Managing Fear In Uncertain Times With Your Own Goodness

There is little we can say about the recent global events that hasn’t already been said. These are exceptional times. We all feel overwhelmed by the way in which our lives are being reshaped and the speed with which it is happening. We are all living, together, through the unfolding of unimaginable change. Chaos wakes up our need for connection and community. This pandemic has shown us in a very tangible way how profoundly connected we are, and how interdependent we are, in both beautiful and terrifying ways.
Jane is the founder and CEO of Peacebeam.
Jane is the founder and CEO of Peacebeam.

We have heard from a lot of people in our community about incredible kindnesses that they are giving and receiving as we navigate this journey together. We have also heard that as people are self-isolating and experiencing the impact of these seismic changes on their lives, feelings of fear have become overwhelming. The Peacebeam method of Notice, Breathe, Activate and Peacebeam came from my own experience of managing fear, overwhelm and anger. I thought it might be helpful to explain a bit more about how I developed the technique over time, and more importantly, how to develop the practice yourself.

The Power Of The Goodness In Your Heart

A number of years ago, a cluster of events occurred that upended my life as I knew it. My expectations of what my life would be, what I would do professionally, what my income would be and the people I would spend my time with all changed in the course of about 10 days. I was blindsided by a combination of fear, disappointment, bitterness and resentment that overwhelmed my system and left me struggling to function.

Yet synchronicity wove its magic, as it so often does, and at exactly the time that I needed it, I found myself in conversation with a very wise person – someone who embodies grace under pressure and compassion in action in a way that I can only aspire to. I was, at the time, unable to see past my fear. The biggest obstacle I faced was coming to accept that what I had expected from my life was not what was happening. As I poured out my stories and wounds, I fully expected to be given a tissue to dry my eyes and confirmation that I was entitled to feel as I did, and maybe some breathing exercises to help me to meditate. Instead, I received the most important sentence anyone has ever said to me and something to practice, every day.

The sentence is: fear cannot grow in a powerful heart. The practice is to sit, every day, for however long you can manage that day—whether that’s for 5 seconds or 5 minutes— and direct the power of your heart and your aliveness into the world.

Instead of engaging with my fear, resentment and disappointment, I was being directed to engage with my power for goodness, in a very practical, grounded way. I was being directed to choose. It’s like any other exercise: you have to make a choice to do it. It’s not about perfection; it is about practice. The more you do it, the stronger you become, and after a while, you are amazed at how powerful you actually are. Hidden inside us, in every one of us, is a power for goodness that is truly awe-inspiring.

Read more: Explore a simple technique to create mental space and clarity when feeling overwhelmed.

How To Beam Peace: From A Dim To Sunlight

All of this, of course, sounds wonderful, but it is hard to begin, especially in a state of overwhelm; it certainly was for me. Firstly, I was irritated that I had not been given something outside myself to do—like advanced yoga or a fasting regime. Secondly, sitting and engaging with my goodness did not sound complicated enough to be powerful (like being told that washing your hands with soap and water is one of the most powerful defences in a pandemic, it takes a while to realise that simplicity is so effective), and thirdly I did not much feel like directing my goodness anywhere; thank you very much! It took me a few more months of absorption in fear before I decided to give it a try. It was not any sort of noble engagement, but I simply had exhausted all other options and could not get out of my negative loop. So, I decided to start, and one evening at 6pm (it helps if you can choose a time each day—it’s just easier to build habits that way) I began.

Read more: Ancient texts refer to different times of the day as beneficial meditation hours. Discover the best time to meditate that works for your needs.

I would sit quietly and imagine the power of goodness in me as a light in my heart. I would visualize this and at first, I have to say it was pretty dim. Some days it did not show itself and I would feel angry and foolish that I even thought something so simple could make a difference. But gradually, over time, and with persistence, the glimmer became a glow, then a shine and then a sunrise. Whenever the light appeared I would then see it moving out from me into the world, touching every being, every creature. Just like the sun does: it shines on everything just the same, warms everything just the same. I would then wish and intend for absolute good to flow into the world from me.

In the early days I kept it pretty impersonal. I found it very difficult to direct that intention to some people and situations in my life and it helped me to stay global. As time passed and I grew the power of my heart, I found to my great surprise, I could then direct this intention for good to things and people that had hurt me. That was a liberation that still astonishes me but it’s not available to me every day.

Step 1: Noticing

I still have days when the sun does not rise in me, and on those days, I am kind to myself and I let the goodness and aliveness in the world nourish me—I read something inspirational, watch something hilarious or cook something delicious, and sometimes, I make an appointment with myself to feel sorry for myself! I have found that if I allow myself an hour every so often when I need it, it helps to clear my resentment and frustration. I recommend that you are strict with this—choose a time, allow an hour and just list your grievances to yourself for no more than an hour. Use the whole time and then finish. It’s surprisingly refreshing and can serve as a great kindness to yourself. We can suppress a lot of our negative emotion by not fully exploring it, and often it comes out as an explosion directed at someone else.  So rather than letting it build up as a constant rumbling soundtrack, take the time to acknowledge it and clear it through.

This formed the basis of step one of the Peacebeam technique, which is Notice. This is an invitation to be compassionate with yourself first, notice how you feel without judgement.

Step 2: The Power Of The Breath

Over the years, as I developed in my practice, I found ways to reach the internal sunrise more easily. Step two, Breathe, came from practicing yoga and breath work and studying the research from HeartMath and others on the electromagnetic field of the heart.

The idea of coherence was something that I had felt in my practice but didn’t have a name for. I noticed that when I connected my breath to my heart, I felt my system relax and open. It was years later that I found the science and understood that the physical heart has its own intrinsic nervous systems with sensory neurons that sense, feel and learn just like the brain, and that there is a constant dialogue between the heart and the head.

When we are in a state of positive emotion, such as feeling love, care, peace, appreciation or kindness, our heartbeat pattern shows a harmonious rhythm and that rhythm signals the brain and synchronises alpha waves and cortical function, which means that we have access to our higher intelligence. When we are feeling frustrated, stressed and anxious it creates a regular but disordered pattern in the heart rhythm, which signals the brain to enact a fight-or-flight response, resulting in patterns of reactivity and defensiveness. We don’t have access to our higher intelligence when we are in a stress response and often say and do things we wish we hadn’t. The simple practice of tuning into our breath allows us to create a coherent heart and brain rhythm, opening the doorway to inner peace.

Step 3 & 4: From Activating To Peacebeam-ing

Step three, Activate, came from noticing that I found the practice much easier if I had just seen or heard something inspirational. The combination of steady breathing and feeling inspired created the most powerful internal sunrises for me. It was then I could easily move to the final step, Peacebeam, and beam that sunlight by mentally directing that power for goodness into the world and intending absolute good, absolute peace and absolute goodwill for all.

How To Connect With Others

Our lives are about connections both visible and invisible. There are physical networks and non-physical networks, and it is the non-physical network, our inner net, that we will rely on these days. It is through our inner net that our thoughts and emotions move. We can communicate fear or love, despair or hope, selfishness or compassion through this network. And in this great pause, these strange days when our world has become quiet, when our busyness has stopped, when the rollercoaster of planes, trains, shopping and socializing, moving and buying is silent, we can reach out to each other with our tenderness and compassion, with our words of kindness and most of all, with our hearts full of goodwill and aliveness. Fear does not disappear when we grow the power of our hearts, but it becomes manageable; it no longer overwhelms us in the same way. When we practice the power of our hearts, when we Peacebeam, we wish, unconditionally and from the deepest part of our being, unrestricted good for ourselves and for those around us.

We have organized a community wide Peacebeam every Friday at 3pm in your time zone as we go through these weeks. There is power in numbers and although we cannot join together physically, we can join our powerful hearts and beautiful intentions for goodness for all and flood our innernet with our collective sunrise. The world needs the unique power for good in every human heart. Fear cannot grow in a powerful heart and now we need all hearts on deck.

How Grow The Power Of Our Hearts

Here is a summary of the Peacebeam technique, so that you can begin your own practice.

  • Make the decision that you are going to grow the power of goodness in your heart and then begin.
  • Choose a time each day that you will practice—one that you can stick to—before sleep works for a lot of people.
  • If you use a Peacebeam meditation you will be guided through the steps—it’s usually about 5 minutes. Here is a selection of popular Peacebeam meditations, you can also browse through our entire library.
  1. A Brief Moment in Time Peacebeam - Beginning Bright 5:08
  2. The Space Between Your Heartbeats Peacebeam - Beginning Bright 5:08
  3. Beam The Change Peacebeam - Beginning Bright 5:08
  4. Peacebeam Day 3 - Breath Peacebeam - Beginning Bright 4:10

If you prefer to do it unguided or using another guided meditation, follow the steps below:

  • I recommend that you first read, listen to or look at something inspirational or beautiful to you. This helps to stir the heart. 
  • Sit or lie somewhere comfortable. Close your eyes or soften your gaze if you prefer to keep your eyes open.
  • Notice how you are feeling and just acknowledge what arises without any judgement.
  • Start to notice your breath and just focus on its natural rhythm, spending a few moments here.
  • Then begin to imagine that as you breathe in, the breath goes into your heart and as you breathe out, it comes out of your heart. Continue with this visual until you start to feel relaxed.
  • Then, bring your attention to your heart and with your inner eye, start to see the power of goodness in you as a light. Just allow this to appear as it does. Some days it may be very faint while others it will be ablaze. Just commit to the practice and persist.
  • As the light appears to you, with your mind’s eye, direct it out into the world, and as it moves, see it like beams of sunlight, carrying your goodness and aliveness out across the planet and connecting with the goodness and aliveness in all beings.
  • It doesn’t matter how long you do this for each day, what matters is that you are choosing to engage with your power for goodness and you choose to do that every day. Even 5 seconds is more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

Remember to be kind to yourself. On the days that you can’t manage it, do something nourishing that makes you laugh or is comforting and allow yourself to feel what you are feeling—make an appointment to feel sorry for yourself and let yourself clear out frustrations and resentments in a positive way. Then when you feel ready, begin the practice again.

Read more: Explore how to practice self-love with different small acts of self-care every day.

Meditation. Free.