Lately, I have been reading Frank Herbert’s Dune. It is a great science-fiction masterpiece. As I was reading for pleasure, I did not expect to find a helpful litany on dealing with fear. I am sure that many of us are familiar with fear. In fact, I learned from my friend’s blog post that there is even a day dedicated to facing your fears.
Fear comes in all shapes and sizes. There is fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of public speaking and so on. Feeling fear helps to prepare us to face a threat or danger. But taken to extremes, our fear can paralyze us. What follows is the way I have been using the litany to calm my fears. Read on to find out how I did it.
The Bene Gesserit Litany
Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past me I will turn to see fear’s path. Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
-Taken from Dune by Frank Herbert
To use the litany effectively, it helps to memorize it. As you commit the words to memory, reflect on the meaning in the words. At the same time, try to let the fear pass through you as suggested. Imagine the process as you repeat the words in the midst of fear. Visualize how the words calm and soothe you, allowing you to return to a state of composure. The purpose here is to familiarize yourself with the process so that it comes naturally to you when the need arises.
Repetition in the Face of Fear
The characters who knew this litany repeated it in the midst of fear until they reached a calm state. They did it aloud or in their minds. Both methods worked just as well. I have found that when I repeated the words, it helped me to shift my focus away from my source of fear. This did two things to my mental state. Firstly, it loosened the grip that my fear had on me. Secondly, this litany helped me to access my calm centre to regain my composure.
The key here is to repeat the words in a gentle but firm manner. It is also important to be aware of the words as you repeat them. The words itself serve as a guide to bring you from a state of fear and panic to a state of calm and composure. Repeat as needed until you feel calm again or as your situation permits. The more focused you are on the litany, the better it works.
Facing the Fear
Whenever I recited the litany, it reminded me that to beat my fear, I had to face and embrace it. I had to accept that I was afraid and to feel that fear within me. Acceptance did not mean becoming passive. Rather, accepting my fear allowed me to ease its intensity because I no longer struggled against it. The fear did not disappear completely, but it did become more manageable. From there, I had enough presence of mind to work out what I had to do to resolve my fear.
An Important Reminder
The last two sentences contained an important reminder for me. Fear was nothing more than my perception of events. Fear was also a doubled edged sword. On the one hand, fear helped to keep me safe by making me cautious. But on the other hand, if I allowed my fear to overwhelm me, it would hinder me from taking decisive action. Thus, I had to be aware that fear was all in my mind. Failing that, I had to try to keep my fear in check or to put it aside. The goal was to regain enough composure to find a way to deal with the source my fear.
Once you have memorized the litany, you will have at your disposal, a quick and easy way to deal with fear. All you have to do is to repeat the litany until you regain your composure. The litany will not rid you of all your fear. Instead, its aim is to make your fear more manageable so you can take effective action to deal with the source of your fear. So try it out and see if it works for you. I have been using it for a few weeks and it has been great so far. I intend to keep it as part of my arsenal on dealing with fear.
What do you think of using this litany to manage your fear? What have the results been like for you? What other ways do you have of dealing with your fears? Do share your thoughts and comments below.