Recently, my family and I went to Coney Island, and, as they often do, my kids taught me a powerful lesson.
My son Ty is almost eight, and he wanted to go on all the wild and crazy rides. Anything he was tall enough for, he’d go on. When we got to the haunted house, no one else wanted to go, but that didn’t stop him. So there I was, watching as he rode on the little cart, all by himself, into the Spook-a-Rama. His hands gripped the handle bar, and as he disappeared from sight, I caught a glimpse of his big blue eyes, wide with fear. I didn’t relax until he came out the other end.
When he did, his face was transformed. Actually, his whole body was. His fists were in the air, and he jumped out of the car and ran over, yelling, “I did it! I got through! Whenever I got scared, I just closed my eyes and faced my fear. That’s how! Just close your eyes!”
It was so cute, and at first, it didn’t strike me as anything profound. But on the way home, I got to thinking. Does closing your eyes really help you face you fears? What happens when you do that?
Lately, I’ve been looking for ways to help heal an injury to my hip. For years, it’s been giving me trouble, and I’ve tried a dozen different specialists. When those all hit dead-ends, I began looking into more holistic methods, and ways to try to heal it myself, through all the mindset and body techniques I so strongly believe in. It’s scary, though – there’s definitely fear around it, because if that doesn’t work, then that means all my beliefs are wrong. Honestly, I’m scared.
So on the train back to Manhattan that day, I tried Ty’s method. I closed my eyes.
There, in the dark, I felt something new: calm. Capable. Free of all the external things that seem to stand in the way of me and a full recovery.
I’m reminded of a kundalini yoga class I went to, where the instructor repeatedly told us to close our eyes. She said, “Where your vision goes, your attention goes.” So, the idea was to focus our attention inward, not outward. You sort of become one with yourself when your eyes are closed, when your attention isn’t on what’s around you, but what’s in you.
Let me clarify: I’m not saying you should walk through life with your eyes closed. Rather, this is a tactic to get in touch with your inner strength and, for a moment, close out the external forces that sometimes stop you.
Eyes closed, you stop seeing what’s around you, pulling you away from your goal. You stop asking those questions like “What if I fail?” “What will people think if I can’t do it?” “How will I live in this world if I don’t achieve this?” It’s just you and your intention. And for me, that intention suddenly felt simpler, more achievable. I can do that, I thought. I felt I could move forward toward that goal. For that moment, just like Ty said, I wasn’t afraid.
When I opened my eyes, the subway was coming to a stop at 196th Street. The kids were slumped over in their seats, Ty’s head on Kaya’s shoulder, both of them asleep. Along with my surroundings, my old fears trickled back, but now, I felt more focused. I held onto that feeling of “I can do this.”
So that’s my intention – to heal my injury, and not let all my fears get in the way. When I do start to feel them more poignantly, I’ll just close my eyes, like my son told me to, and face them.
What about you? What’s a fear in your life that you need to face?
Is it a serious conversation with a partner? Or maybe you need to recognize that you’re on the wrong career path? Or maybe, like me, you’re scared to try something that might fail?
Think of that thing now, but don’t close your eyes yet. We’re going to add a physical exercise that will help you see yourself facing that fear.
Bring your fists up in front of your chest, and when I say go, we’re going to do a flurry of punches. Imagine yourself fighting through that thing you’re afraid of. For about thirty seconds, see yourself, free of all distractions, fighting for what you want!
Ready? Close your eyes, and flurry!
When you come back to center, hold onto that feeling of power and fearlessness. Take it with you as you go back to work, or your family, or whatever you’re doing today. And if you start to feel afraid again…well, you know what to do.
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