Facing Your Fears, and Letting Go
There are some days when I get up, drag myself to the mat and dread every second of it. There are days when I leap out of bed and float to my mat and want it to go on for hours. But it’s those days when I really don’t want to practice when I need to do it the most.
There are many reasons we don’t want to practice, we are tired, stressed out, feeling ill or just being lazy. But there are other reasons, and it may be that we don’t want to face our fears. Facing our fears is probably the best reason to do your yoga practice, but is for sure the hardest.
The fears that we may have can range from not wanting to push outside our comfort zone, to not wanting to face our true self, to feeling inadequate, to having to let go of what you thought you were.
The fear of dealing with the physical discomfort is a natural human behavior, so the lesson in this is easy. We must work through the discomfort to move forward. If we always did things that made us feel comfortable in life, we would probably not have many life experiences or feel very successful. On the other hand, if the lesson to learn is easy, making it happen is the actual challenge.
Attachment to fear may be one of the factors that are preventing us from moving forward. Think about it, we have lived so long with this idea of who we are, that we have this fear, so much so that we have no idea how to let it go. It’s ingrained in our being and letting it go could leave an empty space in our lives.
The other day, while watching others do their practice, I felt a sense of loss to the person I once was. It was a feeling I had never had before. I knew that I had changed, that I had become more dedicated to my yoga practice and have changed my lifestyle, but what I hadn’t realized until that moment, was that I was no longer the person I thought I was.
Over the past few years, I have given up habits and behaviors that would not be conducive to a yogic lifestyle. While giving up those things was not difficult, realizing who I have committed myself to becoming shocked me in a way that was never even conceivable until now. What came to light, at that moment was a sense of loss. I was attached to who I had been for so many years and had a fear of embracing who I had become, of whom I have wanted to become and of whom I would like to evolve into. Fear overtook my entire being at that moment and I just wanted time to stop so I could put the brakes on for a moment to analyze the situation.
Since that moment, I have been mourning the loss of my former self. A flood of emotions overwhelm me on and off the mat, and the physical discomfort of daily practice feels more like agony. The more I try to hold on, the more painful the process becomes. So the lesson is easy, “let go”. But the action of doing so is very difficult.
Non-attachment is part of the practice of Ashtanga Yoga. I believe it is one of the most difficult practices, for sometimes we don’t even realize what our attachments are. I for one had no idea that I was attached to my former self. Now that I know, the process of letting go can begin. I know that when I am ready to embrace my “new” self, I will eagerly float to my mat knowing I have overcome yet another obstacle in this day to day operation we call life. I will have pushed myself out of my comfort zone and will feel really successful. Until then, I must experience and enjoy the journey ahead. Ready or not, here I come.