Working with fear

Javelin trainHigh Speed Javelin – Photocredit: wikipedia

Following an acute experience of agoraphobia many years ago, one of my personal challenges (still) is working with fear and anxiety. I’ve explored various different therapies and techniques in my recovery and am so grateful that I came across the transformative power of Dru yoga, which has helped me so much. I’m now able to teach yoga classes, drive longer distances and travel on public transport – all of which would have seemed impossible when I was virtually housebound and having panic attacks. Although able to do most of the things I’d like to do, there are still times when the fear kicks in or I think the fear will kick in.

If I’m not careful, I start judging myself, thinking that I should be able to ‘deal with’ the fear and not be afraid of it still. But those habitual patterns seem hard to break.

So I thought I’d try a mindfulness course, and am half-way through an eight-week programme. A quote that our lovely tutor, Shelly at The Mindful Road, sent us this week reminds me to stop judging myself:

“Note that this journey is uniquely yours, no one else’s. So the path has to be your own. You cannot imitate somebody else’s journey and still be true to yourself. Are you prepared to honor your uniqueness in this way?” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn

Acceptance has been key for me, but more recently, I’ve been working with embracing the fear, rather than trying to banish it or push it away.  One of the concepts of mindfulness is to notice and be curious. So with the fear, to be curious about how it feels, how it changes my breathing and what thoughts appear. And at the same time to welcome it (which is really hard!).

In a video clip that we were asked to watch this week, Jon Kabat-Zinn demonstrated this in relation to pain – not pushing it away, but moving in closer. If you’re interested, take a look at the video, and go to around 31 minutes into the clip if you don’t have time to watch it all.

One of those things that I’d still like to do is to go on the Eurostar, and this weekend moved another step closer to that by going on the hi-speed rail link from St. Pancras to Ashford. 12 miles of tunnels out of London, so great practice for the Chunnel. Paris, here I come!

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The Power of Fire

Candle and lotus

As the weeks pass, we move on to the element of fire for the theme of our classes for the next couple of weeks.

Fire – energising, warming and transformational as you burn the old to make room for the new. The sun is a huge ball of fire, unconditionally shining it’s light down on to the earth. So we’ll be practicing some postures and sequences to ignite our inner flame, bringing us strength and confidence.

The warrior postures (Virabhadrasana) help to activate the solar centre behind the navel, giving us courage and motivation. Chair of the heart (Utkatasana); another strong posture that strengthens the core muscles and opens the heart centre where we can visualise a golden flame, glowing brighter with each breath.

With the evenings becoming longer, it encourages us to light candles, bringing the light and warmth of the flame into our homes. Focusing your gaze on the flame helps to calm the mind and stimulates the pineal gland.

Some of the founders of Dru yoga were instrumental in bringing the World Peace Flame into being, drawing together numerous flames from around the world into one. As you gaze at your candle flame imagine it filling you with peace as you breathe in, and as you exhale, spread that peace out into your home, your street, your town and beyond.

“‘Fire is divine water’ they said, ‘flowing back to its source on high’. I remember looking at the huge flames and thinking that they were indeed like a huge waterfall flowing upwards. This, again, is an indication to us that fire is always reaching up to connect with the very highest forces of life.”

From ‘The Secret Power of Light’ by Mansukh Patel