Satya, what is

(I first posted this in February 2013. Two months later I learned that Karin has lung cancer and soon will be gone. I will miss her deeply.)

It took me years to learn to do a handstand, and now, again, I’m too afraid to do it.

It took me years to learn to do a handstand, and now, again, I’m too afraid to do it.

Behind all the physical excuses, the true excuses hide.


Fear of looking silly in front of other people.

Fear of not being as good as other people.

Fear of the unknown.

Fear of trying and failing.

Fear of not having any more excuses.

Seven years after I took my first yoga teacher training classes, I told my teacher I was considering quitting my management job as a low-level editor at a newspaper with a good paycheck to become a full-time yoga teacher. Karin O’Bannon no longer lived in the area, not even in the country, and I had tried to discuss this with her two weeks earlier and had not found the courage. I knew she would give me an answer in the best interest of yoga students. I trusted her honesty, and feared it.

Given my last chance before she left again, I hesitantly brought up my, not dream, driving impulse. She gave me her direct gaze, referred to in a magazine article as the “eye of the tiger”, and said a bit witheringly, “I’m surprised it took you this long to figure it out.”

I told her I just hadn’t had the courage. She gave me another withering gaze and said she knew few who acted with such courage. I was shocked. How could I be considered courageous when I was afraid of everything? She delivered a message that I have encountered many times since. It was new to me then. Now it has a sort of “duh” quality. Being courageous isn’t being without fear, it’s acting in the face of fear.

When I quit my job, it meant walking away from all the “if onlys” of my life, walking away from the obstacles to santosa, contentment, accepting complete responsibility for my joy and my sorrow.

Defined as acting in the face of fear, I had to admit, I had courage.

So do we all, truth to be told.

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