March 28, 2015

Learning to Move with our Fears.


Sometimes, I find it hard to believe that I thought I was a genuinely happy person, before I came to terms with my sexuality.

When I finally did decide to come out, I was nearly blown away by the amount of light that I invited into my life. Looking back, I can’t imagine living without that missing piece, and I truly didn’t know what I was missing until I was able to experience it myself.

It nearly pains me to think how many of us move through life without really knowing how good we can be.

Most of us operate from a set point, that we oscillate around through the ups and downs of our everyday life.

We have a good idea of what “happy” means to us and then evaluate our inner state based on this understanding.

What many people are unable to recognize, however, is the massive potential each of us possess to live even more abundantly. It’s almost as if there is a reserve of happy that we haven’t even begun to tap into yet. There’s also a reserve of inner strength, of peace, of compassion.

There’s an entire set of feelings inside and out that some of us don’t even know exist.

So, what is preventing many of us from getting there?

The answer, for many, lies in the fact that we must put ourselves in an uncomfortable position first.

Experiencing true personal growth is much like crossing monkey bars.

“You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” ~ C.S. Lewis

In defense of our own well being, however, our minds will put a strong effort towards preventing this from happening.

The way around this is simply to develop an awareness of our fears, to recognize and hear them so we can put them to rest.

It is not unlike what happens when we put ourselves in a position, such as Hanumanasa, or the splits, for the first time.

If we come into the pose with the idea that we are not flexible and belief that we will suffer while trying to maintain the position, the body’s sympathetic nervous system will create tension within the microscopic muscular components, vastly limiting the extent to which your body will stretch.

On the other hand, if we acknowledge our discomfort, without directly responding to it and breathe deeply instead, the brain will realize there isn’t actually a threat and it will release some of the tension it’s holding over the muscle.

The first time I put this into practice, my hips went from floating four inches above the ground to swiftly hitting the mat beneath.

This is largely what it felt like when I came out.

I thought I had been doing it right the whole time—that if I held on long enough something would just change. What’s important to realize through all of this, however, is that the fear didn’t go away when I was finally able to experience growth, I simply acknowledged that it was there and that it was limiting me. The point is not to get rid of all of our fears, at least not at first.

The point is to learn how to move with them.

I teach and practice yoga because I think moving is synonymous with living, or better yet, I think moving is synonymous with growing.

It is impossible to be in motion and not arrive, if even just for a moment, in a different space.

So, when we move, we grow—whether it is a growth in physical strength, a growth in connection to our bodies and minds, or a growth in love for ourselves and others.

Yoga brings an awareness back to our physical abilities that soon transforms into gratitude. Through this developing gratitude is an opportunity to experience limitless growth. Yoga lets us move into discomfort and tells us how to hold on once we get there; it reminds us that discomfort is the price we pay for finding out how good we can be.


Relephant Read:

How to Turn Fear into a Superpower. 


Author: Sarah Smith

Editor: Asheigh Hitchcock

Photo: courtesy of Yoga Bliss Photo


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