Do not do this exercise if you are under psychological treatment for anxiety disorders or panic attacks. If you have had or are taking such treatment, PLEASE consult with your mental health professional on if or how to proceed with such exploration.
The author makes no warranty on the suitability of this exercise for any individual. You are responsible for your own choices.
Turn off the TV, turn off the telephone ringer, shut and lock the door. Be sure that you will have at least an hour to yourself. Make sure you are dressed confortably. Don't do this exercise if you are frazzled, upset, or otherwise preoccupied. Also, don't expect "instant, dramatic results." Fear is a very complex emotion, and has many facets. It may take you several sessions to feel comfortable with exploring those facets. That's fine. You don't need to push yourself.
You will need a few thing for this exercise: a pencil and paper, a candle or oil lamp, your usual personal ritual gear (if you like), a comfortable seat, and an item (tactile, sound, visual, whatever) that symbolizes or invokes fear in you. Please, start with something small.
Experienced practitioners will want to relax and set up their personal working space. For those not specifically familiar with this concept, get comfortable, and then visualize a bubble of protection and separation from mundanity ALL the way around yourself. Relax, and put aside the concerns of daily life. Clear your mind, then light your candle or lamp.
Concentrate on your item or symbol of what you fear, noticing with a part of your mind what effect it has on you physically and mentally. Does the fear cause your heart to beat faster, rapid breathing, nervousness, a need to move, hide, scream? Observe how your mind and body reacts to the fear, and make notes. Do this for at most 15 minutes, or until you run out of observations.
Put your fear aside, hide or cover your fear symbol, stand up and stretch. Think about something that makes you feel safe and happy.
After calming your mind, detach yourself from your emotional responses. Look back at your notes and observations like they were someone else. See how fear affects the subject of the exercise (you). Get downright clinical.
Think about how you would reduce or change the effects. Think about *WHY* it has those effects, and whether those effects are ones that you desire. Think about why, or why not, you would change them, and/or what purposes they serve (or served in the past) in your life.
Make notes of your conclusions if you like. You can use them to set up exercises for change, or deeper exploration.
When you've done all of the analysis you want to do, take down your working space. Go about your daily life, letting the experience percolate in the back of your mind, until you are ready to do it again.
This work by Ravan Asteris is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.