“We’re all in this thing together, walkin’ the line between faith and fear.” -Old Crow Medicine Show
As you may know by now, I love music and am often inspired by lyrics that touch my heart. I was recently listening to the song “We’re all in this together,” by Old Crow Medicine Show, an Americana band based out of Nashville and this lyric got my attention. In my experience, I have found that there is a thin line between faith and fear; both cannot exist at the same time, yet I find myself continually fluctuating between the two. I have observed that anytime fear or worry crop in, it is because faith and trust are beginning to wane. The opposite holds true as well – when I am completely rested in faith and trust, then fear and worry just naturally dissipate. The antidote for fear, then, is faith. But, faith in what? Well, yoga has a name for this and it is called Isvara pranidhanam, which means surrendering to the universal consciousness, to Mother Nature, to the natural order of all things, to love and to life. When we surrender to the divine order of all things, not only does fear disappear, but we also begin to function from our higher-order qualities of love, trust, open-heartedness, gratitude, and contentment.
Isvara pranidhanam is a practice within itself. In fact, it is one of the niyama’s in the second-limb of Patanjali’s eight-limbed path outlined in the Yoga Sutras (asana is the third limb on this path). So, just like asana where we practice yoga postures on the mat, Isvara pranidhanam is also a practice that requires continual effort and discipline. It is a practice that I remind myself of daily – to let go and surrender to the present moment and to know that all is exactly as it is meant to be. Our personal and social conditionings breed fear, but fear is just that – a learned and conditioned pattern. Our natural state is actually one of love, faith, trust, and surrender. The proof lies in the eyes of any young infant. The infant’s innate consciousness is pure love and surrender. She does not question whether she will be taken care of or how her needs will be met. She is completely surrendered to the present moment. She brings joy into the world because her pure essence is joy. The concept of fear does not exist in her realm of awareness. We all had this experience as infants, and the practices of yoga help us to shed our layers of conditioned patterns so that we may see this light of joy that still resides deep within.
The practice of Isvara pranidhanam also becomes easier when we realize that there is an underlying thread that connects us all. We all have the same fears and worries as well as the same joys and desires. When we realize this connection, then we are able to support each other in a more open-hearted way. We move through our own life with greater love, trust, and confidence, and we are able to share this loving, positive energy with others. As the renowned yogi Ram Dass says, “We are all just walking each other home.” So, be love, my friends. Simply be love.