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Riding The Horse Of Fear

    Dr. Bernie Siegel uses the expression, �Ride the horse of fear,� when he is talking to cancer patients. This is a man who has revolutionized the way that we look at cancer. He has given patients the urge and the methods to turn their challenges into changes--for the better.

    We all keep horses of fear in our subconscious stables. We feed them and shelter them so of course they breed. What if we did as Dr. Bernie says and rode our horses of fear consciously. After all, they are there in our unconscious minds. We are giving them shelter; we might as well ride them.

    To give you an example from my own life, I have always had a fear of being a strong personality. My father was a troubled man, prone to angry outbursts and fits of pique. As I a child, I learned to be compliant and overly accomodating--first to my father and later to the entire world. Quite a job--and I did it well. When I began having panic attacks and agorophobia when I was in my early teens, I squelched the terror and never spoke of it. I was riding the horse of fear unconsciously and mechanically.

    As an adult, I still have an unrealistic fear of social condemnation. That is probably why I wrote oneliners for standup comedians for many years. I could put my words in their mouths. I could get a modest check and vent my spleen at the same time! But this didn�t help my fear of what other people thought of me.

    Then I began walking the spiritual path and it is largely about overcoming fear and all of the other negative emotions. I had so many horses in the barn that I didn�t know which horse I would be riding on any given day. Fear, shame, guilt....they were all in the stables of my soul.

    When my husband was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, the horse of fear that the disease created was so huge that I thought I would never have the courage to even get upon its back. Its nostrils flared....it�s mane was a deep dark black. I paled at the prospect.

    Days in the hospital turned into weeks and every day I had to get up on that horse and ride to the hospital. Tears blinded my eyes as I rode but the horse would not veer from carrying me into the pain and the sorrow that someone feels when their loved one is diagnosed with cancer.

    On the day that he was diagnosed, I walked down the corridors of the hospital and into my husband�s room. He had been taken down for x-rays and there was only a nurse named Gertie in there. I wept. �Gertie, close the door,� I said. �You have to help me. I have got to get myself together.�

    Gertie was a very spiritual person; I had sensed that immediately when she was first assigned to care for my husband. She had, in fact, administered his first chemotherapy. She was a warrior soul.

    Gertie and I prayed together. I have no idea what words were said. I remember telling her that I would make it through this somehow...that God would guide me. It was by telling Gertie what I believed that I first began riding the horse of fear consciously. Before, I had let the horse take me down the path with no clear awareness. I was resisting its direction.

    Now it hit me like a thunderbolt. I would no longer resist riding the horse of fear. I would be in charge. God would not let me fail. Gertie and I gathered so much good energy that we could have lifted the roof off of that hospital room. My sorrow had taken a new direction.

    Over two years have gone by since my husband was diagnosed. Even though he is out of remission and beginning more chemo, I am still willing to ride the horse of fear. But instead of the horse coming for me, I often choose to go to the stables and let the horse know that I will be in charge of the ride that day.

    Choosing to ride the horse of fear can change your life instantly. You can turn on a dime. God�s gift of courage comes to those who want to wake up and handle the challenges of life as He would have us do. It doesn�t matter how many times you fall off, either. Sometimes the horse throws me into mud puddles and this is when I doubt if I am doing the right thing. I appear to be losing the battle with fear. I begin to doubt myself.

    Fear is a part of the human condition--yours, mine and everyone else�s. But here is the challenge and the solution rolled into one. Ride the horse of fear consciously. Choose it. Resistance to fear is what perpetuates it. We all know this. It doesn�t matter whether your challenge is cancer or not, ride the horse of fear by your own choice.

    My husband�s cancer has opened up inner depths in me that I did not know that I had. Some were good and others bad; yet they all needed to be looked at. Our humanity is heightened as we honor our fears and go with them in a new direction. Perhaps your horse of fear wants to take you into the dark night of your soul just so you can get it over with. At the end of the journey is a blinding light of belief. You begin to believe in your self.

    Fear never goes away entirely because of the fact that we are human. Even Christ suffered when He was tested. I will bet that the horses of fear in your stable are anxious for you to take them for a ride. But do it consciously. Remember the advice of Bernie Siegel and ride the horse of fear. And let me know how it works out for you.

    � 2002 Vicki Woodyard

    Nurturing the Now
    vicki@bobwoodyard.com