I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Litany Against Fear from Frank Herbert’s Dune

Frank Herbert’s science fiction classic Dune is enjoying a revival due to the success of the movies by director Denis Villeneuve. The Litany Against Fear highlighted above is from the original novel. Hidden within this litany from science fiction author Frank Herbert is a key principle of mindfulness.

Most emotional aggression is the result of some type of fear, whether we are willing to admit it or not. The Litany against Fear is a great way to conquer this fear by conquering the conflict within ourselves. By turning within we are able to live in True Self and achieve a life of consistent positive consequences. Let’s examine how this works, line-by-line from the litany above:

“I will face my fear.”

Emotional aggression is usually the result of an attempt to avoid fear or to make our fear someone else’s responsibility. The natural tendency is to avoid danger by attempting to avoid the fear. This sometimes causes us to lash out in emotionally aggressive ways. But if we are able to turn and face the fear, we begin to see that it is not some all-powerful monster.
One way to do this is by ‘breathing into’ the fear. To do this, start a mindful breathing exercise by focusing only on your breath. Next, leave Doing Mode and enter Being Mode by letting go of the desire to run away from the fear. Simply breathe, relax, and greet the fear with open acceptance.

“I will permit it to pass over me and through me.”

By turning to face the fear and by breathing into it, we are not trying to engage in avoidance behavior or ruminating cycles. The goal here is to accept that the fear is already here. It is letting go of anticipation and realizing that the fear cannot touch us unless we choose to allow it to. By coming to this realization, we leave Thinking Mode and enter Sensing Mode, letting the fear wash over us like a wave. As it passes over and through us, it has no power over us unless we let it.

“And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.”

As the fear passes through and we move from Thinking Mode to Sensing Mode, we engage our inner observer to focus on the path that the fear has traveled. What is this path? It is the path of the ruminating cycle. The ruminating cycle began with a trigger, so by turning our inner eye to see the path, we are able to trace it back to the source: The trigger that acted as a catalyst. Remember, the goal isn’t to try to change anything here. We’re just using Sensing Mode to observe and describe the path that the fear has taken.

“When the fear has gone there will be nothing.”

Fear does not exist, except in the mind. Danger may exist in our external circumstances, and that danger may be very real, but fear is an emotional response to danger. We choose to be fearful. The good news is that we may also choose not to be fearful. When we trace the fear back to its point of origin we are able to create a different, less fearful response, or to choose to simply sit with the fear until it subsides on its own, without feeling the need to try to do something to stop it.

“Only I will remain.”

Once you have done this exercise by reciting the Litany Against Fear, you may come to find that the fear is no longer a problem. When you have faced your fears by standing as close to the ‘fire’ as possible, you may come to know that fear cannot touch you unless you choose to let it. Anxiety cannot touch you unless you choose to let it. Depression cannot touch you unless you choose to let it.

Even if the fear remains, with mindful awareness you may come to realize that you do not have to ‘do’ anything about it. You can choose to simply ‘be’ with it instead.

When you are able to do this regularly, you will have found a way to conquer your fears in a consistent manner.