At this writing, the 84-degree Spring tease of two days ago in Dallas is a fading memory. A major winter storm named Titan (When did the National Weather Service start naming winter storms?) slammed a good portion of the U.S. again. Sigh.
That’s the way it goes sometimes. Just when you think you’re through with something–can we be rid of winter quick enough?–the Universe, or Mother Nature, drops another heavy load, seemingly with glee.
Come on! You think. It’s all too much and when are you going to catch a break? Enough already!
The storms in our hearts
Heavy storms in our hearts are just as real as the foot-high snow drifts outside many windows today. Just like the weariness we feel about the interminable Artic weather (Say it with me: The “polar vortex” sucks.), so too do we grow weary of the storms raging throughout our spirits.
The question was posed to me recently: How do I get rid of fear-based thoughts, especially the fear of the unknown?
Well, jeez, I don’t know. How can I make grass grow in the middle of the Sahara Desert?
If I only knew the answer to the fear question, I could crown myself a spiritual guru or Tony Robbins on the speaking circuit.
When the question came, I fired off a few suggestions that were, admittedly, a tad smart-aleck-y. You see, the question made me nervous and I become a bit flippant when I’m nervous.
Why was I nervous? Because I’ve asked the question too, many times, in fact.
So what about the fear question?
The question is haunting, isn’t it? I haven’t been able to let it go. But now I have an addendum to my answer.
As with most spiritual matters, there is no black and white, so “getting rid of” doesn’t fit the question because it suggests a conclusive action. You and I are human, so unless your name rhymes with Dalai or Eckhart, fear-based thoughts appear in your life at random and annoying times.
However, I believe there are at least three antidotes for the fear virus (Can its insidiousness be anything but a spreading virus?).
First, rather than focus on getting rid of fear-based thoughts, especially fear of the unknown, what if you quietly and simply accept them? Acceptance means you can invite the fear thought to stay for dinner, without asking it to spend the night.
D. H. Lawrence said, “The living moment is everything.” Acceptance can only happen in the living moment.
Second, feel the fearful thought(s) without judgment. If we can agree that 99.99% of humans feel fear from time to time, then what the heck is the point of beating yourself up for having a fear thought? Doesn’t make much sense, does it?
Finally, and this antidote is kind of radical so stick with me here. When you’re in the middle of fear, take several deep belly breaths. That’s right, pull the fear inside as you inhale. Allow the fear thought to wash over you as you hold your breath for a few seconds.
Then, slowly let your breath out–not the fear, but the idea that you have any control over whatever is causing the fear. Do this several times. That exhale, my friends, is faith, and is WAY more powerful than any fear thought you can have.
All spiritual processes take time and practice. Don’t allow the fear virus to spread. Patience, Grasshopper, work with the antidotes!
Photo courtesy of Karpati Gabor