Approaching Your Fear With Love and Openness

From a very young age, we are told to be brave and in some cases, we are even told to hold our emotions in and show strength in font of our peers. (Like when a family member passes away or three is a loss in the family)
Of course, like most things in life, this is sound advise when we realize that there is a flip side to the coin. When we are able to approach both sides of life, and embrace them both equally.
The problem comes, when we are so focused on only one side of the coin. When we are so completely focused staying strong and being brave that we end up drowning all our emotions out and putting up a front that exudes false courage. (This is what sometimes makes it impossible for people to cry, even when they should be able to; when they are grieving) [This is also what creates further stress in our bodies, allowing all kinds of sicknesses to prevail]
And the reason I am writing this today, is the fact that I am constantly amazed by the things I can learn on my yoga mat. And this morning, one of those things was that fear is ok when approached with love and openness. I came face to face with the fact that it is ok to face and embrace our fears, and be vulnerable, and just be totally and completely open and courageous to face those fears and allow our selves to grow from this place. [I like to use the analogy of a lotus flower, growing out of the mud and turning into a beautiful, resplendent flower a lot; and that is exactly what comes to mind here. This is why we sit with our selves every day, this is the reason we open our hearts and beings to both the light and shadow parts of our lives; so we can blossom into that beautiful flower]
And accepting this place of vulnerability and openness, allows us to see our selves as we truly are. Not a reflection of what some one else may think of us, or even a muddled reflection of who we maybe thought we might be; but a true reflection of our purest self, our purest essence, beautiful just as it is.
And in order to embrace our selves in this manner -fears and emotions and imperfections and all- we have to be able to approach our selves with love and a lack of resistance, or a lack of aggressive fight. And this, may seem a little confusing, because when we think of facing our fears (well, at least in my mind) we immediately think of our selves wielding a huge arsenal of weapons, and stepping into the darkness to destroy, or "slay" that dragon called fear. But the truth is, there is a stronger power still, in approaching that "dragon" with abhaya mudra (Abhaya in Sanskrit means fearlessness, and the abhaya mudra symbolizes protection, peace, and the dispelling of fear.) A mudra which is not aggressive, it isn't a fighting stance or a representation of a bow ready to open fire on some invisible force; on the contrary, it is a protective gesture of the purest nature. It is a gesture that indicates peace; a gesture that actually looks (to us in the West) more like a "stop" gesture. But see, we can not have the peace and strength we need to approach our fears with this "gesture" or feeling if we do not believe in who we are, if we do not accept that we are always going to have to sit with both, the shadow and the light; if we forget that forcing a fear to go away, may instead drain us of the energy needed to tell the fear to simply stop existing. {And although this is dorky, I have to say this makes me think of Gandalf the Grey, stepping in front of the creature of shadow and fire and simply telling him "You shall not pass" he was effecting this mudra in a way, by simply stopping that fear right where it was. He wasn't trying to slay him in that moment, he was simply telling him to stop}
Ahem... but I digress...
So, you see, in order to face your fears, and stop them, you need to be open to who you are (this part actually may be cause for fear all on its own actually) you have to be loving and ready to embrace every part of your being, both light and dark. And you have to be open to the fact that you are simply opening up, and this may mean that your emotions will show (nullifying that idea to constantly "be strong" or "put on a strong facade") and you have to know that all of that is perfectly alright.
You have to know that you will be able to break out of the mud and flourish, but you have to be willing to face your fears (and your self) first.
Because it is the courage to face your self and your fears on this level, that truly allow you to blossom, to conquer that "dragon" to become victorious and ultimately to be simply extraordinary.
So next time you are afraid, or want to keep all of your emotions locked away so no one knows what is going on inside you, remember; open up to who you are, and embrace it all; use your abhaya mudra, and stop so that you can continue to blossom out of the mud. :)

Loka Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu