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September 6, 2020

The Vital Relationship Between Fear and Presence

My first mindfulness meditation was amazing, but what happened later that same day was more so…

I took a bike ride along the Burlington, Vermont waterfront and along the way passed the spot where I’d been startled several times before by a seriously deranged, mouth-frothing, loudly barking pit bull who was prevented from eating me by only a one-foot gap between me and the extent of his lead.

Passing the spot that particular day I heard only the growling bark, more subdued than usual. I didn’t see him because he didn’t come up over the bank, and I wondered why. Getting off my bike, I looked down into his yard and found him crouched by the side of a fallen limb, around which his lead had become wrapped. He was stuck in place, and he looked miserable.

Without a thought, I walked down the bank, crouched by his side, and began to untangle him. His foaming mouth and ferocious bark, inches from my face, gradually subsided, to be replaced first by a look of suspicion, then confusion, and finally gratitude. And then … he kissed me.

I gave him a pat, climbed the bank, hopped on my bike and pedaled on. It took me about a minute before it sank in. I had taken action with literally no concern for my own safety, out of pure compassion for his suffering.

What I learned in that moment was that presence (the state of mind induced by meditation) and fear cannot coexist.

How does that play out in high-stress situations?

When you practice living in a state of presence, of deep focus on the now, you see beyond what’s on the surface. The illusion of danger dissolves, and with it, your fear. You act with compassion, do what needs to be done.

What moments before might have seemed like an insurmountable problem, your transformed state of consciousness allows you to see something more profound, to act in a more resourceful way, and to elevate that high-pressure situation to a vehicle for greater understanding and possibility.

That’s power!

None of that would be possible if you were to continue to run from every charging dog. As long as you continue to avoid confrontation, stress, and discomfort, you’ll never get to turn that beast into a lamb.

You’ll just keep getting bitten.

Getting present and leaning into your stress, into your pressure, and into your pain means being willing to feel something you’ve spent your life avoiding. Standing firm in the face of discomfort, fear, doubt, and stress takes courage; it’s not what you’ve been trained for.

The moment you lean in, to not run, your capacity for thriving in difficult situations changes instantly.

Attaining presence on a regular basis will change your life… but it requires practice and guidance. If you’re interested in exploring presence-based coaching, visit www.theanxietydoc.net, from which you can schedule a free discovery call!

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