Calming My Fears.
“If you close your eyes and ears, sit quietly, allow the mind to be completely silent and then listen within, you will hear God humming. God talks to us always, but we talk so loud we fail to hear.” Sri Swami Satchindananda, The Yoga Sutras of Ptanjali
Yoga is the quieting of those thoughts in the mind. Slowing down, listening, and finding the answers within ourselves rather than turning to external sources. You know me, my mind is always racing and my thoughts tend to escalate quickly. That’s why my yoga and meditation practices are so precious to me. They help me to look inward to find the answers and courage within myself.
Calming your thoughts isn’t easy. Just when I feel like I’ve mastered it, another situation pops up as if to remind me there is more work to be done. Take Tuesday’s practice for example. It was our toughest yet – the peak of my training. We had a grueling three-hour asana practice that included inversions (headstand, handstand, forearm stand, shoulder stand) and culminated with a full backbend.
I was frozen with fear at the thought of backbends. Yes, I’ve done them before, but not since I injured my shoulder earlier this summer (which is now rehabbed and has never been stronger). I had extreme anxiety. My mind was all over the place.
As class progressed, my anxiety worsened and my fears heightened. It came time for a backbend without any support. I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t capable. I wasn’t ready. My shoulder would hurt. I wouldn’t be able to travel. I’d have to return home. I couldn’t finish my training. The thoughts snowballed as the tears fell.
I knew it was fear holding me back. Why was I letting it stop me? I took a deep breath to calm myself. I am breathing in, I thought as I got into position. I am breathing out, I thought as I paused. I am breathing in. I am breathing out. As I kept repeating this mantra I pushed up in urdvha danurasana – a full backbend. The tears continued to come. Somewhere between my tears and fears, my breath helped to calm all the chatter inside my head. You can do this, I heard. I found a sense of peace. A sense of calm. A sense of pride.
An obstacle had been set in my place. I could have let it stop me. Nothing would be wrong with that. Yes, I wouldn’t do a backbend, but no big deal. Rather, I chose to go through it. To conquer it. To take a leap of faith and see where it took me. And you know what, I was elated. I am grateful for my breath keeping me steady and calming the chatter in my head as I faced my fears. For taking chances. For landing on my feet.
This adventure I’m on is more than just a trip around the world. It’s more than yoga. It’s more than making friends and seeing beautiful places. This adventure is teaching me lessons I am ready and willing to learn about myself. Lessons I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn without first facing my fears.
So friends, I challenge you to take a hard look at your fears. What’s stopping you? Is it the chatter taking place inside your mind. Does fear have a strong hold on your heart? How can you calm it? How can you get to the root of what you’re really feeling? Quiet. Stillness. Steadiness. Find it. Embrace it. If it’s yoga, great. If it’s a walk in nature, take it. If it’s meditation or prayer or running or hiking, do it. Get away. Unplug. Slow down. What’s holding you back? Can you take a leap of faith with me?
You’re greatest adventure is awaiting you just on the other side of your comfort zone. Go now. I’ll meet you there.