2. Feeling the fear; Action, part 1

You might recall from Feeling the fear, part 1 that I mentioned being a professional procrastinator? Well dedication is one of the things that I find hardest in life – remaining dedicated to a process I start but do not see through to its conclusion or fruition, however my very writing on this page is a step that I’ve managed to take towards my goals of seeing something through. In order for that action to occur, I first had to stop and listen to the thought of it – was it something I wanted or not?

Of course, actions speak louder than words however actions often come from the words that we choose – whether we write or say them or keep them in our heads as thoughts. Choosing our thoughts is making the personal choice to bring a change to our surroundings that is the solution to dealing with fears and worries.

As Lao Tzu (or Laozi – depending where you read his name), an ancient eastern philosopher, writer and teacher from around 500 BC said “watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch you words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” Destiny for any atheistic perspectives reading this can simply be the long-term consequences of the choices that we make.

He wrote this because with awareness of our thoughts we can change our entire life, when you read it as quoted it seems like a warning or caution – something to worry about! However we can choose to look at it in another manner; that by simply gaining some control over our thoughts we can create the things in our lives which we so badly want and deserve!

How do we gain some semblance of control over our emotions? Well, the simple act of taking some time to stop, slow down, shift our concious attention to something we are doing all of the time throughout our lives; breathing.

Meditation is one of the most effective ways to overcome anxiety, deal with worry and to retrain your brain to focus more and not be pulled off balance by the highs and lows (like an amusement ride) of life. It allows us a chance to step back from ourselves and witness us existing in the present moment.

I intend on writing more on the topic of meditation in the coming months as I get into a habitual practise of it myself and to talk around the philosophy of it; from both scientific and spiritual perspectives. However, no matter which angle you choose to take, the basic goal of meditation is to focus and quiet your mind, eventually reaching a higher level of inner calm and self awareness; something that both scientific and spiritual perspectives advocate as being good for us.

For the moment, if you’d like to try some very basic meditation then I’d suggest the following things – find some space where you won’t be disturbed or have any distractions such as the TV or a mobile phone (although complete silence isn’t needed), preferably somewhere you can sit down although you can meditate whilst laying on your bed (I’ll warn you now though doing this makes it very easy for many people to drift off asleep!), or standing up or even (if you practise it) whilst walking! If you keep it up you’ll find that its possible to meditate almost anywhere and at any time – bringing much greater peace and personal control over your life.

Once you have your space and distractions out the way, its a good idea to do some simple stretches as your body is going to need to remain still for the duration. Youtube has some great and simple exercises depending on what is good for your body. Set yourself an alarm so you don’t have to worry about how much time has passed – I’d recommend thirty minutes if you’re able for your first attempt although as little as five minutes will be a help even if you don’t notice it when starting out. Sit down on a flat surface with a cushion such as the floor or a chair, try and keep your back in a straight line (resting it against a wall or something flat) and when you’re ready, rest your hands on your knees and gently close your eyes. The basic aim is to listen to your breathing – take whatever breath feels comfortable to you; try to breath in through your nose if you can and out through your mouth. Listen to the sound and the rhythm of your breathing and try not to let your thoughts carry you away.

When starting out it is very very easy for your thoughts to grab your attention and pull you away from your breath. Its perfectly normal to think about things you have to do, worries, reminders, reflections or simply your imagination creating things. This is your basic brain functions trying to distract you from the task at hand and it can feel very off putting that you can’t easily concentrate on your breath – don’t worry! This is perfectly normal; your mind is always trying to distract you from the peace and calm of a settled and focused mind – you might recall that inner annoying voice that tells us we can’t do the things that we want? Well it is that same voice which is trying to pull you away from the personal peace and awareness that following and listening to your breath brings.

Sometimes you can notice emotions and feelings coming to the surface – often after you’ve managed to ignore the ‘everyday’ thoughts such as whether you cleaned the dishwasher, did you tell your colleague about that piece of information at work that you’d meant to or that tomorrow you must make that long anticipated call that your friend has been expecting. When the emotions come they will again try to pull you away from your focus on the breath, try and always return to the balance of your breathing. Its like trying to look at the sky without getting caught up gazing at the clouds which whizz on past!

When you come to finish your meditation session, open your eyes slowly and take one last deep breath. If you managed to go the whole duration without opening your eyes then very well done – you’re doing better than me and most of my sessions! If you got very distracted and couldn’t maintain your concentration throughout the session without opening your eyes or stopping the session then don’t worry – thats perfectly normal for someone with a very over active mind or imagination and I personally fall into that category. The trick is not to be hard on yourself but to try again the next day.

Perseverance is key to having success with meditation – don’t give up or get put off if you are struggling to maintain this; it actually signifies that meditation would actually benefit you much more! In an ideal world we should each be trying to meditate at the same time each day – whether its 15 minutes in the morning when we wake and stretch or whether its just 5 minutes at lunch time during work.

I’m going to make one last point here which is that some people find that their dreams become more vivid after meditating or even that they have nightmares. This is also perfectly normal and will change and decrease over time with perseverance. This is effectively your subconscious brain (an extension of that inner voice I mentioned earlier) saying “oh right, you’ve decided to deal with the things you chucked back here? Ok great – well here’s some of the things I’ve been wanting to you show you for some time!”.

The process is one that requires dedication and even courage to get the most out of it, which is quite a nice circular experience as meditation itself aids your dedication and courage! If you are finding the experience too intense then reduce the amount of time that you’re meditating for and instead spread it over the day; instead of 15 minutes in the morning try taking 5 minutes at the start, middle and end of the day instead.

There are many different forms and manners of meditation that can be looked at an practised, the link I’ve put at the bottom here is a summary of what I’ve just described above but also goes into some of the different variations and some other things to do whilst preparing or doing meditation¹.

There are two other basic meditations I would suggest  trying; the first is to sit in your comfortable position and place a candle on a table in front of you at approximately eye level half a metre or so away from you. Watch the flame and follow its gentle flickering and monitor your breath as before, eventually you will likely find your eyes gently closing and as they do so continue to keep the mental image of the flame in front of you

Well done any of you reading through this – hopefully you’ve made the first and hardest step forwards in coming to deal with your fears, and if you haven’t got to that point yet – don’t worry, just reading through all of this will have put the idea and notion into your subconscious so that it can take on board what its read and then subtly apply it in your life.

Our brains really are truly amazing – they’re like sponges with the things they can recall without our even realising! They’re also like muscles too, and in order to get the most out of them you’ll need to put them to use. That means that if you really want to take the first step in dealing with fears and worries then you’re going to have to take action – just like Lao Tzu said – actions become habits, habits become character and character becomes destiny.

What destiny is it that you wish to have? Destiny is not wholly predetermined for us, although we have a lot of factors that limit and confine our Free Will (genetics, environment, growing up, social and economic structures around us etc) we still have the ultimate choice in life, difficult though it can be initially; the choice to control our thoughts, from which action and eventually destiny springs.


2. Feeling the fear; Action, part 1

1. Feeling the fear; Awareness

So, I’ve decided that Bill Hicks has some truth is likening the world to a ride at an amusement park eh? Well that may seem amusing for some, particularly someone such as Hicks (being a comedian), but what about the real horrors and suffering that exist within the ‘real’ world we hear so much about? Those pains and travesties that exist beyond ourselves in world without and those that exist in the world within?

It is effectively the root nature of all the topics that I hope to explore in the course of the writings and links and references I will be putting up on here. Where does the boundary between animalistic survival and human consciousness lay? Is it possible to comprehend fear and suffering in a manner that gives us each practical steps towards overcoming it or at least to be able to bear the burden of it a little more easily?

This roughly trod path that veers us into the deep and dark jungle of our mind is where I find myself now taking some first steps, both in an attempt to deal with the inner and outer fears I find in my own life, I’m writing this both in the hope that others will respond and that we can share in the learning experience. I was given a fantastic book by my girlfriend for my birthday – its title is ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ by Susan Jeffers and as I’m sure you guessed the title is the inspiration for writing this initial post delving into the realm of fear and making that first step to coming to terms and eventually deal with it.

Fear: is it something we are defined by or a learning issue?

For many of us, we consider that worrying and the fears that underlie them are deeply ingrained within us, it is a psychological problem that is located somewhere inside the dark recesses of our mind. Susan Jeffers however considers that fear is not a psychological problem but an educational problem, not in the sense of school in that we can each learn to overcome and deal with fear. We can gain acceptance that fear is simply a fact of life rather than some horrendous problem that is never going to change. Change can indeed come by re-educating the mind, if we are open to consider it in that manner however.

Jeffers goes on to describe her own suffering at the hands of fear, usually those of us who suffer from fear that overrides what we want out of life are our own worst enemies; we have an inner voice that continually says things like ‘you’d better not change your situation. There’s nothing else out there for you. You’ll never make it on your own. Don’t take a chance – you’ll probably make a mistake and then you’ll be even more sorry for yourself!’. Eventually, if we wish for it, there comes a point when we have had enough of that annoying voice in the back of our mind and we decide that it is holding us back from our true potential at gaining happiness.

Awareness is the first step

To begin this process though we first need to become aware of that which we fear. A simple enough step for some but to truly delve into what we fear actually involves taking courage, along with concious reflection and introspection, particularly in attempting to find the root cause of such a grievance or deep concern.

However the very turning of our attention to ourselves is in itself amongst the most painful and courageous things we can endure, particularly doing so in a manner which casts asides expectations and predispositions towards ourselves. Anyone seeking to even consider this step has my greatest respect and support. Feel free to write in the comments section below if you are struggling with this – as I said earlier, I’ve started this writing in the hope that others can share in the experience and process of change and personal healing.

It is a consideration that we can only take when we make that choice to do so, only each of us in our sovereign individual right can make such a decision – nobody else can do it for us. If we seek to fill the terrifying chasm within us with reliance on something externally (whether that be a person, experience or substance) we will only continue to live life in dependence of that external factor which puts either great pressure or reliance on that, even if we don’t mean to.

True freedom from fear can only come from within, which like many things in life involves taking a chance. In fact, as Louise Hay; author of You Can Heal Your Life, put it “living is taking chances”. Indeed, its probably worth considering that choosing not to take a chance is of itself taking a chance with life, something which I personally struggle to apply in my own life as a professional procrastinator!

So, the first step is to gain an accurate awareness of that which we have concern for, worry over, fear and which ultimately cause us grief, anxiety and stress. Gaining this awareness takes courage on our own part to cast our gaze upon ourselves and work out what it is within us that is making us unhappy and preventing us from having the things in life that we want and deserve.

If you are struggling to gain the confidence or courage to make this initial step of awareness about fears don’t worry – try to keep things as simple as possible to begin with; try and write some little things that you want to be able to do; nothing is too small for this practise! Try just one or two if this seems somewhat intimidating, alternatively if you’re a little more emboldened pop a couple more down (although no more than 5 for the moment!) or try a more tricky fear or worry. Now, once you’ve got your list of desires down, try to think of what is preventing you from gaining each of these desires in your life. Highlight and cast your awareness over the things which are holding you back, consider what small actions you could take to accomplish some small progress here – taking even a tiny change towards achieving what you want is a brilliant step forwards! What you have managed to do by even lifting the pen to write and name your hopes and fears is the process itself to overcoming your fears; it all begins with an action, no matter how small.

Alternatively, if you are having difficulty in trying to identify the root cause of your worries then panic not – gaining accurate insights into the underlying causes is a slow but consistent process and requires dedication to ourselves in order to achieve this. I’m going to go into this in a little more depth in part 2 with probably the most powerful practical tool any of us can give ourselves – its a tool that we all have; our breath, and no I don’t mean whether we’re using toothpaste or not…!


1. Feeling the fear; Awareness

The beginning of the middle of an end.

“The world is like a ride at an amusement park – and when you choose to go on it you think that its real because that’s how powerful our minds truly are.

The ride goes up and down and round and round; it has thrills and chills and is very brightly coloured and loud. And it’s, for a while.

Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they begin to question – is this real? Or is this just a ride?

And other people have remembered and they come back to us and they say ‘hey, don’t worry, don’t be afraid – ever because, this is just a ride; and we can change it any time we want…’

…It’s only a choice between fear, and love.

The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns and close yourself off.

The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.”

– Bill Hicks¹

Those fateful words of the comedian Bill Hicks rang a reverberating chord deep within the hearts of a great many people who encountered them. What Hicks was suggesting was that life did not have to be taken as seriously as we are led to believe and that the suffering we encounter was largely to do with how visceral and real we each chose to let our own minds imagine and accept.

For me personally it was a transition in my interpretation of a world that was growing more threatening and worrisome by the day; thanks in a major part to the news stories I’d read or heard and people’s reactions to them. The 2008 banking crash had occurred only a couple of years prior and the ripples of despair that emanated from it affecting a massive number of people many of whom had lost their own pensions to the near global economic collapse and the ensuing government bailouts, corporate take overs and the destruction of many small businesses and companies².

It was a dark time and one that was compounded by Conservative leader’s repeated iteration of ‘the big society’ – that we all pull together in the name of individual hard work and volunteerism to get through it all. This was a term that I couldn’t help but feel was a not just a kick in the teeth but the twisting of a knife plunged into the back of the vast majority of people in the UK alone as sweeping cuts to public services occurred in the name of austerity to provide ‘economic recovery’ (quite a joke considering the debt that the UK and other countries builds exponentially every day) to occur whilst CEOs and heads of the world’s largest banking corporations (and affiliated shareholders) bought up the firesale of smaller banking groups and effectively continued to line their coffers with the hard earned savings of millions of people across the world. Meanwhile increased bonuses were dished out (doubtless along with the crystalline chinking of champagne flutes to one another) to their upper echelons of their groups – even as recently as February this year³. A cruelly accurate yet humorous summary of this was enacted by Bird and Fortune’s sketched interview ⁴. Though quoting a humorous video to such a diabolical travesty may well seem inappropriate, often times during great tragedy it is through comedy which we can transmute the experience of fear and horror into aiding us each to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and carry on. The trick however is to learn from such atrocities.

To imagine that life was indeed just a ride and that we could each choose to change how we each interpret it at any time we wanted was a breath of fresh air to consider this notion and that the world we were having imprinted into our mental picture gave a sense of hope to me personally at a time when I had no job, no home and no sense of purpose or direction; I was having to sleep on my kind and good friend Tom’s sofa (in a tiny flat) for several months whilst I found a job and got back onto my feet again; and I was one of the fortunate ones who had few responsibilities beyond the confines of my own life with no children, partner or savings to fear how to deal with.

Little did I realise as tears stung my cheeks at the release of pain that Hick’s words had made upon my mind at the time that a strange new path I’d never before realised existed had opened up before me even as my initial step came down – thinking it’d meet thin air – only to tread into it and feel the sturdiness of solid, even embracing, ground beneath. I found that the more I took steps into the unknown (yet that which I truly yearned to do), the more I found comfort, solidarity, solace and even ecstatic joy!

The pervading sense of unease at the world around me had remained a perennial issue in the pits of my conscious outlook, but that anxiety and fear had finally found a release and the experience of that realisation was more liberating than anything I’d ever encountered before. That very release I’ve since come to consider was the initial experience of self-healing and greater self awareness, and it is for that very reason that I write these words now; in the hope of sharing with others who have experienced or may continue to be experiencing similar feelings of concern at themselves, their proximal world, the wider world, the human condition and the role of each of person individually and collectively as humanity expands within existence itself.

I will state finally that nothing I write here is in anyway a sense of absolutism – I try hard not to deal in definites (as its my outlook that noone and nothing TRULY / 100% KNOWS anything – not even science itself is based on absolutes, though we treat it like it does), but rather that the things I put up here are notions, ideas and considerations to play with in whatever manner makes sense to you based on your own thoughts, interpretations, ideas and experiences.

It is my hope that in time we can each contribute our thoughts openly and without fear of reprisal in an effort to consolidate one another’s pieces of the greater puzzle that is the game of existence and that, little by little, we can reconcile the parts to make a whole.

In openness, kindness and love,


¹ Bill Hicks ‘its just a ride’ performance:

² Financial crisis UK and Europe overview:

³ Bonuses for executives of Banks 2016:

⁴ Bird and Fortune’s subprime crisis sketch, 2008:



The beginning of the middle of an end.