What are fears? Fears are something that we have created in our mind after, usually, having a negative experience. I say “usually” because fears cannot only come from our own experiences but also from those of others also. A lot of people have different fears. The main ingredient of fears is that they are created in our minds, reinforced in our minds and sustained in our minds.
Outside of the fear of heights, which is an innate response and a “natural” fear that has been scientifically proven to be apparent in some very young children, all the rest of our fears are created in our mind. We have a negative event and we reinforce it through thinking about, fearing and analyzing the negative impact of our fears. Thus mediation can be extremely beneficial in helping us conquer or deal with our fears; as meditation is all about quieting the mind, getting the mind peaceful and still.
I’d like to share two techniques to use in order to help you deal with your fears. As an example I’m going to use the fear of snakes, as a lot of people have this fear. Let’s say you’re afraid of snakes. If you are put in a position of being placed in a moment that you have to deal with this fear; perhaps you walk into a room with snakes in it or you see a television program with snakes on it.
The simplest thing to do is to pause for a moment, breathe as deeply as you can, hold it and breathe out. The key here is to recognize the fear and that the fear is real; however, you are going to address it by breathing deeply in as long and hard as you can. Hold it for as long as you can. Breathe out slowly and deeply. As that fear is there keep breathing, taking your thoughts off the snake and concentrating on your breath. The key here is that you are re-focusing your mind on your breath. This technique can be used in most any instance when you’re feeling fearful. Because you are holding your breath you’re not thinking about what’s causing the fear, but instead concentrating on your breath. While you are not in a true state of meditation you have focused on your breath, removing your mind from the fear.
Now let’s apply this to your mediation practice. You’re following your breath, focusing on your breath. Unlike the technique above, you are not holding your breath but breathing slowly in and out. You may want to choose a mantra to think in your mind such as “I AM” as you breathe in and the word “PEACEFUL” as you breath out. You say these words in your mind as you breathe. Now that you have gotten into your relaxing meditative state, what you are going to do is focus on that which you are afraid of. Remain in this meditative state and focus on your fear; again, we will use the fear of snakes as an example again. Focus on snakes, just think about them. You will find your body tensing and becoming fearful again. Keep breathing slowly and deeply. You will find the anxiety building up again. As you feel the anxiety building up, take your mind off the snake and begin to focus on the breathing again. You will feel your body relax. As it does and you become relaxed again, think about your fear again. Imagine yourself being in the same room with your fear and think about it. As you feel the anxiety take over again, go back to breathing and saying your mantra. Repeat it over and over.
After a series of regular practices you will find that you will have a great relief of the stress caused by your fear. Some fears take longer than others and it depends upon the strength of the fear but don’t be easily disheartened, it takes time. As always, take the time to regularly meditate and begin to focus on those things which worry you and make you fearful. Remember to bring yourself back to your breathing when the anxiety begins and eventually you should find relief from your fear.
Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is a meditation expert, international speaker and the creator of the weekly Meditation For Health Podcast, available at http://www.MeditationForHealthPodcast.com He also creates a weekly podcast that explores the world of Enlightenment available at http://www.EnlightenmentPodcast.com If you would like to contact Dr. Puff, his e-mail address is DrPuff@cox.net