Put Your Fear in the Bitch Seat

For the past couple of years I have been a dream junkie. I write down my dreams (the ones I can remember anyways!!) and tend to the symbols that appear in them. I was recently listening to a Jungian Analyst who was giving a lecture on dream interpretation. I know. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?!? But hear me out…

The lecture suggested that if you want to find the complex at work in your life then look at your past ten or so dreams and explore the common threads. I thought, what a freaking cool idea! To my surprise, fear was the predominate emotion in my dream life. I thought this was odd, as I didn’t think that fear was significantly in my life at this moment, but in digging deeper, I realized it was there. Ohhhh, yes, it was there. In a few areas, actually. I’ve just been burying it, ignoring it, and refusing to acknowledge it.

As I continue to tend to these past dreams, and look toward my more recent dreams, I know that some of the underlying fear is related to the direction I see myself moving in the next couple of years. I love what I am doing now—teaching yoga, coaching clients, and blogging, however, I can’t continue to ignore the whispers of my soul. It has been pointing me towards something that integrates all that I have been learning and doing, and I’ve been denying it for quite some time. I’d love to tell you what direction that is—but I’m still really fucking afraid! HA! Soon enough, friends, soon enough. It won’t be long till I can walk hand in hand with fear and “come out.” Because I am using the practices I outline below, and fear is loosening its grip. I’m working through and with the fear and quietly beginning to move in the direction I know I want to go.

Over the years I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter whether our fear is at the forefront, or being repressed, either way, it keeps us small and holds us back.

Elizabeth Gilbert says, “Your fear must be kept in its place. (True emergencies only, please.) Your fear must not be allowed to make decisions about creativity, passion, inspiration, dreams. Your fear doesn’t understand these things, and so it makes the most boring possible decisions about them. Your fear mistakes creativity and inspiration for saber-toothed tigers and wolf packs. They aren’t. Creativity and inspiration are the vehicles that will transport you to the person you most need to become.” If we are to live the lives we are destined to live, the lives we desire to live, then we must discipline our fear, place it in the back seat, and not allow it to take the wheel. Better yet, assign your fear to the bitch seat—the least desirable spot in the car. Because there’s not much space in that seat, plus you have to sit on that uncomfortable little hump, squeezed between two other people. Can you tell I have kids who constantly fight over where they will sit in the car?!? I digress…

Bottom line is that all fear does is hold us back from living a more expansive life. It keeps us from creating. It stops us dead in our tracks. As Jack Canfield says, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

Take a moment to consider something you are afraid of, something that you have not yet acted on because your fear is holding you back. Perhaps this includes making a career change, leaving a relationship, trying out a new activity, leaving behind an addiction, exploring a creative pursuit or following a dream.

There is a beautiful poem by Hafiz, An Infant in Your Arms. He says,

The tide of my love

Has risen so high let me flood over

You.

Close your eyes for a moment

And maybe all your fears and fantasies

Will end.

If that happened

God would become an infant in your

Arms

And then you

Would have to nurse all

Creation!

If fear was not holding you back, what would you nurse into creation? What would you do if you knew you could not fail? What would you do if you did not fear judgment from others? (This last one being my greatest struggle. Ugh.) Perhaps there is a gift in this imagined fear, the gift of direction. Mastin Kipp says, “Unless you’re in mortal danger, fear is a compass showing you where to go.” I believe there is wisdom in this as there are many others out there who have said variations of the same thing.

For example, another prominent teacher, Joseph Campbell, says, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.” Let’s take a moment and explore that metaphorical cave. What exactly is it that you are afraid of? Visualize all of your fears and write them down. What does it look like if the worst-case scenario came true? How does your body react? Take three deep belly breaths, breathing into your belly, expanding your rib cage, and drawing the breath into your upper chest. Don’t forget to exhale! Could you survive the worst-case scenario? Chances are you could. How many worst-case scenarios have you experienced in your life thus far? And look! You’re still alive and kickin’.

Now, visualize your courageous-self walking past those fears and farther into the cave. Visualize the best-case scenario. What do you see? What are you doing? How are you feeling? How is your body responding? Do you feel a sense of expansion or constriction? If you are feeling expansive and open-hearted as you imagine this best-case scenario, perhaps that is a sign to follow your fear, to walk into that cave, for it holds the treasure you seek.

Elizabeth Gilbert says, “I want us all liberated from the path of fear for many reasons—but mostly because it makes for such a damn boring life. Fear only ever tells you one thing: STOP. Whereas creativity, courage and inspiration only ever want you to GO. GO=motion=change=fascination=possibility=growth=LIFE. STOP=well, nothing. And nothing is always more boring than something. So…go do something.” Such brilliant words of wisdom. I fucking love this woman. I believe we are born to create and to witness creation. It is why we are here. Most everything created is the result of somebody moving past their fear. If our fear holds us back, we become stagnant and withdrawn from the raging rivers that feed our soul.

As you move towards that which you want, your fear will continue to arise. That’s okay. Give it a hug and then lovingly tell it to “fuck off.” Okay, that’s not really loving, maybe nicely tell it that you hear it, you see it, but you’re going to act anyways. The goal isn’t to be rid of fear, but rather to work with you’re fear. Again, to use the car analogy–it’s not that you kick your fear out of the car. You just don’t allow it to take the wheel.

It’s awesome that you’re afraid. It means that what you’re doing is important to you. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t be afraid. Simply notice the fear. Witness it. Take a few belly breaths and relax behind it as if it were a cloud floating on by. Thank it for pointing you towards that which you desire.

I have also found a variation of one of Gabby Bernstein’s activities in her book May Cause Miracles to be quite helpful in working with fear.

Write: “I am willing to witness my fears” Write down what it is you fear.

Write: “I am willing to see this differently. I am willing to see love.”

Write: “I am afraid to _________. I am willing to see love instead of this.” What would choosing love over fear look like in this situation? Write it down.

Write: “I am willing to be courageous.”

Meditate on: “Show me the way.” Look to your dreams, to synchronicities, to signs from the universe. Trust that you are being divinely guided. Thank your fear, release it, and keep on marching forward. Do this practice, EVERY DAY.

I believe in you. I believe in me. We can do this, friends. Let’s start today. What is the direction your fear is pointing you towards? What is one step that you can take today to move in that direction?

Flip the Bird to Resistance

Flip the Bird to Resistance

Resistance. It is a beast that often gets the better of us. It comes in the form of self-doubt, procrastination, distraction, and perfectionism to name a few.  It can stop us in our tracks and keep us from that which we desire.

If there is something you care about, you are bound to encounter resistance. If you are a yogi, it may grace its presence in the form of the inability to consistently show up on the mat. If you are a writer, you will experience a period of lack of inspiration and lack of desire to show up to your craft. Have a business idea? Resistance may keep you from moving forward. Basically, It can show up in all aspects of our life, often without us knowing what is actually going on.

I experienced it this weekend when it comes to writing, and it is so sneaky, I didn’t even realize what it was until I was observing my almost ten-year-old daughter.

It has been a stormy, full moon weekend—the first weekend of the rainy season came in with a bang and it is also our first weekend in months without plans. No soccer, no play dates, and nowhere to go.  Which you’d think would be lovely. In many respects, it has been.

I’ve watched my imaginative five-year-old play all day and engage with the world around her whereas when I ask my ten-year-old to turn off the TV and find something to do she mopes around muttering:

“I’m bored”

“There’s nothing to do”

“This is the worst day ever”

(Do all you moms out there feel me?!?!)

Being the awesome mom that I am I roll my eyes and tell her to stop whining and find something to do. Anything. Just dive in and get started with something. Think outside the box. Go through the cupboards and see what’s there. Engage with something and if you don’t like it, if it doesn’t entertain you, then move onto something else.  It’s not that hard.

What’s ironic and quite hilarious is that I did not heed my own advice.

Every week I am inspired to write and this week I’ve got nothing. Nada. No inspired ideas.  I find myself mindlessly scrolling Facebook and distracting myself in every way possible instead of just. showing. up. Instead of jumping in and brainstorming ideas or just getting started and writing about anything, I decided it would be more fun to mope around and hope that I would be struck with divine inspiration.

Problem is, it doesn’t always work this way.  Instead of waiting for inspiration to come to you, you have to go to it. You have to show up. You have to do the work. You have to just get started. So I decided to get started.  I started writing and it was total shit. I could have thrown in the towel but I wasn’t going to let distraction and perfectionism get the best of me. I kept writing, and it was then that I realized this week’s blog post had a mind of its own and wanted to be about resistance because that was exactly what I was experiencing. Good ‘ole-keep-ya-down resistance.

When I realized what was going on, that I was at battle with The Beast, I decided to visit a book by Steven Pressfield, a short little gem on resistance called, Do The Work. Great title, huh?

Steven says, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower nature will elicit resistance because our lower nature loves instant gratification. And we are an instant gratification society.  So if you are engaging in anything that does not result in instant gratification, you can be sure to encounter resistance. To feel out of ideas, hesitant, uninspired, and stuck.

You can throw in the towel, think it is just going to be this way, or you can name what it is, The Beast of Resistance, and decide to go to battle.

Resistance is a thing in and of itself. It is not you. You have it, but you are not it. The real you must meet it head on if you care deeply about your endeavor. Once you get started, you are already winning.

Whether you are a writer, an artist, an entrepreneur, a yoga teacher, a yogi, or a business owner, you have to ask:

How bad do you want it?

Why do you want it?

If you can only half-heartedly answer these questions, resistance will surely take you down.  However, if you want something badly enough, and if you care deeply enough, you will be able to defeat the resistance, to push past the perceived roadblock in front of you and commit to engagement at all costs.

Tips for working with resistance, inspired by Steven Pressfield

1. Get Started

Start before you are ready. Start without ideas. Start without inspiration. Start unmotivated. Just show up and start working, engage. Then, you are well on your way to finding that gem that you seek.

2. Stay Stupid

It sounds bad, but the point is to not try to be too smart. To not try to be perfect or full of brilliant ideas. To not wait until you feel 100% to show up. It doesn’t have to be your best. Just get going and let what comes up come up. When we try too hard, when we think everything needs to be perfect it will stop us dead in our tracks.  Or it can stop us from finishing. I think it’s better to have done something lousy than to have done nothing at all. It is better to show up at your mat and just lay there then to mindlessly scroll Facebook. At least you tried, you showed up. Chances are if you keep playing, keep engaging, and pushing on eventually divine assistance will come to your aid, and BAM! Inspiration strikes. You feel motivated. You feel excited again.

3. Have Faith

Trust that assistance will be provided if you show up and do the work.  The Muse won’t leave you hanging if you commit to engagement. It could be a short wait or a long wait, you can’t know this.  All you can do is have faith, which is great advice for anything in life. Just. Have. Faith. Keep going.

The World Needs Your Creativity

“Are you considering becoming a creative person? Too late, you already are one. To even call somebody ‘a creative person’ is almost laughably redundant; creativity is the hallmark of our species. We have the senses for it; we have the curiosity for it; we have the opposable thumbs for it; we have the rhythm for it; we have the language and the excitement and the innate connection to divinity for it.”

–Liz Gilbert

Creativity has been on my mind for quite some time. When I think back to my childhood and when I look at my own children, I see how innately creative children are.  All day long they are engaged in fantasy and imagination and are continually exploring their world with fascination, and through this, bringing creation forth.

Every day I receive the fruits of my five-year-olds creative labors in the form of gifts, pictures, structures, dances, and song to bear witness to.

At what point do we lose our connection to our God-given innate ability to create for curiosity’s sake, for the sake of fun, and simply for no reason other than we just want to and we don’t know why?

Creation and creativity are our birthright.  Whether we realize it or not, all day long we are engaged in creation.  We wake up in the morning and decide what to wear, an act of creative expression.

We prepare meals for ourselves and for our families, bringing together different ingredients in a creative act. We engage in our daily activities and our work, which is also a creative process, albeit often times not one we think of as creative, and rarely is the type of creativity that we are longing to bring forth.

I was recently listening to Carolyn Myss on audio while I was making the long drive from Santa Barbara, back to Humboldt, my home base. She was describing how creativity manifests through the chakras, beginning with divine inspiration and insight, which is received through the upper chakras, the chakras that are calibrated to the non-physical and our internal power.  The inspiration passes through the fifth chakra, located at the throat, where we speak the idea either to ourselves or someone else.

It continues its passage down to our heart chakra where we get a felt sense of what it would feel like to bring this inspiration into fruition.  It is then that things begin to get clouded up in the lower chakras, which are the chakras that engage us with our physical or external power; these are the chakras where we bring things forth into this world.

This is where our creativity gets blocked, gets stopped in its tracks, and is unable to grow roots into its physical form.

In order to engage in our creative expression, we must work through the blocks in our second and third chakras to bring forth that which wants to be brought forth.

What have you been divinely inspired to do? Is your soul longing to paint or draw? Do you feel the call to write? To create a blog or write a book? Are business ideas swirling around in your head but unable to take root? The creative inspiration that calls to us is limitless in its possibilities.

How do you know a creative idea is divinely inspired? You will know because it will be tugging at your heart strings, it will not let you go unless you fight it for so long that it decides to move on to somebody else who is ready to bring this inspiration into the world; although it will never be the same, because only you can uniquely bring forth that which you have been called to do.

The idea often may seem extremely absurd. And crazy. But it won’t leave you be and you must act because transformation will be the result.  Expansion will be the result.  And if we are not expanding and growing, we are not fully living.

Our minds regularly get in the way.  The energetic imbalances in our body’s subtle energy system get in the way.  These imbalances are the result of our life experiences such as being children who were taught in school that failure is wrong and bad. Being taught by our society that we must be productive and focused on outcome, instead of engaging the world with a spirit of curiosity and inquiry. Perhaps we experienced compare and despair at a young age or were told our creations were not up to par.  All of these experiences can hold us back.

Creativity allows us to play.  It is our birthright to play and to explore, just for the sake of playing and exploring.  Sometimes this will bring forth some great work of creation that transforms many, sometimes the act is just meant to be transformational for yourself.  The thing is, you cannot know. And you must trust. Creativity is bigger than you, and while it is expressed through you, once it is in the world, it is out of your hands.

Liz Gilbert says, “The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody:  courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, and trust…” If you are held back in any of these areas, you will never see the fruit of the creativity that is longing to be born through you.

You MUST work through your creative blocks.

“If you bring forth that which is within you, what you bring forth will save you.  If you don’t bring forth what is within you, what you don’t bring forth will destroy you.” The Gospel of Thomas

As your creativity passes through your seventh, sixth, fifth, and fourth chakras, it makes its way to the third, located at the solar plexus.  This is our core.  Our site of personal empowerment, where our ego and self-esteem reside.  Where we engage our self-discipline and confidence.  This is also where our spontaneity and sense of playfulness emerge.  If you’ve got a creative idea, but feel unable to bring it forth, explore the questions below, focusing your attention to your core as you ponder the following.

If I fail at this creative endeavor, will I feel shame? If yes, explore why.

How is my self-esteem? Can I handle any criticism I may receive?

Am I lacking confidence?

Will this be an act that will be transformational? Can I handle this transformation?

Do I have the self-discipline to manifest this creation?

Do I have the personal power to meet the challenges that I will face?

Am I indecisive?

Will my ego get in the way when it comes to outcome? Am I attached to outcome?

Can I create for the sake of playfulness alone? If not, why?

After you’ve worked through those questions, draw your attention down to the second chakra. This is located in our lower abdomen and has often been associated with creativity because this is physically the site of all creation.

It includes the reproductive organs and is literally where we give birth. Our emotional identity, our desires, and our right to feel and have pleasure all live within this chakra.

Guilt also lives here, and guilt can be a huge roadblock to creativity because we often see creativity as a waste of time when we are engaged in our busy lives with the endless responsibilities we have taken on.  Bringing your awareness to your lower abdomen, explore the following questions.

Will this creative act take time away from my responsibilities? Is this a problem?

Will I feel guilty for taking the time and resources needed to explore this inspiration?

Is there a financial risk involved in this pursuit? Am I willing to take that risk, why or why not?

Will this change my life physically or emotionally? Can I handle those changes?

Am I deserving of this?

Do I have proper boundaries in my life to create space to nurture this into being?

Am I allowed to engage in this act just for pleasure’s sake or for the sake of curiosity? Am I attached to an outcome?

Is there some outside power or authority which is keeping me from this?

Am I too depleted to have the endurance to create?

Am I addicted to control?

Am I in a scarcity mindset, believing that this has already been done, so why engage?

After you have explored all of these questions, you will have more information to know why and where you are blocked.  To know what beliefs are keeping you from bringing your inspiration into reality.

Once you have processed your blocks, only then can your creative idea pass through the first chakra, the root chakra, and take root into the world.  To plant the seedling and nurture it into the strong and majestic full grown tree that it was meant to be.  To be transformed by the experience of engaging in this act.

It will always involve risk and will involve leaving your comfort zone. Alan Alda says, “The creative place is the place where no one has ever been.  You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you will discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.”

We find ourselves through the creative process.  We learn about ourselves and we learn about the world.

It is a transformational act, even if it is only you who has been transformed in the process.  But you can’t know who or what will be transformed, you simply have to trust. You have to engage.  You are creative, you are creation. As Martha Graham says, you must remember, “There is only one of you in all time, the expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.” Only you can bring forth that which is within you.

Take the first step today, and explore what it is that is holding you back. The world needs your creative expression. Without creation, we have nothing.