The Path To Bodhichitta

You start where you are, the practice will meet you there.

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Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fear Rising

There's something about facing the soles of my feet to the ceiling that scares me half to death. PDN, unfortunately, is fond of inversions and includes at least one in his Monday evening class.

Usually it's the Headstand, which I can still stomach, since I've learnt to gently lower myself down the minute I feel the panic rising in my throat.

Then, the inevitable happened. PDN decided we were all too comfortable on our heads and should now learn to stand on our own two hands.

My mind immediately bellowed, "No way!" And it refused to budge, despite my body's feeble protests that maybe - just maybe - it could do it this time. Yes, yes I'm a teacher, but I'm also like a wildlife enthusiast. Both awed and terrified by the beauty of the beast in front of me. I reminded myself to keep my mouth closed as PDN gracefully lifted himself up into the Handstand. Once he was safely back on his feet, he cheerfully instructed us to buddy up and practice kicking ourselves upside down.

Now, PDN is an excellent teacher, who makes sure his students know exactly how to provide support to each other before he introduced the buddy system. Plus, this is an advanced class and the students have gritted their teeth alongside each other for years. Everyone trusted each other to keep them from plunging to their death. Yet, this still wasn't good enough for my mind. It absolutely refused to allow my body to be supported by my hands. And so, it instructed me to waltz around the class helping others into a Handstand instead of being in one myself.

That ruse worked for the next few classes. Sure, I felt guilty about skipping around the issue but I REALLY DID NOT WANT TO BE UPSIDE DOWN. Then, last Monday, Judgement Day finally arrived. The entire class was based on inversions. From Headstand to Handstand to Tripod to Scorpion. I may as well have hung myself upside down for those 90 minutes.

I tried pottering around the class again, but this time, my buddy was quite insistent that I put my feet in the air. And so with heart that was heavier than than my entire body weight, I agreed. The minute I swung my trembling legs upwards, I heard a terrifed (but thankfully, soft) squeak escape my lips. I remained upside down for all of 5 seconds before feeling like my body was disintergrating above me.

Use the wall, PDN constantly chides us when we collapse in a clumpsy mess on the floor. Doesn't work for me. All I do when faced with the wall is stand in paralysed fear for about half a day, coax myself to do a baby kick, whack my head against the wall and crumple onto the floor feeling as shaken as if I had just rollerbladed all the way down Mount Everest.

I wish this story had a happy ending, but it doesn't. Not for now, at least. But I will persevere. I have no choice anyway. PDN has offered to personally hoist me upside down in tomorrow's class.

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