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The Power of Mindfulness to Free Us from Fear

with Jack Kornfield, PhD

The Power of Mindfulness to Free Us from Fear

The Power of Mindfulness to Free Us from Fear


with Jack Kornfield, PhD
Fear is a natural thing. Its our organisms way to try to protect itself, but as human beings, we can spin-out a great deal with it. Mark Twain said, My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes most of which never happened. When somebody comes in and has anxiety and fear, first of all, Im very sympathetic because its hard to hold, hard to carry, and the stronger it is, the more the separate sense of self grows. In Buddhist psychology, the separate sense of self is sometimes called the body of fear because we feel separate and we have to protect ourselves in worry ... rather than sensing the field of being or presence that is actually well-being no matter what. I then teach people how to sit and acknowledge the fear as if to bow to it pay respect because its very powerful. How does it feel in the body? What are the stories that it tells? Are they true or not? What are the emotions that come with it?

Sometimes theres grief with fear or theres loss, or there are various kinds of pains that come, and we can tease those apart and realize that you can be present for them in a spacious way.

Yes, this too is part of the tainted glory of humanity. This is part of life, my life and others. We all share in this.

The image from Buddhist psychology is if you put a teaspoon of salt in a cup of water, it tastes very salty, but if you put the same spoon of salt in a lake, the water is pure and clear. In the same way, you can make the heart more spacious and open and gracious so that fear and confusion are held in a spacious heart. Im using the word heart quite deliberately as well as the word mind because we talk about mental health, but its also the health of the heart. To be present and to learn, to train oneself in mindfulness, or to offer it to others, you can only offer that if youve really found this capacity in yourself. It requires a wedding of love and awareness. I like to use the phrase loving awareness. What we bring to the measure of fear or confusion or sorrow is this capacity of loving awareness to say, Yes, this too is part of the tainted glory of humanity. This is part of life, my life and others. We all share in this. Theres a field of compassion, and we discover that we can be present with a kind of dignity for it. It doesnt mean fear goes away, but rather that we befriend our fear and know that who we are is bigger than that.
The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine www.nicabm.com

The Power of Mindfulness to Free Us from Fear

Uncertainty is a description of reality, youre always happier and healthier if you deal with the world and life the way that it is rather than some fantasy you have about it. Theres the societal fantasy that if you have enough money in the bank, or if you have enough possessions, youll be happy thats a consumer fantasy. Another is that youll always have someone whos going to love you in this perfect way, and even if they do love you...thats today. You dont know whats going to happen next week or next year. Things change. Were a river of change, and if we try to hold on, what we end up getting is rope burn. Its a kind of recipe for suffering. If instead, we accept the fact that everything changes and discover that we can float, that we can surf rather than try to stop the waves, then our life becomes more responsive. It becomes more of a dance and theres a tremendous joy that comes in it.

Were a river of change, and if we try to hold on, what we end up getting is rope burn.

Theres a certain grief and loss that must be honored and felt, but its not the end of this story, and its not who you really are. Thats a limited identity. You were that for a while. Now, youre going to be something else and thats the way life unfolds itself all the time.

Find out more about this and related programs at: www.nicabm.com
The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine www.nicabm.com