How Do I Fight The Fear?

I live with fear as my constant companion.  Not the fear of death or impending doom, but fear none the less.  I gave up the pursuit of my dreams for fear I could not make a living.  I remain in a job that does not bring me joy because of the fear of failing at a new endeavor. And now, I do not follow my bliss, my dream, my passion, because, I am sad to say, I do not know what it is anymore.  I have spent so much of my life squashing the desire to follow my passion, that I honestly do not know what I am passionate about any longer.

This fear that is coiled inside me like a sleeping, but ever present dragon, also extends to my desire to find a loving committed relationship.  I am afraid to attempt to find love with the person I want because of what others may think.  I am afraid to step into the arena of love for fear of being rejected for the “shortcomings” I have heaped on myself.  The reel that plays in my head over and over, “you’re too old; you’re too fat!” “You’re too old; you’re too fat!  No one would ever love someone like you!”  “Don’t approach him, he’s out of your league.”  I have said it to myself for so long I believe my own press.  And, just as I begin to find some sense of inner peace and hope, that sleep dragon awakens gnashing his teeth and breathing his fire and I am left with the scorched earth of my own fear and self-loathing.

This all sounds terribly depressing, I know.   And, I am not writing this so that you’ll feel sorry for me.  I am writing this as a life lesson for myself and those that might happen upon this missive.  I was once given a book by a very great friend who I have since lost touch. The book was called, “Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway.”  It was a self help book from the 80’s.  I couldn’t tell you what I learned from it, but I still remember the title.  Feel the fear and do it anyway.  It reminds me of a great quote by Mark Twain, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the strength to do what is best in the face of it.”  I may not have the quote 100% correct, and who knows, I may be giving credit to the wrong person, but the sentiment is what matters.  It is ok to feel fear.  In all of my spiritual studies, the great practitioners and teachers agree, fear is a part of everyone’s life, even the most enlightened.  It is what you do with that fear and how you conquer it.

I for one cannot sit back any longer and let my life go to waste because of fear.  I shall be a warrior, I shall battle my inner dragon until I wear the beast down.  I may not ever defeat him, but I can lull him back to sleep and conquer him.  I will use the flames of the dragon of fear to ignite my passion, what ever it may be.  I am a warrior.  Will you do battle with me?

Namasté
Matthew

Do You Like Yourself?

How do you begin to repair your life when you don’t like yourself very much?  Many new age and positive affirmation gurus can often be heard saying, “How can you expect someone to love you if you don’t love yourself?”  My question goes even further: How can you love yourself when you don’t even like yourself?  This sets you back even further.

This question could easily be seen as the over dramatic rant of an attention seeking masochist.  But it isn’t.  In fact, I suspect it is the foundation of the psyche of many of my fellow human beings, whether they are consciously aware of the fact or not.  It can be seen in the choices we make.  The unhealthy, destructive, or abusive relationships we hold onto because we only want someone to “love” us.  The lack of fulfillment we experience from our lives; career, hobbies, relationships, etc.  The excess weight we can’t lose, the excuses we make when our passions are ignored.  Can you recognize this in your own life?

I’ve experienced them all.  Some of them I’m still experiencing.  So often we are shocked by the truth we have ignored.  It lashes out at us when we least expect it.  Like a frightened caged animal.  We do anything to feel better about ourselves.  Which usually equals more poor choices made.  These choices are often addicting.  We make a choice, we feel better, momentarily, and then the feeling is gone.  We seek to recapture that feeling with further choices that do not lead to our fulfillment.  It becomes a vicious cycle. Repeated one night stands, gorging on food, spending money, drinking too much, illicit drugs, whatever your emotional drug of choice may be.  The high is always followed by an even deeper low than you were catapulted from.

Sadly, I do not have the answer to loving or liking myself.  I know that all I have been learning over the past year and a half is a light unto my path.  Mindfulness is the key.  I cannot allow the despair that I so often feel become the lock to my prison of self-loathing. Each day must be a further step to liking myself.  Each day must be a choice made not to accept my further self-destructive behaviors.  Let mindfulness be your guide.  Allow it to give you pause long enough to make the choice that leads to your higher purpose.  Each day you can learn to like one part of yourself.  Each day that you can make a choice that serves your higher good is a day closer to the ultimate prize of finally liking and loving who you are.

Stop, be mindful, make the choice for your higher good; start now.

Namasté
Matthew

That Little Push

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This is my camera and tripod all set up ready to film my first video entry for my blog. The only problem is, I keep talking myself out of it.

The whole purpose of the video entry is to completely push me out of my comfort zone. I’ve filmed a few test entries, just to get placement of camera set up, but I can’t bring myself to actually make the video.

I’ve been obsessively watching YouTubers whose entire careers have been made making videos. They are young, attractive, and energetic. They talk about their lives and dish gossip. I watch them and marvel at the ease they have in doing this. My inner critic won’t allow me to let go. So, this is to push me to let go. I want to have their energy and excitement, but I don’t want to focus on the trivial things they do (I’m not in anyway judging them, but at times they are a bit too self-absorbed for my tastes). I want my blog, my words, and hopefully my videos to mean something to people.

That’s why I’m posting this now. To push myself. I’m letting my followers know that I’m going to do this; so now, I have to. Wish me luck.

Namasté
Matthew

 

I’m Homophobic (About Myself)

I have a fear.  I’ve only really mentioned it to a few people.  I am homophobic.

Let me clarify what I mean by this.  I am homophobic of my own homosexuality.  I recently watched myself in a video and I caught myself cringing at the things I was doing.  My voice is high and “feminine.”  My mannerism are über gay.  I even half joked with a colleague that there was no way, after watching this video, that anyone would EVER mistake me for straight.

In the last ten years people have compared me to Nathan Lane’s character in the Bird Cage, Jack from Will and Grace (though I’m not that shallow), and Cam from Modern Family.  This comparison is always followed with, “they always make me smile,” or “they make me so happy, like you do.”  It is never said to me maliciously.  The comparison is always made as a compliment.  And, more often than not, I take it as such.  I like making people laugh and smile, and I love knowing I bring them some form of happiness.

My homophobia (which is reserved and aimed exclusively at me) is most evident at work.  I have always believed that in life we actually never leave middle school.  We tend to group together in cliques much like we did in middle school.  We talk about others and stir up drama, just as our younger versions did.  Which is why, I think, working in a middle school has brought this feeling to the forefront.

Now, to be fair, in my life I have suffered little from homophobia directed toward me.  In high school the captain of the basketball team tried to throw my from the second floor of my school yelling, “faggot” the entire time.  I was called, “the little faggot” by an administrator at the first high school I taught in.  And, most recently I had a parent e-mail me that he does not approve of my “lifestyle.”  Beyond that, even growing up in a small town, I was pretty lucky.  My mother, like all protective parents, used to tell me to sit on my hands when I talked or to try to speak in a lower tone so people wouldn’t think I was gay. But, I know her concern came from that place all mothers fear; the pain that their children might suffer.

I’m not sure which of these issues, or more likely all of them combined, caused my inner homophobia.  In most aspects of my life, the fact that I’m a “flaming homosexual” is joyfully embraced.  The only time I hate myself for it is when I think a student will be malicious enough to call me a “fag.”  This epithet has been hurled at me by many students over my ten years of teaching.  When kids get angry their first thought is to lash out, and when it’s aimed at me, it is usually, “faggot” or “fag.”  The “clever” little ones even came up with the nickname, “Mr. Cava-queer.”  The first time this happened it was like a kick in the stomach.  Thoughts reeled through my head.  “How did they know?” “How can they be so cruel?” “What’s wrong with being gay?”

I was indignant.  I wanted the child who dared use such a term toward me thrown out of school.  How dare they?  Disappointment led to anger.  I was pulled into my administrator’s office (not the same administrator that called me “the little faggot”) and they talked me down from the ledge.  They also gave me a piece of advice that I’ve never forgotten, but that, unbeknownst to them, cemented my inner homophobia even further.  I was told that I need to keep these incidences much calmer because even though my administrator would back me up 100%, they would never be able to protect me if a parent came in complaining about the “faggot” teacher.  I was told that homophobia was the last acceptable bigotry in the education field.

Even today, that sticks with me.  When I can see a student getting angry I often prepare myself for the “fag” remark to be flung out.  I know I should not allow the hateful words of an eleven year old to get to me.  Nor should I live my life ever believing that there is something wrong with being gay.  I am amazing just as I am.  Each day I remind myself of that.  But each day I also tense up with the fear.  This is definitely a personal issue I am constantly working on.  I have come a LONG way since the scared high schooler being shoved by a star athlete, but I have a long way to go before I stop feeling bullied by the thoughts of an eleven year old.

I know this may make me seem weak. But, I believe that admitting this is a strength.  And the fact that I still do my job and what I believe is best for my students, even though I fear what they might say, is another sign of strength.  Each year, each month, each day, and with each student I get better at accepting and being proud of who I am.  And each time I can accomplish that pride my hope is that it encourages gay students to accept, with pride, who they are.  To not allow homophobia to settle in their souls.  If sharing my pain and fear makes even one person stronger then I have made this world a better place. Spread only love and love will return to you.

Namasté
Matthew

Discipline

I have come to realize recently that I have no discipline.  I take on so many tasks and hobbies thinking I will love them and they all peter out.  I’m so gung-ho but have no follow-thru.  I don’t know if it’s that I lose complete interest or if it just loses the “fun” for me.  I think if I knew the answer to that I’d have a better understanding of why I can’t hold on to my infatuation with a new ambition.

I have had three major undertakings of my life fizzle out in 2013.  I began the year with a subscription to Rosetta Stone online.  I was determined to learn Italian.  I’m still determined to learn it; how, I’m not sure since I rarely go on the site anymore.  It began as a grandiose dream to one day reside in Italy.  I’ve had this dream for years, since I first saw the movie, “Under the Tuscan Sun.”  I have devoured every travelogue about Italy I can get my hands on.  It is my favorite subject.  I even had hopes of moving to Italy this year for work, but that fell through.  I sat with that disappointment and saw my desire to learn Italian diminish.

That’s not a fair statement.  My desire to learn is still quite alive.  My desire to do the work that goes along with it has diminished.  I’ve begun to think of myself as lazy or possibly incapable of actually following through with something, no matter how much I love it.  I end relationships, I stop my healthy eating and living, I have faltered in my writing, all but extinguished my yoga practice, fell behind on my ambitions to be a stronger teacher.  To me this all leads back to my lack of discipline.

What is worse I overwhelm myself with disappointment over my fall from each of the pedestals I’ve placed myself upon.  I began this blog and had so many hopes for what it would become.  I started like gang busters.  A post written every two days.  Then it was once a week.  Once a month.  Now I have to talk myself into writing.  I still have ideas.  I still want to write.  But the thought of actually doing it depresses me.  It’s the same with yoga.  I began practicing yoga 3-5 times a week.  I lived for it.  When I had a bad day yoga was there to pull me up.  The yoga transitioned me into my Buddhism.  Now?  The last time I was at yoga was 6 weeks ago.  The desire to go is there; the will to actually get off my ass and do it…poof…disappeared.

My meditation practice has fallen away as well.  I used to sit daily for 20-30 minutes.  Now, I just light the candle on my alter and nothing.  Yoga was my meditation.  Sitting before my alter was my meditation.  Now, I have nothing.

I have been on medication for anxiety and depression for a few years now. It’s nothing I’m ashamed of, it was a conscious choice my doctor and I made together.  My depression wasn’t debilitating it was more that I couldn’t get my mind off the depressing thoughts.  I have been much better since taking it.  But I often wonder if this lack of discipline is more rooted in my ongoing battle with depression than it is with my inability to follow through with my passions.

I wanted desperately to perform on broadway, to live in Italy, to be a writer, to follow my creative passions.  Every single time I’ve been thwarted by my own apathy.  But the secret here is, I’m not apathetic.  I am paralyzed.  Paralyzed that I will fail, paralyzed that I’m not any good, paralyzed that I will succeed and fizzle out.  These racing thoughts are what the medication is supposed to help counteract.  It doesn’t always.  So, I rely on my mindfulness to help.  Then the catch, I’m not practicing my mindfulness anymore.  I’m faking my way through my own life.  How do I get off this roller coaster and take my life back?

I have made so many lists for my New Year’s resolutions.  They were becoming overwhelming.  But I have dwindled it all down to one.  My resolution this year is to regain my discipline.  I am going to take control again.  Fear and depression will not stop me.  I don’t want to be held back anymore.

Just writing those words gives me a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach.  My inner critic starts chattering away about my past failures.  It is telling me I can’t.  “You will fail.”  “You have failed.”  “You are a failure.”  My inner passion must gain the upper hand here.  My confidence must win out.  That is my goal.  That is my drive.  That is my discipline.

Bring on 2014.  I’m ready.
Namaste
Matthew

Transitions

Changes are a constant in life.  Some are very welcome, like a better job, a new relationship, a new child.  Some are not welcome at all, the end of relationship, the loss of a job, or the death of a loved one.  Each of these changes are nothing more than a transition in our lives.

I am a firm believer in the power of the universe.  The cliche of, “when one door closes another opens” is an adage I subscribe to.  If the loss of a job is viewed appropriately, you will see that you have been given the opportunity to find a better job.  When I lost my job with Disney, I thought for sure I would never recover.  I literally felt it was the end of my world.  Then, out of the blue, a friend of mine called and asked if I had any interest in leaving Disney to work in education.  Did I?  It was an answer to many many prayers.  My degree is in education so it was the perfect transition for me.  I wasn’t even out of work for a week before I began teaching.  That was almost a decade ago.  And though I have not always been 100% happy, I can definitely say I found a job that I am very good, where I make a difference in kids’ lives.

The transitions that are hardest for us to understand and embrace are the loss of a relationship or the death of a loved on.  There are many relationships that transition from one form to another each second of each day.  The transition of friendship to romantic love, the transition of stranger to friend, the transition from romantic love to friendship, and the transition of romantic love to no relationship at all.  Some of these transitions are joyous and some are painful and torturous.  But each transition is a growing experience.  We often see breakups as a negative gut wrenching experience.  And having been through many break-ups, I speak from experience.  They are painful.  You wonder what is wrong with you, why you are unlovable, why no one wants you.  These are not the thoughts to ponder.  Every experience in life, every person we meet teaches us valuable lessons.  Our choice is to decide, are we going to learn the lessons or are we going to dwell on the negative aspects of the transition?

As my current relationship is embroiled in the throes of transition, this idea became a stark reality.  Can a transition be made smoothly?  Does a transition need to be made (often this choice isn’t ours…it is made for us)? Can I accept what the relationship might transition to? More importantly, can he?  Can he see the positives of transition?  For that matter, can I see those positives?  But again, transitions occur constantly in life; change is constant.  We will both survive and grow and thrive from whatever transitions life offers.  But it is difficult to see the forest through the thicket of trees we are currently lost in.

Of course, relationship transitions are nothing compared to life’s greatest transition, death. Death, is the ultimate transition.  We fear death as the unknown.  I have been afraid of dying most of my life.  That is until I began re-examining the roots of my fears.  These fears became muted when my father began taking me to Cassdega, Florida.  I met many kind and wonderful psychics and mediums.  Here they commune with those who have passed on.  With their help I realized that death was the next great adventure.  Unknown, yes, but an adventure none the less.  Please don’t get me wrong.  I am not ready for death, I don’t plan to embark on this adventure for quite a number of years, but I am no longer scared of it.

The other side of this fear comes from losing those you love.  As my parents grow older, I fear the loss of their presence here on this plane.  Both of my parents are healthy and vibrant people, but the thoughts do still pervade my psyche.  I am not ready for them to leave me.  And that is where fear takes its grip.  What will it be like without them?  How will it feel when I can’t visit them, talk to them on the phone, or hug them?  I will be ready to face the challenge of this transition when the time approaches.  For the time being, I do not relish the idea, and each day I pray for their continued good health and long life.

These fears have become more real for me recently as my uncle’s partner has been facing her own mortality.  She was a strong vibrant woman that cancer has wasted way.  I worry about her, my uncle, my cousin, and my mother who have all taken on her daily care.  The transition has been painful and stressful for all.  I remember when my grandfather passed away, after nine years of suffering from the aftermath of several strokes.  Many people, including my grandmother, felt he was finally at peace.  That is the opposite of our fears.  Knowing that someone has suffered makes death appear as a blessing for some.  For others it sparks anger and even more fear.  As with all transitions, it is the way you view it, and the positive or negative energy you attribute to it.

Thich Nhat Hanh has written many great books, but one of my favorites is, “No Death, No Fear”.  It is an amazing book that helped open my eyes to death, and more importantly, all of life’s transitions.  Begin to see these transitions for the positive changes that they are.  Embrace transition, no matter how scared you are.  Open your mind and your heart to the possibilities.

Namasté
Matthew

What Scares You?

What scares you?  I don’t mean the things that go bump in the night (though I readily admit they scare me). I want to know what scares you.  What makes you say, “I’m not going to try that, what if it doesn’t work.”  “I can’t do that, what if I fail?”

When I teach lessons in class many of my students, when they are exploring a concept, will ask, “What if…” questions.  “What if I do this…?” “What is she does that…?”  I tell my students, “I don’t deal in ‘What If’s.”  This should become our motto when it comes to fear. No more “What If” scenarios.  Stand proudly and tell yourself, “I don’t deal in ‘What If’s’!”

Now, making that our motto and actually living our life that way are two completely different things.  I have many fears that have stood in the way of my happiness.  Growing up I wanted to perform.  I loved being in front of an audience.  I practically lived at our local civic theatre when I was in high school.  My first two years in college were devoted to musical theatre as my major.  Then, after some financial concerns I moved back to Florida and attended Florida State University.  I was accepted in their vocal performance major and was on the path into their musical theatre program.  It was then that my inner critic began to take hold.  “What if you can’t ever find a job?”  “What if everyone laughs at you?”  “What if they see what a horrible dancer you are?”  “What if you have absolutely no talent?”

I’m sad to say I let my inner critic win.  I am scared of performing now.  I have “What if-ed” myself into a fear of performing.  I used to have no greater pleasure than singing up on stage.  I loved the thrill of the audience’s applause, belting a tune, and holding that final note.  Now, my greatest performances come in front of a group of eleven year olds.  I tell myself that I took the more noble path, that educating children, our future, is far more rewarding than performing.  I try to convince myself that I have let go of my ego by choosing the life I currently lead.  But, that is complete bullshit and I know it.  But, if I keep repeating it, maybe one day, I won’t feel like I’ve cheated myself out of the life I dreamed of.

Once I let the idea of performing go, after listening to my inner critic, more fears began creeping in.  My most crippling one now if the fear of being “talked about.”  It’s that idea of not being able to control the situation.  At times it is crippling for me.  I try not to show the fear.  I hate walking into the cafeteria at my school because I’m convinced that the group of children that are laughing are laughing at me (I recognize the giant ego at play to assume everyone it talking about me).  At times I will allow infractions to pass because I don’t want a student to call me the word I live in true fear of being called, “FAG!” I have been called fag many times by students.  I’m sure I will be called fag many more. But, it has become so derogatory a term that I can’t get beyond it when it happens.  I’m taken back to my middle school and high school days when it was a popular epithet hurled at me by closed minded, small town boys.  And believe me, I am completely aware that the middle schoolers that call me that now hold absolutely no power over me.  And part of me wants to respond, “ddduuuuuuhhhhhhh!” But it is still painful.  And pain is often accompanied by fear.  We begin to fear the pain so much that it breathes new life into the the very object that should hold no power.

This is not to say that I allow this fear to win.  I conquer it every day I walk into the school house.  It is why I have perfected a “hard ass” persona with my students.  They know I don’t take crap.  But deep down that fear lingers and grips me with it’s cold powerful hands.  I will not allow it to win.  I will not allow any fear to ruin my happiness again.

I have a new dream now.  I want to travel and write.  My inner critic has talked me out of this many times over the recent years.  But no more.  I’m going to push ahead with it.  This blog is just the start.  I will not be taken hostage by fear again.  It is no longer a matter of, “what if I fail?”  Now, I stand strong and say, “I DO NOT DEAL IN WHAT IF!”  Each morning I repeat my affirmation, “I am a prosperous and successful writer.”  Though affirmations may not work for everyone, they are powerful to me.  Find where you can draw power.  Do one thing each day that scares you.  Even if it’s as simple as walking into that cafeteria with your head held high.  Don’t live a life of “What If!”  Stand up now, own your dreams.  Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Namasté
Matthew

Our Own Worst Enemy

Growing up I always wanted to be a performer. This led me to become a musical theatre major at Catawba College and later at FSU, where I also spent some time as a vocal performance major. I love performing (well singing). But I gave up that dream to pursue the safe route of being a teacher. I began listening to the voices in my head that said I’d never make it to Broadway (my ultimate dream, one I still secretly hold) or make any money performing. When I switched majors and entered the Education department at Florida State I convinced myself that I could still perform.  I even went so far as to tell myself that I could teach drama and still have the best of both worlds.

Fifteen years later I am teaching World History to 11 year olds and the last time I sang in public was for my uncle’s funeral five years ago.  Prior to that was my brother’s wedding. The only places I perform are family functions.  What is key to remember here is that I did this to myself. The person that held me back is me. No one else can be blamed for this, though I have tried.  In the beginning I blamed my mother who planted the seeds of doubt about surviving as an actor.  I blamed college professors that told me that tenors are a dime a dozen in New York and that they’re all working in restaurants as servers. In recent years I have worked several times as a production assistant for a friend that is a casting director for broadway and movies.  This cemented my own doubts to completely shut off any chance to perform. I love working for this particular friend and I love being involved in the casting process. But, I kept telling myself, “I’m not good like these people.” “Broadway requires dancing, you have no rhythm.” I had numerous excuses.
 
I fully admit that part of my issue is a deep seated laziness that as I approach forty is beginning to finally dissipate.  However, much of my problem has been believing my own negative PR that my inner critic has been spouting to me since I was little. Thanks to myself I fear rejection, I fear being laughed at, I fear the possibility of even minor success.
 
What I have discovered recently is, I’m not alone in this self sabotage. We are our own worst enemies. Each day I receive a daily dose of Buddhism from, Big Happy Buddha. It is a quote from a guru, or monk, or nun, or even from the Buddha himself. These are great quotes I enjoy pondering.  But what I love most is the tag on all of the e-mails I receive from them, “What you think upon grows.” I have learned that the hard way, as I look back on my life.  The key now, what do I do with this information. How do I convert this lesson to improve my “life unlived”?
 
Don’t get me wrong, I have made amazing friends, I have loved, I have a fulfilling personal life. I am also finding fulfillment in my life as a teacher, and now as a writer. Dreams do change. But they should not change as a result of doubt. They should not shift because of fear. We often think that we cannot pursue dreams we find unobtainable. We convince ourselves of their impossibility. In high school my favorite teacher often quoted Robert Browning, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, else what’s a heaven for?” Our hopes and dreams should exceed our capabilities. We must work for the attainment of our happiness. Laziness, doubt, and fear are the enemies of our dreams. Fight each day against them. Rally the forces of your own determination. Fight the good fight. Live the good life chasing your dreams. As Joseph Campbell often said, and I have often quoted here, “Follow your bliss.”
 
Namasté
Matthew
 

Feel The Fear

We are often taught that fear is for cowards.  For so long I believed, when I felt that growing pit of anxiety in my gut, that I was incapable of being courageous.  Fear was my greatest nemesis.  I recognize that fear often stems from the unknown.  A favorite quote of mine which happens to be from a Disney song has always been, “We don’t like what we don’t understand; in fact it scares us.”  Fear can stop us dead in our tracks.

Don’t get me wrong, there are healthy amounts of fear.  The prickle on the back of our necks when someone approaches in a menacing manner.  The fear of physical or emotional harm that allows us to remain alert. Let’s also not forget our love affair with being scared.  Horror films rake in millions of dollars each year.  We will watch Saw 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10… (I know there aren’t this many but you get the idea).  Freddie and Jason still haunt my nightmares and I’ve never even seen one of their movies.  We have a love/hate relationship with fear.

Now, I ask you to contemplate this question.  Can you sit with your fear?  I don’t mean your fear that comes from the movies you watch or the books you read, I mean the fear that cripples you.  The fear of public speaking.  The fear of heights.  The fear of being alone.  The fear of losing your financial stability.  The fear of failure.  The fear of success.  The fear of death.  Step one is to pinpoint your fear.  What are you most afraid of?  Once you figure that out, stop and take a deep breath.  What feelings are stirring inside of yourself?  Do you have the urge to think of any topic other than your fear?  Are you in flight or fight mode without even thinking about it?  Use your meditation techniques to bring awareness to these feelings.  Don’t shy away from them.  Don’t allow judgement to overtake you.

Often what gives fear its power is the judgements we place on it.  Your mind tells you that you are weak because you have this feeling.  Emotions, like fear, are neither good nor bad; positive nor negative.  Emotions just are.  So take a moment to sit with the fear and anxiety you are beginning to feel.  If it begins to overwhelm you stop and focus on your breathing.  When you feel stronger begin to let your mind fall back into the awareness of your emotions again.

Now, it’s time to delve a little deeper.  What is the root of your particular fear?  Abandonment?  Poor relationships?  Absent father or mother?  The loss of loved ones?  Be honest with yourself.  You cannot glean the lesson if you are not willing to be honest with yourself.  This may take several meditation sittings.  You may never completely lose your fear. But discovering the root causes of your fear and your ability to sit with it without judgement will take you a long way in dealing with the fear (or any emotions for that matter) that keeps your from growing mindfully and spiritually.

Fear can be debilitating.  It can also be the key that unlocks your greatest potential.  If you learn to embrace your fear and move beyond it you have the power to accomplish greatness.  Make a daily or weekly appointment with your fear (or again any emotion you’d like to “conquer”) and truly take the time to sit with it.  Get to know it, embrace it as an old friend.  The fastest way to abolish fear is to get to know it intimately.  Years ago my mother bought me a book that still sticks with me, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.”  I don’t actually remember much about the book itself but the title and what it means has never been lost on me.  Embrace your fear and move beyond.

Namasté
Matthew