What if instead of being scared and afraid when feeling our fears, we could embrace fear as a catalyst for change?
What if you could start to change our relationship with fear, so as to welcome it when it comes into our life, knowing that it is leading you closer to the heart of you?
Creative people know that when fear is present, they are entering new creative territory, and expanding their work and themselves in the process.
What if you could start today embracing your fear as a powerful messenger, sent to let you know that you are on the right track, and to just keep moving in the direction the fear is pointing to, but softly and careful, with love in your heart for the fear, just like you would have for a friend of yours who was guiding you on an adventure that was just that bit outside of your comfort zone.
I like to practice dialoguing with my fear: I ask it – what is it that you are most afraid of?
What is the worst thing that can happen if what you are afraid of eventuates?
It might be that a project you are working on doesn’t evolve in the way you want it and you feel like a failure. It might be that someone you have a crush on doesn’t correspond with your feelings and you feel rejected.
If you dialogue with your fear, try asking it how you would feel if this very utmost worst occurrence you are afraid of happening, happened?
What if you did fail in that project, or get rejected.
Would it really be the end of the world?
Could that feeling actually be OK?
And would it not be likely that you would have learnt a lot from the experience?
If we can easily co-exist and relax with our fears, rather than let them limit us, then we become free to play more in our life, and to experiment creatively as well as with relationships.
And when we fully let go of fear, we also let go of expectations of outcomes.
So – that project that you hope would reach X funding goal by Y time and didn’t – you are not devastated because though you aimed for this, you didn’t expect it.
So instead of feeling terrible, you tweak your approach and keep going.
In relationship, if we also let go of fear at the same time as let go of expectation, then the relationship can grow and develop in its own time, according to how it wants, rather than our agenda. We trust that we don’t know the form that this relationship wants to take in our lives, but we are open to whatever form that might be. We remain curious.
Be open to feeling our fears and embracing them also helps us to be open to sharing them with other people close to us.
When we are able to share these fears with our loved ones, already their potency decreases. Imagine you are pushing a shopping trolley of doom by yourself along a road. It feels heavy, as well as scary to be pushing this doom cargo all alone. Then we meet a friend along the way, who inspects the trolley, and shows interest in our cargo of fears – saying – oh look at that one – he has a big nose! Suddenly our load is lightened. The friend might even suggest that we no longer need to push the fears along. Perhaps we could let them get out of the shopping trolley and walk?
Working with Fear in Meditation Practice: I See You Mara
One way to work with fear is through our meditation practice.
We sit in meditation and we allow the fear to be there, while we just experience the sensations that occur related to this fear.
- What is the physical sensation of fear and where is it present?
- Is there a contraction around the place fear?
- Is there heat or cold in the place I am feeling the fear?
- What happens if I relax into the feeling and soften the edges around it?
- What happens if I breathe more deeply and more slowly?
The Buddha is famous for sitting under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, India, until he became awakened (I prefer this term to enlightened). It took about three days and nights, and it is said that in the early hours of the last morning, Mara – or ‘illusion’ came into his mind space, hoping to trip him up, and stop his progress towards becoming free from suffering.
He saw what Mara was up to and spoke to him: “I see you Mara”.
And with just the power of presence and the clarity that naming something brings, with that, Mara knew the game was up, and disappeared.
Working with fear in our meditation practice is like this. We see it, we name it, we recognise it as illusion, and then, with practice, the fear will subside.
In the same way we can do this when fearful mind states arise in every day life, outside of practice. Just call it out: I see you Mara. And see what happens.