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A Fertile Mind vs. a Fearful Mind

I had a powerful insight while listening to a song: Fear is a veil that hides the truth.

Fear of failure, or not measuring up, is the number one response to the question, "What holds you back from living your dream?". Fear is primal. We can thank the amygdala for our fear. It's the part of the brain that takes in messages from the senses and organs to respond with fear or anxious emotions. We needed this response to survive as a species ages ago. Today when the amygdala is triggered, many of us still react quickly without thought, only to regret it later. Instead of facing our angst, we end up numbing ourselves with substances, procrastinating, isolating ourselves into depression, using violence to express our outrage, or listen to negative self talk. What is a healthier, more compassionate way to calm the fear and anxiety response?

What helps me to increase my self compassion and courage is a daily yoga practice. I was wired to react quickly in situations growing up and as an athlete, but have learned that a slow mindful approach is much healthier. It's a true discipline to trust that a wave of intense emotion can roll through the physical being and that the breath can be used as a tool to set into motion the parasympathetic (rest and digest) response. Constant practice is crucial to settle emotional responses. This is pure yoga- a daily discipline. I still pull out the weeds of fear, believe me! But I have the tools to deal with it and am more courageous for it. I feel at peace and at more at ease with myself now than at any other time in my life.

So how can you set up a fertile mind and diminish anxious reactions? Perhaps reestablishing or beginning a yoga practice is an option for you this spring. Move your body to increase circulation and oxygen in the lungs. Start a journal listing the foods you eat, and write down your gratitude. Pick up a hobby that relaxes your brain and body and witness an increase in your courage to push through the most challenging situations instead of struggling. Begin with self compassion and acceptance of your situation. Self compassion and acceptance appear to be states of weakness, but actually they are two of the most powerful places to sit with your fear. Cultivating compassion and acceptance requires discipline - just like daily weeding. So it makes perfect sense that a disciplined approach to unraveling fearful reactions and calming the amygdala is critical for long term health.

Here are some steps to start:

First take a quiet moment to unplug or go on a walk in silence. Still your thoughts with slow inhales and exhales. Then think about what is at the root of your fear, pull the fear out, shed light on it, and actually befriend it. See it for what it is- just a small part of you that to covers your beautiful wholeness. Sit with the fear. Just be with it. Next, seek out an uplifting statement, song, prayer, or mantra that is very positive and resonates with you. Write about your experience in your journal afterward.

In the quiet, fertile space of your mind and body, you're ready to welcome the seeds of truth. When the field of the mind is cleared and it becomes ripe and ready, positive insights and creativity pour into it. Give yourself the gift of time and space to watch positive thoughts outgrow the weeds of fear.

What is your true desire in life? What is your truth?

Cheers to your fertile mind, healthy body, and strong spirit!

Teresa Winslow is a teacher and experienced yoga instructor.

To contact her email: or visit for yoga sessions.

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