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What is Fear?

How can you face your fear of the unknown?

Child:  I am afraid.  I am afraid that someone will come hurt me at night.  That is why I sleep with my legs curled up and not stretched long to the end of the bed.  Once the room is dark, I get scared.  I am afraid of the dark.

Adult:  Yes I understand the unknown is scary and that there are some bad people in this world, but you can’t limit yourself because of things that are scary.  There are some beautiful things about darkness and wonderful people in the world—Lets go outside and look up at the stars for a moment…

Child:  I am scared.

Adult:  Hold my hand, I will show you that although the path is shrouded in darkness, it is the path you were meant to travel and will carry you.  This is your room, the room you play in the light.  That dark closet is where all your toys are.  What if the room were always dark and you were afraid to see what was there?  You would never discover all the toys you love to play with.  One day you will see life in a new way.  One day the darkness that will scare you will not be nighttime, it will be the unknown of the future.  What if you were too afraid of the unknown, so you never discovered the treasures you were meant to discover because you were limiting yourself with fear?  Come now let’s go see the stars.

Child: (thinking) what is fear?  Now I am confused.  I thought only bad things would happen if I ventured into the dark and away from my bed.

Once outside under the stars

Adult:  Look up.  What does the darkness allow us to see?

Child: The light of the stars and planets!

Adult:  Thats correct.  The darkness allows us to know the light.  How much do we know about what we are seeing?

Child:  Um…. Not sure… Infinity confuses me but I know we are looking at infinity says scientists.

Adult: Excellent yes! We are looking at infinite mystery.  We know those lights are burning balls of gas that are too large to even imagine.  We know there are plants that orbit like the earth around these balls of gas.  But we don’t know much more than that. We continue to learn, to reach out into this infinite darkness to discover small clues—only to find these smalls clues lead to even more mystery.  What if NASA was afraid of the dark? or mystery?  What if astronauts were afraid of the dark?

Child:  That would be silly.  But I see your point.  They wouldn’t be able to explore space.

What is one thing today you can do to face a fear that is limiting exploration?  How can you face a fear of the unknown today?

Inspired by one of my wonderful teachers, Coby Kozlowski

cobyk.com

Resilience

The Sanskrit word for the heart center or chakra is anahata and can be translated as the “unbroken” or “unhurt.”  The meaning of the word suggests that although our “hearts” can be broken, they are never truly broken; our hearts our limitlessly resilient.  We strengthen our resilience by learning to listen more deeply to our hearts and mindfully honoring our emotional experience.  Exercising the mind-body through movement can help support embodied emotional process and stress reduction.  Through “mining” somatic intelligence, you can enhance your capacity to embrace the challenges of real life.

Practice: Stand tall on the earth, begin to breathe into your heart.  Let your heart’s radius expand and contract with each breath.  Envision the light of compassion emanating from your heart center.  Let the light fill your entire body.  As you feel your body fill with light,     shine light on your thoughts and emotions.  Welcome all facets of your experience.  Allow any thought or feeling to soak in as much light as needed and then float on like clouds in the sky.

Self-compassion

“Who we are is the process of learning to align thoughts, words and actions with our highest intentions [1].”

The “self-critic” does it best, but imprisons us and inhibits change.  Self-compassion is the antidote.  Self-Compassion allows us to move forward in alignment with purpose and our values.  Self-Compassion, not criticism, is the catalyst for change.

The three components of self-compassion

  • Emotional mindfulness (grow curious about the depth of your emotional experience)
  • Connection with Collective (shared human experience)
  • True Kindness & Big Picture Perspective (the voice that points you back in the direction of what you really want)

Practice:  Write a letter to yourself expressing compassion to yourself.  Try to include all three components.  Notice when your self-critic is talking.  Invite your self-compassion voice to join the dialogue.

Reference:

[1] Kelly McGonigal, Neuroscience of Change