We all have a survival mechanism and fear is part of it. It is useful: it gives us a way of assessing risk.
However, we don’t want fearful thoughts to take over, effectively freezing us in time rather than living in time.
Fearful thoughts tend to be sticky. Try and push them away and the more the tendrils of fear grip. Instead we can seek to be open to our fearful thoughts. Let’s not push our fears away; let’s recognise them.
As we stop struggling against our fears (wasted energy not worthwhile) and open ourselves to naming them (not easy but worthwhile), we can begin to learn. Which of our fears are valid and what actions can we take to address them? Which of our fears are so unlikely to happen that we should choose not to heed their calls? Sometimes we can do this process of assessing our fears on our own; sometimes we need others alongside us.
When we are fearful, our flight-or-fight mechanism will be engaged. We are ready to fight; our adrenaline is pumping. While useful in responding say to a fire, when this isn’t useful to us we can do something simple about it. We can practice noticing our breath (without seeking to change it). We can also inhale through our nose, holding our breath for a count of four. Then exhale still through our nose for the same count. We may find it comfortable to increase the count to perhaps six or eight over time.
When we are fearful, we also may find ourselves – sometimes to our own surprise – reaching out to the Divine. We say a prayer of rescue from our fears, a prayer for peace. And the Spirit of the Divine reaches out to us with a peace beyond our understanding. It changes everything even though we can’t quite make sense of it. Some things are beyond our understanding but welcome all the same!
Be at peace (even amidst the storm). Be safe.
This Mindful Monday on 20 April 2020.