by Adrienne White, 300 hour yoga teacher training student
When I was about 10 years old, I used to quietly slip out of the house in the pitch black of night and lie in the field next to our house. It was amazing to lie there, gazing up at the night sky, just thinking, and counting the shooting stars. There was no fear of the night. It was a feeling of complete freedom. I have another memory from this time of that same field. I would jump on the back of my slightly crazy horse - no saddle or bridle, just us. I could feel her power as she went into a full gallop around the field until she decided to stop. I was fearless. We were like one, completely wild and free.
Somewhere along the way, I started to live my life more from a place of fear, managing the down side of life. So many of us worry: I'm not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough. It's a culture of fear, and the advertisers love to use that to sell us the next magic pill for "happiness". Then there is the granddaddy fear of them all: the fear of death. It turns out there is a fate worth than death, and that is not living the one life you have now.
If our first week of yoga teacher training was spent cleansing and creating a fertile soil to grow new things, our second week was about planting seeds of intention and watching them grow. Without intention, how will you know what kind of fruit you will get? If you don't consciously point your arrow, how will you hit your target? As Gabriel Halpern, one of my favorite yoga teachers back home in Chicago, says of karma: you will never get an apple if you plant a tomato seed.
So how do we move forward into the empty space of a new path when there is fear of the unknown? Part of it is simple faith that life is not random. If you believe that life is only random and chaotic, you will operate in that space. If you believe in beauty and mystery, that will be your truth. Where you point you mind, the energy goes. In short, what will you do to plant and grow your apple, so you can taste the sweet fruit?
It's key to get to know yourself deeply, honestly, so you can find your true purpose and your reason to live. What do you burn for? This past week on Gili Meno, we spent time and practice studying the chakras and the koshas (energy fields in the body), which provide road maps to look at our more subtle energy, and as a way to get to know ourselves - our strengths and our challenges. We can then work from the more gross layers (the physical) to the subtle energies of Purusha, or our Divine essence, where all is possible.
We can understand where our fears are rooted in the body. We can understand that identifying with only our physical self keeps us weighed down, mired in a culture that places so much value on how we look, thinking we somehow lessen in value as our body and face age. We can begin to move towards our subtle energy body, where we are limitless. With pranayama, meditation, and when living our purpose, this "body" will never grow old.
The topic of fear has come up quite a bit in the group this week. It's important to face these fears as we build more shakti (energy) in longer and more complex pranayama and meditations, so this strong new energy doesn't fuel these fears, but instead fuels our seeds of intention. We luxuriated in a much needed Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep), where in a deep state of relaxation, we were asked to exchange a memory of fear with a memory of something beautiful. We are pointing our thoughts where we want the energy to go, and literally changing our minds.
Thinking about all this, I realized I've been fearful for much of the last 40 years - afraid of angering adults as a child, of not being pretty/liked/smart enough as a teen, fear of "failure" as an adult, and yes, that nagging fear that as the outer shell softens and wrinkles, I am somehow less worthy. I'm setting a new intention to point my mind to Purusha, pure consciousness, where we discover there is no separation between ourselves and that which is most beautiful. Because we are that consciousness.
Awareness is the first step to planting new seeds of intention. Lovely for us that in yoga, we have our energetic maps and our teachers to help guide the way. We focus our attention unwaveringly on where we want to go, and let go of the things that do not serve that intention.
Prana is our bow.
Karma is our arrow.
Purusha is our target.
May our aim to be true.