Too scared to ask that guy out for a date? Afraid to book that ticket for a solo trip to Thailand? Hesitant about getting a membership at your local yoga studio because you can’t sit still or think you have too much cellulite for those tight yoga pants? Is fear holding you back from the thing you need most in your life?
Earlier this year I had to stop my yoga practice because of a neck injury. I put my mat away, tried to hide my yoga clothes in the back of a drawer, and stopped talking about the thing I loved most. I lost my mindfulness practice, my exercise, my movement – all at once. As a yoga teacher and student whose favorite place on the planet was her yoga mat and who prefers yoga pants over jeans, that was extremely hard. What was even harder, though, was coming back to the mat.
You might think I ran back to the studio as soon as I could practice again. I didn’t. I took me two more months of thinking, contemplating, and – mainly – being scared about going back. What if my body couldn’t do it? What if the teacher thinks I’m bad for not showing up for such a long time? What if my students think I’m not a good teacher anymore? What if I can’t touch my toes anymore. What if… What if… what if…
You need what you fear
One day, with a nervously beating heart, I did go back. My hands wouldn’t stop shaking as I rolled out my mat for a gentle Yin class. But as soon as the soft music started, I rolled back on the mat, letting my back rest on a bolster, I felt my body soften onto the mat, my breath deepened and my heartbeat slowed down.
For me, that first Yin class was the hardest one in the last ten years. It was also one of the best ones, because it helped me realize that what I needed most, was also the one thing I feared.
What is it you’re so afraid of? What are you not doing because you’re scared?
It doesn’t have to be big or life changing. It can be something small like taking a one-day social media break, contacting a friend you haven’t talked to in ages, or telling your mom you love her. It can be something bigger: maybe you’ve been thinking about quitting your job, telling your good friend you’re in love with him, or going on a big adventure. You know best what you’re afraid off.
Be kind to yourself, forgive, and give yourself permission to try. You don’t have to succeed; you don’t have to tell anyone about your little experiment. Just try, my dear.