Saturday, November 3, 2007

Day 107


Fear has been on my mind lately. Not the gut-tightening aversions that come and go quickly and suddenly, but the quicksand of deep seated anxiety. The stuff that gets us stuck. The stuff that takes us by surprise. One moment you're in motion, the next moment you're frozen. Afraid.

Tiff's comment on Day 104 summed it up very nicely:
“Fears are always there, but I think sometimes we empower them so much they become even more onimous.”

Sometimes I wonder if, at its root, inertia is just a more tamasic expression of fear. I didn't practice yesterday because I felt too tired, told myself that I didn’t have it in me to unroll my mat. This morning, I did practice, but lethargically. Uninspired.

All the while, I feel this low level of anxiety that I sense is rooted in something deeper.

I see it in my students, particularly my very young students (perhaps because they're so unabashedly honest). The other day, an eight-year-old who has been studying yoga with me for two years was struggling with Pinchamayurasana. After a few tries, she curled into child's pose. I asked her if what was up.

“I'm tired.” she whined.

“Really?” I asked.

She sat up and sighed dramatically. “Why is this so hard? It's just like handstand on my arms, but I'm so afraid! Why am I so afraid?” She shook her head.

I had a sudden flashback to myself, curled up in a ball at the feet of my teacher, M. I was crying because he had brought me into handstand and I was so afraid that I literally collapsed into a puddle of fright on the floor.

He asked me why I was there and I had no answer.

Yoga is such an interesting laboratory for exploring our fears.

This morning, I struggled through my practice, feeling a great reluctance to be on the mat at all. Then, somehow, I completely skipped Savasana. How did I manage that? I forgot to rest.

"Fear has its use, but cowardice has none. I may not put my hand into the jaws of a snake, but the very sight of the snake need not strike terror into me.

The trouble is that we often die many times before death overtakes us."

- Mahatma Gandhi

(Dying many times...Hmmm. I wonder if this is why Savasana is called corpse pose?)


Tiff said...

Wow what a great post! Ashtanga definitely helps me find courage, well, sometimes...I guess sometimes it also teaches us about humility. For example, for a while, I was afraid to try things out of feeling embarrassed that I couldn't do them perfectly. But falling, made me realize it wasn't so bad and helped me find that that limitation doesn't exist. It also helps us see our potential, in the practice and in life.

Kinda freaky. lol.

Kaivalya said...

Yes - definitely learning humility! Both practising yoga and teaching it does that! ;-)