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falling is learning

In the world of Social Media, it seems like we’re constantly bombarded with Instagram photos & Snapchats of yogis & yoginis doing headstands on beautiful beaches and advertisements for yoga retreats in magical, far away lands. It’s all so captivating, it makes you want to drop everything in your life and jump on a plane with your yoga mat & lululemon apparel, ready to conquer the scary, potentially dark, multi-layered inner workings of your mind & soul.

But sometimes, we must let our fantasies be fantasies for the time being. Sometimes (or perhaps all the time) we have to be present to where we are on our journeys. Sometimes we have to walk ourselves into tiny, but charming, local yoga studios in downtown Baltimore, far away from magical lands, and show up to our practice. Our practice of turning inward.

A few weeks ago, I was taking a yoga class with my favorite yoga teacher, Megan. Megan’s classes have become the doses of nourishment I had been searching for since my mother’s passing, and I am profoundly grateful to have found them. You see, Megan’s classes not only challenge me physically (I walk out drenched, or should I say *cleansed* in sweat), but also continue to teach me about my mind and connect me with my heart, which ultimately is what yoga is all about.

As we progressed through the class, Megan encouraged us to experiment with a new posture. As I watched her demonstrate the asana, I began to feel my fear creeping in towards me the same way a lion creeps in towards its’ prey – at first slow-paced, sneaky, and quiet then all at once ferociously attacks and devours. My fear tends to find me right when I’m about to learn something new. She whispered as she crept closer:

“You couldn’t possibly do that pose. Don’t even try it. You’ll fall and embarrass yourself.”  

Now because my fear has been chasing and attempting to devour me my entire life, I’ve learned how to maneuver in such a way that it loses sight of me for just a moment, and in that moment, I am able to escape into the wilderness where opportunity lies. And so off I went, into this new challenging posture, and immediately, not to fear’s surprise, fell hard on my face.

I felt my cheeks turning red as fellow yogis & yoginis looked over in my direction. At this point, my fear – being the persistent predator that she is – began running towards me at full speed, determined to destroy me. She said:

Why did you do that? I told you NOT to, and yet you did it anyway. If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times that we shouldn’t try new things because we might fall and hurt ourselves, and worst of all, people will judge us. It’s just not freakin’ worth it. 

At this point, tears were forming in my eyes & I started to get angry with myself for trying this unfamiliar posture in the first place. Had my fear been right? Was I stupid to try something I wasn’t sure I could do?

Then I heard Megan say something, a piece of simple wisdom that completely interrupted my negative mindset and silenced my fear for a moment.

“Remember, falling is learning.” 

In that instant, I had a beautiful moment of clarity. I realized that the part of me that tries new things – whether those things be yoga poses or bungee jumping or riding motorcycles or creating a business from nothing but an idea – is the part of me I love most. It’s the part of me that isn’t afraid to take risks or fall down or be judged. It’s the part of me that likes to live large and experience the beauty, and the pain, and everything in between that life has to offer. It’s the part of me that knows all things true and passionate and nourishing and fulfilling exist outside of my comfort zone.

I realized how ridiculous my fear was for trying to convince me that falling was somehow something that I should be afraid of. Falling wasn’t going to destroy me; allowing my fear to catch and devour me would destroy me. The truth is that falling has become something as familiar to me as walking, and each time I have fallen in my life, I’ve managed to get up, and stand even taller than before with a thrilling story to tell and piece of new added wisdom to share.

If learning and growing and evolving require falling and failing, and a willingness to feel embarrassed and judged at times, then sign me up for a lifetime membership to falling. It’s a worthy investment.

Always Learning,

Elizabeth

Elizabeth Piper