Author Topic: How can one work with deep fears most effectively?  (Read 5182 times)

icy

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How can one work with deep fears most effectively?
« on: August 24, 2012, 02:57:55 AM »
There are quite a number of methods. The first is to think about actions and their effects. Usually when something bad happens, we say, "Oh, very unlucky," and when something good happens, we say, "Oh, very lucky." Actually, these two words, lucky and unlucky, are insufficient. There must be some reason. Because of a reason, a certain time became lucky or unlucky, but usually we do not go beyond lucky or unlucky. The reason, according to the Buddhist explanation, is our past karma, our positive or negative actions.

One way to work with deep fears is to think that the fear comes as a result of our own actions in the past. Further, if we have fear of some pain or suffering, we should examine whether there is anything we can do about it. If we can, there is no need to worry about it; if we cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.

Ensapa

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Re: How can one work with deep fears most effectively?
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2012, 01:21:24 PM »
Here's a few Buddhist approaches to deep fears and fears in general:

Quote
HE BUDDHIST APPROACH

"The Buddha discovered how to conquer absolutely what man fears: he discovered a practical method, now called Buddhism, for eliminating suffering."
Ven. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

The Buddhist therapy of treating exaggerated fears is probably not essentially different from the Western ways of treatment. Treatment is based on trying to see that fear is a form of suffering that we wish to get rid of, and using habituation and the control of our mind to dissolve irrational fears. It is only that Buddhism tries to take the solution of mental problems to their very end, to stop our very potential for suffering and problems by achieving liberation and enlightenment.
From: Dealing with Fear - Tonglen Practice by Ringu Tulku

What frightens us most is the thought of being afraid. That is the greatest fear. Nothing puts us in more danger than our own mind and when what we are frightened of actually happens, it is never as bad as we imagined. There is no protection against fear. Even when we think that we have found some safety, we still wonder if our defenses are reliable and this uncertainty destroys our security. We create fear and we can uncreate it. It is a habit that can be broken. A good remedy against fear is to actively provoke it. Instead of feeling helpless we confront our worst fear. If you are frightened of losing something, give it away. If heights scare you, climb to a high place. If you are terrified of speaking in public, stand before an audience. This is the simplest way of mastering fear.

The ultimate fear is the fear of death, the loss of our ego and everything we have. In that sense, fear is nothing but a form of attachment, in this case to our life, our concept of 'self', and all our possessions etc. If we think about ourselves in terms of rebirth, suddenly death becomes a much less 'final end', it is only the end of this stage of existence, and after that a new stage will begin. Of course, as we are unsure about what will happen in that next life, we can easily become anxious and scared, but just fear will not be of any help at all. It becomes much more important to ensure that our next life will become a pleasant one, without too much suffering.

Most other types of fear are related to possible physical or mental pain, or loss of possessions. With the possibility of physical or mental pain in the future, we probably need to start working at it to prevent it from happening, rather than be frozen in our own miserable predictions and depression. So we should act, rather than crawl away. In the bigger perspective however, as long as we remain in the cycle of rebirth, we cannot escape suffering at all. We need to work to liberate ourselves from suffering. The highest type of this motivation is that we also want all other living beings to become free from suffering (the Mahayana motivation of Bodhicitta).

The fear of losing possessions (including 'our' family and loved ones) is simply a form of attachment, another delusion we all have, and which is a major reason to our 'holding on' to life, and a reason why we are reborn instead of liberated.

 From the Dhammapada 212-216 (a collection of sayings of the Buddha):
"From what is dear, grief is born,
from what is dear, fear is born.
For someone freed from what is dear
there is no grief
-- so why fear?

From what is loved, grief is born,
from what is loved, fear is born.
For someone freed from what is loved,
there is no grief
-- so why fear?

From delight, grief is born,
from delight, fear is born.
For someone freed from delight
there is no grief
-- so why fear?

From sensuality, grief is born,
from sensuality, fear is born.
For someone freed from sensuality
there is no grief
-- so why fear?

From craving, grief is born,
from craving, fear is born.
For someone freed from craving
there is no grief
-- so why fear?"

Question: How can one work with deep fears most effectively?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama: There are quite a number of methods. The first is to think about actions and their effects. Usually when something bad happens, we say, "Oh, very unlucky," and when something good happens, we say, "Oh, very lucky." Actually, these two words, lucky and unlucky, are insufficient. There must be some reason. Because of a reason, a certain time became lucky or unlucky, but usually we do not go beyond lucky or unlucky. The reason, according to the Buddhist explanation, is our past karma, our actions.

One way to work with deep fears is to think that the fear comes as a result of your own actions in the past. Further, if you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.

Another technique is to investigate who is becoming afraid. Examine the nature of your self. Where is this I? Who is I? What is the nature of I? Is there an I besides my physical body and my consciousness? This may help.

Also, someone who is engaging in the Bodhisattva practices seeks to take others' suffering onto himself or herself. When you have fear, you can think, "Others have fear similar to this; may I take to myself all of their fears." Even though you are opening yourself to greater suffering, taking greater suffering to yourself, your fear lessens.

From A Policy of Kindness: An Anthology of Writings By and About the Dalai Lama

Two letters by Lama Zopa Rinpoche to students - from Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.
Fear of Flying
"Just before departure and during the flight, it is very good to recite the names of the ten directions’ Buddhas. If you keep on reciting the names, in whichever direction you are flying, if you recite that Buddha’s names and pay one-pointed attention to this, not only will you be free from danger, but your wishes will be fulfilled. So not only is this for safe travel, but for the successful fulfillment of whatever goals you had for going in that direction.
It is very good to pray not just for your own safety, but on behalf of all the people in the airplane—all 300 passengers and crew, or however many people there are—for them all to have a safe journey. Not only that, but you can pray that whoever this airplane carries may always be safe. It’s very good to pray like that."
Fear of Snakes
A German woman had had a fear of snakes since she was a child. At the age of nine, she saw a smashed snake in her parents’ garden, and a woman in Germany, who was clairvoyant but not Buddhist, told her that in a former life she had destroyed people.
"You do not need clairvoyance. This is explained by karma. In a past life, after dying because of a snake killing you or dying out of fear of snakes, this often goes into the next life.
Some beings are born in a shape that gives fear to others. It is just like that. Often it is a result of anger. One did some unpleasant things to others, and now one fears the result.
Even I would run away when I see a snake. That is normal.
Think of the suffering of the snake: It has no chance. If it had a choice, it would take another form. The snake itself has a fear of eagles. Use the snake to generate compassion and to develop bodhicitta. If you had the opportunity, you would also choose another body, not a body that nobody likes. Snakes are very afraid, they hide themselves and disappear as soon as someone comes close.
Meditate on compassion, and you will reach enlightenment, by understanding the suffering of the snake. Now the snake becomes so compassionate. Now the snake is actually giving you enlightenment, and you are able to liberate all sentient beings. When you have compassion and bodhicitta, no snake can give you harm.
For example, when St. Francis of Assisi met a dangerous wolf, the wolf actually lay down on its back. St. Francis tamed the wolf’s mind by the power of his compassion. He told the wolf to stop harming others, and the wolf did. No being could harm St. Francis of Assisi; even the elements such as fire and water can be controlled by the power of compassion."


In short...facing the fears is the best way to deal with them.

Tenzin K

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Re: How can one work with deep fears most effectively?
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2012, 04:48:09 PM »
Being without fear, you create fear.
The renown of fear cannot be feared.
When through fear you examine yourself,
You trample on the egg of fear.

Fear & Fearlessness, by Chogyam Trungpa.

The crazy wisdom approach to fear is to not regard it purely as a hang-up, but to realize that fear is intelligent. It has a message of its own. Fear is worth respecting. If we dismiss fear as an obstacle and try to ignore it, then we might end up having accidents. In other words, fear is a very wise message.

You can’t con fear, or frighten fear. You have to respect fear. You might try to tell yourself that it’s not real, that it’s false, but such an approach is questionable. It is better to develop some kind of respect, realizing that neurosis is also a message, rather than garbage that you should just throw away. The whole starting point for working with fear and other emotions is the idea of samsara and nirvana, confusion and enlightenment, being one. Samsara is not regarded as a nuisance alone, but it has its own potent message that is worthy of respect.

Fear contains insight as well as the panicky blind quality we often associate with it. The element of panic has a deaf and dumb quality—you know: doing the best you can, in spite of your fear, hoping everything will be okay. But fear without hope seems to be something very insightful. If you give up your hope of attaining something, then tuning into fear is tuning into its insightful quality. Then, skillful means or action arises spontaneously out of the fear itself. Fear can be extremely resourceful rather than representing hopelessness. It is the opposite of hopelessness, in fact.

RedLantern

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Re: How can one work with deep fears most effectively?
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2012, 06:07:59 PM »

Most people want more change toward the world. This longing is to begin by bringing in more peace into our personal lived, body mind and spirit
Changing the world begins with changing ourselves first."our deepest fear is that we are inedequate.Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.It is our light,not our darkness that most frighten us.
We ask ourselves "Who am I to be brillant,gorgeous and talented,fabulous" Actually who we are not to be?
Playing small doesnt serve the world.There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel unsecure .around us.As we let our own light shine,we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.As we are liberated from our fear,our presence automatically liberates others.

fruven

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Re: How can one work with deep fears most effectively?
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2012, 05:14:14 PM »
Fear of unknown, afraid of retaliation. Extreme fear can cause one to become paralysis, it can go into two directions, not thinking about it, avoiding it, denying it, and not confronting, or keep thinking about it, doubting oneself and it become a depression and withdrawal. Confronting it maybe effective for some but it can become negative for others. Not confronting it, that is avoiding thinking too much about it, maybe effective for some but also can become negative for others. In either case the fear is still there and it grows stronger when the conditions or environmental circumstances are triggered again.

We have been always living in fear knowingly or unknowingly. Instead of focusing in, we can focus out. The article mentioned compassion for others as they key which I very much agreed. If we are always used to focusing in, now we focus out, thinking of others, then our fear will become much smaller.  :)

Here's a few Buddhist approaches to deep fears and fears in general:

Quote
Fear of Snakes
A German woman had had a fear of snakes since she was a child. At the age of nine, she saw a smashed snake in her parents’ garden, and a woman in Germany, who was clairvoyant but not Buddhist, told her that in a former life she had destroyed people.
"You do not need clairvoyance. This is explained by karma. In a past life, after dying because of a snake killing you or dying out of fear of snakes, this often goes into the next life.
Some beings are born in a shape that gives fear to others. It is just like that. Often it is a result of anger. One did some unpleasant things to others, and now one fears the result.
Even I would run away when I see a snake. That is normal.
Think of the suffering of the snake: It has no chance. If it had a choice, it would take another form. The snake itself has a fear of eagles. Use the snake to generate compassion and to develop bodhicitta. If you had the opportunity, you would also choose another body, not a body that nobody likes. Snakes are very afraid, they hide themselves and disappear as soon as someone comes close.
Meditate on compassion, and you will reach enlightenment, by understanding the suffering of the snake. Now the snake becomes so compassionate. Now the snake is actually giving you enlightenment, and you are able to liberate all sentient beings. When you have compassion and bodhicitta, no snake can give you harm.
For example, when St. Francis of Assisi met a dangerous wolf, the wolf actually lay down on its back. St. Francis tamed the wolf’s mind by the power of his compassion. He told the wolf to stop harming others, and the wolf did. No being could harm St. Francis of Assisi; even the elements such as fire and water can be controlled by the power of compassion."


In short...facing the fears is the best way to deal with them.


buddhalovely

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Re: How can one work with deep fears most effectively?
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2012, 10:29:02 AM »
Actually this question was answered by his holiness himself, and he said:

One way to work with deep fears is to think that the fear comes as a result of your own actions in the past. Further, if you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.
Another technique is to investigate who is becoming afraid. Examine the nature of your self. Where is this I? Who is I? What is the nature of I? Is there an I besides my physical body and my consciousness? This may help.
Also, someone who is engaging in the Bodhisattva practices seeks to take others' suffering onto himself or herself. When you have fear, you can think, "Others have fear similar to this; may I take to myself all of their fears." Even though you are opening yourself to greater suffering, taking greater suffering to yourself, your fear lessens.

ratanasutra

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Re: How can one work with deep fears most effectively?
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2012, 01:46:03 PM »
Most of us are having fear and we do not know how to deal with it, in our daily life we have so many things to fear due to lack of confident and knowledge. Below are from geshe kelsang dyatso book.

Types of Fear
There are two types of fear, deluded or unhealthy and non-deluded or healthy. These can also be divided into fear of the inevitable and fear of the evitable. The key to dealing with fear is to check which type of fear we have, and to transform our unhealthy fears of what we can do nothing about into healthy, appropriate fears of what we can do something about. We can then use these as the motivation to develop refuge and to overcome what is really dangerous, and even eventually to overcome what at present seems inevitable, such as sickness, old age, and death.

Transforming Fear
When we are frightened, we should ask ourselves what we are actually frightened of. Are we frightened of getting sick? But at present we have no choice in that, and so that fear is not constructive. It is wiser to be afraid of contaminated rebirth and the four rivers of birth, ageing, sickness, and death, all caused by our delusions. This fear is constructive, it is called “renunciation”, the wish definitely to escape from samsara’s sufferings, the motivation that will enable us to escape from samsara and all sickness.

Fear of Death
Or maybe we’re afraid of death. Again, though, as we are definitely going to die, that fear is not constructive and will lead to inappropriate responses such as denial or a sense of futility or meaninglessness in our life. However, although we have to die, we don’t have to die with an uncontrolled mind. It is therefore wise to transform our fear of dying into a fear of dying with an uncontrolled mind, the motivation that will ensure we prepare for a peaceful and controlled death.

Fear of Rejection
Or maybe we are afraid of rejection. Again, from where does this fear actually stem? Perhaps it is the fear of people disliking us. So what can we do about that? Change our mind and like them instead. That is in our control.

Fear of Being Trapped
Our fear of commitment, of being trapped, not able to back out, can also be transformed into a constructive fear when we recognize that what is really trapping us is our own mind. Real and healthy fear comes from recognizing that we are not committed to our escape from samsara, and serves as the motivation for seeking that commitment to escape.

Liberation from Fear
In other words, we cannot control whether things will go our way or not, but we can learn to control our own minds, our responses, and our own conduct, and in this way gradually find a genuine liberation from all fear. As Shantideva says in Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:

“Buddha, the Able One, says,
‘Thus, all fears
And all infinite sufferings
Arise from the mind’.”

And:

“.. it is not possible
To control all external events;
But, if I simply control my mind,
What need is there to control other things?

Jessie Fong

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Re: How can one work with deep fears most effectively?
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2012, 02:10:04 PM »
There are only five basic fears, out of which almost all of our other so-called fears are manufactured. Those five basic fears are:

Extinction - fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist. This is a more fundamental way to express it than just calling it the "fear of death". The idea of no longer being arouses a primary existential anxiety in all normal humans. Consider that panicky feeling you get when you look over the edge of a high building.

Mutilation - fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of having our body's boundaries invaded, or of losing the integrity of any organ, body part, or natural function. For example, anxiety about animals, such as bugs, spiders, snakes, and other creepy things arises from fear of mutilation.

Loss of Autonomy - fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or controlled by circumstances. In a physical form, it's sometimes known as claustrophobia, but it also extends to social interactions and relationships.

Separation - fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness - of becoming a non-person - not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else. The "silent treatment," when imposed by a group, can have a devastating psychological effect on the targeted person.

Ego-death - fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; fear of the shattering or disintegration of one's constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.


--- Published on March 22, 2012 by Karl Albrecht, Ph.D. in BrainSnacks

President Franklin Roosevelt famously asserted, "The only thing we have to feah, is feah itself." I think he was right, actually.

----------------------------------------------------


pgdharma

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Re: How can one work with deep fears most effectively?
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2012, 03:00:47 PM »
“If we learn to control our mind….
the source of all our fear, healthy and unhealthy, is eradicated.”
According to Buddhism, there is healthy and unhealthy fear and all Buddha’s teachings are methods to overcome the delusions, the source of all fears.

According to Buddhism, there is unhealthy fear and healthy fear. For example, when we are afraid of something that cannot actually harm us – such as spiders – or something we can do nothing to avoid – such as old age or being struck down with smallpox or being run over by a truck – then our fear is unhealthy, for it serves only to make us unhappy and paralyze our will. On the other hand, when someone gives up smoking because they are afraid of developing lung cancer, this is a healthy fear because the danger is real and there are constructive steps they can take to avoid it.

Root of Fear

We have many fears-fear of terrorism, fear of death, fear of being separated from people we love, fear of losing control, fear of commitment, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of losing our job, the list is never-ending! Many of our present fears are rooted in what Buddha identified as “delusions” – distorted ways of looking at ourselves and the world around us. If we learn to control our mind, and reduce and eventually eliminate these delusions, the source of all our fear, healthy and unhealthy, is eradicated.

Healthy Fear


However, right now we need the healthy fear that arises from taking stock of our present situation so that we can resolve to do something about it. For example, there is no point in a smoker being scared of dying of lung cancer unless there is something that he or she can or will do about it, i.e. stop smoking. If a smoker has a sufficient fear of dying of lung cancer, he or she will take steps to kick the habit. If he prefers to ignore the danger of lung cancer, he will continue to create the causes of future suffering, living in denial and effectively giving up control.

Just as a smoker who is vulnerable to lung cancer due to cigarettes, it is true that at the moment we are vulnerable to danger and harm, we are vulnerable to ageing, sickness, and eventually death, all due to our being trapped in samsara-the state of uncontrolled existence that is a reflection of our own uncontrolled minds. We are vulnerable to all the mental and physical pain that arises from an uncontrolled mind-such as the pains that come from the delusions of attachment, anger, and ignorance. We can choose to live in denial of this and thereby give up what control we have, or we can choose to recognize this vulnerability, recognize that we are in danger, and then find a way to avert the danger by removing the actual causes of all fear (the equivalent of the cigarettes)-the delusions and negative, unskillful actions motivated by those delusions. In this way we gain control, and if we are in control we have no cause for fear.

Balanced Fear

A balanced fear of our delusions and the suffering to which they inevitably give rise is therefore healthy because it serves to motivate constructive action to avoid a real danger. We only need fear as an impetus until we have removed the causes of our vulnerability through finding spiritual, inner refuge and gradually training the mind. Once we have done this, we are fearless because we no longer have anything that can harm us, like a Foe Destroyer (someone who has attained liberation, defeated the foe of the delusions) or a Buddha (a fully enlightened being).



RedLantern

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Re: How can one work with deep fears most effectively?
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2012, 03:24:49 PM »
Deep fear can be overcome if you are ready to conquer the fear once and for all.Redirecting your unconscious mind where on the surface you know your deep fear is illogical,but has persisted due to your subconscious linked to a whole load of powerful negative emotions.
Change your perceptions and simply walk through the process that enable you to do so.The process includes specific steps to gaining confidence,calm and happiness,as well as proven procedures for overcoming anger, sadness,fear,hurt,guilt and anxiety.
The good news is you will conquer your deep fear without drugs.

Midakpa

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Re: How can one work with deep fears most effectively?
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2012, 05:17:32 PM »
What are the deep fears that we experience? These are the eight great fears mentioned in the famous praise to Tara. One of Tara's special qualities is to protect people from fear. The eight fears are actual dangers but they also represent internal enemies. These inner maras will keep us in samsara if we don't get rid of them. They are as follows:

1. lions = pride
2. elephants =ignorance
3. fire = anger
4. poisonous snakes = jealousy
5. thieves = wrong views
6. imprisonment = stinginess
7. floods = desire
8. ghosts = doubt

How can one overcome these fears?

The antidotes to the above are as follows:

1. pride - humility and compassion
2. ignorance - mindfulness and wisdom
3. anger - patience and acceptance
4. jealousy - rejoicing and appreciation
5. wrong views - right views
6. stinginess - generosity
7. desire - letting go
8. doubt - faith




Dondrup Shugden

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Re: How can one work with deep fears most effectively?
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2015, 03:49:07 PM »
Fear is a deep rooted experience that can be derived from an unpleasant incident of which you are a participant and for all that matters even from the experience of sheer happiness. This then is the fear of reoccurrance or non reoccurrance. As Buddhist we believe that this is happening due to the result of Karma. So if from previous times we have experienced something with let's say a snake, then whenever we see a snake we fear.

If we live in scarcity and always being not enough or inadequate we fear losing.

Fear must not be taken for granted because we do then we may even be careless.

Also remember in order to protect us while we are growing up, fear is indoctrinated into us for our own safety.

Buddhist believe in Karma which is the cause and effect or what you do you reap.  In order to overcome fear, we need to understand the cause and make positive effects to eliminate it.

Like death which is inevitable, we fear it so much that we do not even talk about it.  Buddhism has the best method to overcome fear of death, that is to live your life with the purpose for others and not self.  So when that is achieved, the self is not important and maybe when we die it is the beginning and not the end, for a swift and better rebirth the continue the path of Bodhichitta. 

Kim Hyun Jae

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Re: How can one work with deep fears most effectively?
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2015, 02:53:30 PM »
Are the methods outlined above able to resolve and get rid of deep fears like being raped, being life  threatened, being kidnapped, being abused mentally or physically when they were young?

When these victims grew up still carrying those deeply rooted fears - apart from getting religious help, is there other kind of help they may need like seeing a phycologist? Wouldn't it be great to combine both the religious and medical attention together for better results.



Dondrup Shugden

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Re: How can one work with deep fears most effectively?
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2015, 03:38:43 PM »
I totally agree with you, Kim Hyun Jae, that besides religious it is important to have medical assistance to overcome the very traumatic experiences that you have mentioned.

The religious aspect is very personal and the medical assistance is for one to actually be able to relive the bad experience and let go so that one can go forward and not be held back any more. 

Being among a Dharma environment with much compassion and kindness will help one to heal.