"Mom I fell of the horse!" the kids inform me with glee. "Hop back on!" I retort. They smile imagining the prized ice cream they will receive in consolation. It is my golden rule: if you fall off the horse and get back on, you earn your ice cream and you buy for the rest. A celebration of sorts!
This is my way of distracting them from the drama of the fall. Limiting the drama may be an effective way of eliminating the fear. Amateur horse riders fear the fall. I share that same fear but I also reign it to my enjoyment. When I gallop, I do it with defiance. I press the horse into a speed that gives me a rush of adrenaline. The fear gets stuck in my throat and I do wonder if I will be thrown off. I asked my instructor of the possibility of the fall and he claimed that chances became smaller to fall if I were at high speed.
That said, he demands full control of the horse. We practice a full and sudden halt to interrupt an uncontrollable speed. I am supposed to stop at the drop of a pin, in case an obstacle came my way. Stopping is like putting your foot on the break of a car at high speed. I cannot afford to slow down into a trot. I have to move from a canter into a sudden halt.
Fear is in the mind. When I started yoga, I categorically skipped the backbends. I couldn't do them as a child attempting back dives, nor did I try as an adult with the excuse of inner-ear and dizziness. But it was the fear that made me nauseous. Yet overcoming my fear happened in one session. Sufficed my instructor telling me: "trust me, you can do this", that I put my mind and gaze into it. I performed my back bend for camel. Today I never skip that position in bikram class.
When my brother suggested I dive into the Dubai Mall Aquarium with 27 sharks, I was afraid! The spectre of sharks has haunted every one of my beach trips. I refused to learn how to dive under the pretext of my fear made cliché: sharks! My brother soft spoke me into diving. Moreover, I took the shark tank dive as a challenge and didn't sleep well days preceding the event. I felt like "dead woman walking" when I walked to my rendez vous with the aquatic man-eaters.
Conquering my fears required mental stimulation and inner coaching. I had to summon my confidence and courage and convince myself with probabilities and theories of "controlled environment". Yes the sharks were fed! I even distracted myself with the technicalities of the dive, in the same way my kids think ice cream when they are in the saddle. I thought its just a pool with loads of fish, dive in!
Conquering my fears, be it in order to limit those of my children (I once walked bravely into a bat-narium humming but terrified deep down by the idea of bats in my hair - yikes!) or to convince myself of my inner-strength. If I am brave enough to swim with 27 sharks, I can defy anything!
The shark swim I only did once, but riding I do frequently, and essentially for that love of speed and to conquer my fears. Its an invigorating and strengthening experience.