Litany against Fear Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Litany against Fear

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The fictional 'Bene Gesserit' - a creation of Sci-Fi author Frank Herbert in his Dune series of books - were meant to have the ability to conquer fear, which they achieved through using this 'litany'1. While they do not actually exist, the litany ascribed to them can genuinely work to reduce irrational fear, and is even used by some courses for dealing with shyness or minor phobias.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will allow my fear to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone I will turn my inner eye to see its path. And where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
- Frank Herbert, Dune, 1965

There are many variations on this litany. Some people like to drop the sentence concerning the 'inner eye' to make the litany easier to remember, and perhaps more relevant to the non-supernatural. Fans of the film of Dune may prefer the version there, which ends at 'over me and through me'. Even simply repeating 'I must not fear' can sometimes have a similar effect. Of course, there are many other ways of conquering fear - the best option is probably to experiment and find out what works for you.

Here is one Researcher's experience of using the litany:

It was final year in university, and the all important, make-or-break, exams were looming up rapidly, as exams tend to do. Nothing looms quite like an exam - except perhaps your boss if you arrive to work late. Anyway, about a week beforehand, the stress really started to mount - and I was doing anything except face up to my revision. Why do it tomorrow when you can procrastinate for a month? You've all been there; it's hell.

Anyway, I decided that I had to deal with this; pronto. So I sat down on my bedroom floor, crossed my legs, and closed my eyes. And I ran through the litany - first in my head, and then mumbling it out loud, as I became less self-conscious. And, incredibly, it worked. I got a bit more tense at first, as I was acknowledging my fear - and then it flowed away. I stayed like that, mumbling away, for what seemed like hours - though it was only a few minutes. Then I got up, dragged my books out, and got down to work. And was almost happy doing it.
1In reality, a litany is a long prayer in which spoken parts alternate between a leader and a congregation.

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