Today I met with a friend for the first time since she gave birth. Before she had her little boy she told me all about the nursery she and her husband were decorating for her baby. I laughingly said, “What are you planning to do with THAT then?” She explained that there would be no way that she would have her baby in bed with her when he was born, that babies need to learn independence from an early age, and that she would not allow her baby to manipulate her.
Four months later and she shakes her head, admitting that she has had her baby sleeping in bed with her at times. While no die-hard advocate of co-sleeping, she says that sometimes it’s just easier, especially after hours of colicky crying. She reflected that the reason she felt so strongly about it before was that she was afraid the baby would be too dependant on her.
While there are many things about this exchange that made me pause for thought, the one thing in this that I want to write about this evening is fear. She says she was afraid. How many of our decisions in life are based on fear? How often do I discipline my child, possibly needlessly, because of my worries about how she will ‘turn out?’ How much time do I spend worrying about the future (fear of the unknown), what others think of me (fear of disapproval), or whether I am doing the right things, saying the right things, making the right decisions (fear of making mistakes)? I wonder how much of your life is guided by fear?
How liberating it would be to be free from fear. In Yoga, we bring the mind to a point of stillness: the now. Fear is essentially the mind casting itself forward to what could, might or should happen. It is the mind clinging to the transient. We fool ourselves into thinking that we can change the future through worrying about it.
Remaining in the now takes discipline and practice. When my mind dwells on the future and all of my worries about what might be, I bring myself back to the present moment. I focus on my breath and remind myself that I am wasting precious energy. I scan my body for tension and I gradually release the knots that I have created through my thoughts. Discplining ourselves to stay here in this moment frees us to enjoy it completely, to be present to our children in the way they need and demand, and gives us the opportunity to practice gracious acceptance of all that life throws at us.