In an act of bravery and defiance, I walked alone in unknown woods. Perhaps the terms “brave” and “defiant” seem too strong for this situation; but I, like most women, have been taught from a young age that being alone in an open area is not only unsafe, but a confoundedly reckless idea.
And that was the aim – to be reckless, risky, and more importantly, exposed. I needed to feel the exhilaration of being fully alive, facing vulnerability and fear.
As I plunged deeper in to the canopy of autumn leaves, the forest stood absolutely still. No wind blew, no acorns fell, no birdsong could be heard. I felt the eyes of the woodland upon me. Reduced human noise, reduced human influence, reduced human-made distraction made the forest come into a piercing focus. Separateness, disconnection, and isolation caused an upheaval in my core; and in an instant, logical thought was impossible. My lizard brain was telling me to run with all my might to the safety of humankind – for surely, silence meant death.
My heart-rate accelerated. My ears became fine-tuned receptors. My pupils dilated. My body tensed for action. Fear reared its head and panic set in, causing my panted breaths to catch in my throat.
But I’d come here in an act of rebellion. A spark in my heart revolted against reaction and I chose, instead, to respond.
I didn’t run, but sat down, intertwining my root chakra with the roots of the trees.
I heard my breath, roaring in its chaotic wind. I heard my fear screaming, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? AND WHY ARE YOU DOING IT?”
Fear told me I was exposed. Fear said I was defenseless. Fear asked who in their right mind decides to stay when they could flee? But still, I sat, recalling a quote by Ram Dass:
“When I am afraid of something, I come up as close to it as possible, and I notice my resistance. I allow myself to just notice the resistance, because the resistance intensifies fear … Get as close to the fear as you can, noticing the boundaries of it, just being with it, seeing it as it is. Don’t grab, don’t push away, just notice.”
I focused on my chaotic breathing. Breath is spirit, soul, and direct connection with God. Breath is the truest, ultimate, purest life force. As my breath calmed, my heart-rate slowed. As my heart-rate slowed, my body relaxed.
I allowed the eyes of the forest to view me, and nodded greeting to them. I noticed the crispness of the leaves gently wafting in the silent wind, and the clarity of sun that filtered through. I allowed fear to take a seat next to me on the wet earth, and held its hand in friendship.
In that moment, I’d become an Alchemist.
Inviting undeniable fear in to our own intimate existence takes immense courage. One step away from our supposed to’s, our usual’s, our preoccupied minds, or our walled hearts, is a realm in which we find the truth of what our star-constructed soul’s hold.
Allowing fear to sit alongside us, brings us to the truth of who we are.
And perhaps that’s what we fear the most.
We dread the magnificence of which we are constructed. We fear, that by understanding the truth of our own immense capability, we can no longer remain a seed in the darkness, but must bloom fully into the splendor of our truth.
We fear pushing through the darkness, and rising fully into the light. We fear the revelation of our own grandeur.
But it is only in the moment of breaking through the surface do we realize that inspiration is rarely found in the usual; and growth is never found in the comfortable.
We are, each of us, meant to bloom, to shine, and to rise.