It's normal that we all feel fear at one time or another. It's necessary for our survival. Sometimes the emotion of fear is legitimate and we need to feel this emotion to protect us from an immediate danger or a real threat. Thankfully, most of us live in a safer world today and we no longer have to be afraid of the wild animal attacking anymore like we did years ago in our distant past.
Most of the fear we experience in today's world is in the form of anxiety or worry. These emotions come from the anticipation of something fearful happening. This results in thinking fearful thoughts about what happened in the past or what may happen in the future. Whether we're thinking about fear or actually experiencing fear, our body reacts the same way, by activating the lymbic system in our brain and shifting our nervous system into fight, flight, freeze mode. This releases adrenaline, cortisol and other stress related hormones into the body. When our body is in this state, we cannot heal, we cannot think straight, we cannot relax and find true peace and joy. We are living in a state of dis-ease, which creates disease.
The frontal cortex or higher thinking part of our brain is activated when we step back, recognize and name the fear. This de-activates the limbic system of the brain that is responsible for triggering our emotions and survival based behaviors. We can regard what's going on with presence and heart capacity and not be tossed around by our emotional brain. By detaching somewhat from a difficult emotion, such as fear, and being the witness of it, we take that crucial step of living in a constricted reality to an expanded one. Any true healing requires that we face the fear, sit with the fear, open to it's presence in order to let it go. We need to make the difficult journey through fear, or better yet, let the fear make its journey through us. At this point we can find a space of freedom around the fear and reduce the strangling constriction that it has on us.
When we feel the clutch of anxiety in the body- it's an opportunity to breathe deeply into the place in the body holding that deep fear, stay there and hold it with kindness and presence. In the process of staying with it from a place of compassion, we begin to understand that we inhabit a much larger space of presence than just that. It is revealed that the fear is merely a wave in the huge ocean of consciousness- it's not the whole of us, and it will pass. We can recognize the loop of fear, and stay for a moment in that raw, space... take some deep, cleansing breaths, and we can watch it dissipate and begin to let it go.
To anchor and re-anchor in the present moment is the gateway to healing. It provides us the moment-to-moment opportunity to create new and healthier connections in the brain and body that makes space for us to live in peace. We notice the habit of worry and then bring ourselves back to the moment of presence allowing us to feel the underlying joy is always there but that we've perhaps lost touch with. We can wake up to the call of what's really necessary in the moment and not live in the future anticipation of what's around the corner. Life offers us the constant opportunity to begin anew and create a healthier reality and to realize our greatest potential. And most of all, living a life without anxiety and anticipation of fear opens us up to seeing the world as a place of support, of unity, and most importantly, of love.
May you be healthy, happy and peaceful,
Please practice my meditation on releasing fear-based anxiety.