How do you handle fear when it grabs on and doesn’t want to let go?
I’ve been wrestling with growing pains as I step into a new creative business. It will challenge me and bring together all of my gifts. I’m thrilled, but extremely slow to Come. Out. With it.
Call it resistance, lizard brain, or plain old fear. Maybe because I spent years avoiding my emotions, I’m unable to simply brush it off. I choose to work with it, but I can get stuck there.
Last weekend I backpacked out to ShiShi beach with 8 women friends. It’s wild, uninhabited and among the most inspiring places on this planet. I took some alone time, looked out at the great blue water and asked my inner guidance for a little advice. “Please, help me understand the nature of my fears and how to work with them.”
What I really meant was: “What the frick is up with all this fear? It’s blocking me from taking action, from being creative, being productive, like I usually am. Maybe it was better before, when I didn’t feel my real feelings. This fear is really pissing me off. I want to be done. Move on. What the hell can I do?”
Thankfully I got a very beautiful, simple answer: breathe.
It’s a special kind of breathing: tonglen (Tibetan for giving and receiving), that I first learned in Pema Chodrun’s book When Things Fall Apart. You breathe in the suffering of others in each inhale, and send out happiness to all beings in the exhale. It’s a beautiful way to open and expand your sense of loving kindness. I’ve used it when dealing with difficult people, with amazing results. Now I have to count myself as difficult!
By its very nature, you do tonglen for others. But the message I got at the ocean was that I could include myself too. As I breathe in, I can notice my fears as part of the greater suffering. As I breathe out, I can concentrate on sending love and complete trust, to myself as well as the whole of creation. Which is the antidote to fear.
Next time I notice fear getting in my own way, I can breathe it in, and breathe it out, transformed.
The other big takeaway from the ocean was Flow. Even though I have a crazy list of things to do, and will never get to them in a timeline that will satisfy my gorgeous ego, I can approach each moment as an opportunity to find the flow. A sense of ease and joy.
That’s what ocean does. It doesn’t freaking worry about which wave to move, when. It goes where it can. And when it comes up against hard places, it wears them down, gradually and gently.
Tell me: do you have any tricks to wash away your fear? or to find your flow?
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