Fear as Medicine


Fear is a powerful motivator. From a yogic perspective, fear, along with anger and lust, are considered to be the most powerful energies in the body. They are associated with our animal nature and are beyond the rational mind. The enormity and wildness of this level of power terrifies us. One yogic tradition, however, saw the value in harnessing this energy by calling fear and God by the same name, believing that the ability to ride and transmute fear was the directest route back to God. In shamanic traditions, power coming towards you is understood to initially manifest as fear. In order to claim the next level in your work or personal growth, you had to find a way to work with fear in a way that did not overpower you, but instead fueled, focused and enlivened you.

In this culture, there is no end to the amounts of distorted, manipulated and imagined reserves of fear being generated all around us. And there is no end to the ways in which we can call these fears unto ourselves. As the technologies advance, this scenario increases exponentially. We must learn to recognize when fear is being sold to us in the form of “news”, entertainment and “public service information” which comes to us as de-contextualized and hyped-up information. To be in the presence of this type of information puts us in chronic states of arousal where we can only see the world in black and white; me vs. you, survival at any cost. This is a dangerous state to put the body in as it promotes imbalance and disease. Believing the enemy to be everywhere, it destroys the healing power of our relationships. And it robs us of ourselves and our ability to live life fully and wholeheartedly, at peace in the world.

Consumed by fear, we cannot manifest the gifts that are ours to bring to the world. Bound tightly in tension and protection, we are driven to overwhelm and despair, to playing victim or violator. We wind up afraid of everything. Afraid of life itself. Afraid of the workings of our own bodies. Afraid of the differences between us and and our differences of opinion. Under the sway of survival mentality, we are destined to obsessively check the weather, crave safety notifications, seek out unhelpful amounts of health testing and procedures, and all the while, we ruminate about ISIS. We long to put a safety helmet on everything we value and scrub it all down with antibacterial soap.

If we desire another existence, it will require us to do the unthinkable; to look squarely in the face of our fears and see them for what they are. It will require us to take responsibility for our experience as opposed to projecting our terrors out into the world and onto other people. It will require us to know the ways that the animal fear helps to keep us safe and alive while the distorted and made-up ones keep us from living. It will require us to say no to disturbing and terrifying content. It will require us to become more animal-like; trusting the instincts and intuitions that all mammals possess and rely on without thought or question. All those, of course, but us.