Courage is not being without fear, but acting despite fear, my teacher Sianna said recently.  In a way, this is more challenging, but in another, it’s a lot more truthful and achievable.  Often when I decide that I am unafraid of something, it’s that I stashed that fear away in a little box and refuse to consider it.  It’s not that the fear is gone, but that I ignore it and move on.  Acting despite fear is a more truthful approach, with more integrity, to say, “well, yes, I’m scared that X will happen, but I’m going to do Y anyway.”

I think many of us feel this way with the Anusara fiasco that started this February, with allegations against John Friend etc.  I, like many others, were holding out hope that the Interim Committee could rescue the good of Anusara and set up a new teacher-run school, independent of John.  The current reality is that this is not happening, despite tireless efforts by some wonderful people.  My fear has been, “well, if not Anusara, where do I belong?”  I am trying to convince myself that I don’t need a style of yoga or broader community (beyond the local groups with whom I practice and teach).  But I am still afraid.  I felt like I had found “my people” in Anusara and now I feel a bit stranded.

The story of the goddess Durga inspires me to act despite my fears, to keep finding my voice despite the dissolution and fracturing of what I think/thought were my people.  One day a long time ago, a demon was terrorizing everyone and everything, he had grown very powerful and thought he was invincible.  His name was Mahishashura.  One by one the powerful gods went after him, to fight him, and one by one they failed, including Shiva.  Mahishashura had been given a boon from Brahma that no man could kill him.  So the gods decided to create the goddess Durga to send after him.  On the 10th day of battle, Durga cut off his head and finally killed Mahishashura.

Do you think Durga was a little bit scared to fight this demon none of the powerful gods of the land could harm?  Do you think she felt the pressure of everyone depending on her?  I certainly do.  But she acted anyway, persevering over 10 days of battle and finally winning.  For me, I will think of Durga the next time my fears try to tell me I can’t do something, or that it won’t work out, or whatever.  I will recognize that yes, it’s scary, but I have that part of Durga inside me and I will act.

Asana recommendations:

Arm balances such as Eka Pada Koundinyasana 2, Parvsa Bakasana – start with hip openers such as lunges with elbows down, Agni Stambasana, and work into bound Parvsakonasana variations.  Attempt EPK 2 through slow transition from lunge, as well as from plank pose, pulling leg in and out, stacking knee above bent elbow and really moving heart forward several inches.

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