A couple of days ago I challenged myself to face one of my biggest fears, and I jumped out of a plane. Two miles above the ground, I was dangled by the edge of the open door with the wind hammering at my face and not even daring to think about what I was about to do, yet at the same time feeling a real sense of exhilaration at the thought. I was struck with how calm I felt in that moment, and how focused I was on exactly what I needed to do. I assumed the correct position, pushed my head back into my instructor’s shoulder and within seconds I was plummeting to earth at 125mph!
The initial somersault sent me into panic, as my body tried to make sense of my experience and gain some sense of stability in the air, and I was frantically trying to choreograph myself into the right positions at the right times, completely missing the tap on the shoulder from my instructor in my panic. The tap was a green light to assume my classic skydive position with arms and legs stretched out, and I figured that it made sense to just do it anyway, sooner rather than later! Luckily things stabilised, and with my arms outstretched we were flying above earth and embracing the elements, life and the human experience.
With 60 seconds of free fall ahead of me my face was getting pounded by the wind, it was hard to catch my breath, my ears were hurting more and more and the wind noise was extreme, but I found myself in a wildly contrasted inner mental state of pure calm, peace and awe. The biggest thing which struck me at this point was that there was no fear. I almost felt disappointed, I wanted that rush of adrenaline but I wasn’t getting it. I even thought, ‘is that it?!’ The build up beforehand, the exhilaration at the plane door and the initial panic of the jump, and then here I was plummeting 2 miles to the ground at 125mph and I was not afraid.
I decided at that moment that all I needed was to enjoy my experience. No judgment, no thinking, no expectations. I wasn’t willing to waste a second of this experience. Perhaps this was the most exhilarating feeling I had ever had, to feel no fear whilst flying in the face of real danger, but I had no reference for this in my catalogue of experiences.
What I was later to discover was that I was experiencing proof of the most profound piece of wisdom I could ever know. It was something I knew, but didn’t KNOW. Something I believed but had never experienced. It taught me that there is no such thing as fear.
Fear is a mind-made concept which does not exist outside of your own perception, even in the face of real danger.
Have a think about that for a moment. Your body is so finely-tuned to deal with threat and danger in the present moment. Your fight or flight response is so hard-wired and is an instant reflex, which bypasses your conscious mind, so that you can take action to protect yourself without wasting a millisecond. Can you remember a moment where you stepped into the road and your body jerked you back before you even had time to register that there was a car heading straight for you? The fear only comes afterwards, and if you panic, that is you sticking your fingers in the masterpiece work of machinery which is your body’s natural intelligence system.
So it makes complete sense to me now, why I had that feeling of there being no fear. Despite having adrenaline pumping through my veins, falling out of control, and the potential danger of death or injury, my body was responding as it needed in the moment, ready to take action if something could be done, adapting as best as it could to the physics of free fall, and because fear does not exist in the present moment my mind was able to be in the experience in its true essence, in flow, and in touch with something far greater than my physical body.
This has implications far wider than just knowing that I have the courage to jump out of a plane. I now know more than ever that it’s ok to feel fear, I don’t have to be afraid of my experience, and I can have courage and act despite the fear. Most importantly of all, if I can risk my life and not feel afraid, with the knowledge and experience that fear does not even exist except in the illusion of my human experience, I can do anything.