Fear is a universal experience, and it touches us in many ways -- physically, emotionally and spiritually. For some of us, it creates blockages and patterns that take years to overcome. Fear has been the muse of writers, poets, philosophers, musicians, humanitarians and healers, all of them engulfed by fear at some point in their lifetime.
Our emotions are colored by our life experiences. Joy, anger, surprise, trust, grief, or sadness, love and fear. If you ask someone which emotion is the strongest, you'll find yourself in quite the philosophical conversation. Optimists might say love is the strongest emotion, but it's pretty interesting to see how common fear, anger, and grief rise to the occasion. I say be the optimist and go with love -- love for yourself, love of your fears, and love for one another.
Now is the time to face your fears, and instead of running away from them trust, take the chance, breathe and leap right into your fears. It's easy to come up with creative excuses not to face your fears. My personal favorite is: "Just waiting for the perfect time."
Perfection doesn't exist. Perfection equals procrastination.
This moment is exactly as it should be. Moments of fear are life's way of gifting you the lessons necessary in guiding you towards your dharma -- your soul's purpose. Living a life of dharma moves fear to the back burner and heightens life's experiences to be unbounded, enjoyed and cherished. If we can just shift our perspective a bit on what fear really is (challenging, positive, freedom), then our outlook on fear and life itself takes on a whole new meaning. Simply put, a better way of navigating through life!
One of the most prolific guides in my life are the teachings of Pema Chodron. She says, "The only way to experience fearlessness is to know the nature of fear. The journey of growing closer to fear brings courage and bravery."
The many stages of life, jobs, careers or relationships can create vulnerability, fear and anxiety. These transitional times bring on levels of uncertainty. We're not the person we once were, nor are we the one we're about to become. So we need to establish a life of living in a grounded state.
You are, and should be, your own rock. Grounding practices will assist in maintaining focus, clarity, grace and ease during life's many transitions. The tools of yoga and meditation are ancient grounding rituals. They help us stay present and establish a regular touchstone through which we can experience and move through fear. They also give our challenges the ideas of transformation so it feels as though it has a higher purpose.
If you don't have a meditation or yoga practice, we all have to start somewhere -- I did. So I encourage you to take that first step and give yourself a personal challenge this week. Sit with yourself in silence by following your breath, and participate in a yoga class. Many yoga studios offer free or discounted classes to new enrollees, so no excuses.
For every emotional response, there is a correlating physical response. We know through research that these tools work in the following ways:
- Meditation helps us stay in the present, which reduces fear.
- A daily 10-minute walk in nature increases stress resilience.
- Relaxation-based practices such as restorative yoga reduce anxiety and heal the body.
- Deep breathing, or pranayama, is a quick and effective response to stress, anxiety and fear. Try four-part breathing the next time you feel any constriction. Close your eyes and inhale to the count of four, hold to the count of four, exhale to the count of four, hold to the count of four. I know you have 16 seconds! Feel free to repeat a few times if time permits.
- Take some time each day to tap into some sensory therapy, too: soothing music or nature sounds, beautiful visual imagery, aromatherapy, self-massage, mindful eating. Your 10-minute nature walk alone will tap into your inner healer with smell, sight, sound and touch.
Ritualized practices better enable us to tap into deeper levels of who we are and track our behaviors that establish the patterns, presenting us with opportunities to observe, learn and shift away from the patterns that make mountains out of molehills.
Remember that fear is your sweet companion on the road to growth and personal transformation. It will help you move beyond your constrictions into a sweeter more magnificent unfolding of life.
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