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Week 14 - Mindfulness of Fear & Courage

Let’s begin with a mindful centering practice. Wherever you just came from or whatever you were just doing before this moment, let’s fully settle into this space now.

First, notice your body posture at this moment and begin to make adjustments to sit in an upright position that will allow you to pay attention fully in the next few moments.

You can let go of anything you may be holding onto - worries, stress, concerns. Bring your feet flat on the floor, back straight but not stiff, shoulders relaxed, facial muscles relaxed, and hands resting comfortably on your thighs or in your lap. Let your eyes gently close.

(pause)

Often it happens that our body is here but our mind is wandering somewhere else. The intention of mindful centering is to bring our mind back to the body and to the present moment.

To do that, let’s take a few deep breaths as an invitation for the mind and body to come together. Experience a deep breath through your nose, and let the breath come out through your mouth. Make the exhalation slow and long. Let’s do this two or three more times. Watch the body relax as you exhale slow and long.

(pause)

Now let your breath move at its own relaxed pace and just pay attention to the flow of the breath in and out. Notice the sensations of breathing for a few moments.

(short pause)

As you do this you may notice that your mind starts to wander. You may start thinking about other things. If this happens, it’s not a problem, but is instead quite natural. Just notice what took your attention away without any judgement. Then simply let it go and redirect your attention back to the breathing.

(short pause)

Now perhaps while you were engaged in the mindful centering practice you noticed that some of your thoughts were future oriented-perhaps regarding upcoming academic responsibilities at the end of the semester, thoughts and feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious about how to finish up projects and papers, take exams, or give presentations or perhaps other areas in your life where you have to perform such as in athletics, internship job interviews, music performances or even in your social sphere of going to parties, socializing with people in your dorm/roommate, or family dynamics.  Explore these different parts of your life that produce anxiety or fear about something and choose one area to focus on that arouses fear and/or anxiety in you such as an upcoming exam, athletic event, public speaking, future career, finances, etc….

(pause)

Once you have chosen something in your life that brings up fear and anxiety begin to become curious about it starting with your body.  How does fear and anxiety manifest in your body sensations?  Does it make certain areas tight or tense? Does it affect your breath? Your posture? Level of comfort/discomfort in your body?  Would you label it as pleasant/unpleasant/ or neutral sensation and why?

Just sit for a few more minutes in mindful stillness with the presence of fear and anxiety in your body and mind.  Not judging, not trying to get rid of the feelings or sensations just being with them in awareness.

(pause)

Now actively begin to cultivate the feeling of courage and strength in your body and mind.  Perhaps you can remember a time when you felt courageous and strong in the face of fear or anxiety or bring forth a personal of image of courage and strength.  Perhaps even visualize a person who you know or do not know personally who embodies courage and strength physically and mentally.

(pause)

What are the physical qualities of courage in your body?  What do these sensations feel like?  Where are they located? How does the feeling of courage affect your breath, posture, and level of comfort or discomfort in your body? Would you label it as pleasant/unpleasant/or neutral sensation in your body and why?

Just pause of a moment and be present in mindful stillness with the presence of courage and strength in your body and mind.

(pause)

Now experiment with embodying the feeling of courage as you have experienced just now when faced with the situation you brought to mind earlier that produced fear and anxiety in the body and mind.  Allow the feeling of courage to be present when faced with these same conditions and situation such as an upcoming test, athletic challenge, social situation, job interview, academic performance, etc…

What does it feel like to embody courage and strength in these situations? How does it differ from feeling fear and anxiety?

For the next few moments continue to embody the feelings of courage and strength in your chosen situation and just notice how this makes you feel physically and mentally.

(pause)

To conclude bring your attention back to your breath as an anchor point.  As you breathe with awareness reflect that you have the ability to draw upon the feelings of courage and strength in your body and mind potentially at any time during the day and are there as resources for you when faced with fear, anxiety, and physical and mental challenges.

Now bring your attention back to your body and begin to gently re-awaken your body to subtle movement and stretching.  When you are ready open your eyes. Take your time.

 

Week 14 - Mindfulness of Fear & Courage
Collection The Art and Science of Human Flourishing - Fall 2017
Visibility Public - accessible to all site users (default)