Fear. Last year was a tough one. Everything I thought, loved and believed in changed in an instant and after those moments I would never be the same. What followed was a journey that I can be grateful for now.
We all face fears. Sometimes we dress them up like perfection and worry, but we all have them. I had first hand evidence that fear and worry had started to negatively effect my health. I’m not talking the true fear that comes from running from a bear, I’m talking that incessant chatter of false fears that won’t shut up in our head. For the first time in my life I started having anxiety. Anxiety attacks that would wake me up out of a dead sleep- attacks I couldn’t ‘mental’ myself out of by meditating, re assuring myself etc. I had to do something about it- I could not ethically try to help patients with something like this without helping myself. What kept on surfacing for me was what Lissa Rankin, M.D. mentions as “Four Fearful Assumptions” in her book “The Fear Cure, Cultivating Courage as medicine for the body, mind and soul.”
Four Fearful Assumptions (This bullshit is what we tell ourselves!)
- Uncertainty is unsafe
- I can’t handle losing what I cherish
- It’s a dangerous world
- I am all alone
Of course these are only thoughts but we take them on and start to believe them. My life and health began to change though when I started to change my thinking from fearful assumptions to courage cultivation truths.
Four Courage-Cultivating Truths (The shit we should be shouting from the mountain tops)
- Uncertainty is the gateway to possibility
- Loss is natural and can lead to growth
- It’s a purposeful universe
- We are all ONE
Which brings me to the meaning behind my trip to Thailand. Facing false fears and leaning into the uncertainty. I flew to a foreign country by myself and will be taking a 2 week intensive on Thai Yoga Massage here in Chiang Mai. I started to come alive the minute I pressed “send” after buying my ticket. Biologically, psychologically, spiritually things were changing! I don’t wanna scare you, but I also started meditating more.
Here’s a meditation that started it all.
- Close your eyes and begin to follow the trail of your breath. Find your own pace.
- As the thoughts float in and out begin to think of them as clouds passing by and you being the ‘watcher’ vs. being or embodying the thought. When I started to have thoughts of the past I’d call out “Hello remembering” (waving hello to an old friend) and for thoughts of the future I’d say “Hello past” (also waving as an old friend that taught me valuable lessons). It helped me to disassociate with the thought and watch it for what it was – a chemical reaction floating by in cloud form.
- Begin to observe the stillness between these thoughts. At first it wasn’t the easiest for me and I would feel my mind running down a rabbit hole. But I kept at it and with practice I was able to bring myself back to those quiet spaces. Soon enough I began to extent the gap and it made it easier and easier to see that I was witnessing thought rather that being the thought.
This was the small whisper in my heart that started the healing. I wasn’t my thoughts. My health wasn’t controlled or held prisioner by my thoughts and feeling. What if I just faced those chemical reactions and plugged them into the courage cultivating truths? And so I did….