Tag Archives: fear

Purpose And The Art Of Fearlessness

5 Feb

I woke up this morning full of fear.

Fear of what happens next, of where I’m going, of how little control I have over so many things. In my meditation today, I noticed I’m not only afraid of what might happen, but also of what might not. For the first time in a long time, I emerged from my morning sit feeling more anxious than I went into it.

I read an old piece I had written about bravery and still felt stopped. Feel the fear and do it anyway? Not today.

Rather than rush headlong into the day’s to-do list, I headed to Pete Guinosso’s Candlelight Flow class to try and give my anxiety some space to move and sweat.

At the opening of the class, Pete mentioned that today is civil rights activist Rosa Park’s birthday, which is celebrated in California as Rosa Parks Day. And he read us this quote:

Rosa Parks

As I moved through my sweaty vinyasa, twisting, balancing, I noticed how my movements had purpose. I have been practicing asana for a long time and my body knows what to do. Pete says “down dog” and without needing to think, I can move into that shape.

I know what must be done and I do it.

As we built and opened through the class, I worked through little difficulties: warming the hamstrings, noticing my resistance to one more strong abdominal hold, balancing in ardha chandrasana (half moon). These poses challenge me, but they’re possible. A little effort and I can get there.

We move into parivritta trikonasana (revolved triangle) and I remember how difficult I used to find this pose. As a new yoga teacher I was frightened to teach it,  because it required so much concentration to stay balanced myself, let alone balance and talk students through it. Almost nine years later, it’s effortless, to do and to teach.

I think I can

Our peak pose this morning was parvritta ardha chandrasana (revolved half moon). Already sweaty with exertion, I pushed myself into it. I felt that moment of wobble as I moved my eyes skyward, noticed the attention that was required to lift, extend and open. It really took something to hold the pose today. I could feel my muscles straining, my heartbeat in my ears, my breath working hard to be smooth.

But as I worked into one side and then the other, I was filled with a sense of achievement. It was hard and I did it. I didn’t fall. I kept breathing. I overcame.

I look at my life and I see how easy it would be to just keep doing the poses I know: to do things I find effortless and easy. There is a safety in doing what is right in front of you; of taking the options that are being offered. But I know choosing those options doesn’t bring as much growth. Life can be simpler, but it’s not as expansive.

I don’t want to be safe. I want to be BRILLIANT.

I want to inspire and be inspired. I want to have the kind of life that lives up to MY expectations, to do things that make ME proud. To be pulled into every day with purpose and passion.

Living from that space, there’s no room for fear.

Life a daring adventure

Come As You Are

13 Feb

My parents have two super cute dogs.

Puppies

They are the most affectionate little guys – all they want is love, love, love, cuddles expressing love and more love.

I think it’s one of the reasons I love dogs so much. They’re so unconditional. They run at you with such abandon. It’s such a delight to walk into my parents house and have them rush to see me, skid to a stop at my feet and wag their tails so hard they almost fall over, such is their joy.

I often think they are how I would be if I wasn’t scared: of rejection, of looking bad, of looking stupid.

Rowlf is nine years old but still a sprightly, excitable dog.

I can't play piano, but I've never had lessons

I can’t play piano, but I’ve never had lessons

Harry was bought after my parents cat died and Rowlf started howling at the moon, missing his feline friend. Harry arrived home as a gorgeous bundle of black and grey fluff and has been tearing around frenetically ever since. He takes on dogs three times his size at the dog park and has a penchant for “walking” other dogs by grabbing their leads and pulling them around the park.
He’s quite the cheeky, energetic character.

As long as my back legs are on the step, I'm technically not out of bounds...

As long as my back legs are on the step, I’m technically not out of bounds…

When I arrive at the house, Rowlf races to the front door and sits at my feet: cuddles and pats are the reward for sitting. Harry runs to the door too, but once he’s completed his initial greeting, he always races off to grab one of his toys and trots back to excitedly share it with me.

This is a really cute behaviour, but it makes me think of all the times I have felt like I need to bring something or do something with the idea that it will be loved and I, along with it.

I notice it’s a cute behaviour of my own: I need to offer to do something or buy something or bring something to make my presence worthwhile.

As though who I am by myself is not enough.

It gets me thinking about how I operate as a human being; that I am operating from a place of lack or trying to make up for my failings.

For me, it’s often in interactions with friends where I will offer more than I’m even able to give. It’s a “like me” mechanism that I’m becoming more and more present to.

The more I’ve watched the dogs play out this behaviour, the more I notice that Rowlf, as the older, alpha dog, simply expects his cuddles and attention. Harry seems to feel he needs to work for it, wait his turn, bring gifts to validate his rewards. In all his running around, he misses out on some of the love and attention I have for him, ready to go, as soon as I walk in the door.

I’m seeing how much I do that in my life: I run around, stress myself out, spread myself too thin, all in the pursuit of making people happy, to help them like me, to be of service.

When really, the love is there, waiting.

I’m not saying I don’t want to be someone who helps or does favours or brings beautiful gifts. I just don’t want to do it from a place of fear that people wouldn’t love me if I didn’t do it.

That coming from my own security, sense of self and love, as a complete human, I have so much to offer, just as I am.

Pups 2

A Letter to My 28 Year Old Self…

9 Jul

From 32 Year Old Me:

You’re about to leave Australia.

Your bag is (over)packed, farewells completed, the disparate advice of everyone you know is ringing in your ears.

You’re scared. You say you’re leaving for six months, but there’s a part of you that knows it’s for longer. This is more than a departure from Melbourne. This is leaving behind the way things were, the way you were – and leaping into the unknown.
It’s time. Take my hand.

Everything’s going to be OK.

Dream Big Start Now

At 32, you’re going to feel more a part of your own life than you ever have. For the first time, your decisions feel free of the weight of other people’s expectations. You see how you’re the creative force behind your life, that you’re responsible for how it all goes. You’ll still have the fear of missing out, but you won’t let it stop you. You have your hand on the tiller and a boat strong enough to weather the high seas.

You’re going to feel more comfortable in your body than you ever have. That crushing awkwardness you’ve had about your height, your face, your size since you were 13 is going to be a big blessing in your life.

Feeling ugly has helped you develop into a well-read, smart, funny, savvy woman. Somewhere in the next couple of years, you’re going to grow into your face, become at ease with your smile and wake up one morning, look in the mirror and be shocked at the attractive woman looking back at you. Enjoy it. You’ve spent enough time picking her apart.

Want to be someone else Kurt Cobain

You think you’re suffering from aches and pains now? That your knees and shoulders are shot? Guess what? In 3 days time, you’re going to slip on a wet footpath in Bangkok and crack your spine. Your tailbone will be dislocated for a long time. It’s going to hurt, a lot. Sitting, let alone yoga, is going to be difficult. It’s going to feel unfair and too much to handle, but it will distract you from the crack in your heart. Then it will force you to meditate and you will feel peaceful for the first time in your life. Yoga will save you. Yoga will bring you to people who can heal you: your body, your mind and your heart. Help you let go of the past. It will teach you tools you can share. Cracking your back will help a lot of people.

Yoga will change your life

You’ll move all over the world for love and it will end in heartbreak and a huge loss of faith in your judgement and humans in general.

Do it anyway.

Pop Love Bubble

You would always have wondered and you will be proud of yourself later. It helps you see what you’re prepared to do, and what you’re not. You lose your fear of looking stupid, going through those disappointments. It will help you realise what you’re worth – even though you don’t see that yet. Right now, you’re letting other people dictate that to you. But there will come a time when you name your price.

Your Value Doesnt Decrease

You know how you’re scared to live alone? It takes a little while to move through this one. But the time will come when you relish yourself as much as people around you and you suddenly realise the quality of your own company. If only you had taken the time to see it earlier. It propels your friendships to new and amazing levels, because when you want to be there, you’re really there.

Love heart hands

You’re going to really care what people think when you stop drinking. You’ll come back to Melbourne and get totally wasted with old friends to keep them happy and comfortable. And you’ll regret it. You’ll realise that friends who need you to drink with them are not real friends at all. You’ll see that people wanted to hang around you because you had a cool job, not because they were interested in who you are. Don’t hang out with them anymore. It’s OK. A bunch of awesome people are waiting to fill that space.

Dont have to do what everyone else is

You’re going to have compassion for your parents, and understand how hard it was to raise you. Mum had two kids by your age. You’re going to see what a blunder life is. How unknown the prospects. How agonising the decisions, the hurts, the collisions. This life thing, eh? Who knew?

They really did the best they could. And they love you. Fiercely. Those things you think they do that keep you from being close? That’s all you, baby. You can change it. Start slowly. They’re waiting for you to get it.

And you will. That, and a hundred other things. You’ll learn that fear doesn’t need to stop you from doing anything. That losing face is preferable to winning a lie. That everyone is muddling along, just like you are, so be careful and particular about seeking advice.

Scary Regret

You’ll learn that you really love simple things and that you feel best breathing clean air deeply; feeling sunshine on your face; watching the way light filters through green leaves. Those quiet moments you’ve been avoiding? That you “don’t have time for”? They are the most magical moments you will experience. They will unlock your heart and help you feel profoundly connected in a way you never knew was possible. Don’t worry that your face is leaking, it just means your heart is open.

More than anything? Strap in for the ride. By the time you’re 32, you will have visited 40 countries and lived in dozens of cities, just like you dreamed of doing as a kid. As hard as it was to leave your old life behind, don’t mourn it. The next 4 years of your life will see you having the greatest adventures of your life.

Just start.

It’s worth it.

Birthday Card Yogi

How To Be Brave

31 May

You’re right. It’s not always easy.

The road might be difficult or rocky or scary. You might trip, or fall or have your foot run over by a car. You might look stupid. These are all possibilities.

A head full of fears

But you might also kick ass. You might succeed beyond your wildest dreams. Meet amazing people. Grow yourself. Expand your heart. Change your life and the lives of those around you.
You might wake up every day and spring out of bed because you are so excited about what’s going to happen today.

And so. It’s time to start.
You might think you will actually DIE, but you won’t.

Fear is a Liar

First, you start taking little steps, moving outside your comfort zone.

You climb more trees.

Sometimes it seems impossible and daunting and those lower braches call out to you with their comfort and familiarity. Sometimes you spend time clinging to the trunk, weathering yet another storm, praying you can hold on until it passes.

And then you get better at climbing. You start looking for more interesting and challenging trees to climb. You start to see that there’s a whole forest for you to explore and climb and play in.

Your world becomes bigger.

Treetops

Notice how you speak to yourself, as you climb. How do we speak to a child as they take their first steps? Try their first words? We respond with wonder and laughter and praise! Even if they fall or make mistakes, you are kind, encouraging, gentle. Be the same with your dreams, in their infancy.

Because that encouragement will keep you going. Guide you on. Pull your heart to its rightful place.
And one day you will stop, and look out across the tree tops and realise you have the most beautiful view in the world, stretched out below you. You feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face and stretch your arms out above the canopy and thank God/the universe/the planet that you’re alive.

That you get to be where you are and who you are.

And you spy that first tiny sapling you were afraid to let go of and realise you would never have seen any of this if you hadn’t taken those first little steps.

Leap of Faith

THAT’S how you find courage. By realising the end point, or something along it’s way, is worth facing your fears.

“Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.”
– After Earth

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.

– Mary Oliver