Okay people, if you've tried it, you know...if you haven't tried it, you can imagine...if you're a master at it...well, this is old news. Handstand is SCARY. Way scarier then headstand (at least then you have two arms AND a head in contact with the ground)...wa y scarier than forearm stand even (where the ground is so close by). Handstand takes 'em all. The first time I tried handstand, the idea that my two hands, my ten fingers, could take the weight of my ENTIRE BODY seemed just...ludicrous.
But, many years have passed since then, and handstand has since become more, well, friendly. I do it a lot. Since coming to Los Angeles it is a part of nearly every class...but still I need a wall or a person to stand near me, to comfort me, to catch me. I won't totally sell myself short...my form is much improved...when said wall or said person is present I can stick it to that handstand. I can stay up there for many many many seconds. If I do say so myself. (Please imagine confident shoulder waggle here.)
But take aforementioned wall or aforementioned person AWAY from me, stick me in the middle of the room, and suddenly I'm doing these timid little bunny kicks, my hips just miles away from where they ought to be, which is...balanced. Over my shoulders.
And this has been a cause of endless frustration for me. Because I can not lie to myself...I am strong enough, I am experienced enough and I have the balance to be able to attempt the dreaded handstand alone. Solo. No hands (other than mine), No wall. And so then I must face up to what I am doing: holding back.
And here is where the practice both delights and infuriates me...because there is no way for me to look at that and not acknowledge the other areas of my life in which I am doing just that--the other areas of my life in which I KNOW I am strong enough, flexible enough, have enough balance to try with everything I have in me, but still I am only putting it out halfway--I am timid bunny kicking when I ought to be using all of the tools I know I have to just stick that mo-fo. And why? For what? For fear--fear of falling, fear of humiliating myself, fear of failing, ultimately, and because it gives me another opportunity to bring back the comfort and the safety of that wall or that extra set of hands. Safety. Even though it requires a dimming of my own light (sorry, geeking out...almost done)...even though it requires a DIMMING OF MY OWN LIGHT, still, I choose safety.
Well, last week when I was at the studio, one of my new favorite teachers, Emily Burton , arrived early to work with one of her students on falling, and I quickly insinuated myself into the lesson. A lesson which was comprised of, falling out of handstand...over and over and over again. And by the end of our session I felt so confident and so ready to tackle the dreaded HS on my own in my next class--certain I would no longer be frightened.
And today, I took class...and (insert sad clowny wah-wah music here)...no cigar!! Still, still, still tiny timid half-assed little kicks. No stickin' it. No victory. And as I knelt between each go around I kept asking myself, "what is your problem? You KNOW you can fall. You've done it. You're not going to die." But each time, there I was...holding back. There were a lot of people in the class and so even the falling seemed more...frightening. Until finally I had to call someone over to be my safety.
But after class I was determined...and once I had finished my little studio chores, I dragged my mat into a side room and planted myself smack-dab in the middle of the floor, determined to kick this fear bug-a-boo.
And at first it was STILL (still!) those same little half-attempts...holding back, holding back, holding back. Afraid, even then--what if I fall wrong? What if my mat slips out from underneath me...and on and on.
And then finally, I sat myself down, and issued the edict that it was Time To Fall. You must fall 3 times in a row, I told myself, so that you can remind yourself that it can be done, that you can fall and survive.
So I set myself up, I lined myself all up nicely, I took a breathe, and I kicked up...not to do a handstand this time, but merely to fall...
AND I DID IT.
I did a handstand. And I held it, for several seconds. By myself.
(and then I fell)
Once it was over I rolled onto my back, stuck my two hands under my head, like a cloud-gazer--and I just laughed and laughed. I did it! I did it! And what had done it? What had pushed me over the edge? The intention to fall. Because it was a get-out-of-jail free card for me--an opportunity to let go of control--to sail head-first into failure instead of spending so much time resisting it, holding back, what if. And as soon as I did--there it was--success. Strong, solid, balanced, happy...success.
I was giddy, and repeated the trick, just to make sure it wasn't magic, and each time...with permission to fall...I didn't. I stuck it. I balanced.
We are such amazing creatures, we humans, and it is proven to me over and over again that I can accomplish so much more WITHOUT my own interference, than with.
I love you all, Shanti-Towners, and I encourage each of you today, in some way big or small, to just let yourself...fall.