Making Friends with Your Fears
Getting over our fears means first getting to know our fears. This takes love and courage. We gain courage by learning to love ourselves and others better.
We gain courage by nurturing our innate desire to seek meaningful connection.
To connect meaningfully requires a radical approach to life. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, we call those who accept this radical approach WARRIORS. Not violent warriors, but peaceful warriors of the heart.
The warrior’s desire to connect authentically with herself ensures that she keeps healthy personal boundaries. Her desire to alleviate the suffering ofothers keeps her heart open.
A warrior does her best to nurture these shared desires — to relate authentically with herself and to help others — even when it’d be easier to lash out, manipulate, blame, or withdraw.
Before we face our fears, we should take some time to nurture these desires. We must spend some time recalling the moments when we've caught a glimpse of the beautiful, peaceful, expansive strength of love.
Time in nature. With children. With lovers and dear friends. Art, listing to spiritual teachers, reading inspiring books. There are many ways to remind ourselves of the expansive strength of love.
Regularly seek out ways to remember and nurture that strength within yourself.
1. Feel your breath and get in touch with your heart's desire to connect meaningfully. If you can, recall moments when you've felt love's vast potential. Take your time and get a feel for the peace and strength that comes from seeking honest connection.
Because honest connection relies on kindness. Be kind to yourself as you explore your inner world.
2. Bring to mind something that scares you, and invite it to sit in front of you. Do your best to analyze it without an opinion. What does it look like? What color is it? Does it have a smell? Does it have a voice? If so, what does it say?
Don't take your fear/yourself too seriously. Try to look at it as if it were someone's fear. Observe it with openness, curiosity, and kindness. Instead of pushing it away, ask it to teach you.
3. Bring your mind back to your body and breath. And offer yourself the phrases "May I be safe. May I be happy." Say these phrases several time. Then explore these phrases: "May I learn to love myself. May I learn to heal my heart." Say these phrases several times to nourish your heart.
4. Think of someone you know who has a strong fear. Consider how much they are suffering. Imagine being a support to them. Imagine being able to help them make friends with their fear. Use this as inspiration and courage to get to know your own fear, and to be a good friend to others.
Megan Mook's MNDFL class notes: MNDFL Monsters. Halloween, 2016.