“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we . . . give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Fear is a virus, the most dangerous one there is on earth. It will permeate our being and destroy us. It is the opposite of faith and life.
Fear is a common emotion experienced by all beings in varying degrees. All fears originate from our perceptions and past experiences (karmas). Some fears keep us alive and are necessary for our survival. We refer to these fears as instinctual. Other fears keep us from living a fully expressed life, keeping us bound and enslaved. Often an isolating force, these fears widen the gap between ourselves and others, preventing our divine Self from emerging.
The Taittiriya Upanishads teach that “until we realize the unity of life, we live in fear.” When we are unsure about the world around us, we typically react in a negative and defensive way, as we interpret the unknown as posing some threat to our comfort or security. Whatever word we use to describe this feeling of insecurity or uncertainty, our reaction is usually rooted in fear. Steeped in our dread, we see the world from a dualistic viewpoint and label things as good or bad or you are this and I am that.
Utilizing objects, old ways of thinking, and/or our tendencies (gunas) to disengage from the terror we are feeling reinforces the separation of the self from the experience. As a result, we empower the fear that further cocoons our divine Self, distancing us from our innate intelligence, strength, and confidence. If done over a lifespan or the course of many lifetimes this behavior creates mental impressions on the subtle body referred to as samskaras or habits. These impressions deepen through repetitive action, like circling the same path over and over, resulting in a conditioned mundane existence. Samsara is the cycle of life, death and rebirth.
As yoga and energy practitioners, we have an opportunity to get to the root of our fear and eventually free ourselves of these mental confines and samskaras. Since our body is made up of our karmas (our actiosn), utilizing meditation, asana, pranayama, diet, and high intention gives us insight into where we resist the Self. This physical inquiry can resolve our karmas back to their source, opening us up to resolution, healing, and subsequent freedom.
With meditation we have the ability to witness our inner landscape, investigating the origins and depths of our fears. As love and faith are the opposites of fear, we notice where we lack in self-love through the observation of our thought patterns and internal dialog. In order to resolve our fears, we must love ourselves and God enough to face and understand them with a compassionate awareness and a non-judgmental heart.
Asana practice helps us further connect to the root of our fears because it allows us to feel the sensation of tension and tightness housed in our bodies. It also affords us the opportunity to observe our fearful reactions to certain postures and the mental and emotional discomfort they elicit. Through asana, we are able to explore the edges of what is known and unknown allowing us to uncover resistance in the mind and body.
Pranayama practices like analoma viloma not only clear our energetic channels (ida, pingala, and sushumna), but also stimulate the frontal lobe, the command center of our emotions and personality. It balances both sides of the brain and calms the mind and nervous system. When balanced neurologically, we are less reactive to whatever fears we might be experiencing.
Incorporating these practices coupled with the high intention of facing what scares us will cultivate familiarity. This familiarity develops the courage needed to change our deeply ingrained responses and relationship to our fears. Once we realize that what we fear is not real but a mental construct, we soften and embrace the totality of life. No longer inhibited and bound by fear we are ignited with a drive to live life courageously. Free and at ease with all that is within us and around us, we are steadily, joyfully, and fearlessly connected to the earth. This is not easy, it is one of the most difficult concepts there are, and fear is not negative but a necessary energy as it forces us to explore our faith, our lives, and our existence.
I watched a mouse the other day, trapped in a cage and desperate to get away, give birth to stillborn babies. Perhaps I was wrong in my perception of her, but she appeared to look at me with so much fear in her eyes. I saw in her the same incomprehensible emotion that I have had way too often in my life. I felt I could hear her saying, “How can this be happening? I hurt so badly! I am so afraid! I don't want to be here any longer! Look at my babies, how have we deserved this and what else is in store for me”. I had such great compassion for her but was helpless to help her in alleviating her fear because it was instinctual. Our fear comes in the same way, but we as human beings have the power to find our faith and know we are the creators of our existence and we have free will. Free will is our blessing and gift from God, no other being has this choice.
What will you do with yours?
Choose Faith over Fear!
Hari Om Tat Sat