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Go Beyond Fear

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

Go Beyond Fear

The challenge and reward of spiritual practice.
Jonathan  Ellerby Ph.D.
Jonathan Ellerby Ph.D. More by this author
Apr 26, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Approach the world of spiritual practice with trust and an open heart. Don’t be afraid of spiritual experiences. Strange sensations of energy, a feeling of deep love, vulnerability, connectedness, and a loss of ego and control are all aspects of spiritual experience that test and try people’s limits. Such profound and healing encounters can trigger fear and resistance. People doubt what they don’t know, resist what they don’t understand, and cling to what’s familiar. It’s a longing for safety that sacrifices freedom and growth. Some even fear for their mental and physical health when they begin to have pronounced spiritual experiences.

These concerns are not hollow. We’ve all seen examples of people who seem very committed to a religion or spiritual practice; and the outcome is only distraction, a new source of control, or worse, a rational for the judgment of others. These, however, are not examples of effective applications of spiritual practices nor are they accurate expressions of what spiritual experience teaches.

A healthy spiritual practice is both the mechanics and a certain mind-set about the practice. These elements—combined with guidance, grace, and dedication—are necessary to liberate the human spirit. Without an open mind and heart, without a sincere desire to learn, grow, and discover, any spiritual practice can become a barrier to growth.

Much of what scares people about spirituality is its demand to move beyond absolute trust in science and the five ordinary senses. The Spiritual World largely remains beyond the scope of material science, but that isn’t a “problem”—it is simply its nature. In his magnificent book The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Joseph Campbell, the great historian of mythology and religion, affirmed this by pointing out that nearly every culture in the world holds foundational stories of sacred heroes whose only salvation comes from facing their deepest fears and risking the life that is familiar in favor of a willingness to explore the unknown. Often, we must sever the ties to what we know and believe in order to be reborn and revived.

It is this dimension of the spiritual journey that remains the greatest barrier: fear. Anywhere that fear lives, the Spirit withdraws—including in groups, in families, or in ourselves. Where fear grows, love is diminished and the qualities of The Sacred are forgotten. People become paralyzed by the fear of the unknown, of being rejected, of not being in control, and of the discomfort they might face as they surrender who they’ve come to believe they are.

A healthy spiritual practice will cause you to become aware of your limits and your opportunities to heal and grow. This ensures that it won’t always be easy, but it will always be worthwhile. My own journey has also come with many difficult crossroads, including loneliness, surprises, the recognition of old wounds, hard choices, and the need to make many sacrifices. But it has also blessed me with the most rewarding gifts and an abundant sense of personal power, happiness, and freedom.

About Author
Jonathan  Ellerby Ph.D.
Jonathan Ellerby, Ph.D., is an important guide to inspired living in today’s hectic world, bridging cultures and professional disciplines to help people find what works. Featured as an expert in film, print, television, and radio, Jonathan is the aut Continue reading