Stop Letting Fear Rule

How often do we let our fear guide our choices? In my practice of mind/body awareness, I notice how my history of injuries, aches, and pains frequently rule my present time experience. Patterns of resistance seem to have a life of their own. I might feel certain that the tightness in my back is going to limit my forward bend. Not surprisingly, however, when I take time to become truly and fully present in the NOW, I may notice that what my mind/body thought was pain or limitation is simply fear associated with what WAS or what MIGHT BE. Maybe someone once told me that my low back was strained, and then I proceeded to move through life as if that were my permanent condition! Fear of pain serves a valuable purpose, but it also can have a nasty side effect of creating a mental model that all too often goes unchallenged. Perhaps my back hurt for a few days, maybe even weeks or months, but how am I right now? When I bring myself into the present moment, move slowly with full attention, and listen carefully, I may find fluidity and ease that surprises me!
Fear can also paralyze me from taking appropriate action when I am injured. I freeze, or I run. “Don’t touch that!” I might say, when a healing touch may be exactly what can bring ease. “No ice – it will hurt” when icing is what will quickly reduce the swelling of a strain. The “I’m fine; leave it alone” response to an injury is not always what is best for my body, but often what my fearful brain dictates.
Fear contracts me and limits me. Listening (attention) both focuses and expands me, allowing access to the natural rhythms of contraction and expansion that I find in my heart beat, my breath, and the ebb and flow of life events. The power of a mind/body practice is truly transformative, and not for the body alone. The lovely dance of attention/intention brings me into the present moment (attention) with my ability to create my own experiences engaged (intention). Listening – being alive in the moment – brings me to a conscious state where I can see I have a choice about how to proceed. Will I allow fear or love to be my navigator? Transformation inherent in a mind/body practice means that things will change. At the level of mind, then, I may find myself partnering with my fear to keep transformation at bay. How willing am I to wade into the waters of new experience? How willing am I to surrender my expectations of others (and myself!) and be truly present to the ever-evolving relationships of living in the NOW?
I feel very grateful to practice and teach body/mind disciplines as my life work. Many, many times each day I have the opportunity to notice my choices. Fear contracts me. Love expands me. I don’t always have the courage to turn my back on the fearful choices, but guess which one feels better? Today, I invite you to bring attention and intention to your work, your play, and your relationships with yourself and others.

Choose Joy

Joy is a choice. Let’s practice it, not just talk about it! Last month I had a chance to lead a laughter session for a couple of hundred women at the Speaking of Women’s Health conference. One of my favorite comments after a group was from a woman who said she had attended several lectures in the past year about the benefits of laughter and humor, but had never before experienced the benefits themselves!  She noticed that the sense of lightness, joy and overall well-being that was produced by practicing laughter had been absent from her experience learning about the benefits in a lecture format. 

As a movement teacher this does not surprise me. While I do teach the benefits of using imagery, practicing movement mentally, and staying mentally focused while exercising, I understand that we create inner transformation by doing transformative work, not by talking about all the benefits that come from doing transformative work!

My message to you (and my reminder to myself) is PRACTICE. Feed your mental body whatever it needs to settle it down a little and then DO THE WORK.

In our practice is where we find the joy, create the muscle strength, hone a new skill, and we build the discipline of showing up and getting the job done. We discover the benefits of living life joyfully not by understanding all about it, but by practicing it. Today, find something to be grateful about (and then BE GRATEFUL). Notice the ridiculousness of your mistakes (and love yourself). Notice the ridiculousness of your loved ones’ idiosyncrasies (and have a little chuckle). Smile. Love yourself and others just the way we are. These are all simple – even easy – steps toward experiencing a life that is happier and healthier.

May you notice your blessings and enjoy them.