Pema Chödrön's FEAR practice


The FEAR practice - from Pema Chödrön's ‘Walking the Walk' (Chapter 9)



If feelings become uncomfortable, embarrassing, edgy, fearful:-


Find where it (the feeling) is in your body .. neck, stomach, heart  .. i.e., check in to your felt body sense


Embrace it …  i.e., accept it, feel it just as it is 



Allow the thoughts about it to dissolve …we can practice this throughout our lives  … then abide with the feeling 


Remember … or recall all the other people in the world who are feeling what you are feeling… whether it be enragement, regret,  fear … so it becomes a reference point for our interconnectedness, empathy, compassion.


As a whole - do this with an attitude of kindness, acceptance.

Embrace it, be gentle… we are like all beings over the globe - connected.  


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Does it matter?

'When we start to ask ourselves, "Does it matter?" we realise how many aspects there are to every situation. We begin to appreciate how interconnected we are to the rest of the world, and how even our thought patterns can lead to a whole series of consequences.' (from 'Welcome the unwelcome' (p. 11) by Pema Chödrön)

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Rick Hanson's 5 minute challenge

Within these times it's easy for any of us to get caught up in cycles of fear, contraction and hopelessness. So here's a simple, quick practice from Rick Hanson that we can build into each day of our lives - to build resilience and to train our minds towards a greater capacity to open up to well-being, happiness and appreciation for all that is good and positive in our lives - even/especially whilst living through a time of risk and uncertainty - this will help us 'top up' our reserves, help us not get burnt out and exhausted.

Practice the following five or six times a day (singly or blend together as opportunities arise)

1. Look out for the good, small experiences (a clear blue sky, completing a task, a bird landing on your window sill, someone cooking you a nice meal, a smile from a colleague) and take a breath, slow down, let the experience sink into you, savour it, allow it space to grow. This is basically developing self-reliance, not dependent on the vagaries of the external world.

2. Know one thing (or more) you are trying to 'grow' inside you these days (patience, greater self-compassion, equilibrium, courage, kindness to others..) and look for any chances in the day when you can recognise, feel and internalise this personal 'challenge' - for a couple of minutes.

3. Come home to what RH calls our 'deep green' - for just a minute or two - when we rest back into our core - of peace, contentment, love, spaciousness. ... whatever resonates  - when we basically feel 'okay' with what is, and we can know this.

We can practice this for ourselves - but it will impact on those around us.





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Creatures of habit

Forming and maintaining a habit of mindfulness practice.

Given we are in times of huge uncertainly, pressure, bewilderment, fear .. you name it .. we perhaps have more need than ever to attend (literally) to our habits - the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

Here is advice from James Clear (author of 'Atomic Habits') who addresses the age-old issue of habit and habit change - this time in the service of developing/restarting or maintaining a mindfulness practice of some sort. From his talk with Sam Harris (Waking Up app).  

Using his '4 laws of behavioural change'

1. Make it obvious/visible where you're going to practice. Try to carve out a spot in the environment that can then be associated with your practice. Have a space, pillows, a stool. If it's in a room where you normally e.g., watch tv, make a change in that room - eg bring in a chair. Make it special. Connected to this we could form an 'implementation intention' - a sentence to write down .. "I will do x minutes of practice here each day at this time". (my note here - if you cannot for some reason do your practice, then don't dwell on your failing thereafter, accept it, and begin again).

2. Make it appealing, attractive  For example, when choosing the type of practice, you might (initially anyway) go for a guided meditation by a favourite speaker. You can branch out later.

3. Make it easy  For example, if 30 minutes is daunting, then choose a shorter practrice - even 5 minutes to start with will get you going, establish a routine which will form a habit (again).

4. Make it satisfying   Keep a diary, keep track on an app - make it visual. (my note - you could 'buddy-up' with someone else on-line, exchange your practice experience, do your own inquiry).

NB As Sam Harris points out, meditation is different from forms of self- improvement where you are reaching for a goal, mindfulness practice is not per se about becoming a meditator -  we want our practice to enter our lives, bringing peace, equanimity, happiness .. so 'coming to' -  even for 5, 10, 30 seconds - many times in the day  - can be powerful, literally life-changing. (cf Rick Hanson's brain- changing/neuroplasticity approach in eg 'Just One Thing'). 

So we can always work on (re)establishing a formal practice using habit-building tips like the ones above - and at the same time remembering we can use the everyday lives we are leading, maybe using a handy trigger such as when we move from one room to another, climb the stairs, sit down, go for a walk, have a meal, watch the sky from our window, to come back to an awareness of this moment, this being here, accepting and inhabiting it as it is. 

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Little Gidding

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

Through the unknown, remembered gate

When the last of earth left to discover

Is that which was the beginning;

At the source of the longest river

The voice of the hidden waterfall

And the children in the apple-tree

Not known, because not looked for

But heard, half heard, in the stillness

Between two waves of the sea.

Quick now, here, now, always -

A condition of complete simplicity

(Costing not less than everything)

And all shall be well and

Ali manner of thing shall be well

When the tongues of flame are in-folded

Into the crowned knot of fire

And the fire and the rose are one.

Excerpt from 'Little Gidding' from Four Quartets, by T.S. Eliot 

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