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View over New Zealand - Looking down from the mountain: facing your fears

Tantra: facing your fears – high anxiety

Tantra is facing your fears and making your desires come true. I know a lot of emphasis is on the sexual part (using your body to reach enlightement), but it is so much more. Facing your fears is a big part of it. An extremely important part.

I blogged about the only two powers in this world before: fear or love. We either living out of fear or out of love. To progress in life we have to let go of our fears and learn to live out of love. To be able to do so we have to face our fears. I can’t say it enough: yoga (tantra is a variety of yoga) is so much more than doing postures.  We have to question ourselves every time: why do we do what we do, why do we act the way we act, why do we feel what we feel. If we ask ourselves these questions we can start to face our fears. By facing your fears, you can let go of them.

Facing your fears

There are a lot of tantra exercises that can help you. If you’re lucky enough you’ll find a real tantra master who will help you. Otherwise you’ll find a lot of information in the different books that have been written about tantra. I did an exercise based on the book Tantric Quest ‘An encounter with absolute love’ written by Daniel Odier. In the book he’s telling about an assignment his tantric teacher has given him. It’s an assignment to face his high anxiety.

I got high anxiety as well. Or better: I use to have it. Not to the extremes, but you didn’t make me happy by visiting people who live in high apartment buildings where you have to walk over an outside balcony to get to their house. In Tilburg (the Netherlands) we have a lot of them. My legs always felt like jelly if I had to go above the third floor and I would stay as close to the houses as possible. Just looking down over the railing would make my stomach turn around. I was better in mountains, but edges were not my favorite as well.

Why am I afraid?

The question is why? Buildings in the Netherlands are pretty secure. There are not a lot of cases know where they spontaneously fell apart. So if there is no reason to be afraid, why am I? After reading Odier’s book I decided to study my own mind to make it stop creating all these falls projections and as a result of it creating physical symptoms.

What did I do? I called a friend of mine who lives in an apartment building of ten floors high. He lives on the second, but we went to the tenth. Together we walked over to the railing and looked down. My stomach turned again, my legs went jelly and everything in me screamed to get away from there. I stayed. I had to hold on to the railing, because my legs were not responding but I stayed and kept looking down. At the same time I studied my mind. Asking myself all the time: why a I afraid? What has caused this?

My friend stayed with me for half an hour, then I told him he could go. I stayed. Minutes went by. Minutes that felt like hours. Then hours went by. Nothing happened. I was still standing there. Still questioning my mind, still looking down. My friend came by twice to check on me. Seemingly my face was getting a little less white of fear every time he checked.

Looking down

Morning became afternoon, afternoon became evening. My friend brought me some food, refilled my thermos flask. I stayed. Same spot. Just looking down. Slowly my legs became stronger. My stomach stopped screaming for attention. My hands started to sweat less. Night came. I stayed. I could see the street lights, but the depth looked totally different at night. I decided to sit down. My legs were tired from standing a whole day. To test myself I was leaning with one shoulder against the railing. My stomach approved.

I dozed off a bit every now and then. Still sitting their. The first morning light created some dept again. I stood up and looked down. Physically nothing happened. No stomach cramp, no jelly legs. I conquered my mind. I had proven myself that my fear was for nothing. Slowly I walked up and down over the balcony; still looking down. Nothing. I looked around over Tilburg. Enjoyed the early morning views of the sleeping city.

Half an hour later I was on my bike. Cycling home as fast as I could to crawl in bed with my cats. At the end of the afternoon I returned one more time to my friends apartment. We went up to the tenth floor again. I looked down. Nothing.

Zip lining

A few months later I worked on the yoga retreat of Petra Tomuta in Costa Rica. One afternoon we went zip lining through the tree tops of a forest just outside Puerto Viejo. I know I would have passed for this or I would have gone but would have hated every minute of it before I conquered my high anxiety. This time I saw it as a test. Would the fear be gone forever? It was. It rained all day. We got soaked, had to do group hugs to keep warm, but I was smiling from ear to ear. Enjoying the views while zip lining from one tree to another.

At some point we came to the Tarzan swing. One single line above a deep ravine. We were all standing on a platform. So far I was always the last one to go. This time nobody wanted to go first. This wasn’t a zip line, but a swing. The guide asked again who wanted to go first. A few of the girls called out my name: “Your a yogi, you can’t be afraid.” I wasn’t. I stepped up. Got hooked on the line, leaned back and flew to the other side with a big smile on my face. I passed my ultimate test.

Why do it?

Why would you be facing your fears? Because conquering makes your life more beautiful. Simple as that. I love the zip lining. I enjoyed being in nature, I enjoyed all the views. I wouldn’t have before. If you’re afraid of flying and don’t dare to get into a plane you miss out on experiencing beautiful cultures and places. I came name hundreds of other fears that are limiting us in enjoying life. Face them and life will be more beautiful.

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