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4 Tips for Dealing With Fear

Photo by EDUARDO IZQUIERDO
Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. ~Unknown

From the minute I woke up yesterday, I was consumed by fear. The fear had no clear face, and I couldn’t tell what had sparked it or how it might be tamed from a blazing fire to a small flame.

It left me with a gnawing pit in my stomach, which I recognized as guilt and anxiety. Everything from that point forward felt off and out of place.

I couldn’t see that nothing in the present moment was wrong, only that the immediate future was unsure, and I had lost my firm grip on the control I believed I had.

So I attacked.

The Art of Detachment & Surrender

Photo by EDUARDO IZQUIERDO
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. ~Buddhist Proverb

I wasn’t in the best of spirits when I walked into my local yoga studio for class on that blustery Monday evening. A slew of perceived problems, large and small, were spinning through my mind. I felt frustrated, helpless, and most of all, lost.

I wanted direction and guidance; I longed for the smallest bit of certainty that the decisions I’d had to make earlier would be the right ones. And when I considered relaxing and surrendering, I was unable to do either.

I was trying to run away from myself and my troubled mind, but I wasn’t getting anywhere.

Ironically enough, I’d published a post earlier that day about the fact that we all struggle with runaway minds and hearts. I’d written about the ways in which we are tempted to disconnect — to rebel against the love that surrounds us always.

The post emphasized compassion, forgiveness and celebration — all the things I wasn’t offering myself as I began my yoga practice.

The Art of Letting Go

Photo by Rosie Hardy
When the mind discovers that you are no longer afraid of its content, it will leave you alone.

There I was again — lying in bed paralyzed by emotion. Constant noise clamored for the attention of my awareness like an uninvited circus.

Calliope music screeched a cacophony of self-criticism as lions roared and circled below me, eagerly awaiting my plunge from the high wire after losing my delicate balance between safety and self-destruction.

What could I have done to deserve this?

I lay there, unable to move physically, but tortured by a violent mental fight that raged within me. My mind wrestled with intricate contortions in an attempt to keep its balance when what it really needed was stillness.

My consciousness kept trying to put out fire with fire, to silence thought with more thought. But these were only flames of a different color.

Be More, Do Less

Photo by Jon Jacobsen
It is the stillness that will save and transform the world. ~Eckhart Tolle

Several years ago I lived with a good friend who spoke English as her third language. While she spoke fluently after years of experience, there was one phrase I used that she had trouble grasping at first: Just be.

As in, “After we finish grocery shopping, let’s go to the beach and just be.” She’d always want to finish the sentence. “Just be … relaxing. Just be … writing.”

When I explained what I meant, that I would really just like to sit, observe and exist, without any expectations, she was delighted.

This, she declared, was a very un-American, very un-Western thing to do, which would make sense that why after fifteen years of learning English she’d never heard the phrase.

How to Find Your Unique Strength

Photo by Hannes Caspar
We grow primarily through our challenges, especially those life-changing moments when we begin to recognize aspects of our nature that make us different from the family and culture in which we have been raised. ~Caroline Myss

When Oprah Winfrey interviewed Jane Fonda for The Oprah Magazine, these two amazing women touched briefly on the subject of caring about what others think of them.

Oprah: I’ve read that, like me, you’ve always struggled with the disease to please.

Jane: I used to walk into a party and think, Oh, my God, will I be interesting enough? Will people like me? Will I be pretty enough? Do I fit in? Now I go into a room and think, do I really want to be here? Are these people I want to spend a few hours with? It’s a big shift.

Oprah: How did you make the shift?

Jane: Hard work. Growing up.

Jane didn’t elaborate on her answer, and I’m not qualified to speak for her. But I think we can all relate to how she used to feel.

Flow – The Secret to Happiness

Flow is the natural, effortless unfolding of our life in a way that moves us towards wholeness and harmony. ~Charlene Belitz & Meg Lundstrom

The majority of the books that sit on my shelves are ones that I have read, or deliberately decided not to read after losing interest after a page or two. So I was a little taken aback when I found one sitting smack dab in the middle of various dog-eared novels that I hadn’t read yet—The Power of Flow.

In all likelihood it was a transplant from my parent’s extensive self-help collection, one that must have snuck into one of my boxes. Yet, I hadn’t noticed it until I was—conveniently—experiencing stagnation in many areas of my life.

I’d say this is what “divine timing” is all about.

I spent the next few hours swimming in the pages, recalling all the times in my life when things seemed to fall in to place and doors opened without any physical effort on my part–the times when I was completely and totally “in the flow.”

The World’s Simplest Meditation

Photo by Shannnnon
Editor’s Note

I did this meditation once with a stranger at a seminar years ago, during which I found myself with tears, much like what Richard describes below. Check it out. Try it with a friend.

If you want to know God Then turn your face toward your friend And don’t look away. ~Rumi

I sat looking directly into the young woman’s eyes.

She looked right back.

After a few minutes, tears began flowing uncontrollably down her cheeks.

We kept looking.

Twenty minutes into our gazing session, the tears stopped.

“What happened for you?” I asked gently.

How to Find Fulfillment (with Sarah McLean)

Photo by Isaac Hernandez
Editor’s Note

The following is a conversation between Cat and her meditation teacher Sarah McLean. This is truly an inspiring piece. As I was editing this interview, I felt an inner shift happening within me and with it came a sense of serenity and peace. Hope this inspires you as it did for me. Sarah is truly an incredible and powerful human being. I look forward to learning from her. Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this interview.

Meditation is an essential travel partner on your journey of personal transformation. Meditation connects you with your soul, and this connection gives you access to your intuition, your heart­felt desires, your integrity, and the inspiration to create a life you love. ~Sarah McLean

A few years ago my husband and I drove to Sedona, Arizona to seek out a private mediation session.

At that time, I was embarking on a self-discovery journey, in deep inquiry about how to lead a more meaningful life. I had this fundamental restlessness that no longer had me fully engaged in daily life – I was uninspired by the complicated upkeep of the corporate hustle that was rewarded solely by material comforts.

Something was off. And I was seeking for answers.

The End to Worry

Photo by JUCO
Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight. ~Benjamin Franklin

A friend and I were on a beautiful hike through the redwood. It was early morning, and the mist still hung in the trees, but the sunlight had started streaming through the branches, little beams of heaven.

“I hope I locked the car,” she wondered out loud.

We both looked at each other and started laughing. Here we were in arguably one of the most beautiful and special places on the planet, and she couldn’t help but worry about the car doors.

The Story of Expanded Awareness

Photo by Anna Gay
Families are the compass that guide us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter. ~Brad Henry

There’s a vase full of roses on our dining table. Each week it’s a different color or a new variety. The first time I had the roses there, as soon as they turned slightly droopy I threw them out. Why not, right? I mean they weren’t doing anyone any good, looking so old.

One day, instead of throwing them out, I trimmed them a little bit and put them in a smaller vase. They perked right up and thrived for quite a while before it was time to throw them out.

As time went by, I got wiser. As the roses aged, I found a smaller vase to fit the trimmed stems. Then later transferred them into a mini vase. Finally I floated the blossoms alone, minus the stems, in a large white bowl to accentuate their beauty.

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