I am in one of those “riding on cloud nine” moods where I think, for a moment anyway, that I’ve found Shambala and the Holy Grail. Truth is, I’ve found nothing, except, it seems, a hefty dose of serenity on the other side of what has been several weeks filled with anxiety and overwhelm.
In the middle of overwhelm, I talked with my spouse about potentially taking off on a retreat. Since her job will be sending her to San Francisco in a few months, she enthusiastically supported it. It gives me an attitude adjustment, helps her absolve a little travel-guilt about being away from the family for a week for the first time, and we all win. I found one that intrigued me, “The Fear Cure” at Kripalu. Considering retreats are anything but cheap, I ordered the book to see if I could really buy in to this “new-age funny business” and sign up.
“The Fear Cure” was written by Lissa Rankin, an M.D. who, feeling traditional medicine wasn’t enough, began exploring how our minds impact our health. What she ultimately found is that fear; in whatever words we use to describe it: nerves, anxiety, overwhelm, post-traumatic stress; makes us sick.
While physically I’m the healthiest I’ve been, emotionally I’ve been “off my game.” I blame a lot of my fears on who I am, how I grew up, and the beliefs I have. I blame yet more of them on being a mother. After all, what mother HASN’T run through all the horrific things in their mind that can happen to their precious little one(s)? I have, quite simply, learned to live with constant anxiety.
I’m tired of being scared.
The Fear Cure offers a scientific look at how constant fear can physically and emotionally affect us, but goes one better, and looks at the most common beliefs behind our fear. Take one, such as: “insecurity is constant, and unsafe.” None of us can argue that it is constant. However, does it have to follow that it’s unsafe?
I wasn’t sure. Yet, about a week ago, when helping my seven-year-old tackle those first minutes on a bike without training wheels, I knew something that my son didn’t know. I knew he’d be fine. I knew that even if he fell, which he most likely would, he’d have nothing more than a scrape or two. My son was shaken. He couldn’t get the hang of it instantly and his frustration tolerance leaves something to be desired to begin with, but he didn’t think that his frustration could be related to nerves.
“Are you afraid you might fall?”
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Well, forgive me! “Okay, then if you know that EVEN if you fall, you will be okay, pedal as fast as your feet will let you, and see what happens.”
Thirty seconds later, his frustration, tears and fear gave way to smiles and pride. He peddled through his insecurity and found that it was just fine.
He reminds me, as Lissa Rankin teaches me, how I aspire to live in relationship to fear. I want to notice it, see if it has anything to teach me, but I no longer want “uncertain” to equal “unsafe” in my mind. Perhaps, as Rankin dares us to believe, it is the gateway to possibility.