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Archive for January, 2013

In recent years, I have seen a vast amount of changes both in my external world and my internal landscape. From US politics to the world’s environment, from where I live now to my overall health, change has been the most constant part of my life (as the saying goes).  A year and a half ago, I was just barely packing up a life of 13 years to move out of state…more because I felt like it than anything else. I’ve gotten a tattoo, done a triathlon, started a new job, picked up writing and editing jobs, jumped out of a perfectly good plane, learned to downhill mountain bike, began surfing again–all amazing and wonderful experiences I would never have had if I allowed fear to control me.

However, fear still lurks everywhere. This month, January 2013, my goal is to face and conquer as many of my fears as possible. The reasoning? Let’s take skydiving. My friend, Stacey, invited me to her birthday-skydiving extravaganza. At first I heartily refused, but when I considered WHY I was so eager to decline, it occurred to me it was primarily terror. There was no rational explanation or discussion regarding my hesitance, but the turmoil must have stemmed from the unknown. As we watched the “safety” video, a friend snapped a picture of me…having a panic attack. The attack didn’t abate. I pretended all was well, but once airborne the panic set in hard. Hyperventalating, near tears, and shaking, the jump instructor next to me locked me to him to keep me calm.

But it wasn’t until my instructor scooted me toward the door that I thought I might die. Sweat rivulets everywhere, hard breathing, a slew of swear words, and then…

…we were out! Dancing through the air, I instantly fell in love. No gravity, no concerns, and no fear. It was the unknown that had prevented my desire to jump, but facing that horrid, sickly panic head on made me feel powerful, confident, strong! At landing, I couldn’t stop smiling. My throat was sore from screams of joy. “Again?” I asked, half joking, but also half very, very serious.

Had fear stopped me, I would never have known this joy, and I would not have this memory.

Years later, this experience still stays with me, reminding me that facing fears makes me stronger. If I can jump out of a plane, surely I can…[fill in the blank].

The Missouri Department of Mental Health states that fear is most common if it includes such things as:

  • Dread: Dying in a terrorist attack tends to seem more frightening than dying of aheart attack in your sleep because it is more “dreadful.”
  • Awareness: Right now terrorism seems more frightening than mad cow diseasebecause it is on our “radar screen.” The media plays a major role in definingcurrent concerns.
  • Familiarity: New risks tend to be more frightening than those with which we arefamiliar.

and continues by saying “We can choose to avoid feared situations (such as riding in an airplane) or we can choose to encounter the feared situation (riding in a plane despite feeling fear).”

So this month, I choose to face the situations that most hold me captive: karaoke (more so being vulnerable in front of a group of people, or just the fear of judgement), icy slopes and big jumps, submitting my writing, surfing “big” waves, and just trust in general. Though I may not conquer all of these, I certainly will become a stronger woman by facing fears each day! Using The Yamas and Niyamas as my ethical guide, I will look into the heart of my fears because “to create a life and a world free of violence is first and foremost to find our own courage.”

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