I’ve come. To no longer be afraid of feeling or experiencing anything, this is what I’m doing this for, and why I keep participating. Every direct result never fades or is forgotten once recognized, with nothing to memorize or struggle to keep in place.

On my way home, it was still sunny when I reached my designated rest stop, so I spontaneously felt like driving more. I drove until about 11:30pm and happened upon a quiet moonlit campground parking lot with a washroom. Waking at 7am, I drove until I reached home at around 9pm that night. Crossing the border was again a breeze, and no lineup! The highway heading home from the border has a huge open area where you can see so much of the sky at once, and I feel like every time I’ve come home from the training, the sun is piercing through the most immense and beautiful clouds.

I was greeted by Sprout, our new kitty Boo, and later my sweet Max when he got home. And oh, the best shower ever! The surreal feeling of being home after a trip always elicits deeper gratitude. Gratitude for the trip, gratitude for home and everything in it, and most of all gratitude to see fundamentally I’m always home even if the scenery changes.

Thank you dearest Candice for offering the California teachings, and great gratitude to my trainer Mia and partner Max for their kind support and encouragement to dive (/drive) into the abysses that seem too scary. I am forever grateful to keep discovering fearlessness in fear with the easeful support and encouragement offered in Balanced View.

Love, As It Is

For most of my life, it seemed obvious that the goal was to find those handful of special people who “got me”, love and interact only with them, and to hell with anyone else.  As a child, I had one best friend at a time, and a few other second-bests to call on if my bestie wasn’t available.  One by one, those best friends and second-bests drifted away, and the urge to find a special someone who appreciated and knew me inside and out—and would never leave—carried into my adulthood.

After a couple of tumultuous longterm relationships, including a marriage, I decided the other extreme was true: I didn’t want to be in a relationship at all or invest any energy or care into others.  If we drifted, cool.  If we kept hanging out, cool.  It felt freeing after a life of thinking I needed someone else to be complete, though that also missed the real mark.

Then I met my current partner, who I have been with for 7 beautiful years now.  The second or so time we hung out, I remember telling him I didn’t want to be in a relationship with anyone; just wanted to meet people and have fun.  But something about him was unlike anyone I had met.  He really looked me in the eye, he dressed comfortably and confidently, he was relaxed and open in a way I’d never experienced someone be.  Things organically progressed, and a year or so into our relationship, he started sharing videos from Balanced View with me.

Through Balanced View, I was introduced to so many people who had the same radiant, authentic relaxation my partner had.  It was magnetizing, even with initial fears of the unknown.  After joining a number of clarity calls and participating in trainings, I connected with people I knew from those offerings over Facebook and email, experiencing that same open relaxation in them even though we were just exchanging digital letters and images on a screen.  I could honestly say I loved people I had never met in the flesh.

Eventually my partner and I started attending in-person Balanced View gatherings in California and Sweden.  Being with so many relaxed, open-hearted beings in one place was an incredible—sometimes overwhelming in the beginning—experience.  I found and still find myself falling in love again and again with so many amazing friends and mentors who show me what is possible; what it is to be truly themselves without any bullshit or fronts.  A falling in love that is very ordinary where I am not afraid of it fading or ceasing, or that it has to look a certain way.  Seeing that true love subsumes all the ideas I held about it; that it’s already the case between us—as us—as human beings.  Not elusive, or something that only a special few can hold with me like my intimate partner, family members, or friends I see regularly face-to-face.  Wow!

More and more, I find myself feeling love for and connecting with people I don’t conventionally know at all.  Fast food clerks that take my order, someone who I help pick up groceries they dropped on the street, a tourist asking me for directions in my home city..  Sometimes I’m struck at the heart to speak with others and recognize our inherent connection, whatever we’re talking about or however many or few words we exchange.

If who I’m talking to isn’t outwardly pleasant or open, uncontrived compassion is more and more obvious.  Through the incredible encouragement and support from Balanced View over the years to not run away from my own afflictive thoughts and emotions, it isn’t a mystery to me anymore how someone could act out from the data they experience.  I did for the majority of my life, unaware of another option.  If someone is rude or awkward, I’m no longer fooled into thinking there is something fundamentally wrong with them or me, and can more spontaneously see what is helpful and what isn’t in any given situation.

There is something astounding and powerful about speaking openly to another human being with no strings attached on either side. Not needing each other to change in order to feel okay, and everyone taking full responsibility for their own thoughts, emotions, and actions without dumping them absentmindedly onto others.  I get this in spades through my interactions with participants in the Balanced View community, and evermore naturally with anyone in life.

I’m eternally grateful for this opening to love as it actually is.  Thank you all, love you all.

Keep Calm and Carry On

Something about the phrase, “Keep calm and carry on” always soothed me when I read it—whether in its original version or in the many varieties that adopted it on t-shirts or slogans for their websites. But it’s only now I’m seeing what about it always resonated with me.

I was aching for any confirmation that it was possible for me to be empowered and stable through life’s ups and downs. That even if something seemingly disastrous or disturbing happened, I could be strong and actually carry on without stopping at any and every hurdle that arose. Balanced View is the only thing that has ever given me clear instructions, lived examples and support to not just know that it was possible, but to actually embody it and live it myself.

It didn’t happen overnight. It began with simply recognizing I wanted it, that it was even possible and demonstrated by so many people in the Balanced View Community all encouraging, “You can do it, too!” I was skeptical, but bit by bit—short moment by short moment—in baby steps sometimes and in leaps others, I’d really test out that stability and see that all was well no matter the fuss I made or didn’t make about certain data. Not just imagining the words or contemplating an idea, but being willing to no longer run away—avoid, replace, mindlessly indulge—revealing a direct sense that no matter what I was experiencing, something remained unchanged by all of the appearances and sensations. Getting to know that something as my true identity is the greatest gift I could have had the chance to discover in this life.

Now I know, “I can do it.” where there was once only self-doubt and fear. Where I used to do anything to avoid speaking to people that made me uncomfortable, I see feeling uncomfortable or awkward has never killed me and it doesn’t matter if I feel it or not. Where there is the urge to make a huge deal out of something and focus on how bad it is, slowly but surely there is the willingness to keep calm and carry on with what I instinctively know I need to be doing. And that instinctive knowing is always clearer and more naturally unfolds on its own the more I rely on the Four Mainstays in daily life.

Listening to or watching talks on www.balancedview.org, www.timelessawareness.org, or their respective YouTube channels while I prepare meals or clean the house is an easy and enjoyable way for me to rely on a Mainstay. Being present on the www.bright.how Facebook page and seeing so many new people discovering the same stability and ease that I am is so supportive and inspiring. And speaking to friends in the community, I get to hear about what they are facing openly in their own lives and it gives me such motivation and assurance that I can face anything in mine.

I am grateful for a training that only ever points me back to the profound nature of being a human being, and the great opportunity and adventure that that is. Tsunamis of fear, anger, hopelessness, disgust, guilt and self-doubt scare me less and less, and feel more like rich opportunities than something to try and avoid experiencing. What remains every time I drop the descriptions and stories is an ease of being that is capable, alert, bright, and unafraid. Therein is the real calm, and ability to carry on. Thank you, Candice, Mia and incredible friends that show me what is possible and that I am not ever separate from that calm capability.

Megan