We know intellectually that fear, like all our feelings and perceptions, are just a product of the mind. There may in fact be some rational reason to fear something, but the fear we feel is not rational, it has grown exponentially into an out-of-control, irrational monster inside us.
There are many practices that are taught to free ourselves from fear. Some like Pema Chodron talk about embracing fear. I must say I find that difficult. Embracing your trauma is one thing: the things that happened to you, and that helped make you the person you are. But embracing fear is embracing a misplaced emotional reaction. I can embrace the fact that I am fearful and have compassion for myself, but embracing the fear itself, no.
Some talk about examining the fear, picking it apart. Sometimes when we do that we will find that the fear we experience is totally irrational. But frequently, as I’ve just stated, the are very rational grounds for us to be fearful. So that doesn’t work for me either.
I advocate another path … being aware that fear is just a product of the mind, that it is not part of your true self, and so say, “Not me!” Imagine experiencing something that you fear and reacting to it with dispassion, saying, “Yeah, that’s not good, but I’m going to be ok.” See the experience through your heart, not your mind. If you feel fear rising, never voice your fear and so give it force. Do what Anna does in The King and I; she whistles a happy tune. A great way of diverting the mind from fear, as it cannot be two places at the same time. Use that moment to connect with your heart.
Our thoughts have great power. It you read my post, “The Power of Giving Voice and Thought,” you will see how this power can be in our control. How we can keep from being led by our habit-energies. The key is to be aware and to stop when fear rises. Only we can choose to stop ourselves, rather than be carried away by the force of emotion.
When one is free of fear, then one is fearless. Which means not just being free of fear, but as a result being able to proceed in directions one chooses without worrying about the outcome, being brave, courageous. That is being fearless, and it opens the world to you.