My first blog created more transformation and metamorphosis than I could have anticipated.
Purely in laying that blog ‘out there’, wherever ‘there’ is, I took a piece of me and tore it wide open, laying it bare, laying it out in the public domain and in doing so I became more honest and true to myself, as well as to other people. The results of that have been palpable.
I’ve several writer friends who write many & varied literary pieces from prose to blogs, songs to poetry. At some time or other I’ve heard all of them tell about the personal nature of the pieces they write, but nobody had yet told me about the results of that on a direct personal level, once your outpourings are in the public domain. So I’m going to tell you what those results have been, so far at least, for me.
As I told you already, I had to conquer a considerable amount of fear which is why it took me so long to ‘push the button’ on my blog in the first place. So, in addressing ‘fear’, I think I must have experienced fear all my life, mainly of what people would think or say. How basic is that? How simple? It starts at school for many of us, doesn’t it? Maybe it starts before that, I’m not sure, but I first remember it at school. The fear of ‘fitting out’, needing to ‘fit-in’, the absolute, abject terrifying fear that the ‘popular kid’ might cut you down with one witty comment. It would destroy you for that moment; it could ruin your day and even your week depending on which keen observers were present to witness the exchange.
The fear that you’d be relegated to the group of kids that weren’t the cool ones; where does that come from? The need to be the same! The fact that I was devastated aged 11 that my Mum wouldn’t buy me the particular shoes or the ‘slouchy socks’ that everyone else was wearing at school. And my need as a teenager to work each weekend simply to go to the latest cool high street shop and spend my earnings in their entirety to purchase the prescribed fashion uniform for that season. Who is writing these prescriptions anyway?
Whereas now I’m very comfortable in ‘fitting out’, being different and being honest to myself, in fact I would go as far as to say I feel pleasure in bucking the trend and trying new and different experiences. And the further I head down this ‘metamorphic rabbit hole’, the less I fit in with society anywhere, home or abroad, and the more desire I feel to share this message.
The results of leaving behind my fear, being honest, and being comfortable in my skin while fitting out, became emotionally, psychologically and physically apparent one morning last week, and these observations have continued to some extent ever since. I can explain it within my personal frame of reference for life, the daily morning ritual that is my yoga practice.
Ashtanga yoga can be considered emotionally & physically akin to traversing the mountains and valleys of life, and often they reach Himalayan magnitude. Whether you feel happy, sad, energetic, flat, hormonal, or on top of the world, it doesn’t matter; every day you have to show up to continue your journey over the peaks. And there are moments of absolute beauty, flow, pleasure, joy and comfort, but there are many moments too of trial, challenge, difficulty, and sheer hard damn work! Sound like life? Yep, the yoga mat is not dissimilar to a magnifying mirror – it’s like looking at yourself in close-up every day of your life.
During the journey, you encounter peaks, plateaus and troughs, you have days when you ‘achieve’ something and, as with anything that becomes a daily practice, there are days when you even seem to go backwards. Sometimes you may have a week of peaks, things are beautiful and you are able to admire the view from the top; there is quite a view from up there, things are crystal clear! But those peaks are invariably tiny, miniscule even in comparison to the practice as a whole.
On the day I noticed a distinct absence of fear nothing else out of the ordinary was happening, nothing else felt different. I sat and meditated for about 15 minutes at the start of my practice and my mind was all over the place! I then did my pranayama (breathing practice), which felt great. Then I started my physical practice. I felt light at the beginning and almost immediately unusual things started occurring. I could reach a little further than usual, felt a little stronger, and a little more flexible. (I do have the desire to list in which poses I felt this and exactly what happened, but for the yoga-uninitiated out there I am sure it would read as a deluge of yoga-type jargon that would have you reaching for the keypad to swiftly ‘unfollow’ my tirade. So I shall refrain).
Needless to say, I had a conscious realisation that fear was wrapped up in my comparative inflexibility, in my ‘niggly’ right knee, in the hamstring that I had recently overstretched. Somehow I had a thought that I could go deeper into postures than I had ever been before, not by pushing and returning to my list maker, box ticker, planner, organiser, achiever self (ref. last blog), but through genuine, honest, fearless metamorphosis, like a solid rock melting into lava and releasing itself into a forward bend. And I did!
It felt something like this: “what on earth is happening, this is insane! I not only now have no pain in my knee, no tightness, but also the hamstring thing. Where has that gone? I’m folding forward and there is no fear!”
Not only more flexibility, I felt more strength too and more control. Through my newfound awareness that there was more fear wrapped up in the whole thing than I had realised before, I gently ‘went for it’ in a strong arm-balance posture. Once again, I could do it with integrity for the first time ever, having been working on it for many months. How can there be so many peaks in one day? This was literally unheard of! And I realised at this stage too that I’d left the fear behind, nay let it fly away, when I pressed the ‘publish’ button on my first blog.
So what do I think it all means? That in leaving behind my fear and starting my blog, by being completely honest about who I am and what I do and laying it out there for all the world to see, in doing those things I learned something about fear and myself. I allowed change to occur, I allowed myself to fully accept the metamorphic process, and in doing so the pain literally went away. Just like that.
And how does this apply to you? Leave behind your fear. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but that terrifies you? Are you really honest with your friends, your peers, your family, with strangers, and with yourself? Can you do something in the next week that allows you to bear you soul, to face a fear, and mindfully observe yourself in the days that follow?
In the process of metamorphic change, of breaking the mould, of gently tearing open your Samskara, you open yourself up to a world of possibilities!
But it’s not a done deal. I am right now sitting outside in a park in Tokyo in the morning sun, having just finished yet another daily morning yoga practice. Today I knew I had to do a final edit to this, my second blog. It’s been a week since I first experienced the lack of fear and, for the most part, my practice has continued to feel more open and freer. But today, as fear crept back in the lead up to publishing this blog, fear also returned to my practice. The knee niggled a bit, my strength felt less, but I could still fold further and my hamstring felt wonderful. So I’ve still maintained some of it…but I know I need to press ‘publish’ again……