What to do next when you’ve no idea what to do next.


Byron Handstand“Don’t collapse on yourself. I know that you’re strong enough so just keep your arms straight, lock your elbows, and don’t collapse on yourself.”

This is what I say when teaching handstand to beginners. So you can imagine my shock one day when those words came flooding back, and I realised that that’s exactly what I’d been doing for years. Collapsing on myself.

Not literally. Not in handstand, but in life.

When the going got tough, or rough, and I could sense a possible failure coming on, there’d be something in me that just wanted to collapse. To give it all up and walk away. I just didn’t want to play anymore.

All my favourite spiritual cliches would come leaping to my supposed rescue –  “There’s nothing to do anyway”; “I just want to beeee“; “All this marketing hoohah is just a trick of the ego – we’re all such suckers to get caught up in it” (and yes, maybe we are, but playing small and hiding from one’s purpose is a trick of the ego too!).

Underlying this collapse were of course my old friends doubt and fear. And I suspect that anyone who’s ever done or created anything of worth will know these two intimately.

And that’s the whole point. As my friend Brigitte Koch (and first Australian woman to climb Everest) wrote in a wonderful blog of hers recently beyondthesmile.net, they should really change that T-shirt from “No Fear” to “Know Fear”. Because no fear means hiding in the safe and predictable, avoiding the sometimes painful discomfort that’s an inevitable part of sharing your deepest Self with the world. Knowing fear, on the other hand, says, “I see you”, but I choose to proceed anyway.

It’s very freeing. At least that’s how I felt when I finally called a spade a spade and acknowledged that despite being a natural-born freebalance handstander since the age of about 8, I was still collapsing on myself all the time.

I saw it and named it, recognising a pattern that until then I’d been justifying, rationalising, and therefore falling victim to.

So what next?

What do you do when you’ve just fallen out of handstand for the 18th time in a row?

1) Try again?
2) Improve your tactics?

Having watched hundreds of students over the years violently and haphazardly throwing themselves against walls possessed with the notion of mastering handstand, I’m pretty sure that taking a pause to re-think your tactics is a much smarter (and self-loving) way to proceed. And here’s what that might look like in daily life:

#1   Ask for help. Find a mentor, friend, coach… someone who’s been where you want to go.

#2   Hang out with passionate, positive people (as confronting/nauseating as that can be when in the grip of a bout of collapse).

#3   Get really clear about what you want to do and why.

#4   Get out of your own bloody way! Imagine you’re talking a friend through this. Try not to take yourself so personally.

#5   Just start. Choose 1 thing and just do that. If you focus too much on everything you need to do it can be completely overwhelming , so instead re-focus onto just 1 thing and set about doing that. The rest can wait.

Because this is our Yoga really. To keep breaking the shackles of our conditioned beliefs. Learning to be OK with discomfort. Orchestrating lives of beauty and abundance, creativity and joy, daring to birth our dreams and aspirations even as we fear we might split in two.

We might use Warrior and Handstand and other ridiculous looking Arm Balances to get to know our edges. But it’s in everyday life that we put this insight to use – as mothers, and lovers, teachers, and small business owners.

Om Asato Maa Sat Gamaya    
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya    
Mrityor maa Amritam Gamaya

May we be led from ignorance to truth; from darkness to light; from survival-mode to the remembrance of the continuity of the Soul!

And, dare I add, for as long as we rock this mortal flesh may the Radiant Im-mortal Self be passionately expressed through our thoughts, words, actions, and vocation.

“Don’t be afraid. You’re only dreaming” from the song ‘When the night comes’ by Dan Auerbach (which, would you believe, my partner started playing just as I was finishing this blog).

Om Namo Narayani