Lean into Your Fears Using Mindfulness

It’s hard to imagine life without fear. Its raw power can save lives. It can also paralyze us and invade every part of our life. Taming it and directing is one of life’s greatest challenges.

Anna Ismagilova/Dollar Photo Club

Fear is primal. And essential for survival. It’s highly energetic, and even exhilarating. Lots of people love horror movies, and kids (young and old) get a huge kick out of scaring each other. But fear is no joke. It can be a highly aroused state that overtakes us in response to a perceived threat, causing us to either fight, flee, freeze, or faint. It can be a deeply unpleasant feeling.

As with all emotion, the practice of meditation can stabilize us enough in the midst of fear to help us see more clearly—to distinguish a false threat from a real threat that needs to be acted upon. The type of fear meditation can have the most effect on is the fear (and fears) that we continually generate in our own minds, the product of our rich imagination and our desire to control everything, rather than be tossed around in the risky and stormy world.

As our fear rises, we can start yammering in our heads to reinforce the size and shape of the threat: “They’re not going to like me… they’ll think I’m stupid…I’ll never get another job…I’ll lose my mind…and all my friends… and my apartment…” By now, our…