Mindfulness Meditation Challenge Day Four
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. –Franklin D. Roosevelt
Let me ask you a quick question. And I want you to really think about this.
What is your greatest fear?
Now let me ask you another question…one that just might change your life.
How is this fear holding you back?
The truth is that one’s biggest fear is often a roadblock in the great highway of life.
Don’t get me wrong-some fears are healthy. For example, if you smell smoke in your home, you will become fearful and check around to make sure there isn’t a fire. This is not the type of fear I am talking about.
I am talking about that little fear that begins as a whisper and grows into a shout. As it takes on a life of its own, it becomes your greatest fear-one that can seem too difficult to face.
So just what does a greatest fear look like?
One’s greatest fear can be rooted in an event-like flying or public speaking. Or it can be rooted in an emotional concept-like falling in love and being hurt or the fear that a loved one will die.
Our first response is often to resist facing such fears. And why wouldn’t we? We naturally want to resist feelings of discomfort.
Here’s where the problem lies…Resistance only makes things worse.
With avoidance, fear grows and escalates. As a result, we end up with a distorted, circus mirror effect in which our original fear is greatly twisted, thus making us further resist.
When dealing with your greatest fear, you must ask yourself two big questions. First, can I control this? And second, is this fear serving me well?
This is where mindfulness comes in.
The key to dealing with our greatest fear is mindfulness itself. That’s because mindfulness allows us to be present with it-little by little.
This takes time and a lot of practice.
Today, I want you to begin this process by trying one of the two following exercises. These are challenging-so don’t be surprised if you struggle.
Are you ready?
Exercise One (10 minutes)
This is the easier of today’s two meditation options. If you’re looking for a simple meditation, try this.
Write down your greatest fear. Follow it with one paragraph about just why this event or concept scares you.
Now we are going to try a short meditation exercise to begin to face this fear.
Set a timer for ten minutes. Pick a mantra of your choice beginning with the words “I am.”
Your mantra could be “I am strong. I am courageous.” Or it could be “I am able to face my fear.” There is no right or wrong mantra.
Begin by focusing on your mantra. Breathe in…I am (insert your individual wording). Breathe out…I am (insert your individual wording). Focus on your breath until you feel comfortable.
Now begin to allow your fear to enter your mind. How does this feel? Continue to focus on your breath for groundedness. You may feel uncomfortable-and that’s ok. Your goal is to simply begin to be present with your fear. Meditate for 10 minutes.
Congratulations on completing day four of this challenge. See you tomorrow!
Exercise Two (12 minutes)
This is the more complex of today’s two meditation options. I suggest this version for those of you who are experienced with meditation or for new meditators seeking a challenge.
I want you to think about what your greatest fear is. Now pick one aspect of this fear.
DO NOT pick the scariest aspect of this fear. Pick a simpler aspect-one that you can sit with. For example, if flying is your greatest fear, pick the aspect of turbulence or perhaps just going to the airport.
Now I want you to sit for about five minutes with your attention focused on your breath. Use your breath for groundedness. You can even count breaths if this helps you focus. (Inhale….1… Exhale…Two…)
When you feel ready, bring the anxiety-provoking situation into your awareness. Imagine an open space in your awareness where the situation can be present.
Start by just holding there. Aim to keep your attention on this fear for about five minutes. But please keep some of your attention on your breath to stay anchored in the present moment.
Pay close attention to your thoughts while you are focusing on the anxiety-causing situation. First, notice what the situation looks like in your mind’s eye. Is there an image? Is it a series of thoughts? What happens over time? Does the situation stay sharp in your awareness? Or does it get fuzzy and indistinct? Is it hard to keep it in your awareness?
Observe this fear. How does this feel? Simply be present with it.
End the meditation by refocusing your attention on your breath for about one to two minutes.
Congratulations on completing day four of this meditation challenge! See you tomorrow…