What is the opposite of fear? If you’re like many people, you believe that the opposite of fear is courage or faith. And that’s a logical step. Lately, however, that belief no longer seems to fit me, and I’ve found myself growing into the belief that the opposite of fear is Love.
Trying to get rid of fear using brute force, sheer willpower or hatred may cover it for a while, but fear is still there, under the surface waiting to rise up again. Courage or faith can get you past a fearful situation and may even give you momentum to change. Loving your fears can dissolve them and transform your life.
OK. Let’s look at something you fear: spiders, traffic, your job, the dark, success, failure, the economy, whatever. Now become very still within yourself. Think of your fear and notice your thoughts, your body, your breathing. Chances are when you think of that which you are afraid, your body is responding with tightness, maybe pain or discomfort. Maybe you didn’t feel anything or the whole idea of thinking about what you fear sparked a desire to run away.
Whatever your experience in the last exercise, please try this one next: breathe calmly, and become aware of your breath, the physical experience of breathing, what it’s like in your body. If you can, try to feel your heartbeat; put your hand over your chest or find your pulse if necessary. Now imagine with each inhalation you’re breathing in love; allow each exhale to send love to something in front of you physically or mentally. After a few breaths like this, imagine that which you fear. Send it love. Give love to that creepy spider you saw in your home last night. Send love to your boss, your in-laws, your child or spouse. Breathe love to your bank, your checkbook, your mortgage and bills. Breathe love to the situation that scares you the most. Keep breathing love to it (or them) whenever you remember today. It may take time, it does with many of my own fears; and after a while you’ll notice that some, if not all, of your fear is softening or dissolving. You may find yourself doing that which you’ve been avoiding. Your thinking about whatever you’re afraid of will likely change, and with it the emotions and behaviors around it. This exercise can transform, not only your fears but your life.
Whatever your experiences after this exercise, I’d love to hear from you. If you enjoyed this kind of breathing, I encourage you to check out the Institute for Applied Meditation (IAM): http://www.appliedmeditation.org