September 2019 LGY Newsletter: On Fear

 

 

 

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Today, 7am, on 18 September 2019
 

On Fear

Welcome to my lighter newsletter. This is a conscious decision after my Indian Summer retreat with Sue, in which we explored ways to manage the dark days of winter. It was a delight to work with a diverse group of dedicated, open, generous yogis and I learned so much.

One of the things we explored is how to get into, and extend, our amber zone, that which lies between the comfort of the known and pure panic. Yes, this is the zone of fear. It feels that one should run run away as far as possible from this, shouldn’t it? Yet, one of the key texts of yoga, the Bhagavad Gita, happens in a battlefield, as Arjuna is seized by terrible fear at the thought of having to kill his teachers and cousins in battle. The fear makes Arjuna cry and surrender at the feet of Krishna, his charioteer. None of this is circumstantial. Tears purify Arjuna’s eyes and allow him to see clearer. The surrender makes space for the teachings of Krishna, in which he explains what yoga is and how the yogin conducts himself. Surrendering to fear makes us ready for yoga.

When you are next start your practice thinking about the dreaded headstand, when you go to work shaking because something might happen, when you worry about how you might behave in a particular social situation, remember that fear is the space of yoga. Pushing that amber zone is not an annoyance or an inadequacy we have to deal with. It is the work. It is an opportunity for us to meet it wholeheartedly, with our whole selves, unified (rather than run by emotions, thoughts or perceptions), in yoga.

Laura x
https://www.lauragonzalez.co.uk/yoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I have been practicing

Fear is a sign of too much future. It takes us away from the present moment. For me, the easiest way to get into the present moment—and not what happens if my head hits the floor, or I am not successful in this or that application—is the breath. So I have been practicing breathing into discomfort, just the one breath, and observing what happens. The result? Something softens, and eases …

Of course, if your fear is chronic or develops into panic, breathing into it is easier said than done. At times of constant anxiety, music would be one of the things that would get me into the present moment. Recently, I have been listening to the two Long Ambient albums by Moby. Try not to do anything else, though, to let the music bring up what you need to bring up.

 

 

 

 

What I have been reading

There is is lovely passage in Eddie Stern and Guy Donahaye’s book Guruji that deals with fear in the practice:

        When being adjusted in a challenging asana by Guruji, I sometimes felt on a precipice staring down into the abyss at the prospect of death or debilitating pain, but also feeling that maybe salvation somehow was at hand. Then I was met in the present moment, because nothing will distract you from the moment when you face imminent death, by Guruji’s smile: “Why fearing?” (What are you attached to? What do you cling to?)
“Just trust and relax!”
But I’m going to die!
“Just breathe!”
And then suddenly, before you know it, he has put you in the posture! The state of heightened awareness may persist for the duration of the adjustment, and during this time nothing else whatsoever troubles the mind. Afterward, there is a moment of suspension of belief, bliss, euphoria, openheartedness, ecstasy.
          Oh! I didn’t know that was possible! Put my troubles on one side for a moment, put aside all my preconceptions about what I am capable of doing.
If one can do that for a moment, it affords one the ability to put these troubles aside at will later on, to look at these troubles and let them go. With letting go one arrives at the state of calm and confidence, which is often seen in the demeanor of long-term practitioners.

I have been though this process with a lot of postures (Prasarita C, Marichyasana C, drop backs, headstand, handstand …) as well as life events. The pattern is the same every time but I know yoga is working because I get to recognise it much earlier, giving me a chance to do something about it.

 

 

 

 

What I have been listening to

I have been listening to this amazing talk on fear by Tara Brach. She speaks about the intelligence of fear, but also about how fear contracts us, makes our body, mind and heart smaller. Befriending this emotion is what extends the amber zone.

 

 

 

 

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