Tag Archives: life

Risks

Via Flickr User Andreas Fetz

Via Flickr User Andreas Fetz

I’ve again been slacking in my blogger duties. At the beginning of the summer I was so concerned that I would not be busy enough–ha! Life has been surprising the hell out of me lately. I’m doing my best to stay grateful instead of letting anxiety take over–as I said in my last post, it can be difficult for any of us to let ourselves experience joy. There is certainly a part of me that is so freaked out that it compels me to want to quit everything and retreat into the Comfort Zone, where I can neither fail nor succeed.

But there is also the part of me that is exhilarated by this freedom. It’s terrifying and uncomfortable to be taking risks. Inevitably I will have failures, and I make mistakes. But how sweet it is to be in this place of growth, even if the experience isn’t always pleasant.

So much of this started with yoga. When I restarted my yoga practice back in January, it was out of desperation. I needed something to change. I had no idea how much it would help me heal; help me move my body and my mind and my spirit; help me process thoughts and emotions more effectively; help me learn about myself and about life.

The funny thing is that I don’t always want to go to yoga. Sometimes I even dread it. Because I don’t know what will happen on that mat. Will I feel strong? Will I feel weak? Will I nail this pose, or fall out of that one? Will any emotions come up? Will I cry, will I laugh, will I freak out, will I feel disconnected? Any of these are possibilities, and they’ve all happened–usually when I least expect them.

In yoga, as in life in general, you can’t know what to expect. It’s a risk to step onto your mat, not knowing what will happen there. Sometimes, yoga makes you feel like shit.

Yoga certainly isn’t the effortless experience some people believe it to be. Whether it’s your muscles shaking, your mind screaming, your heart swelling with a sudden onset of emotions you didn’t even know you had, yoga can be really damn difficult. I’ve had classes (and will continue to have classes) after which I feel awful. And some of those were even sessions I went into in a good mood. You never know what will happen. But the thing is–it’s always what you need.

And that’s why I’ve kept going. And that’s why I have begun to open myself to new possibilities–because yoga has helped me see how worth it it is to take risks.

I discovered a quote a few months ago by Peter McWilliams:

It is a risk to love.
What if it doesn’t work out?
Ah, but what if it does.

And it stuck with me. It not only applies to love but to everything. Daring to love in a larger sense is really daring to live–to make yourself vulnerable with no guarantees, to accept the possibility that it won’t work out. Because what if it does.

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Letting Ourselves Feel Joy

Via Flickr User Danila Bedyaev

O blog, how I hath forsaken you. The past few weeks have been insane in the very best of ways. Since summer began, I’ve been able to enjoy Austin a bit more, soak in some delicious summer-ness, and work on some projects (I’m slowly learning some HTML/CSS). And quite unexpectedly, I met a great guy and began a new relationship.

So life is pretty damn good right now. Of course, the only downside to contentment is that there isn’t as much to write about, or at least not the immediate motivation to write about it.

But since I’ve written and reflected on depression quite a bit, perhaps I can now also write and reflect on joy. You would think feeling joy would be simple and easy, but it requires a willingness to be vulnerable that can be very difficult. When good things happen to us, it’s a lovely feeling, but then enters the fear that now we have something to lose. This can create a huge amount of anxiety that can lead otherwise stable people to self-sabotage. With the chance for happiness comes the chance for heartbreak later on–which is why there are a significant number of people who never allow themselves to take emotional risks. They protect themselves from sorrow and pain, but they also shield themselves from joy and love. Because to feel joy and love, you must make yourself vulnerable; you must be willing to accept both the darkness and the light in life because there is not one without the other. It can be immensely uncomfortable to extend ourselves beyond baseline emotions in any direction.

But if we want to love, to learn, to cry, to laugh, to explore, to discover, to try, to speak, to write, to move, to grow, we must take risks. Each one of these things is a risk in and of itself. But look at what they can give us.

So the challenge is letting yourself feel joy and trying to free yourself from the anxiety that surrounds it. Brené Brown’s suggested method is gratitude: being thankful for what you have when you start to feel that sense of anxiety emerging. Reminding yourself that you are right here, right now, and you will always have this moment regardless of what happens in the future.

Yoga, of course, can help. It gives us the chance to pause to just be in our bodies and our minds and focus on the present moment. If you’re anything like me, you suck at being in the present moment. But I’ve found that even just trying has made a difference, just taking the time to go to the studio and do nothing but move my body and breathe for an hour and fifteen minutes, even when I can’t get my mind to quiet down.

There is also the yoga of resting, though, which is what I’m (mostly) doing today. And there’s a lovely, simple joy in that too.