Jewish Journal

Fear itself

by Michelle Azar

December 11, 2013 | 2:54 pm

I had never thought of myself as fearful person. Like, I’m not afraid of heights or snakes, I am comfortable in front of groups, and will walk through the streets of NYC at any hour of day or night. Not smart maybe, but not afraid either.

As I get older, however,  I see that fear has many disguises. The days go in and out and sometimes it seems to have passed by so fast I wonder if I even noticed any of it. This I think is actually fear . A broad, sweeping, general fear of the future. What will happen today, tomorrow; will it all be right and prepared for;  and if it all  looks different from I thought it “should”, how will that look and feel?

And how will my kids ever go to college??

These types of fears, I notice, live in the vicinity of worry… What is the difference then between fear and worry? When does one become the other, and how do we possibly differentiate? Since they seem to be at least cousins, they are bound to derail each other, as any other ill functioning family system will.

As I practiced today with the powerful Andrea Marcum of U STUDIO , she offered the Sanskrit word for meditation, Dhyana, as the observance of  your mind. I liked that, and promised myself NOT  to look it up later when I got home. Just to live with the definition she gave because it felt good and I needed it, and not to complicate it with other word choices.

But I am a sucker for vocab. In looking up the word in my handy Sanskrit dictionary, I was surprised to find the word  Appreciate as a synonym as well.  Loved that. If the syllogism allows then…When we learn to appreciate the worry as something of curiosity, appreciate the fear with awareness, maybe we can find it RE-habilitiating rather than DE-bilitating. Furthermore, the word appreciate immediately tips my compassion meter, and we all know that more compassion leads to less judgment. Another nice antidote to fear.

Well certainly heady enough stuff to slow you down, if nothing else. And slow down we tend to do around this time of year. As we feel a shift during these winter months, our schedule will alter slightly, and we will cancel our evening class next week.

Please be in touch with me though if you would like information on the 3 day early morning Ashtanga Prep I will be offering over our holiday break.

And please remember to appreciate  it all: your questions, your fears and concerns, they are all meant to help us pause and redefine our happiness.


In peace and reflection,


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Michelle fell in love with the practice of Ashtanga Yoga, the system of Hatha Yoga taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, some 13 years ago while doing a play in San Francisco. Having...

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