A Closer Look at Fear

“If you are feeling both fear and excitement that means it’s your own life you are living and not someone else’s.” David Whyte

I love this quote. Such a great reminder that in the adventure of life we feel it all…..the fear and the excitement. It’s part of growth and learning. And yet sometimes fear, rather than just be present in our lives, can keep us from living our lives the way we want to. It’s all too common that fear holds us back, keeps us small and encourages hiding out.

It constricts and pulls energy in. It’s a distressing emotion that is aroused by a sense of danger whether it is real or imagined. When we are in fear we draw in, tighten, compress.

Fear is a master of disguise.

Sometimes we might be in fear but not know or recognize it. I remember one client sharing with me that he had a hard time sleeping and he felt a lot of anxiety. When I asked him what he was afraid of, he quickly answered that he was not afraid, he was just anxious. I think it’s important for us to call out fear and name it so that then we can deal with it. We had a discussion about it and I explained to my client that fear is fear and that it shows up in a lot of different ways. The end result is always to hold us back, keep us from moving in the direction of dreams or desires. I am not speaking here of fear that serves us. Fear that warns us of danger and is invaluable in keeping us safe…. I’m speaking to the fear that comes up when we step our of our comfort zone or go after something that is important to us. It’s the fear that holds us back from living our lives fully and creating the joy and the love we desire that needs to be released. We use other words for fear not realizing that underneath is fear. Here’s a short list…Do you experience any of these? If so, read on. I have a simple technique to share that will help you shift from fear to calm.

Lack of confidence
Cold feet
Self doubt

One of the best things you can do when you find yourself caught in fear is to create space! And one of the best ways to calm the mind and create space is through the breath. Dr. Andrew Weil has generously shared the 4-7-8 breath. I have used this for over 8 years and it’s helped me and my clients find a sense of equilibrium when caught in fear. It will help you shift from a constricted place to a more open and relaxed space. I encourage you to practice it two times daily for a week and notice what changes for you.

4-7-8 Breath

Dr. Andrew Weil

1. Sit or lie comfortably with your back straight and place your tongue in the yogic position (touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of the mouth, right behind the front teeth).  Keep your tongue there for the duration of the exercise.

2. Exhale completely through the mouth.

3. Close your mouth and inhale through the nose to the count of 4.

4. Hold your breath for the count of 7.

5. Exhale audibly through your mouth to the count of 8. Keep your tongue resting behind your front teeth.

6. Repeat three more time for a total of four cycles.

The key to this exercise is the 4-7-8 ratio.

Practice this two times a day and after practicing for a month, you can increase the number of breath cycles to eight.

Please share your thoughts. How has fear impacted your life? What would be possible for you if you could let go of fear and deepen a sense of calm? I’d love to hear from you!