Commusings: You Are Fearless by Kimberly SnyderJan 22, 2022
Hello Commune Community,
What is fear but a negative anticipated memory?
Yes, fear is an involuntary physiological response to a perceived threat, one that had great utility on the Serengeti. Fear can also be felt as awe or reverence for something powerful – like an invisible, yet bearded, omnipotent Creator.
But how often is fear simply a phantom of our own projection – the casting of the gnarly past into a bleak future experienced in the everlasting present? But, of course, tomorrow never comes. And the feeling of yesterday only occurs in the present moment of today.
So, this prickly restrictive sensation that turns the stomach, lumps the throat, limits our actions and clouds our better judgment is simply transitory phenomena arising in awareness – and then subsiding. Fear is an uninvited dinner guest that pilfers the powder room perfume and slips out the back door.
But, too often, we don’t witness fear’s fleeting impermanence. Instead, we become it. We think … “I AM scared” as if “being” scared is feasible.
It is the identification with emotions that forms the ego, the part of you that sees self through the eyes of others. Our fear of failure and deficiency is rooted in the power we cede to other people’s judgment. It is too easy to be the seen and not the seer.
The great sage, Yogananda, knew the ego to be the little self, not the True Self, the Atman.
The ego-self is a cast member, a “dramatis personae,” in the great divine play (lila) of life, but during the performance gets lost in its role and the distracting allure of the physical world. Through Kriya sadhana (breathwork and meditation), one may remember one’s True Self, outside the vacillations of location and form. This is moksha, liberation from fear.
Our scribe today is a dear friend and student of Yogananda, Kimberly Snyder. This excerpt from her new book is part of the guru-student tradition in which knowledge is passed down and adapted for its day. Kimberly is a lighthouse in a tempestuous time.
Always here – until I’m not – at [email protected] and follow my exhortations on IG @jeffkrasno.
In love, include me,
• • •
You Are Fearless
By Kimberly Snyder
Adapted from her new book You Are More Than You Think You Are
“Darkness may reign in a cave for thousands of years, but bring in the light, and the darkness vanishes as though it had never been.”— Paramahansa Yogananda
As you read the words “you are fearlessness,” you might think, “Not me! I have fear about not having enough money, ending up alone, getting some weird disease, and a million other things.” I completely sympathize. But beneath all of these worries is the courageousness of your True Self that you can learn to tap into at any given moment.
Of course, some trepidation is healthy and is ingrained in who we are to keep us safe. We want to maintain a sensible fear of rabid-looking raccoons and driving too fast during a thunderstorm. But fear-based anxiety that stems from feelings of inadequacy—such as the fear of speaking your mind, fear of being misunderstood, or fear of failure—is all rooted in being disconnected from your True Self. When you feel you are not enough, when you feel that you are not lovable, it means you are identifying with your ego. This is the antithesis of your True Self.
Your ego is there for a reason; it unifies your experiences and gives them context. It’s part of your humanness. But when the ego is out of whack (which most of our egos are), it takes on the role of a false self, a trickster, that likes to think it knows what it’s talking about but is really reacting out of fear and not wisdom. The True Self is love and wholeness. Fear often comes from a feeling that we are missing something. The True Self misses nothing.
When you learn to embody fearlessness, life starts to take on a new dimension. You’ll pursue what you want with your full power, instead of sabotaging yourself with doubts. Fearlessness lets you walk forward in a straight line through the forest of life, instead of having to constantly stop and take side routes. When you embody this part of you, you will wake up to seeing life as an exciting adventure versus a horror show.
FEARLESSNESS AS A SOUL QUALITY
In Yogananda’s interpretation and commentary on one of the most important ancient scriptures from India, the Bhagavad Gita, he outlines a list of 26 soul qualities that allow human beings to reach their fullest potential. Guess which one is listed first? Fearlessness!
You might be surprised to find fearlessness as a primary spiritual quality to develop and call on in time of need. But Yogananda’s wisdom teaches us that we can’t possibly go deep into our connection with our True Self, with life, with our meditations, if we are riddled with fear and worry. Fear is a major obstacle to manifesting our dreams, but once our lives begin to flow, when we learn how to align with each now moment, we can let go of the past and obliterate any anxiety about the future.
To be limitless and experience union with Bliss, the goal of yoga, means you have to let go. Let go of the self-consciousness that so many of us experience. Let go of our reactions to the sensations and experiences that spring up around us at any given moment. Do we really have to harp on about the grumpy shopper who was rude to us in the grocery store all day long? Do we really have to react to every social media post that gets under our skin? I don’t mean we should stick our fingers in our ears and wear a blindfold all day. You are going to keep sensing what is around you, but you don’t have to take life so seriously.
You must also let go of putting all your faith and attention on what you can see with your physical eyes and what you do in your usual daily life. Fear can take hold only if you believe there isn’t anything bigger than the everyday tumultuous storm of daily events that can toss you around. If all you believe in is this level of life, then sure, it can seem super scary. There are viruses, earthquakes, shifting economies, political unrest, global warming, and accidents. There’s also the fear of not making it, of not having the right resources or skills to make your dreams happen, not to mention jealousy, which is fear of not having enough. There is fear of being alone. Fear of no one caring about you. Fear of having too much to do. Fear of success. Fear of failure.
All the “what if’s” can feel like a lot, because they are a lot. We don’t need to overstimulate our nervous system with all of this fear. It only leads to accelerated aging, disease, and death.
WHEN THE BAND-AIDS GET RIPPED OFF
One of the hardest things I have ever gone through was breaking up with my first son Emerson’s father. My partner and I weren’t moving forward in a way that was beneficial for either of us. Without going into detail, I knew that it was time to separate. It took an act of great faith to move out on my own with Emerson, who was not yet two years old. I had to trust that everything was going to be okay, because at the time it really did not feel like it. I used to cry in my closet after putting Emerson to bed, because my life was so not turning out the way I planned and wanted it to.
Breakups, especially if they involve a child, are beyond difficult (that is the understatement of the year). And I remember feeling shell-shocked. I also started to panic that I may never find lasting love. One of my biggest fears started creeping back in—that I was not lovable. Especially as a single mom.
For about five months, following the advice of one of the monks I met with at the Self-Realization Fellowship (the organization Yogananda founded, which is centered around disseminating the Kriya Yoga teachings), I treated my home as a sacred place. I dove deep into rereading Yogananda’s teachings, read spiritual scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita and the New Testament of the Bible, and I meditated. Oh boy, did I meditate. It was my solace and my happy place.
In this rock bottom place of my life, I started to rise back up. And with that rising, came trust. Real trust, for the first time in my life. I began to trust the True Self within me. I trusted I could go through pretty much anything and be okay. It was then I began to realize that I could always look to that True Self for comfort and security, without having to seek it outside of myself. Even if my life at the time, as I saw it, was in shambles.
BRINGING THE FEAR INTO THE LIGHT
Now, I know I’ve spent the last 1,000 words talking about getting rid of our fears, but it is important to explore the parts of yourself from which you may have disconnected, including your fears. This may seem a little contradictory. Perhaps, but as clichéd as it may sound, it is only by facing our fears that we have the chance to conquer them. You may not even be aware of some of your deep fears unless go rappelling into the cave of your subconscious.
For instance, when I started meditating, I had no idea yet as to what was at the root of so many of my motivations in life. Back in high school, I drove myself and those around me bananas because I wanted to be the captain of the track team, president of the school, and number one in my class. This heavily achievement-focused mindset pursued me into adulthood.
I never looked at these goals as being fueled by fear until the focus and stillness of meditation lead to a breakthrough. I mean, I cracked open and found that at the heart of my overachieving were deep fears: fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough, fear that I wasn’t lovable, fear that I was never skinny enough, fear that my boobs were too small, fear that I would be left out because I wasn’t cool enough, fear that I was not smart enough, fear that I wouldn’t make my life a success, fear of not being taken seriously. I wanted people to pay attention to me, to praise me, because I didn’t feel like I was someone whom others could find interesting, attractive, or intelligent. I feared I was nothing.
That’s some dark shit. But part of the process of releasing fears is to probe through the inner muck.
Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, often discussed the idea that everyone has a shadow, which he said were all the unconscious, disowned parts of us. He believed we all tend to reject or remain ignorant of the parts of ourselves we don’t like—and don’t like to admit are part of us too. We must muster the courage to look within ourselves, and really see. If we don’t, then we aren’t living from our True Selves, our true nature. Yogananda says, “True self-analysis is the greatest art of progress.”
Take a deep breath, and let’s go bravely looking into those shadows.
As we do this, imagine your shadow is a well. Psychiatrist Dr. David Hawkins says there is a bottom to the well. Eventually, if you keep doing the work, you will get to the bottom of the well of fear, darkness, and insecurity.
The parts of our practice—including meditation, pranayama, creating true stillness, concentrating our energy within—shed light on the shadow and bring it into focus. You may start to notice tendencies, reactions, triggers within yourself of which you were never consciously aware, and these will give you clues to keep digging down to the root of what fears are actually held in your shadow.
If you never take the time to examine your deepest fears, you won’t truly begin to understand your motivations, your patterns of moving through the world, your very self. Maybe you keep attracting guys who cheat on you or treat you poorly, because deep down you have a fear that you aren’t good enough for a quality man and that’s all you deserve. Or maybe you don’t go for the career you are so passionate about, because you have a fear you’re not good enough to make it after all. Perhaps you might say that you don’t want something (having kids, working as a full-time Pilates instructor, getting married, starting your own website, and so on), because you really do want that very thing, and you’re fearful that you won’t be able to get it. Maybe you keep getting cosmetic work done here and there because you can’t shake this nagging fear that you’re getting old and you’re not going to find someone (or hold on to someone) who will love you.
If you can start to imagine what it would be like to be free from all of these fears, then you can start to imagine a new reality. When you even consider the possibility, it’s the beginning of converting a potential into your reality.
SELF-REFLECTION: GETTING THE FEARS OUT OF THE SHADOWS
- At the top of a fresh page in your journal, write, “My fears include:” and just start writing. Let your writing flow. Your list might include things like the fears of not having enough money to get through the year, getting old and saggy, the fear of never being able to have your own family, the fear of losing a loved one. Keep going.
- Next, write at the top of the next page, “I am fearful of feeling:” and then again, create a list! This one might include fears around things like feeling left out (aka the notorious FOMO phenomenon), feeling lonely, feeling you never reached your full potential, feeling rejected, feeling stupid, and so on. As you go deeper (now or in a future repeated practice session), your list might also include not feeling loved or lovable, not feeling enough or good enough, not feeling important enough to be listened to or seen, and so on. Get them all out in the open!
- Okay, you’re doing great. Really! Nothing to fear here! Just one last list. On a third page, write, “Without any of these fears, I would feel:” Maybe you’ve never even considered what it would feel like to live without any fear. Seriously, what would you do, how would you act, how would you dance, sing, make love, work, hang out with your friends if you could not fail in any of your endeavors? How would you treat the people around you? How would you treat yourself? How would you wake up in the morning? How would you interact with those around you? Just let it all loose! Feel into it. Feel the liberation, the expansion, the confidence that would come about without any of those fears. Close your eyes and really feel it.
- Now, shred the first two pieces of paper up into tiny pieces, with the intention that you are now moving into the courageous, fearless place within your True Self. Keep the third in a safe place where you can access it, like in your journal or folded up on your altar (even if you don’t call it that, this would be a place where you keep beloved objects, like framed photos).
- Finally, commit to taking one step toward acting in a fearless way. Putting one thing in action, even if it is a small step, will start to make fearlessness a real energy in your life. It could be to research the field you want to move into for at least 20 minutes a day, or spend 30 minutes a day working on your brand-new business plan. Maybe it’s signing up to take a salsa class (even though dancing in public feels like a nightmare to you!). Write that down in your journal, too, as a fresh commitment in the now: “I now commit to.” Know that you have the power to create that new pattern of being fearless.
This article was adapted with permission from You Are More Than You Think You Are: Practical Enlightenment for Everyday Life by Kimberly Snyder (on sale January 25, 2022; Hay House, Inc.). Order the book here.
Kimberly Snyder is a 3-time New York Times best-selling author of 5 previous books, including Radical Beauty, co-authored with Deepak Chopra. She is a spiritual guide, meditation teacher, and holistic wellness expert. She is also the founder of Solluna, a holistic lifestyle brand, Practical Enlightenment Meditation, Solluna Circle and the host of her top-rated Feel Good Podcast. To learn more about Kimberly and Solluna, visit: @_kimberlysnyder and mysolluna.com.
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