Last weekend I went to a fabulous yoga and meditation retreat with a group of cool, like-minded people.

There were teachers, healers, and musicians sharing their gifts.  We did a bunch of yoga and meditation, walked the beautiful property in 60-degree weather (in February in New England), and enjoyed good food, fires, and a lot of laughs.

We call it the non-retreat retreat because although there is a schedule of sorts, we don’t necessarily stick to it.  We meet and decide if we feel like doing what’s on the schedule, and if not we do something else.

Things were going great until Saturday afternoon when I heard the words, “How about some movement this afternoon—we’ll do salsa.”

Well, if that meant breaking out some chips and whipping up some guac to have with, maybe a glass of wine, I would have been all for it.  But, appealing as that thought was, I knew it wasn’t the case.

We were going to be dancing.  And not the hippie “Hair” type of dancing where you flail about and act like you just dropped acid.  We were going to be dancing with a partner.

I have always wanted to dance.  But along with that desire lives flashbacks of the few times I danced with my friend Chuck, tripping (not on acid, over my own two feet … or his), and trying wildly to control the situation, always ending with him saying, “No, I lead.”

So, what stops me from acting on my desire?  The whisper of fear.

Do I have any rhythm?  Can my body move that way?  Who am I going to have to dance with?  And most prevalent,

Will I look like a fool?

I often like to write about dumb things that I’ve done, and this one is a biggie.  How many things have I longed to do, but have not tried, because of fear of looking stupid, or foolish?  I don’t have an exact count, but I can estimate—A LOT.

Where does that fear stem from?  The unknown—I haven’t done it yet, so it is not known to me.

On one level this fear makes sense—we don’t know how it is going to go, or maybe what to do.  It certainly is easy to think up worst case scenarios–now that’s nerve-racking!

But when we take it up to big picture level, the only thing that we actually know in life, is what is happening in this very moment.

Take today for example.  I speculate that I am going to finish writing this article, take a shower, and have lunch with a friend.  But, I might get interrupted by something more pressing, and not finish writing this article.  Maybe the hot water is on the fritz, and I can’t take a shower until later.  Perhaps my friend has to cancel lunch, or the restaurant we want to go to is closed.

These are all possibilities, but I am not sitting here feeling fearful that I don’t know what is going to happen.  I’m not worried that I might somehow look like a fool, even though I really don’t know how the rest of my day is going to go.  I am simply writing an article in this moment.

So how can we translate this to salsa, or to anything else we might be avoiding out of fear of the unknown?  I think we have already answered the question above—stay in the present.

If I was projecting about everything that could go wrong with my day, I would be in a living hell of fear, and would probably not be getting a blog post finished (believe me, I know, because my life used to be very much this way).

But if I stay in the moment, writing; it flows, and I enjoy doing it.

If I was worried that I couldn’t do it, that it might not come out right, that maybe people wouldn’t like it, or worse think that I am stupid, I would not be enjoying it. And I probably would not be writing at all, even though it has always been a dream of mine.

Everything in life has a first time.  Luckily, when we were small children we didn’t have the capacity to worry about how everything was going to go.  So we took those first steps, even though we could have fallen down (and looked like a huge idiot! … said no one ever about a kid taking their first steps).

For salsa, or anything else you might want to try, let’s get back into that childlike mind.  That mind where everything is a fun adventure, and nothing is anticipated with fear.  Let’s live in this moment, because it is all we have.  Let’s dance, even if we totally suck, because it is fun anyway.  And chances are, if we are having fun, we will eventually get into the rhythm.

So I salsaed, I sucked at it, and I had fun.  What about you?

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Gwen is a Reiki Master and Emotional Balance Practitioner, Certified Holistic Health Educator, author, blogger, and green juice connoisseur who is passionate about supporting others to lead more peaceful and joyful lives, with a special focus on helping women release the cycle of chronic dieting and make peace with food and body. Gwen lives in Newburyport, MA where she writes about how everyday events can lead to transformation if we only pay attention.

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