By Justin Gates
For the sake of this discussion, we are referring to Darkness here as the baser feelings and emotions that all of us experience many times in our lives, sometimes many times throughout a single day, depending on what is going on. Feelings like Fear, Doubt, and Anxiety. This is something that is hard to escape from, especially when we are faced with a stressful or potentially dangerous situation.
This is not exclusive to people who work in high stress jobs or environments either. From people who serve the public in first responder roles and military, to teachers, students and mentors, to mothers, fathers and caretakers, to the people who answer phones in a busy call center or serve the public in shopping malls and stores and so on. We all, no matter where we find ourselves will find ourselves in situations where these emotions and feelings can take hold. No matter our skill levels or time in service. Now, I am sure someone out there will try and argue that some jobs and situations put greater stress than others, but for the sake of this discussion, we are focusing on the feelings and emotions.
On this path, we are taught that these feelings and emotions, among others, are a path to the “Dark side”. At Ashla, we are taught to serve the “Light” always and fend off the “Dark” through our actions, intentions, choices and deeds. For an Ashla Knight, serving the Light is found by making choices and taking action that serves others rather than self. This does not mean, that even though our focus is on the Light and of “Right action”, that we are spared from such emotions. In fact, those on this path and similar ones, find themselves battling these types of emotions more often than not, given the situations and state of being that we put ourselves in. Especially given that many of us on this and similar paths are empathetic and use empathy as a tool to connect with others, leaving us vulnerable to these conditions.
Fear is one our most basest emotions. It is ingrained in our environments, cultures, and at the core of many of the lessons that we were brought up with. It is found at nearly level of society in an attempt to control the masses. It is very much a part of who were are and it will shape much of what we are capable of becoming. Of course, fear will only take us as far as we will allow it. Just because it is found in nearly everything around us, does not mean that it has to dictate our choices and direction. At some level, fear is not bad, and in fact is helpful to us as a survival tool. What we are talking about here, is not that fear that keeps us from touching hot surfaces or from standing in front of moving vehicles, but that fear that keeps us from moving forward. That locks us into place when we should be pushing forward. That keeps us stagnate and unwilling to change when it is time for us to change and grow. It is that fear, that makes us a victim to circumstances and situations that come our way in our daily lives. That fear that causes us to freeze up in a moment of danger, fight or flight. If we allow fear to control our action, then we very well can be kept from doing either.
How do we combat this?
Through training, practice, and experience, seek excellence in your craft. Work to unite yourself physically, mentally, and Spiritually. Use these talents to gain strength and ability to serve the good of all rather than yourself.
In my mind, Faith in ourselves, in our path, having faith in what we hold to be true, helps defeat the kind of fear that holds our paths and growth hostage. I believe that A Knight should have a solid and foundational faith in what they hold to be true. Faith has a way of helping us all past those weaknesses that we may perceive in ourselves. Having enough faith in ourselves and those things that we hold to be true, in that we are not afraid to challenge those beliefs that may be holding us back at that point in our lives. Having strong faith will allow you to re-evaluate where you are at times along your journey, and will help quell this fear while you are working on growing. What ever you find yourself believing, believe it strongly enough because that is what will keep you going in the face of unbeatable odds.
For those situations that require a “Fight or Flight” response, fear is defeated through training and practice. Practice and train with frequency and intensity. Given the nature of my job, I often find myself in situations where confrontation is a possibility, whether that is a verbal or physical altercation. I feel fear and hesitation on the onset of the possibility of confrontation, but I push through this by relying and falling back on my training. It gives me the confidence that no matter what happens, I have tools available to me that I can use to help ensure a desirable outcome. This confidence that eases the fear, is only found through hours and hours of training and years of practice. Martial arts is a good way to build confidence in the face of danger. Sparing and practice scenarios are also other good ways to learning how to overcome this type of fear. Tailor your practice and training to those things you are most likely to encounter in your area, as this may change from place to place. You don’t always have to train to fight either. Learning and practicing awareness is the most important step in self defense. Practicing escaping and/or avoiding a threat is just as important as training to confronting a threat. For example, I am a certified in executive protection (Body guard). Our biggest focus is on our primary goal, protecting our principal (Client) and that focus is on escape versus confronting.
The reason I say practice on scenarios where you live, is because we should strive to focus on where we have the greatest opportunity to make the biggest impact. That of course is found within our sphere of influence.
I wish to share a personal account from our friend Samra on the topic of fear.
“Fear manifests itself in many ways but most of the time it is really just an illusion to something we’ve created in our own minds. For instance, I have a fear of people, also known as agoraphobia in the psychology world. Stupid thoughts about people not liking me or thinking badly about me always have a way of sneaking into my mind, sometimes to the point of even ruining relationships. Where did this fear come from, well I’m not completely sure but have the feeling it has something to do with the way I was treated by certain individuals at a young age in my childhood. Then at that young age I began to believe it was normal treatment and that all people would eventually treat me in the same hurtful way as that handful of people. This thought process never went away and continued to grow into a diagnosable fear. Today I understand that this fear is only an illusion, not everyone can be judged off of a handful of mean people, not everyone wants to hurt me. I have to remember this on a daily basis. I have to put this fear down every morning and tell myself that it’s an illusion, it is not reality, and there are people who do love and care about me. Will there be times that my loved ones might hurt me? Of course, no one is perfect and I can’t expect perfection out of anyone, especially being an imperfect person myself. I also tell myself that at times I could be hurt by a loved one because they do love me and not because they WANT to hurt me. Through accepting people as they are individually and not as a collective, people vs. individual, as I had most of my life, I am also becoming more aware now of people who do and do not intend on causing myself or others harm. I hope to one-day be of assistance to others who suffer from the same or similar effects.” Thank you my friend, for allowing me to share this.
I will leave you with this….
Ashla Axiom # 1
When Darkness is upon you be mindful, its power can influence thought, motive and deed. Remain calm and be patient, as Light will always guide you from despair.
Fear, doubt, and hesitation. These are killers of men. Remember your training, it will serve you in a time of need. Know that when the time comes, it will be useful to you. And most important of all……Breathe!
Awaken the Knight Within!