“A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us.” —Pema Chödrön, The Places that Scare You
I remember my very first hot yoga class. I was in shape, and had not yet faced the physical limitations that would manifest over that next year—an intrusion that would forever reshape my context of life and of living.
In the months following, I would watch each day as bits and pieces of my own mobility crumbled and faded. And, try as I might to grasp firmly on—there was just no way to keep those pieces of me from slipping through.
Walking through a hallway alone, I found myself reaching with one hand to the wall—in a desperate hope to gain some stability.
It’s true, you know, what they say—you never quite know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Isn’t it ironic how the absence of presence can become so profound?
Fear is a funny thing, you see. Like rising waters, it will claim any space left open for filling. And in its wake, Fear leaves a panicked desperation—an emotional drowning determined to drag all of our hopes and dreams down with it.
For me, my greatest fear has always been the unknown.
And each time I felt Fear’s pace closing in—like a child, afraid of the dark, I squeezed my eyes tightly and hid….counting the moments, when the sunlight would break through the window again.
Fear is just like this—capturing us in the middle of our darkest nights, creating worries for things that may not ever appear.
I thought back to that very yoga class, where I sat in a puddle of my very own sweat…heaving and gasping to my nearly last breath. And my dearest teacher, noting my distress…leaned in and whispered something I shall never forget,
“Tara, my dear—breathe gently, and just simply stay in this room.”
When facing fear, our instinct is always to do—but sometimes, the best thing is to simply just ‘stay in that room.’
To be still, to sit with our fears—to accept, without the need for doing. In our stillness, we soften…and we learn to let go. And in doing so, we’ll feel fear’s grip loosening, too.