In my quest to ‘unstick’ myself and my life the emotion of fear has been in my mind. In my mind you ask and not in my heart? Yes, a little in my heart but I also suspect that I’m one of those people who is habitually quick to suppress their fear. Over the years this means I haven’t really been in touch with my fear, I’ve made it ‘not real’ by pretending it is not there until I actually wasn’t aware of it anymore. Fear isn’t always tangible. It is evident in your negative thoughts, behind your ‘I can’t be bothered to go to another job interview’ refrain, behind getting angry with someone for running into you. It can also be behind “ I don’t want to be in a relationship” and a slightly aloof and cool persona. Behind all this can lurk cold fear however in my case my mind will do an amazing job of convincing me otherwise. “Actually you don’t want to go to the job interview because it’s obvious you won’t get the job…….” or “ I really am justified to be over the top angry at this person that I don’t know because they bumped into me”. Really ?? It’s only through becoming acquainted with the feeling of fear in my body: in my case cold feet, cold hands, a sense of hollowness/lack of substance in my chest, that I am able to recognise it. I am also able to recognise it when sitting in meditation. It’s a small wave of emotion to-ing and fro-ing around my heart like the waves lapping on the shore of a lake. I can get a sense of it as being the driver behind my constant, grasping, compulsive thoughts, all trying to make things certain, trying to make solidity out of the uncertainty of life.
Why this fear then? Well we could give lots of psychological theories and explanations which would be particular to the individual but according to the existential philosophers, anxiety is part of life. It is the existential angst about the fact that there is no certainty in this life and that we are, essentially on our own. We come into and depart from our life on our own. There are no guarantees about what happens after we die and there are no guarantees about when we or our loved ones will die. Depressing perhaps? Well it depends on how you look at it. It also means that if you accept this then it is up to you to make the most of your life in the present.
The terms ‘frozen with fear’ or paralysed with fear are good as it seems to me that if one is not aware of the fear lurking then one can become frozen or stuck in how one thinks or behaves. This was behind my quest to become more acquainted with my fear. According to gestalt therapy theory, by being fully aware and in contact, change is possible. Certainly in some aspects of my life I have been feeling stuck and so I have had a lot of energy around getting better acquainted with my fear. Another emotion which I personally link to my fear is impatience. An example would be my impatience to skip two years into the future with my MA course completed, or being impatient in a relationship for things to progress fast. Impatient for what ? What happens if I sit with this impatience? What’s behind it? Often it is fear. This time I can identify it as a curdling in my guts. Fear of what? Fear that I cannot trust this present moment to give me what I need therefore I need to rush to the next present moment where the same fear reappears.
Why have I been so avoidant of my fear up till now and how do I deal with it ? I think the answer to both of these questions is the same. If I did not feel strong or supported enough in the past to feel the fear then I would have preferred not to feel it. So the first thing to do now is to find ways to feel more solid and strong in myself so that I am able to feel my emotions but not be overwhelmed by them. This has been my motivation for some of the body work and body meditations I have done, experimenting with finding my core and feeling more grounded. Examples are the Soft Belly Meditation, the Laban/Bartenieff classes, the Transformational Breathing.
If you have a wider base in place in terms of how rooted you are to the ground then you are more able to be in contact with your fear without it overwhelming you. This is another principle of gestalt therapy, first thing to address is how a person self supports. However being the impatient person that I am I decided to experiment with some more direct approaches around fear. This interest was sparked by a visit to a Thai massage therapist. She manipulated some points on my lower back that were very tender and this reminded me of a friend, a Shiatsu teacher, who had massaged the same points a few weeks earlier and there had been the same soreness. Those points relate to the kidneys which according to Chinese traditional medicine are linked to the emotion of fear. A-ha! Another clue. It made perfect sense with the lower back ache that I sometimes feel. So I have been reading up on and working with pressure points which regulate the kidney yin and yang energy. There are specific points on the back which, if you work on are supposed to ‘de-ice’ stagnant fear . I work on the kidney points three times a day for no more than two minutes. I have also given up coffee which apparently is big reason for kidney yin energy to be weakened. Interestingly and as a side note, the kidneys are linked with the sign of libra and that is precisely where Saturn, the planet of fear, has been sitting on my Libran moon for the last two years.
In addition I decided to experiment with some flower essences. I decided to try one for getting rid of old emotions. Indeed I started taking this before I discovered the Shiatsu points and wonder if in fact it somehow opened me up to getting interested in the acupressure.
Well, it is too early to say what the outcome of all this will be. Certainly my aim is not to become fearless, that is not possible. My desire is to be on better terms with my fear so that it no longer ‘sticks’ my life. Just being aware of fear and learning to recognise it in its many disguises is a start. As I mull over this I realise that this is the way to reclaim power. By coming to nose to nose with my fear I have taken the power away from the situation, person or object that ’causes’ me to feel fear. It is more about me and less about them or that and as a result I feel more powerful.