Christmas is supposed to be a season of joy, a time to remember God’s unconditional love revealed to us through a tiny infant. And it is a joyful season.
But too often fear knocks at our heart’s door, especially during the Christmas season. We fear being overwhelmed by the loss of loved ones, losing our jobs, and making mistakes.
If we’re not careful, we feed our fears. They become a habit. Like a monster, they lurk in our psyche, overshadowing us, blocking truth, and eroding our faith in God. Instead of finding Christ in our hearts, we encounter the Grinch who wants to steal our Christmas joy by filling us with fear.
When we look at the people who were part of the Christmas story two thousand years ago, we realize fear is a normal human emotion. We discover how they learned to “fear not.”
So, let’s pull back the curtain on Zechariah’s story to whom the angel foretold that Elizabeth, his 88-year-old wife, would conceive a child destined to become John the Baptist. Here’s a snippet of Zechariah’s story:
“But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.” — Luke 1:13-17.
We might ask, “What did Zechariah fear? Was he worried that in her old age Elizabeth might miscarry, or that their son wouldn’t fulfill the prophecy?” \ To overcome his human fears Zechariah looked to God for guidance and understanding. God transformed Zechariah’s fears into divine trust.
With courage, Zechariah faced his anxiety and reached a state of acceptance. He embraced the mystery and surrendered to not knowing how his wife’s pregnancy and his son’s life would unfold. “Trust in the Lord always!” was his motto.
And God proved faithful to Zechariah, infusing creation with saving grace through the life of John the Baptist.
Overcoming Fear with Trust
During this Christmas and all year long—whenever fears arise ask yourself: “What fears or negative emotions am I clinging to?” After naming your fears, take them to God. Ask the Creator to transform your negative emotions into trust, love, or whatever virtue you need.
Also, consider adopting the following loving-kindness practice as a way to teach your heart to Fear Not!
A Tool for Your Spiritual Toolbox: Loving-Kindness Meditation
It’s not enough to simply mouth the words, “Fear not.” We also need practical tools to pull out of our spiritual toolboxes to move from fear back into trust and inner peace.
A tool my spiritual coach has been teaching me to “fear not” is the loving-kindness meditation and mantra. It’s a practical tool you can pull out of your spiritual toolbox anytime you need it.
The focus of the loving-kindness mediation is to allow you to return to your natural state of feeling unconditional love, which is who you truly are. God is love. You are love.
Here’s a summary of the steps you can use for your meditation:
Four Basic Steps
Begin your meditation by gently smiling.
When we smile, it triggers the release of calming chemicals in our brains, neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. These chemicals are associated with feelings of happiness and pleasure. Dopamine is linked to reward and reinforces behaviors that contribute to well-being.
Smiling restores our inner peace physically, mentally, and spiritually by inviting us to lighten up and laugh. Our smile can also invite others to mirror back the healing and uplifting power of a smile.
Smiling is an important part of the Loving-Kindness practice taught by many spiritual teachers. When sitting in meditation and throughout the day we can gently lift our lips into a gentle smile and notice how it radiates love and peace in our hearts. We can transform our moods and open our lives to the pathway of joy and wisdom from God.
2. Focus on a loving-kindness mantra or a loving image.
When we feel loving-kindness radiating in our heartspace, our minds are drawn to the experience of this gentle pleasure. We awaken to the love that is the essence of who we are: God’s love in human form.
As you sit in the quiet with a smile on your face, direct feelings of loving-kindness toward yourself by repeating a positive phrase or affirmation such as: “May I be happy. May I be calm. May I be safe.”
Or, instead of a mantra, you can use your imagination to recall an image that makes you feel happy and loved—a newborn baby, a puppy, a kitten, etc.
3. Sit in the quiet and feel unconditional love radiating within you.
The object of your meditation is the inner feeling of love.
As you focus your attention on love radiating within your heart, you might feel a gentle warmth, a tingle, your heartbeat, a flow, or the rhythm of the rising and falling of your chest. Observe what unconditional love feels like inside of you. Let yourself experience the energy of love flowing within your body.
Relax, deepen, and return to love—what you truly are. If you’d like, let go of the image or mantra and just feel love radiating within you. Feel divine love pulsating within your Being.
4. Six R It!
Our minds naturally wander. They look for something to chew on. Whenever you notice your mind drifting away from the feeling of love within you, use the following “6 R’s” to gently draw yourself back to your smile and the feeling of love radiating within you.
Recognize when you are taken away from the feeling of Loving-Kindness. Gently name the distraction with acceptance. Befriend it and then let it go.
Release your wandering thoughts by turning your attention away from them and refocusing on your smile.
Relax your eyes, your head, and your shoulders. Let go of any tension and tightness. Relax your mind and body.
Put a gentle smile back onto your face. Let your lips, eyes, and mind feel happy.
Return to your mantra or image and the inner feeling of loving-kindness radiating within you.
Stay with loving-kindness for yourself. Repeat the 6R’s whenever you get distracted. As you do so, the distraction weakens. You feel a deeper sense of balance
You can also radiate love for others after you’ve grounded yourself in loving-kindness for yourself.
Take Your Practice On the Road: Bring Your Smile and Loving-Kindness into your Day.
Throughout the active part of your day, pause and bring a smile to your face whenever needed. Repeat a mantra to recenter yourself such as: “May I be patient. May I be at peace. May I be wise.” etc.
Bring the mantra or your image to mind and draw your focus back to the feeling of love flowing within your heart.
Notice how a simple smile relaxes your whole Being.
A Smile and Thirty Minutes a Day Keeps Loving-Kindness Your Way
For the next ten days or so, try the loving-kindness practice each day during your quiet time for 20-30 minutes. It’s a way to teach your mind how to be happy.
After practicing loving-kindness for several days with a gentle smile and a return to the feeling of love within you, notice how you automatically respond with a sense of balance and inner peace to whatever happens in your day.
This simple practice teaches your mind how to “fear not” as you awaken to the essence of who you already are: Pure Love in human form.
A Guided Meditation for You
I invite you to click on the link below that will take you to my YouTube page and experience a loving-kindness guided meditation.
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