What You Need to Know About Love & Fear

tall trees-self love-fearless-peace-how to face your fears

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance... ~ John Lennon Of all the places in the world, I read this quote pasted on the wall of a port-a-potty at a music and yoga festival in the forests of Oregon.

The quote stayed with me one evening when a friend of mine had an anxiety attack.  She began to feel oversensitive to the lights and sounds of the environment around us and her mind filled with fearful thoughts.

I brought her back to our tent with another friend.  We soothed her, listened to her, gave her pillows and earplugs, and reminded her to breathe.

Soon, she began to feel better.

As we called in grounding, soothing energy for her, we heard a woman outside with a baby.  My friend went outside to see who it was.  It happened to be someone she knew, so we invited her into the tent with us.

She said her name was Love. 

Instead of staying up late on the dance floor, we chose to relax in my tent, three women learning from Love.

We asked Love lots of questions, and when we asked her about her experience giving birth she shared, "It was a constant practice of being present.  As soon as I let my mind wander to the past or worry about the future, there was pain..  But when I was fully present, everything was fine."

I realized this insight also applied to my friend who had the anxiety attack - the anxiety only became worse for her when she immersed herself in worried thoughts about the future.  

However, as soon as she came back to the present, focused on her breath and the loving people around her, she relaxed.

In every moment we have a choice - to choose fear or love.  We can choose to be stuck in the past, worry about the future, or we can be fully present in the moment.

Fear exists in the future.  Love exists in the present. {tweet this}

This is why yoga and meditation has been such a valuable practice for me.  I can now catch my mind when I spiral into worried thoughts, and I naturally come back to my breath and the sensations in my body.  This immediately brings me back into the present moment, and I realize everything is fine.

When you find yourself full with worried thoughts, how do you come back to the present moment?  What helps you remember to choose love over fear?  I'd love to hear what works best for you in the comments below.

I am excited to be back to teaching three weekly yoga classes in Sonoma County this month (details here).  I am also getting ready to travel and teach at Burning Man and Erica Jago's (now full!) EARTH retreat in September...

I'm sure I will return with many fresh insights and stories for you.

Until then, sending love, Meredith


10 ways you know the yoga is working

yoga and meditation-clarity-compassion

There are so many lessons yoga has brought to my daily life.

I taught a yoga class recently on this idea: How to Know the Yoga is Working” and was surprised when more and more reasons just came to me on the spot. I decided to make a list for all the yogis out there to remember just how much value our practice has in our lives, both on and off the mat.

1.  You’re less reactive.

Say somebody says a mean word to you and you tighten. In the past it may have turned into low self-esteem, blame or anger, but now you breathe. You notice what is happening in your body. You give yourself a moment.

Before, you may have attacked back, but now you’re able to see the whole situation from the outside. You realize the person may not have even meant that word in a mean way.  You notice the trigger that arises and you let it out with the breath. You choose to act and speak from a calm, centered place.

2.  You let go of your “story.”

You may have been triggered because of a story you carry about yourself. You check in with the people close to you about what your mind is making up. You realize most of it is not even real. It’s made up. With this awareness, you can let it go.

3.  You face your fears.

You begin to see your fears as some kind of karmic inheritance,

“These are the places for me to grow.”

Now you ask yourself,

“What do I stand to gain by not doing this thing?”

You decide to face your fears. Each little fear you face gives you more courage to live as your full self.

4.  You accept yourself as you are.

Your yoga class becomes the place to stop comparing yourself. You stop looking around at all the other people, and start looking within for acceptance.

5.  You take care of your body.

Once you start doing yoga, it’s not too long before you start buying organic produce and drinking green juices. I think healthy eating and yoga go hand-in-hand. When you spend time being so close to yourself, listening to your body, it is more likely you will treat it with care. Your body becomes something you are only given once in this life, so you decide to take care of it.

6.  You stop avoiding discomfort.

It was probably in my first sitting forward bend, Paschimottanasana, that I learned to breathe into my discomfort. I learned that it wasn’t so bad when I used my breath and as soon as I came out of the pose, I felt lighter, more open and flexible. Life is kind of like that. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable in the moment, but we can breathe through it and as soon as we get through the discomfort, we feel lighter and more open. Yoga reminds you to face your discomforts in order to grow.

7.  You embrace vulnerability.

You realize that when you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you create greater connections and more authentic relationships. You let down your guards and allow yourself to be fully seen.

8.  You hold yourself with compassion.

You don’t get down on yourself when you make a mistake. You let go of your ideas of perfection. You allow yourself to feel exactly what you need to feel and allow a great sense of love and compassion for yourself to arise.

9.  You’re grateful, everyday.

Yoga opens you to gratitude. You stop focusing on the negative all the time, and ask,

“What am I grateful for? What is going right in my life?”

When we open ourselves to gratitude, we attract more of that good.

10.  You come back for more.

When you first start yoga, you may just move through your poses waiting for that sweet savasana. But eventually, your body grows stronger, you tune into your breath and you begin to enjoy your practice.  You wait for that time when you have full permission to let go of the past and future and be fully present with yourself.

This article was also published on Elephant Journal !