We are roused to fear in the presence of real or imagined danger. Under the influence of fear our body mobilizes the energy to confront the danger or in some way find safe refuge. Fear gets triggered in different ways. In one instance, there may be actual danger in the environment. In another, fear may be generated through the machinations of the mind. Finally, fear can be triggered by the un-recapitulated self utilizing life circumstances to bring attention to the unknown self.
The energy made available by fear may be quite useful and lifesaving in the case of an actual threat. However, the activation of fear through the wanderings of the mind’s eye generating images and thoughts of danger in the absence of it can be quite draining and incapacitating. Many techniques of meditation and mind control can be helpful in reeling in this roaming mind that stirs up trouble where there is none. The ability to stay in the present moment, focused on the reality at hand can greatly diminish the unnecessary arousal of fear in reaction to imaginary thought.
However, there are also experiences where fear is activated by some trigger in the environment where there is not an actual threat, but the encounter is nonetheless deeply meaningful. These experiences are stirrings by the spirit geared to awakening the conscious mind to the unknown or un-recapitulated self.
As we go through our life journey we are confronted by many experiences that may threaten our ability to keep going, keep growing, and keep functioning. Those experiences that threaten our growing selves are often forgotten to our conscious selves, stored away in a dark corner or shadow of the self. Those experiences remain part of the truth of our life experience but become dissociated from our sense of who we are, and are not part of the life we believe ourselves to be in. This defensive action of our growing selves to push aside experiences that could hold us back is a necessary compromise to our growing selves.
If we are too sidelined by a traumatic experience we might find ourselves completely frozen out of the world we live in, unrelated and disconnected to life around us—a condition akin to schizophrenia or autism. These are conditions of stuckness, very hard, but not impossible to emerge from in this life.
On the other hand, the ability to keep growing, despite an inner fragmentation—that is, a disconnection from parts of the experience of life lived—allows the growing self to gather skills and knowledge of the world that may prove to be extremely valuable in eventually recovering the lost parts of the self whereby bringing them into wholeness with the known parts of the self. This is the process of recapitulation.
In the case of recapitulation, fear can be viewed as a barometer of the experiences of the lost or frozen self. Seen from this perspective, fear marks the trail to be traversed in recapitulation.
Essentially, triggers from recapitulation are the psyche’s use of the raw material in our daily lives as its own language to show us where we need to go. For instance, as Jan describes in her book, The Man in the Woods, simply seeing a stick on the ground was enough to trigger her into a painful recapitulation from childhood. Obviously, a stick on the ground is not an object to be feared. It’s just a stick on the ground. However, when the spirit of recapitulation is activated, nothing can be taken at face value. The psyche is intent on using any life circumstance ranging from a word, a smell, a taste, to an encounter, a pain—virtually anything to jostle awareness to awaken suppressed memory.
The mistake that is often made around recapitulation triggers is to apply rationality to eliminate the fear. Recapitulation triggers are completely rational if you understand their language, and that language is largely associative, not literal. Once the language of recapitulation is learned, the journey of recapitulation becomes clearer.
The skills of meditation and calming of the central nervous system are valuable and useful during recapitulation, however, it must be understood that to recapitulate a traumatic experience includes allowing oneself to enter into a most feared experience of unknown depth. Fear is part of the experience that must be recapitulated. It simply comes with the turf.
With practice, one becomes used to identifying the triggers and signs of recapitulation and more adept at handling the fear and facing the unknown. Of greatest value during recapitulation is the grounding that the present self can maintain, knowing that it is entering an altered state in a very real way. The experience is being relived and deeply re-experienced, but also observed by an awareness grounded in a time and a self separate from that experience. Of ultimate value is knowing that once the recapitulated material is fully known, it is no longer unknown—no longer a fear from an un-recapitulated self.