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I’ve been playing around with several ideas about fear for a few months now, and after sharing some of them with a few clients and friends, I feel at least one of them is ready for prime time. It is a very simple and easy way to let go of fear.

First, the Background Info

Whenever you are afraid, your mind is focused on something happening in the future. If you think about it, there is no fear without the future. For instance, if you are afraid of not being able to pay the bills at the end of the month, you are feeling fear about something in the future. Pretty obvious, eh?

But what about being confronted by something dangerous right now? What if I were confronted by a tiger in my backyard (yes, we have tigers roaming free here in Missouri *grins*)? Well, in the exact moment you see the tiger, and your body hits the adrenaline button, you are actually still not in danger at that instant. The fear you feel comes from what you believe is going to happen in the next few minutes, and yes, being eaten or mauled is a real possibility. But notice, it is still in the future. Even if you are being mauled, the fear you are experiencing is about dying in the future.

Okay, you get the point, right? Fear = future. No way around it.

Second, How Fear = Future Helps

So how does this fear = future help me? Ah, now we get to the entire point of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, and, for that matter, hundreds of other spiritual teachings. The bottom line to everything Tolle discusses is that there is only one moment, one time, and it is now. There is no future except to the mind (and no past, too). There is only right now. As a matter of fact, you can say there is no time at all. Just now, ever present now, infinite now.

And this simple fact that there is only now is great news. If you are experiencing fear about paying the bills, or a possible illness, or your marriage, or anything for that matter, all you have to do is remember there is no future, there is only now.

Third, The Practice

Using the above, here is a very simple practice you can do whenever you are feeling fear. Note for all the literalists out there: if you are feeling fear because a bus is about to hit you or a tiger is about to eat you, do not do this practice! Run, run like hell. Have some common sense, please!

  1. Sit down. I’ve found that sitting down is the #1 thing to do when you are feeling any sort of distress. Just sit. You can easily take 15 minutes to sit.
  2. Review your situation. Spend a moment or two reviewing your situation paying careful attention to how all of it is in the future. That’s the important part. All of it is in the future.
  3. Be honest about your fears. Name them, say them out loud, write them down. You are already afraid, so you are already telling yourself these things in your mind. So be honest. You are afraid of going broke, of being homeless, of being alone, of dying. Again, notice that it all is in the future.
  4. Fear = future. Repeat to yourself a few times that the fear you are feeling is about something in the future. Notice how all of these events are in the future.
  5. “Is it here now?” Ask yourself, “Is any of this stuff here now? Is any of it what I’m experiencing now?” And sit with the answer. Don’t do anything with it. Just experience the answer. Give it a moment to sink down from your head through your body. Feel the answer.
  6. Notice what is here now. You are sitting in a chair. You are doing this practice. You are quiet. Look at the room around you. Notice that the future you are imagining isn’t here. Allow yourself to sit with right now.
  7. Sit for a few more minutes. Be still. Just enjoy the moment.

Fourth, The Benefits

Doing this practice has several benefits. The first benefit is that it slows you down, it takes a chunk of nervous energy out of your system. Your adrenal glands get a moment to relax, your heart calms down, your breathing slows, all good stuff for you. Because when your body calms down, it takes a further load off your nervous system. A nice cycle of physical calming occurs.


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The second benefit is that by relaxing your body and mind, you open yourself to knew possibilities. It seems to me that creativity is most active in the gap between thinking, in the pause that occurs when thinking stills for a moment. By getting your thoughts out of their imagined future, they naturally calm down, slow down, and at moments become very still.

And in this place of stillness you might have a new insight, a new burst of inspiration about your life and life situations. You may see a way to earn more money, reduce debt, feel a new found love for your partner, experience a sense of peace about your body and any illness it has. Solutions are often found right here in the stillness of now. You will surprise yourself with the creativity you will have when you are still.

The third benefit to you is that you will feel more connected with who you truly are. What you are is Now, is Presence, is here. When your thoughts are floating around in the imagined future, you are removed from the truth of who and what you are. Getting connected to the truth of your being is, well, the only way to go.

So give this practice a try next time you are feeling fear or anxiety. It will work wonders the more consistently you use it. Enjoy!

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28 Responses to Letting Go of Fear

  1. Mark says:

    I have some fear issues standing out in my life right now. I’m going to try this out and I’ll let you know how it worked for me.

    This post is the kind I enjoy from you Tom keep it up.

    Mark’s last blog post..Justa looking forward!

  2. Davidya says:

    Ah, Tom, well done. Theres a lot of clarity right there. Clarity that creates the space for opening to what is. And what is is so much better than future fear. I am just drafting a post about how expectations lead to suffering. And here you post about fear, an expectation of the future.

    Davidya’s last blog post..Maxwell not Maxwell?

  3. Tom Stine says:

    @Mark I hope you get a lot out of it, Mark. I used a version of this one quite a bit for a while. Always useful.

  4. Tom Stine says:

    @Davidya Funny, I almost included a bit about expectations, but I saved that for another day. Expectations are clearly future related. And, as Adyashanti put it, you can almost guarantee that, no matter what you are expecting to happen, the oppoosite will quite likely occur.

  5. Pingback: Expectations = Suffering « In 2 Deep

  6. Davidya says:

    Exactly. Expectations are founded on ideas of ‘how it is’ later, rather than simply what is. I go into that on the latest post. And added references (and link) to what you speak of here. Thanks for adding the practical side. Without that, it is just more story. There is no being without doing…

    Davidya’s last blog post..Expectations = Suffering

  7. Tom, your clarity is fantastic. Simplicity really is best. Ah, the benefit of spiritual retreats. They tend, for me, to strip away the clutter of the mind where I can see such simple truths as you just gave us—Fear is always about the future. Thanks.

    Patricia – Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker’s last blog post..Blessed By Strong Women—Happy Mother’s Day

  8. Tom Stine says:

    @Patricia Thank you. I love spiritual retreats. I’m heading to another one in June. My last one for a while, I think. But you never know. Fear = future. Yes.

  9. Craig Harper says:

    Great post!
    People often ask me what I believe stops so many of us from fulfilling our potential and from creating our best life. In truth, there are many things on the list of likely obstacles: procrastination, laziness, ignorance, indifference, ego and a bunch of other stuff, but without doubt, at the top of most lists, is fear.
    Clarity is key!

  10. Tom Stine says:

    @Craig Thanks. I would have to agree: fear is the list topper. There really is no getting around the fact that it shuts us down in so many ways. And simply seeing it is often enough to let it go.

  11. Lovely article! I’m just writing a related one on how love and fear impact on one’s life and I’ll link to this post.
    cheers
    Mary

  12. Tom Stine says:

    @Mary Thanks! I will have to check out your next post.

  13. Excellent post Tom, did you enjoy the webinars with Eckart Tolle? I did, I’ve been watching them again online, too. It’s so much easier to live in Joy when you stay present in the moment, thanks!

    JoLynn from The Fit Shack’s last blog post..How To Stay Healthy & Fit While Working From Home

  14. Tom Stine says:

    @JoLynn I’m still working through the webinars. I loved Eckhart, but Oprah…. *sigh* Good old Oprah tries hard, very hard. She wants to let it all go, but she has a tough time, I can tell. She seeks and seeks. I’m very glad for what she is doing, though.

  15. When I listend to Eckhart speak about NOW and living in the NOW.. it had got to be one of the most powerful life changing things I’ve learned this year. I am blessed to be learning so much but that particular piece of advice
    It does apply directly to what youre saying here and I know this because its whats helping me currently overcome so many things in my life.

    I am at a point of recovery and living in the NOW is helping me push through fear that has held me back with no mercy

    lol and looking up at the comments
    I heart Oprah as is :)

    anyway back to your post

    I will be working on those steps you wrote out.

    Excellent reading (as usual) that leaves me feeling better about life
    thank you Tom

    JEMi | Tips for Life, Love, You’s last blog post..How to Work Amongst Difficult People

  16. Tom Stine says:

    @JEMi I’m really glad you like it. I think you will find the process useful. Here’s something to consider: when are you ever not living in the NOW? You can THINK about the past and future, but aren’t you always living now? Puts a new perspective on things, doesn’t it? :-)

  17. It does. And to think I spend SO much time living in thoughts of the future and the past.. rarely accepting or realizing the Now. Just understanding that has changed my life so drastically and I am learning that acceptance is also a life changing, stress reducing..just happier way to live. *sigh* What relief.

    JEMi | Tips for Life, Love, You’s last blog post..How to Work Amongst Difficult People

  18. Hi again, my article on love and fear that I referred to earlier on has now appeared on Pick The Brain. You can find it here: http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/7-steps-toward-love-and-away-from-fear/

  19. Tom Stine says:

    @JEMi We all spend a lot of time in the past and future. As a matter of fact, I don’t think our thoughts have much to do with anything BUT the past and future. No need to think about right now. It just is. We experience it through our senses. No much to think about.

  20. Tom Stine says:

    @Mary Hey, cool, thanks. I will check it out.

  21. Cynthia says:

    Very good post.

    I’m making a lot of inroads in my personal development and lately, I”ve been feeling ‘stuck’ again. Mainly because I’m afraid, I will admit that. I put so much stock into the future (in regards to my health and career) that I don’t focus on the here and now and I take it for granted.

    It’s funny, in some ways I can live in the here and now…when it comes to my development personally; it’s hard for me to have the mentality. It’s something that I’m struggling with hard right now.

    Thank You for this insightful post!

    Cynthia’s last blog post..Pontificating at a Picnic

  22. tbiggs says:

    Had a small version of this epiphany years ago. A friend and I had our own business, but we were between contracts and in debt. My first child had just been born and we were late on the bills and the rent.

    Every night I was laying awake for hours. Then one night at 3am I asked myself: “Is there anything you can do about this Right Now, in the middle of the night?” I decided there wasn’t, and fell asleep a few minutes later. Lack of money never cost me any sleep again.

  23. Tom:

    This article was of big interest to me because I often talk about the value of being in the moment. Lots of times when I’m fearful, it almost always has something to do with a future that hasn’t yet happened. You’re right on the nose with that one.

    How I do it is simply by asking myself aloud, “How am I doing right now, this very moment?” Lots of times I’ll realize I’m fine right then and there. it does a lot to calm my fears, whatever they might be.

    Patricia Singleton of “Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker” worte an interesting article about naming your fear outloud. Saying it out loud. You said the same thing.

    Very interesting ways of combating fear. It’s something all of us have dealt with.

    In an article I wrote about being a motivational speaker, I told how even after hundreds of engagements, I still get butterflies before each gig. Sometimes I’ll find myself an isolated room before my speech and scream as loud as I can. I find that it calms the butterflies. Of course, I can’t exactly do that if there’s a chance that someone will think I was being murdered or something. LOL

    But it works!

    Nice work Tom. I’m a new fan of yours. :0

    Stephen Hopson’s last blog post..End of the Week Gratitude Theme #33

  24. Tom Stine says:

    @Stephen Glad to have you as a fan. :-) I like the question: “How am I doing right now, this very moment?” You know, as long as we are alive, we are quite likely okay. And if we aren’t alive, well, I can’t really say what then. :-) But we are almost always just fine, right now. Thanks so much for the comments!

  25. Denise says:

    Just came across your website and absolutely love it. The way you explain letting go for fear is so wonderful. So many people are allowing their lives to pass by focusing on the future instead of the now. I got a lightbulb moment just reading your site. Keep up with the writing I will check back more often.

  26. Tom Stine says:

    @Denise Thank you very much. Great to hear you had a light bulb moment. Yes, focusing on the future is essentially inviting suffering into our lives. It is a source of great pain and unhappiness. Now is all there is anyway, so why focus on a non-existent future? :-) Glad to have you reading and visiting.

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