"Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

 Frank Herbert

"Fear is an emotion indispensible for survival."

 Hanna Arendt

"There is nothing to fear but fear."

 Ludwig Boerne (1786-1837) German political writer

Fear is a part of life. It is a healthy response to immediate danger. It can activates us to deal with a threat, or it can freeze us into passivity in the face of overwhelming harm. This can be helpful or not depending on the circumstances.

In our daily lives most of us live in fear of unnamed, unseen imaginary demons. They may be fear of failure, success, commitment, disapproval, some person, or group of other people, or even fear of looking at ourselves and seeing who we really are. Often these fears get in the way of our being the person we really are, of actualizing our potential.

 A first step in moving beyond fear is naming the demon. If you are ready to begin facing your fears try the following meditation. Don't do this if you can't feel safe. Read through the entire meditation before beginning to make sure that this is something you want to do. It may be helpful to have a trusted friend read the instructions to you as you relax.

Begin by sitting comfortably. Imagine that you are surrounded by a protective white light. Within this light is only love and compassion. Allow yourself to relax.

Turn your awareness to your breathing. As you feel each breath coming in and going out allow yourself to relax. Let your breathing deepen of itself without straining. Let each out-breath complete it's task of freeing the air in your lungs. Let each in-breath come on its own, unpressured, unhurried. Let your breath nourish your heart. Take your time.

 If your mind wanders, just let go of the thoughts and bring your attention back to your breath. Let your breathing become the focus of your mind.

 When you are feeling quite relaxed and feeling safe, allow yourself an awareness of some fear that has been a problem for you. Think of something in your life that causes you to experience fear. Give this fear a name.

 What is this thing you are afraid of. Is it real or is it imaginary?

 Remember that you are safe now. You are in a safe place and this fear is right now only an object of your mind.

Notice the sensations in your body and the mental images that come with your fear. Allow them to come and go. Do not grasp and hold them, but notice them, appreciate them as warnings that something is out of balance.

 If the emotion becomes too strong, return your awareness to your breath and let go of the thought.

 Let go of the feeling.

Surround yourself with the light of love and know that all is well at this moment.

Feel free to discontinue this exercise at any time.

 If you are ready to face this fear, continue to breathe, continue to relax, but look the fear square in the face. Feel your own power in the face of this object of aversion. Know that you have power. You have an inner strength to withstand or defeat the aversion. Feel the sensations that come with these thoughts.

 Know that the emotions you feel come only from a thought. You can name the thought. You can change the thought. You can transform the image of fear in your mind into something different. Perhaps something funny. Perhaps something beautiful.

 Is there any way this fear could be helpful to you?

 What else would have to happen for you to go beyond this fear?

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© 1995-2002 Tom Barrett