Monday, March 24, 2008

Expanding Out Of Fear

Grace* sat immobilized on the couch across from me--facial muscles tight, head bent, shoulders hunched, torso caved inward. While thus far in session, she’d moved through a variety of emotions, Grace recognized instinctively what was at the core. Fear. Grace was quite literally--quite visually--collapsed into fear.

What was most upsetting to her on this particular morning was that she could no longer access the spiritual awareness she’d found in our last meeting. The strength, comfort, and courage she’d felt then seemed lost to her now. “I know my spirit is still there, but I can’t feel it,” she cried in frustration. Grace’s fear had collapsed her into a place so small, so tight, that she could access no other component of her rich being.

Fear does this. It acts as a type of microscopic lens through which we narrow our awareness--and then mistake this limited view for reality. However, just as Grace realized intuitively, whether perceived or not, Spirit remains untouched. Spirit abides.

So, what can be done about this all-too-human capacity to zoom into a small, fear-based perspective? We can cultivate the ability to zoom out, to access a larger and ultimately more accurate view. We can to learn to see with our spirit eyes.

Although Grace began the session by articulating what was missing, she found herself fleshing out an image of her full rich spirit. She envisioned it surrounding her--whole, healthy, vibrant--enveloping both her personality and the small cavity into which fear had pulled her. This image grew roots, took form. Grace closed her eyes and chose to subscribe to a fuller realization of all that she was.

And she allowed me to witness this transformation and to share it with you. First, she became still. Then her spine straightened, her shoulders rose and rolled back allowing her shoulder blades to slip down and support the rising of her chest, the opening of her heart. Grace’s jaw unclenched, her facial muscles relaxed. Her breath deepened. Grace grew radiant, exuding calmness and a profound strength. All of this occurred in a matter of seconds. The metamorphosis was stunning!

Grace had found a way to expand her consciousness beyond the tight box of fear. Yes, she could still acknowledge the difficulties ahead of her, but she now viewed these from a perspective of wholeness.

No matter how powerful it seems, fear is just an emotion. This emotion can paralyze, act as an impetus to explode into rage, or morph into any of the other emotions we find so difficult. Each, however, still contains that kernel of fear at its heart. When we become locked within our fear, we cannot experience all that we are, the totality of who we are. Nor can we fully comprehend the realities of our life. We can pretend, we can try, but who are we fooling? We’re terrified and that’s that. We have shrunken our awareness and disallowed ourselves a larger and truer vision.

Grace’s experience was so pronounced that it has remained with me. All I have to do is recall the visual and energetic shift she demonstrated, and I know the path beyond fear and can articulate it better for myself and others. We won’t all exhibit Grace’s visceral response as our own shifts occur, but we all do have the capacity to alter our perspective, to transcend the tight trap of fear, and to move into a larger, truer view of ourselves and of life itself.

Next time you’re ambushed by fear, or any other emotion that lays claim to your awareness and forces an inaccurate tunnel vision, try the following:

~~First, acknowledge the trap. Experience the contours of the limiting emotion. Know the edges within which you are confined, your tight, cramped awareness. Although it may be tempting to hurry through this step, don’t. We must know our prisons to walk free of them. (More on this idea in a future essay.)

~~Next, envision your larger Self--all the parts of you that lie beyond this limiting emotion. See that Self streaming out beyond the dark space of your fear, the confines of your body, the limits of your personality.

~~Allow yourself the belief that you can choose your perspective. Maybe not always, maybe not totally. Adopt this belief anyway.

~~Now, CHOOSE. Allow yourself to expand out of the oh-so-tight confines of your fear. Move into this larger, fuller experience of yourself. Right here. Right now.

~~Breathe into this choice. Grow into it. Experience it. Permit yourself to fully inhabit this more complete realization of who you are. And allow Spirit to fully inhabit you.

While our spirits can still shine while being aware of a spot of fear, we simply cannot be simultaneously consumed by fear and fully alive to the Light. To identify with your larger Self does not mean you must disown the fear or deny the challenges facing you. But you can hold your fear within a larger perspective that will bring with it additional resources which you cannot touch when ensnared by fear. The fear may still be there, but it will be put into context.

As you can imagine, Grace will need to cultivate and nurture the ability she discovered so clearly that day. She will need to choose her perspective again and again, as we all do. With practice, however, the path from fear to a richer, fuller identity becomes more easily trod. Luckily, walking this trail frequently means we won’t need to bushwhack every time!

May you subscribe to a truer vision of who you are, and may that process allow you to transcend your fear today and always.

I’d love to hear about your experiences.


Loanne Marie

For more on the topics discussed here, I refer you to two books detailed in the Resources section of my website, the delightful, wordless book, Zoom, by Istvan Banyai, and Pema Choedren’s book, When Things Fall Apart.

*In this and all my blog entries, whenever I refer to an experience with a specific person, know that the individual has been consulted and has given written permission for me to publish my thoughts about their journey. Know, too, that I have changed identifying information, given the person the opportunity to review my entry before posting, and offered the individual the pleasure of choosing her or his very own blog name.

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