Everest is still struggling with his nighttime fears. He’s been engaged in this battle for a year and a half and, while he’s no longer in a state of terror, the fear creeps up steadily enough to prevent him from falling asleep easily. We’ve introduced him to every technique and tool we can think of to manage the fear, from talking about it to guided imagination work where I’ve led him to his “special place” and taught him to invite magical friends to advise him on the fear. I’ve taught how to chang the channel (from negative thinking to positive thinking), meditation and saying “No!” to the fear. Fear is so powerful that it needs to be worked with from every angle, from the emotional to the psychological and spiritual. All of these have been effective and all are worthy tools to learn.
Fear arrives in many forms: as doubt, worry, negativity, scepticism, hopelessness, depression, despair, and anxiety. It manifests through physical ailments, like headaches, stomachaches, insomnia, difficulty eating, heart palpitations, and illness. The heart closes when fear grabs hold and the world looks like a very bleak place.
Love also arrives in many forms and its healing and powerful energy can be accessed through a variety of portals: gratitude, appreciation, positive thinking, laughter, meditation, prayer, ecstatic dance, poetry, nature. It manifests in the body as a feeling of joy, hope, radiance, happiness, well-being, and aliveness. When you’re “in-love” (not with another person but in the state of love), your heart opens and the world looks beautiful and full of hope and light.
People who find their way to my work tend to fall into a similar personality profile: They’re emotional, introspective, highly intelligent, highly sensitive, imaginative, and prone to anxiety, depression, and perfectionism. When painful feelings don’t receive loving attention, they often mutate into depression. When the imagination streams into the stratosphere of endless “what-if” possibilities, anxiety takes hold. And when a child with innate moral sensitivity doesn’t learn how to manage his emotional intensity and what-if thoughts, he becomes prone to nighttime fears.
So last night, as Everest’s attempts at falling asleep were thwarted by fear’s arrows and punctuated by his pronouncements of, “I’m scared,” we worked through our series of tools. First he went to his special place. Then he said, “No, Fear!” (I have to admit, this one always brings a secret smile to my face as it tickles me to hear him connecting to his assertive voice.) He seemed relatively calm, but then fear crept up again and we were both jolted out of sleep.
As I held him as close as humanly possible in my arms, I wondered, “Why is he scared when he’s here in my arms, surrounded by love and familiarity and comfort?” The thought then came, “He’s focusing on the wrong things.” I said to him, “Everest, do you know what’s stronger than fear?”
“Love. Love is stronger than fear.”
“See if you can focus on love right now. Feel my arms around you and think about something or someone that you really love.”
Without a moment’s hesitation, he said, “Baby Asher.” (His little brother).
“Good, so think about Asher and the feeling you get in your body when you think about him.”
I could feel him relax. I could feel both of us relax. The field of fear was usurped by the higher frequency and energetically stronger field of love. We settled into a state of calmness and well-being. And, blessedly, we fell asleep.
This morning I asked if he remembered what helped take the fear away last night. He said, “Love is stronger than fear. It actually worked, Mommy.” Connecting to love always does. I’m under no illusion that he’ll be able to conquer the fear every night or that this is a magic pill; the soul is infinitely more complicated and mysterious than that and working with fear is hard work. But I do believe that I’ve offered him one more tool to add to his kit that he can draw on when he feels fear taking over.
In essence, my work with transitions, whether it’s getting married, becoming a parent, moving, losing a job or the earth’s transition, can be summarized in three words: love versus fear. I can think of no struggle more worthy of our attention.