FEELING THE FEAR (BHAYANAKA RASA)

Article by Anne Davis

A quote presented itself to me recently: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” 

Ugh. Does it have to?

The end of my comfort zone brings me to sweaty palms, heart palpitations, and a general sense of unease. The unknown often signals an experience in our bodies that we call fear (bhanyanaka rasa). 

For our ancestors, the feeling in the pit of the stomach came as a warning sign: danger. Our lives literally depended on the response - flight, fight, or freeze.

These days, our fear response is still alive, although there may not be a mountain lion lurking around the corner. From general nervousness or worry to all-out-sweat-soaked-blouses, the tell-tale stomach ache remains. We are fearful of losing: our health, our home, our jobs, our relationships. 

If we are fearful of losing something, then there must be something to lose. Attachment. It’s true, we are all attached. To our egos, to our lovers, to our concept of self. And the thinking nature of our beings means that we will pontificate on the “what if” scenarios until the end of days. Or more likely, at 3am. 

So what to do? We can recognize fear as a message (from the universe, from our souls, from the deepest well) and a reminder to live. life. now.

Working with the Bhanayaka Rasa

One of the first things to practice is recognizing the fear when it surfaces. 

Bring your awareness to the feeling that arises in your body. Sit with the sensation. Drop the storyline. It doesn’t own you, it doesn’t define you. Notice what comes up. 

Since most of our fears are centered in our basic needs (safety, security, stability), they can be aligned with the Muladhara (or Root) Chakra. Many of the practices you might associate with the first chakra can be used here to work with the fear (worry, nervousness, jealousy) you experience day-to-day. 

Take it to the mat: 

Asanas, meditations, and mudras that focus on linking the self (ego) with the divine, and in grounding the self to the earth are keys here.

  • Meditation focusing on the third eye helps to stimulate connection with the spiritual
  • Root/Grounding meditation such as this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vApUMcbFSiE  
  • Chakra 1 focused asanas and/or grounding postures, such as:
    • Uttasana (standing forward fold)
    • Malasana (squat)
    • Balansana (childs pose)
    • Trikonasana (triange)
  • Chin mudra - Press the tip of the index finger to the thumb. Works to connect the self with the divine
  • Prithvi Mudra - Press the tip of the ring finger to the thumb. Works to increase earthly connection and reduce fire element.
  • Inversions - inversions literally change your perspective

Take it Off the Mat

You can work with the Bhanayaka Rasa throughout the day. Here are some ideas to get you started…

  • Move your body by jogging, walking, cycling
  • Open your mouth and chant (start by chanting “OM”)
  • Use Essential Oils like cedar, sandalwood, and pine
  • Surround yourself with the root chakra color red
  • Get closer to the earth through Gardening or barefoot walking
  • Journal - does anything coming up warrant a worry-fest? Make a plan, do the things, move forward.

You can’t stop yourself from feeling a feeling. Work with it. Notice what comes up. Move, breathe, be.

You got this.