Loving My Fear

Thich Nhat Hanh says the way to lessen our fear is to wrap it tightly in compassionate arms and squeeze. But before we can embrace our fear, we have to meet it. Yes - consciously call our fear up from the depths of hiding, to say hello.

Fear often comes with companions; anxiety, resistance, excuses. That’s ok. We can accept them too.

Last night after dinner, I sat in my room and practiced making friends with my fear. I chose a comfortable space, in the middle of a well-worn red and green rug, to sit cross-legged.

Once still, my shoulders relaxing down my back, breathing steadied, I spoke to my fear. First casually: "hey fear, what’s up, come on out." Nothing. Then I addressed it more aptly - like a child - a small, frustrated, angry child that has been chastised, dismissed and forgotten.

“Dear fear, come on out. It’s OK…I’m not afraid of you. In fact, I love you.” Slowly but surely a dank hollow from my gut began to rise to my chest and with it, mild panic. My heart rate ticked up and my breathing shortened - my mind screamed “retreat!”

With thoughtful, deep belly breaths, I summoned love, as much of it as I could muster and bathed my fear in its warm glow. I rocked my fear back and forth, attending to its wails and protestations.

And then I named it. Thay talks of the fear of death, the fear of letting go. This fear was of failure. A sighing laugh escaped when I realized. “Hello familiar fear. Let’s sit together here in peace for a moment.”

My heart rate lessened, and my breathing gained depth but an aching remained. Close to heartache, though living a little lower, near my sternum. I realized then that my fear knows much sorrow and I understood why nursing it like a wounded child is necessary.

After a few moments, my mind further quieted and I dropped in to empathy. This was easier. Not because the fear- or any of the sensation- dissipated, but because I wasn’t just saying “I love you” anymore, I felt it.

“Every time fear is embraced with mindfulness, the energy of fear decreases before going back down to the depths of our consciousness as a seed… Fearlessness is not only possible, it is the ultimate joy.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

To learn more about the exercise I tried, and working through fear in general, check out FEAR by Thich Nhat Hanh.

With love, 

Olivia 

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Photo Credit: Oscar E

Comments

What a lovely exercise. How strengthening and revealing it can be to face what we fear, what stops us from feeling whole, from moving forward and from loving fully. Last year I decided to spend each day doing something I "feared," it was then I realized I had lived my life full of fears. Some well founded others so ridiculous that acknowledging them embarrassed me and made me giggle. I still practice this daily, some days I'm better than others. I look forward to telling those fears that I love them, that I love each one of them, big and small. I look forward to recognize them and let them go. Thanks for these inspiring words.

I love this idea of facing a fear each day! It's amazing what reveals itself when we take a moment to look. I can certainly relate to discovering fears that make me laugh and blush with a "Really? That's what this was all about?" From far away they're so intimidating, but with a closer look, some are down-right silly - even endearing :)

~Olivia

I love your thoughts here, Olivia. Most particularly, I appreciate you talking about dealing with our emotions by facing them rather than trying to avoid or suppress them. I also really like that you talk about approaching our emotions like like children. I find this can be so helpful, especially if we have been avoiding them for awhile, they won't otherwise appear right away. Sometimes I think of them like scared animals too--a similar idea. Hmm...all of it makes we want to go sit with myself and just be present. Thanks!

Dear Kristen, it makes me so happy to hear you say you want to go wit with yourself in full presence. Just reading these words inspires me similarly, thank you :)

~ Olivia

Olivia,

I love how you equate fear to a forlorn entity filled with the depths of sorrow and remorse. Fear can be misunderstood. Fear, when filled with love, can be an intimate sense of the suffering that surrounds us in this world and can really open our perspective to humility and gratefulness. To embrace it and seek it, out only to shower it with love, is a most etherial and refreshing ways to look at fear. If we could all learn to accept the feeling, embrace it, but control the feeling through love and empathy, the "scariness" of fear dissipates and it becomes understanding. When we all realize this, we will truly transform each other and life on this planet!

Thank you so much for sharing! Keep up the light work.

Max :u)

Thank you Max, your interpretation is beautiful and insightful. Fear filled with love is a very intimate experience, one in which we can learn so much of ourselves and our community -- a window into the heart of humanity. I would love to hear more about your experience with fear opening our perspective to humility and gratefulness. This statement resonated with me and at the same time left me curious for more detail.

A lotus for you,

Olivia

Dear Olivia,

Your response has prompted some serious thought.

Most of the time, our biggest fears aren't rooted in rational dangers at all, yet we treat them as though it were impending death. Fear stems from loss. We fear what we can lose.

Uncontrolled fear leads to greed, jealousy, killing, stealing and hatred amongst other low oscillating emotions. If we are spirituality misaligned, fear and ego take over and create irrational emotion. When we can filter fear through our connection with spirit, we quell it with love and understand that our sufferings and the sufferings of others, can only be treated with love.

I have never felt more humbled, than the morning I was robbed in my house, at gunpoint. All my anxieties, all my worries, all my other fears were lost in that moment.

But Spirit surrounded me, and the physical world began to soften. The screaming armed attackers began to muffle as I prepared for what Spirit was to provide. No matter the outcome of this grave circumstance, I knew I would transcend, whether in this life or the next. This was spirituality on the hurry-up.

I prayed for guidance and love, but I had checked out emotionally. I had detached from my aggressors' energy and saw that they too were frightened. At its essence, our frightened energies were the same. The attacker was just as scared holding the gun, as I was facing certain death. In that moment, we were the same; we had both attracted that low vibration and I can only imagine that we were both feeling the disbelief that these events were actually unfolding in three dimensions.

Preparing for death was more peaceful when I allowed Spirit to take over. Although still terrifying, I embraced it and accepted it and showered it with love and peace. In my mind, my final thoughts for my physical expression known as “Max” were to be love and hope. It's funny how the Spirit provides light in these dark moments.

They eventually placed me on the cold kitchen floor with my head down; I sensed my younger brother to my side and he reached for my hand, and we gripped it in love. We knew, that no matter what, that love would permeate our beings in that intense moment and bring the spiritual sigh of relief, knowing that we were together. After the 20 minutes of tortuous waiting, there was silence. We sat in the quiet for another 20 minutes before even attempting to rise. My roommate, who had be isolated in his room, alone, stumbled to us and we collapsed in an embrace of emotional release. We we're alive and the sun was rising.

When the officers interrogated us, they were completely perplexed why we went up a mountain and watched the sun rise before calling the authorities. They couldn’t understand that we just wanted to embrace seeing the beauty of a new day.

I had never loved so much in that moment, but had become a wave of emotions. But the highest of them all, was gratitude and humility. It took time to reflect, but clarity was restored amongst the fallout and the paradigm of my life had shifted for the better.

After coming so close to death, food had never tasted better, the sun had never been more beautiful, and no one seemed more important than my family and loved ones. I had survived, and the little irritants, frustrations and fears of my life had drifted away. Never, had I felt so much graciousness and gratefulness from the Source.

The circumstances in our lives need to be seen through the eyes of the spirit. The most trying and horrific times are the ones in which it's almost impossible to maintain balance, and yet, if we quiet the mind and attach to spirit, it's amazing how answers of clarity and peace come flooding in, cleansing ourselves of dread.

Like attracts like, and fear attracts the vibration of our insecurities and anxieties. We embrace fear with love and it transforms. It is no longer fear, it has become acceptance, love, understanding, and humility. We melt the fear with love and humbly accept the loving energy of all things into our beings. No matter what, our spirit isn’t going anywhere and we should take the darkness of fear out of our hearts and step with courage into the light.

I hope this spread more light on fear from my perspective.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I would love to pick your brain about life in general and hear some of your insights, somehow! Please keep up the light-work Dear Olivia.

A big hug with love n light.

Max :u)

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