June 30, 2013

How I Make Friends with Fear & Worry. ~ Barbara Byrne

I would like to introduce to you my two best buddies: Fear and Worry.

Ever since I learned that my current job would be ending in the coming months, they are my constant companions. And they are loyal friends. They are present in my dreams as I sleep and, while awake, they feed their own existence by predicting the future or digging up examples from the past.

Most of all, these friends are great storytellers. They make Stephan King look like Mother Goose. What they lack in creativity (always the same ending: me under a bridge sleeping in a wet cardboard appliance box), they make up for in special effects, catastrophes that rival the technical ability of “CGI”, but with the classical touches of Dickens.

There is no banishing these threatening bullies; this is their legitimate real estate.

I am losing my visible means of income and that is without a doubt fertile land for Fear and Worry to stake out their territory. So for me it’s really a matter of getting along with my rowdy, loud neighbors; no use in fighting them. They are not going to turn down the music or pick up their dog’s poop from my front lawn. Fighting them will only intensify negativity, and actually distract me.

If my past is of any use, it will evidence that all previous decisions made with Fear and Worry as the guiding force have turned out to be  not in my general best interest.

I have invited them to sit beside me now as I meditate. I visualize them each sitting close on either side of me, I drape my arms around their shoulders as they alternate turning toward me snarling, baring their pointed, sharp, large teeth. They even attempt to intimidate further by snapping those teeth at my hand dangling off their shoulders, or they lean in inches from my face and slowly contract their quivering lips to highlight a menacing smile.

And I breathe deeply.

Sitting that close to them I can feel them in my body. Fear manifests as nanosecond sparks of electricity tingling in my stomach and migrating to my chest—as internal fireflies. Worry is my mind’s treadmill. “What if” scenarios on a constant loop in my mind’s eye that shortens my breath, tightens my jaw, landing as a heavy weight in the middle of my chest.

But as I feel them physically, instead of pushing them away, I bring them clearly into focus in my body—minutely attentive to their various characteristics within in me. Their texture, color, size, and temperature.

When I just witness them and stop judging them, they are neutralized, unbullied.

They are what they are: individual sensations. Tingling, tightness, pressure, and heat.

Being present to them renders them to be exactly what they are, nothing more. And most importantly, not requiring a  battle or any response. Just breathing.

Not expending energy to keep them out or away and staying present with them, they move on of their own accord. They have a lifecycle of their own; they are not omnipresent, or static; their intensity changes with each breath.

I feel the tension and the release. Fear contracts, presence releases. Worry pauses, exhaling moves me on.

Fear chants, “What will I do?

Worry asks, “What’s next?

Possibility responds, “What is there yet to be?

Presence recites, “Now.

When each allowed their rightful turns, my capacity to be present expands. We are conjoined and our offspring is born: possibility.

The neighborhood is expansive. No longer distracted by a battle, I am available to a profound limitless perspective.

Joined, we create the electricity of aliveness which provides the energy for me to move, to take the next step, to be alert to and then sort through possible options, to reach out and communicate with others flesh and blood friends.

Breathe, wait, move, repeat.

I am fully in my life—my scary real life. It’s a neighborhood block party—talk about increasing property values!


Barbara Bryne: As the mother of a teenage son, part-time psychotherapist, full time program manager of a delinquency program, avid runner, and budding writer, I am rarely well rested, but ultimately content and constantly awakening. I can be reached via email or my blog.

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Assistant Ed: Josie Huang/Ed: Bryonie Wise

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