Posts tagged "fear"

When recovering from mental illness, it’s so helpful to remember:

YOU ARE NOT YOUR FARTS

My recent trip to Japan will always hold a very special place in my heart – not only because it was my honeymoon, but because it’s true evidence of how overcoming fear and anxieties is pretty darn awesome.

To me, the most representative part of this trip was our visit to the Fushimi Inari shrine, which was a journey by itself. If you’ve watched Memoirs of a Geisha, you probably remember a really beautifully filmed sequence in which a young girl, Shiyo Sakamoto, is running between a row of red gates (torii) – this was filmed in Fushimi Inari.

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Imagine my surprise when I arrived to that marvellous place and discovered that the scene only shows a very short part of the 4km pathway that sprawls across a mountain. We had to make a decision right there of whether to climb up to the top or leave and try to see one more place in our list – we decided to climb up.

During our hike, I reflected on many things that had led me to that moment, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how symbolic this place was to me, how meaningful it was becoming as I was taking each step. 

I thought of all the things I’d done to get there, all the challenges I’ve overcome, the struggles I’ve faced, the anxieties I’ve left behind, and how wonderful it is that I was able to see that place, to experience it because I’ve done all those things.

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I started feeling immensely grateful, for my family, my friends, my body, running, and of course, for the love of my life, the hand I kept holding while I was experiencing this new place.

This journey was really the affirmation that wonderful things can happen when I let go of control, when I take risks, when I realize that even though I still have anxieties to work on I won’t let them dictate my path, I’ll just acknowledge them and move pass them.

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I write this hoping that you, the person who’s reading this (and the person who’s writing it), will defy your anxieties and won’t let them keep you from the journeys you want to experience and the places you want to go – this world is just too beautiful to be kept away from it.
- Daniela.

Traveling opens our eyes to possibilities.

Traveling opens our eyes to possibilities.

Sometimes, even a short trip can change your perspective.
Once I took a trip up a mountain just for a couple of hours, and that trip still impacts my perspective on challenges and life.
I was working on a farm on the island of Mallorca and two guys who had grown up on the island invited me to go wild goat catching with them. The plan was to catch a male goat and then put it with the female goats on the farm so that they could do goat things together. 
To catch a wild goat on Mallorca, you need some supplies: you need long sticks with hoops on the end to put over the goat’s head, you need lots of rope, a couple of big, slobbery, super-excited dogs (we had four with us), and you need boots with hard rubber soles. You need the boots because wind and rain erode the rock at the top of the mountains into ridges as sharp as knives. They literally cut right into your sole. So keep that in mind as the story continues: We’re 1000 meters above the valley below, we’re scrambling up cliffs and jumping across chasms, and we’re running on knives. 
So we got out of the truck with the four dogs and started hiking up the mountain as the sun began to set. It was July so the air was really warm, the ancient olive trees on the slopes below us rustled in the breeze blowing off the Mediterranean. And the dogs didn’t pay attention to any of that because they smelled goats and took off barking as they ran. And the two other guys took off after them. Everybody but me looked like they were flying around those cliffs as the goats scattered. 
This was pre-recovery for me, so I was just a bundle of fear and worry carefully moving very slowly up the cliffs towards the peak, trying to do my best to pretend like I was a mountain man, too, trying to ignore my brain telling me that the next step was going to be my last step before I fell and my skull burst like a melon.
Goats are smart. Definitely smarter than many people. But goats don’t know very much about people. Catching a goat is all about using the goat’s intelligence, not yours. It works like this: the dogs smell a goat, and then they chase it. You run frantically after the dogs (over the knives, across the chasms, etc). The goat will find a spot on a cliff that’s too high for the dog to reach. Once it finds that spot, it’ll just hangout there. It doesn’t have to run further because the dog can’t touch it. The goats know all about dogs. But, the goats don’t know that the humans have a long stick with a rope around the end. So once the dogs had cornered a goat, one of the guys was able to reach down from a ledge above the goat, loop its head, and then hoist it up to his ledge. 
Then we stayed at the peak to watch the sunset, and then we went back to the farm. That’s all there is to the story. But it sticks with me. And I think it’s because I remember how much I struggled to keep up with the other two guys and how easy it was for them to jump around those cliffs. What they were doing was possible. There was no difference between us other than they knew how to run around mountains and had practiced doing that, and I had never done it. And I could do it, too, if I also got rid of all the baggage I was carrying around in my head (it makes me top-heavy).
So every now and then, when I hear somebody complaining about all of the reasons they can’t do something, I just think: “You know, there’s a guy chasing goats across a cliff in Spain right now, and he doesn’t care about the excuses you’re crushing yourself with.”
- Mark

Sometimes, even a short trip can change your perspective.

Once I took a trip up a mountain just for a couple of hours, and that trip still impacts my perspective on challenges and life.

I was working on a farm on the island of Mallorca and two guys who had grown up on the island invited me to go wild goat catching with them. The plan was to catch a male goat and then put it with the female goats on the farm so that they could do goat things together. 

To catch a wild goat on Mallorca, you need some supplies: you need long sticks with hoops on the end to put over the goat’s head, you need lots of rope, a couple of big, slobbery, super-excited dogs (we had four with us), and you need boots with hard rubber soles. You need the boots because wind and rain erode the rock at the top of the mountains into ridges as sharp as knives. They literally cut right into your sole. So keep that in mind as the story continues: We’re 1000 meters above the valley below, we’re scrambling up cliffs and jumping across chasms, and we’re running on knives. 

So we got out of the truck with the four dogs and started hiking up the mountain as the sun began to set. It was July so the air was really warm, the ancient olive trees on the slopes below us rustled in the breeze blowing off the Mediterranean. And the dogs didn’t pay attention to any of that because they smelled goats and took off barking as they ran. And the two other guys took off after them. Everybody but me looked like they were flying around those cliffs as the goats scattered. 

This was pre-recovery for me, so I was just a bundle of fear and worry carefully moving very slowly up the cliffs towards the peak, trying to do my best to pretend like I was a mountain man, too, trying to ignore my brain telling me that the next step was going to be my last step before I fell and my skull burst like a melon.

Goats are smart. Definitely smarter than many people. But goats don’t know very much about people. Catching a goat is all about using the goat’s intelligence, not yours. It works like this: the dogs smell a goat, and then they chase it. You run frantically after the dogs (over the knives, across the chasms, etc). The goat will find a spot on a cliff that’s too high for the dog to reach. Once it finds that spot, it’ll just hangout there. It doesn’t have to run further because the dog can’t touch it. The goats know all about dogs. But, the goats don’t know that the humans have a long stick with a rope around the end. So once the dogs had cornered a goat, one of the guys was able to reach down from a ledge above the goat, loop its head, and then hoist it up to his ledge. 

Then we stayed at the peak to watch the sunset, and then we went back to the farm. That’s all there is to the story. But it sticks with me. And I think it’s because I remember how much I struggled to keep up with the other two guys and how easy it was for them to jump around those cliffs. What they were doing was possible. There was no difference between us other than they knew how to run around mountains and had practiced doing that, and I had never done it. And I could do it, too, if I also got rid of all the baggage I was carrying around in my head (it makes me top-heavy).

So every now and then, when I hear somebody complaining about all of the reasons they can’t do something, I just think: “You know, there’s a guy chasing goats across a cliff in Spain right now, and he doesn’t care about the excuses you’re crushing yourself with.”

- Mark

A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us.
Pema Chödrön (via purplebuddhaproject)

(via yoga9vipassana)

You must learn to sit with the restless, painful energy and not let the momentum pull you under and cause you to do the same thing over and over that’s ruining your life and the lives of those around you.
Don’t Bite the Hook, Pema Chödrön (via creatingaquietmind)

(via gonzobuddhist)

My experience with death is very limited, I’ve been fortunate to never have experienced the death of a loved one yet.

One of my grandpas died even before I was born, and the other one died when I was 5 years old, but I only remember seeing him once, and I didn’t feel any pain or sadness.

Death is, ironically, such a big part of our lives, and yet I feel very inexperienced about it. When my friends have had experiences with death, either family or friends passing away, I feel like I have no way to relate to their pain. Grief is one of the very few human emotions I have yet to discover.

But I fear that experience so much. 

As time goes by I feel that my fear of death keeps increasing, mainly because I honestly don’t know how I’ll be able to deal with it. It’s like I know it will inevitably happen, but I fear my reaction to it. I am not of afraid dying, but I’m afraid of someone I love dying.

My fear to death increases with time, and my anxiety around it gets really bad. Some days ago, José Emilio Pacheco, a Mexican poet and novelist who I admire died at age 74. His death triggered some anxiety in me because I started thinking about what I always think when I hear the word death: what would happen if someone I love died today?

It’s very easy for me to start thinking of all the people I love, and imagine they suddenly die, and how devastated I would be. My anxiety builds up so fast sometimes I even start crying, and then I feel guilty for thinking those things, as if I were indirectly “jinxing” or “cursing” my loved ones by thinking of their deaths.

Cristina Pacheco, José Emilio’s wife, and who is a well known journalist, said something in a recent interview that has given me some comfort. When she was asked to describe her feelings about her husband’s sudden death she said “You need to understand, I have to speak of him in past tense, and yet he’s so very present in my life”.

For some reason hearing those words gave me some hope, and I started thinking of the way that I, as a Mexican, have been brought up to feel about death.

For some foreigners, day of the dead feels like a very morbid, odd way to perceive death. But for us is a way to keep people present, not necessarily “alive”, just present - in the things we do, in the words we say, in the thoughts we have. To bring someone to the present, even if we can only speak of them in past tense. I think that’s beautiful.

It gives me hope that I can rely on my heritage and my traditions to know that whenever death comes and takes someone from me, I will always have their presence in my life. And even though my grief and pain will be enormous, I can still always hold onto that, and for now I will keep adding experiences to turn into memories that will fuel that eternal presence when the moment comes.

 - Daniela