Fear poses a never-ending question by most philosophers, and I suspect that we may never come to any conclusion. I keep hearing “one’s own mind keeps them from being free,” but what exactly does this mean?
For example: are you afraid of kicking up to a handstand? If you are, why? Fear. When we show up in a handstand, or any pose in that matter, we most often have expectations about it. Our ego drama has a set of stories about each given pose. “This is going to hurt,” or “I can’t do this well enough,” or “I’ll be happy when I can do this pose perfectly.” This fear keeps us where we are and where we’ve already been but no longer want to be. Therefore we are held prisoners by your own fear, afraid of falling, terrified of face planting, doubting our ability and the shame of embarrassment. Our own mind holds us back from the exploration of our practice.
Have you ever thought about what us humans fear about the dark? I don’t believe we simply fear the absence of light, it is more true to believe that we fear what is within the darkness. As small children, we are taught of monsters under our beds and boogy-men in the wardrobes. These fears reside in the subconscious, thus holding us prisoner against our will. Dare I say that most humans fear the unknown, whether it be the absence of light, loss, starting a new job, or kicking up to a handstand.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
At any moment in time, we are faced with two, and only two, choices. Although current circumstances may appear to present a myriad of choices, or even no choice at all, if you look deeply enough you will realize that the basic choice is always there. We may choose the path of love or the path of fear. Another way to say it is – we may choose the path of spirit or the path of ego.
Such a simple choice, or so it would seem. Which one of us would not opt for love if our choice seemed so clear? After all, love is what we all say we want. Fear, although it may seem to provide a “rush” which makes us “feel alive” at times, is usually not a very pleasant experience while we are still in the midst of it. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be such a sense of relief when the fearful circumstance passed.
Love brings peace and joy. Fear brings stress and anxiety.
When I came to the states alone in 2005, I had been living a life full of greed and fear. I was thirsty for knowledge and success. I raced toward multiple goals: better grades in school, better position in my job, a better car and authority. In a very short amount of time, I accomplished what I wanted. At the age of 20, I was interning at a major e-commerce company, double majoring in International Business and Business Law, and living in Marina Del Rey, CA. Soon, I realized that all of these things were just a facade to hide my weakness as I had not chosen them out of love but out of fear. I wanted to be seen as strong and independent, but in fact I was not. Choosing a business degree was safe, because I could get into pretty much any field I wanted to, but I hated accounting and despised economics. I feared choosing my passion, which was going to fashion school. All along I was subconsciously building a foundation with my ego and not with my spirit.
Take the handstand example again, we are taught to build a foundation first with alignment and breath. In this asana, building strong shoulders is an anatomical fact. Once the shoulders are strong enough to hold the pelvis, hips and legs, we now have the space to work on everything else.
I failed to create that solid foundation, and when I eventually had so much tension and weight on my shoulders, I felt a darkness overpower me, despite the good grades and rewards I secured. The rest of that year, I suffered from mild depression until I eventually found that something I was looking to cling onto. That something was my calling, it was yoga.
So why did I opt for fear? Because from my ego’s standpoint, love was very terrifying. Love required me to give up control. Fear allowed me to seemingly maintain a certain degree of control. Love made me vulnerable, or so I thought. Fear allowed me to keep the illusion that, by maintaining vigilance I can logically determine the best course of action, and protect myself, if necessary.
Don’t pay a steep price for trying to be safe. When you realize this, choose love again and again and again. Love is the answer to a happier, more joyful life. Don’t perpetuate and strengthen fear in the world. Choose love. By doing so, you will lift the consciousness of the world. The choice is always open to you, every moment of every day.
What will you choose today?