Clearing Ancestral Fear

Clearing Ancestral Fear

lion fear

Clean out your lineage of fear

Since my last article about fear, life has afforded me a large dose of new learning on the topic which I’d like to share with you here.


Tuning into the ancestral field of fear

As I said in my last article, most of us are not aware of the degree to which our moment-to-moment choices are shaped by unconscious fear. Next realization deeper down for me is seeing how much of that fear is inherited from the generations before us – again, a level of fear that we may be either totally unaware of or only marginally cognizant of.

I’ll use my own story as an example and you’ll instantly see how it applies to yours, with some changes to the content. My grandmother Marietjie lived in a small town where she had two pregnancies and a few still births in between. Her husband was a traveling salesman who was never home. With each of these births, she lost an enormous amount of blood. There were no doctors around. By the time my father, the eldest, was 4, his mother died of leukemia. Six months later, her father died of grief at the loss of his daughter. This warm-hearted man had been through the first world war and the Anglo Boer War during which his farm was burnt to the ground and taken by the British. With his death, my father lost his ‘father figure’ and was raised by his aunt who, although well-meaning, had no maternal instinct and irked away a living for herself and her two adopted children. She was a seamstress who did the repairs she did by hand, until finally she got a foot pedaled sewing machine.

Looking back of my ancestors, I see what I’m sure you may well see looking at yours.

  • They had so much less choice than we have today.
  • Opportunities were enormously limited.
  • Survival was a primarily driver in life.
  • They were traumatized by acts of horror and destruction that people enacted upon each other because they thought it was their duty.

Now here moves the interesting thing: Our genes remember. When we come into this life, we bring in with us the survival fears and impulses that our ancestors had. Unless we make a conscious effort to upgrade the frequency we live from, our genes will still have us believe that our lives are about survival, even if our circumstances are radically improved from those of our ancestors.


Upgrade your fear gauge

To upgrade our gene response, it is important for us to be able to actually assess how safe we are in this moment. Try it out. In this moment, how safe are you? Do you have physical shelter? Do you have access to basic resources? In this moment, how emotionally safe are you? If in this moment you are safe, can you let your body feel that? Can you allow yourself to go into a deep relaxation – and make it a habit to rest into that relaxation whenever your environmental check indicates that you are safe? The only way we will reprogram our genes is if we let yourselves feel – right into our body – that everything is ok right now.


Feel the fear

Having said that, there is another vitally important step. Or a few. If fear is there in our systems, it is going to have to be felt. We humans have a deep resistance to feeling fear – we will do anything to avoid it. Mostly what we do to avoid it is start thinking. Consider this: How much of your habitual thinking is an attempt at controlling fear that you don’t want to feel?

I recently had an opportunity to feel fear, provided courtesy of my journey with cancer. Life in Her benevolent goodness gave me an opportunity to lie down flat soon after and really feel the fear. The experience in my body was extreme, but profoundly healing. I got cold to the bone, shivered all over for hours and had a fever rushing through me for hours more. As this was happening, I was aware that I was clearing out a truck load of ancestral fear that had been collected in my gene pool. This was not jus a response to the moment at hand. And yes, it was scary to feel such intense sensations. In most situations, feeling fear would look more like allowing myself to feel a tightening in the heart and to soften into it for a minute or two. But this was a big clearing that wanted to happen. It did. And with it, came an enormous freeing up of energy in my system.


Steps in working with fear

The trouble with fear is not actually feeling it, but our fear of fear itself. In other words, we seem to need to overcome our fear of feeling this feeling before we can even be ready to feel the primary feeling. In my experience, these are some of the steps that can help in truly meeting fear:


  1. Befriend fear. As the poet Rumi says, welcome it as a guest that’s come to sweep your house clean for some new delight.
  2. Notice fear when it arrives in your experience. What does fear feel like as sensation in your body? Is it a tightening, a speeding up, a light headedness, is it cold or hot, in what parts of your body do you feel it?
  3. Turn towards your heart. Soften in your heart and consciously invite a quality of love and care for yourself.
  4. Now bring this embracing, loving quality to the part of you that is feeling fear. Give it permission to be felt. You can titrate it – give yourself 2 minutes to feel the fear – and then return back to a solid focus on the feeling of love for yourself. Drop the fear, shake it out. Then when you are ready, touch in on it for a short while again.
  5. Feel the fear as sensations but don’t buy into the thoughts/beliefs. This is the key. If you start playing into beliefs about the cause of the fear and start spinning stories about it, you are in effect avoiding simply feeling the fear and thus creating more illusion.
  6. Relax as much as you an while the fear is playing out. Don’t believe it, and yet hold it in compassion. Let it pass through you. It’s never about getting rid of it. We’re not supposed to get rid of fear – just to learn how to let us pass through us without resistance.


Fear can be an evolutionary impulse

A way of understanding fear with more appreciation is to see the evolutionary impulse that motivates it. Thomas Heubl says that our growth as children is a movement between being and becoming. Being is the experience of safely resting in the arms of our mothers. Becoming is venturing out into the world and discovering our individuated selves. We need both impulses – to expand into the increasing discovery of our becoming, evolving selves (going beyond our own boundaries, taking a deeper in-breath and stretching our lungs for more Life to flood in, for more intensity to be allowed) – and to relax and release by coming home to ourselves, by simply being, breathing out, and resting into emptiness.

Fear is an impulse that develops in us when we go out beyond our borders – when we increase our capacity for intensity in Life. If we consider the metaphor of the child, it is healthy for the child to feel that touch of fear when he crawls out the house and into the garden for the first time. In the process of life, he will discover where that fear is building his courage to venture further, and where that fear is guiding him as to what not to do (e.g. drowning in the swimming pool).


Notice what puts your fear response on automatic overdrive

The art of being human involves understanding the rhythms of our evolution. We need both the in-breath and the out-breath of life. When we come to believe, as our crazy society does, that life is all about the in-breath, we will have the majority of people walking around over-motivated, over-energized and at the same time exhausted to the bone.

We have stepped out of our natural rhythms and our bodies are organically responding by switching on the fear-beeper. And what do we do in response? We manage this response by drowning it out with loud music and television, working out harder, partying harder, having more hard-core sex, dating harder… whatever our drug of choice is to keep us ‘up’ so we don’t have to face the ‘down’.

Or we can simply stop. Breathe out. And take a good look at the habits that are putting our fear response on automatic overdrive. Here are some of the habits I’ve been noticing in myself and the world around me:

Habits of thought such as

  • I need to be perfect, I need to meet my target, I need to get there on time.
  • I need to meet people’s expectations.
  • At all costs, I don’t want to experience embarrassment/failure/humiliation and so I’ll drive myself as hard as I must to avoid this from ever happening.
  • People don’t care about me.
  • I have to prove my point.

Habits of feeling such as:

  • I’ll just hold on to this resentment rather than consciously feel my anger because that way I’ll get the person I’m angry with to change
  • Life’s a drag and I’m just going to have to get through this day.
  • I’m simply here to do my duties and I’ll never be happy.
  • Being angry at myself for everything I’m not.

Habits of sensations such as

  • Holding my breath or not breathing
  • Holding tension in parts of my body
  • Walking above the ground rather than sinking into the floor
  • Trying to hide rather than opening my eyes and enjoying making eye contact.


Clean out your lineage of fear

It is possible for us to no longer have our daily experience be impacted by generations of fear stored in our cells. But that will require of us the willingness to feel fear as it arises in our awareness now. Life will always auto-correct itself and will give you the opportunity to feel what is there to be felt. Get support with this if needed. It’s a good skill to learn. The basic principle is this: Get into your body and feel. Feeling is cleaning out.

Now the ever-important next step: Stop doing all the unnecessary stuff you’ve been doing (thoughts, feelings, sensations) that keep your body in a fear response. You have this one life. Live it to the full. Don’t worry. Be happy!


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