2. Desensitization. Chapter I

Many people have problems that they know with certainty, yet still the problems cannot be removed. That is, even though the problems are consciously known, they still continue to assert a negative influence on an individual’s life. An example, common with many people, is fear of insects such as spiders. They are fully aware of this fear for whenever they see an insect they immediately suffer an emotional upset, sometimes great, sometimes small, depending on the nature of the confrontation. That is, if the individual is in a state of tension, or if the spider is seen suddenly or under particularly unexpected circumstances, the intensity of the emotional shock will be greater.

The real cause of this fear lies, of course, in the subconscious mind and will no doubt be eventually thrown out by meditational techniques. But there is a more direct method of neutralizing conscious fears, which is very simple and yet very effective. It is called desensitization. The method is as follows: first of all, you must relax yourself as much as possible. This can be achieved by practising your normal daily yoga program, or by practising a meditational technique or shavasana for some time.

Choose a convenient method that you think will induce the greatest relaxation. When you are relaxed, you must try to visualize yourself confronting the object of your fear. In other words, mentally create a picture of the object. Let us take fear of mice, as an example. Try to visualize a picture of a mouse or mice; the clearer the image the better. If you have difficulty in visualizing a mouse then try to relive and revive memories of your past, perhaps uncomfortable and unpleasant ones, in which you interacted with a mouse. Do this as intensely as you can. At first you may experience great fear. If the fear becomes too great then of course discontinue the practice. But if possible face the problem and totally confront the object of your fear. Do this for a tew minutes if possible and then rest. The following day repeat the process, making sure that you are relaxed as much as possible prior to the practice. You should find that your emotional reaction to the object of your fear is reduced. Confront yourself with all aspects of the mouse (or whatever your fear is) – a big mouse, many mice, mice in disturbing surroundings. Confront yourself with as many associations of mice that your mind can think of or visualize.

 

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