One sunny day when I was twelve years old, my mother called me out of my leisurely daydream to help her with a cow that had just given birth. I didn't think much of it at the time. It just seemed a natural event in the farm life of my family. Now 60 years later, the events of that day are chiseled in my memory as the beginning of a life-changing learning experience.
Mother noticed a young heifer cow had given birth to her first calf in the barn yard. She asked me to put the cow and her calf in the barn for more safety. There had been rumors of coy dogs in the neighborhood.
Lackadaisically, I swung myself over the fence into the barn yard. I opened the barn door and circled back to herd the cow towards it. She began side stepping, turning towards me and lowering her head. Then as if in slow motion, all 1,500 pounds of her began to charge at me. I was near enough to the fence to easily swing myself over it and retreat to safety.
I was stunned. I had grown up with cows. I always felt safe around them. I loved moving between their large warm bodies, feeling their short smooth hair. To be charged at like by some bull in a rodeo show was a first.
Mom said, "Aw, just leave her there. It's her first calf. She is still hormonal." Feeling free to return to my own pursuits, I didn't give it another thought.
The following spring as the weather warmed, I began my favorite pastime of roaming the open fields. One day, I was crossing the wide-open pasture behind the farm buildings.
I suddenly froze in fear. Amidst the larger herd of cows in the distance, that same cow had begun to charge towards me. This time, there was no fence close by, only open pasture in every direction.
As her 1,500 pounds came thundering at me, I heard the screen door of the farmhouse slam in the distance. My older brother's voice screamed, "Run at her, Run at her!"
My mind was an impenetrable siren, but somehow, my thin little legs got the message and began pounding on the new wet grass, carrying me directly at the oncoming cow. There was nothing else in my awareness; no thought; nothing but that cow and the swiftly decreased distance between us. In no time at all, an eternity past.
Then, she suddenly veered away and began calmly into grazing again. I retreated with a silent mind and a pounding heart.
The following year, I continued my habits of roaming in the open pastures and she continued charging me. I continued to respond by running towards her with decreasing fear. Each time the distance between us diminished before she veered off to resume grazing. I kept doing it until it just didn't happen anymore.
I kept roaming, but there was no longer a problem with the cow. I honestly don't remember if she quit charging or if my family decided to "put her in the freezer." That incident has stayed with me all my life. How profound my brother's response to fear was. "Run at her!" It was an intentional action to not be frightened by her.
Running from her would have been sure defeat. She could have easily out run me. With something to chase, she would have been spurred on to overtake me.
In that experience my body-mind received a profound lesson about how to meet fear.
What is fear? A feeling? An emotion?
Merriam-Webster says to feel is ‘to be conscious of an inward impression.” It defines emotion as “intense feeling.”
I understand that FEELING is perception. The inward impression we are conscious of is our own energy. Our energy in every moment has a particular quality. We perceive the quality of the energy by feeling it, by meeting it with our awareness.
An emotion is a perception of ‘charged’ energy. The ‘charge’ or intensity is because the energy is unable to move. A thought form or a belief is attached to the energy, holding it ‘stuck,’unable to transform, release or integrate.
Normally we tend to RUN AWAY FROM EMOTION. The habituated strategy is to rerun habituated thoughts and beliefs so that we can’t fully feel the emotion. The excuse is that we are trying to ‘figure it out’ or understand it.
But this is like running FROM the cow. The EMOTION continues to over take us.
When we RUN AT IT, we fully attend to the FEELING with our witness consciousness. We leave no room in our awareness for thoughts, beliefs, and stories of the past or the future. Then the energy is allowed to return to its natural flow towards release, integration and transformation.
This is the inner skill I experienced in my meeting with the cow. At that time, I did not recognize how universal power of this process to bring an end to suffering. In that situation the outer events were a clear mirror and direct result of the inner reality.
When I was running at the cow, there was no thought, only full intense awareness of feeling. Since I was fully focused on the feeling, the energy wasn’t held by thought or belief. I was simply present. The energy of the feeling was free to transform. Fear transformed to presence and finally to calmness.
When we are completely present, we are fully ‘conscious of the inward impression.’ We are fully aware of feeling. We are completely attentive to the quality of the energy of the feeling. Our undivided attention, our consciousness allows for natural transformational flow.
Emotion is the “Non Present” perception of ‘charged’ energy that is attached to a habituated thought process or belief.
What happens if we RUN AT the emotion? If we become so present to our feeling that there is literally no room left in our awareness for habituated thought or belief? What happened to the cow?
She veered off and calmly began grazing. Her energy state was transformed. That is what happens inside of us. The Emotion transforms, just as immediately as the cow stopped charging.
When we give full attention to the ‘feeling’ of the emotion, we stop thinking. We feel with our whole being ~ the inner transformation of our energy is immediate.
We all have that library of painful stories that bring up emotions, be it fear, anger, guilt, etc. Find one in your mental ‘library’ and begin to ‘entertain’ it.
Do you feel the charge of the emotion arising?
Now RUN AT IT. Meet it fully with all of your awareness.
Just FEEL…..the quality and intensity of the emotion………….
Be fully and completely present to it, leaves NO room to think, to judge, to qualify or quantify.
Give yourself a little time and silence .…….…
Now that you are there… embracing that feeling, can you feel it begin to shift?…..
Stay with the feeling with your awareness as it moves; go deeper into the quality of it.
You don’t need to put words to it. Just be present to it.
Just allow whatever it is to be while holding it with your consciousness.
Have you noticed that your cow has stopped charging and begun to graze?
To learn more about this simple process and how to apply it in your life with any 'charging' emotion or my coaching , my art or other offerings, give me a call, 207-443-7001, email me - Maryanna@lightcoach.com
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