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We've all felt its icy hand--whether it's a sudden grab, or a subtle, lingering presence. No matter how it functions in your life, no doubt you're happiest and most fulfilled when it's not at the wheel, steering. In this gallery, Buddhist writer Susan Piver offers simple techniques you can apply to everyday fears--from asking for help to remembering to breathe.
1- Let Yourself Be Afraid My favorite definition of fearlessness is this: the ability to remain soft and open, even under very difficult circumstances. Most often, fear causes us to shut down to our own and others' humanity. We just want to get away, but the quickest way out is to stay. If you can slow down a bit, you can see that fear rises, abides, and dissolves on its own. Allowing this process is the mark of the spiritual warrior. The coward turns attention toward fighting fear; the warrior
When you are vulnerable. I've tried all sorts of strategies to get over this-breathing exercises.. To my surprise. None of these helped all that much. Take a full inhalation and exhalation after each reading. and Valium. you can relax. Start with the words "I'm afraid." then scribble the first thoughts that come to mind. or anger. 2. Try this: The next time you notice fear rising. Sometimes I even have panic attacks. visualizations. calms me down. even if he or she is just pretending.Ask for Help I hate to fly. melancholy. people actually want to protect you. and write one short sentence that describes your fear. grab a piece of paper. without regard for grammar or rationale.accommodates it. When you know this.. and he offered to get me a glass of water. Avoid any attempt at amping up or toning down your agitation." Slowly read your words over three times. I calmed down on the spot. It could be something such as. "I'm afraid to check my e-mail because I've already got too much to do" or "I'm afraid about an upcoming conversation with my boyfriend" or "I'm afraid I have cancer. The likelihood is that someone will .. I hate it. even for a moment. That's it. whether it appears as anxiety. The truth is that 99% of humanity is good. Here's what did: I told someone on the plane that I was afraid to fly. stop. I learned that getting someone to care about me.
You don't have to go into the whole story. write a letter. with the energy of connection." If you don't want to communicate with anyone. I find tremendous courage to face my fears. This doesn't hurt only you! Those who love you are also deprived. and think what we want isn't possible or realistic. why I love them. reach out to someone. 3. "I'm having a hard day and thinking about you lifts my spirits." The key is to counter the energy of fear. make this request within yourself: "May this fear build a bridge between myself and others. I'm doing it for us! My actions are rooted in love.. send an e-mail. You could strike up a little conversation with the person next to you. We want to avoid. which spirals out and around..be there for you. what they need. You can say something like. but just as often I find the opposite true. retreat. lightening the situation on all levels. Try this: Ask yourself: "If I were to get past my worst fears. When I stop and remember who is in my life. Or you could call a friend.Put Others First Fear can cause you to ignore your authentic desires and put your life on hold. not aggression-and loving others is a secret power source of fearlessness. who . and how happy they would be made by my happiness. I know people often suggest putting yourself first. Try this: If you notice panic rising. which spirals in and down to make you feel heavy and isolated.
" And then cheer up.else would be made happy?" If you can't think of one person who would delight in your delight. it is not scientific or logical. you simply pick up on the message. This actually works. This person can be real or fictional. It may only last for a few seconds/minutes/hours. "There's always the primordial dot: that spark of goodness that exists even before you think. It is not a product of your education. but when you think of them. pause. you feel a great sense of encouragement. which is not connected purely with either pain or pleasure. And then you act: you just do it Try this: The next time you feel shaky. ." Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche says.Cheer Up This may sound facile and nonprofound. imagine the person you most admire sitting across from you. Say these words to yourself: "I could always just cheer up.. In an essay called "Working With Early Morning Depression. but you can always try it again. But it's actually the opposite." Everybody possesses that unconditioned possibility of cheerfulness. Write down each person's name and explain why he or she would feel happy if you conquered your fear. You have an inclination: in the flash of one second you feel what needs to be done. We are worthy of that. 4.
. When we're not able to maintain mindfulness. The ability to remain open and mindful under all circumstances. Try this: The next time you notice fear rising. shallow breathing. Draw attention inward. You don't always have to calm your mind to calm your body. and so on. We confuse what we think is happening with what is happening. When you locate fear's position. clenched belly. it's relaxation. This is meant to be a physical relaxation. It can work the other way around. two qualities rooted in relaxation. stop what you're doing. we lose track of what's actually going on around us. simply relax that area. When attention is absorbed in fear. no matter how uncomfortable.5. not an emotional one. Let your jaw or stomach go or take a few deep breaths.Relax The opposite of fear is not dauntlessness. we're distracted from what is actually going on. Where is the fear manifesting in your body? Fear can show itself in a tense jaw. is a sign of amazing courage. Like remaining in the still eye of a tornado--as opposed to being swept away by it--fearlessness requires full. moment-to-moment attention and receptivity.
." which is different from the normal suffering human beings face. Notice where it resides in your body. But we increase our suffering when we develop complex stories about where it came from. dull or sharp. but at a certain point all that storytelling becomes counterproductive. you can consider the counsel of American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron: "Feel the feeling and drop the story. where it's going. I'm not saying we shouldn't be thoughtful about the events of our life. one of which is called "The Suffering of Suffering. You could even cry or stomp around. You'll be amazed at how much faster suffering resolves itself when you cut out the suffering of suffering.Stop Talking to Yourself In Buddhism. feel it. there are several categories of suffering. Be patient and let yourself feel what you're feeling as an end in itself." Try this: When you notice you're beginning to spin out. speedy or spacy. We all experience loss and disappointment. or whose fault it all is. instead of thinking about your suffering. whether it feels hot or cold.6. Instead of analyzing your feelings.
Let yourself really feel their presence--and take them in with you. imagine someone who would be proud or grateful if you took this risk. or in your arms. and there is strength in numbers! 8. or a historic or fictional character. your inner child. Try this: Before you're about to do something scary (confront a friend. Now sit down and conjure up . How long do you think fear lasts? You can actually do an experiment to see. Before you step into your scary situation. visualize this person by your side. a mentor.Bring Someone With Here is an exercise you can do on the spot to calm real fear in real time. it seems endless. start a new job. It could be a relative. ask for a date).7.Time It When we're in the grip of fear. Try this: Take a look at your watch. You're not alone. holding your hand.
Tune your ear to the silence. which is always attuned to the largest possible reality. Listen to what's in between or under the sounds you hear and keep your attention on that. Take in the vastness of silence. . and the rustle of my husband's newspaper. music coming from downstairs. Try to stay afraid for as long as you can. I can hear a car idling across the street. Let your ears take in all the sounds. Try this: Bring your attention to whatever sounds are present. otherwise there would be nothing to hear. even if you're in the stadium during the Super Bowl. Just connect with the feeling. This exercise is a way to cut into the flow of everyday discursive thought and connect instead with the mind of peace. but totally let go of trying to figure it out. You can always. you don't have to look far. All of them play against a background of silence. Well. In a fearful condition. even for one second.Listen to Silence Sometimes it feels like we'd do anything to stop being afraid. How much time passes before fear begins to pass? 9. always hear the silence. As I sit here. Let your awareness become open and soft. But here's what you can do instead: Stop focusing on anything in particular. stop and look at your watch.one of your fears. the mind tends to tighten its grip on fear until you feel like you might explode. The very second you notice your mind starting to think about something else.
Learn to Meditate All the suggestions above are predicated on one thing: the ability to maintain mindfulness and awareness. Intimacy. moment to moment.10. Adapted from Susan Piver's book. Choosing what to focus on requires practice--the practice of meditation. When you don't consciously focus your attention. it wanders randomly. "How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life: Opening Your Heart to Confidence. and Joy" (St. with permission. 2007). Martin's Press. For more info. if you stick with it your ability to move through fear with confidence will get stronger and stronger. No matter which type of meditation you do. as best you can. Then it will be easier to put the previous suggestions into play. visit: Susanpiver.com .
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