Saturday, September 19, 2009


"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go."
TS Eliot

Taking risks is almost as necessary as taking a breath of fresh air. It gives our lives meaning and exhilaration. Risks do not guarantee success, but they do guarantee knowledge. We learn from risk-taking. We learn about our strengths and weaknesses. We learn about our limits. We can often surprise ourselves that we are capable of more than we imagined.

By definition, risk includes the possibility of loss or injury or some kind of peril. But it can also result in amazing triumph or gain. Risk involves uncertainty. We can never know the outcome of a risk in advance.

We need to be prepared for a risk we decide to take. For example, if we decide to dive from a high rock into a lake, we need to know that the lake is deep enough to avoid injury. This does not necessarily take away the fear of diving from a high place. Not to test the water first for depth would be a foolish risk. But once we take that dive, the excitement of the free fall and plunge into the watery depths makes us feel fully alive.

Attitude is key for risk-taking. When we reach out to another person we risk rejection. But if we don't take that risk we miss out on the experience of loving and being loved. If we challenge ourselves to reach a goal, we risk failure but we also have the opportunities to grow as a person and achieve our goals. Risk involves taking responsibility and acceptance of the outcome.

When we practice yoga we can play it safe by just taking the form of a pose. We can choose not to test how deep we can go into the pose. We can practice mechanically without putting our feelings into the pose.

Or we can play with the edges. We can feel how far we can go safely within that pose. We can really tune into our bodies and learn something new each time we practice. We can fully engage our minds and hearts in our practice. We can risk changing ourselves. We can take yoga beyond just stretching.

Life is not about certainty. The more we test our limits, the more our limits expand and change. So take the plunge.

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