Letting Go

How do I let go of fear? What prompts me to let it go? What keeps me from letting it go?

Richard Harty’s post on MFR Insight and the image of a gorilla got me wondering how I let go of fear. How did I actually do it over and over again? How did I get unstuck with even the most difficult and intense feelings of terror? When at intensives, or with Dave in treatment back home, or while going through intense life experiences these past years – what was going on “in there”?

Being on the other side of letting go and feeling fear now primarily as a passing sensation, I can begin to put into words what I was taught and learned to do to heal. I can now articulate what I am continually doing as the cycle of life’s ups and downs continues on, so that I can truly feel joy in every moment I am living.

This is basically how I have successfully let go of fear (or anything I’m holding onto that isn’t serving me). This how I have been taught over and over again in dialogue and subtle touch from John and the many, many talented JFB MFR therapists I have had the privilege of working with. Letting go of fear is, at its most basic, letting go of resistance to a sensation and the pressure of energy I am holding in place below that sensation. My mind will continually get in the way of feeling the initial waves of fear sensation, so first, I let go of the label of “fear” and just call it “sensations I’m feeling”. That way, the pressure of the entire “fear” program isn’t staring me down as I attempt to let go. This allows me to focus on feeling and gives my mind something to do. Now, I can allow the fear to be there without resistance. That means not shaming, judging, analyzing or fearing the fear (i.e., thinking). I say to the fear sensation that it is ok to be there. I feel the sensations as just sensations – they aren’t harming me in any way. Because I have already been taught the cycle of feeling, my mind has a heads up and now trusts the cycle and is generally quiet when I am feeling. I feel the cycle of waves of sensation getting intense and then decreasing . . . a pause . . . getting intense and decreasing . . . a pause. I let the sensation of waves of energy run their course until the pressure dissipates to a place where I feel a satisfying relief and some space around the pressure. I feel around for more fear and when I cannot find anymore fear to feel, I know that depth of fear is resolved.   That’s the process I use basically. The journey has been to trust it and use it no matter what the story is behind the fear or any other persistent feelings that are not helping me experience true joy.

One more thing I’ve discovered that is very, very important that took me a long time to learn and knowing this probably would have saved me many years of going down dead end paths: for every stuck feeling there are thousands if not millions of useless, negative thoughts generated. Their job is to prevent you from feeling. Free up the energy under the feeling and the thoughts disappear. Feel first, think later. The thoughts will be much more powerful and will actually help you realize your goals. 

The above paragraph of instructions took me more than a decade to master (and I’m not done yet). I have learned over the years to identity when I am thinking and not feeling. I have learned to regulate the amount of feeling that my current resistance can tolerate to let go of. I have learned to distill the word “fear” into physical and energetic sensations moving through and around my body. I have learned to train my thinking mind when to get to work and when to be silent. I learned these skills because I have the most excellent teachers in the world who were all taught by an extraordinary human being named John Barnes.

As a post script . . . before I got to work putting this “how to” section down in writing, I thought it would be helpful to re-read some of my blog posts. I typed “fear” in the search box and a half dozen posts popped up. My conclusion after reading them all . . . letting go of fear is sooo much more than I just wrote. The above distilled description will perhaps be helpful to someone as they face and master their own fears and other sensations. Yet we learn to face fear, begin to resolve and are inspired to take our own leaps into letting go of fear – when we share our stories. We relate to stories, not instructions. We hear guidance and dialogue, and are propelled into letting our fears go, but what brings us to want to do it in the first place? Letting go of fear is not a one person act; it is not a selfish preoccupation to rid us of suffering. The purpose of letting go of fear is not really to feel better (or better feel). The purpose is to free us to connect more fully to all that is around us – to all our relations. When we tell stories, we do just that. The stories give us hope and ignite our courage to feel our fears fully, giving them permission to finally let go of their hold on us. Telling stories of letting go of fear can give us a nudge, and permission (when we haven’t yet given ourselves permission) to feel our own fears and let them move through us.  Before we know it, we discover our deeper courage  and open our eyes to our own power. We then easily let go of another’s story and connect with our own power to let go.

Kristy’s Story

Kristy Maute

For five years, I’ve shared my story in this space but I always avoided it. I danced around it. I alluded to it. But I never acknowledged it. I never said the words Iwas raped on paper until yesterday.It’s never been a secret. It’s something I share in conversation with friends. It’s something I’ve never hid from, but why was I hiding here. Why did I consciously choose to not share?

The answer is simple. Fear. I was afraid. I was afraid of people believing me. I was afraid people from my past would verbally attack me again. I was afraid I would be called a liar. I didn’t want to relive the trauma – not of the rape but of not being believed.

Recent news has brought attention to the rape culture in our society. Today in 2016 a dad of a rapist believes that six months in jail…

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Thoughts on #MeToo

I’ve given this revisited #MeToo movement some good long thought. When I first saw people posting, I felt my gut clench. Then, I softened and realized that I was clenching against something that didn’t feel right to me. I didn’t know why, but I just knew I couldn’t post a “me too” on my Twitter or Facebook account.

A few days later, a friend posted a tweet from @apbeneven: “Reminder that if a woman didn’t post #MeToo, it doesn’t mean she wasn’t sexually assaulted or harassed. Survivors don’t owe you their story.”

There it was. The “not right” feeling was one of commoditization. For many of my FB friends, it was very empowering to speak up and let their friends know – some for the first time – that they had experienced sexual harassment and/or sexual assault. The problem is, if you’re not ready to tell your entire FB list or the Twitter universe, disclosure can be very, very disempowering. It is never ok to pressure anyone into disclosing information they are not ready to share. Unfortunately, social media can do just that. For some, the #MeToo movement puts a feeling of tremendous pressure on them to disclose. This produces a feeling of disempowerment. People who don’t #MeToo are not cowards. In fact, they are the most honest about their feelings of any of us. They may be legitimately overwhelmed and not fully in their bodies enough to reap the full healing benefit of disclosure, especially to a mass audience. When you’re not present to feel, it’s not authentic healing. It’s pseudohealing.

Many people first disclose one on one. In that environment, it’s safe enough to feel the impact of telling the truth – fully. THAT is what is important. Feeling the telling of the truth. This releases some of the trauma of having to stay quiet; of not having been in a safe environment for truth telling – and now knowing that you are. It restores trust in your own intuition. You are right not to tell, until it feels right to tell.

When I was abducted and sexually assaulted, it was a news story. I didn’t have a choice about who knew. Even though my name was not used, people knew. I had no power – no say in who knew and who didn’t. I numbed out even more. It was not healing. The next time I told my story was to my future husband. I felt he needed to know and it was healing just to know I was telling a hard truth about myself to someone I trusted. As I healed, the number of people who knew because I chose to tell them, increased. Now, each time someone says something to me about my story, I go through more healing. I feel more of the trauma come to the surface. I feel it and release it. That’s how healing works.

The #MeToo movement can be empowering for everyone. Staying silent is just as powerful as speaking up. If it feels right, do it. If it doesn’t, don’t. Either way, you are your own authority!

Spiral of Dark and Light

There is a prejudice of exposing dark feelings and thoughts. We must transform them into something useful, powerful, active, enlightening – light. If you are diving into darkness just to dive into darkness, what's the point? Doesn't there need to be something useful come of this immersion? There is great wisdom in darkness. This, is where the unexposed becomes exposed. This, is where light naturally comes forth without effort or searching. There is no need to transform dark into light. Darkness, when fully felt, moves into light. This is not a transformation – this is the movement of nature. This is a subtle difference.
Transformation implies something unwanted is being changed into something wanted. . .

WE are not searching for the light. We are searching out the dark. Why do we do this? Because we have spent so long being afraid of the dark. Avoiding it. Punishing it. Denying it. Making it wrong. Burying it. Then, uncontainable, it lashes out . . . or in. Does darkness not have its natural place in the world? No one tells the night not to come. It does. We welcome the morning sun and a new day and the coming night all the same. Night is dreamtime. SO is our inner darkness. It is the place of great insight. It is where we are most awake. So why try to bring it to light? I do not want to convince you of what is right. I am simply observing what is already happening. Dark is as natural as light. You cannot stop one and expect the other to flow. In this way, when we shut out the light or the dark, neither flows freely in us. There is a buried cycle that yearns to move completely.

It works coming around from light to dark as well remember. Once light feelings and thoughts have been realized, they flow naturally into dark feelings and thoughts. Do not judge either one! Breathing in is as important as breathing out. We do not judge one or the other as wrong or needing to be diminished. If we did, we would not be alive! So too it goes with emotion and thought. These are a part of us too. We think. We feel. Think it all. Feel it all. Thus we embrace the whole world. What keeps us moving in this cycle? What is the oil that keeps it running smoothly. . . acceptance. It infuses our feelings and thoughts. It gets in the spaces between and prevents light and dark thoughts and emotions from becoming stuck. It is unidentifiable as it swirls in the background, but we know it when we feel it. This warmth and softness; this prickling nudge; this brewing eruption – only defined by the unlocking effect that we feel from its purpose. And where does this acceptance come from? This great mystery. . . unfolded in our hands. . . as we touch one another. We honestly connect to one another. Accepting where we are at. Without acceptance, connection does not exist. With no connection, neither the dark nor the light can be known. You see, we need it all – dark, light, acceptance, connection. There is a natural cycle that yearns to be heard. Light and dark is not a dichotomy. It is a spiral. Like the earth moving through space. Can you feel it? Remove all judgement . . . and you will.

When I was in the thick of healing from suicidal thoughts, this knowing is what healed me. During an MFR treatment with my friend and mentor Dave Frederick, I unlocked a stuck vision of darkness that had been embedded deeply in the consciousness of my fascial web. In a space where I felt safe enough, I allowed Dave to gently coax it to the surface . The next morning a rush of suicidal feelings surfaced. I emailed Dave and he immediately reached out by phone. His acceptance of where I was prompted me to feel what was under my shamed version of darkness. I had never imagined anything beyond it. It was all so futile. Gradually, with patience, I found the courage to reach further than I ever had. There was indeed something under the dark. In fact, it was this answer hanging on the edge between waking and sleep. I did not know what it was at the time, but I felt tremendous relief that the darkness was not a death end. There was more beyond that I could feel while alive and breathing. A truth about darkness began to emerge. The shamed version disappeared and with it the urge to kill myself. Since that morning, I have not felt the need to die to find the answer to life's toughest questions. Do I continue to dance with death and dark thoughts and emotions? Absolutely. This dance feels very alive. Flowing without resistance or shame through the dark thoughts and feelings paradoxically sets me free in life. It's where I feel the light.

When someone commits suicide – I care deeply. These are the most beautiful and honest people I have ever read about or known. Perhaps they did not have someone who could do what Dave did for me. Perhaps they had no one who would accept their dark thoughts and emotions; or understood and spoke honestly with them when they most needed someone to understand them. Perhaps they were the leaders of truth-filled, vulnerable conversation and were breaking new ground, but not fast enough for the pain that was chasing them. . . I do not know another's point of no return. I do know that if they could have seen another way out of their pain – they would have taken it. No one can, long-term, bear the pain of endless darkness that is denied, shamed or otherwise not understood and accepted. I wish they had known a John Barnes trained therapist like I did.

Dedicated in memory of Chester Charles Bennington

Coming Back to Reality

Today as I quieted myself and sat still, I looked around the room and felt myself in present time. I realized that right now nothing bad is happening and that what I've been doing as I fall into daydreaming of the past, is scaring myself. When I wake up into the present, I discover that no one is causing fear in me right at this moment, except me.

I then said to myself the words that have been said to me many times … "it's over" … I felt the completeness of that statement and a longer time/space between present reality and past events. I felt more physical space around me; room to maneuver in present time; breath came easier. 

I think we all need to be reminded, often, that we are in charge of our lives and bodies…on a deeper level than anyone other than us can be. Yet that only happens in the present moment . . . not in the past being brought to mind … not in an imagined future. That's a sleep state…a daydream. It's not true in the present. When we pause and look around us in reality right now, 99% of the time, nothing is going wrong; we're not actually afraid of what is going on around ourselves right now. From here we can make really good decisions for ourselves and act in ways that serve us. 

I am realizing that scaring myself with what could happen is not helpful, and being awake and present right now feels much more authentic, strong and helpful. 

We may feel the residual of the past in us, but we bring ourselves into our present reality and act from there. We must have ourselves firmly in the present in order for our actions to be empowered. Acting from the past has no leverage in the present. 

So when you find yourself in the past, or future, scaring the heck out of yourself, remember that's the dream state and it's not real. Look around your immediate vicinity and bring yourself back to present reality. Step into the next moment of your day from here.


The line between intuition and not intuition is clearer to me now.

I realize I do trust my intuition, but I fear the response it’s asking for. I realize now that my alarms went off when I identified signs of false intuition that I don’t wish to be associated with.

False intuition occurs: when we become infatuated or inflated by our abilities; when we use it to escape or avoid unresolved issues (sometimes referred to as a spiritual bypass); when we give it more awe than “normal” awareness; when we fail to approach intuitive information with the same discernment practices we would use with logic – neither are immune from ego. Ego suppresses our natural intuition.

The more subconscious holding patterns we bring to our awareness and resolve, the more accurate and unbundled by ego our intuition becomes. It also makes us more sensitive to false or pseudo intuitive circumstances and the people who exercise it. This is what I realized was happening. It brings up anger, avoidance and passive-aggressive tendancies. I am in the process of summoning the courage to confront what is false. To say “no” to it and set boundaries.

I trust what I feel, yet I also feel very vulnerable when using my intuition. There is an “honest” feeling I get with intuitive information. The thoughts and words are unforced and feel softer in my head and coming out of my throat and mouth. They are followed by a tingling in me when it happens. Those are the ones I use to help others and, for the most part, I allow them to flow out of me unsensored. If the thoughts feel hard, I don’t use them, but sometimes judgment erupts in me and my energy is diverted to keeping my mouth shut. I am realizing as I write this, that sometimes, in order to set boundaries, those hard words need to come out, with force. It’s not comfortable for me, but I understand the benefit to others of saying “no”. I can see how intuitive actions could have more forceful energy. There is a diverseness and flexibility in it I was not seeing before.

I was told one thing repeatedly by Peggy Fuhs in Malvern: “you need to take really good care of yourself.” She repeated it as if I was going to nod in agreement and then immediately not follow her advice. As if my next step would be to think about what I needed to do for someone else; what I needed to do to “be nice” and leave my more delicate intuitive body in a back alley somewhere. My intuitive body that, if I had not silenced it, would have been much more helpful to someone.

When I’m away from home, I feel my way through the days instead of thinking my way through. At home, it is tougher to feel that easiness when bombarded with so much lopsided intellect-driven energy. I have to really commit to staying soft and easy with my self and also being self aware enough to set the boundaries I need.

The commitment feels right though.

The Dragon Princess


“For if we think of this existence of the individual as a larger or smaller room, it appears evident that most people learn to know only a corner of their room, a place by the window, a strip of floor on which they walk up and down. Thus they have a certain security. And yet that dangerous insecurity is so much more human which drives the prisoners in Poe’s stories to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeons and not be strangers to the unspeakable terror of their abode.

We, however, are not prisoners. No traps or snares are set about us, and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us. We are set down in life as in the element to which we best correspond, and over and above this we have through thousands of years of accommodation become so like this life, that when we hold still we are, through a happy mimicry, scarcely to be distinguished from all that surrounds us. We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them.

And if only we arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses. Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”

  • Rainer Maria Rilke, excerpt from The Dragon Princess

This is one of my favourite passages from the Rilke letters. Partly because I find Edgar Allan Poe to be the epitome of exploration into darkness. There is a curiosity that surfaces once the energy of that “dangerous insecurity” has tired itself out. It’s inevitable. I know this feeling well – this unspeakable terror of the dungeon. I also know the drive Rilke speaks of that compels us to feel what lays in the darkness. This kind of curiosity – the kind that goes into the dark spaces where few desire to go – only resides in the space on the other side of fear; on the other side of terror. So to get there, we must learn to get comfortable with it; soften fully into terror. And as we feel through the burning in our diaphragms and the pounding of our hearts, fear becomes an enticing beacon into the curiosity of the unknown – and the elation of a new discovery.

There is the terror of that first, unexpected push into that unwanted jump I’m sure most of you have encountered in life. That is your first opportunity to transmute ingrained beliefs. From there, you can learn to master quantum leaping – and it can be really, really fun!

I am facing a conundrum. I have been “living for the release” for some time now and in my routing around in my body, feel I have covered every crevice of my physical self in which the unknown is hidden. More recently, it has been a challenge to find more undiscovered places. It’s the reason I did a week of intensive myofascial treatment  in Malvern back in December 2014. I wanted to get at the stuff I’d left on the back burner until my next intensive. And there it was. And there it went.

Now I am left with the questions: How much more transformation do I need? Have I cleared life’s “thousand shocks”? Am I living life free of the past? Is it simply a memory – without charge? What does one Do in a fully cleared life? Have I ever felt this state before? When I was young? Or is this the clearest I’ve ever been?

Whether it is or isn’t, I can never lose the feeling of the pain around me. The suffering of the world is a constant companion. And I belong in it. I cannot remove myself from the world. I sit among the disheartened, the desperate, the bullied, raped and beaten. The tragic atrocities do not go away simply because I have cleared the shock of my own. What has changed is that I no longer get caught up and imprisoned by the suffering of others.

And now I am at a crossroads. What to do with suffering when you no longer need to harden against it? What words for others come out of my mouth then? Here I hesitate. There is a subtle fear of not being understood. Of someone thinking to themselves “what is she talking about?” I know this inner dialogue. My therapists said things that made me think they were way off base. Yet there was always a stirring that happened inside me when these odd words were spoken. Despite my mind’s dismissal of them, my body responded, leaving me disoriented enough not take my inner dialogue so seriously. Yet I hesitate to feel foolish. The discomfort of it leaves me squirming.

I could conjure up some old drama from my past as a reason, but it’s time wasted.

I don’t like to trust my intuition. I don’t like to spend a lot of time in that wishy washy feeling. I could go into a long analysis of why that is. Again, just time wasted – I already know it leads nowhere.

What would happen if I let myself feel foolish? There is a fine discernment between intuition and craziness. I know the difference from the example of other therapists. Yet I fear “losing it”. I don’t want to become disconnected from reality. I don’t want to be “one of them”.

The roof of my mouth ripples and softens. Tears well up. My sinuses burn. We’re never done . . . there is always more. Looking deeply into the eyes of the dragon, I see the mist of a princess.

The Biggest Missing Piece

running horse

I want to say that if any of you have felt bad for me and my experience, I want you to know that it is not helpful for either of us. I want to say to you, that you are feeling worse for me than I am feeling for myself. I want to say to you that I WANT to have the power to heal myself, all to myself. Feeling bad for me just makes it a little bit harder for me to take my power back and makes you just feel awful about something you have absolutely no control over. So stop trying to fix it! Stop ruminating on mine or another’s pain. Instead, focus on coming fully into yourself. Focus on softening your fascial resistance and seeing and accepting yourself as the powerful person you are. Then, and only then, will you see accurately, the true powerful nature of another. Only then will you be able to help another in the most effective way they can receive it.

Now on to what I have discovered . . .

I cannot accept that I created this awful thing that happened to me. I CAN however accept that I had a deep desire at 19 for my life to mean something. At that time I felt I was just one of the crowd and I wanted badly to stand out. I did not want to be a cog in a wheel. I had this deep sense that there had to be something more to my life. That is exactly the thinking I was immersed in when I was run off the road on my bike and taken.

Was my desire to stand out THAT strong? Did I get what I wanted? Well, I wouldn’t have asked specifically for that horrible experience in order to bring about my desire. I DO know, however, that that horrible experience has caused me to move, with great depth, into the feelings about myself I strongly desired at 19. I can say that I feel that the tentativeness of life I have experienced has caused me to feel, very deeply, how valuable life is. All the interesting and wonderful experiences I would have missed! So, yes, my life DOES mean something very deeply to me – much more deeply than I feel I had before.

Before my horrible experience, and it was horrible by any standard, I didn’t think about enjoying life – I just DID life. So, now that I’ve cleared a large majority of the bracing and fear of my horrible event of being physically taken, held and raped by someone I didn’t know. After experiencing all of that and in the aftermath . . . feeling it fully, it has lost its tight grip on me. I had an experience that allowed me to feel what most people just read about or watch on TV. I had the opportunity to feel fully, the depth of terror, shame, and loss of control. And by feeling through these things and in the depth that I did, what emerged was also the incredible rush of feeling . . . joy . . . of feeling deep love and trust of myself . . . of feeling complete, absolute freedom from limitation. I have mastered getting into channel 3, from way, way into channel 5.

Until now, I don’t feel I appreciated the depth of good feelings that have come out of my honed ability to feel all of these horrible things deeply. I don’t feel I have, until now, accurately acknowledged that my extensive experiences of letting go of resistance to completely awful feelings, gave me the ability to feel very good things deeply as well. I distinctly remember these feelings. They were moments of ecstasy I came into unlike any I had experienced prior to my horrible event. I admit, I have not been letting them in – not for lack of wanting to feel good. I go home every night and have a drink and wait for the good feeling to hit me. I want it badly, but not this way. I did not know how to get at it. I’m pretty sure the missing piece – and it’s a really, really big missing piece – was that I hadn’t acknowledged the ecstasy I was coming into. The lack of acknowledgment of the truth of the good I was feeling, caused me to ignore it even when it was happening. The other shoe is not dropping. I’ve stopped waiting for it. In fact, I’m pretty busy being in the flow of life and enjoying it, to care if the shoe even exists.

Life is supposed to feel good. And I have to admit . . . it honestly does, so much of the time.