The other day I gave the first book reading of my life, for my first book. It was in front of a bunch of strangers and—not sure which is worse—it was in front of a bunch of loved ones, community members who’ve known me over the years. It was one of those moments that has the power to obliterate or renew everyone’s opinion of you. It was one of those moments that ego hates.
Which, of course, means that it’s a really good moment. A moment when my ego couldn’t predict or assume or bluff or hustle. It just had to let go, and let me walk into new, and do whatever happened.
So: from a Buddhist point of view, there are a few things that help us leap into the unknown with ease, with confidence based in reality, and to let go of arrogance or nervousness.
First of all, as I reminded a friend last night, the answer to just about everything is to sit up straight, or take a good posture wherever you are…then breathe deep, and relax your posture. Fresh start. This is basic, but it’s also profoundly practical—there are advanced Shambhala Buddhist practices that involve just this. Try it right now. Sit up straight. Breathe deep, in and out. Then, relax your newly-upright posture.
Two, talk, and listen. Reach out. Talk with those who are experienced with the challenge you’re about to walk into—whether it’s the first day of school, a new job, a first date…whatever your challenge is, folks have been there before. Even if their experience or advice doesn’t seem like something you resonate with, it will inspire your own inner wisdom. So listen, and talk. Reach out.
Three—and this is equally obvious, yet easy to forget—be vulnerable. Lower your own bar. Be willing to be exposed. Be willing to be imperfect. Be willing to just show up, and give it a go. At some point, we all have to just…leap.
So I leapt, and here’s how it went. You can see my nervousness, at points.