Thursday, March 31, 2011

Meditating with fear and anxiety

Many people are reluctant to admit they’re afraid, even to themselves. Somehow, they believe that if they acknowledge their fear, they give it power to run their lives. In other words, deep down, they’re afraid of their fear! Men especially will often go to great lengths to hide their fears or anxieties behind a facade of confidence or anger or rationality. At the other extreme, of course, some people seem to be afraid of just about everything. The truth is, if you’re human — and not bionic or extraterrestrial — you’re going to be afraid or anxious, at least occasionally. In addition to the raw rush of adrenaline you feel when your physical survival seems to be at stake, you experience the fear that inevitably arises when you face the unknown or the uncertain in life — which can be quite often these days. Ultimately, you’re afraid because you believe that you’re a separate, isolated entity surrounded by forces beyond your control. The more the walls that separate you from others crumble through the practice of meditation, the more your fear and anxiety naturally diminish. As with anger, you can use your meditation to explore and ultimately make friends with your fear. After all, it’s just an emotion like other emotions, composed of physical sensations, thoughts, and beliefs. When working with fear, it’s especially important to be kind and gentle with yourself. Begin by asking the same questions you asked about anger: Where and how do you experience it in your body? Where do you find yourself tensing and contracting? What happens to your breathing? Or to your heart? Next, notice the thoughts and images that accompany the fear. Often fear arises from anticipating the future and imagining that you’ll somehow be unable to cope. When you see these catastrophic expectations for what they are and return to the present moment — the sensations in your body, the coming and going of your breath — you may find that the fear shifts and begins to disperse. Then when it returns, you can simply call its name — “fear, fear, fear” — like an old, familiar friend.
You may also want to amplify the sensations a little and allow yourself to shake or tremble, if you feel so inclined. You can even imagine the fear overwhelming you and doing its worst (knowing, of course, that you will survive) — an especially helpful approach if you’re afraid of your fear, as so many people are. Facing your fear directly without trying to get rid of it or escape from it requires tremendous courage; yet these practices also have the capacity to bring you into the present moment and open your heart to your own vulnerability.

1 comment:

Clarity Meditation said...

Meditation helps to reduce the fear and anxiety...meditation is a phenomenon that makes your mind in peace,calm state..