Overcoming Fear: How to Transform Yourself from Prey to Predator

Stop making decisions based on fear, find spiritual growth in fear and become a fully realized, unafraid person.


| November 2012



Fierce Medicine By Ana T Forrest

In "Fierce Medicine," Ana T. Forrest tells her own story of healing from the scars of abuse and physical handicaps, and reveals the proven practices that enabled her to move beyond her past into a life committed to helping others reconnect with their bodies, cultivate balance, and start living in harmony with their spirits.

Cover Courtesy HarperOne

Ana T. Forrest, creator of Forrest Yoga, says the key to self-actualization is to understand your fear and then hunt it down. It’s not about killing fear but becoming its ally—taking its power. Forrest’s book, Fierce Medicine: Breakthrough Practices to Heal the Body and Ignite the Spirit (HarperOne, 2012), chronicles her transformation from an abusive childhood to her position as a national leader in emotional healing through Yoga. In this excerpt from chapter one, “Stalking Fear,” she tells of how to get past one of the biggest blocks to happiness through self-study and training—how to go from victim of fear to its attacker.  

They tell me I was born crippled, a funny-looking kid, my feet and the left side of my body all twisted. Family lore is that the doctor had told my mother that they would have to break all the bones in the left side of my body and then put me in a full-body cast. Luckily, we had a relative who was a chiropractor, which back in the fifties, was like having a witch doctor in the family. He told my mother, “Her bones are soft; you can straighten them out.”

My earliest memory is of Mother’s hands coming through the bars of my crib, and the terror and pain as she twisted my feet and legs this way and that, again and again. Whatever she was doing to me in the crib was probably her attempt to follow my relative’s instructions. It must have worked; the next time Mother took me to the pediatrician, there was no more talk of breaking bones and setting body casts. The doctor, without even glancing at any notes or file, just waved her away: “See, I told you she’d be fine.”

Fine, perhaps, but certainly not fixed. I crawled as much as possible as a babe, since it was so hard to walk and I looked so weird doing it. When I was five or six, my mother forced me to wear heavy orthopedic shoes fitted with steel braces inside that made walking even more difficult. Every day I was supposed to shuffle along a chart she laid down on the floor. The chart was dotted with footprints where I was supposed to step—a kind of evil Twister game. The steel braces raised blisters and welts on my feet, and the daily therapy made them bleed. God, I hated those shoes. Once I tried burning them in the fireplace—the damn steel braces wouldn’t burn. That earned me a smack from my mother.

Nothing new about that. Our home was a terrifying place where I never felt safe. From the outside, our lives must have looked pretty normal. We lived in a California tract house, fairly new, with four bedrooms and two baths for five people: my mother, my dad, my older brother and sister, and me. Inside, though, things had gone to hell. My father had long since moved into a separate bedroom. The house was always filthy and foul-smelling, with crusted dishes piled up in the sink, ants everywhere, dried cat scat in the corners and under the couches. My morbidly obese brother hoarded food, especially after a padlock appeared on the refrigerator door, so odd smells came from his room too.

My mother, who was also obese, was always hitting me for some reason or another. She could switch in a moment—from a helpless, whining hypochondriac to a violent, out-of-control tyrant. The smallest infraction—or sometimes nothing at all—would start her on a rant, which often escalated into slapping and coming after me. “Demon seed,” she’d say, or “bad seed,” or “goddamn kid”—she would scream at me.