Can Terror and Yoga Coexist?

How, as a yogi, did I handle a terror threat? I was in Sydney, Australia on holiday in September when the Australian government uncovered a terrorist ring planning to grab people off the street, behead them and tape it on video. Sydney was a target. We woke up in our hotel to the news that the police had arrested the mastermind behind the plot, as well as several accomplices. The U.S. was beginning its bombing of ISIS. This group in Sydney was taking orders from the head of the ISIS group. Nine thousand miles away in Syria, the leader of ISIS made a call on his cell phone and gave the order to execute the beheading. Fortunately it was foiled. However, a grey cloud of anxiety settled over the city. The next day I was scheduled to get on a plane and fly to Uluru (Ayers Rock) for a few days, then back to Sydney and then back to Los Angeles. I paused and caught my breath. That was a lot of flying and a lot of risk. We needed to take taxies and buses, as well as jet planes. All of those modes of transportation posed a risk to our safety. And I asked myself, had they fully foiled this dastardly plot? The Three Major Life Fears What is terror, but the initiation of fear? It creates both a sense of fear and anxiety. It can imprison the spirit, if you let it. Now with the latest attack in Paris – a city I am traveling to in four months – the realization of terror hits again. According to yoga, there are three major fears in life: the fear of rejection, the fear of not being loved and the fear of death. All anxiety and other forms of fear spring from one or all of these fears. My fear in Sydney was that of death. That is exactly what the terrorist hoped to accomplish. If we all begin to fear the threat of terror, we might all become paralyzed and surrender in a state of spiritual death. Death is not something any of us welcomes. We want to live, to be loved, and to be accepted. We want to experience the essence of life. I for one want to travel the world and to taste the spices of life, as well as, see the beauty and wonders of other cultures. I want to live and be free. That is what yoga calls "liberation." If you feel bound, you are bound and if you feel liberated, you are liberated. Liberation means freedom, and freedom requires a leap of faith. What you experience in the outside world cannot bind you, nor liberate you; only your attitude toward things has the power to imprison you or set you free. Take Control of Your Thoughts I examined my attitude and my thoughts. The world, I concluded, calls upon each of us to walk with a bit of caution but not with fear if we are to be truly free. Caution means I look twice before crossing in a crosswalk. That moment of pause could save my life. But I’m not afraid to cross the road. I won’t be making any trips to the Middle East. That would be putting me in harm’s way. This is not fear, but prudent processing. Why would I walk into harm’s way when there are so many other beautiful paths to take? If you can control your thoughts and direct them, you will never be bound by the outside world. If you control your mind, you control everything. Then, there is nothing in the world to bind you or to bring you fears. You will find liberation and liberation will set you free. I flew to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and had such a liberating spiritual experience. It is truly a magical place. I walked with the Aborigines and visited their sacred sites. I saw the heavens under the clear southern sky. Had I let fear paralyze me I would have missed a great opportunity to experience such a sacred place. Soon I will leave for Paris, the Loire Valley, and Normandy. I’ll see beauty, culture, and history. I won’t be crippled with fear, but I will move with caution. As yoga has taught me, that which does not bind you will set you free. If you let it, fear will imprison your soul. But if you practice yoga, no matter where you go, the balance, flexibility, strength, and peace of mind will set you free.

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