Monday, September 30, 2013

Letting Go of Fear


This weekend I did my first rock climbing in Lake Tahoe! I was so stoked even just ascending a little 75-foot (level 5.5) route. I hadn't been in a harness since climbing at indoor walls for birthday parties in junior high, so I felt pretty legit reaching the top of a real rock face :)


 
  
We arrived at Trippy Rock in Incline Village near sunset. We climbed up the back of the face to set up the sling and top rope. The view of Tahoe from up there was fantastic (totally took my breath away!), but I have to admit, I was a little nervous seeing how far up we were. I’m glad I’m not the one doing that, I thought, watching him lean out over the ledge to clip in the carabineer.



At first I wasn’t even sure I’d try climbing at all; we’d had a long day adventuring through the woods, trying to find another climbing area and hiking around in the wind. I felt hungry and tired, and as I sat and watched the others scale the rock face with ease, I started to feel unsure about the whole thing.

But at some point, standing there at the bottom looking up, I had a realization. This is simply my yoga today. This is my practice, to breathe through this.

I’m hesitating because I’m letting the fear speak.



In yoga, it is the same way: sometimes you see a teacher do a posture and your instinctual reaction is, I could never do that. Before you've even tried, you've given up.

And when you listen to the fear, which is perhaps an old story you've been telling yourself about who you are or what your body is capable of, you shift away from living in the moment. Truly practicing yoga comes from staying present in the moment

Of course once I realized this and began thinking of the climb as my practice, I got excited again. “I think I want to give it a try,” I said, smiling, reaching over for the harness. Once I had the grippy shoes on and the chalk on my hands and the rope at my waist, I was ready.

“Climbing?”

“Climb on!”

And slowly, feeling curious and a little tense, I reached out my fingertips and started the ascent. I am just making this up as I go, I thought, trying not to look down.

About half way up, I got to a spot where I couldn't seem to find the next hold. From below, he pointed out the best route—all I needed to do was shimmy right a few steps and then it wasn't far to the next pitch. “You can do this,” he reassured me. My mind was telling me otherwise, but I took my time, seeing what was possible, searching for the next hold.

Pretty soon I was at the top, grinning ear to ear, wanting to do it again. 



My adventure at Trippy Rock reminded me of a few things that yoga teaches us, too:

  • Don’t be embarrassed about being a beginner. You are taking the most important step simply by showing up and trying. The practice is an ongoing journey—congratulate yourself for stepping onto the path! 
  • Trust yourself. Your intuition will guide you as long as you listen.
  • Chances are, there are alternative routes available if you pause to find them. There are stopping points along the way. No matter where you are in your practice, you can do some form of the pose or reach a certain pitch on the rock face :) 
  • Lion’s breath helps if you’re freaking out a little bit. Try it: breathe in through your nose, taking a full, deep breath, all the way to the tops of the lungs… then open your mouth wide and let it go!
  • Living out of joy instead of fear is what will allow you to reach your goals. Be receptive to what is possible. Take on challenges without expectations about how you may fail. You are strong.
Happy yoga-ing and climbing, my beautiful readers!



It is when you are willing to listen to yourself and be fearless that figuring out your next step becomes easy. Beneath the fear and hesitation and uncertainty lies your inner knowing that will choose the next step effortlessly.

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