What do you fear? Do you fear dying? Many people do. Fear is not real. It is dreamed up by the ego and our overly active minds. Some people even say that FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. When you look at it this way, you may realize that the only thing that we have to fear is fear itself. When you have the courage to push past your fears, to face them head on and live with a heart of love and good intentions you will feel wonderful and find the abundance that you deserve.
I know because I lived most of my life trapped by fear. There is nothing worse than feeling trapped. I was SUCH a fraidy cat starting at a young age even though nothing truly bad ever even happened to me with the exception the one time that my sister played a trick on me. She once hid under my bed when I was roughly seven making scratching sounds as she talked in a scary voice. My doberman growled and I remember being so frozen in fear that I could not even yell for my parents. When I finally gather the courage to run to my parents for help, "sweet little" Mandy (my big sister) quickly snuck back to her bed where she pretended to be sleeping. That is my earliest memory of fear. All a hoax, you see. There was nothing to fear at all. Our minds will play terrible tricks on us if we allow them to do so.
The mind is powerful. It must be trained just like any muscle in the body. We must think positively and tell ourselves what we are truly capable of overcoming. We must also practice awareness to determine what is real and what is and an illusion.
Later in life I wanted to attend yoga classes. I had done yoga before and knew how much I enjoyed it, however, having the courage to start taking yoga classes again was not as easy as I thought it would be. I would drive into the parking lot and if it appeared to be full I would literally drive away paralyzed in fear that the class was indeed full. I somehow felt that I did not belong and that I did not know what I was doing. My self esteem was so low and I was not even aware that this was the reason for the fear that was holding me back.
You see, that is where it all begins. Improvement begins with awareness. Once I was aware of what was holding me back I grabbed a friend and eventually pushed through my fear. I not only went to classes on my own, but I also completed yoga teacher training and opened my own studio. I have since led over 3000 classes and two teacher training sessions to train other instructors. I travel and lead corporate yoga, workshops and retreats, as well. Recently while working with the Avon Corporation, I had to push through yet another set of fears; the fear of being hooked up to a wireless microphone and telling my story in front of hundreds of people and then teaching to a diverse group people (some in chairs and some on mats). After the first few seconds on stage and seeing all of the smiling faces looking back at me, I knew that I was not only Ok, I was actually living my dream.
Life is a journey not a marathon. It is about taking baby steps to know and love ourselves, and to grow into the best versions of ourselves. We may hit many bumps in the road, but those obstacles are there to teach us and to help us grow. We learn through our mistakes and challenges. What is important is to first be aware so that we can change what we do not like. Change, after all, is what helps us to grow. Next, we have to practice acceptance free from judgement. Finally we have to forgive, first ourselves and then all of those who have wronged us in life so that we can move forward toward our greatest destiny.
Sometimes it is the biggest obstacles that propel us forward and unlock us from the fear that holds us back. Last week I was given the opportunity to audition for TEDx Cincinnati. Giving a TED talk is a life dream of mine. I applied last year and did not get in. This year I was ready. I was still shaking in my boots with fear, but I knew I had to stand up and use my voice to awaken, inspire and empower others who have not found their voices yet. When you believe so deeply in your mission, nothing can hold you back. So I am super proud of myself for pushing through my fear.
One hundred and fifty people auditioned and only twenty of us were given the chance to give a 2.5 minute audition. I prayed that I would go first so that I could listen to other presenters and enjoy what they were offering, but of course I was number 16. I tried so hard to listen to the other presenters as their speeches were gripping and inspiring, but I my mind was focused on trying to remember my own speech and I was so incredibly nervous. I was simply trying not to cry. We lined up in front of the stage after the intermission. I listened intently to a speech or two and then everything was blurry as I reread my written speech to myself. I carried my papers nervously to the stage. As soon as I stood under the lights and said my first sentence I felt an odd calm. A divine presence came over me and it was as if the universe was naturally speaking through me. What I had originally dreaded I was truly enjoying. I was offering my heart and my soul to the world. In telling my story I was freeing myself from fear. More importantly I felt that if my words touched and inspired just one other person in the audience, the whole process that brought me to that stage and all of the terrible anxiety that I faced that evening would all be worthwhile.
Each time that we climb to the peak of a mountain it feels exhilarating. The balance, however, is that every high is followed by a low. The valleys in life are there to help us to appreciate the highs. This appreciation gives us more momentum and courage to move forward toward the higher mountains that we may face in the future. I now know, that the TEDx audition was just a start for me. I know that my purpose is to help spread conscious awareness through my yoga philosophy of awareness, acceptance, and forgiveness so that others can overcome the intimidating obstacles in their lives. All things are possible when we believe and let go of the fears that hold us back from achieving our true greatness.
Gratefully & Courageously Yours,
Libby Shively McAvoy
P.S. - If you enjoyed this article, then please check out my latest post on my other blog about the importance of "acceptance" at TotalSoulfulJourney.com