Sometimes fear seems to be all around us. Last summer, when the economy started to dip, the Web consulting business that
had supplemented my yoga and acrobatics teaching suddenly evaporated. I panicked. I posted ads. I started thinking about
taking on a part-time job. I found myself telling my friends how broke I was and how afraid I was. They were scared, too.
Around the same time, I started having other fears, about things that didn't normally frighten me, like my health and the
vulnerability of my body. In the past, I rarely encountered fear in my acrobatic practices, even while doing a handstand
on someone's hands, or hanging onto a rope 25 feet in the air. But suddenly there was fear, smiling at me with big, white,
sharp teeth. I tried to smile back, but inside I was scared!
One day, I saw a vivid image of myself literally swept up in a river of fear. I was scratching and clawing at the shore,
trying to find my footing. And then I bumped into something solid and stopped. I stood up, waist deep in the river of
fear, and looked around. An epiphany struck: All my life I have lived in fear of not having enough. My grandparents were
farmers. They worked long hours, scrimped to make ends meet, and worried. My mother worried because of her responsibilities
as a single mother, and because she had learned to worry from her parents. I also worry because I learned to.
For the first time, I saw my fear as a family heirloom, passed down from generation to generation. And I was ready to put
it down. I started paying attention to fear, seeing it instead of being swept up in it. Each time I felt fear around money,
I reminded myself that I had enough. Each time I felt fear around my acrobatic practice, I took a moment to acknowledge it
and hold space for it, to say, "OK, I'm scared!" And then I kept going.
As the layers of fear peeled away, I became aware of some surprising ways that fear had been blocking my progress, both
physically and spiritually. I realized how much energy I had been wasting on fear. Without it, I had more energy to devote
to yoga and acrobatics. And I realized that I could support and sustain myself doing what I loved.
The time I used to spend worrying about money, I now have to spend on other things. I have more time for reflecting, taking
care of myself, studying, practicing, and planning my classes, and I've seen some amazing results. I've learned that the
more we can look at the fear as it arises, see it for what it is, and hold space for that fear to resolve, the more
spacious and free our lives become.
Don't be Scared
Make friends with the fears that hold you back. Find a place to sit for half an hour. Sitting in nature makes this practice more effective because you can release your emotions back to the earth. Imagine that you are speaking to your inner child. The part of us that is afraid is often the child within us.
Ask yourself what you are afraid of. Then ask what you can do to support yourself through your fear. Many times we ignore
the part of us that feels afraid, because we don't want to listen. But taking care of the part of you that is afraid is an
important part of resolving your fear.
If you think of your fears as a scared child, you may feel more compassionate and patient, and find it easier to be present
with your fears. Once you are in touch with your fear, you can begin to release it. If it helps you, ask the earth to
accept your fear, then release it to her.
If this practice doesn't feel right for you, there are other ways to resolve fear. Breathing practices such as Lion's
Breath can release negative emotions. Twists and alternate-nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana Pranayama) can help to
relieve many forms of anxiety.
Paige Wyatt teaches AcroYoga and vinyasa in Santa Cruz, California, and around the country. She practices AcroYoga,
acrobatics, and aerial dance.