Over the last two months I have taught some workshops on strengthening. Developing strength both physically and mentally is amazingly empowering. I have noticed however, that there is a lot of fear around strengthening, a lot of apprehension and doubt.
Having been involved in climbing now for a number of years, strengthening physically is something I am well used to. It has taken me a number of years though to get my head around strengthening as such and whether it is good or bad and how it sits with me in all that I have learnt in yoga and in my yoga practice and life.
When we think of strength, especially females I think, we conjure up images of bulky, muscle dripping figures, this creates a lot of fear immediately as with all that muscle, with all that strength, will I lose my femininity? Going a little deeper, with a cultivation of more masculine characteristics, will my feminine characteristics of compassion and sensitivity be lost?
To this end people shy away from strengthening, for fear of losing themselves and that which they may value.
There are other reasons that cause fear, such as the fear of not being good enough, not being able and not being enough.
In my workshop yesterday I spoke about three ways I feel we can address these fears......
1) Knowledge is power- Whether it is gaining more knowledge to stay safe in your physical yoga practice, gaining the key instructions on how to develop physical strength and move into postures or if it is gaining knowledge about a new situation in your life, a new job you would like to apply for or skill you would like to develop-gaining knowledge, educating yourself will allow you to take the first steps towards alleviating fears.
2) Directed Efforts and time-Once you have the knowledge it is then important to direct your efforts and time, to be patient, to listen to your body and mind and how it responds. To notice changes, to notice any resistance and to stay focused on that which you wish to achieve. Whenever fear arises, keep your attention focused on the knowledge you have gained, the steps you need to take and with this focus, thoughts are taken away from being overwhelmed or afraid.
3) Your Intention-This point is absolutely paramount in any endeavour. When you throughout any task or new stage in life become fearful, ask yourself, deep down, why am I here, why am I doing this?? If your answer is in line with your true values and the direction and path you wish to take in life, then this reassurance will help guide you away from fear and towards action.
Strength is not something we need to fear. It does not mean over powering another or showing off. It means being truly strong within, having courage to do what needs to be done, having the focus to follow through on goals. Strength in balance with all aspects of our character means the ability to be compassionate, to be sensitive and to still stand our own ground, to feel empowered and confident in ourselves.
True strength means being yourself, embodying all that you truly value and releasing fears to grow and learn and love the life you live.