Conquering Fear and Living in the Moment
Imagine it’s race day. You’ve been preparing for this for the last few months or longer. This is the day where you can show off all your hard work, maybe with your first race finish or a new personal best.
You should be excited, but instead your stomach is in knots. That little voice in your head, the one that loves to tell you how much you suck, is at it again. It’s whispering that you’re not as good as the people around you. It tells you that you’re going to finish dead last and be a laughingstock. It shouts that you’re not prepared.
The race starts, and as you begin to move, that little voice cries, “Look at all those people who are passing you!” Your knee twinges a little, and the voice starts in on how you’re not even going to be able to finish. You still have forever to go!
Does this sound familiar?
When people learn that I’ve been vegan for half of my life, they often ask why. “Is it political? Ethical? Environmental?” My response: “It’s personal.” This answer isn’t meant to be a cop-out; it’s actually an invitation to a longer conversation, my way of saying it’s more complex than one reason. It’s all of those things and more, and it is deeply rooted in a personal place.
Week Three Highlights
Then I remembered what Angela Jamison said about the practice: it’s always there. It’s there when you’re sick or sad or lonely, just like it’s there when you’re triumphant or jubilant. In that way, it’s kind of like a friend, like someone or something you commune with daily. I don’t know if it’s a comfort to you, but I suppose it’s a kind of touchstone, one thing in our lives that isn’t variable.
Technique is Everything
Now’s a good time to explore the big three: three elements of Ashtanga yoga that are most important, more potent than the opening invocation or any of the poses—easily attainable or bat-shit impossible—in the Primary Series. In Ashtanga Yoga: Practice and Philosophy, Gregor Maehle describes them as “the string that holds the beads [of poses] together to great a garland of yoga postures… For the beginner it is essential to learn these three fundamental techniques at the outset. Once they are mastered, the practice will happen almost effortlessly.”
So what are they, these three keys to the kingdom? The big three are the breath, the drishti, and the bandhas.