Thursday, June 29, 2006

The sickly green dragon of fear snatches me in it's jaws

During class, we were asked to do a HANDstand.

I felt the terror threaten within.. boiling inside the bottom of my bowels... but I fought it. I calmed myself with thoughts of "I have gone upside down many times now.. where's the fear? No need to fear. Nothing bad happens. I can do a Handstand! What's the difference between that, and a headstand? I just have to try. It won't hurt to try. I can do this.. sure I can."

I took the fear within me, mentally rolled it into a ball, and SHOVED it as far down into me as possible. I tried to replace it with confidence in all of the weeks of practicing at home to do headstands.

I placed my hands on the ground, kicked up my feet, and achieved a handstand with the help of a partner holding my feet. I held it too. I don't know how long, not very long, but I was there for a short while. Sure.. I felt the fear threatening to rise up, but I said to myself "I'm HERE now! What's being afraid going to do? What is the fear going to protect me from.. it's too late. Just accept that I'm doing this now."

However, when I was ready to come down from the handstand. Things went badly. I felt my weight shift quickly. I felt the distance of my fall, the terror overtook everything. I screamed, and landed in a curled up heap of shaking. I instantly took in deep breaths trying to calm myself. I stood up quickly, and fought the tears that threatened to fall from my eyes. I tried to grab the fear, and shove it back down within me.. but it was stronger than my will power. I knew that I should have been rejoicing in the fact that I managed to do a handstand, but instead I was standing there mentally sparring with the intangible dragon of fear, and it had me in it's jaws. I figured that I HAD to focus on something else, get my mind off of the fear. It was something in my mind that was causing the fear, I didn't know what was triggering it, but I knew that I had to switch the focus somehow. My main problem was finding a distraction, of being able to click my mind into another place again... the fear bubbled, boiled, and tormented me inside. It wasn't gong to let go, neither was it going to quiet down.

I stood there praying that Sensei will not ask for another inversion. I felt so weak within, so unable to defend myself against my own mind.

Class continued from there without anymore inversions.

The next day, I was attempting to practice my headstand at home ( like usual). Just a headstand, I've been doing so many of these, it should be easy. I went into position, and tried to kick my feet up over my head. The panic hit! The same as if I had not spent the past 2 months working on my fear. The panic was so strong that I couldn't kick my feet up anymore.. I could barely get them off of the floor. I knelt there in front of the wall feeling so much disappointment.

My thoughts were rather angry actually, they more like "WHAT! No way! I'm back to the beginning with this, just because of one handstand! (*Insert your choice of swear words here*)"

I remembered how my Sensei had told me about "anchors" and how athletes will bring themselves to a positive frame of mind, and then anchor it with a physical movement. I really didn't know how to do this. I knelt there thinking.. "What "anchors" me?" Then I remembered that song "The voice of truth" that I enjoy so much, and how I always feel strength when I listen to it. So I started singing it to myself. Yep. I knelt there facing the wall in ready position to do a headstand, and I was singing into my knees. I'm so glad that there was no one present to witness this.. ha ha ha.. When I reached the words "Out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth." I felt a calmness go across my mind like a smoothing hand.

I kicked up, and smoothly went into a headstand. I held it for a good 2 minutes, and then just as calmly I descended. No fear, no panic.. none. It worked.. O.K... good.. but I can't stand there singing a song to myself whenever I'm afraid in karate class. Can I ?


[Mat] said...

Why the hell not?

Oniyagi said...

Why not? I find myself singing to myself quite a lot (though usually I sing Irish drinking songs or an Irish lullaby). Either way, I have confidence in you! I used to be so afraid of heights that it wasnt even funny... but in the military, you are not allowed that fear, since there is a repelling tower and a ropes course that you HAVE to do (which might I add is located 60feet above the ground). After i was forced to conquer that monster, I was ready for air assault training! In fact, I craved air assault training (repelling out of a helicopter...mainly). Just remember: YOU CAN DO IT!!! OSU!!!

lizzie said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. At least you can do a handstand. I have never done one before.

supergroup7 said...

Why not?

Doesn't it sound a little wierd to have one of your sempai start singing to herself in class before, and while, she does her handstands?

Oh gosh, Oniyagi, I couldn't picture myself having a fear of heights, and being so high off of the ground. You got to the point of not being afraid, and actually looking forwards to air assault training? So you think that it is possible that not only will I be able to invert, but I will do it happilly?

You're welcome Lizzie. I can do a handstand.. yes.. but as you can see, I'm not doing them easilly, or gracefully..... YET. It's taken me over 6 months of constant effort to get to this point.

Ruth said...

You are inspiring me to try to conquer something that would scare me rigid - just to see if I can: bungee jumping. I'd hate it but I'd love to know whether I could actually do it. If you can work at mastering your handstand, then why don't I try pushing some boundaries and face a fear and, you never know, conquer it. It's great stuff, all this.

On a slightly different note, I have (as you know) been struggling to motivate myself back into karate after a long maternity break. Interestingly, I think I've found an answer. I've joined a yoga group - I shall be a total beginner. For some reason, adding this to my regime has really motivated me to stick at karate (where I'm kind of rusty but not a beginner). Oh, I don't know why that should be or whether what I've said makes any sense at all.

It's lovely to come to your blog and "chat" to other karate-ka who are all so keen to encourage each other along the path.

Thanks again


[Mat] said...

We have a guy, when he did something he didn't get, he sung very lightly.

Now that he gets it, he doesn't. Of course it's weird at first but who cares?

I whistle. very lightly, but I whistle. LOL While training for throws, locks or whatnot that I don't know, I sometimes whistle a bit. like : nothing... weeeeeeet! nothing.

The guys know I'm having trouble and Sensei does too. But they know I'm working on it too.

lololol Being a karate practicionner doesn't mean not being human anymore. Don't put too much pressure on yourself.

Oniyagi said...

Yes... it is, as my drill instructors said, an issue of mind over matter. if you don't mind, it dont matter! I believe in you!

supergroup7 said...

Yoga sounds GREAT, Ruth! I've been told that it will enhance one's physical flexibility, and help balance in addition to many other health benefits.
Good for you!

Yes, I agree, we have found some WONDERFUL internet friends through these blogs. I really enjoy our chats together also.

"Don't put too much pressure on yourself. "

Thanks Mat. I'll allow myself to sing the next time I have to invert, and I'll post how well it helped me in class. Ha ha ha.. In a way, it's ironic that I'm even afraid to use my "anchor" for fear of other's opinions, and/or ridicule. What a great big yellow bellied chicken I can be due to my pride!!

"Just remember: YOU CAN DO IT!!! OSU!!!..... I believe in you! "

You know what, Oniyagi. Those words mean the world to someone in the position of instability. Thank you for putting your faith in me. I will not stop struggling, and I will be victorious. We may have to be patient as I continue to perservere.