Fear and Weight Loss

When I was a newbie at Tracker School (see trackerschool.com) I wanted to go to the Scout class, which had the prerequisites of the week long Standard class, the week long Advanced Standard class, and the week long Advanced Tracking and Awareness class.  The scout class is also a week long class where during the day you learn techniques of the ancient Apache scouts, and by night your team is camouflaged and raiding other team’s camps till usually 2 or 3 am.  Most days there is a time in the afternoon where the students do exercises on a log over the swimming hole, walking the log, walking it blindfolded, jousting with out partner, and even blindfolded fighting to name a few.  For me, this sounded very exciting, but I was terrified of not being up to the physical element of the class.

Fear drove me to work very hard on getting in shape for the class.  I lost 25 lbs and was able to jog two miles without stopping.  Not too bad for a 47 year old mother of 9.

I was also afraid of the log work over the water, so I practiced walking on the narrow edges of 2 x 6 boards nailed to posts, both eyes open and blindfolded.  That preparation taught me a little of what to expect, and how to overcome my fear.  I ended up enjoying the log work more than anything else that week!

One of my teachers, Karl Direske, of Wilderness Fusion, told me, “There is only a fine line between fear and excitement.”  I can see that.  I was so excited to go to Scout class, but I was also afraid!

Sometimes the desire to do something can drive us to overcome our fear and accomplish something we really want to do.  In this case, I was afraid I would not be physically fit enough for the class.  My desire drove me to spend a couple years preparing both mentally and physically.  When I finally registered for the Scout class I was also registered for a Vision Quest class the week before, and an Ancient Scout class the week after.  One of the young men in my school, upon hearing my plan, thought three classes in a row would be too much for me and I vacillated about taking the three classes consecutively, but an older woman from the school said, “Go ahead and do it if you want to.  Don’t let him talk you out of it.  You’ll be fine.”  I did go ahead, and it was wonderful!  Not only did I succeed in the classes, I also lost another 25 lbs during those three weeks, and was finally down to my ideal weight!

Fear is the opposite of faith, but fear can be turned to faith through preparation.  That reminds me of a scripture I heard once . . . “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.”   Well, whaddaya know, ha ha!

“The Places That Scare You” a book by Pema Chodron

I was at Brighten Bush hot springs gift store and this book jumped right out at me and grabbed me.  The cover, an image of a dark, craggy, old, leafless tree, typified the heavy, overgrown, ominous trees that tend to somehow, inexplicably, surround haunted houses.

I thought, “Who would write a book like that and put a freaky cover on it like that?  How will that attract a buyer?  That’s crazy!”

But I couldn’t resist picking it up and looking at the back to see the short comments and recommendations.  When I turned it over I was mesmerized by the photo of the author, Pema Chodron.  Her bright, smiling face, short cropped hair (a buzz to be exact), and Buddhist nun robes, didn’t speak of someone who would delve into scary places.  However, her eyes held something more than a typical smiling, middle aged woman’s eyes.  Her eyes shone with a glint of someone who knows; someone who has been to those scary places and lived to tell about it.  Being in a place of fear myself, I bought the book, hoping to learn her secret.  The secret to overcoming my fears.

Her writing was easy to read — warm, compassionate, even funny.  She talked about her life, her challenges, her pain and her triumphs.  She shared methods she learned or discovered which allowed her to put her fears into perspective.

The biggest jewel I came away with is a mental exercise to be done when triggered emotionally.  When you feel your emotions rise, unpleasantly, as they do with fear for example, you pause and remove the story for a moment.  Literally you imagine the story that is triggering your emotion being removed from where you are and set to the side.   Once you do this you can feel the energy purely, without the story, and you can see that it is only energy with a particular signature; the signature of fear.  Realizing how much of what you are feeling is simply a strong energy with a fingerprint of a feeling helps you allow that energy to dissipate.

You can also go a step further, as my teacher Tom Brown Jr. explained, and set the feeling or emotion aside as well, to then feel the energy purely, without the emotion or feeling or story attached.  The pure energy is nothing to be afraid of and once that is understood, easy to release.

Having control of that energy is incredibly helpful in overcoming fear.

The most difficult part of this mental exercise is REMEMBERING TO DO IT when the emotions rise!

Give it a try.  I would love to hear how it works for you.  Or share something that has helped you overcome your fears.

 

"The Places That Scare You" a book by Pema Chodron

I was at Brighten Bush hot springs gift store and this book jumped right out at me and grabbed me.  The cover, an image of a dark, craggy, old, leafless tree, typified the heavy, overgrown, ominous trees that tend to somehow, inexplicably, surround haunted houses.

I thought, “Who would write a book like that and put a freaky cover on it like that?  How will that attract a buyer?  That’s crazy!”

But I couldn’t resist picking it up and looking at the back to see the short comments and recommendations.  When I turned it over I was mesmerized by the photo of the author, Pema Chodron.  Her bright, smiling face, short cropped hair (a buzz to be exact), and Buddhist nun robes, didn’t speak of someone who would delve into scary places.  However, her eyes held something more than a typical smiling, middle aged woman’s eyes.  Her eyes shone with a glint of someone who knows; someone who has been to those scary places and lived to tell about it.  Being in a place of fear myself, I bought the book, hoping to learn her secret.  The secret to overcoming my fears.

Her writing was easy to read — warm, compassionate, even funny.  She talked about her life, her challenges, her pain and her triumphs.  She shared methods she learned or discovered which allowed her to put her fears into perspective.

The biggest jewel I came away with is a mental exercise to be done when triggered emotionally.  When you feel your emotions rise, unpleasantly, as they do with fear for example, you pause and remove the story for a moment.  Literally you imagine the story that is triggering your emotion being removed from where you are and set to the side.   Once you do this you can feel the energy purely, without the story, and you can see that it is only energy with a particular signature; the signature of fear.  Realizing how much of what you are feeling is simply a strong energy with a fingerprint of a feeling helps you allow that energy to dissipate.

You can also go a step further, as my teacher Tom Brown Jr. explained, and set the feeling or emotion aside as well, to then feel the energy purely, without the emotion or feeling or story attached.  The pure energy is nothing to be afraid of and once that is understood, easy to release.

Having control of that energy is incredibly helpful in overcoming fear.

The most difficult part of this mental exercise is REMEMBERING TO DO IT when the emotions rise!

Give it a try.  I would love to hear how it works for you.  Or share something that has helped you overcome your fears.

 

Conversation With Darkness

I sat on the wooden steps of my back porch.  Though the day was sunny and warm, the  feeling of darkness inside me was consuming.  The feeling was that of anger, fear, and hatred, but mostly hatred.  I wondered if the darkness was the influence of some evil spirit, or if it was a part of me, so I asked the darkness a sacred question, “Why are you here?”  Then I surrendered all thoughts and went to nothingness to see what would come to me as an answer.

The darkness said, “I’m here because I make you feel strong.”

‘That’s true,’ I thought, ‘I do feel strong when I am full of hatred.’  Again I asked the darkness, “Why are you here?”  I surrendered for the answer.

The darkness said, “I’m here to protect you.”

‘Hmmmm,’ I thought, ‘that’s interesting, I do feel safer.  When I feel this way, no one can get close to my heart.’  I asked the darkness, again, “Why are you here?”  I surrendered to see what would return.

The darkness said, “I make you feel powerful!”

‘Yes, yes,’ I thought, ‘you do.’   I asked again, “Why, are you here?” and surrendered for the answer.

I’m here to protect you because you won’t protect yourself!”  The answer was strong, emphatic, almost annoyed by my ignorance.

‘Yes, that’s true.’ I admitted, ‘ I don’t protect myself,’  I began to realize that this darkness was not such a bad thing after all.  It was keeping me safe.

Then I asked a different sacred question, “How can I heal this?”

When I surrendered for the answer, I saw pink flowers.  ‘OK, I thought, pink flowers . . . I like flowers.’

I asked again, “How can I heal this?”

I saw an alligator.

‘An alligator?  Really?  That seems odd, but OK.’  I asked again, “How can I heal this?”

I heard the darkness say, “Understand me.”

‘OK,’ I thought, ‘I’m beginning to understand.’  I asked again, “How can I heal this?”

I surrendered and heard, “Love me.”

I thought that was an unusual answer.  Why would the darkness want to be loved.  That was new to me.

I was beginning to understand that the darkness that surrounded me was a buffer of anger to keep others away.  For the first time in my life, I began to understand that there was more to anger and hatred that I had ever imagined.  Things inside me shifted.  My perspective was changing.  I was growing.  I felt grateful for the the darkness that protected me, and in that gratitude I felt love and appreciation for the darkness and all the feelings that were within that shadow.  To feel anger, fear, and even hatred is not bad, it is a part of life and our experience here on earth.  I had no clue, before, that those feelings existed for important reasons.  I had always thought those feelings were bad and I should not feel them.

Then I had a new thought and I asked the darkness, “What if I do protect myself?”

Immediately, the darkness began to dissipate, leaving behind a clear energy surrounding me, just as powerful as the darkness but without the feeling of hatred.  I perceived that if I would protected myself I would not need anger or hatred to protect me.

The next day I went out and bought myself pink flowers, and a little plastic alligator to put on my mantel.  Those feelings, anger, fear and hatred, which were once very confusing, had become clear and beautiful to me.  My curiosity served me well that day.  Asking the sacred questions* and knowing how to listen, to go to nothingness and surrender to the answers, taught me to understand and love a very misunderstood part of myself.

————————————————————————–Is all darkness as wonderful as this “protector” darkness turned out to be?  Is there darkness that is really evil?  What is the source of negative emotions?  Why is hatred so destructive?  Is there a good time to feel hatred?  The questions about darkness, emotions, and mental health, are endless.  Learning to ask yourself “sacred questions” and surrender to the answers inside yourself, being still enough, going to a state of nothingness and letting the answers come to you without controlling what the answer will be, is a skill that can be cultivated by anyone.  I have to thank Tom Brown Jr. for this technique.

*Asking the sacred questions and surrendering for the answers is something I learned to do in a philosophy class at Tom Brown Jr.’s Trackerschool (see resources).

How This Illness Served Me

I scheduled an appointment with a therapist about a week ago (if I am suffering from conversion disorder, therapy is key in recovery) and one of the things she said to me before we got off the phone was, “I also do medical hypnotism which I think could help you get better.”  My first reaction was panic and the thought ran through my head, ‘I don’t want to get better!’

That deserved some exploring.  I began by asking myself why I didn’t want to get better.  In surrendering deeply to the question and feeling what my core feelings were, I realized that I believed if I got better I would have to do things I don’t want to do . . . like living in Florida again, going to work outside my home away from my children, spending my time fulfilling other people’s expectations of me instead of doing what brings me joy.  Those answers were very revealing.

In knowing what was causing me to be afraid of getting well, I also realized that those fears no longer had any foundation.  Maybe I needed an excuse in the beginning to move to Oregon, stay home and rest, and do the things that bring me joy, but not any more.  I can continue living in a way that brings me joy and not worry about what other people expect, or think, of me.