To fall and to fly
Like Fallen Angel pose on the photo above expresses – in life we experience ups and downs, light and darkness, flights and falls.
It’s a beautiful asana that symbolizes the fall of a being that’s usually able to fly. I really love practicing this pose because it challenges balance, core strength and turns my world upside down for a moment. Some parts of the body are touching the ground, but most parts are ‘flying’.
It’s a fact that sometimes in life we crash hard on the ground, sometimes we sink more gently to the floor, sometimes we hover around getting nowhere and sometimes we fly so high that we think that nothing can ever touch us.
Once we accept these experiences as a part of our being, and that nothing is ever good or wrong no matter how bad it might make us feel, we begin to understand the bigger picture. Once we start to understand that we don’t need to judge the things we do or the things that happen to us, we simply can experience life as it is, learn from our mistakes and evolve. Sometimes we even need to take risks to go on, we’re being forced to jump into a scary pitchblack nothing, totally in agony of the unknown, just to find out that our biggest demons waiting for us in that darkness were our own fears, and we had expected them to be bigger than they actually were.
During my Yoga teacher-training last weekend I talked to a classmate and she told me something beautiful that made me think during the last few days. She said that every time when her mind is trapped in a dark place, she imagines a deep pool of dark water in which she’s sinking to the ground. She doesn’t struggle to get up as there’s no use when you don’t have the power against the downstream. Instead she lets herself sink slowly to the ground and allows the darkness to swallow her completely. And then, when her feet finally touch the ground, she pushes firmly against it to dash up to the surface again. Because that push against the ground is more effective than floating below the surface and never reaching it.
Life and the flow
‘Let go and let god’ – a saying I like a lot – describes how to go with the flow. The universe will make things happen exactly as you need them to, you just need to have a little faith in the happenings. This doesn’t mean that you just need to sit there and do nothing but wait for something to happen, but you let your heart (instead of your mind) guide the way. And you don’t want to force or expect things, you simply let them happen and unfold naturally.
If you want something too much you’re always at risk of holding on to some sort of resistance that keeps you from achieving your goal. Release the resistance and don’t put too much effort into your actions to make things happen or not happen. What wants to come to you, will come to you when the time is right. Just let it flow, and when life gives you an opportunity to take a risk, then do it!
I can tell from a personal experience that taking a risk sometimes is the best thing you can ever do. It might be scary and even be something that makes others think that you’ve lost your mind. Your logical mind might scream ‘Oh god, this is so stupid’, but your heart yells ‘Whatever, just do it!’ and then you can get into a hard conflict with yourself. But I’ve always been a supporter of following my heart, so I’d always choose my intuition over my logical mind.
I took a spontaneous risk a few years ago, back in 2009. I went abroad to Stockholm impromptu, having not much more than my bag and my camera with me and had booked a hotel room for one night. I had no idea what I wanted up there in Sweden, or how long I would stay, and I even left a job here in Germany and decided to simply let life unfold from now on. I had been saving money over the years beforehand for an occasion like this, but I was surprised myself when my journey took me to Sweden, literally over night.
Reality and trouble already hit me on my second day when I realized that I wouldn’t have any place to stay the following nights. All hotels seemed to be overbooked, so I had to take the last rundown room for the night and share it with 15 other strangers which I wasn’t very happy about. But this was where I met a girl being in a very similar situation, looking for an apartment, just like me. She was German, and when I entered the room she was talking on the phone to a guy who wanted to rent out a room. He wanted to meet her and give her the keys in a few days because he was still abroad.
She hung up and we started to talk to each other about our similar situation and she said that the guy on the phone had offered her some free tickets for a 3-day ferry trip to Finland starting the next day which he couldn’t attend to because he wouldn’t make it back in time. She wanted to go and asked me to come with her. She was German, too, and I instantly said yes before I even knew her name. The funny thing was that a friend of the guy on the phone would share the room on the boat with us, because he originally planned to go with him. So we ended up meeting this stranger (who also was a German) at the harbour the next day and he seemed really nice and OK to spend a whole trip across the Baltic Sea with. At least I had a place to sleep for two nights. We had a really good time and became friends. I wasn’t alone on my adventure and I obviously attracted people and situations that I needed. We talked and laughed a lot and got entertained with Finnish karaoke.
After the funny, short trip to Helsinki we arrived in Stockholm again and one thing led to another and we helped each other out until I found a little room in a small house to stay in where 9 other people lived with me. It was a babypink wooden house with a pink cherry blossom tree standing in front of it, exploding in flowers. Very comfortable and cute. I finally had plenty of time to be creative (to paint, create, live, explore the city and the nature around it). I still didn’t even know what I wanted up there in Sweden with all these strangers in this cute house – maybe I wanted to make new friends, maybe to clear my mind and maybe to find myself.
Well, all of that happened. I had time to ponder about relationships, about the people in my life, real friends and energy sucking behaviours. Back then I didn’t practice Yoga yet, but I learned so much about a lifestyle that might be called ‘yogic’. I lived absolutely in the now and got a taste of what it means to be completely present. To take life as it came, and to welcome whatever it had to offer me was thrilling.
To live in the now is a wonderful experience that opens doors you can’t even imagine.
Long story short: the months I spent in Sweden and this crazy trip on the boat to Finland with two strangers made some of the best memories I have.
After my time in Sweden ended I wasn’t sad about the fact. Instead I was grateful that I was brave enough to take the risk to do something really ‘stupid’ and I still live off that experience today. The time ending was bittersweet and made my return to everyday life in Germany easy, because my whole worldview shifted and I gained a somehow lighter perspective on everything.
It’s adventures like these that still blow my mind today – uncontrollable and unforseeable journeys, and definitely worth going on. I had the chance to simply let life take me wherever it wanted to take me, day by day, and I learned something for life: that taking risks is a good thing. Because stepping into the dark can lead to greater light. To fall and learn to fly, to fly and to fall are experiences that noone can tell you about – you have to live them.
Why taking risks is a good thing
- makes you uncover unforeseen opportunities
- makes you more self confident
- makes you break through self-imposed limits
- makes you explore yourself and know about your deepest feelings and thoughts
- makes you more independent
- makes you happy
- makes you live in the now
- makes you learn to trust the unknown
- makes you explore new skills
- creates change
- makes you feel alive
- makes you creative and spontaneous
- creates clarity about what you want and don’t want
- makes new friends and creates experiences with people
- even if the choice to take a risk turned out to be ‘wrong’ – you tried it and you’re wiser with lots of experience afterwards