How Not To Be Afraid of Your Own Life : Opening Your Heart to Confidence, Intimacy, and Joy
How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life is an inspirational and practical guide to conquering fear and embracing joy.
Although you may not realize it fear is getting in your way and stopping you from connecting with others, realizing the significance of your life, and finding fulfillment and joy. It doesn't have to be this way. Susan Piver has the key to breaking down the barriers of fear that are holding you back. Using simple meditation techniques, based in Buddhist principles, she will teach you how to:
-Open your heart to relationships
-Gain the confidence to pursue a meaningful career
-Achieve perspective to live your authentic life
With a contemporary approach to ancient practices Susan teaches you how to incorporate principles of meditation and mindfulness into your everyday life. This isn't about enlightenment on a mountaintop it is a way of bringing intelligence and courage to the way you relate to yourself, your family, your friends, and your life.
Readers of popular self-help books may recognize Piver as the author of The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say "I Do." But Piver has also been a student of Buddhism for 10 years and is an authorized meditation teacher. This little book distills what Piver has learned from meditation, retreats and sessions with her spiritual teacher, offering a skillful description of Buddhist meditation for the beginner. Her point is very simple: "There is a kind of happiness that is effortlessly present at all times. This happiness comes from stopping the relentless search to fulfill our own needs. It comes from relaxing with things exactly as they are." In that vein, she explores several basic Buddhist concepts and also lays out a sort of in-home retreat for greater self-awareness, a seven-day, hour-by-hour program of journaling, walks and meditation. In trying in this way to combine the more spiritual Buddhist and more pragmatic self-help genres, she produces a book that's both personal and contemplative, but that may not appeal to readers of either genre. (Apr. 5) Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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St. Martin's Press
April 02, 2007
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Excerpt from How Not To Be Afraid of Your Own Life by Susan Piver
What Creates Fear?
One morning I turned on CNN and saw that the terror alert had been elevated to orange. I'm not sure how bad orange is, but I know it's not good. I stopped in my tracks, looked around my kitchen, and saw a stack of untried recipes, pictures from our recent trip to Colorado, and a shopping list written in my husband's hand. Suddenly all these seemed very precious, and for a moment I allowed myself to imagine the magnitude of our loss if a terrorist attacked Boston. Our lives could end. Our house could be destroyed. Our lifestyle and our sense of refuge could be wiped out. It would be unbearable. It could happen! It happens to others every day. I thought about trying to escape by moving to a small town in British Columbia or Tuscany. I wanted to run away. My imagined loss was so excruciating that I knew I would do almost anything to prevent it. But I couldn't tolerate the feeling of horror for more than a few seconds, so I put it all aside and went upstairs to take a shower.
In the post-9/11 world, flashes of fear like this are commonplace--as is the possibility of becoming hysterical, numb, or self-righteous. The need to discover and cultivate fearlessness is at an all-time high. Back in the mid-nineties, it seemed we were scared of overwork, credit card balances, and the prevalence of divorce. We may still worry about these things, but now the mix is much, much more intense. It includes fear of terrorism and global warfare; of the irreversible loss of natural resources, such as breathable air, drinkable water, and plentiful oil; and although it was unthinkable as little as ten years ago, of the displacement of America as the world's unimpeachable superpower and the security that comes with that role. Just when we think life can't become more stressful, a strange new disease is identified or the price of gasoline rises.
Once I worked at a small company that was being sold to avoid going under. Most of us had worked there since the beginning and had done so with respect and, frequently, joy--until our jobs were threatened. Our collegiality fell away, and we all began to fight for territory, flatter the boss, and blame one another for problems. Our office was awash in what appeared to be unresolved parental issues and desperate attempts to secure a strategic position to survive the transition. It is surprising how quickly fear can destabilize and poison good relationships. If the fear of losing a job can turn you into a coward, what can be expected from those who may lose a child to war or be denied permission to practice their faith?
Yet it doesn't take remarkable events to create fear. Fear escalates in times of discomfort, no matter how remarkable or ordinary. When we think we might be in love, we hold our feelings back until circumstances are just right. When we want to pitch our co-workers a new idea, we worry about the consequences, decide against taking a risk, and hope for a better day. If we hear that a friend is ill, we long for things to go back to the way they were. These responses are completely and utterly understandable; we retreat from love, shrink from creativity, and hide from loss. It seems so much easier to hold to the familiar or cling to old beliefs about yourself and the way life is "supposed" to go. The question is: How do we prevent our fear from sucking us deeper into dogmatism, depression, and hatred, or their relatives, superiority, laziness, and numbness? The answer is to find a response that balances our emotions through relating to what scares us, not through turning away from it.
Before we can craft a response, we should explore what we're up against. There are three arenas within which we encounter our own fear: about ourselves; about others; and about life, or the way we approach the world in general.