Many of us live our lives constrained by worries and fears that we may not even know exist. I am as guilty as the next person. Let’s face it—the unknown can be intimidating and scary!
But imagine if we were able to fling all of our fears, insecurities and inhibitions out of our windows? How different would our lives look then?
And what’s the worst that could happen if we decided to take a chance that didn’t turn out as we planned? Would our emotions end up getting bruised? Would we scrape our knee or bang an elbow? Could we end up being wrong about something? Might other people be critical and wonder what the heck we were up to? I think the chances are good that some of these things would happen once in a while.
But, what if we venture out and find something to be a wonderful experience and are able to find a new passion that we might have lived our whole life through without ever knowing was there?
I have been thinking about this a lot recently and have wanted to share my thoughts on this subject. It’s difficult to break these ideas apart into categories, as one category of risk-taking surely bleeds into the others. But that being said, here is my contemplative guide on taking risks:
- Take physical risks.
Yes, our bodies are our temples, but they are living breathing temples—not buildings that sit still.
If a beautiful temple was never used or even known about, what good would it be to just exist? No one to see it, enjoy it, or know of it. That would seem quite a pity in my book. Instead, let your heart help guide you in where you choose to take your temple and what you choose to do with it. After all, your heart is a big part of what keeps your temple alive. Try new foods, travel, take up a sport that you have always wanted to try. You may dislike a new taste, become homesick or get lost, or fumble on the field, but hey, this won’t happen every time. It’s okay.
But what if instead of only dwelling on getting lost, for instance, we could also feel a little bit (or a lot) of pride for venturing out of our comfort zone and trying something new and possibly finding a bit of ourselves that we didn’t know existed?
Ask someone who loves yoga what would have happened if they had never tried it and what they feel they would have missed out on had they never practiced and you will have a clue to the answer you seek. The same goes for surfing or any other enjoyable experience.
- Take emotional risks.
Do what you love to do, and make it a habit, even if others question you. After a while they will probably see how happy you are and want to join in—really! Living passionately is very contagious. And when they want to join in, open your arms to them and embrace their enthusiasm and it will heighten your own. Love freely and with a willing heart, because if you hold back you will never know where all that passion could have lead you to. Some chances only come along once, but at the same time over-analyzing these matters is not good for us either.
Try not to dwell on things.
They will happen when they are supposed to. I once heard someone speaking of goals and saying that we need to let our passions drop from our ruminating minds about 12 inches down to our much more trustworthy hearts. I believe this idea to be advice that is as pure, sweet, and as complexly crafted as fresh clover honey.
Also, in the workplace it is important to follow one’s heart. I would never advise someone to stay in a job that was squelching their spirit. We need to live out our dreams in the present or our hearts will feel heavy.
- Take spiritual risks.
I believe that it is only the luckiest among us that live with harder problems that could ever be found in any advanced math book. Having dilemmas of the soul are wonderful opportunities that can help to sculpt our characters so that we may live with greater insight and wisdom. Some of us may feel certain in our faith and beliefs when it come to spirituality, but keeping our minds and hearts open to new ideas that seem to come along just when we need them makes good sense.
Living with and trusting our intuitions will serve us well. Just like anything else that we need to practice, learning to trust our intuition when it comes to spirituality takes time and energy, but it is oh, so worth the rewards that one will reap if we follow through on this.
Lastly, don’t wait for opportunity to come knocking at your door.
When the occasion for love, travel, a meditation class, or whatever it is comes your way, don’t give a knee-jerk reaction of saying no to it. Consider it. Let it drop from your brain down to your heart. And then let your heart follow the idea along with the same curiosity as you might follow a shooting star just for the joy and surprise of seeing where it will end up in the mighty sky of this great universe of ours.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Jenna Penielle Lyons