There are few moments in life that stay with us forever in the most vivid of ways. I’m not talking about vague recollections or even memories that surface. I am referring to those special moments in life, where everything seems to stop and it’s as if you are recording it, locking it into your soul. These moments are the moments that transform us.
I was living in Philadelphia at the time and desperately wanted my life and everything about it to change, although it seemed impossible that the change would take place while continuing to live there. During that time, on my first visit to San Francisco, I fell in love with the city and like so many others wanted to drop everything and move there. As time passed after the trip, I still felt the call to move, so I decided to take a solo tour of the Pacific Northwest for a new city to call home. It was on this tour that I went to a yoga class that changed the course of my life forever.
My west coast trip began in Marin County, then off to San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. It was immediately clear that I was supposed to live in San Francisco. While I was there I proclaimed this to my parents, sister, and boyfriend at the time. It was time to leave it all behind to follow my heart’s desire. Although the farther I got away from San Francisco during the trip, the fear started seeping in. What would I do in San Francisco? Can I really just pick up and move, starting all over? Am I strong enough, to take the leap across the country into magical San Francisco? Every concern, doubt, sabotaging story got louder and louder, to the point that I almost started resigning to the fact that it was just a sweet dream even though only days before it was my new reality. The mind is very powerful and the moment you start moving away from your heart and into your mind, it can control you, spin you in circles and suck every morsel of positive thinking out of you, if you let it.
While ruminating in Portland, my dear friend realized that I what I needed was to go to a yoga class. But, I even had fear around going to a class because then I would have to do something about what I might discover in my yogic state. I was refusing to go into my “toolbox” to fix the problem. He of course insisted, finding a studio and driving me there, like an ambulance bringing someone in after an accident. I got there on time and settled in.
The class had a nice slow flow, it was a solid practice, but the moment that will forever be locked inside my heart was when we closed our eyes and listened to the teacher open up about her teacher. Her teacher, also her friend, was an expert mountain climber, climbing for the better part of 10 years. While he was climbing a few years earlier, he fell to his death. Just simply died while climbing! She shared how afterward she couldn’t bear to even think about going on a mountain again. She didn’t climb for a while and then finally she realized that it wasn’t sadness or longing for her teacher that kept her on the ground, it was fear. She had recently mustered up the courage, and got back on the mountain. It was at this point of the story the room fell silent. I felt as if everything and everyone disappeared and even though my eyes were closed, I saw her speaking directly to me, heard her inside my head. It was as if we were the only two people in the studio. And then she said, “FEAR is a life inhibitor…Fear is a life inhibitor.” She paused, “Fear is a life inhibitor.” I felt like she was talking to my heart. That is the moment that shifted everything in me forever. It was so simple, but so incredibly poignant. Fear is going to inhibit my life. It was fear that was taking over, talking me out of moving, a move that would save me, a move that would bring me to my present place. I let go of the self-doubt, released the fear, and moved to San Francisco. Without that class, without those five words to live by, I don’t know if I would have moved and thereby changed the course of my life forever. The move saved me, helped me heal from the past, and pushed me towards fulfilling my dharma.
I never got the teacher’s name or even properly thanked her, but if I could honor her and her teacher who lost his life and gave birth to this story, I would like to share with you those five words: Fear is a life inhibitor!
As I continue to detach from fears, happiness increases, I become more in alignment with the universe. When I live without fear I feel full and connected, I trust the universe. And whenever that fear creeps back it, I come back to those five words.
As a yoga teacher I seem to integrate this lesson into my classes a lot. Fear yanks us out of our heart and propels us into our minds only, and our minds are like food for fear. Helping others identify their fears, either through me identifying mine out loud or by guiding them through a deep breathing yogic practice is a gift I am grateful to give. Fear is a life inhibitor that will keep you on the ground, where the mountain blocks your view. Our challenge is releasing the fears so we can climb the mountain, help our friends climb the mountain, and take in the beautiful landscape of the world.
Blessings to you and continuing climbing without fear!
Melissa Esposito teaches Transformative Relaxation Yoga every Sunday from 6-7:30 at Siesta Yoga. In addition to yoga, Melissa is an artist and spiritual aspirant. To see some of her chakra inspired art or learn more about her journey, visit her at www.interiortransformer.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.