I’m back from a wonderful week in Ojai, California, with Richard Moss and a beautiful group of fellow travelers. We spent time exploring how we relate to fear, a powerful and pervasive presence in our lives. We shared how we protect ourselves from fear – using old survival strategies that may have served us early in life, but now are more likely to sap vitality and the fullness of being in the moment. Richard was clear: We don’t defeat fear. We find ways to co-create with it.
One night, just before bedtime, I picked up Richard’s latest book, Inside-Out Healing, and said to myself: “Whatever page I open to, that’s what I’ll read.” To my amazement and delight, the book opened to page 153 and the heading, “A Word about Fear”.
I decided right then to share with you some quotes from that section.
“Fear is a wall that every one of us hits again and again throughout our lives. Some people try to climb the wall by filling themselves with hope. Others try to ignore it, perhaps by keeping themselves very busy. Some try to go around it by taking care of everyone else, and there are those who put on blinders and let their world get smaller and smaller over time. But sooner or later, to fully live, we have to sit down in front of fear and let it teach us about ourselves. When we do, it becomes one of our greatest allies in the journey to wisdom and healing…. (p. 153)
“There are innumerable ways of rationalizing fear that give you the mistaken idea that you know what it is, when in reality you haven’t engaged the feeling consciously. If you did, then you would clearly realize that at the level of sensation, all fear is the same…. (p. 153)
“If you turn your awareness toward fear instead of thinking about it – and actually allow yourself to experience the sensation of fear while refusing to let that sensation carry you into stories – the stories will dissolve as fast as they form. Then, like all feelings, fear continues to transmute. It becomes energy – aliveness not frozen in contraction…. Then you will have reached a whole new level of inner freedom.” (pp. 153-154)
Richard invites us to attend gently to fear as a sensation in the body, to make a compassionate space for fear, to breathe into it and let it flow naturally through us. Don’t let stories take over and torment. Stay in the body. Stay with the breath.
From the standpoint of our spacious selves, fear is just an ancient, young friend who sometimes makes a lot of noise.