Photo: Tej Kaur
Last week I did something that some folks might consider kinda crazy. I boarded an airplane for the first time in more than 20 years, flew to New Mexico, and spent the week of Summer Solstice chanting and meditating with more than 2,000 Kundalini yogis. If, say, two years ago someone had suggested to me that I might be doing such a thing, I would have laughed in his or her face. But “thanks be to God” (as my dear mother used to say), things do change.
I won’t go into the details of my trip (this time) but suffice it to say it was challenging on many levels. Yet, in spite of sleeping in a moldy old cub scout tent, waking up at 3 a.m. every morning for meditation, no hot water, a diet focusing on mung beans, and 96 degree heat (yes, I know, no humidity, but still freakin’ HOT in my book), I was victorious. Why? Because I had faced a fear that’s been holding me back for many years.
As the plane took off, I felt the old familiar panic, but this time, because of yoga--vinyasa yoga, structural yoga, Iyengar yoga, and most recently (and for me the turning point) Kundalini yoga, and a core group of amazing teachers who have supported me over the past 8 years--I had the tools to deal with the fear. I breathed. I chanted (quietly). I meditated. I trusted. I focused on gratitude, love, and all the goodness in my life. And strangely enough, as the plane soared through the clouds, my fears subsided. No drum roll. No sense of pride. Just an overwhelming amazement. A feeling of “Hey, it’s gone! Where the heck did it go?”
That, I can’t tell you. I don’t know where feelings go when we don’t have them any more. I don’t know where the pain of childbirth goes once that miracle baby is in our arms. I don’t know where “romantic” love goes when we stop loving someone. I don’t know where sorrow goes when it lifts from our hearts.
And I don’t know where fear goes when suddenly one day it rises and floats away. Is there a land of lost feelings somewhere in space? All I know is when it comes to losing fear, there’s a feeling of freedom in its place.
After a full week of yoga in the New Mexico mountains, my return trip to New Jersey was a breeze. I didn’t even feel a hint of fear as the plane lifted into the air. Yes, I’m sad that it has taken me so long to make this step, but what’s important is that I’ve finally made it.And who knows where I’ll go from here?