“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” –Jack Canfield
We’ve all felt fear at some point in our lives, and more likely than not, it is a feeling that arises in us on a regular basis. Maybe we’re afraid of what our boss thinks of our latest project proposal or we worry about our children who’ve recently enrolled in a new school. One of the most common fears in the modern world is the fear of public speaking. Maybe you’re worried about a presentation you have to give to a potential client, or maybe you’ve just completed your studies and will be teaching a large group of students, which makes you anxious. While fear is a natural reaction to a real or perceived threat, most of the anxiety we feel is a product of the stories we tell ourselves. This is the fear that tells us not to chase our dreams or do that thing we’ve always wanted to do because we may fail. Fear can save us, but it can also be paralyzing.
One of the most effective actions we can take when we notice the symptoms of fear: a knot in the stomach, sweaty palms, a fast heart rate, etc., is to take several deep breaths. Even if this is the only method we apply, we will feel relief simply from inhaling and exhaling deeply, which relaxes the mind and body significantly.
Another practice we can employ when fear arises within us, after first taking several deep breaths, is to acknowledge and name the fear. Once we take the step of bringing our fear to light, it no longer has the power over us that it may have previously had. Name the fear in a way that feels comfortable for you, possibly stating ‘I feel afraid’ or ‘I feel nervous.’ This helps to create a distance between who you are and what you feel. You are not fear; fear is a fleeting sensation. You could then state a phrase wishing yourself well, such as ‘May I be at ease’ or ‘May I feel peace.’
It is critically important to face the fear, rather than avoid it. Sit with the fear. See how it feels in your body. Do you feel like you have butterflies in your stomach? Or do your hands tremble slightly? Is your mouth all of a sudden completely dry? Notice how the fear manifests itself in your body. Now see if you can be friendly toward the fear, rather than automatically push it away. It is also incredibly helpful to be gentle and kind toward yourself as you accept the feeling of fear. Once you do this, you will realize that you can indeed handle anything.
Meditation instructor Alice Lash offers mindfulness meditation in Miami. Develop or rekindle your mindfulness meditation practice with us. See our schedule and join one of our upcoming classes.