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Even when Fear is Breathing Down your Back

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

woman up steps flanked by bamboo forest

The universe will test your word again and again. It will ask you to step forward but it will not make you. It ultimately must come from you.

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”. — Herodotus

I smiled when I first read those words engraved into an elaborate columned building from the vantage point of a big red tour bus slowly meandering around New York City during mid 2018. At first, I was struck by how ugly nearby Penn Station is (sorry if you like Penn Station), then by how this other building, the building with the words, is a post office. I questioned if the words are therefore just referring to the act of delivering mail efficiently. They almost seemed too deep to have just that meaning. It felt like the weight the words carried was too heavy, too saturated in meaning, too…poetic to only be held to the delivery of your next package from Amazon.

The words, to me at least, are about dedication; commitment to cause. The yogis call this universal concept tapas. It’s that focus on the pathway forward to where you want to go, no matter how relenting, knowing that it is your soul chosen pathway.

All the paths are like that. There’s snow and heat and gloom. There are moments of exhilaration and there’s absence of desire. You can feel so alive and then within the next breath doubt your worthiness, your ability, or your faith that it will work out okay. This is the shit, this quietly insistent fear-voice, which keeps us shackled to our desk computers, filling our cups with caffeine to get through it, and being grotesquely comfortable about it all. If we let it, it stifles our mission before we’ve even started.

Tapas is scary because it means we must become accountable. To ourselves and to our sticking ability. It means accountability to what we want in this life; to the mark we can make. At the very least, accountable to the knowing that we’re trying.

There’s a beautiful hope there though… in those words. Like maybe we can actually do it. We just have to keep moving by little steps each time, and when the gloom of night or the icy cold is upon us, our inner brightness lights the way ever onward.

Our appointed rounds. Who from? Our parents, our own minds, our god? Where are you making your choices from? Are the goals you’re pursuing your desires or have you adopted those of another without even knowing it? Yoga has been so very gracious to me. Yoga has also chucked my head face first into my own shit and asked me to question all of my whys over and over again. When you spend the time and energy reflecting inward through a practice like this what you do want becomes clear, making what you don’t want ever more painful to endure. That’s where tapas comes in. The ability to work continuously towards your rounds, the ones that you choose, even with the fear tracking swiftly along behind you.

There’s that little feeling inside you insisting upon your heart and it is gently asking you to step forward. The universe will test your word again and again. It will ask you to step forward but it will not make you. It ultimately must come from you.

May you not be stayed on the journey towards the completion of your earth-shattering, heart-shining, character-defining rounds brave warrior.

Namaste for now,


IG: @andreas.embodiment



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