I kind of giggle at the way I handle fear in my life. It’s quite the internal negotiation, with waves of yes and no, pushing and pulling. It’s truly a fascinating, humanizing experience.
If I am presented with an opportunity and feel it’s a good idea for my personal growth or business, I will dive right in and say yes, ignoring any and all fear or self-doubt. I know I will figure out the fine details when the time comes. But as the commitment draws closer, I find myself moving deeper into the place of fear. The nervous part of my mind gets louder and all of those classic worries come to the forefront. As a teacher and workshop leader, this is my script: “What if no one shows up?” “What if they hate what I present?” “What if someone challenges me?” “What if sound or look stupid?”
Over the years, I’ve realized how important it is to develop a way to quiet the fear so I may enter into these new spaces in an empowered way. Here’s the method I use to transform fear.
BREATHE Nothing calms me better in the moment than deep breathing. For me, it works on all levels of fear—the physical, emotional and spiritual.
Try it: Slowly count your inhales and exhales as you breathe deeply and fully. Match the count of your inhales and exhales equally for a count of 4-8, whatever number matches your fullest breath. The counting helps keep you focused on your breath rather than your fear-based thoughts.
REMEMBER I take comfort in remembering the “scary” things I committed to in the past and how they turned out in the end. It’s never, ever as bad as I worry about. And 90% of the time it’s been really good!
Try it: Take some time to meditate on some of the things you’ve done in the past that once caused you fear, but turned out really well in the end. Visualize the beautiful result and as you focus on it, re-awaken feelings of success and joy. Sit with these visual memories for 5-10 minutes when you will feel a shift towards much more positive energy.
PREPARE No matter what I’ve signed up for, I know I am never going to show up unprepared. I won’t arrive to teach a yoga workshop without planning the sequence and I won’t climb a mountain without exercising regularly beforehand. I take comfort in doing my homework and presenting myself in an organized and well-prepared fashion.
Try it: Talk to other people who have already done what’s causing you fear. Ask them for advice on how to best prepare. Also, re-read any agreements or other written materials that lay out expectations. With all of this knowledge, create a game plan and prepare enough so that your confidence is overshadowing your fear.
CEREMONY My favorite way to deeply transform the energy of fear is through ceremony. Ceremony is all about changing our relationships to situations and emotions. I take my fear to my altar or to the earth, make offerings to spirit and pray. I ask spirit to guide my experience and to work with me if challenges arise. I let my fear drain into the earth and ask pachamama, her spirt, to fill me with empowered energy instead.
Try it: Gather a flower, a pinch of tobacco or another offering for spirit. Sit at your altar or on the earth. Call on spirit to join you. Speak your intention for what you are about to embark on and ask for support. Make your offering in exchange for this divine help. Ask that your fearful energy be mulched and transformed into an energy that will lift you up and empower you. Once you have completed your task, leave another offering for spirit in gratitude for being by your side.
The next time you find yourself overcome by fear, gift yourself the time of this process. Soon, you will have your own tried and true method for quieting the voice of fear and empowering your spirit.