Tuesday was the birthday of my new book The Fear Cure: Cultivating Courage As Medicine For The Body, Mind & Soul. To celebrate the book’s birth, Tosha Silver and I hosted a workshop about transforming fear with spiritual surrender for 100 people live in the Bay area and 1000 people streaming in from around the globe. Given how fear-based our culture is and how much unnecessary suffering results from our belief that we have to control life, spiritual surrender is a core part of letting fear cure YOU.
Essentially, the process of spiritual surrender is about taking that thing you’re afraid of or that problem you think you have to solve or that unmet longing in your heart for that thing you want but don’t yet have—and making it an offering to the Divine. It’s about taking all of it—your fears, your desires, your need for control—and turning it over to the arms of Love, trusting that you will be protected and guided to take any inspired action necessary, either by internal intuition, your body’s compass, or external Signs from the Universe. Then, having offered this with deep trust, you wait. The part that requires courage is the part that asks you to follow the guidance, even if you don’t like it.
Someone said, “I’m afraid I won’t be brave enough to give up what I want and say yes to what my soul is asking of me.”
Ay! There’s the rub!
We are afraid we’ll fall back into old patterns of having to control life, managing it to make sure we get what we want. Here’s the thing. I no longer trust my ego to be at the wheel. Sure, I might be able to “manifest” what my ego wants. But it doesn’t fulfill me to the depths that following my soul’s yearnings does. When my soul takes the wheel, yes, it tends to take me on a rollercoaster. My soul asks me to do crazy things! But the payoff is worth giving up what I think I want.
The reward is freedom. Priceless.
For those who missed the event with Tosha and I, I wanted to share with you an excerpt from The Fear Cure.
Excerpt From The Fear Cure
When you master the art of surrender, you come into right relationship with uncertainty, develop a healthy relationship with your desires, watch your fear dissipate, and become naturally brave. You no longer depend on fear to keep you safe, because you trust that something bigger than you is on it already. Then you can let go of the safety bar and make yourself a vessel in service to the highest good.
It’s hard to break this all down into some “how to” process, but in case you need help learning to surrender, I’ve distilled several steps from the teachings of my teachers in order to help you call in your courage. Most of these lessons in surrender draw upon Tosha Silver’s teachings from Outrageous Openness, as well as Martha Beck’s “Four Technologies of Magic” from Finding Your Way in a Wild New World.
1. Name Your Desire
Whether you’re applying this process to your desire to be less afraid, your desire to get healthy, or your desire to find love, the process of surrender begins the same way. In spite of what you might have been taught in Sunday school, desire is never wrong. It’s a signpost pointing toward what lights you up, feeds your soul, sparks your enthusiasm, and makes you feel alive. Sometimes we’re misguided in what we think we desire. You might think you want your best friend’s husband, but what you really want is the kind of soulful connection you feel when you’re with him—which you’re likely to find in someone else in a way that doesn’t threaten your integrity and lead you into betraying your best friend. Desire is simply information. It’s feedback about what sparks your Inner Pilot Light.
2. Surrender Your Desire
The minute you identify your desire, turn it over. Want to become brave? Surrender. Afraid your husband is cheating on you? Surrender. Worried you’ll pick the wrong gift for your bestie’s birthday? Surrender. Frustrated from trying to fix the computer glitch that just ate your blog post? Surrender. Usually, in our culture, we skip this step—or come to it on our knees, as a last resort, when everything else we know how to do has failed—but really it’s the first thing we should do.
How do you surrender a desire? The Small Self will always try to take control of the process of surrender. But that’s not what surrender is about. It’s not about teaching your Small Self how to surrender so you can get what you want. It’s about making an offering to the Divine and being genuinely willing to accept whatever is in the highest good, even if it flies in the face of what you desire. Surrender is about unburdening yourself from the weight of your longing. Tosha Silver teaches us to see the desire like a 100-pound box pushing heavily on the heart. Visualize this, then visualize giving the weighty box to whatever Higher Power feels right to you. The longing is no longer yours to force into being. The problem is no longer yours to solve. Tosha also teaches what she calls “Change Me” prayers, because they bypass the attachment of the Small Self. For example, “Change me into someone who can surrender instead of someone who has to always be in control.”
As Martha Beck says, “Attention. Intention. No tension.” The key is releasing attachment to the specific outcome you desire. Let your prayer be “This—or better.” Be open to miracles.
3. Get Wordless
This is an energetic step, which requires dropping into a certain state of consciousness. Getting Wordless, which activates both sides of your brain, is what Martha Beck calls the “First Technology of Magic.” Jung called this Wordless state the “collective unconscious,” and Martha likens it to tapping into some sort of “energy internet” that allows you to hook into something larger than little ol’ you. Getting Wordless can be facilitated by techniques such as feeling into the insides of your hands, pulling your senses into “open focus,” following your own bloodstream, “sense-drenching” (letting yourself experience the world through all five senses at once), connecting deeply with nature, sacred dance, unfocusing your eyes and thinking about sleep, or opening the mind through the use of paradox. For specific instructions on how to practice these techniques, read Martha’s book.
4. Tap into Oneness
Tapping into Oneness (Martha’s “Second Technology Of Magic”) is about getting out of the Small Self and becoming One with all that is—allowing the separation between you, other life forms, and what you desire to dissolve. When this happens, it’s as if you’re sending an e-mail on the energy internet, bringing the essence of what you desire closer to you. Don’t forget that what gets closer may not be the thing you thought you desired. It may be a feeling state you think you’ll get when you have a certain thing. Perhaps you think you want a million dollars, but what you really desire is the feeling of ease that accompanies your idea of having a million dollars. It may be that ease shows up in other ways, minus the money.
Some of Martha’s techniques for tapping into Oneness include easefully bending flatware by energetically becoming One with it and feeling it “melt” under your hands, letting the produce in the grocery store communicate with you about which plants are good for you and which ones aren’t, entraining other humans into a calm state of consciousness, or telepathically communicating with your pet—or even a wild animal—and seeing if it responds to you.
5. Imagine Your Intention into Being
Imagining yourself being brave represents Martha’s “Third Technology Of Magic.” Although it may seem similar to fantasizing, this process is vastly different. Fantasy has a quality of grasping about it. It almost hurts to fantasize because you’re afraid you’ll be disappointed if you don’t get what you’re dreaming of. Fantasy often has an unachievable feel about it; Imagining feels as though, in some dimension, what you desire has already come to be. Imagining is about sensing what yearns to be created, rather than merely getting what you want.
6. Be On the Alert for Guidance
Now that you’ve gotten clear on your desire, turned it over to the Universe, practiced Wordlessness and Oneness, and Imagined what you desire coming into being, it’s time to let yourself be guided. Practice radical listening. Watch for signs from the Universe. Pay attention to your intuitive knowing. The signs are everywhere, and they’re trying to get your attention, but you’ll miss them if you’re not on the lookout. Anticipate guidance and then tune in. Be aware of the tendency to misinterpret guidance, especially when it is guiding you away from what you desire. This is where nonattachment is especially crucial. Remember, it’s not about getting what you want; it’s about surrendering and aligning with what wants to become.
7. Take Inspired Action
When you’re paying attention to guidance, at some point you will be called to DO SOMETHING. Martha’s “Fourth Technology of Magic” defines this stage as “Forming.” Tosha Silver suggests paying attention to spanda at this point in the process. Spanda is a Sanskrit term that means “to move a little.” In other words, surrendering doesn’t equal passivity. Sometimes you’ll be called to inspired action. Can’t tell whether or not to act? Then use your body as a compass. If you’re considering taking some action in the direction of your desire, do you feel a full-body YES that makes you leap up with enthusiasm? Or does it feel like a “should” that leaves your body exhausted at the mere thought of it? Inspired action feels energizing and easeful, while ego-driven striving can leave you feeling drained, stressed, or overwhelmed with dread. Inspired action may require you to put your butt in the chair and do something challenging, but it will still have the feeling of play about it.
8. Be Patient
This is the hard part. You may wish you could become brave overnight. You may wish you suddenly had what it takes to ditch false fear and let courage take the lead in all your decision making. But sometimes what you desire doesn’t show up exactly when you want it in exactly the form you want it in. This is when people have a tendency to get frustrated, blame themselves for not “manifesting” correctly, or get angry at God for not delivering the desire on a silver platter. Once you’ve practiced the other steps, be willing to wait. And wait. And wait. Trust divine timing. And be willing to change course if guidance leads you to do so.
9. Practice Gratitude
Maybe you got what you desired and fear is a thing of the past for you. But maybe, if you’re like most mere mortals, you’re still afraid from time to time. Either way, find the perfection in it. Be grateful for the learning. If your desire came into being, let yourself be awash in the grace of it all. If it didn’t, be grateful that something even better—whatever wants to become—is on its way. Even if you only feel a little more brave at the end of this journey, express thanks.
As Mama Gena says, “Unexpressed blessings turn to shit.” Thank your courage—or whatever else you may have called into being. Trust the process. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
PS. For those who haven’t seen it yet, the new TheFearCureBook.com website is live, and you can download the free “Prescription For Courage Kit” there. The kit includes 5 guided meditations which I recorded with my musician friend Karen Drucker, meant to amplify the content of The Fear Cure. You can also watch the trailer for my new PBS special The Fear Cure, which starts this weekend! I’ll be on my National Public Television tour for the next two weeks, visiting local stations live, so check your local public television station for listings.
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