Working with fear

Javelin trainHigh Speed Javelin – Photocredit: wikipedia

Following an acute experience of agoraphobia many years ago, one of my personal challenges (still) is working with fear and anxiety. I’ve explored various different therapies and techniques in my recovery and am so grateful that I came across the transformative power of Dru yoga, which has helped me so much. I’m now able to teach yoga classes, drive longer distances and travel on public transport – all of which would have seemed impossible when I was virtually housebound and having panic attacks. Although able to do most of the things I’d like to do, there are still times when the fear kicks in or I think the fear will kick in.

If I’m not careful, I start judging myself, thinking that I should be able to ‘deal with’ the fear and not be afraid of it still. But those habitual patterns seem hard to break.

So I thought I’d try a mindfulness course, and am half-way through an eight-week programme. A quote that our lovely tutor, Shelly at The Mindful Road, sent us this week reminds me to stop judging myself:

“Note that this journey is uniquely yours, no one else’s. So the path has to be your own. You cannot imitate somebody else’s journey and still be true to yourself. Are you prepared to honor your uniqueness in this way?” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn

Acceptance has been key for me, but more recently, I’ve been working with embracing the fear, rather than trying to banish it or push it away.  One of the concepts of mindfulness is to notice and be curious. So with the fear, to be curious about how it feels, how it changes my breathing and what thoughts appear. And at the same time to welcome it (which is really hard!).

In a video clip that we were asked to watch this week, Jon Kabat-Zinn demonstrated this in relation to pain – not pushing it away, but moving in closer. If you’re interested, take a look at the video, and go to around 31 minutes into the clip if you don’t have time to watch it all.

One of those things that I’d still like to do is to go on the Eurostar, and this weekend moved another step closer to that by going on the hi-speed rail link from St. Pancras to Ashford. 12 miles of tunnels out of London, so great practice for the Chunnel. Paris, here I come!

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2 thoughts on “Working with fear

  1. I love Jon K-Z’s book, ‘Full Catastrophe Living’. I read it about 12 years ago and actually have 2 copies as I lend it to people so often! When I was in hospital 10 years ago, very frightened, the night before an emergency operation, I kept thinking of him saying ‘how are you *right now*?’ and I would actually realise I was comfy, and warm, and not in pain, and then the fear would recede. I also often quote or perhaps paraphrase him ‘if you’re breathing, there’s more right with you than wrong with you’ – to remind myself and others not to fix on the things that aren’t working quite right – so often I do that in yoga, and I need to catch myself and remember all the amazing things that my body *can* do – not least just walk to a hall and get up and down off a yoga mat so easily.

  2. So true. Sometimes we often don’t even notice, let alone appreciate, our amazing bodies until something goes wrong. Recovering from the agoraphobia, I really appreciate my freedom to go places now; something I took for granted before I was ill.

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