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My life is being stunted by fear of heights and enclosed spaces and fear of hot and cold weather – how can I go beyond these fears?

heart to heart
I have many fears, fear of airplanes, high bridges and elevators. I am also a little bit claustrophobic, and most of the time, when invited to go on vacation, I always find something dangerous - the temperature is too cold, the car may slip in the snow, it is dangerous to drive through the mountains, or the temperature is too hot for me, etc.

I would like to travel, but with all these fears it is impossible. My husband, and children want to travel with me, but I always find something "dangerous".

Wallace's reply
Wallace The mind is a wonderful instrument - used wisely it can take us to undreamed of heights of joy and bliss, used unwisely it can draw us down to unplumbed depths of fear and anxiety.

I am going to give you some guidelines to help you train your mind but first I want you to remember that you are not your mind. The mind is a tool for you to use and you are in charge of it. What you need to do is to learn to make your mind an instrument, and this takes practice and commitment, just like learning to play a musical instrument like a violin or piano.

The mind needs training to perform correctly. So I am going to give you a training program that uses the problems you have as an opportunity for gaining practice in training your mind. This way what appeared to be only difficulties can become the springboard to a much happier life.

Guideline 1. Dealing with non specific fears, like fear of cold and hot weather. Your fear of nebulous circumstances like weather that is too hot or too cold stems (like all fear) from an over identification with the body as your Self. I want to emphasize that you are not your body. You are a spiritual being that has taken on a body for the purposes of living life on earth and learning the necessary lessons that life on earth offers. When you die you do not cease to exist, you return to your spiritual home on the spiritual (non material) plane of existence.

When you identify with your body more than with the Soul, then, as one of the main purposes of life, you can feel obliged to protect the body from any kind of hardship and give physical comfort a higher priority than it deserves. That is one of the reasons why, along with their desire to project the body as an ego image, some people spend inordinate amounts of money catering to the body's every whim and fancy.

So if you fear discomfort remind your Self that you are not your body. You are timeless indestructible Soul and that your body can easily suffer some discomfort and hardship without being in any danger.

Guideline 2. Dealing with anxiety attacks when they occur. If you feel an anxiety attack coming on, find somewhere you can be alone. Focus on your breathing by breathing slowly and deeply. Keep calm by sending yourself calming thoughts - for example you might repeat a little affirmation like "I am the Soul and am indestructible". Do not focus on what appears to be causing the attack, the high bridge or the airplane. Focus on sending yourself calming thoughts and feelings through this little affirmation.

Guideline 3. Preventing anxiety attacks in the first place. To prevent attacks I want you to learn to meditate when facing an anxiety challenge. For the purposes of your problem you do not need to meditate by sitting for half an hour every day - I want you to learn to meditate when going onto that high bridge or elevator, or whatever else causes your anxiety to manifest.

To achieve this I want you to draw a distinction in your being between your mind (which is an instrument - a tool at your disposal) and the Soul or True Self, which is who you really are (and which is timeless and indestructible). To realize this distinction let us take the example of crossing a high bridge. As you approach the bridge take your sense of self away from your mind and into your Soul. To do this as you approach the bridge, imagine a point in your mind that symbolizes your sense of Self. Bring this point from your mind slowly down your spine until it reaches your heart area, where the Soul resides. Hold this point in your heart area and repeat "I am the Soul, I am the Soul," quietly and inwardly. As the high bridge approaches, if your mind starts to get agitated observe these agitated thoughts from your Soul. Do not identify with these thoughts, react emotionally to them, or wish them away - simply observe your mind at work from within your Soul. See if you can find amusement in the various unruly vacillations of your mind. This is meditation. This is detachment.

Practice this with the small events in your life that are causing you distress. Then as you master the art of waking meditation, move on to bigger challenges, like taking an airplane flight, and practice there as well.

If you follow these three guidelines, and use them every time you are faced with a challenge that provokes anxiety, you will be able to go beyond your fears. Your mind will find its rightful place as your instrument and servant and you will have found your true identity as Soul.

Did you know that the words "fear not" are mentioned 366 times in the Bible, once for every day of the year, including leap years. This is why - you are not your body so there is no need to fear its discomfort or destruction. So as well as believing in God you will, through facing up to your anxiety problem and going beyond it, have come to know Him through the peace you feel in your Heart.

Further Help and Resources
Angel Shadow has written a series of articles on stress and anxiety which you may find helpful. These are available in the Counterpoint article library on Trans4mind Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

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