Brenda Shoshanna has been a practicing psychologist and therapist for almost 30 years and is also a long-term practitioner of Zen; her work is dedicated to integrating East and West. She has taught at Adelphi University, Marymount College, Barnard, and offered more than 500 talks and workshops on all aspects of psychology, spirituality, fulfilling one's potential, and creating authentic peace of mind.
In Fearless, Shoshanna covers a very relevant and timely topic: confronting the fears that dominate our days. Economic uncertainty, unemployment, terrorist threats, environmental disasters, and climate change work their way into our minds, and we find it hard to shake them all off. They are persistent as a bully and as devious as a con man. Shoshanna is convinced that it is best to think of fear as a visitor who is just passing through: "Watch the fear arise and feel it; listen to the fear; do not allow the fear to stop your activities." She also counsels us to give more attention to love in our lives: the practice of dissolving fear comes with the regular practice of being loving. Here is one way to do both:
"The Bible says, 'Taste and see that life is good.' This statement stands up to fear and laughs in its face. It is a refutation of fear. It is a statement of truth. For those who live in fear, life does not taste good. But when fear dissolves, the sweetness and nourishment of life are restored.
"When someone gives you a dire message, when your catastrophic expectations start to grow, immediately replace them with this statement of truth. Say to yourself, Taste and see that life is good. Focus on that. Dwell on it deeply. When the fear has passed, you can look at whatever piece of news you were given with calmer, clearer, and wiser eyes. And if there is something that needs to be done, your innate knowingness will reveal it to you."
As we confront fear and practice love, we are on the path that leads to peace of mind. Shoshanna lays out and discusses 7 principles at the heart of this way of living:
• The Courage to Be Who You Are
• Letting Go of Attachment and Grasping
• Recognizing the Voices Within
• Finding a Safe Harbor
• Blessing Others: Deeds of Love
• Letting Go of Control and Domination
• Discovering Your Perfect Nature: Becoming a Friend
Throughout the book, the author shares wisdom stories from Zen masters, Sufi seers, Buddhist teachers, Hasidic rabbis, and others. These teaching stories are wonderful and well worth pondering for the context and deeper meanings they provide. Along the way, Shoshanna shares her own thoughts on seeing mistakes as friends, letting reality be reality, releasing hatred through the practice of forgiveness, incarnating the gift of trust, dealing with authority figures, defusing conflict, and creating a win-win situation for all.
In the back section of the book, the author has reproduced a "Workshop on Dissolving Fear" which serves as a helpful and healing overview of the 7 Principles and the path to peace of mind.