Think of the last time you were talking to someone you’re in relationship with, be it your partner, a close friend, or a colleague. At some point in the conversation, you may have felt a blip of fear, perhaps that they were angry with you, or maybe you felt misunderstood.
What was your response? Did you get aggressive and tell the person how it was going to be (fight)? Did you find a reason to leave the conversation (flee)? Did you feel confused, like you couldn’t find your words (faint)? Or did you feel stunned and just stand there, staring (freeze)?
These four ways of responding are the main fear signatures that automatically happen when we feel scared. Kathlyn Hendricks has pioneered amazing insights into body-centered ways that we can free ourselves from reacting to fear. These somatic tools interrupt the pattern of fear.
When we get stuck in fight, we can ooze our way back to our essence. When we start to flee, we can sumo back into ourselves. Freeze is interrupted by wiggling, and faint can be shaken up by reaching out and gathering our awareness back in. These body movements, coupled with breath, create an immediate response in the body and mind. I have found huge success in getting unstuck from fear by using these methods.
As a yogini, I see the world through the lens of the five elements. When I bring that worldview to the fear melters, even more magic arises: each fear signature lines up with four of the five elements. And our corresponding elemental responses can alchemize the fear into a new and different energy.
Fire (fight) = Balanced by water
Air (faint) = Balanced by fire
Earth (Flee) = Balanced by water
Water (Freeze) = Balanced by air
When your Fire response is activated (fight), extinguish the flames with water. Take a few deep breaths and move your body as water, starting from the extremities and moving inward and then back out again, visualizing water dousing the flames.
When the Air element is at play (faint), apply the fire of clarity. Using your hands to make contact with your body, feel the lick of the flames reaching out and bringing you back to your center.
Fear is the wind that blows the top layer of earth around, creating a dust cloud (flee). To bring the scattered earth back to form, just add water. Feel the weight of the water element in your lower body, drawing you back into yourself, completely grounded.
When the water element becomes stuck (freeze), aerate the stagnant water with the power of air. Move your body as if the air is moving through you, breaking up the stuckness and restoring you to yourself.
We can’t forget the fifth element, and that is the element of ether, or space. Space pervades everything. As we apply these balancing elements to our interrupt our fear states, it’s important to remember that which pervades all space: love. Add love to all of these balancing pairs, and experience how deeply you are brought into greater harmony with yourself and the people around you.
As with any real learning, the best way to understand is through direct perception. Try it out! These tools are a great way to change habitual reactions and start to create meaningful responses that help generate connection and aliveness in your life and your relationships.