Ruth Landstrom,Ph.D.                                                                                                                         

September 2007                                             Volume 1, Number 2
Last month, I wrote about experiencing your life, now, rather than searching for happiness at some point in the future.  So, how are you feeling right now?  Take a moment just to feel your feet on the floor and your body on the chair.  Take a moment to relax your jaw, your forehead, your eyes and your shoulders.  Take a breath.  This moment is just fine, isn't it?
Or are you caught up in worrying about something? 

The Habit of Fear
Worry, anxiety, fright, terror, panic.  Fear, in all its different flavors and intensities, is a basic experience for all of us.
There's always something to fear -- or at least worry about.  We get sick.  We age.  Our favorite things wear out or break.  Our money flows in and out, subject to forces beyond our control.  We make mistakes.  We forget things.  
With so many opportunities to be worried and frightened, it's easy for fear to become a habit of mind that pushes us around.   When fear arises, we tend to cast about for something we can do to get rid of it.  If we're worried about money, how can we get more of it?   If we're worried about getting sick, what can we do to prevent illness? 
Of course, it's important to take care of our bodies and pocketbooks.  But have you noticed that all these actions in the outside world don't necessarily soothe our worrying mind?  Even if these actions might quiet our worries for the moment, worries have a way of cropping up again. 
That's because worries are in our minds, not in our external circumstances. Worries are our minds' reactions to an imagined future.  So no matter what we may do in the external world to get rid of worry, our imaginations can always spin a new future to make us worried and anxious again. 
In fact, when we let fear dictate what we do, we end up strengthening it.  The more we feel we have to do something to stop being afraid, the bigger the fear can seem. 
Freedom from Fear
But we can learn to put fear in its place.  We don't have to let it bully us so much.  Instead of avoiding it, we can learn to approach our fear, peer at it, give it a good going over.  And we can learn how to move forward even when we feel afraid.
Here's where meditation and coaching come in.  In meditation, we develop enough calm so that we can watch our thoughts, feelings and sensations come and go.  We begin to see the different strands that make up fear and worry, and how insubstantial these strands really are.  For instance, the thought, "I really don't want this to happen" is just a thought,  like the hundreds of other thoughts that appear and disappear in the course of half an hour of meditation.  We can take this thought incredibly seriously, give it all our attention and let it make us miserable, or we can let it go, just like we might easily let go of the thought, "I really don't want the sky to turn green."  Through the practice of meditation, we can get to know what our fears really are and then let them go as we center back into the present moment.  
Coaching also provides practice working with fear.  Coaching is about identifying changes we want in life and then making those changes, little by little.  Through the discipline of coaching, we can cultivate the habit of taking new steps on a regular basis, despite our fears.  
Expanding into new realms beyond our anxiety-imposed limits can be a joyful and exhilarating way to live.  But we'll never know that joy if we let our anxieties keep us locked into the same old same old.
It's not that we stop feeling anxiety and fear.  It's just that we can get used to those feelings, so that they no longer dictate what we do.
What worries would you like to show the door?



Day to Day

Meditation and coaching have proved so helpful to me that I have felt a strong inner pull to share what I've learned with others.   This pull has led me to do things like lead workshops -- things that I've never imagined myself doing in a million years, let alone wanting to do.  Becoming this new person has been not a little anxiety-provoking for me. 
But I've had my coach to encourage me to step out and try it anyway. 
What have I discovered?  I've found that I love inspiring people to try meditation and coaching.  What's more, I have a new sense of excitement and possibility, because I honestly don't know what I will find myself doing next.   
"Buddhist training offers an alternative approach to experiencing life from an essentially fear-based perspective of survival in favor of experiencing it as a parade of odd and wonderful events." 
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
The Joy of Living,
p. 81



Ruth's weekly mindfulness meditation class takes place each Tuesday, from 1:15 to 2:30, at Yoga for Well-Being, Goshen, NY.  YFWB is moving on October 1 -- watch the website for new location.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Ruth will present an introduction to meditation at the National Women's In Network EXPO, to be held at The Grail, Cornwall, NY
Date to be announced:
Ruth and Reverend Naomi Fay will offer a workshop called "Courage and Contentment" at Wellness Springs, Highland Mills, NY

I'd love to hear from you!  Please e-mail me your comments, questions and requests.  If you or someone you know would like to explore coaching or meditation, you can contact me for a free phone consultation at 1-866-788-4526 (1-866-RUTHLAN) or