Have you noticed how much our thoughts take over when we feel something scary?
Our brains respond to a stimulus with a fight/flight response, but then our thinking mind begins to carry us deeper and deeper into reactions that don’t always serve us. Fear takes over our mind with stories about what will go wrong. Memories from the past fill us and drive the fear response deeper within us. Using mindfulness can help you bypass this thinking mind response, notice that it’s your mind going overboard, and help you stay with your sensations and your body’s reactions in the present moment and more skillfully work with your feelings.
What is mindfulness? How do we do it?
I often hear my clients asking this question because this tool has been talked about a lot but isn’t easy to apply. Mindfulness is noticing what is happening in your mind/body in the present moment without judgment. This means noticing your breath, your sensations, your thoughts, any aches and pains, pleasant and unpleasant and even neutral things going on with you in this moment. We say without judgment, because it’s not always easy to just accept what is there.
Tara Brach, Psychotherapist, Meditation Teacher and author of Radical Acceptance has a lot to say about how to work with fear with mindfulness. She states, “Many of our thoughts are fear driven. We can’t stop waves of unpleasant sensations, but we can learn how to ride them in a way that does not create suffering. Presence with fear is a gateway to healing and freedom. Mindfulness allows us to have more choice with how to work with fear. It no longer will have a grip on you.
She explains that mindfulness has Two Wings: 1) Recognizing and noticing and then 2)Allowing what is there to be there.
Using 2 Wings of Mindfulness to work with Fear
1) Recognizing or contacting the fear. “ YOU LEAN IN “. Do the opposite of our conditioning. Don’t contract away but move towards it. Name it, Contact it.
2) Allow it to be as it is. Saying “yes” to it. Connecting to our surroundings and offering space to what is here. This is a space of something larger than us that is the web of life around us. As soon as we connect to this larger space we can be with the fear, we can separate from it and let it sit right beside us. (Wing #1 above)
You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to ride them in a way does not cause suffering. This is called having presence with fear
Let me give you and example of how to do this.
When you are in the duckie (inflated kayak) in the Colorado River, in my Women’s Nature Retreats in Eagle, CO, you can notice your “riverness”, the river represents your ability to be as big as the river. When you notice this space of nature around you that holds you so warmly and effortlessly, you can begin to name and allow the feelings inside of you to be there. Whether they are just fear or a myriad of feelings, you can slowly be present to them and name them without running away in your fight/flight response. If your fear is related to trauma and feels overwhelming, we will work with you about how to move slowly and carefully to work with your fear in a safer way.
Fear needs to be lived and felt in our bodies. When we can be present to it and name it with mindfulness, it no longer is in control. We identify ourselves with it. When you become mindful of fear, it can release the suffering of fear. If we name a fear, we no longer define ourselves with it, we go beyond it.
Ignite your sense of power and adventure! Transform your fear into courage, strength and wisdom!
Join my next Women’s Adventure Retreat in Taos: Rebirthing in Nature July 22-25, 2021. This retreat is limited to 8 women! Learn how to use mindfulness to transform your fear and other tools that will help you in your life now to move through whatever is challenging you. Sign up now and get $250 Off till April 1st.