A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Yielding and one of the lessons I learnt during the two-year long ongoing tai-chi group I did with Richard Farmer back in 2009-10. As I mentioned, the way we deepened our understanding and appreciation of each principle was through experiencing them in our body.
One exercise that left a lasting impression on me had to do with fear. In pairs, we took turn to play the role of fear. I ended up with a lovely but rather intimidating large man.
‘Place your hands on the shoulders of your partner and squeeze them,’ I heard Richard say as the man’s big hands landed on my shoulders. As he started tightening his grip, I felt overwhelmed by a sense of panic.
‘Those on the receiving end, fight it. Tighten up your shoulders, try to push them off you,’ Richard said, as if I needed an invitation. But here’s the thing – the more I fought the fear, the tighter his grip became.
‘Now, those who are on the receiving end, stop the fight. Relax. Raise your arms in a big circle and open up your body, as if the sun is rising,’ was Richard’s next instruction.
To my utter amazement, as soon as I relaxed and opened my being and circled my arms, the hands of ‘fear’ fell off my shoulders. It was quite a profound experience. I had a felt sense that fearing something makes things worse, and if we relax in the face of fear and open up, it goes away without us even trying.
Remember my struggle with academic writing I wrote about recently? The first draft is done. As with most first drafts, it needs a lot of work, but that’s just a part of the process.
What about you, dear reader? What do you fear the most? What part of being on the writing path scares you the most?