Transformation One Step At A Time

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Photo credit: Sakurako Kitsa / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

It is 4:13am and I am sitting here struggling with so much.  Thoughts of life and death, money, time, kids, sleep, God…in essence, Life.  How many nights have I spent engaged in worry over some aspect of this life?  How much time and energy have I waisted on worry?  After that many years engaged in the same activity, you would think it would have gotten me somewhere!  It is a cycle that I keep repeating though.  Why?  The definition of insanity is to repeat the same action and expect a different outcome.  So why do I keep on worrying?

The answer is fear.  Fear of something or someone or some thing.  It seems to be programming that is older than I am.  It feels like a left-over from the stone age; some ancestral game plan to get through until tomorrow.  Worrying over something seems to give me time to puzzle it out.  That’s what I tell myself.  It is still fear.  Fear of life and death.  Fear of money or the lack thereof.  Fear that there isn’t enough time.  Fear for the well-being of my kids.

Worry, I am figuring out,  is the shifting of my focus from the thing, to the fear of the thing.  Fearing it does nothing but place barrier between me and life; or me and money; or me and my kids.  So why has worry become my ‘go to reaction’?  This is what I am worried about now.  Haha.  I am really puzzled about this!  Why do I choose fear first?  Some say that we worry because of the unpredictability of the future.  Some say that it is because we become “aware” of life’s insecurity.  We all want a rock to hang on to and when we don’t find it right away, we worry.

So where does fear come from?  Some say that it is a skill you develop.  From a childhood full of abuse, I can buy that one rather easily.  I decided to investigate my fear of worry, which is another fear…  Are you dizzy yet?  I am.  When I am confused, I seek out the counsel of a friend, mentor or Spiritual leader.  In a pinch I’ll start with Google.  I mean, if Google can’t answer it we are meant to think the world will end, right?  I am fortunate however to have some really great and intelligent friends who are willing to share with me.  So rather than starting with Google, I started with one of  the smartest friends I have who just so happens to know A LOT about the brain and how it functions.

Her name is Dr. Jeri LaVigne.   She is an educational and health psychologist who has been working in the Atlanta area for more than 25 years helping children and adults reach their goals and dreams by teaching them how to better process information. Once people understand how they process or do not process the vital information that they have to take in and understand, Jeri works with them to fill in the gaps and help them acquire that information and process it more fully.  She is a fantastic woman, a wonderful friend and really knows her stuff!

So I asked her, “Where does fear come from?”  This is her response:

“Fear happens when we are triggered beyond our ability to stay within our window of tolerance in any given situation. The different areas of the brain stop communicating and our pre-frontal cortex function stops.  It simply stops communicating and we have no reason or any real ability to think.  We are left with the amygdala,  that fight, flight or freeze response. The amygdala has a giant Rolodex of information that is based on our response to every situation that’s been stored in the memory bank. The amygdala quickly, I mean in a millisecond quickly, goes through this information to see how the body and the brain have responded to similar situations like the one it’s in now. Based on what the amygdala comes up with, it decides if the signal is an emergency or not. When the amygdala starts to see all situations as fearful, and if the cortex is not strong enough to override the amygdala, the brain is hijacked. The amygdala is in charge, and the body is being run by the emotion of fear. The mind is incapable of thinking rationally and just reacts instead of responds at this point.” ~Dr. LaVigne

Photo credit: fiddle oak / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: fiddle oak / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Ok.  My interpretation:  You get scared and go apeshit.  Got it.  So I guess the worry comes from the want to stay away from that point.  That moment when your mind gets “hijacked”.  I believe that we bring to us or manifest what we focus on.  So if I am focused on worry, I bring about more worry.  If I focus on fear, I bring more fear.  So how do I eliminate worry?  I quit worrying.  Simple, huh?



That I have figured out is where faith comes in.  That’s how I break the cycle of worry.  I have faith that I am in the right moment, at the right time and I am exactly where I am suppose to be.  Do I still worry then?  Yes but not for as long anymore.  I also don’t go there as quickly.  I can actually breathe first and then look at the situation.  It hasn’t stopped the worry yet but I know it will.  Faith.  Does it mean I have less faith because I worry?  No.  I don’t think so.  Faith is an exercise just like walking.  The first time I walked a mile I was out of breath and muscles that I hadn’t used in a long time screamed at me.  The next time I was still out of breath but I recover more quickly.  Faith is like that.  When I exercise it, it tends to push away the worry longer or cuts it off quicker than before.

The only way to stop worrying is to worry less.  Seems like a contradiction but with the right exercise, I believe I can do it.  Perhaps, the only way to conquer fear is to question it, so as to disarm it? Effectively removing the teeth from the monster. It doesn’t mean the monster won’t bite, just that I’m less likely to be bitten…hmmmmmm…

I am ready to walk the next mile now.  Who’s with me?

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Photo credit: *Zephyrance – don’t wake me up. / Foter / CC BY-ND

 

 

(For more information on fear or the way the brain processes information, check out Dr. LaVigne’s website: efficientbrain.com or jerilavigne.com)

Until next lesson,
lizabeth

firewalkI made a pact with myself at the beginning of 2013 to feed my soul on a regular basis. This includes taking time out of the everyday to focus, meditate and pray. I just spent a wonderful weekend up on Lookout Mountain at an Edwene Gaine’s Retreat. The focus of the retreat was “Creating the Millionaire Mind” but the emphasis is the underlying, “change your thoughts, change your life.” The combination is a wonderful formula for the truly prosperous life. As usual, the intended focus that draws me however is not the lesson I received. I think this is why this venue works so well for me. It is a weekend built on spiritual principles, that has practical applications but leaves room for me to explore my individual needs.

This weekend was different though. I stayed at the same place, had time to catch up on my journaling, enjoyed the wonderful surroundings and beautiful weather but something was different. I couldn’t pinpoint it. It wasn’t until the Sunday evening that I understood it. When the weather permits or there isn’t a burn ban that is being enforced, these weekends usually end with a fire walk. I have walked on fire many times before. Crazy sounding I know, but each one marked a milestone in my personal transformation and brought with it the initiation of another growth spurt in me. Walking over those hot coals was one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had in the physical flesh.

Every time I experience it, I approach the fire with an intention. For example, I walked one time to celebrate freedom from the past; once to mark the passing of a loved one; and once to welcome the future. There are as many reasons to do it, as to not. This time I searched for the intention that I wanted this walk to represent but had trouble deciding. I chose to just walk and see what happened. Maybe something would hit me later.

There is no reason to teach someone to walk on fire. Trust me. If you take one step on a bed of coals, your body KNOWS what to do to get you off. I am no exception. I don’t speak of my experience often because most people don’t understand why a sane person would subject themselves to such a degree of danger, and let’s face it, the raw fear of it. Most people, including me, have a deep fear of fire.  From a small age we are taught that fire burns, as we grow we are taught how to manipulate it to serve us.

So why in the world would someone do it? Why do some people choose to climb a mountain? Why do others jump out of perfectly good airplanes for reasons other than to save their life? They do it for the same and probably very different reasons I chose to participate in the fire walk. We do it to conquer fear or to enjoy fear-less-ness.
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It wasn’t until I stood at the start of the runway of coals, that I figured out what was missing. Fear. My automatic fear to this fire walk was GONE. The first time I walked I was terrified. No doubt about it. Each subsequent time there was a decrease in the amount but there was still a healthy dose to overcome. Each fire walk had some element of fear. It wasn’t just lessened this time. It was gone. I stood at the start of the runway, staring at the bed of coals and I had NO FEAR.

I walked across the coals with complete confidence and zero fear of the fire that still burned under my feet. As I came off the fire, I was so overwhelmed with confusion I couldn’t rejoice. Not yet. My conscious thoughts wandered immediately to the “what the hell just happened” frame of mind. It decided that there was no way that someone could walk on fire with no fear, so logically, I must do it again. Once again I approached the fire and waited…yes I actually waited, for the fear to overtake me. I braced myself but I didn’t feel the first symptom of fear. My stomach didn’t knot up; my throat didn’t constrict; my palms didn’t sweat, and my breath stayed with me.

I had done it. Actually conquered my fear! I had heard Edwene say numerous times that “the fire ‘loves us’ and anything that loves us cannot hurt us.” In that moment, I understood. Fear is false evidence appearing real. When I was first faced with the challenge, I continued to let fear guide my response.  Once I had faced the appearance of danger and had proved it not to be dangerous in those circumstances, I could walk through the veil of fear.  The second time I walked that hot bed of coals, I did it with my head held high and in full confidence of my abilities to face whatever challenges are coming.

This made me question, where does fear come from?  That is a good question.  I’m going to really investigate that one.  It may just be the key that unravels the rest of my worries.  Let me know your thoughts.

I’ll keep you posted,

lizabeth