What is fear?
Fear is an emotion induced by a threat perceived by living entities, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately a change in behavior, such as running away, hiding or freezing from traumatic events. Fear may occur in response to a specific stimulus happening in the present, or to a future situation, which is perceived as risk to health or life, status, power, security, or in the case of humans wealth or anything held valuable. The fear response arises from the perception of danger leading to confrontation with or escape from/avoiding the threat (also known as the fight-or-flight response), which in extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) can be a freeze response or paralysis.
In humans and animals, fear is modulated by the process of cognition and learning.
Courtesy of Wikipedia.
One of my teachers, Tim Miller, would often say, that engagement of the bandhas eliminates fear. I found this concept to be incredibly powerful in my pursuit of liberation through asana but could this idea hold up to the rigors of off the mat challenges. Through the use of bandhas, I believe, true liberation from your surroundings becomes accessible. With the internal fortitude required to keep the energetic locks in place, the overwhelming sensations that surround us can become a little more quiet, with more space between our response to the external stimulation. In effect, slowing down the causality of our daily life and interactions.
You’re trying right now, aren’t you?
As a young man, I was an avid fan of Frank Herbert’s Dune and the accompanying books. Dune introduced me to many philosophical ideas, planting cerebral seeds that would come to fruition much later as an adult. In the book Dune, a young man named Paul Atreides, is put through a horrific life journey. While maneuvering this dangerous path in life, he keeps a mantra close to his heart, a litany against fear.
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear
~Frank Herbert~ Dune
While learning about yoga, the bandhas and their relation the fear I could not help but to see a correlation between the words in Dune and what I was learning from my yoga teachers. Shri K. Pattabhi Jois also known as Guruji, would often say “Mulha bandha is the source to control the mind.” Never was the correlation between fear and mulha bandha clearer, than when I read that. I remembered that “fear is the mind killer” suddenly the connection and faith I had in my locks became much greater, in essence, creating greater control of the mind.
The connection between the locks, fear and mind control does not make logical sense to me. I have often searched for some scientific explanation and validation to explain the experience of such an esoteric concept. The bandhas, being experiential in nature, are hard to logically explain to someone, yet I experience them daily and can attest to their life changing ability. The quote below, also from Dune, sums up best my relation to yoga, locks and mind control.
Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.
~Frank Herbert~ Dune