I had a conversation with a beautiful person today
This person suffered from severe anxiety
She told me how it affected her professional and personal life
How her life kept getting smaller and smaller
minimal to no social interactions
How it would paralyze her
How intense it was and how it would stay with her for days
She would go from home to work then right back to home
Then she started to spend all of her time and just one room of the house
One winter night she made the decision to break out of the box that she created around herself and threw herself into the Melee of peak holiday shopping season in the Staten Island mall
She tried to make this move sound small but I could tell how big it was for her.
To be around all those people all that activity all that stimulus
Dragging herself kicking and screaming at times on the inside staying present to all the chaotic noise and movement
She made a tiny crack in that box that she created around herself
In spite of the alarms going off inside of her body she came to realize that there was nothing to fear.
In spite of her fear she reaped the benefits that night of getting that much more of her life back
Step-by-step with patience she moves from experience to experience similar to this in order to build up her bravery.
Listening to her story I couldn't help but reflect on my own.
The reason why I became obsessed with martial arts was
one third fear
one third excitement
and one third inspiration
I remember it being a very particular flavor of fear
like when you're seven years old and you accidentally break one of dad's tools
It makes a big noise
and you hear your dad's deep voice say
"what the hell was that?!"
followed by thundering steps towards the room.
It's a very deep fear that descends in to the pit of your belly.
And your seven-year-old mind you think that your dad could end you at any moment.
only you're an adult and you're watching other adults do some amazing and brutal things to one another.
I had a very different experience of fear before going to my first power yoga class
For weeks I had this argument in my head
A voice to me would softly spoke
"Go to that yoga studio"
I would reply to this voice in my head with a whole laundry list of reasons why I shouldn't go
– People are going to think that I'm a wuss
– That girl is going to think that I'm stalking her
– The people there are going to judge me
-What if I fart and create a public health emergency?
The voice in my head would softly reply
"Go to yoga"
After weeks of this ongoing internal conversation I broke down and went to my first power yoga class
I had a multitude of lared panic attacks on the way to the studio
It would start at my feet like ice and rise up in my head like fire with whirlwinds in my upper stomach
I honestly can't tell you what exactly it was that I was afraid of
maybe on some intuitive level I knew how much that this was going to change my life
i've put myself into some pretty stupid and dangerous situations before with either having that masculine "dad" fear as described above or no fear at all
and yet here I was freaking out over going to a place where I heard so many good things happen
A place where Krishna das plays on the radio
A place where people are allowed to be themselves
A place where great healing occurs
The room was 98° but I didn't take off my black hooded sweatshirt
It was almost like I was hiding even though I rolled out my mat in the front of the room
The shift that came over me during that practice was profound and powerful
It was like walking into a mist
you don't really notice anything at first but before you know it you're soaked to the bone with this awareness of life and vitality
Looking back on how my story has on folded so far it's kind of the reverse
Now I would say it's like walking out of a mist on a mountainside
You don't really notice anything at first because you can't see 5 feet ahead of you but then before you know it to bear witness to a beautiful view of Earth and sky
you can't really tell a transition though it's these little tiny cracks that let the light through their small at first but over time they become bigger and bigger
once you see through that clarity you cannot unsee it
Its the small shifts that make the biggest difference
for me and Yoga it started with a three Legged dog
The teacher instructed the class to lift your right leg up while in downward facing dog
I immediately thought to myself
"wow! I have never seen the world from this perspective before"
Then the teacher instructed that we been during the stack or hip and take the top foot down to the side of the mat resulting in a backbend
It was like a whole New World opened up
The expanding of the centerline of my torso and just breathing in to that shape
It was like tearing apart a shell that had covered over me over a long period of time and a new vibrant me was emerging out of it.
My fear was great but on the other side of that fear was great reward
I was hooked and I needed to know more
Fast forward six months from that moment
One of my favorite teachers at that studio approached me asking me if I ever consider teaching
I had but that same argument before I started yoga was playing in my head about it
I would come up with reasons not to
– People will think you're a wuss
– People will think you're a creep
– What if what if what if?
That same calm voice quietly said
As I write this tonight I find myself in a similar situation
i'm raising funds to open up my first studio
A lot of people already know of my intentions
The risk is high and my talking mind comes up with reasons why I should run the other way
I feel more vulnerable than I've ever felt in my life
still that quiet voice within me says
I realize all over again that for my path and many others like me that fear shows the way
There are many ways that fear shows up and there are many ways that people respond to it
This particular flavor of fear has an ascending feeling
Its usually a good indication that you are on the right path
Its never gets any easier to move in that direction
but your resolve get stronger and your awareness more pronounced
If that fear comes along don't shrink away from it
If you're experiencing this similar kind of fear meet it head on with an open heart
The reward on the other side of this particular type of fear is tremendous
There will be "oh shit" moments
There will be times where you feel uninspired
Or downright afraid
This forces you to dig deep within yourself
Its times like these that you find out what you're really made of and what you really stand for
This gentle yet brutal honesty with yourself helps you become that much more you
Which is an amazing individual capable of doing great things and contributing to this world
Which is something that your community large and small needs right now
We need you to stand in your truth to live it and be it
but like all great things
it starts with a small shift
it starts with the decision
it starts with you