by Terra Schaad
Did you know there are only two primary emotions, love and fear? Every single other emotion that shows up in our body can be categorized under both of those two. Think about it, when we are grieving, we are fearful of life without the being or situation we are losing. When we are angry, we are fearful that our status is being threatened. When we are joyful, we are open and in love with the opportunity that we think may be presenting itself.
If we pause long enough to notice how love and fear show up in our body, we begin to notice the subtleties of the varying emotional responses.
When we are feeling LOVE emotions like happiness, joy, and curiosity, our heart space is open, our eye brows are raised, our jaw is soft, and our heart rate may even be a little elevated.
FEAR emotions often show up with muscle tension, jaws tightened, eyebrows furrowed, and a slight downward draw of the mouth. Take time to notice what these positive, neutral, and negative emotional states feel like in your body. Get curious about them. Study them using a beginners mind.
Every day we witness clients moving into love and away from fear. Recently, a new client brought with her a past of negative experiences with both horses and an ex-boyfriend—experiences that triggered fear a fear response in the arena with horses.
Discussion revealed her typical behaviors with her ex included avoidance, missing work, isolating and feeling unworthy. Behaviors motivated by fear. Together, we explored the mindfulness practice of beginner’s mind: entering a situation, that maybe once caused fear, and practicing experiencing it as if it is the first time—as a beginner would. When we use beginners mind, we notice the fear response that arises, let go of judgments and expectations, and begin again.
When our client practiced walking into the arena as if it was the first time she had ever seen a horse, she was able to feel curious about what new stories and connections she could create, in the present moment, with our herd of four legged healers. They responded with love and approached immediately.
As she reached out her hand to touch, pet, and connect with them, her face was beaming within moments. The shift allowed us to move into a conversation about how she could use beginner’s mind to shift the fear and avoidance she felt when facing her ex. In the arena she was able to let go of the hurt and anger left from past encounters. Those encounters no longer define her future.
When we practice using our beginner’s mind, we change our experiences and create hope.
© Terra is a zealous horse lover and the executive director of Hunkapi Programs, Inc. Terra holds a bachelor of science degree in pre-veterinary medicine from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Arizona State University. She practices living mindfully, is an avid adventurer, yogi, and two-time Ironman Arizona finisher. She embraces her extraordinary life with mindful, contagious enthusiasm and gratitude.