The other day I was in a yoga class. We were to get a partner for inversion work. I have always wanted to do an inversion and, as long as I can remember, I have always been afraid of them. Several years ago, learning yoga asana I decided I would finally master them. After months of dedicated discipline, I became proficient in sirasana, or headstead. I am off/on with my pincha mayurasana (forearm stand) and my adho mukha vrksasana (handstand) still completely alludes me. But I try a handstand almost every day – with a wall. I am getting a lot better and know it is time for me to move away from the wall but that scares me. Like mashed potatoes, the wall is so comforting.
Well…in this particular yoga class the teacher asked us to pair up and assist each other in our inversions. In essence this student was to be my wall. I was to lift up into handstand and trust that a stranger would support me. I had been practicing handstands a lot lately and was becoming more confident with my ability to control my kick up. With the best intentions to conquer my fear and take my learning to a new level I went for it. My partner made an observation: I go up strong, wobble, and immediately come down.
Go Up Strong. Then Wobble.
I digested this information: I go up strong and then wobble. I wobble and I come down. Tried it. Too scary. Can’t do it. Done. I felt like this summed up my entire learning and growing process. I go in to a situation strong and confidant, hit a moment of uncertainty, get scared, and come back to my starting place. What would happen if I embraced the unknown?
In everything we do there will always be the place where we don’t know what is next. A limbo state in which we teeter and must learn to find our balance in a new, and sometimes seemingly precarious, way. We may even fall. Often falling is an inevitable part of finding your balance. When you fall you have learned new information – where you need to slow down, how you need to engage, etc. I can’t help but think trying and falling is better than return to back to the same starting place.
Transformation Begins in the Discomfort
It is important to get familiar with discomfort. Transformation begins in the realm of discomfort. Putting ourselves out into the world, into unfamiliar situations, only helps us grow. Everything is always changing. There is a continuous process of creation, growth, and dissolution. When you move into this cycle, there is a natural and rhythm and flow you will experience. This does not mean your life is easy but rather you are able to ride the ebbs and flows recognizing your strengths and the gifts acquired by every situation propelling you forward on your path. You will move with an innate sense of confidence that will radiate into all that you do.
When you fight this inevitable cycle of change you expend unnecessary energy in a direction you have no real desire to go often leaving you feel exhausted, low self-esteem, jealous of others’ success, despondent feelings, and an overall sense that you are not living up to your true potential. This is also a cycle that will feed itself: you know you can do better, get motivated, take a step forward, meet resistance, step back, make excuses, and have more doubt about yourself. To avoid this downward spiral that will leave you burnt-out or worse stagnant, you must be willing to go into the unknown, let yourself wobble, trust unexpected opportunities, and find your balance in new situations.
I still cannot do a handstand. It still terrifies me. Yet, I am trying them in the middle of my hallway more. I am moving away from the wall to get familiar with the air around my legs. I am taking my focus to my fingers, to my arms, to me core, to my legs. I am re-engaging with all parts of me – not only feeding the fear. I am lifting up and, someday soon, I will balance on my own. Where are you willing to lift up?