Naming the Dragon saps its power, like singling out an enemy and facing it head on – I see you, I know you, and I'm going to take you on. Fear doesn't like too much attention. When it is free to wander the back roads of your consciousness day and night it is the happiest and does the most harm. But identified, spoken, confronted, and shared, it shrinks in size and you can apply your weapons to it: reason, humor, distraction, and prayer. 

Sometimes the Dragon is more like an octopus. I used to wrestle them in college to eat and to sell. The trick was to glide in quietly and unseen, holding one’s breathe and tackle the octopus before it could get its arms attached to the rocks on the bottom. Invariably it would get some tentacles attached and I was left trying to pull off one arm after another. Every time I pulled up one and turned to the next, the first would reattach around me or my mask or my air hose. Fear is like that. You no sooner deal with it in one arena than it attacks you in another. The different techniques are useful and can help you cope, but what you really need to do is take out that whole octopus, all the fears, the whole Dragon. Not even completing treatment and being declared disease-free will do that. But the WINDRUNNERS did it, some even before the treatment started.


Taking treatment for cancer is also a lot like fighting a lion. Traveling in Kenya I met a Maasai warrior, a game guide who had dramatic scars all over his arms, neck and all over his chest and back. In vivid detail he described how a lion had attacked one of his cattle. When he thrust a spear in its side the lion had turned on him. A wrestle to the death ensued leaving him, the victor, but critically wounded, the lion dead, her throat slit by his machete.

When I asked how he felt during the encounter, he replied that the situation left no room for fear, only for the determination to meet the task at hand. However, fear moved in with incapacitating trembling of body and spirit once the lion was dead.

As I heard his story it reminded me of many patients who, having endured the onslaught of their cancer and treatment, described how an almost disabling fear that had  moved in when it was all over. One described that as long as she was focused on the fight there was no time for fear, but that once the fight was over, "Fear was having its way with me. I could almost think of nothing else – what I had been through and what I might have to face again."The Dragon was behind every door.

The mind, once cleared of its all-absorbing battle focus, is a fertile field for growing something else. Before seedlings of fear can take root, it is important to plant new ideas and new intentions to give the mind something to nurture and grow. 

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