How to Integrate or Remove a Phobia

This is part of my Start Here series of posts aimed at teaching beginners the basics of the human hardware.

RH wrote:

Sounds silly but I have an irrational fear of insects, particularly moths. It’s so bad that I cannot enter a room if ‘something’ is in it, or if I see something in a room I can’t go back in until I know it’s gone… or dead. I spent a lot of my trip to Australia last year really on edge because of my fear. Due to return in November I do not want the same experience.

I can have panic attacks if I’m confronted with a moth and just feel full of this horrible panicked fear. . . put it this way. If you said,  ‘here is 10k go stand in a room full of moths’, I’d tell you to keep it. Double that money and I’d still tell you to keep it!

Well, the first thing I would suggest is that no fear is irrational. On a cosmic scale, this fear was completely rational at some time. Insects were carriers of disease. In that sense it is a kind of genetic memory. The Buddhists call this a “formation”. The first thing I would do is to become grateful for the formation. Literally thank it in your mind and take a moment to fully appreciate its attempt to protect you. Gratitude removes resistance and is one of the easiest ways into acceptance, which is the first step in moving beyond the formation.

Dealing with formations is at the heart of Buddhist practice. Formations are not just fears but are all drives, thoughts, emotions and perceptions.

We should be precise with our language. Formations are not “removed” in surgical fashion. Rather, an equanimity is found with them (through various means, of which meditation is just one), at which point they become integrated and stop exerting their effect. It is more accurate to say you “move beyond” formations; they simply stop manifesting at a certain point. There is a process by which the integration of a formation occurs. This process is largely invisible and takes place in the unconscious mind during practices such as meditation, after the intention to move beyond the formation is clearly verbally declared. However, in meditations which utilize a high degree of awareness, the integration process becomes more visible in conscious awareness, arising perhaps as vibrations or fluctuating patterns of sensations, and the moment of integration may even be perceived as a mental “pop” – a noticeable shift in perception, or the sense of a veil suddenly being lifted.

The time required to integrate a formation varies depending on the nature of the formation and how fundamental it is to the being in question (since animals also have formations, as they are the basis of our experience of reality). Generally, the more fundamental the formation, the longer it will take to integrate. For example, a poor relationship with one’s mother might take many years to integrate, since those patterns are central pillars of a person’s relational map and a lot of other things would have to change as a result of tinkering with it. However, phobia of insects might be more arbitrary and easier to integrate, since it probably does not have much of an effect on the rest of your experience of reality. The time taken to integrate each formation cannot particularly be controlled by the meditator, beyond simply adding more practice time (which always helps).

The outcome of integrating your insect phobia would look like this: At some point in the future, you would walk into a room filled with insects and it would not bother you particularly. (And, reality will test you in some fashion like this at some point in the future, in order to demonstrate to you that the formation truly has been integrated and moved beyond.)

The primary force which causes someone to move beyond a certain formation is intent. This is unscientific, because science does not know how to modify behaviour (yet). What I am describing is how to modify behaviour, and it is likely done in a way you would never expect. Intent is the primary force that drives change.

The first thing to do is to choose the goal state. The goal state would be something like being able to walk into a room, be swarmed by insects, and not react above the normal level of discomfort (no one likes insects). You will need to put in the time to visualize this outcome, and ignore any emotional discomfort the imagined situation brings. You will need to get to a point where you can visualize this situation at will without resisting it too much (and remind yourself that it is only a mental simulation, if that helps). Finally, you will need to make a formal declaration of this intention, known in meditation as a “formal resolution”:

“I formally intend to become comfortable around insects, in its own time, for the greatest good of all.”

The latter two clauses are optional and simply reduce mental resistance to the idea. “In its own time” removes impatience, since it acknowledges that it may take months or even years for the intention to come into effect (and you have to allow it to proceed at its own pace). “For the greatest good of all” presupposes that ending the phobia will be of benefit to others beyond yourself, and is therefore an altruistic intention (and it is altruistic to the insects you would have otherwise killed).

Once this intention is made, it is certain to come true. It just becomes a question of when. Certain practices will speed its arrival. I personally recommend nondirective meditations for most purposes now. Conscious Mental Rest is an easy and powerful approach for beginners and experts alike. During nondirective meditations you are allowed to think; you can let your mind do whatever it wants. The only restriction is that you stay fairly still physically with your eyes closed.

You do not need to “do” anything to have your intention come true. Simply making the intention then meditating will cause it to come true at some future date. You do not need to think about insects or your intention during meditation (but if the thoughts come up, you can let yourself think them; there is no control exerted over such things in nondirective meditation). In this sense, you do not “work on” the intention to integrate the phobia. Rather, you allow it to resolve itself at entirely its own pace. There is no attempt made to exert control over the process at any point.

Technically, you do not even need to meditate. Once the intention is formally declared, it will take care of itself. Plenty of people get what they ask for simply by asking for it (in truly dedicated fashion, not flippantly) then letting time take care of the rest. However, meditation will hasten it by bringing equanimity to the situation and also by providing time for the unconscious reordering process to unfold. Given the many other benefits of meditation, it is a no-brainer that you would take up the practice.

Via the formal intention process you can receive whatever you want. It is literally the formula for planning your life. The only factor is the time it takes for outcomes to manifest. However, acceptance that it will take as long as it needs is, paradoxically, the way to get it quicker. I can honestly say that I have received everything I have ever asked for via formal intention. It is how you “hack the Matrix”.

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15 Responses

  1. Arpan says:

    “Plenty of people get what they ask for simply by asking for it (in truly dedicated fashion, not flippantly) then letting time take care of the rest. ”

    People who are of an analytical nature and don’t have strong faith in a Conscious Power becoming and evolving the Universe, tend to take such “asking/praying” as a mechanistic law of energy. They equate its working with the formal intention method(yes, there is an equivalence) and then when it doesn’t show results in the time frame they expected, they think that they must try “harder/again” or something on similar lines that one might do with Formal Intention. This screws the Equanimity part of the prayer and takes away what little faith they have in prayer/Conscious Universe/God.
    It’s best to take this attitude: Prayer is only a way to make myself receptive to THAT which knows what’s best for me. The prayer may or maynot be granted, but whatever happens will be in my best interest.

    Else, it’s best to take the Formal Intention and/or meditation route.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Agreed. The “must try harder/again” issue is also the reason why e.g. sigil magick instructs that the intention should be FORGOTTEN after the spell.

      However with faith one can remember the intention as much as one likes.

      • Arpan says:

        Yes. Those developed in prayer route also talk about praying/coaxing-God-like-a-child till a feeling/glow of certainty arises. This seems to correspond with the “Foregone conclusion” method. However, I don’t think that kinda prayer is easy for the non-devotee kinds.

        • Illuminatus says:

          “Coaxing-God-like-a-child till a feeling/glow of certainty arises” is incredibly powerful and I have used it dozens of times. It also leads strongly and directly towards solipsism.

          • Arpan says:

            Yes, it does seem to make my “relationship” with God a bit unhealthy, immature kind, though not to pure solipsism(God did it, not me, but he listens to my pleas).. It increases non-acceptance,decreases self-censure and brings in a host of negatives in the consciousness that don’t seem conducive to NDM and long term growth in general. Primary issue being: it shuts me up in my own mental constructions which makes progress piecemeal compared to when I “allow” God/Existence to do their will.

  2. Betha says:

    “This process is largely invisible and takes place in the unconscious mind during practices such as meditation, after the intention to move beyond the formation is clearly verbally declared.”

    Is it necessary to be aware of a specific formation in order for you to move beyond it? There is a feeling of unburdening after the meditation session that lifts a certain veil, even if you don’t know what kind of a veil it is.

    • Illuminatus says:

      “Is it necessary to be aware of a specific formation in order for you to move beyond it?”

      I used to believe that was the case, but I changed my mind after a number of experiences.

      My model now looks more like this:

      1) You set the formal intention to move to the goal state
      2) Formations blocking that goal state will begin bubbling into reality the moment that intention is set
      3) Those formations will be integrated via life experiences or leaps in insight until the path is clear and the goal state has, de facto, manifested.

      So, in your mind, your thoughts will naturally start turning towards obstacles — but it will not render them as overt obstacles in the way it did before (which made you not pursue that goal); rather, your mind will become inquisitive towards those obstacles and begin to “unpack” them. So, the formations in the way will come to be understood — each and every one of them — via this process of self-change/metaprogramming. If you have not yet developed high conscious awareness, then they will play out in dreams. (High conscious awareness is the difference between a drug trip being straightforward to interpret, or it being utterly confusing and more like a dream.)

      The obstacle formations will also begin to play out in real life, too, and your living through them will add further insight. It will become very apparent through this process how the inside and outside worlds are linked (and are, ultimately, the same thing).

      I believe that, by the time the “master formation” (or “root formation”) that was the target of the intention in the first place (whether you recognized it consciously or not as the “root”) has made the final integration then you WILL understand it. At the moment it changes permanently, I believe you will understand it. And then be able to recognize it in others. This is what “insight” is, really.

      Now, there is some strange middle ground we can explore here a little bit. The first example is that, around maybe a year ago, someone emailed me asking for help with his masturbation addiction (whacking off 6+ times a day, neglecting his family as a result). I told him about formations and the above process a little bit, but he said he wanted to know what the quickest possible path was. I gave him the “dimensional jumping” script from Reddit, where you look at a mirror until the perspective shift feeling happens, then you assume you’re in the new reality (having passed through the mirror) wherein this habit no longer exists. He said he would try it. He next emailed me three months later. The spell had worked IMMEDIATELY and he had not masturbated for THREE MONTHS. He only emailed me because something had triggered him and he had started again; he wanted to know what to do now.

      That story is pretty common. You can substitute the “mirror technique” for “NLP”, “EFT”, any number of quack techniques I’ve made up over the last 10 years (the old forum had dozens of them, hence why I shut it down haha), or drugs like antidepressants which seem to work largely in this same way… these are “magic bullet” techniques. They tend to work pretty much immediately but have a TIME LIMIT on them. I believe that the obstacle formations are SUSPENDED during this time. You get a taste of how the new reality COULD be. But the formations were never integrated and begin to re-manifest.

      The other example would be things like drug use. MDMA can suspend all sorts of formations and turn you into a different person for a night. Similar things can happen with LSD, or in fact any drug provided you have some belief in its ability to “do something”. I see drugs as nothing more than magick spells for suspending formations and establishing a goal state for some time.

      But, ultimately, for a shift to become permanent, I think you probably have to end up with a good understanding of the original formation behind the problem. If you don’t know what that is at the start (usually the case) then reality will provide the knowledge to you over time via the experiences you need to understand it.

      • Betha says:

        Doesn’t meditation integrate formations (and make you aware of them), even if you don’t make a formal resolution to get to a certain goal-state? For example, you become aware of you inner workings without trying to get somewhere or achieve a certain goal, but the change is still initiated by this awareness.

        • Illuminatus says:

          Yes. Meditation is basically an endless inner journey of self-discovery.

          • Betha says:

            What is your take on healing/altering the physical body through intentions, formal resolutions and meditation? Would the process happen “directly” in the unconscious mind the same way it does when integrating unhelpful mental states? If not, then at least it should help you go beyond the formations that block you from getting to the healed/altered state.

  3. Magician123 says:

    Could I really just set the intention to be comfortable around other people using your formal intention template and it will eventually come true? This seems to good to be true but also intuitively correct somehowl.

    What about setting a bunch of intentions in a short time period? Will meditation (and just being alive) integrate formations so all the necessary shifts get made?

    • Illuminatus says:

      >Could I really just set the intention to be comfortable around other people using your formal intention template and it will eventually come true?

      YES!

      >This seems to good to be true

      Of course. Ego. Ego wants it to be difficult to justify ego’s existence. Also, ego wants the solution to be ego’s idea.

      >but also intuitively correct somehow

      Right brain/metaprogrammer. Reality is malleable. It knows deep down. You are a god playing within limitations for the sheer hell of it.

      >What about setting a bunch of intentions in a short time period? Will meditation (and just being alive) integrate formations so all the necessary shifts get made?

      The depth of thought required to seriously set an intention somewhat rules you out making several intentions simultaneously, since if you are making many intentions very quickly they will tend to be flippant. Figuring out an intention should really take several days because you need to seriously think about how your life would look if it came true, and that actually takes a lot of time to imagine all those outcomes.

      Also, if you made, say, five intentions in one day, those intentions would all likely be connected somehow under one “master intention” (though you may not realize it at the time). Common themes include: living in abundance, having flippant desires granted, having many novel or intense experiences, desire to travel/explore/be more “free” than you are now, and so forth.

      With both these points in mind, if you seriously set several intentions in a short time period, they would in fact still come true (provided they were not directly opposed to one another, which is another danger of such a thing), and they would also likely interweave and you would have two or three intentions united in one “master narrative”. I am sure I don’t need to give you an example for you to get the point. You would likely have a very interesting set of experiences unfold if you did this; there would be a lot of “What’s going to happen next?” floating around in there, too, which would be too much for some people (I lived like that for a few years and it was unending chaos).

      • Myuran says:

        Thank you for the answer.

        I am going to have to take more time to imagine the outcome of my intentions but they did centre around things i’ve been concerned about for years now – mainly inadequacy both in my social and sex life as well as being scared of my secrets being revealed to others. These problems all stem from fear and an egoic want of approval so I am hoping the intentions and meditation will bring about a perspective change for me either to get what I want i.e friends, social approval, sex and relationships OR to not care about needing those things in the first place which will help me in those areas anyway.

        I do find my life kind of boring so a change to thinking “What’s going to happen next?” is very appealing.

        Thanks again for your answers.

  4. Sivakumaran says:

    If you are working on a complex or difficult intention and it takes multiple meditation sessions to work through all the formations and make the intention manifest, how do you do it? Do you “re-intend” before every sit? Or can you maybe just intend something like “I now resolve that this meditation I perform will help my previous intention become reality”? Or is it best to just assume after the first time that the work is done, and then just wait for it to come true?

    • Illuminatus says:

      If you were serious when setting the intention, and had put time into thinking it through, then wheels are already in motion and you do not need to “re-intend” it.

      At the same time however, if you are serious about the intention, your thoughts will return to it and its intended outcome regularly. So the reality is that both things you mentioned tend to happen anyway.

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