Paralyzed by Fear – Part One

Posted by Steven Russell on Monday, September 22, 2014


  1. To affect with paralysis; cause to be paralytic.
  2. To make unable to move or act: paralyzed by fear.
  3. To impair the progress or functioning of; make inoperative or powerless: strict regulations that paralyze economic activity.

Fear does indeed paralyze me. I will admit that some fears do inspire me to act, and act quite well. But for the most part I think deep fears cause in all of us, at least for a time, the inability to function. That time that may last just a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death if a truck is heading at you. It can mean the difference between being a hero and allowing a disaster to happen if you need to think fast and say or do the right thing before a situation gets out of hand. In the long run, a fear can cause us to stay home, to choose not to do something, or to avoid talking to someone.

It could be that what we all fear the most, and what causes all other fears to manifest themselves in us, is the fear of death. All other terrors can find their root in this one ultimate paralyzer. Whatever their cause, if fears make us unable to move or act, to overcome them all we need to do is move. What yoga teaches me is that movement begins with breath. It is the body’s constant, ever-present movement. It is how a body can safely begin any type of movement. A movement based on and initiated by breath is seen as healthy, powerful, authentic, even beautiful. Words spoken upon a good, deep breath are believed. Long, deep breaths bring the mind into a place where contemplation can unravel the mysteries within us.

To overcome fears, we have no need to eliminate them, but we do need to be able to move in spite of them. All we need to do is breathe. In the coming Parts I’ll explore more specific instances of paralyzing fears. But for now, be ready for the next one by taking a deep, long breath.


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