Befriending fear


I still have nights where experiences surface that’s difficult to befriend or welcome. Mostly, it’s a sense of strong wordless inner struggle along with a sense of everything dissolving – the image of a larvae in a pupa describes it. From the outside, I see there is nothing to fear here. It’s probably just part of the process. But from the inside, when it happens, a great deal of fear comes up.

When I get caught up in this, it’s easy to “forget” what may help, so I’ll go through it here as a reminder for myself.


Haunted house


Here is an instructive – and funny – illustration of something familiar to most of us:

Most of the time, she screams because of what she expects or fears may happen. Only occasionally does she scream because of something actually happening. And even then, she scares herself.

How does she scare herself? Through the stories she tells herself about what is happening or may happen.

I sometimes do the same.

Fascination with the unpleasant


A quick look at the entertainment world – books, movies, songs, fairy tales, mythology – tells us that we are fascinated with the unpleasant.

Why is that? I can find several reasons for why I am drawn to it….

The most obvious is that these things (death, pain, cruelty etc.) are part of human life, and this is a way for me to get familiar with it in a safe way. I get to explore it without putting myself at risk. And I get to prepare for it should it happen to me or someone close to me. If or when something like it happens in real life, I am somewhat prepared.


Fear -> Belief


As so much here, this is very simple and a repeat of previous posts. But it is something I keep noticing throughout the day, so why not write it down.

Fear comes up. There is resistance to that fear. Identification with that resistance fuels belief. And attention goes into the belief.

There is of course more to it.

The initial fear comes up because of friction between my beliefs of what should be and what is. Not wanting to experience that fear comes from beliefs about the fear. And it all serves to take attention away from the fear, and also the initial friction. It helps me avoid finding what is more honest for me than the initial belief. And I want to avoid that because of beliefs of what may happen if I do.


Fear of truth (iv) – fear of not taking a story as true


When I take a story as true, I automatically fear truth.

Among other things, I fear what is more true for me than the story. I fear taking the consequences of it.

If I am honest, I know that I don’t know for sure if any story is really true. And there is a fear of seeing that, and especially of living free from a belief.

I fear that without taking the story as true, something terrible would happen.

So I can ask myself what do I fear would happen if I didn’t have that belief? (One of the subquestions in The Work.)

How likely is that?

What is more likely?

I can also investigate the story more thoroughly, for instance by doing a full The Work inquiry on it and its assumptions.


Practices emerging


Practices often emerge naturally from where we are, as response to a situation or as medicine for a particular condition.

For me, these are often practices I am already familiar with. Other times, I may have heard about them but not practiced them before. And sometimes, these may be practices I cannot remember having practiced or heard about before, although they are (most likely) found in one or more traditions.


Island practice and fear practice


My main practice these days is island practice and fear practice.

I notice islands of density, of contraction, identification with viewpoints and images. Then a shift into allowing them as they are, and as if they would never change, and with heart and kindness. And then noticing what they really are. How do they show up in the sense fields? Is it really what it appears to be? Is it solid? Substantial? Lasting? When I bring attention to them, can any label easily be put on it? Is it anything else than awareness itself, awake no-thing appearing as something?




A few things about fear and fearlessness….

The conventional view on fearlessness (or its more active cousin, courage), is to act in spite of fear. And this can be a very helpful pointer in many situations. Fear comes up. I can recognize it as just fear. And if it seems appropriate, I can act in spite of that fear.

I can examine fear through the sense fields. How does it appear in each sense field? What are the sensation components? What are the mental field components? Can I find it outside of these sense fields? What happens if I bring attention to only the sensations? Is it still fear? What happens when the fear gestalt (sensations + label/stories) is taken as solid and real? What happens when it is recognized as only a gestalt?

When I notice fear, I can notice beliefs behind it an inquire into them.

I can allow and be with whatever experience is here, including fear. What happens when I try to resist the experience? What happens when I allow it, as it is, as if it would never change, with heart and gentle kindness? What happens when I befriend it, as it is?

I can explore the functions of fear. How does it support me in daily life? Would we be here if our ancestors didn’t sometimes experience fear?


Teachings as pointers


Spiritual teacher Adyashanti describes how in the development of human consciousness, there comes a shift from a sense of a separate self toward the experience of unity. He points out that the fear of losing our individual identity keeps us from making this shift, and by confronting our fear we come into love. Adyashanti also suggests that reaching a point of crisis can allow an opportunity for consciousness to shift, individually and collectively.

Any teaching is an explicit pointer for inquiry. Is it true? What do I find when I explore it for myself?

And any thought – independent of source or content – is really a question. Is it true? What happens if I use it as a temporary guideline for action? Is there another that seems more appropriate in this situation? When is this particular thought helpful as a guideline? If I can’t find anything else, maybe it can help loosen identification with its reversal?

So even a simple summary of a teaching – such as the one above – can be very helpful. (Here is the video it refers to.)


Relating to thoughts


Some ways of relating to thoughts independent of their source (myself or others) or their content…

I can believe it. Take it as true. Identify with it. Create an identity from it. Prop it up. Defend it. Deny the truth in its reversals. Deny its own limited truth.

I can explore it in the sense fields. How does it appear in the sense fields? How does a mental field overlay combine with the other sense fields to create a gestalt? What happens when it is taken as true? What happens when it is noticed as a gestalt? (I often find that it appears as solid and real when it is taken as true, and that I notice it as emptiness/awakeness itself when it is recognized as a gestalt, but that can change next time I look.)

I can explore it as a question. What happens if I take the story as an innocent question about the world? What happens if I take it as a statement, or as a true view?

I can turn it around to the speaker, and then myself. Any advice is (also) for ourselves. When others speak, and I recognize it as advice for him/herself, it becomes more congruent. And when I turn it around to myself, I find it here too.

I can notice the belief and inquire into it. Do I know it is true? What happens when I take it as true? Who would I be if it was not taken as true? What are the truths in its reversals? What is more true for me than the initial belief?

I can notice the fear behind it and meet that fear. Can I find fear behind the impulse to make a story into a belief? What happens when I meet it? Welcome it, as it is?

And to the extent identification is released out of a story, it is recognized as a tool. It becomes a tool for my human self to orient and function in the world. A story can appear more or less appropriate for any one situation. And as any tool, any story has some things it is good at. (If only to deflate the appearance of absolute truth in its reversal.)


Exploring fear


Here (again) is my main practice these days…

I notice when I get caught up in beliefs and emotional attachments. (Sense of Tension. Stress. Resisting experience. Separation. An identity, position or (other) story to protect.)

Where in my body do I feel it? What are the sensations?

Can I meet and welcome these sensations? Be with them?

Is there a fear behind the belief/emotional attachment?

Where in my body is it? What does it feel like?

Can I meet and welcome this fear? Can I be with it?

What do I notice?


Welcoming the fear behind beliefs


Another exploration I find interesting right now…

Notice a belief. A story that seems true. A fixed position. An emotional attachment.

What is the experience of that belief?

Where do I find it in the body? What are the sensations?

Quietly meet those sensations. Welcome them as they are. Allow them to be here, with a friendly interest and curiosity.

Is there a fear behind the belief or emotional attachment?

If so, quietly meet that fear. Welcome it as it is. Allow it to be here with a gentle interest and curiosity.

What happens to the impulse to create a belief or go into an emotional attachment? Does it stay? Fade? Fall Away? Whatever happens is OK. Just notice and stay with that too.


Feeling beliefs and emotional attachments, and welcoming the feeling of fear behind them


By doing The Work, it is often quite clear how any belief – any attachment to a story as true – comes from fear. It comes from fear, and fuels fear. And is really just another expression of (confused) love.

Right now, exploring meeting experience with a focus on how it feels in the body, I find something quite similar. Behind the body-sense feeling of a belief and emotional attachment is the feeling of fear. A low grade fear in the background, which – when resisted – moves into becoming a belief and an emotional attachment. It is a protection. A way to feel safe. And a way to avoid feeling and welcoming the fear.

When this fear is felt and welcomed, there is a sense of quiet release. Spaciousness. No need or impulse to move into beliefs and emotional attachments.

And it is all happening within feeling, which helps it sink into the body and make it “real” at that level.




What does it mean to be fearless?

Going into danger while throwing caution to the wind? Pushing away fear and pretending it is not there? Manipulating experience so fear will not arise? Acting in spite of fear?

For me, it has to do with going directly into that which I fear the most.

To fully allow any experience, no matter how scary it seems. To be with it, independent of its content, including the resistance itself, as if it would never change.

And to investigating any belief and story that comes up for me, however dear it may be to me and however much the world may tell me it is true, and find what is more true for me.

Through this there is a growing trust.

A trust that comes through seeing that any experience is OK, no matter how scary it may seem when I resist it.

And a trust that comes from thoroughly investigate any belief, including the most scary and apparently true ones, and find the complete innocence and freedom that is already there, waiting for the investigation.

A trust that comes from receptivity of heart and mind.

Finally, it has to do with finding myself as that which any experience, and any story, happens within, to and as, independent of the particulars of its content.

Dream: Orcas in the water



I am on a beach and wade out to a small island of sand. As I arrive, a large group of orcas of different sizes stream around both sides of the island. I am drawn to them and experience a sense of intimacy with them, but there is also some fear coming up.

This seems very familiar in my daily life. I am drawn to something and experience a sense of intimacy, but there is also a little fear coming up, a slight hesitation. In the dream, as in daily life, the attraction and warmth envelops and is there in more abundance than the fear.

In daily life, this dynamic comes up towards people and groups, sometimes towards specific activities, and also towards shadow/disowned parts of myself.

The benefits of following the chains


What are some of the benefits of following the chains back to their initial segments?

For myself, I notice that it helps me get more familiar with and befriend who I am, as a human being. It helps me discover what is going on at my human level.

Said another way, it helps me find and embrace my wholeness as a human being, to find peace with it, to work with rather than against what is there.

It helps me see that it is all pure innocence. No need to fight it, resist it, want it to go away. Just seeing it clearly is enough.

It helps me see what is already more true for me, in who and what I am.

I find that when there is a sense of being a separate I, there is fear behind just about any emotion, motivation, desire and action. I find that behind that fear is love, filtered through my circle of us. I find that behind the sense of a separate I, and everything that comes with it, is a belief in the story of a separate I, and stories that flesh this identity out.

Milarepa: Magician, murderer, saint



I was fortunate enough to see the new Milarepa movie tonight, made by Neten Chokling who was one of the actors in The Cup and assisted with Travelers and Magicians.

Since I have been exploring the early part of the chain behind “deluded” actions lately, that was one of the things that came up for me.

Especially, how, when we unravel what is behind motivations, the ones stemming from a sense of an I with an Other, we find first fear, and then love.

In his case, fear of losing his mother (she threatened with committing suicide if he didn’t take revenge on the village), fear of what may become of him (they had lost their family fortune), fear of not getting his girl (he was poor, she more affluent). When I look for myself, I find that these types of fears are often behind ill considered actions, and also reactivity and reactive emotions. (Anger, frustration, despair.)

And going behind that fear, there is love. In his case, love for his mother, his father, his sister, himself. Love for those he included in his circle of us, which probably shrank due to how his family was treated by most others in the village.

And of course, behind the fear and reactivity, we find beliefs. A sense of being a separate self, beliefs in justice, in wanting a good life, and so on.

And mixed in with it all, pure innocence. Pure innocence in believing certain thoughts, just because most people around do it. Pure innocence in acting from fear, because this fear is inevitable when we take ourselves to be an I with an Other. Pure innocence in this fear taking the form of anger, hate, despair and wanting revenge, because that is inevitable when we resist the experience of fear, and also when it gets mixed up in typical beliefs. Pure innocence in the love that is behind it all, because that love is what we are. Pure innocence in filtering that love through a boundary of us and them, because that is inevitable when there is a sense of a separate I. Pure innocence in where that boundary falls, because that comes from culture, family and where we are in terms of maturity.

The story, as any other story, is a mirror for myself. Can I find what I see in Milarepa, his path, and in the people around him, in myself?

Where do I find the confusion? Being caught up in a sense of a separate self, and everything that comes from that? Where do I find the turning point? The situation or situations where I went far enough in acting from confusion, reactivity and beliefs that it stunned me, invited me to see if there is another way.

And in the sequel, which is about his training and awakening process, where do I build up stone towers just to have to dismantle them again, or having them dismantled for me?

Identification with stories


A slightly different take on attachments…

Attachment to anything – situations, people, things, roles – is what causes suffering. Our stories about what should be and what is clash. Which is fine. It is just part of the human condition. But after a while, and if we act from kindness towards ourselves, we may want to explore this further. What is really going on? Is there another way?

One of the first things we may notice is that any attachment is really an attachment to a story. The story of I with an Other, and then all the other stories that flesh out the identity of this separate I.

I am an object in the world, so want what supports this object and do not want what does not support it. I am alive, so don’t want to be dead. I believe in fairness, so want to see fairness in how I and others are treated.

We may also notice that an attachment to a story is really an identification with this story. We have a story of an I with an Other, and take ourselves to be this separate I. We have a story of being a particular gender, age, of a particular ethnicity, having certain values, and take ourselves to be all of that.

Another thing we may notice is that it is all completely innocent. We are all dealing with this life as best as we can, and often from lack of clarity.

And then, that behind all of it is fear. Fear for what may happen to this human self. We attach to stories to deal with this fear, and try to avoid what we are afraid may happen to it.

And that behind this fear is love. A love for this human self and whatever is within its circle of concern. All attachments to stories come from love. From wanting the best for what we take as I and us.

So how do we explore attachments, or identifications with stories?

A simple and direct way is to investigate the beliefs themselves, and find what is already more true for us. I can use a sense of discomfort as a guide to discover when my stories of what is and should be clash, and then investigate one or both of these. Is it true? What happens when I believe that thought? Who would I be without it? What is the truth in its turnarounds?

Another is to investigate impermanence in the five sense fields, to see impermanence directly here and now. This helps us reorganize and find stories more aligned with this impermanence. And it also helps us see that no story is absolutely true, which invites a release of identification with these stories.

We can also include each of the three centers: head, heart and belly.

We can find ourselves as that which is already free from identification with stories, for instance through the headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and finding ourselves as what does not change in the midst of the constantly changing content of awareness.

We can invite our heart to open through various heart centered practices, or just a focus on the heart and its qualities.

And we can invite in a deep body sense of trust and nurturing fullness through various body and hara centered practices, such as Breema.

Each of these tends to invite in an opening in the two other centers, especially if we bring attention to it. An open heart invites in an open mind and a nurturing fullness. An open mind invites in an open heart and a felt-sense of trust. A body feeling of trust and nurturing fullness invites in an open heart and mind.

We may also discover that resisting experience tends to close each of the centers. That this happens only when there is an identification with this resistance.

And that fully allowing experience, independent of what it is, tends to invite in a receptivity and opening of each center. And that this is also an allowing of the resistance, which is a release of identification with it and the content of experience in general.


Wanting to be right


I asked myself earlier today what am I not seeing?

And after a little while, an answer: Wanting to be right.

Whenever there is a belief in a story, there is a sense of I and Other, and we have to tell ourselves we are right to maintain both.

We have to deny the truths of the reversals, at least at some level. Either by not seeing or acknowledging it at all. Or by not allowing it to deepen into a lived, felt, loved truth in our lives.

There is a belief in a story, which creates a sense of an I with and Other, which in turn brings fear, which in turn encourages us to maintain and strengthen the belief.

And this is what I am not seeing in myself. I see it to some extent, in some areas, but not nearly all the way through.

Fear, then love


It is always risky to generalize, but in some areas – when experience and insights find the same – it can also be helpful. In any case, whatever we come up with is always a question. Is it true?

So in terms of our motivations, it seems that whatever is behind them is first fear, and behind that, love.

As soon as we sense ourselves as an I with an Other, there is always fear. We are an object in the world, at the mercy of the larger world. We have needs, wants, desires. We get what we don’t want, don’t get what we want, lose what we don’t want to lose, don’t lose what we want to lose, or at least, we know it may – and will – happen. It is a drama of life and death, which flavors even the little things in our lives.

Whatever we do and experience in this situation is tinged with fear. Our likes and dislikes, our goals and motivations, they are all mixed in with at least some fear. Or, we can say that fear is behind it all. Fear of not getting what we want, getting what we don’t want, losing what we have and want, not losing what we have and don’t want. However innocent, however much it looks like love or joy or just enjoyment, there is always fear lurking in the background.

But there is something even behind that. Behind the fear that comes from a sense of a separate I is love.

And that is especially noticeable when we do practices such as the Big Mind process. Each voice at the human level, whatever it may be, is always there to help and protect our human self. It operates from love. Its whole reason for being is love.

So behind anything in our human life, behind any motivation, any emotion, any action in the world, is fear – coming from a sense of being a separate I, and then love.

And as with any statement, it is really a question. Is it true? Can I find it in my own experience? What do I find when I investigate it in my own experience, maybe even starting with that which seems the furthest removed from this on the surface? Is something else more true for me? Do I want this to be true? Or not true? What if I find something different?

OK. So I just got something to eat. What was behind that action? A sense of hunger. I wanted to satisfy that hunger. Ultimately, I wanted to keep this human self alive. If the hunger went far enough, there would be fear there about it dying. So I can find fear in the background, not at the surface in this situation, but I can easily see it surfacing if the situation was more extreme. And behind that is love. A love for this human self, a love for life, a love for being alive. Compassion. Kindness.

Earlier today, I went somewhat out of my way to do a favor for my partner. It just seemed the thing to do, not much going on at the surface of it. But there too, I can see that if I take the situation to an extreme, there is fear mixed in with it. A fear of not being liked, of losing her, of being alone. And there is also a love there. A love for her, wanting the best for her, wanting to help her. And a love for myself, doing what seems best for me as well.

Befriending fear


A great list of reasons to thank fear from Debbie Ford, via Mona at Question the Mind.

  • Love the fears that you hold in your hand more than anything you have ever loved before.
  • Think about all the hours you have spent trying to deny, avoid, and get rid of these fears, and thank them for always bringing you into the presence of the limited human mind.
  • Thank them for sending you out to look for ways to get rid of them. Think of all you’ve discovered during your search!
  • Thank them for making you look at your life.
  • Thank them for this community, for your fears are probably what got you here…reading this right now.
  • Thank your fears for reminding you that you have a small child inside that is in desperate need of your love and attention.
  • Thank your soul for dispensing these fears to you, to help you find your way back home to God – the energy of pure love, the energy that trumps fear.
  • Love your fears like you have loved no other part of you – bless them, honor them, and use them as the holy reminders that they are…reminding you always to come home to your whole self.

Other ways to explore fear…

  • Fully allowing and being with the experience of it… as it is, as if it would never change, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way. Inclusive of all content of awareness… the fear, the resistance to it, the battle. In my experience, when this shift happens the change is immediate, from night to day, from discomfort and battle to a sense of nurturing fullness.
  • How does the self/personality relate to fear? Shift into fear, and look at the self from that perspective. What has fear to say? What does it want to tell the self? How does it contribute? (The list from Debbie Ford is a great starting point.) What would happen if it wasn’t there?
  • What are the gifts of not befriending fear? What are the gifts of the battle? What changes if we allow not being ok with fear? If we allow fear itself?
  • Inquire into beliefs around fear, such as “I shouldn’t experience fear”, “fear creates problems for me”, and other ones shared by many in our culture.

The safety of having it all figured out


A few weeks ago, I talked with someone who had it all figured out. For every topic, she seemed to have a flow chart ready in her mind, rattling off the lists and the flows. It was impressive and slightly disturbing at the same time, especially as I could see myself so clearly in her…. as this blog itself is evidence for:

Something is alive for me in immediate awareness, often outside of thoughts, but then quickly gets channeled into sorting and mapping and figuring it all out, creating a sense of control and safety that way.

But is it really all that safe to have it all figured out?

If I get caught up the creations of my own thoughts, I am blinded by it. I won’t so easily see what is outside of the terrain it maps out, including the truth in the many reversals of the initial stories. Also, if I take it all as real and true, it tends to clash with the world as it shows up on its own, which then trigger reactive emotions. I identify with and get caught up in these reactive emotions since I identified with the belief triggering them in the first place, and this only blind me further.

So in the sense of the safety of this human self, getting all fascinated by how the mind can figure things out is not necessarily safe. It may illuminate some things, but it certainly blinds me as well.

Also, does having it all figured out mean I don’t have to experience fear?

When I tell myself I have it all figured out, it seems that everything is under control. I don’t have to experience fear anymore. But it is still there, I am only distracting attention away from it.

And having it all figured out in itself creates fear. I am afraid that I got it wrong, and know somewhere I inevitably did. I am afraid life will show up differently from my neatly worked out map, which it, again, inevitably will. So both before and when my map falls apart, there is fear. And then there is the stress of having to try to keep it all together, even as it falls apart.

Having it figured out may look appealing, especially to the world of thought, and especially in our culture which places so much emphasis on it and trust in it.

But when I look at it a little more closely, I see that it can easily blind me, and it does not help avoid having to experience fear or anything else I would rather not experience.


Defense and fear


The more I explore beliefs, the clearer the basic pattern and dynamics become…

  • There is a belief in a story.
    • It is taken as somehow intrinsically true.
    • It is seen as reflecting something inherent in the world.
    • The grain of truth in its reversals are downplayed or ignored.
  • An identity is formed from this belief.
    • There is an identity as someone having that belief.
    • And the belief itself creates an identity. (E.g. if the belief is that “people shouldn’t lie” then an identity as someone not lying may be created from it.)
  • There is a split into I and Other
    • A split into right and wrong, true and false.
    • A split into a separate self and the wider world.
    • From this split comes a sense of separation, alienation, not being quite at home, unease, discomfort, and so on.
  • There is a need to defend this belief and its corresponding identity.
    • There is a need to maintain the appearance of truth in the belief, and to ignore the grain of truth in its reversals.
    • There is a need to behave in accordance with the identity formed by the belief.
  • Supporting beliefs are created.
    • A whole army of other beliefs is created and maintained to support and defend the initial belief.
    • These beliefs form a network of supporting beliefs
    • This network consist of groups that are relatively consistent among themselves, although they may not always be so consistent with beliefs in other belief groups. They don’t have to, since groups are often activated more or less separately from each other.
  • Fear comes up, from a sense of having to defend a belief, identity and separate self.
    • This fear provides motivation for maintaining and supporting the initial belief, and its supporting beliefs.
  • The body serves an important function with beliefs, in at least two ways.
    • It tenses up, and the breath often becomes more shallow.
    • It serves as a location in space for a sense of I, and the tense muscles provide sensations serving as this anchor.


Fear as kernel


I notice that any belief tends to fuel a range of emotions, and these emotions seem to have fear as their kernel.

Whenever a story is taken as true, there is an identification with the story, and right there, a sense of I with an Other is created. And with a sense of a separate self, there is birth and death, and things that either further or creates problems for the life and well-being for this separate self.

In short, there is fear.

And this fear can take many forms, including the whole range of human emotions from frustration to anger to sadness to joy. I have a story of being a separate self, stories to flesh out the identity of this separate self, and then stories about how to support the life of this separate self and what to avoid to endanger it as well. If things get bumpy in getting what is wanted, there is frustration. If there is a block, anger. If something desirable is lost, sadness and grief. If it is gained, joy.

Again, it is very simple.

There is a belief in a story, which creates a sense of separate self, which creates fear, which in turn takes the form in the whole range of emotions.

When I am with whatever emotions is there, I may – usually for a short time – notice the fear within it (before it is revealed as something that cannot easily be labeled). And when I investigate beliefs, I may similarly notice the fear created by – and fueling – the belief.

Taking it a little further, I see that fear is created by the initial belief in any story – which creates a sense of separate self. And this fear in turn fuels that sense of a separate self, fleshed out and maintained by a belief in any story.

There is a belief that people should be good, creating and fueled by a fear of what may happen (to me and those close to me) if they are not. There is a belief that I am not like those rednecks, created/fueled by a fear of what may happen to me if I was. There is a belief that all is God and good, created/fueled by a fear of how life would be if that was not the case, and what would happen to me and those close to me.

For any belief, it seems that it creates and is fueled/maintained by fear of what would happen to me if life was not as the beliefs makes it appear to be. There is a fear of what would happen to this separate self.

Source: Todd at CSS talking about this briefly, prompting me to explore this further for myself.

Fear/hope life will show up outside of the boundaries of beliefs


From the previous post:

… any belief creates boundaries for life, for what can and should happen. So when life shows up outside of these boundaries, or even when we fear/hope that life may show up outside of these boundaries, there is also stress. When there are beliefs, we get stress from two sources.

This is something else to explore about beliefs: when we believe a story, when we take it as an absolute truth, there is both hope and fear that life will show up outside of the boundary created by the belief.

We hope, because somewhere we know that no story represent an absolute truth.

And we fear, because we have invested time and energy into the belief, and we (think we) are not familiar with the landscape that opens up without it.