At the start of this year, I set the sankalpa (resolve) that this was going to be a year of courage. I was going to be courageous. As with any intention you set, the universe in turn responds by testing your resolve!
What I’ve learnt so far, is there are two types of fear. The first is primal, it occurs when we are in potential physical danger. It allows us to assess a situation and activate the flight/fight response within us.
The other type of fear * False Evidence Appearing Real * is ego driven.
This blog is focusing on the latter, the ego based fear. Because trust me, I’ve faced a huge amount of fear this year. Mainly around my abilities as a yoga teacher, and rising up to the abundance of opportunities that have come my way.
When opportunities arise and fear kicks in, you have two choices. You can take the safe option, say no and walk away, or you can say yes and face the fear head on.
Given this year’s sankalpa to be courageous, I’ve said yes to every opportunity that I’ve felt serves my highest purpose.
What I have observed, is that I have quite a dramatic physical response. I become paralysed and debilitated, my physical body shuts down. First fatigue kicks in, all I am able to do is sleep. Then my digestion goes completely whacky, the butterflies in my stomach intensify and I become bloated, gassy and am constantly running to the loo. Then there’s the procrastination, Facebook becomes my best friend! I try to get on my yoga mat and I can’t. I even lay it out, step on it and after one sun salutation, I’m too fatigued to move. Sometimes I feel choked as if I’m going to vomit.
At a conscious level, I know I'm very capable in my abilities, all this fear is subconscious, presenting itself through my physical body. And it’s False Evidence Appearing Real. Ego driven. The mind creating obstacles.
What I’ve learned as part of this awareness is it helps to talk about it. First it validates and brings awareness to your feelings , the more you talk about it, the more you realise that others experience very similar fears, and it helps to ‘normalise’ the feelings.
Once you have identified the fear, thank it, make friends with it. Then I like to tell it to f*ck off. Sometimes it does, often it doesn’t!
Be kind to yourself. I’ve stopped beating myself up. If I need to sleep, and that’s all I’m capable of doing in that moment, then I take myself off to bed, guilt-free and sleep.
Have faith in yourself and know that everything is exactly as it’s meant to be. Trust in the flow of life.
Moving out of our comfort zone is uncomfortable. But the reward of experiencing the discomfort is growth and expansion. We are human, we make mistakes. There is no failure, only lessons which assist us on the path of growth. Here are some tools that help me get out of my head and into my heart when I’m feeling fear:
Pranayama – in yoga and life, breath is everything. By practicing pranayama (meaning the control or directing of life-force within the body), it takes us out of the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight mode) and activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the feelings of calm, peace and relaxation.
Chanting – this works on so many levels, when I begin chanting, I feel all the external layers around me soften and dissolve, I move out of the fear frequency and become connected to my heart. Using sound helps to activate the throat chakra (responsible for expression and communication) which in turn helps to tune in and express from a more authentic space.
Meditation – when you are a bundle of anxiety, sitting to calm the mind can be a challenge. However, I find that if I practice pranayama or chant first, the act of focussing on the breath or a mantra helps with stilling and focussing the mind and then I am able to drop deep into meditation. Meditation brings about so many feelings of love, joy and gratitude.
Journaling – often the act of writing allows the subconscious to surface, by bringing our fears to the surface, this gives us the opportunity to acknowledge them and release them.
Asana/physical postures – I’ve left this for last, because as I mentioned earlier, I have such a resistance to this when I’m in the midst of feeling fear. However, I’m also having a love affair with yin yoga (a style of yoga drawing on hatha yoga poses and Chinese philosophy), and all of these poses are done on the floor requiring very little physical effort.
Any pose that targets the inner thighs will stimulate the kidney meridian line, in Chinese medicine the kidneys are the organ relating to fear. I love lying on my back in reclining butterfly, or coming into dragonfly, breathing in courage, exhaling fear.
Camel is also a very powerful pose, it can make you feel incredibly vulnerable and often when I'm feeling fear, this pose can make me feel choked. When this happens, I focus on my breath, breathe through it and do 5 more rounds.
It’s our birthright to experience joy as our baseline, and the simplest way to experience joy is to stay connected to your heart. If you respond to life coming from your heart space, then you are being authentic, and if you are being authentic, there is nothing to fear.
If you have any experiences of overcoming fear, then I would love to hear them!
Love Lili x