I have been in India now for 11 days. The truth is it has been 11 days of a lot of scared. I've also had lots of fun and joy and deep gratitude, but still Iam scared a lot of the time. Basically any time I walk out of my hotel room there is a feeling of fear in my belly. I am not scared of the place, the culture or the people here, they are beautiful, warm and welcoming. I am scared I am going to fall.
Every morning before the sun rises I walk out of my hotel room onto a dirt path that wends through a kind of back alley pathway. The ground is rocky and not level. Even with a borrowed headlamp, the way does not feel well lit pre-sunrise. It is only 600 meters, that I am now walking in about 10 minutes down from 17 minutes the first couple of days. So it is not a long walk at all. The thing is, during that short walk, the whole time I am just trying my damndest to not trip or fall.
It is like my morning 600m walk to the yoga practice shala is a trek along the ice-covered peaks of the Himalyas. I have to be dialed in for each step. No daydreaming allowed while walking this early morning path. My thoughts are focused on careful foot and cane placement, smooth stride and balance. In my gut and heart it feels like the consequences of a misstep would be as dire as a misstep on a mountain peak. There is a current of fear running through my whole body in every step.
Thankfully, I have gotten less scared over my 11 days here. Cutting the time of that walk nearly in half is a clear indicator. I am getting sttronger and more confident in my feet and legs and their capabiities. My body is learning the way and I am less scared today than I was yesterday. I am proud of this and still noticing the swaths of fear that continue to sit alongside any feelings of courage or pride.
Each time I reach the end of my back-alley like dirt pathway without having fallen I breathe a sigh of self congratulatory relief. The next breath is to draw in the courage for my epic journey up the stairs. First up just 3 small basic cement stairs with hand support. A great warm up, I hardly find it scary. Then a short walk along a stony path to the 4 wide cement stairs with no railing. Less great, I find them terrifying. When I reach them I come to a full stop and stare them down good and hard for varying lengths of time. Some days I am lucky and another yogi comes along to offer me a steadying hand to hold. But just as often it is me, my cane and my courage that balance our way up those 4 stairs.
The final ascent of the morning journey is 4 flights of 15 stairs each up tp the yoga practice room. These stairs are no joke. They are steep and they are long. Every morning I make my way up one step at a time, working at creating rhythm and finding ease in the effort. I find joy in steadily planting a foot and feeling the power of my quadricep muscles engage stronger than they did the last time. I revel in feeling my ability to balance on one foot and the lesson of learning to trust legs that dont feel anything like they used to.
And through this empowering going up the stairs process, tendrils of fear based internal dialog find a way to emerge.
“What if a leg gives out? Uh it never has, its ok keep going.”
“What if I tilt too far back and tumble down? Lean a little more forward and keep going.”
“What if my foot slips and I tumble? Ah, that forward tumble wouldn’t be too bad, keep going.”
I have discovered that my “keep going” answer is the key. This is the lesson emerging. There is nothing wrong with feeling fearful. It makes a lot of sense in what I am going through. I am learning to feel my fears and to breathe into them while not letting them stop me from getting where I intend to go. Instead of pushing the fear away and trying to pretend it isn’t there, I am inviting my fear to come along for the ride.
This lesson emerged on the morning walks to my yoga practice because of my injury. It is not the first time I have done a dance with lessons around fear. But the constancy of this very concrete and quite simple fear of falling is offering an incredible opportunity to live into this lesson in a life changing way.
It is briliant that my healing journey path is to follow each of these epic morning walk experiences by getting on my yoga mat and facing all the same feelings in a different and controlled circumstance. It is deeply fulfulling to feel this full pattern of my life experience informing my yoga practice which feeds back to inform my life experience. I feel gratitude that there is great growth emerging in my courageous and determined heart.