7 Extra-Ordinary Ways to Delete Your Fear

                                                Talk me out of it!                                                                               -Cowardly Lion, from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Like most of humankind, I’ve been absolutely terrified of many things in my life.  Some of those times I wasn’t even aware that I was being afraid, because I was simply not in touch with my body. For instance, I didn’t pay attention to the numb feelings inside and carried on with whatever I was doing because I didn’t want anyone to notice that there was something wrong, let alone myself. Other times, I would take “control” of my external environment to simulate control of that which I fear.  Still, there were many times when I knew what was going on as if another part of me was just observing.  Those moments took me to many, many hours in my adulthood of seeking who I am, why I am, how I am, why the hell I am afraid. It was just in my nature. I might say I was born to do it. And from my eclectic training and experience, I am sharing these extra-ordinary ways to delete fear and gain clarity about your experience.

Our Own Hero’s Journey

The process of self-unfolding happens in endless time and space. We don’t see ourselves in one full swoop.  Rather, the unfolding happens in small parts, one tragic flaw at a time, one glorious strength at another. They can be discrete, isolated, or one whole rude awakening.  At any rate, they reveal that side of us that has been hidden from us up to that point of awakening, an unfamiliar territory in ourselves that we haven’t navigated, or a part that has been gradually moving into the light for us to finally see. This process of self-unfolding is a journey – the journey of the hero within.

In his The Hero with a Thousand Faces, author and mythologist Joseph Campbell expounds on the monomyth (a term coined by James Joyce in his Finnegan’s Wake) – a composite of the tales of “the hero and his journey” synthesized from cultures all over the world. These common tales link us all human beings in a thread of universal experience as we go through life: the cycle of birth and death, resurrection and redemption.

The hero’s journey is a story of transformation. We all are heroes in our own personal story, maybe not as dramatic as that of Luke Skywalker of Star Wars, or Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz.  But the good news is that we are the authors of our personal opus and we can write the script the way we want, including the ending. We create it with each choice we make on our journey, including co-creating it with Source (God, universe, Yahweh, etc. depending on the persuasion you follow).  In our unique stories, FEAR is a character that almost always presents itself along the way.

What hero’s journey among the stories in the popular genres can your relate to? Being the hopeless romantic that I am, my personal favorite is Yentl, a Barbra Streisand movie based on Napolin and Springer’s play of the same title. Yentl is the story of a Jewish girl in 20th century Poland.  Yentl is secretly instructed by her rabbi father in the Talmud (Jewish law and theology), despite the tradition that prohibited women in her community from doing such study. When her father dies, she fearlessly defies tradition by entering a yeshiva (Jewish religious school) disguised as a man named Anshel (her late brother’s name). Yentl meets another student, Avigdor, and his fiancée, Hadass.  The story gets complicated from here – Hadass’ wedding to Avigdor is cancelled by her family due to their concern over Avigdor’s family’s history of insanity. The family wants Anshel to instead marry Hadass, who develops romantic feelings for Anshel aka Yentl. Meanwhile, Yentl finds herself falling in love with Avigdor and trembles with fear over the consequences that await her.  The tension is resolved with the reunion of Avigdor and Hadass, and Yentl leaving Europe to go to the U.S. where she envisions a life with more freedom to do what she wants to do and be her own woman.  I have watched this movie countless times, not only for its music, but also because I get a glimpse of yet another facet of my humanity and the pain and joy of “becoming me” each time I watch it.

The Hero is Within Us

The hero is within us, the self that goes on a journey from separateness to wholeness. In the hero’s archetypal journey, there are three phases: departure; initiation; and return. The hero departs from his familiar surroundings (mother, family, marriage, community, country, religion, sexual orientation, an old belief, etc.) and then is initiated into a different world where he/she meets all sorts of trials, demons, gods, mentors, other parts of the self, and finally returns with the reward, or wisdom. (*For a summary of the steps in Campbell’s hero’s journey, check out the link at the bottom of this blog.)

Each one of us can tell our own hero’s story from our individual unique experience – we can modify the template as we see fit, according to our experience, culture and beliefs. Our story could be: a journey of the mind, such as from loss of faith to firm believer; a journey of relationship, such as from being married to becoming divorced; an immigrant’s journey from chaos to freedom; a physical trip from one location to another that transforms us; or an inward journey of the self. The list is endless. That’s why Joseph Campbell called it “hero with a thousand faces.”

Into the Cave We Go

In my own personal hero’s journey, the process of self-unfolding still continues. But I’ve been down through mini cycles and back several times, and have emerged a new person all the time. We are never the same everyday.

In our everyday journey, we need to constantly remind ourselves to look at what’s in front of us, or challenge ourselves to face whatever is before our very eyes that we don’t like to see. Underneath our desire not to look, or pay attention, is a level of fear that we have probably not acknowledged; or it’s so huge that we’ve convinced ourselves it’s not there, at least temporarily.

Particularly in the initiation phase of the hero’s journey, we can be challenged by fears.  We could be like the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, who believes that he lacks courage and ashamed that, as King of the Beasts, he is inadequate.  He decides to join Dorothy on her journey to Emerald City to ask the Wizard of Oz for courage.

The second phase of the hero’s journey is where we are initiated and that’s where we usually meet FEAR face-to-face. How do we, the hero, muster courage to go inside the cave to tame our fears?

7 Extra-Ordinary Ways to Delete Your Fear

The world has come up with many answers that we can adopt to confront FEAR:  Just do it!, you’re not alone, no guts – no glory, crisis means opportunity, etc.

My own approach to it is as follows; do it in the sequence described below:

  • Acknowledge the fear. Breathe and say the word “Afraid.” Acknowledging the fear is the first step. It’s like going through a problem-solving process – first acknowledge the presence of the problem and proceed from there.  Remember to breathe; breathing with awareness will relax you and give you more permission to go through the process.
  • Where do you feel the fear in your body?  Is it in the chest, in your stomach, in your legs? Feel the fear in that part of the body. Say a big “Hello” to the feeling of fear in that part of your body. This is another way of acknowledging the fear. Many times after doing this, you get more clarity about your experience and the fear subsides. Breathe and flow.
  • Ask yourself: “Is this fear mine, or is it someone else’s?”  We can pick up these sensations of fear from other people and we unknowingly think they are our own. We also pick these up from media sources, such as TV, computer, or radio, especially during a crisis or shocking event. If the fear is not yours, imagine the fear going back to where it came from. Just postulate that the fear is leaving your body; after all, it’s not yours. Thoughts are powerful and when you shift how you think, the fear goes away. Breathe.
  • If the fear is yours, own it! Saying “this fear is in my space” makes a lot of difference.
  • Then declare: “I am bigger than my fear” – this brings you to a new level of personal power. When you own it, you’re reclaiming your power over the fear.  You are bigger than the fear. Then create a picture of the fear disintegrating before you. Remember to breathe.
  • After visualizing the fear disintegrate, wash your hands. This signals your body to switch to a neutral level and detaches you from the experience.  It’s physically and symbolically washing away the energy of the fear.
  • Breathe and relax.  You can now move around freely and look at your experience from a fresh perspective. Continue to breathe and flow.

We Are Hero and Are Meant to Shine

On the way to Emerald City where the Wizard of Oz resides, the Cowardly Lion unconsciously displays many acts of bravery. For example, he carries his companions on his back, one at a time, and leaps across a chasm on the yellow brick road to bring them over to the other side.  On another part of the journey, he holds off two Kalidahs (monsters with the head of a tiger and a body of a bear) so that the Tin Woodman has time to cut a tall tree that would enable them to pass through another chasm.

The Cowardly Lion is thus not a coward, as he perceived himself to be. The Lion realizes he is brave after all, remembering who he really is.

Our hero’s journey seeks to remind us who we are. Through the journey, we seek to remember who we really are inside, and shine.

I leave you with Marianne Williamson’s beautiful words from her book, A Return to Love. This passage has been quoted very often everywhere on the internet and has been erroneously attributed to Nelson Mandela, who used it, and very appropriately so, in his inaugural address.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.                                                           – Marianne Williamson, from A Rerturn to Love

How do you address the fear in you? Try the approach above and see what happens. Let’s continue the conversation.

Namaste.

Alara

___________________________

* For a summary of the phases in the hero’s journey, go to:  http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/smc/journey/ref/summary.html

 

 

inquire within: mining the gold from your “what if?” and “if only…”

                                               Unscrew the locks from the doors!                                                    Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

“You must go.”                                                                                                                 The Literary Book of Answers on my bookshelf beckoned to me, and my fingers intuitively opened the page to the heavenly answer I was seeking: “You must go.” (W. Somerset Maugham, “The Verger”)*

That was last Friday.  Two months earlier I learned about a writing conference where Wayne Dyer, one of my favorite authors, was to be the lead speaker and teacher. The cost was high (at least, according to my pocket book) and I wasn’t sure if it would really make an impact on my fledgling writing career.  I put the idea to the back burner and came back to it last Friday, one week before the conference. To my surprise, the price rose even higher because the cut-off date for early bird registration was over. If only…. What if…..I miss that Big chance of winning the book advance and getting my book published? I pondered over that little big word – IF.

Creatures of Habit and the Familiar                                                                              We all are creatures of habit and find comfort in what is familiar and tried.  For many of us, there comes a point when we are forced by default to do what we need to do. For some, divine discontent disguised in various costumes creeps in.  What do we do?  What can we do?

THE BEST PLACE TO START IS WHERE YOU ARE, RIGHT NOW.                             Not yesterday, not two years ago, not tomorrow.  Right now.

Many times, the questions are more important than the answers.                              Inquire within: What do you feel right now?  Mine it for the gold you’re seeking.

                      The mind’s first step to self-awareness must be through the body.                                            – George Sheehan

Most of us have lost touch with our bodies, and with our natural ability to live in the moment. Our bodies are like our cars – they are the vehicles by which we accomplish what our mind wants us to do; they transport us towards our goals.  In order to be transported, we need to be present in body.  But most of us are constantly in autopilot, not realizing that we have eaten a savory meal without having enjoyed its flavor, or have driven our SUV past our freeway exit, or walked like a zombie to work.  For most of us, our daily lives have been taken over by technology and information. More and more people are losing the ability to focus on, albeit see, what’s in front of them – at home, at school, on the street, perhaps even at work.  It’s become common to see people talk or text on their phones while walking or driving.  It seems that multi-tasking has become synonymous with efficiency.  The question is: are we being efficient by multi-tasking, or are we slowly losing ourselves to technology and the habits that we form around it?

Let’s start from the very beginning.  Where is our attention focused on – is it a troubling conversation in the past, that event we are excited to attend tomorrow, or the food in front of us? What are we feeling right now?

Our Cache of Emotions                                                                                                   Our feelings are the representatives of our Guidance system, says The Law of Attraction.  It also says, the way we feel is the true indicator of our alignment with Source (God, Almighty Spirit, Universe, Allah, Yahweh). You’ve heard of the saying “we create our own beds,” regardless of the spiritual persuasion we might follow. We create our reality, according to our beliefs and emotions. When our emotions do not match our desire, we do not manifest that desire – a simple concept that is ironically difficult to practice, maybe even grasp.  For instance, “your desire for an improved financial condition cannot come to you if you often feel jealous of your neighbor’s good fortune, for the vibration of your jealous feelings (and your desire for improved financial condition – itals mine) are different vibrations” (Esther and Jerry Hicks, from Ask and It Is Given). In other words, if we share in the “feeling – e.g., the joy – of being wealthy” that our neighbor has, instead of feeling jealous, then we put ourselves in a better position to attract the likes of our desire. Esther and Jerry also say: “Every thought, every idea, every Being is vibrational…..The more you think about it, the more you vibrate like it; the more you vibrate like it, the more of that which is like it is attracted to you.”

This brings us back to the point of starting where we are. How do you feel right now?

Mining the Fear, etc.                                                                                                       Yes, Virginia, there’s that word again – fear. But first, let me invite you to do this little exercise.  Visualize the word “fear” and see in your mind’s eye how it looks.  Does it have colors, or is it black?  Does it feel warm or cold?  Are the letters straight or are they crumbling?  You can ask your own questions to tease your brain to take notice. The answers are not as important as the questions. What ever you see is just a picture.  And fear is only a picture in your mind’s eye.  It is not bigger than you.  You are bigger than it. So take back your power.  And let go of that picture of fear that you just created; it was just an exercise. Explode it and it’s gone. You can actually do this exercise with any feeling that you want to pay attention to.  Try it.

What If, If Only – past, future or present tense?                                                         Let’s face it.  We’ve said these words at some time in our life, maybe more times than we would have liked. What do these words really mean to you?  What opportunities did you miss, or deliberately pass up?  What circumstances would you have liked to have happened, or not have happened?

I venture that what if and if only are words in the past tense, if they express regret.  They would be in the future tense if they represent a vision and visualization of possibility, a picture of what we desire.  But can they be in the present tense?

I believe they could be in the present tense if we pay attention to what they represent right at this moment.  I also believe there are no mistakes in life – just choices that looked perfect for us at the moment of choosing. In this context, regrets have no place. So we can look at our what if and if only in present time without judgment.

As my nephew, Ronald, stated rhetorically after reading my first blog:  “I need to go back to the hills!”  Get back to where you are right at this moment, the only point of meaningful beginning.

Mine the what-if’s and if-only’s in your life by paying attention to what is, in your present moment.

Mind your business, and mine your business.  One moment at a time. One gold nugget at a time.

Mining My “What If and If Only”                                                                                   After I drew the serendipitous words of W. Somerset Maugham from my Literary Book of Answers, I decided to register for the conference, the live video streaming one, and with a discount yet. Yay!

It took me two months to make that decision, because I was concerned with the cost and the return of value for me. But really, the bottom line was more about looking beneath the surface of that feeling of concern – that of not believing that I could make a living as a writer, of doing what I love to do and living a life worth living at the same time. That has been a tough concept for me to practice and live.  Although I haven’t yet earned anything from writing, the truth is, I have mined gold from my moments of indecision and faithlessness just by shifting to a different point of attraction, such as: Be playful and stay open; don’t limit yourself – the possibilities are endless; see what happens and correct your course as you go.  And best of all, I received these precious words from my Inner Guidance: “You have been offered the freedom to follow your heart; do not let the opportunity go by.”

What does your inner guidance tell you?  Where are you being led? Take a chance: let serendipity take you by the hand and see what happens.

Let’s continue the conversation.

Alara

_______________

* For the full story of “The Verger”, go to http://www.sinden.org/verger.html

honoring the “fool” in us and choosing “beginner’s mind”

Hello world.  Welcome to my first blog.

I was born on April 11, and I thought it apropos to post the first installment of my blog the Monday after my actual birthday. It seems customary for the bloggers that I’ve followed to write something special for their birthday.  So here goes.

Before moving on, why do I call myself a “life change artist?”  The term comes from Fred Mandell and Kathleen Jordan who wrote the book Becoming a Life Change Artist, c 2010.  When I read the book, I felt they were talking about me and the process I go through to navigate life’s changing courses, change gears in midlife, and create a joyful life. The term spoke to me, myself being an artist, a creative intuitive and a maven/connector as well. Essentially, the creative process used by great artists is the same process as in making a life change, including the creative skills needed in both. These creative skills can be learned, as I have found and will share through my stories and compendium of resources in the blogs to come.

New beginnings. Set intentions. This is my first shot at blogging and putting out my message out into the global sphere. The period in which my birthday falls is a very important period to everyone, according to my astrology teacher and friend, Stephanie Austin. It’s the first in the twelve spokes of a spinning wheel that represents our never-ending life journey. From the culture where I grew up, people from my mother’s generation would start new phases in life (such as a wedding or a new project) when the moon is waxing.  I have been following this tradition, a legacy from my mother, with a few tweaks of my own. This current period is particularly crucial this year due to huge planetary alignments and the new moon. Stephanie states in her April new moon forecast: This is a very important time to set intentions and to hold “Beginner’s Mind.” We’ve never been here before. Like the Fool card in the Tarot, like the hero in Avatar, we step into what looks like thin air and find new ground beneath our feet. Letting go of our preconceptions and “shoulds” enables us to find new solutions to old problems. We are surrounded by boundless possibilities. Embrace the mystery of the present moment. Take one step at a time. Be willing to not know, and remember that there is no failure, only learning. *

The archetype of the Fool (trickster or clown) has received a lot of flack from us because it represents the idiot side of us, the one that uncannily exposes our ignorance, lack of finesse, shams or lies due to its instinctive, crude, self-centered or mischievous conduct. Here’s what author Tony Crisp** has to say about the fool archetype: “The undeveloped, idiot side of this symbol may have a type of clear-sightedness due to lacking the complications and contradictions of thinking and intellectual values. It also may be creative in a serendipitous sort of way. Because it doesn’t seriously hold onto a purpose or idea, this side of our nature may lead us to something new, a change of direction.”  In most parts of the world, April 1st has been designated as the Fool’s day; it’s no wonder that we celebrate the fool during the astrological period of beginnings and initiation. Charlie Chaplin is a modern image of this crazy, unpredictable yet wise clown.  It’s a state of mind that can benefit us. Read on.

There is an adage espoused by the Zen masters, which has been adopted by so many modern traditions and modalities, that speaks to honoring the fool in us: Beginner’s Mind. Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki aptly sums it up: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are a few.” Many times we dread to start over even when we know that there is a need to. For instance, our tower of past accomplishment (e.g., career) has fallen and we fear starting from the bottom again; or we believe we are an expert and we can’t be go back to the first rung of learning (duh), until we’re forced to by uncanny circumstances.  Adopting a beginner’s mind could then be easier said than done, but once we understand how we can achieve the state of mind, we pass the first hurdle.  Take a look at the simple tips below offered by Mary Jaksch, a Zen Master, to achieve a Beginner’s Mind.  I have taken the liberty to summarize them here (no copyright permission required from blogger Leo Babauta for this). ***

  • Take one step at a time without worrying about the journey.
  • Fall down seven times, get up eight times.  Celebrate falling down as well as getting up; it’s all part of learning.
  • Use “Don’t Know” mind. It leaves room for intuition. Letting go of knowing is real wisdom.
  • Live without “should.” And own your life.
  • Make use of experience.  Utilize your native wisdom and experience.
  • Let go of being an expert. It enables you to keep learning.
  • Experience the moment fully. Live to the full – one moment at a time. Disregard common sense. And become creative.
  • Discard fear of failure.  Immerse yourself in your actions and forget the watchers.
  • Use the spirit of enquiry. Focus on questions, not answers.

Easy?  Some of us have done one, two, or many of the above at one time in our life.

With this, I leave you with my favorite quote from Marcel Proust: “The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

How does changing how we see things honor the fool in us and open the door to beginner’s mind? How does having “new eyes” change our life, or help us make a purposeful change or a wiser/informed decision?

Let’s have a conversation.  If you like what you’ve read, I invite you to share your thoughts and comments. (Click “Leave a Reply” below or click on the comment bubble beside the blog title).

_______________________

*For more on Stephanie Austin, check out her website http://www.ecoastrology.com

** For more on Tony Crisp: http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/archetype-of-trickster-clown-and-the-fool/

***You will find the full script of the Beginner’s Mind tips in http://zenhabits.net/how-to-live-life-to-the-max-with-beginners-mind/