You may recall reading in a past blog that one of the visions I have for my life is to become fearless. I have only really ever heard of one person described as having achieved this seemingly ideal state of being, and that was Swami Vishnu-devananda. It is he that has always inspired this vision in me.
Swami Vishnu, or Swamiji as he is affectionately known to his followers, came to the West from India at the urging of his guru, Swami Sivananda, and started the Sivananda Yoga Vendanta Centres, which now have ashrams and yoga studios all over the world. A robust and smiling man, Swamiji created the Yoga Teachers Training Course, which I took in 2003, with the vision to develop messengers of peace.
Whenever I think or hear or read about fearlessness, I think of Swamiji. I don't know if he really was fearless because I never met him. I just remember one of his students describing him as "absolutely fearless" and I have never forgotten it. The concept awes me.
Yesterday I picked up a book I borrowed from the lending library at Hospice Yukon Society called Facing Fear, Finding Courage -- Your Path to Peace of Mind by Sarah Quigley with Marilyn Shroyer, PH.D. I had just signed the book out the day before, when I'd stopped in to return another book that had been passed on to me back in February.
When I went into Hospice Yukon I had no intention of getting another book but the woman there was so kind and so helpful that when she encouraged me to look in their library I took it as Higher Guidance. When I saw the Quigley/Shroyer book I thought it would be a good reference for the upcoming Cultivate Your Courage workshops I'll be leading on May 29 in Whitehorse and in June at the Sivananda Yoga Retreat in Paradise Island, Bahamas.
When I got home and began to flip through the book these were the very first words I read: "Stop striving to become fearless."
Stop? Striving to be fearless? Really?
Here's why they think so: "No book, workshop, or pep talk will make all our fears vanish. Sometimes we have to go on living with fear because it's based on realistic concerns."
The authors then go on to describe things that would naturally make a person afraid like your daughter going missing or being alone for the first time. Makes sense, right? These are realistic concerns.
"Keep reminding yourself how courageous you are to keep facing your fears" is the sentence that ends the paragraph. I like that. Courage isn't the absence of fear it's the willingness to go through it.
Okay, so I get that fear is a natural part of being human and that if I run into a rattlesnake I'm going to be afraid, but what about striving to be fearless around unrealistic concerns? The fear of failure/fear of success concerns or the fear of being disliked concern?
Those kinds of fears are the ones that I'm seeking to be free of on this life's journey. Those fears are not based on realistic concerns at all. They're based on Old Belief Systems (Old BS) that are no longer working. Can't I still strive to become fearless in that way?
As a coach I'd say, "Of course you can. You can do whatever you want." But what this book is talking about is accepting fear as a natural part of being human. Accepting fear and learning to live with it is the real freedom we're seeking because that acceptance is what will finally free us from being controlled by our fear.
Perhaps Swamiji would agree. Perhaps he still had fears that his disciples didn't see. Perhaps he wasn't as fearless as people thought. He was still human, after all.
Maybe being rid of fear is not the goal. What if we were to define fearlessness as "facing your fears head on"? If that were the case then the vision of fearlessness does not seem so far off. In fact, it feels downright happening now.
Inspiring Message of the Day: I am willing to accept that I will never be rid of certain fears. However, I will continue to strive for freedom from the fears that bind me to suffering and keep me from experiencing the fullest life possible.