Day 8: Working with Fear - The 30-day journey to enlightenment and well-being

Miss a day, or just joining: TABLE OF CONTENTS

Day 8 Activities:
1) Mantra meditation
2) Minimum 30 minutes of calorie burning
3) Write down everything you eat and sketch your Balance Chart
4) Continue to remain aware of your speech patterns
5) Optional: Repeat grounding meditation
6) New: Sitting with fear
Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom.
-Marilyn Ferguson

It is human and natural to experience fear. It it not necessary for fear to be the driver of our thought and actions.

Fear can arise from trauma. Fear can also arise from the perception or anticipation of being "out of control", from feeling "trapped", without options, experiencing or anticipating changes and many other circumstances unique to each of us.

We all experience fear and we always have options for how to work with it.

Begin with a self exploration of your relationship to fear. This can be in your notebook or sitting quietly. Recall a time when you were afraid (not recommended for this exercise to use a physically or emotionally traumatic experience). Perhaps your job was in jeopardy, perhaps a loved one was gravely ill, perhaps your spouse was very late getting home without calling.

As you recall the experience, notice what emotions come up....anger, unfairness, numbness, rage, defeat, need to retreat....

Notice what happens on a physical level to your body and your breath. Do parts of your body tense, do you hold your breath, do you fidget, do you become statue-like, do you shrivel up, do you expand?

Just begin to notice how you naturally react to fear - please try to do this without judgment. The intention of the exercise is to become more aware of your body and emotions' response to fear. Knowing this will help allow you to be more aware of your fear-response when you begin to meditate with fear.

I find comfort and support from the Buddhist teachings on fear.

The Buddhists talk about "leaning into fear", "inviting fear in", "staying with fear", "talking to your fear".

And equally important is softening our breath and our hearts around fear. This may seem counter to what many of us are taught about confronting fear.

But here is why it is important to soften. Fear is OUR feeling it is within us. It cannot be given to the place or person whence it came or where it is directed. Our fear is OURS. So to lash out and confront our fear internally is much more destructive and energy expending than letting the fear visit for a while.

This different from suggesting to be passive and not address external factors causing the fear. This is about how to deal with the internal fear. And to attack our fear internally is to attack ourselves from the inside out.

So how do we sit with the fear? It can be very uncomfortable. And it can be hard to let the fear "be" with us without tensing and fixating on elements of the fear.

But as with all emotions and situations....they all pass. The fear will pas too. It just need the space and the time to cycle through its course. So to deny fear space and think we can control our emotions and feelings, is to attempt to work against nature.

And so we sit quietly with our fear. But it's a practice. And we don't have to get it "right" the first or the thousandth time.

When your mind starts to fixate or push away the fear. Gently, forgivingly bring yourself back to sitting with the fear and just letting it have it's time.

Like it your not, your fear is part of you. Anytime we try to deny a part of ourselves it doesn't go away - it shifts and morphs and festers and can remain stagnant, feeding off of our energy until we allow ourselves to recognize it.

So give the "sitting with fear" meditation a try. It can be very scary and uncomfortable, but remember that you're just allowing the fear to have it's say and then it will eventually pass. It just needs to be heard, as do all of the parts of you. Your heart, your health, your back....we listen to them. Listen to the fear too.

A must-read for learning to work with fear is The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron.

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