Burn Through Fear with the Warmth of Presence

 

Let's look deep into the earth for inspiration on finding the place of purity and power inside ourselves.

Take a moment and become aware of the earth under your feet. And now go a bit deeper—what’s underneath that? Keep going deeper. What’s there, holding all of us?  

An ocean of lava.

Fiery, pure, radiant, pulsing. Capable of both creating and destroying our world, while always remaining true to itself. There is almost nothing on this planet that it can’t dissolve or carry.

What keeps us from an unbroken experience of our purity and power? Fear. We’re not talking about instinctive fear—for example, the kind you might experience while running from a predator. That sort of fear is committed to life and galvanizes you into powerful action.

This practice is about burning through the other type of fear. Paralyzing, persistent fear—the deep-rooted anxiety that slides in like an insidious reptile. Before we recognize what has happened, it’s already woven itself around us and bound us against our seat. From there, it terrorizes us with fantasy projections of what may happen and promises relief only if we succumb to its demands. Over time, we invariably start to believe what fear has bullied us into all these years. It becomes harder and harder to know what we really want, what we really think.  

We need to be able to burn down the structures that fear has built up in our mind-body so that we can live freely, on our own terms. The process can take a while, but every bit of effort bears fruit.

Practice: In a moment when you recognize that you are feeling stuck, confused, anxious, or otherwise overwhelmed by fear:

  1. Place one hand on your lower belly, where your fire and digestive organs are. Feel their warmth and power.
  2. Place another hand on the center of your chest and become aware of your heart center and the steadiness and warmth there.
  3. Simultaneously, stretch your toes and root into the solid ground under your feet.
  4. Stay present to the warmth and power in your core as you slowly start to breathe.
  5. Like lava does, let the warm oxygen-rich blood move freely through your body, dissolving what feels cold, constricted, and rigid.
  6. Let your attention become present and spacious. Instead of fixating on a single thought or sensation, look around and slowly take in your environment and the full range of sensory information.
  7. As you feel your body’s warmth and the space in your mind, take a moment to connect with your heart. Feel the pulsing core of love at the center of your chest and send that energy throughout your being. If it helps, you can even whisper to yourself, “I am here. I am here. I love you. I am here.”
  8. If fear tries to lock up your body and grab your attention back, keep sending more warmth, more breath, and more love throughout your being.

Throughout your week, notice how becoming present naturally burns through fear.


Image by Howard Ignatius on Flickr (cc)

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Shivani Ray

About

Shivani Ray is a multi-disciplinary artist, meditation teacher, and the founder of Living Sanskrit, an online school for traditional Indian wisdom and practices. Born both American and into the yogic tradition, she’s dedicated to helping steward and correctly utilize ancient indigenous wisdom in modern times and non-native contexts. She’s deeply curious about basically everything, which leads to lots of joyful trouble all over the world. In her resting hours, Shivani can usually be found outdoors, singing to trees or napping in moonlight.


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