Recently I got one of those nifty, reusable bags from my favorite yoga clothes store, Lululemon. On one side of the bag, it has pictures of those highly athletic people who always smile while running a marathon or look totally Zen while doing an upside down, pretzeled yoga pose. (And, they’re not even SWEATING!) The other side has clever, inspiring and even provocative phrases aesthetically arranged in a wonderful, post-modern sort of way.
Some of the phrases include: “The pursuit of happiness is the source of all unhappiness;” “Friends are more important than money;” Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle setbacks;” and “Dance, Sing, Floss and Travel.”
The phrase that most captivated my attention was this:
“Do one thing a day that scares you.” (Italics are mine.)
How often do we do something that scares us? Probably not daily. When I first started going to my Des Moines yoga studio almost four years ago attempting a handstand terrified me. The phrase, “Take your mats to the wall,” uttered by my yoga teacher sent waves of panic from the churning bottom of my stomach all the way to my painted toes and fingers.
I hated handstands. I was frustrated because I couldn’t kick up, but more than that, I was scared. Scared that I couldn’t hold myself. Scared that I would look stupid. Scare of … God knows what else. For years, fear gripped me until one day, alone in my house I took a deep breath and … kicked up! It took many more months of practice before I became proficient, but I did it. Now, I relish taking my mat to the wall. Joyful smiles have now replaced the waves of fear. Maybe that’s what those yoga people on the side of the bag are all so happy about.
Maybe this is why phrases like “Fear Not,” and “Do not be afraid” are uttered so often in the Bible. As humans, we gravitate to fear as a natural self-preservation mechanism. No wonder God has to reassure us so often.
Taking your mat to the wall, or doing whatever scares you IS a good daily practice. We grow by encountering our fear, breathing through it and eventually turning that fear into joy. This practice reminds us that God has our back – we don’t really need anything else. We take a breath, kick up and hope we can hold ourselves up for a little while.
What have you done recently that scares you? How did you move through the fear into joy?