"When understood, the Buddha’s universe..is anything but alien and inhibiting. It is a world full of hope, where everything we need to do can be done and everything that matters is within human reach. It is a world where kindness, unselfishness, non-violence, and compassion achieve what self-interest and arrogance cannot. It is a world where any human can be happy in goodness and the fullness of giving." ❦ Eknath Easwara

April 11, 2012

Using the "Cradling Technique" to Deal with Fear


"It is usually futile to try to fix or omit fear or grief. We make room and time, tune in to what we are feeling, and cradle it, i.e., grant it legitimacy. When we take these steps, a shift may occur: something opens and we are empowered.

Picture the father who stops what he is doing to listen to his whimpering child.

He squats down to his level, tunes in to him, and hugs him in his pain. Then the child feels heard and valued as he is. Such mirroring equips him with an enlarged sense of his own identity and hence of his own power.

When I feel grief or fear, I sit and let myself feel it all the way, capturing the unique felt sense of it, connecting it to any childhood pain that resembles it.

I sit in my fear and forlornness, accepting its inconsolability, without running to my usual hide-outs: turning on the TV, looking for sex, eating, drinking, taking a tranquilizer, etc. I simply feel and breathe the feeling throughout my body.

When the feeling passes, I return to my normal routine.

This is how I nurture myself effectively. Thereby, I am less likely to look for any body or thing to fulfill me or fill me. As I service myself this way, I am no longer so needy. Now I can love needlessly. I get over my fear as I love myself in this self-parenting way! The more I let myself feel my feelings, the more do I expand my capacity to feel. I even increase my capacity to love maturely!

Love will no longer mean: you are the right size doll for my cut-out collection but you are who you are and I correctly assess and respect your dimensions. I no longer embellish them to use you as a way of denying or fleeing my ultimate loneliness.

When we open ourselves to our feelings, our hearts become soft and accessible to ourselves and to others. The unguarded heart is the only cell from which the prisoner fear can be released.

Fearlessness does not consist in having less fear or no fear but so much more love that we go beyond fear! Fear is the porcupine on the trail as we hike: interesting, but not stopping us and not to be eliminated, since it belongs to the ecology of the psychic path.

Fear-based decisions prevent us from accessing our deepest needs, values, and wishes. We are sometimes driven or stopped by fear because it feels too overwhelming for us. Here is the triple A technique that may be helpful in dealing with fear:

First, ADMIT that you feel afraid. This breaks through all the rationalizations by which you talk yourself out of the fear or make it into something else. Instead of saying, "I am kind of uncomfortable around her, "say "I am afraid of her." Since our automatic reflex is to deny the extent or reality of our feelings, a good rule might be to admit the fear even more fully than you feel it.

Secondly, ALLOW yourself to feel the fear fully, i.e., defenselessly, with no escape, with no attempts to get rid of it. Shake, shudder, do whatever it takes for you to experience the emotion. Let this emotion stay in motion through you. I let the fear go through me like lightning and I trust that the earth will receive it and disperse it. When fear goes to ground in this way, we are truly grounded and we feel equipped to face fear from a place of power in ourselves.

Third, and not necessarily immediately after steps one and two, ACT as if fear could not stop or drive you. You can act as if you were fearless. This is the truth because you actually contain all human opposites so you do have fearlessness inside you.

It is only that you have not accessed it. Now you do not act from fear, you act with fear. (A courageous person is one who feels just as scared as you but acts bravely.) This plan adds resource-fullness to your defense-lessness."

This excerpt if from one of David Richo's many healing and skillful books:

When Love Meets Fear: Becoming Defense-Less and Resource-Full

For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE

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