Yes guys I’m taking about … FEAR
I feel I need to share a bit of the shadow side of yoga and what that really means out in the real world.
Yoga isn’t all about rainbows and unicorns....that’s just not real life, as we know it. Yoga is about learning about our true ourselves and our relation with others in the world.
It’s muddy,it’s dirty, it’s ugly, it’s messy and shit sometimes.
So I wrote a few words on fear. Here goes…
Fear we jockey side by side
But today I watch you from the bleachers
So yeah let’s just get things right here, fear is not a bad thing or not always good. It’s not like we trying to get rid of it.
Our anscestors needed to run away or fight from the saber tooth tiger. So picking up these cues are valuable in these situations. But what’s not so good is if it’s stopping us from living and fulfilling our potential.
But how does fear play out in our lives today? How does it shape is? Our mind and our bodies? Our relationships?
What are your fears?
How about we dance with with fear seeing it on the horizon knowing it’s there but what if you change how you feel about something. Try this out on Something you know isn’t gonna harm you or others?
What would it be like if you were free of shame?
How would you act if you were free of fear?
Those aren’t just idle questions: take a moment to reflect on them. They allow us to envision who we could be without shame and fear.
Imagine that you didn’t feel fear (I’m not saying that’s possible, but imagine it) … how would you act differently? For me, I might take bolder chances with my business, push into areas that usually scare the crap out of me. I’d openly and lovingly have difficult conversations instead of putting them off. I’d stress out about the future less, trusting more.
Imagine what your life would be like without shame. You could just be present with what’s happening right now, rather than feeling bad about what you’ve already done. You could be happy with who you are, instead of feeling shame about yourself or your body. You could talk to strangers more easily, rather than worrying about what they might think of you. You could miss a couple of workout sessions (or meditation, healthy eating, journaling, etc.) and just start again, without beating yourself up for messing up.
Life without shame and fear would be more easeful, more peaceful, more confident and trusting.
Now, I’m not saying you can live a life completely free of shame and fear — they will come up whether you like it or not. What I’m proposing is that we can let go of themwhen they come up, or at least not let them control us.
The Process of Letting Go
So fear and shame will arise, no matter how much meditation we do, no matter how much we work on ourselves. Emotions come up without our control … but what we do once they come up is, at least to some extent, up to us.
So fear comes up — that in and of itself isn’t a problem. It’s the holding on to the fearthat becomes the problem. It’s the letting the fear hold us back from doing what we would otherwise do, or hurt our happiness, that becomes the real difficulty. The same is true of shame.
Step 1: When shame or fear comes up, we can notice. Then we can see them as “no big deal.” They’re not a problem, just a sensation in our body. So the first step is just noticing the sensation caused by fear or shame, without judgment, just observing. Just being mindful of sensation, not getting caught up in them. You’ll notice that neither shame nor fear is that bad, nothing to hate, they’re just sensations.
Step 2: From this place of noticing, we can become curious. What does this feel like? Where is it coming from? For example, we can feel shame and then be curious about how it feels in our body. Then notice that it’s coming from a sense of not liking something about ourselves. Why do we not like this thing about ourselves? Is there an ideal or expectation we’ve created that causes this dislike? Maybe I think I should be perfect at work or exercise, and I’m not living up to that. For fear … it often comes from a lack of trust, and a sense of uncertainty. Maybe we also have an ideal that there will be no uncertainty, only stability and control, and so fear comes up when this ideal isn’t met.
Step 3: Once we notice the ideal causing the shame or fear … we can begin to loosen our attachment to it. Is the ideal something that’s helpful? Is it harming us? Where did it come from? Who would we be without that ideal and the fear/shame that it causes? Imagine yourself without the ideal, and try it on like you would a new outfit. Imagine yourself completely trusting in an uncertain future, free of fear. Imagine yourself completely happy with yourself, free of any ideal of what you shouldbe.
Step 4: With this new outfit — a lack of the ideal causing your shame/fear — see what it’s like to move around in the world without it. Who are you without the fear? Can you move around with a sense of trust in yourself and in the world? Can you move around with a sense of confidence, a sense of happiness in yourself, a sense of love for yourself? Try this on, and see what changes. See what actions you would take without the shame or fear. See how you show up differently.
This isn’t a simple or straightforward process, of course. It’s not as simple as snapping your fingers. But you can try it, and practice. Slowly, you might be able to let go of what ails you, and start to see the beauty in this moment that exists when we let go of what’s getting in the way.
We end up stuck in what we know for fear of change.
In the modern world, individuals often fear situations where the stakes are much lower, but their body and brain may still treat the threat as lethal. This can trigger an extreme, and often unnecessary, fight-flight-or-freeze response. As a result, people may find themselves avoiding challenges that could benefit them in the long run or hanging back during social interactions for no good reason.
When people today do face deadly or extreme danger, it can sometimes cause lingering trauma. These traumas can trigger a fear response that is hard to quell, even when the risk has passed.
Can you move around with a sense of trust in yourself and in the world? Can you move around with a sense of confidence, a sense of happiness in yourself, a sense of love for yourself? Try this on, and see what changes. See what actions you would take without the shame or fear.
See how you show up differently.