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.