Sunday, February 17, 2013

Satya, what is

Behind all the physical excuses, the true excuses hide.
It took me years to learn
to do a handstand, and now,
again, I'm too afraid to do it.
Fear of looking silly in front of other people.
Fear of not being as good as other people.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of trying and failing.
Fear of not having any more excuses.

Seven years after I took my first yoga teacher training classes, I told my teacher I was considering quitting my management job as a low-level editor at a newspaper with a good paycheck to become a full-time yoga teacher. Karin O’Bannon no longer lived in the area, not even in the country, and I had tried to discuss this with her two weeks earlier and had not found the courage. I knew she would give me an answer in the best interest of yoga students. I trusted her honesty, and feared it.

Given my last chance before she left again, I hesitantly brought up my, not dream, driving impulse. She gave me her direct gaze, referred to in a magazine article as the “eye of the tiger”, and said a bit witheringly, “I’m surprised it took you this long to figure it out.”

I told her I just hadn’t had the courage. She gave me another withering gaze and said she knew few who acted with such courage. I was shocked. How could I be considered courageous when I was afraid of everything? She delivered a message that I have encountered many times since. It was new to me then. Now it has a sort of “duh” quality. Being courageous isn’t being without fear, it’s acting in the face of fear.

When I quit my job, it meant walking away from all the “if onlys” of my life, walking away from the obstacles to santosa, contentment, accepting complete responsibility for my joy and my sorrow.

Defined as acting in the face of fear, I had to admit, I had courage. 

So do we all, truth to be told. 


  1. Inspiring words. It is good to read this now. Thank you Christie! You always know how to put things bluntly, elegantly and with love.

  2. Thanks, Christie. I relate to this post so much having left my job in December of 2011 after two years of wishing and hoping, but not acting. I wanted certainty in order to leave- the certainty of equal pay and benefits. In mid-November I received physical symptoms of crisis in my body; a sense of "certainty" that if I remained in the job I would become ill. Although this was not the certainty I sought, it brought me to action. I leaped in the midst of my fear and found I could fly. My business is flourishing in new and surprising ways. Things have worked out without certainty and I have no regrets. Thanks for sharing your story of stepping beyond fear.

  3. A quote that we reference when talking about courage:
    "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one's fear. The timid presume it is lack of fear that allows the brave to act when the timid do not. But to take action when one is not afraid is easy. To refrain when afraid is also easy. To take action regardless of fear is brave." --James Ambrose

    And then there is the new song from Pink, "Try" whose chorus I have come to love:
    "Where there is desire
    There is gonna be a flame
    Where there is a flame
    Someone's bound to get burned
    But just because it burns
    Doesn't mean you're gonna die
    You've gotta get up and try, and try, and try"

    So many in the yoga classes I've attended show courage simply in the fact that they keep showing up. And then the tremendous courage they have in going to places that aren't necessarily comfortable or easy is edifying.

  4. Christie! Oh my!! I'm there RIGHT NOW! Taking that leap very soon, and it's scary to say the least...but I'm looking forward to my new beginning.

  5. Christie,,I feel like I have lived in fear all my life,,but now i am asking myself "what are you so scared of?" Nothing is that horrible i tell myself,,getting better at this one day at a time.

  6. You hit me right in the right place with that one, because I can't think of any response that doesn't make me feel acutely vulnerable. My excuses (I don't have time, and my knee hurts, and maybe I'll fall over, and I'm embarrassed to be outsized and clumsy) are all real, but I've worked around them before and can again. The deeper truth is that I'm afraid to try to heal myself because that would mean admitting that I'm sick.

    1. Your honesty takes my breath away. It can also be your weapon for helping yourself. We both know, though, that it is so much easier to see others clearly than ourselves.

      I am posting all these because I'm hoping people will feel less vulnerable. If the teacher can struggle so much, surely it is OK for the students to do so? In any case, one of the few things I've come to know is that regrets are utterly wasted effort. All we can do is go on from today.