Our mind is for us, what the scroll of the dragon warrior was, for Po. Yes, that was a profound Kung Fu Panda reference right in the first sentence. Hi! My name is Gauri and I have been practicing yoga for about 10 months now. Just a few days ago, in a moment of completely freaking the EF out, I thought of this brilliant (in my humble opinion, of course!) idea- Writing a weekly journal of the things I learned (or didn’t learn at all) from my Yoga practice/life experiences.
Take in what vibes with you, leave what doesn’t!
After a fairly nonchalant week, we (my husband and I) usually save the weekends for nature hikes, beer/wine/whiskey tastings, cooking cheat meals, sightseeing, exploring the city and basically having a good time!
So our Sunday morning began with a small hike into the woods, on the banks of Huron River in Ann Arbor, MI. Spring is now nearing its end and summer is taking over. The birds, trees, and the river- all seem to be loving it! Lush green color of the trees and lively chirps of summer birds are surprisingly refreshing! The water, that was frozen a few months ago, is now flowing with great zest. Every now and then, a bird would dip into the river to catch a small fish.
The trail there, runs right by the river. About a half hour in, a 15 ft tall tree seemed to have uprooted and fallen, hanging over the river, not touching it. To us, it was the perfect place to hang our legs, rest and enjoy the cool breeze.
Just one problem with that- I have a fear of heights. It is not extreme, but it definitely is irrational. The minute I stepped on the trunk, my entire body started shaking. On solid ground, I’m capable of balancing on a leg in several poses but there, I seemed to have forgotten how to walk!
“You are doing good, just take a deep breath and realize that your feet are supported, you are perfectly fine. Here, hold my hand”- Patiently, my husband guided me to the very end of the trunk. After 10 whole minutes of self doubt and more trembling, I found the courage to lower down to sit and take a deep breath.
We spent about a half hour, basking in our peaceful surrounding. Just amazed at how much beauty, peace and quiet was right here, in the middle of the city! Soon, it was time to get up and head back. And sure enough, anxiety strikes again! Possibly, with even more trembling-
“I am scared of heights and I always will be”. “Yep! I’m going to fall into the river”. “Can’t even walk straight on a log of wood! Why am I so clumsy! Honestly, I should just go live in a box!”. “What if I drop my phone in the water?” “Did I hang up on my mom too soon? Could I have hurt her feelings?”. “Is the owner of that dog annoyed with me for clicking too many pictures?”. “I can be really annoying sometimes! Why can’t I just chill out, like a normal person!”. “Why am I worried about this meaningless BS in the middle of nature? I should be at peace! What is wrong with me?”
A storm of self-doubting thoughts had caught me off-guard. Many, many deep breaths later and with a lot of courage to move, I finally landed on solid ground! HAH! What a relief!!
Once we reached home, we went about our business of cooking and getting on with the day. Like usual, I let everyone on Instagram know about our morning in the woods as if their life depended on that information (you are welcome!).
The trembling however, involuntarily continued for a few hours..
The next day, I sat myself down for a guided meditation. After about 15 minutes of fidgeting around to find a comfortable seating, I could finally feel the voice of the instructor fade away…
Technically, meditation means to clear your mind, and become thoughtless. But HOW!? How do I become thoughtless? Is there a switch that turns off our mind? SO MUCH going on in the world! SO MANY people, places, things, events to think about! HOW?! No one ever talks about that part.
If you feel the same when you try to clear your mind, try this-
Assume the role of an observer. Know that there is no right or wrong way to do this. Welcome all thoughts that come to your mind one after the other. Answer/attend to the thoughts that you can, right now- focus only on them. The thoughts that you can’t answer/attend to, right now- put them on hold. They’ll come back to you when you are ready to attend to them.
My thoughts went something like this..
Why was I so scared on the river? because I have an irrational fear of heights. Okay, Let’s try to rationalize it. What was I so afraid of? What is the worst thing that could have happened? I could have fallen in 2 feet deep water. That is literally all. Even if the water was deep, I CAN SWIM! So if I had actually fallen, it would have been nothing more (or less) than a fun story to laugh about in the future!
But you see, it wasn’t about the water or the heights, it never is. It was about me giving in to my fears.
You initiate the fear, you start doubting yourself, and when you choose to see it, you realize that you had the key to your peace and calm, all this time! Going back to my opening sentence- Your mind is the scroll of the dragon warrior! It is a reflection of you. You may choose to see the ordinary you. The you that doubts yourself and doesn’t want to get out of your comfort zone. Or you may choose to see the wise, kind, happy, fierce, awesome you. The you that is willing to face and overcome your fears. The you that -if you choose to be- can become the dragon warrior!
When you push your boundaries, you end up in a place that’s new and uncomfortable to you. So, unconsciously you begin doubting yourself (and everything you do) in order to push you back into your old, comfortable self. The trick to overcome your fears, is to rationalize with them. Understand them. Know that they exist only because YOU let them exist. And just as you let them stay, you can choose to let them go.
After all, You are much, much stronger than your fears!