When I started using meditation for fear and worry, I learned how to stop dwelling on possible problems in my life. I used a combination of meditation, CBT, mudras and mantras for fear, and they massively reduced my anxiety.
These techniques can help you to live a fearless life, which is essential for these reasons:
- Fearless people are liberated to do anything they like in life.
- Fearless people are confident enough to leave their dead-end job for a more lucrative one
- Fearless people ask out anyone they are interested in because they aren’t afraid of rejection
- Fearless people live true to themselves, rather than being slaves to society, because they are not afraid of being judged.
Sadly, most people do have fright in their minds. And removing fear from the mind is a challenge.
What fears do you have? Fear of flying? Death? Being alone? Heights?
There are so many different phobias today it is hard to keep up. Thankfully, there are also many ways to overcome phobias. We can use psychologically-proven methods like mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy.
And, of course, we can use a combination of mudras, mantras and meditation for fear. Let me show you how.
How I Used Meditation For Fear Exposure To Become Fearless
If we were all honest, we would openly admit that we all have certain fears and phobias and that our fright stops us from growing as human beings. The good news, however, is this: We can use meditation for fear. We can completely stop fear through meditation and exposure therapy.
One of the things I was personally most afraid of was the dentist. It’s something I had to deal with this Saturday just gone when I had my tooth extracted.
I’m humble enough to say that I’m not always fearless. There are occasions in my life when I have needed to do something, and it would be so much easier if I were fearless. My tooth is just one example.
I had a severe tooth problem that needed to be fixed immediately. But my dental phobia made me terrified of going to the dentist and getting it done. I suffered physical pain for weeks on end precisely because my phobia would not let me go to the dentist.
I had physical pain in my mouth. But the real pain was in my mind. I had ongoing panic attacks because of this phobia [read: Meditation And Yoga for Panic Attacks].
I lived a personal hell for weeks when I could have simply gone to the dentist and got my problem fixed—which I did do, eventually.
I am not proud of this at all. But I think if we are honest, we all have our fears and they are almost always irrational.
For instance. There’s phobias of:
- The dark
- Relationship breakdowns
Those are some of the most common phobias in the world. And they are all irrational. I mean, it’s not like that little spider is really going to hurt you (unless it’s a Black Widow, of course).
And yet even though phobias are irrational, they have a severe effect on us. Just ask the person who would do anything to go abroad on holiday but is unable to board an aeroplane because of their phobia of flying. That’s a huge loss purely because of an irrational phobia.
Not only this, but phobias cause intense anxiety too [read: Meditation To Stop Anxiety]
So, what do you do about it?
My answer was a combination of meditation and fear exposure. With these two techniques, you can remove fear from your mind. It is only because of both these techniques that I was finally able to go to the dentist and get my problem solved.
What are meditation and fear-exposure?
Meditation is the act of focusing the mind on the present moment. There are many different ways of doing this, randing from Buddhist breathing technique to mindfulness-based stress reduction. Meditation is a way of training the mind to remove certain problems, such as phobias, and also to develop certain strengths, such as courage.
Fear exposure is precisely what it sounds like: exposing yourself to your phobias . And if that doesn’t sound very pleasant… well… it isn’t supposed to. It is intentionally challenging. But it is also a potent technique to overcome phobias.
Exposure retrains your brain to stop sending fear-signals anytime you go near a perceived threat (you know, that nervous feeling you get when you try to face things that scare you).
When your brain perceives something frightening, it enters “fight or flight” mode, which is a defensive mechanism designed to give you the adrenalin rush you need to get out of danger. The problem is it doesn’t just do this with real frights (like an armed robber). It also does this with irrational things like being scared of flying or phobia of the dentist.
A part of the brain called the Amygdala creates this fight-or-flight response . The Amygdala is always scanning your environment for possible dangers. And when it perceives a threat (whether that danger is real or imagined), it sends you into fight-or-flight mode. It makes you want to fight or run away, and gives you a surge of energy. But, when you end up running away from your perceived phobia—when you run away from that flight, or the spider, or the dentist—you retrain your Amygdala to continue to send that fight-or-flight signal.
The only way to change this is to expose yourself to danger without running away or fighting. And you can only do this when you do genuinely perceive danger.
This is why the best way to overcome fear is to face it head-on. Hence “Exposure therapy”.
It isn’t pleasant. You can, however, make this somewhat more comfortable by using meditation for fear too.
By using meditation, you can create a more relaxed mental state in which you can face the things that frighten you. This will retrain your Amygdala. In other words, meditation can prepare you for fear-exposure therapy. And that is precisely what I did to overcome my fear of dentists.
If you simply attempt to face your worst phobia head-on on your first try, you will likely have a panic attack.
A better strategy is to combine meditation and fear exposure. To do this you will want to create a fear-exposure hierarchy. This is a scale of one to ten of your phobia. So, for instance, for me, level 10 was sitting in the dentist chair having my tooth pulled. That’s the worst it could be. And had I started there I would have had a panic attack and, honestly, I probably would have run away. That’s why you want to start with a level-one fear.
Level one is the least amount of fright that you could expose yourself too while still facing your anxiety to some degree. If you’re dealing with fear of death, for instance, you might look at the brochure of a funeral home, or another low-scale representation of your fear.
Let me show you how to do this.
Grab a piece of paper (do it now) and write a list from one to ten. Then break your list into stages where one is the least frightening thing you could do, and ten is the most terrifying. Then enter fear levels 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on.
For instance, for my example of dental fear, I had:
1: Reading an article about tooth extraction
2: Looking at pictures of it
3: Watching a video of it
4: A meditation for fear exposure (see below) in which I visualised the process
5: Another meditation for fear exposure in which I imagined it being painful but getting through anyway
6: Talking to the dentist over the phone about it
7: Scheduling a preliminary check-up
8: Going to the check-up
9: Scheduling the operation
10: Going to the operation
The challenge then is to start from level one and work your way up through your fear-exposure hierarchy until you’ve conquered level 10. And then rewarding yourself with cookies!
For some fears, you will find that you can’t literally do fear exposure therapy in real life. For instance, with fear of flying, you can’t expose yourself to being on a plane without getting on a plane. So it becomes a catch-22. Because how do you expose yourself to your fear without just doing the thing you’re afraid of?. This, however, is where you can use meditation for fear exposure.
Sometimes you will find that you can’t directly expose yourself to fear. For instance, if you’re afraid of flying, you can’t face that fear until you get on a plane. So how do you prepare yourself? The answer is: You can use meditation for fear exposure. This is what I did with my dental phobia.
What you are going to do is visualise the thing you are afraid of. For me, this meant imagining sitting in the dentist’s chair having my tooth pulled out. I imagined this scene in detail. I visualised the sights that I would see, the sounds I would hear… and yes, the pain that I would feel. I imagined this scene for over twenty minutes. While I was doing this, I made sure I kept breathing deep and in a relaxed way so that I was always in control of my fear and anxiety.
By doing this, I trained my mind to remain calm while facing the horror being in the dentist’s chair. This completely retrained my mind to process that fear differently. And judging by the hole I now have in the gum where my left molar tooth was: It worked.
Worked for me!
I might have pain in my jaw right now. But I also have pride in my soul. Because I managed to conquer my phobia. And it was only with meditation and fear exposure therapy that I was able to be successful.
What are you afraid of?. Come on, be honest, you know there is at least one thing that frightens you. And it could be holding you back in serious ways. So maybe it’s time to try meditation and fear exposure so you can conquer that fear and grow.
Mantras For Fear
As well as using meditation for fear, mantras can help too.
Mantras are spiritual words or phrases with special benefits. (similar to affirmations).
Here are the best mantras for fear:
Non-Religious Mantras For Fearlessness
Recite each of these fear-mantras ten times:
- “I liberate my mind from fear and negativity.”
- “I do not listen to fear in my mind.”
- “I am fearless and immovable.”
- “I embrace hope, love and optimism.”
- “I am an optimistic and hopeful person.”
Have you recited each of those ten times? Excellent. Those affirmations are a great way to start to stop being afraid.
Let’s go further.
Many sacred mantras are said to stop fear completely.
Of these, the most powerful is the following:
om shoun shokvinashibhyam Namaha
- Sit in lotus position on the floor in a dark room
- Close your eyes
- Recite this mantra 108 times.
This is a sacred mantra to stop fear.
Mudras For Fear
Mudras are hand gestures used in Hinduism, Yoga, and Buddhism.
Mudras have spiritual properties that create beneficial states of body, mind and spirit.
The correct mudra for fear is the Abhaya Mudra, which is a mudra used for spiritual protection .
This is the mudra Buddha made when a bull came charging at him one day while he was meditating.
The Buddha was not afraid even though his life was in danger. He calmly raised his hand into Abhaya mudra gesture, and the bull stopped its charge.
Try combining the Abhaya mudra while meditating on fear. This will altogether remove fear from the mind.
Buddhism On Fear
“The whole secret to existence is to have no fear.”
Whether you’re afraid of flying, afraid of public speaking, fearful of death or anything else, fear is entirely in your mind. And if fear is only in your mind, you can control it.
Zen warriors live fearless lives because they do exercises to remove fear from the mind.
They start by asking a straightforward question. What causes us to be frightened in the first place? If it is in your mind, how did it get there?
To answer this question, let’s look at an example.
This is a classic Zen story that teaches about how fear gets into your mind.
One day, a young boy went with his father to climb a tall hill. He was awfully excited because he’d never been to such a high place before. He wondered what it would be like to look down on his home from such a height.
The boy and his father climbed the hill. Looking down from a great height, the boy felt powerful, as though he were above the world. His mind was abuzz with the sense of height. Then, all of a sudden, he felt a sharp stinging sensation in his leg. It was agonising. His head was bursting with pain. The boy looked down and saw a snake. He fainted with fright and woke up in bed, safe but in pain and terrified by what had happened. He’d never been to such a height before. He’d been excited about it, but it had only led to pain. Every time he thought about heights from that moment on, he felt a pain in his leg and fear in his mind.
This is an example of how fears are created.
Logically, the boy needn’t be afraid of heights because it was the snake that bit him. He should be scared of snakes. But then, the mind most often is not logical. Through association, the boy has acquired a fear of heights. But importantly, the fear is only in his mind.
What this teaches us
- Your fear is based on an association
- Your mind applies fear to the wrong thing (the boy attached worry to heights rather than spiders)
Here’s an example from my own life…
When I was sixteen, I asked a girl out. I was timid. It was the first time I had ever done it. She, however, said no. Which was fine. At that point, I was just happy that I had found the guts to ask someone out. But she then went and told her friends. And because she was so popular, the entire year found out. Including bullies. And they decided to humiliate me for it in a school assembly.
I was then afraid to ask anyone out, in case everyone found out and ended up ridiculing me for it. My mind associated asking someone out with being humiliated in front of a lot of people. You can see how that mindset came about. But it was nevertheless illogical. The odds on the situation happening again are very low. However, a fear was produced in me that day and it took a lot of meditation to overcome that fear.
The things that frighten you are all in your mind. And you can stop fear with meditation, mantras and mudras.