Overcoming Challenges

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During my Sadhana (yoga practice) there have been many obstacles to overcome, both small and large: all bringing with them a process of discomfort and challenge but all giving way to growth and expansion. I would like to share with you a recent challenge in the hope that it may inspire you to continue to let go of old patterns and limiting beliefs.

Since joining the resident team at Mandala Yoga Ashram in the early summer of 2015 I have hesitantly begun to learn to play the harmonium. I have never considered myself a musician or a performer, identifying myself with a more introverted artistic type personality. I love to chant so when alone I enjoy the experience of chanting the divine name with an open heart. However, in the background I knew that the day would come when I would be asked to play and sing at a Kirtan (group chanting). This filled me with both excitement and dread. It was clear that my heart and soul wanted to sing and play and share with others and yet my mind was holding onto old beliefs - many from family, social and cultural patterns - which included a fear of being criticised and judged; notions that I am not good enough or worthy enough; that one should not be seen or heard in public; a fear that I will be humiliated.

But the time had come. That evening as I waited to be asked to play I used several of my yogic tools to help soothe my anxious mind. I tried repeating my mantra; I tried to focus on my Guru’s face; I focused on my breath; I tried to focus on the current Kirtan being sung; I looked around at the loving faces of my fellow seekers in the hall and reminded myself that they did not want to harm me. Most importantly of all I reminded myself that this was not about ‘me’ - it was an offering. Yet, despite all this, my mind and body held onto these old beliefs and I felt primitive fear. I was reminded of author Susan Jeffers who says; ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. As a self-proclaimed Spiritual Warrior, I know that at times I need to ignore my mind and my limiting ego.  I chanted and played. I made some mistakes, but it was alright, I even managed to nearly enjoy it for a moment!! I did my best to focus on my heart. Afterwards, I felt relieved and once recovered felt some happiness and respect for myself that I had overcome this obstacle. I know that the next time I play it will be a little easier until one day it will be an experience full of joy and easefulness.

One of the important things that followed was that I realized that in openly showing my vulnerability it allowed others to express their own inhibitions about playing and singing in public in a way that felt healing and supportive. So the imperfection of my experience was indeed perfect.