In the middle of a photo shoot
yesterday involving a snake slithering across my
fake-tattooed-but-otherwise-naked back, it occurred to me that some
huge shift in fear has occurred during the last year.
Yoga is responsible. That sounds
ridiculous, but it’s true.
Ten years ago I would have said yes to
this photo shoot but I would have pushed through fear, leapt at fear,
taken a defiant run at fear, in order to do it. The thrills associated with this approach were tremendous, but I lived in a kind of
adrenaline whiplash state much of the time. (Am I terrified? Yes!
It was often followed by emotional and physical crash landings involving headaches, large bags of chips, and day-long naps.
What the practice of yoga and meditation have created in me is a
stronger and surprisingly effortless focus on what is in front of me, and a weaker attachment to the scary stories I used to invent about what might happen.
My hamstrings are tight
today, but this doesn’t mean they’re destined to be tight forever. I held a handstand for
eight breaths today. I’ll be fine if this isn’t the case next week.
I love pigeon this morning. That’s good. I don’t love camel
today. That’s fine. It’s possible I’m discovering
presence. The here and now.
All of which has a huge effect on fear, fear
having everything to do with fabricated stories about what might happen next.
When I found out I was going
to be the snake model, I didn’t give it a thought. I have no
explanation for this except that scary stories don’t take up the mental space they used to.
When Benny the ball python was plunked on my
back and began slip-sliding his way here and there, I didn’t think at all. I did feel him, all four feet of him. Truth is he felt wonderful:
soft, smooth, comforting. Comforting!
Come to think of it, huge chunks of fear having to do with money, career, health, and love have also largely disappeared this year. I didn’t notice it happening, and I don’t know where they went, but they’re gone.
Can you identify with this at all? Has yoga affected fear in you?
Thanks to Benny the snake, and Allie, Benny’s owner. Thanks to Liz Lott of Snapdragon Photography for the fabulous experience. Thanks to yoga for this unexpected development, and thanks to you for the conversation,