So many moments in life seem to come and go leaving hardly a trace. Then there are those events that have such impact that the memory of them never seems to dim, despite the passage of years. One of those events began the fall I turned twelve. The day it began I actually didn’t think much of it. Yet now 50 years later, I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday.
Mother asked me to move one of our Hereford cows into the barn with her first calf, which she had just given birth to in the barnyard.
Lackadaisically, I entered the barnyard and began to herd the cow towards the barn door. But she began to side step, turning towards me and lowering her head. Then as if in slow motion, all 1200 pounds of her began to charge at me. I was near enough to the fence to easily retreat to safety. But I was stunned. I had grown up with cows, always feeling safe, even comfort in the closeness and touch of their large warm bodies. To be charged at, like by some bull in a rodeo show ~ this was an unfamiliar first. Mom said, “Awe, just leave her there. It’s her first calf. She is still hormonal.” 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 herd that same cow had begun to charge. This time there was no fence close by, only open pasture in every direction.
As her 1200 pounds came thundering at me, dully I heard the screen door of the farmhouse slam. Then in the far distance, my older brother’s voice yelling, “Run AT her, Run AT her!!!!!!”
My mind was an impenetrable siren, but my thin little legs heard 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. An eternity pasted.
Suddenly she veered away and settled calmly into grazing again. I retreated with a silent mind and a pounding heart.
That summer and the following year, I continued my habits of roaming in open pastures and she continued charging me. I also continued to respond by running at her with decreasing fear.
Each time the distance between us diminished before she veered off to resume grazing. 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 was my brother’s response to fear. “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 over take me.
In that experience my body-mind learned 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 have come to understand that feeling is perception. The inward impression we are conscious of is our own energy. That energy is the Creative Source or attractor of our life experience. Our energy in any given moment has a particular quality. We perceive the quality of the energy by feeling it, by meeting it, by ‘running at it.’
An Emotion is the feeling 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.
Normally we tend to RUN AWAY FROM Emotion. Often our usual strategy is to rerun habituated thoughts and beliefs so that we can’t fully feel the emotion. 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. We leave no room to be aware of thoughts, beliefs, and stories of the past or the future. Then the energy is detached from the thought that holds it stuck and allowed to return to its natural flow towards transformation.
This is the inner skill I learned in my meeting with the cow. In that situation the outer events were a clear mirror or direct result of the inner reality.
When I was running at the cow, there was no thought, only full awareness of feeling. Since I was fully focused on the feeling, the energy wasn’t held by a thought or belief. I was simply present. The energy was free to transform. Fear transformed to presence and finally to calmness. The outer reality responded in kind.
What happens if we RUN AT Fear or any other “charged” emotion? What if we become so present to feeling it, that there is literally no room left for the habituated thought or belief in our awareness?
What happened to the cow?
She veered off and calmly began grazing. Her energy state was transformed. She reflected what was happening inside of me. As the ‘charged’ Emotion, Fear, transformed to Presence, just as immediately the cow stopped charging.
The next time an emotion charges in your life try running at it. Meet it fully and watch it veer off to graze peacefully.
© 2005 by Maryanna Bock