Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Fear and pain are life’s greatest teachers:
We have all known fear, it’s unavoidable and it comes in many forms.
Primal fear, fear for our life is, actually quite rare and yet our modern lives have forced us into a constant state of hyper vigilance. The stream of hormones required for our body and brain to be on high alert are seemingly constantly flooding our body transforming our fear thoughts into fear scenarios, this is the root of so much of our suffering.
Humans cling to the physical world, we suffer because we are afraid of losing what we have and not getting what we want. At the heart of this is expectation.
Before coming on full time with AUM, When I briefly owned a studio in Columbus, it was a powerful but short lived experience. Fear and pain set in quickly when it became apparent that it would take more than everything I had to really build the community I dreamed of. Fear was in play and I had an option, I could give up or I could dig in. The days of panic and anxiety did absolutely nothing, my yoga tools were more important than ever.
The realities of being the Mother I strive to be, the teacher I am known to be, and the sister I cultivate so lovingly to be, all of these sacred roles were spinning out of control. This is not what I wanted.
I dug into my meditations and practices and got really clear on my life and what I wanted. I was motivated by my pain.
First and most paramount was the relationship to myself and what I really wanted, Then to my children, what was it I wanted to show them? Then to my intimate relationships, how am I being of service? Then to my community, what more can I provide? I was planting seeds of intention and through this my fear subsided, my anxiety diminished and I reconnected to the primary purpose of yoga, connection.
With so much space now between that lived experience and the result, I realize just how paralyzed I was. Fear had me by the throat. I lived it all the way out for better or worse but what I gained in experience and insight, and direction, made every anxious moment worth it.
Without this fear experience I never would have been compelled to reach out, to try, to change, to work, to grow; my fear taught me to act.
The power of fear and pain is that they push you to GROW, it will either force you to reach out or cause you to withdraw. In order to stop the unrelenting discomfort you must move forward, the only way out is through. Fear will teach you that your mind has little to do but make up stories, our culture has forced us into thinking that responsible people are fearful, that worry is caring, that anxiety means you are problem solving. Our conditioning has put us in a constant state of hyper vigilance.
The greatest thing fear can teach us, if we’re open to the lesson is that, it is not a preventative measure. All the fear in the world will not keep “bad” things from happening, what it will cause is a cascade of chemical responses in our bodies, it will cause us to hesitate when we need to act, it will cause us to resist when we need to release.
Yoga and meditation guide us into the knowing that our emotions, our thoughts aren’t real and if we allow it, they will keep us from experiencing life in real time, they will block us from our bliss.
Sit quietly and first connect to the nature of your breath, simple, un-manipulated, notice the cadence of it, connect to that simplicity. Find ease with it, see that it sustains and supports you, recognize all that it has already carried you through. Find the rhythm. Now dare to call up your greatest fear. Witness it, see what thoughts and sensations arise, let them wash over you, let it swell, let grow, let it loom as large as you imagine. Stay with it, feel your body respond, what is that like? Witness now your ability to breath right through it, connect to the deeper, more calm, un-abiding rhythm that exists underneath. THIS is your true nature.
Pain will teach you about strength and resilience, it shows up in many forms. The physical experience of pain in the form of injury or illness is obvious. Then there are the nuances of pain, the kind of pain that resides deeper than your tissue, this pain is cellular, it’s soul deep.
This pain is so often the source of our deepest addictions, our most damaging habits and cyclical behaviors, beyond our comprehension. Pain along a spectrum leads us to protect ourselves to varying degrees. It’s these mechanisms that block the very path of healing.
We protect ourselves from the medicine we need in an effort to resist accessing the source of our struggle. We become so entrenched in this pain we identify ourselves by it, and THIS is soul sickness. When we can no longer see ourselves without the pain, without the fear, it becomes our master status. This is an epidemic, we are, on a global level, soul sick.
Practice connection, reach out to people loved ones and strangers alike. How we show up in community can change lives, kindness transforms pain into a point of connection and compassion. Today, reach out to those around you and express your love, witness those around you and see, in real time, their pain and yours subside.
The remedy is seeing the path through, taking the lesson but shedding the guilt and shame that would blanket us from the growth. You are NOT your fears or your pain, you are the stronger and wiser energy that emerges from them.