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  • Writer's picturemichelledangmd

On the Other Side of Fear

“The only way to ease our fear and be truly happy is to acknowledge our fear and look deeply at its source. Instead of trying to escape from our fear, we can invite it up to our awareness and look at it clearly and deeply.” Thích Nhất Hạnh, Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm

A few days ago, I read a post by my dear friend and yoga teacher, Melissa Smith, that truly resonated with me. The post was about fear. I would like to share this with you in the hopes that you would be inspired as I was, to acknowledge whatever fears you may be having, and use it in order to dive all in, as Melissa says.


((From Melissa Smith, Pranava Yoga Studio))

Fearless Performance: Elton John in Sydney 1986

Watch this, full screen, with headphones.

Here’s the story behind it. There was a moment in 1986 when - by Elton John's own admission - everything was broken, he was severely addicted to drugs, his body was collapsing, his voice was hoarse, but he had committed to an Australian tour and had to go. While in Australia, a doctor found lumps on his vocal cords, there was a 50% chance it was cancer. And even if not, it possibly meant the end of his singing career. Elton John rejected advice to stop the tour, and continued… The tour was patchy, his voice constantly failing. And then came the final encore on the final night. Knowing it might be his last ever performance, he puts EVERYTHING into it… He says in his autobiography, that as he sang, he heard the meaning of every word as though for the first time. You hear the nervousness in his voice and see the tension on his face, then around 2+ minutes in, he defies his voice to fail, and lets go of any fear. Fear is a funny thing... fear and pain are a result of nociception which is our body’s ability to detect a threat and then label it either fear, pain, stress, etc. I am certainly not advocating pushing through pain or even fear... but again, fear is often a perceived threat- real or imagined- it's what we do with that information that makes all the difference.

I have often wrestled with personal decisions- afraid and unsure of what to do. It's when I am living in a place of indecision that it breeds fear. By simply deciding (like Elton did to go all out), the path begins to unfold, and I can make other smaller choices along the way to shape the plan and bring more clarity as I go.

And, here's the other thing: love and fear are opposites... when we are encompassed by compassionate (self)love -- we feel safe and the fear can melt.

Can you imagine now-- a warm reception for your decision?-- whatever it is-- and own it? It's yours to color, create, and explore - and can you dive all in? What fear are you facing right now - that have you frozen in indecision? What support can we as a community offer you? What questions can you ask yourself to put your fears away and -- and trust? Here's to your path- -as unique and beautiful as you are! 2020 is the year of clear vision. What can you see?


When I initially started this website and blog, and started posting more on all the social media platforms, I struggled with what information I wanted to put out there. Did I want to post just about medicine? Or fitness? Or being a physician mom? I had fear that people wouldn't want to read what I had to say. I had fear about being judged for some of my failures along the way if I were to write or post about them. I had fear that I wasn't good enough. I was surprised when some of my posts generated positive feedback. I was surprised when people liked reading about my struggles and how I learned from them. And, while the fear is still there, I'm hoping to find my way through and past that. Thank you again to Melissa, for being a source of inspiration for me and so many other yogis and human beings! And thank you again, to my readers and followers. You all inspire me to keep going and finding my true passion.

Image: Central Park, November 2019

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