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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- "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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!