We’ve recently had several conversations with friends who mentioned how prevalent fear is today in the general consciousness. “Fear of what?” we asked. “Everything,” they said. “Losing jobs, going broke, violence, relationships. You name it. People are just filled with fear these days.”
Fear is a pernicious problem that shuts down our life-force. Like depression or any other problem that inhibits the flow of positive energy, fear starts a negative cycle that becomes self-reinforcing—decreased energy causes a decrease in will which, in turn, reduces our energy even further. But, fortunately, there are ways to reverse this cycle. Here, are some tools from our spiritual path.
The law of opposites
In theory at least, it is easy to overcome any problem: Simply put out equal or greater energy in the opposite direction. The best way to cancel a negative tendency is to develop its positive counterpart. To overcome fear, develop faith or non-attachment.
Start with small steps. Concentrate first on simply increasing the flow of physical energy. Exercise daily, do some deep breathing, and, best of all, be sure to practice the Energization Exercises that Paramhansa Yogananda taught.
Then apply your increased energy to overcoming fear. Think of fear like a wildfire in the brain. Stomp out the small sparks right away before they have time to start a conflagration.
Most fear centers around losing something you value. The more you develop non-attachment, the less vulnerable you will be. Every night, before you sleep, give all your possessions and all your desires back to God. Make Him responsible for your well-being and security.
He won’t mind. In fact, He is much better at taking care of us than we are ourselves. In the morning you can have the responsibility back again if you want.
Try especially to give Him negative desires, the ones that contract your consciousness and cause you to emphasize your ego or little self. They are the main source of our fears and anxiety. They include all the ways we don’t say “yes” to life.
Replace fear thoughts through the use of affirmation. Here is an affirmation for courage that Swami Kriyananda suggests in his book, Affirmations for Self-Healing:
“I live protected by God’s infinite light. So long as I remain in the heart of it, nothing and no one can harm me.” It is followed by this beautiful prayer: “I look to Thee for my strength, Lord. Hold me closely in Thy arms of love. Then, whatever happens in my life I shall accept with joy.”
Use this affirmation just before you go to sleep and immediately when you wake up. Say it several times with deep sincerity, driving it into the subconsciousness, and then finally lifting it into the superconsciousness. It will become a powerful ally to help you drive out fear whenever it tries to attack.
Fear originates in parts of the primitive brain that are pre-verbal. Visualization helps re-program reactive processes in these areas. Visualize yourself bathed in a golden light that both protects and strengthens you.
See the light especially bright in your heart center, radiating away all little dark clouds of attachment and anxiety. The more clearly and powerfully you visualize, the more quickly the light can change your very brain cells.
Giving love and security
Here is a final tool to change thought habits: Give to others that which you want for yourself. In this case, give love and security to others. Look for at least two opportunities each day to help allay fear in someone else.
One of the opportunities should be for a friend or loved one. But the other, if possible, should be for a stranger. This practice unleashes the infinite power of the law of karma and the Golden Rule, which advises us to give unto others that which we would like to receive ourselves.
Remember, that God’s infinite love and protection already surrounds you. Your job is simply to recognize its presence and let it work its magic. As Paramhansa Yogananda said, “To those who think me near, I will be near.”