Overcoming fear of expression: The spiritual practice of writing a yoga blog
I wish you all a quiet and dignified end to this year, 2017. Like all other years, it had a lot of happiness, but also sadness. Joy cannot exist without sorrow, just as light cannot be perceived without darkness. With love comes fear. These contradictions give each other life and we gain the power to progress in different ways through the dynamics and differences between the two sides.
My diary – a close friend
When I was a child, I enjoyed writing in my diary. It was a way to express and let out what had been contained and trapped inside of me. Thoughts and feelings that were mine alone. My diary became a close friend that I often turned to in joy and sorrow. I also wrote long letters to penpals in Norway and Sweden.
When I was in fifth grade, my essay “How do I raise up my children” was chosen for a writing contest in Dagens Nyheter (a Swedish daily newspaper). I don’t remember much about how it went, just that it was published both in Dagens Nyheter and in the school magazine. I was very pleased by this and a feeling was ignited in me that I would write more when I grew up.
A shattered dream
The diary that was my close friend and a channel for my feelings and experiences came to be very important to my inner life. However, this changed one day in the eighth grade, when I discovered that someone was reading my diary and abusing my trust and confidence. There and then my writing ended for many years. I no longer dared to entrust my diary with my innermost thoughts and what I had experienced in life. Inside, something was shut off and became silenced. Writing had become a dream for me, but now that dream felt distant and unimaginable.
That school and my further education contributed additional values, achievements and fears of not writing well enough or interestingly enough. So, I no longer dared to share my inner thoughts in writing. My longing to express myself and my inner life died. Just like all lust and longing do if we end up in performance and experience ourselves undervalued, controlled and confined.
The longing for expression
The freedom to be who we are, to dare to express what we feel, to trust ourselves and experience togetherness, makes us grow as expressive, true people. True in the sense that we feel our inner self, our longing, our thoughts, feelings and dreams. We know who we are and we dare to express that in words, thoughts and actions.
Patanjali so beautifully describes this in the second chapter of his Yoga Sutras, about the first klesha, the obstacle from living in clarity called Avidya, “The Mother Of All Suffering” – not to know yourself, not knowing who you are, or what you nurture in your heart, living in the dark.
That’s how it felt for me for many years. When yoga eventually came into my life with tools towards clarity and acceptance, and when trust in myself and life slowly began to take shape, light and longing for expression also took place in my consciousness.
Finding courage in the face of fear
The fact that I have written a blog post every month for a whole year is huge for me. The first post I wrote was associated with acute life threat. My head screamed, my shoulders sat tightly by my ears and that strangely familiar and resounding voice cried out loud and rushing, deep inside: “You do not write well enough!” “It will be bad and everyone will wonder what you’re doing!” “You cannot write. And what if you share something from deep inside that you later regret!”
The fear was strong and almost paralysing. At the same time, the dream I had to write was even stronger. My brain hurt due to the stress of it and there were many sleepless nights full of thoughts and fears. But I got through it. A lot of courage and a strong longing became my driving force. It was not that I thought I would become a writer; just that there was more I needed to write, to express myself, to be in touch with my inner world and share what was important to me with others. But without attaching to what anyone else would think. Being free in the expression.
Just like a yoga practice, the aim of this writing process is freedom. To be free from mental slavery, that which prevents us from being who we are meant to be; and to live freely, to get through the obstacles that stand in the way of our inner freedom.
A yoga blog is born
Then, like right now, I found myself in India. The country I think I love most out of all the places I’ve travelled and spent a lot of time in. It was in India where I picked up my diary after years of fear of sharing my feelings and getting laughed at. So, in this country of diversity I started writing in my diary again and from there the blog was born.
During the year, blogging has shifted between hope and despair. Just like the light and darkness of life, the joy and sorrow. The fear of not being good or interesting enough is always there, but I care less and less about it and listen more and more to the voice that is close to my heart. The voice that longs and wants to express itself and that feels and experiences the writing as an innate moment of proximity and presence.
My asana and pranayama practice supports the process of overcoming fears and insecurity, and anchors me in my physical body when the demons of the head begin to take shape and the old ghosts are brought to life.
A path towards peace and trust
When the fears die down and it becomes quiet, then words flow like waves. Like fearless love – like those moments of absolute confidence – the words become part of something bigger and, like all spiritual practice, a path towards peace and trust. A place where acceptance of the interior is real and the only truth.
An author that means a lot to me is Tomas Tranströmer. His poem Romanesque Arches has come to be another close friend of mine. The reminder that we are both spiritual and physical people with all that entails, and constantly on a journey, is a deep comfort to me when life feels dark and heavy.
“Don’t be ashamed to be a human being, be proud!
Inside you one vault after another opens endlessly.
You’ll never be complete, and that’s as it should be.”
– Tomas Tranströmer
Life is an adventure of our own design, intersected by fate and a series of lucky and unlucky accidents - Patti Smith