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Why? Because a challenge great enough to really expand you, or move you to the next level, will threaten your ego. Such a change is interpreted as “death,” and will trigger the same fear response. I remember attending a workshop once called sexual magic, and all I was being asked to do was go back to my cabin and make love with my significant other. I freaked out, and had such an extreme fear response that it felt as if I was going to die in the morning. If this seems ridiculous, you have to grasp what sexual magic is. If you’ve never experienced it, consider that there are countless disciplines that alter consciousness through control of breathing alone. Modifying the body’s orgasmic response is exponentially more powerful. The intensity of an orgasm is in direct proportion to the amount of your ego you release at that moment. In other words, the more YOU are there, the less the pleasure is. There should be a momentary sense of dissolution of ego boundaries between you and the lover, or you’re doin’ it wrong, friend. Now, in this workshop, we were playing with this response in fascinating and direct ways. In other words, we were creating a Pavlovian Stimulus-Response loop between an egoless state and the most powerful positive sensation your body is capable of experiencing. The ego, knowing it cannot compete, strikes back with its strongest weapon: fear of death. I asked Swift Deer, the workshop leader, what I should do.

He said I should go out and talk to a tree.

For those of you who don’t know, the “Talk to the Tree” exercise is done something like this. Find a friendly-looking tree along a moderately traveled road. Connect with it emotionally. Then wait until another human being walks by. Note the way your posture and carriage and facial expression shift as soon as there is another person. This is the “mask”, the ego weight you carry to conceal your true self from the world. It is the cost you pay for being inauthentic. One of the secrets to Mastery is to be the same way with people as you are with the tree.

Well, I leaned my head against that tree, and sobbed my eyes out. And I found my self-saying (to the tree — believe me, I know how nutty this sounds), “How can you do it? How can you just be the same, no matter what? Whether it’s hot or cold, whether it’s snowy or rainy or the sun is shining, whether they love you or hate you, how can you just be the same?” And in some odd tree way, it answered me. “I’m just a tree, man,” it said. “My roots go down, my branches go up. I’m just me. I can’t be anything else.” Implicitly: so why try to be?

 I got it. And went back up to finish the exercise, and finished the rest of the workshop.

But we do. And the fear of dying, of shattering the ego walls, paralyzes us. F.E.A.R. We’ve all heard it: False Evidence that Appears Real. And there’s another acronym just as accurate but less appropriate for mixed audiences: Fuck Everything And Run.

But running brings us to another incredibly powerful exercise for dealing with fear. It requires that you have a physical activity that will take you into second wind. Walking, running, club-bells, kettle-bells, jumping rope, swimming, all will work. This exercise, taught to me by Coach Powell, is so powerful it is almost like magic.

 All right.

1) Sit for 10 minutes and bring the emotion of fear into your body. Powerfully directly. Imagine worst-case scenarios, whatever you need, until you are shaking, crying out of your nose, sobbing.

 Wait ten minutes.

2) Now begin your aerobic exercise. Continue until you reach second wind, and for at least five minutes beyond that place.

This just flat works. The reason is that the physiological profile of hormone dump during cardio-respiratory distress is very similar to the hormone dump during extreme fear. Instead of calling it “Second wind,” call it “Second gear”–a cortical response, a neurophysiologic adjustment to increase efficiency so that the body can function under the specific stress. CRD is more primal than any fear you are likely to have locked in your body. When you take this physical road, you are hitting the “reset” button on your neurology, clearing out years or decades of fear response in minutes. Bizarre as it sounds, you can get a 20% (approximate, subjective) reduction of fear IN YOUR FIRST SESSION. Then, of course, practice this a couple of times a week as needed.

 This is an example of a “mastery” technique.

This is not a game, and I am not BS-ing you. You’ve just had a “hidden secret” placed right in front of you, for free. All you have to do is try it. Any aerobic activity that will trigger a “second wind” response will do it (second wind usually kicks in after 13-18 minutes of steady-state exercise). This is why you MUST engage your body when you seek Mastery. The mind will deceive you. The body, subject to physical rule and laws, cannot.

The “5MM” will get you started integrating mind and body, the cheapest and most efficient method I know. Check it out! When you have completed this task, take 10-15 minuets and grab your journal and write about your fears, don’t be worried about how or what you are writing, just write! Remember this is called the Truth’s Journey and we are after just that, the truth. You will be amazed at what comes out of you. If you forgot about step one of this process, we are going to come back to your journal in a month or so and read it, so don’t be worried about going back and correcting what you are writing at this point, because the truth will try to hide itself.

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