Still round the corner there may wait a new road, or a secret gate. J.R.R. Tolkien
Needless to say, it hasn’t worked out quite that way for me –yet, anyway. Much of my new life makes me afraid, but I’m trying to learn to embrace that fear rather than conquer it. Nothing in my old life made me afraid, exactly –or if I was afraid I had stomped down on it pretty hard and did not allow myself to feel it. So, on a day to day basis, it wasn’t the emotion driving me. Despair, defeat, feeling unlovable, the need to put on a good public face…. those were much more the top-level emotions in that life. Nor is the fear I feel these days the terror I felt in the first many months of having my life abruptly rearranged for me. No, this fear is instructive, for the most part.
At first I couldn’t do yoga at all without having a little panic attack. There was lots of crying and the feeling of not being able to breathe. How tiresome to be next to such a person in a yoga class! So yoga was exclusively at home. Then I stopped crying (quite so much) but I still couldn’t really do anything. My body had become unresponsive to my requests. Annoying. So I lied to my own subconscious. We do this all the time, without paying much attention, but this time I did it on purpose.
I told my subconscious that I believe I can have a body that joyously works –that does what it’s supposed to do. I can have a body that moves through a whole range of motion –a body that is both strong and flexible. And I’m not afraid of my body’s apparent insistence that I am limited. As much as I want to be able to do yoga again, even more than that I want to question limitations. Limits are real, but I’m tired of accepting them just because someone says they’re so (Cue the music from Wicked!). Believe me when I tell you that none of these statements is true in the higher-order-functioning part of my brain. Frequently, I think and say quite the opposite. But when I feel fear rising up with that slimy “you’re not good enough” feeling, I try to figure out if it's a truth or just a thought. Even if it's just a thought, it can sit in the room with me, but I try to quiet its insistence on attention.
Which all sounds wonderful and like a perfect commercial for yoga conquering fear. But I have a really racket-y subconscious, apparently; much like the rest of me, it's not noted for being obedient. In spite of being able (sometimes) to turn fear into something constructive and instructive, I’m still not wild about it. Fear is a kind of measure that we’re facing something monumental. It may not appear to be monumental to anyone else, but in these matters other people’s opinions don’t matter. Even little fears can hold us still. Tragically, though, waiting doesn’t make fear go away. You either live with it and stop where you are (a perfectly valid choice, I might add) or you stare it down and make it go away. Why would reclaiming my own body make me afraid, I wonder.
I think it's that I know that yoga is going to take me through a secret gate to a new place -and I'm really nervous about where that is and what that means. I can't say more just yet about what's on the other side of that gate, but I sense its presence. I guess I'll just keep looking at it, until the day when walking through it is easy and right.