Reading: Improving with Age/Practice
“While I continually try to improve my practice, I do my best and am contented with what I am able to attain. Even as the body ages and is able to do less, there are subtleties that reveal themselves , which would be invisible to younger or more athletic bodies. You have to create love and affection for your body, for what it can do for you. Love must be incarnated in the smallest pore of the skin, the smallest cell of the body, to make them intelligent so they can collaborate with all the other ones, in the big republic of the body. So let me do what I cannot do, not what I can do. You have always to do a little bit more than you think you can, in quality and in quantity. This is what leads ultimately to beauty and greatness.” — B.K.S. Iyengar
From Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.12, we learn one way to quiet the disturbances of the mind (fear, etc.) is to practice regularly without attachment:
I.12. abhyāsa vairāgyābhyāṁ tan nirodhaḥ
“These thought patterns (vrittis) are mastered (nirodhah, regulated, coordinated, controlled, stilled, quieted) through practice (abhyasa) and non-attachment (vairagya).”
Personally, as I get closer in thought or action towards the “irrationally scary stuff” — even just considering doing so — the fear and anxiety escalates to such a fever pitch that it is stifling. Despite these warnings, sometimes I may get somewhat closer in my actions. When action is taken, there can be a rush of overwhelm, and then overcome…and then ‘WTF – that wasn’t so bad after all’. These affirming feelings can help inspire continued action. The more regularly steps are taken, the more the feeling of overcoming can help spur growth in the face of the “irrational fears.”
Making a habit of these steps as Seth offers, little by little on a regular basis, is what helps the raging fears dissipate. Putting myself in this space more regularly — even if the action is muted or the much safer version — can make it less scary and connects me to feelings of empowerment. However, if I wait or hesitate for too long before taking action, any history of success can lose its power and the fear comes back just as strongly.
Gratitude is another practice to strengthen the love cells and free ourselves from attachement. After taking steps in the right direction (finishing a practice, a meditation, writing, or any project work, etc.), taking a moment of gratitude and acknowledgment of what I did or what is done vs. the self-shaming or focus on failures, etc. can inspire continued action.