The Day I Gave In to the Fear--and Let Myself Fall

By , SparkPeople Blogger
That day, I picked up the keys to my new apartment.

I walked inside, boxes in my arms. Suddenly, they felt too heavy. I set them down and slowly turned around twice, taking in my new surroundings. I felt a lump rise in my throat, and I swallowed hard. Now was not the time for fear.

At other times in my life, I had allowed fear to impede my evolution, even paralyze me. Not anymore. There were other times where I felt fearless but was really acting with reckless abandon. This time I know the difference between the two.

I silently recited a quote, from American Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön: "Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth."

Then I told myself: "If I’m ever going to reach the truth, my truth, I have to face my fears. I will never fall if I never try."

With that, I spun on my heel and locked the door behind me. I was going to be late for yoga. In the car that night, I observed this change in myself. Driving in silence, I honored it. I recognized that this was a time for bravery, for taking chances.

And it would begin with that night's yoga practice.

Outside it was dipping into the teens. The studio's heated floors warmed our toes as we chanted "om" to begin the practice.

For the next 75 minutes, we breathed as my teacher counted in Sanskrit... ekam, dvi, trini, catvari, panca... knowing the routine by heart allows you to let go of the mind, focus on the breath, and just be. The body knows what to do.

Through the warm-up sun salutations, standing, and seated poses, I felt strong. I gave each pose everything I had. My mind was quiet.

Then came the closing, beginning with backbending in wheel pose.

I like this pose, but it's not my strongest. And tonight, of all the nights, when I had committed to facing whatever fears presented themselves, it was time to face fear. With just six people in class, we were given the option of practicing "dropbacks."

As in, we would start by standing, and, with the support of the teacher, take hands to heart, then overhead, then to the floor. After a few breaths, we would rise up again.

Despite almost four years of yoga practice, I'd never tried it. In the past, when offered with the option, I shied away. I wasn't ready. I wasn't strong enough. I wasn't flexible enough.

What I was really thinking: "I am going to fall. What if I hurt my neck? What if my wrists give out? I'm scared."

This time, I couldn't say no. I am strong. I am ready, at least ready to give it a try with assistance.

She began at the opposite end of the studio. I took this as a sign. With all that time to wait, all that time to be alone with my thoughts, all that time to chicken out, this was a test. But I had made a decision. I gave my word. I wouldn't back down. Not this time. Not tonight.

The woman just before me opted against dropping back. She wasn't ready. I could say no, too. But we're all on different paths in life, and her choice was the right one for her. Mine would be the right one for me.

Finally my turn came.

My teacher--my friend--looked me square in the eye.

"Are you ready?" she asked.

"I've never done this," I reminded her, my voice shaking slightly.

"It's OK," she said. She talked me through the steps, held behind my legs and coached me. Once, I faltered.

Twice, I caught myself and bolted upright.

Thrice, I let go. I fell. I caught myself, and she was there to catch me, just as she promised.

From the floor, the pose felt so comfortable, so normal. It was the same wheel pose I did almost daily, just from a different perspective. I breathed and stayed there a few moments.

With my teacher's arms firmly in place, I prepared to rise up.

One, two, three, and up I came.

I was back on my own two feet.

I hugged my teacher with tears in my eyes. I felt strong. I felt empowered.

I sank into a forward fold, my chest pressing against my thighs, my mind racing, my heart swelling.

I had done it. I faced that fear.

I'm nowhere near ready to drop back on my own, but I'm willing to accept help and let myself fall, in life and on the mat.

And if I fall down, I will pick myself up, dust myself off, and try again.

What fears have you conquered lately?

NOTE: Never attempt this pose without the assistance of a trained yoga teacher.

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ANNIEMAROO 1/29/2019
I have never done yoga. I am not flexible any more, as I have stiffened with age. Maybe a kindergarten class for beginners is what I need to face this fear. Thank you for the great article! Report
KATIE520 9/24/2018
This brought tears to my eyes! Congratulations on facing your fear--and showing us how transforming it can be! Report
That is awesome!!! Freeeeeeedoooooommmmmmmm!!!!!! :) Report
you fell down and rose up at the same time. beautiful. congratulations. Report
Thanks for sharing. I have been considering attending yoga classes for awhile now. I have not yet found the right description of a Beginner's Class to actually motivate me to go to a class but I am still investigating it. I know that there are many, many good, supportive teachers out there. When my time is right, I will go. When I do, I will think of you, letting go & trusting the process. Report
Wonderful story of self-empowerment! You have inspired countless others! Thank you for sharing! Report
Thank you for sharing, this blog brought tears to my eyes. Report
Beautiful Report
Very inspirational! Report
How brave you are - Letting go!! It is an awesome step. Report
Facing fear anyplace in the world is always difficult.

For us, living in the west, learning to ask and accept help is one of the most difficult things we can do. Practically from birth, we are encouraged to "do it ourselves".

We are told to stand strong, do things with a stiff upper lift, and to never, ever let them see you sweat. All of these imply independance and doing something based only on our talants. We can take a class to learn how to do something, but asking for help is counter-intuitive for us.

When we reach a certain area of mental and emotional growth, we realize we all need help with things in our lives and it is NOT demeaning for us to ask for help. Often, we grow at a faster rate, either intellectually or emotionally or both after we have made this discovery.

Some people never reach this point in their lives. For men it is especially hard to reach because we have been taught from birth to be responsible for ourselves and those they love. Admitting we need help is often tantamount to giving up entirely.

Some men would rather die before asking for help, and do because they recognized something was wrong but wouldn't ask for help, particularly when it comes to health issues.

Congratulations Stephanie! You have found one of the high truths in life. Report
Wow! Great job! Thank you so much for sharing, and inspiring others. Report
Gosh, this really touched my heart. Thanks for writing it! Report
Awesome! It was as if you wrote this with me in mind. I have more determination now and will face my own at a time. Thanks! Report
Tears in my eyes now. I really connected with this. Report
Congratulations! I'm proud of you for conquering your fear! Go forth and be fearless! :) Report
I click to the "save the 3 points" icon but today does not work at all - why? Report
Thankyou for sharing. Its helping all of us to face our fears with more courage. Report
Wow Stepfanie, I'm proud of you!
I'm wondering if this is a message to me - so many fears that I need to face! If you hear I have taken another job - your inspiration will be a part of it! Report
stepf, i am so proud of you for facing your fears and then laying it out her for the world to see. this was a true inspiration, remember there is nothing to fear but fear itself!
merry christmas, bobby Report
i started a new job this week, i thank sparkpeople for giving me the gift of self-improvement. i have two tattoos - one on each foot, right says "courage" and the left says "grace". i have always joked that i got them with care and cleaning instructions but no real instructions for you. this week, at my new job, my new big girl job that gets me closer to my nursing dream, i used my courage. today when it was lunch time and i had no one to sit with i was about to sit at my desk, but instead i forced myself out into the 1600 person cafeteria, grabbed a magazine, and found a table. sure, i ate by myself, but i looked up, i smiled at neighboring lunch-goers. and eventually i have my own lunch buddy. but getting out from behind the desk and in front of other humans was the first step. i don't want to be invisible anymore, i want to be funny again, and smiley again, and have people excited to be around me. thanks for continuing to inspire me...for being brave too - sometimes, when someone else can find their own bravery we suddenly find our own courage too! Report
Great blog! I will have to try to remember it next time I feel fear. Report
Thank you. Report
Thank you so much for your inspirational post. It is sometimes fearful just to stop and breathe and just be. Report
F.E.A.R. False Evidence Apperaing Real Report
Very inspiring!! It gave me faith that I can conquer my fears.. Report
Good for you! I travel alone and realized that God did not give me the spirit of fear! We have to step out on faith and favor! Report
Wow. This was an incredibly inspiring read. Facing one's fears is one of the hardest things to do I think. Sometimes life forces us to, but I think it feels better when we get to choose to face them ourselves. My anxiety usually stops me from facing mine head on, but stepping outside of my comfort zone a little bit more each day would probably do a wonder of good! Report
This is a beautiful blog. As a voice teacher who helps people face their fears every day - and singing is one of the most vulnerable and most frightening activities for people - I think this is just such an inspiring and wonderful blog. So proud of you for looking that fear in the eye and move past it. Empowering indeed. Good for YOU! Report
With tears in my eyes, and fears of my own to work through, I thank you for posting this blog. The message, I feel, is aimed directly at me, at my heart, at my mind. For too long I have let fear conquer me, but no more! NO MORE! There are changes I know I have to make in my life, and with the help and support of my friends, I know I can do what needs to be done. The moment is NOW, and the fear will just have to take a back seat to committed action.
Thank you, Steph, for waking me up to my own strength! Report
oh yeah, i can relate to the fear. I mean FEAR! fear of hospitals, crowds, not enough money, people closest to you leaving, and failure... facing them is a tough thing even with baby steps.. most of these i have been overcoming by going to crowded places, hospitals, relinquishing the concept money is power.. money is only paper to be traded for something good. Many prayers have been said about people and my responses to them . baby steps to a fearless life.. Report
When I work out or try something new like that, I often have the same fears...what if I fail? What if I look foolish in front of all these people? I haven't managed to overcome all of those fears, but hopefully soon, I can. Excellent entry and congrats on the success!!! Report
Wow! Fantastic blog! Thank you :) Report
Great blog! Thank you for sharing the yoga website! Many helpful articles etc. Report
Thank you for sharing your transformational journey. I thought it was wonderfully moving and inspirational. Report
Thank you! We have nothing to fear, but fear its self. I needed that reminder today. Report
It brought tears to my eyes. Inspirational! Thank you. Report
that was great Report
That was a wonderful blog. I can relate because my whole life I have been afraid of failing so I never want to try anything new. I know it keeps me from moving forward. Thank you for giving me the courage to try something new. Report
Breathtaking! Thank you...and congratulations!! Report
An absolutely beautiful blog. The first time I learned to face my fears is when I went to volunteer for a summer in Mexico without knowing a soul there. After I came back I had changed - I still feared taking risks, but I learned to take them anyway. The scariest thing I currently face is graduation in May - after 27 years of either being in school or working toward school, I am going to start a career. I know all about how to be a good student, but no idea yet how to be a good social worker. Guess we have to just hang on tight and enjoy the ride. Report
Beautifully written! I hope that the next day I feel afraid, I'll be able to face it as head-on as you did and be truly brave. Report
way to go Report
Read the book "FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY" as it is so worth it.
I learned to do a Backbend when I was about 10 after watching Richard Hittleman teach YOGA on TV back in the early '60's. He started with getting on bent knees and up next to the wall. That way I bent back and touched the wall and had no distance to "fall" and then I just "walked" down the wall. Easy way to learn. Then you can do it standing with the sofa behind you and bending back to reach it. Report
I'm in the process of going through a divorce. I'll be living on my own for the first time in ten years. I have not conquered it yet but I am ready to. I will be just fine. Report
Thank you for sharing! Report
Really thought-provoking. Thanks! Report
Dropbacks frighten me, too. Congratulations on conquering your fear! Hurrah! Report
Fantastic! Amazing triumph...and very encouraging!!! Thank you so much for sharing :-) Report
nice article Report