Facing Your Fears: Simple Steps to Overcome Fear

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At last week’s Mind Body Soul session, I gave a talk about overcoming fear. For those of you who missed it, here’s a summary of that talk. I hope you find it useful!

Introduction:

  • There are 3 levels of reality – physical (body level), mental (mind level) and spiritual (soul level).
  • Some fears are desirable and essential, i.e. when there is actual danger (such as a car heading towards you at high speed).
  • For most of our fears, there is a small trigger but an exaggerated response. In other words, our mind “over-imagines” and makes the situation worse.
  • Fear can cause us to become petrified or paralysed, which is obviously very unhealthy.
  • Most of the fears that we face in today’s world do not have tangible physical stimuli – they are abstract fears, e.g. the fear of losing one’s job. To deal with our fears, we therefore have to deal with fear’s control over our mind. We can do this by understanding and applying the four principles of I.D.E.A.

Identity:

  • We are not the body or the mind but an indestructible soul.
  • Sometimes our reaction to a fearful situation puts us in more danger than the situation itself, e.g. people panicking during a crowded situation and causing a stampede.
  • To prevent this from happening, we need to get our consciousness out of the mind and raise it to the level of the soul.
  • This can be achieved by regularly reading, hearing and discussing the spiritual teachings of the Bhagavad-gita, which remind us of our true identity.

Divinity:

  • There is a divine power in control, and He is more powerful than any problem we may face.
  • We should turn to the Supreme Soul for protection from fear, as He is the only one with the power to save us from all problems.
  • We need to practise bhakti-yoga not just as a ritual but to make our mind spiritual. When faced with danger, we will then be able to disengage our consciousness from the fearful stimuli and focus on Krishna. In this way, the fear will not become exaggerated.

Energy:

  • Positive thinking and emotions give us the energy to deal with the problem.
  • Our energy is not just the physical energy that we acquire from food – it also comes from the consciousness and emotions that we experience. For example, if we become discouraged and depressed, we will have no energy even if we possess physical energy.
  • When we become overcome by fear, our energy is misdirected and we either become petrified (“freeze”) or we panic and over-react (“flight”).
  • When we freeze, we think we cannot do anything – this mindset needs to be challenged. We should do whatever is within our power to do. Even if it is a very small thing, we can start with that. This gives us energy, and with that energy we can perform activities.

Activity:

  • No matter how bad a situation may appear to be, we always have the power to do something about it.
  • We should start by doing what we can. This disengages our consciousness from the mind and brings it down to the level of the body, thus reducing fear’s control over our mind and consciousness. We will then be able to act more effectively.
  • Even if we cannot remove the cause of the fear, we can remove the fear’s control over us through activity.

Summary – How to deal with any fear:

  • Use your energy to do what you can. For example, if you are afraid that you may lose your job, you can try to become better at your work. Even though the question of whether you keep your job is ultimately not in your control but in the control of your superiors, this can empower you and lessen the fear’s hold over you.
  • Start with small steps, and you will find that you will eventually be able to overcome the fear.
  • In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna teaches Arjuna about his identity as an eternal soul, and explains that everything is happening according to His divine plan. Arjuna is an expert archer, so Krishna explains that the best use of his energy would be to utilise that talent for a godly cause (in Arjuna’s case, that meant fighting for righteousness and protecting society).
  • We can become confident instead of fearful if we understand the principles of the Bhagavad-gita and apply them in our life.

PLEASE NOTE: this talk was heavily based on a talk by Chaitanya Charan, who has contributed several articles to the Krishna Wisdom blog. Here’s a link to his original talk (audio and video): https://www.thespiritualscientist.com/2019/09/facing-our-fears-4-principles-idea-acronym/

Nikhil has spent most of his life trying to figure out his purpose. After graduating from university in 2012 with a degree in Accounting and Finance, he worked at his local council for a few years, but always felt that something was missing. After studying an in-depth course on spirituality at Bhaktivedanta Manor, however, he felt that he had found what he was looking for. Desiring to share spiritual wisdom with others, he adopted the life of a full-time monk in 2018. He has a passion for creative and reflective writing, poetry, art, singing, and playing the piano and harmonium.

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