Our emotional and physical response to trying something for the first time is truly fascinating. The excitement of the unknown, the anticipation, the sweat, the fear. As children we generally lack the propensity to be afraid. It’s often that only by doing that we learn…like the first time you fell off your bike, or accidentally got too close to the campfire. Those lessons can leave deep scars on our psyche that we take with us into adulthood.
It’s funny how fear can have so much power over our actions; it can prevent us from trying new things, going new places, meeting new people. More importantly, fear can stunt our growth. It’s a roadblock to progress. So how do we get around it? Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do that which you fear to do and the fear will die,” which is why I recently challenged myself to try something that I’ve long been terrified to do…surf!
In January I led a yoga retreat in Rincón, Puerto Rico. I decided to head down a few days prior to the arrival of my students to scope things out and have some “me time”. Not only is Rincón known for it’s beautiful beaches and budding yoga community, it’s been dubbed the “Caribbean’s Hawaii” due to it’s ideal surfing conditions. One afternoon at the local fish shack, I crossed paths with Travis, the owner of the island’s largest surf school, aptly named Rincón Surf School. Turns out he was also a New Hampshire native, so we immediately had a rapport. We traded stories about what brought us to Rincón, and he so generously invited me to join in for a surfing lesson the next morning. I’m sure he could instantly see the panic written all over my face, but I tried to play it off cool and said, “Sounds great! I’ll be there.” I took down Travis’ contact info, and strolled back onto the beach.
That night I literally laid in bed eyes wide-open for hours shuddering at the thought of what I’d committed too. What if I can’t get up on the board, and look stupid? What if I get up and then am pummeled by a wave and badly injured? What if? What if? What if? Being one who always strives to follow-through, I decided that even after a sleepless night, I was going to go, I was going to try it.
Long story short, surfing was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life, and not because I was a natural…I wasn’t. Not because it was so fun that I forgot how scared I was…the fear lingered. It was amazing because something deep inside me made me believe that I could never do it, but I did it anyway. Trust me, I am NOT a daredevil, but somehow I managed to jump the roadblock and ride the wave. In the words of Marilyn Monroe, “Don’t let your fear of failing triumph over the joy of participating.” Whether it’s surfing, snowboarding, or stepping into your first yoga class, nothing beats the feeling of facing your fears head-on. Whatever the challenge, let go of the notion that you need to “master” it, and just try.
I want to hear from you! What have you always wanted to do, but are too scared to try?
Shine on yogis!