The Gifts of Fear: What I Learned on the Edge of a Cliff

Last year I attended a retreat where I was guided through a Shamanic Journey. At one point, the instruction was to imagine myself in a place where I felt powerful and grounded. 

The image that came to me (after I decided what outfit I would be wearing) was of me standing on red earth, overlooking a huge canyon, with the wind blowing my skirt and my hair. I did indeed feel powerful, grounded and strong.

Since then I've thought of that image occasionally, but not too often.

While in Kauai this summer, I had a remarkable experience. While sitting for guidance one day, the message that came through was that I would be experiencing the real life version of my visualization. (I didn't have the right outfit with me, but the long skirt I had envisioned would have been impractical for a hike anyway.)

Our destination was Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

Once we climbed to the top, sure enough, I found myself standing on red earth overlooking a vast canyon. There was definitely wind blowing my hair and my skirt. And although I expected to feel grounded and powerful, I actually felt something quite different...

I felt terrified.

The sea and the sky that day were the exact same colour and so there was no horizon. The cliffs seemed to tumble down for miles. I stood at the same height as the distant clouds.

I spread out my arms and felt the fear tingling in my fingertips. I was so surprised- this didn't feel like my visualization at all.

I focused on my feet connecting with the earth. Then the grounded sensation arrived. I slowed down my breath, which gave me a sense of strength. I didn't feel powerful though.

Curiously, the stunning vista held the power, not me.

There was so much abundance, expansion and possibility facing me that I trembled with fear.

However, the profound take-away for me was that I was able to stand in that fear. My feet were grounded. My breath was strong and steady. My heart pounded forcefully in my chest, radiating into my throat and ears. My outstretched arms and fingers felt like there were streaks of terror shooting towards my core. 

My mind wanted to leap into the terror, but my breath and my feet reminded me that I was truly safe and that I was expanding my capacity for feeling fear in that moment.

I've never experienced anything like it.

I received the gift of knowing in every cell of my body; knowing that I am, indeed open and receptive to all the good and abundance in the Universe.

I had affirmed those words many times before. In this experience, I got an inkling of the vastness of the good and abundance that are available, not just to me, for to every living being.

I had expected to feel powerful in that moment, as I stood at the edge of the canyon, on the red earth. Instead, I felt intense fear. The true power came from knowing that I could stand in that fear while simultaneously facing immense possibility.

There are gifts in fear, I realized.

It makes our hearts beat forcefully.

It demands our full attention, helping us to be present.

It leads to expansion and the deliciousness of personal growth.

Most of all, when we stand in the fear, open and vulnerable, it gives us the gift of feeling fully alive.