Last weekend I went skiing with my children. I watched as my son moved through his normal routine for the first run of the day. No matter how recently he has skied, (in this case 3 weeks prior) his reaction is always the same. We got off the ski lift and began to ski and the excuses began; the laundry list of what hurts and what’s wrong… he was hungry and cold and had various problems with his wardrobe (gloves to start with)…. and then the final statement...”I hate skiing”.
Just as he fell into his normal pattern, I felt my usual reaction begin to surface. I am assuming it is the one most parents would experience after a 90 minute drive and the same amount of time spent purchasing lift tickets, renting gear and getting ready, to then have your 6 year old tell you he hates to ski….Anger.
However, this time I had a realization, it was his FEAR. He was creating these obstacles because he was afraid. As a 6 year old, he couldn’t process that very intense basic emotion. I began to breathe with intention as I calmly reminded him to just focus on getting to the bottom of the mountain and to let go of the rest. As we skied down the last part of the run, he turned to me and said “Can we go again?” The usual cycle was complete.
As adults, sometimes we too create obstacles to obscure the real emotion…FEAR. However, if we just acknowledge we are afraid, the fear does not feel so deep, so insurmountable.
On our mats we explored the mental obstacles we may create in different poses. We challenged ourselves to call it out as fear and noticed how it began to disappear a bit. Once we took the power away from the fear, we become more powerful and free to let it go.
Arm balances and inversions can take us to this place so as we explored Side Bakasana I asked my students to connect with the obstacles they might be putting forth in the mind and to instead just say, “I am a little afraid”. Once the emotion is out there in the world, it is no longer bottled up inside us and the opportunity is there to move through it.
Towards the end of class, as we practiced Head Stand, I again felt my students begin to conquer their fear and let go of obstacles. Turning our bodies and minds “on its head” is a way to gain new perspective and to practice experiencing the freedom of moving past the FEAR.
As they prepared for Savasana, I asked them to take their practice off the mat; to identify something in their lives where they may be creating obstacles to mask fear.
Then, I was again reminded of the process of letting go, 6 year old style. I smiled as I thought of the moment when my son’s FEAR turned to ELATION, when he let go of his obstacles and skied down the mountain truly free of his fear. At that moment, I wished for us all to remember we have the power to ACKNOWLEDGE our FEAR and be FREE of it, both on and off our mats. Namaste.