One Weird Tip to Experience the Full Exhilaration of Life

by Chris Paizis  Nov 17, 2015
One Weird Tip to Experience the Full Exhilaration of Life
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Sometimes you read a quote and just feel nailed. You know, that feeling when somebody’s got your number and you can’t divert their attention away? In OM, it’s a place we aim for because it carries so much power to open up new possibilities, new places that were previously locked by our attachment to things being a certain way.

It’s usually that thing about yourself you really don’t want to look at, or constantly push down telling yourself it’s alright. But that only works in isolation. In a practice and lifestyle built around connection, you agree to enter the arena with other people who will mirror things back to you and rub up against all those places you used to be able to hide. And if it’s a group of highly conscious people in this type of arena, the aim is something much more than the accidental rub; it’s really more of an art form.

In OM, we refer to the finger motion as ‘stroking’ because of it’s nuance, it’s subtlety, it’s potential range and variation. It’s like the strokes of a painter’s brush.

The above quote nailed me because I’ve spent a lot of my life on the sidelines, as a spectator and a critic, afraid to enter the arena. I’m not exactly sure when it started, but I remember feeling from a young age like there was a very high personal cost to trying something out and looking clumsy, or straight out failing in front of other people. I had many such examples growing up: sports, games, dancing, dating, and more.

Interestingly enough, I had no problems entering one particular arena that many list amongst their greatest fears: singing in public. From an early age I loved music and singing. My parents must have recognized that and encouraged me to explore it more. Throughout my school years and into college I performed in choirs, vocal jazz ensembles, even occasionally singing solo in front of large crowds. It was totally exhilarating, a true feeling of being in flow.

I didn’t have words for it at the time, but I realize now what made singing different from all the other stuff for me: I had made it my practice. I never experienced the crippling fear here that I had in other arenas because I had entered this one as a practitioner.

That’s what nailed me about this quote. All of those places where I had stayed on the sidelines, playing the critic or observer, what I really wanted was to be in the game, to be in connection. What I was missing was the mindset of practice. It almost sounds cliché now, but there is no failure in practice. It’s deeply personal. It’s where you get to know yourself and do it for your own personal quest. The practitioner’s mindset has become the key for me to entering any difficult arena in life.

In my OM practice, I get to enter one of life’s most highly-charged arenas on a daily basis. I get to see what I’m made of, bring attention to those places I don’t always like to look at, and watch how it translates into other arenas in my life. This practice has me viewing everything in my life as practice. And I can tell you wholeheartedly that nothing is as difficult with this mindset.

If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines like I was, I can assure you that there is no perfect time to jump into the arena. Just do it now. Make the decision to treat the situation as your new personal practice and see what you can do to start today. What waits on the other side is exhilaration, flow, vitality, and a sense of fulfillment that only comes with a life lived in the arena.

Photo Credit: Travis Burke