The mind has two great enemies – fear and worry. Everyone experiences some kind of fear. Fear can be of many types, and sometimes it assumes serious dimensions. It immobilizes us and we are unable to do anything. The mind is paralysed or confused and we cannot think sensibly, because of which even simple tasks become difficult.
Fear adversely affects the entire body. It reduces immunity, upsets the digestive system, and impairs the flow of blood to the brain.
Three steps help in overcoming fear:
- Acceptance. First, we need to accept that we are afraid of something. Some people camouflage their fears with bravado, but that does not help in the long run. Even if we have subtle fears, acknowledging them is half the battle won. Only when we acknowledge our fears do we take steps to overcome them.
- The second step is to listen. Our fears carry a message: they tell us that we need to change. How do we listen? We can note the kind of thoughts that are passing through the mind and become aware of our inner world. We need not take out time from our schedule for this: we can check the quality of our thoughts and feelings while we are walking or doing work that does not demand much mental focus.
- Introspection. When we analyse our fears we find that most of them are unfounded. Some people are afraid of flying. Thousands of planes fly each day, how many of them crash? The risk of getting killed in a plane crash is negligible. On the other hand, every year a number of people die in their sleep. Do we stop sleeping because of that? So how rational is the fear of flying? When we think logically like this, we can overcome many fears.
Living in the present also helps. Fear and worry are mostly linked to past events or an imaginary future. Instead of making the most of the present, many people spend their time agonising over the past or envisioning future scenarios. This can lead to depression or anxiety disorders.
We can face our fears better if we consciously make an effort to be logical, calm, and detached. When we are emotional, we become confused and unable to respond effectively.
Meditation: the most powerful tool for removing fear
Fear arises when the soul is lacking something – it could be peace, inner power, knowledge, or something else. When we recognise the fact that we are souls, children of God, and remember Him, the ocean of peace, power and love, we begin to experience these virtues. Regular practice of meditation fills the soul with these qualities. Once the soul gains the clear discernment that comes with purity, becomes stable in peace, and is full of power, the lacunae that provided space for fear vanish, and we are liberated from fear.
Dr. Girish Patel is a well-known psychiatrist based in Mumbai, and a student of Rajyoga with the Brahma Kumaris.