Lauren Duke – “That’s the only thing that matters.”
Anxiety is a very scary thing. During these attacks, I seize – which is obviously really scary because you think you’re going to die. You leave your body and feel like, “I’m not safe here.”
When I was little and getting my shots to go into kindergarten, the doctor said, “Are you ready?” I said, “No.” He didn’t listen to me. He held me down anyway and called several nurses in to help. With everyone holding me down, I was screaming bloody murder. I had so much fear. I felt I wasn’t safe. I just checked out of my body. That was the first seizure I ever had.
Now, anytime I have an experience where I don’t feel safe, it gives me anxiety. I’m absolutely on the opposite end of fearless. I am so full of fear. I’m not ashamed of it because so many people carry fear. I don’t think we should keep it a secret. I don’t think it should be surprising to anyone that people are struggling with stress, depression, panic, and anxiety. The more that we talk about it and we share it with other people the better because then they can be more open and forward about their own experience rather than isolate themselves.
I manage my anxiety with all the tools that I have been given through yoga, mantras and meditation. I practice yoga every day. I do the best I can to live it. I’ve had so many experiences with yoga that I feel it inside of me. I love the physicality of yoga, but yoga is a way of being. Your beingness, your “is-ness.” If you’re relating to things in the world, and you’re connecting with people, and you’re happy, and you feel free, you have soul currency. You feel loving. You are loving.
We weren’t built to be able to handle the way that we are living. I truly believe that. That’s why everyone needs yoga. The only time I feel 100% present, totally in my body and really safe is when I’m teaching or practicing yoga. That’s how I manage my life.
When I was younger I shared something really personal with my yoga teacher in Costa Rica. I had tears in my eyes. He said, “Well, that’s interesting.” That was his response. I didn’t get it until later on. By the end of the training I realized, it’s really about having a straight, flowing line of equanimity. “That’s interesting. That’s cool,” whether it be cool or not. You’re just enjoying everything that life throws at you.
I think that your purpose in life is always changing and evolving. Right now, mine is to be real and honest. To convey the message, “It’s okay.” The more we do that, the more we’re going to have honest, loving relationships with each other. My purpose is also to get people thinking about things and to stand up for what they believe in. What we really need is more people expressing themselves so that we can be in the right place, which is fulfilling the passion in our hearts.
When I have a baby, my purpose is likely going to shift. I watch so many women who have children and being a mother becomes their purpose. Simply raising a beautiful child. I am very impressed with women and their ability to give birth to a child because that seems like the craziest thing. I think having a baby is going to be my path to conquering fear. When Joe Kudla talked about the convention with the Dalai Lama, a woman asked, “I want to help. What can I do right now?” The Dalai Lama replied, “Love your children.”
I hear a lot of people saying these days “Why would I want to bring another child into this world, this over packed, over calculated, dying world?” I’m like, “Because you want to change the world. You do that by raising a beautiful child.”
I think there are a lot of people who have been conditioned by society’s robotic way of life, and are going through the motions of their everyday lives. Not necessarily enjoying it, just doing what they think they’re supposed to be doing.
We’ve all been given the gift of embodiment – voice, brain, and spirit. In turn, my gift to this world is passion, spirit, charisma, and vitality. I want to share my life and the liveliness of my passions. I think people are really drawn to that because they lack it. They may not realize it in the moment. Not until they come to yoga and have a meltdown on the mat.
We need to be able to enjoy our lives. At the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters.
2nd part of the interview series with Lauren Duke in Encinitas, CA.
Interviewed by Hung Tran