The Thing About Fear
Alaskans have a phrase for traveling to the lower 48... it's called “going to the outside.” And I never truly understood that phase quite like I did last week!
After spending the better part of the last few weeks off-the-grid in the Brooks Range prepping for our Far North Northern Lights + Yoga retreat, even returning to mainstream Alaska felt like stepping out of a dream into a harsh reality... it’s a world filled with ongoing news stories, scary updates, and a bit (ok, a mega dose) of mass hysteria.
All I could think was: Where the heck is all the toilet paper?!
In all seriousness, with everything going on from election sagas, to virus watch, to the economy, to toilet paper's disappearing act, I find it hard to pull away from the news sites and my daily news podcast. I find it hard to not worry about the future of... everything.
How do we stay up-to-date in the world without constantly diving into fear?
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: It all comes down to the unknown, and our relationship with it. And our ability to ask ourselves realistically: What can I do right now?
In fact, this concept is so important that it's the basis of the FIRST yoga sutra — Yoga is now. This is the most important sutra, as they are to be practiced sequentially for maximum benefit!
So we avoid asking What does my future hold? Or How should I have done the past differently?
A yogi will ask: What is this moment asking of me right now?
Before heading up to Arctic Hive last week (which is our home and igloo above the Arctic Circle... the northernmost yoga studio in America!), Sean and I poured over weather forecasts and tried to prepare ourselves as best we could.
Needless to say, there were a lot of unknowns.
Our objective was to ready the property for this April’s retreat by breaking in spring access trails, hauling food and provisions, moving solar panels, shoveling massive amounts of snow from roofs and decks, and packing a dogsledding trail. From afar, we wondered what -30 daytime temps would feel like as we spent our entire days and parts of the evening outside doing physical work, trying not to sweat to avoid hypothermia. We wondered how much firewood we would go through, how long snow-boiling shifts would take to make ample water for our dogs, how to keep our snowmachine and truck oil warm to prevent freezing. We wondered if we had the right layers/boots/socks/gloves/hand warmers... you name it.
We wondered, we researched, and we prepped as best we could. That’s all we could do. That's what the moment was asking of us. And we knew if it weren't so logistically complicated, then surely the village of Wiseman would look quite different. Instead of the 12 souls that live there, year round, off the land (mostly all from the same family) would be more like 1200. Or 12,000.
Having prepared our hearts out, we drove north, 7 hours from Fairbanks into the heart of Alaska’s mighty arctic Brooks Range—the Himalayas of the Arctic. And despite the unknowns of winter, all we could do was walk through the fear of unknown.
A wise yogi named Scott taught me this idea of “walking through fear." I’ll never forget as he described his experience in the armed forces overseas, and how when it comes to fear, you have to face it, walk through it, and let go of the desire to turn around to get one last look at it. A difficult lesson learned for him, I’m sure... and one I didn’t take for granted, and use daily.
The more we step outside our comfort zone into a space of challenge (walking through our fear), the more we find ease in the unknown. The more we sign up for classes that make us a bit squeamish... the more we take trips to wild off grid places... the more we try that yoga pose that pushes our limit... each new experience adds up and prepares us to flex our “uncomfortable” muscles at the drop of a hat.
So days upon days and nights upon nights of working outside in temps that ranged from -25 to -47 degrees for hours in a remote and isolated wilderness? Yeah. It was mind-numbing cold.
Was it amazing to push through the intense moments and work side by side with my partner in one of the most incredible places in the world?
Yep. Totally worth it. Mission accomplished.
So whatever fear you’re facing at the moment — whether it’s a manageable stressor or it’s a big, hairy, esoteric fear of the unknown for our planet (or somewhere in between), take a step back and assure yourself: The future does not exist.
Say it again, put it on a post-it in shouty capitals, whatever you have to do: THE FUTURE DOES NOT EXIST.
Then ask yourself: What is the moment asking of me, right now?
From there, don’t wait. Prepare, and walk through it, resisting the urge to look in the review mirror.
You’ve got this!
And, maybe now you feel a pull to spend 5 magical days with us in April and disconnect from the rest of society when daytime temps are likely much more comfortable than -25 degrees... You’ll spend 5 days in and around the comfort of our warm igloo studio and staying in hand-harvested Alaskan log cabins, nourishing yourself and taking time to just... be. And thanks to all the chaos in the world, flights are pretty dang cheap to our launching point in Fairbanks... click here for all the details!
As for Yoga Hive Montana? In this moment, the world is asking everyone to keep clean — which, when you consider all the implications—isn’t a bad idea! We have already increased cleaning overall, and will continue to regularly deep clean the studios and props.
Here are a few things we’d love your help with!
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Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Mollie is a cheesehead transplant to Northwest Montana, with degrees in Retail and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, she lives off the grid, half the year in a Tiny House & half the year in a yurt — both of which she and her husband, Sean, built by hand. Nonprofit Executive Director by day, Mollie also owns and teaches at Yoga Hive — a chain of community yoga studios in the valley.