Years later, I began meditating. There is a wonderful quote by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D from Women who Run with the Wolves. “The way to maintain one’s connection to the wild is to ask yourself what it is you want. This is the sorting of the seed from the dirt. One of the most important discriminations we can make in this matter is the difference between things that beckon to us and things that call from our souls.”
This is what I felt when I began to contemplate teaching meditation. My soul was calling for it and I could not ignore this request. Even though there was still the voice saying, “But you can’t even speak in front of people! How can you teach!?”, I kept studying, practicing and trusting. I somehow knew that if it was meant to be, then great. If not, then at least I tried. I grounded myself in my practice and I voiced my intention to be a meditation teacher to a few friends.
Then it happened. I was on a yoga retreat led by my amazing friend, Jen, and she asked if I would lead everyone in a meditation that weekend. I said yes before I could think too much about it. This was no small group, about fifty people. My meditation teacher had taught me that when anxiety takes hold, it is an indication that my attention is focused on the future. So each time terror struck I felt it, and then brought my attention back to the present. I did this many times before the actual moment came when I went up to the front of the room and sat down. I had no script, just an idea of what I would lead everyone through. I immediately felt myself surrender, and the thought that came to me was, “It is not about me.” I was completely relaxed. I began to search for the fear in my body and there was none to be found. What I found instead was my courage. I have heard courage described as being afraid but moving forward anyway. I would disagree. That sounds more like a definition of suffering to me. What I noticed was that my frame of reference had shifted to my heart. Cor in Latin means heart and is the root of courage. Courage is when fear is not at the reigns anymore and love is leading the way. Not long after this experience I heard a teacher say that love and fear cannot exist in the same moment. When I let go of the fear of being judged and center myself on loving who is in front of me, I am free to be present to teach. Does this mean I will never be afraid to talk in front of a large group of people? Probably not. But I do know what is lurking behind that fear and I know where to find my courage, in my heart.