The Art of Living Dangerously
In the seven weeks I've been here in Central America I've gotten into some extremely interesting, bizarre and entertaining situations. To me 'living dangerously' is just a way of life I've followed as long as I can remember -- it means not being afraid to take calculated risks, and pushing myself out of my comfort zones to have a more full experience of this existence.
This is the only way I really know how to live, and it's definitely not for everyone -- but it's so worth it! Some life-shifting experiences I've had pushing the edges thus far: I've made really great friends and met some of the most amazing people in the world; I've spent long nights walking the streets in search of adventure; I've stayed up dancing with friends until sunrise at least a dozen times; I've been attacked by a man with a broom after refusing to burn my boots in the fire (funny story!); I've eaten the most delicious street food ever, drank awesome local moon shine and had occasion to sample some fine medicinal herbs with the locals ;). Aside from a few bruises still from a near-death incident at Lago Atitlán I've been lucky to emerge from all my adventures none the worse for wear, and feeling stronger and better than ever.
All this is due to a specific approach to risk-taking I've developed that enables me to ride the edges without falling off the deep end for good -- living dangerously is an art! Here then are a few pointers for a life of epic adventure and fun too, no matter where you are in your life....
Disclaimer: I'm not a physician or a counselor or have any kind of license for giving advice, so consult someone who does before doing anything risky, and don't take anything as I say as a personal recommendation for you. Please don't ever put yourself in unnecessary risk without understanding fully what you're getting yourself into, and the potential consequences, and always seek professional advice.
Why seek to live dangerously...?
We all know that life is fragile and full of danger -- at any moment in everyday life you could be hit by a car, get hit by a fatal stroke, or your heart could just stop beating. Facing danger is not dissimilar to being prepared for an emergency.
Growing up In LA it was all about 'Earthquake Preparedness' -- in other places it's potential hurricanes or floods you prepare for. The more aware and realistic you are of the inherent risks in your life, the more prepared you will be to handle them. If you have a mindset and approach to your life that's geared towards handling situations of risk or danger, you're also more likely to emerge from these situations unharmed.
Beyond being better prepared to handle whatever life throws at you, the greatest advantage I see to this approach is how much it opens you up to opportunities for personal growth, fulfillment and excitement in your life.
The art of living dangerously is overwhelmingly driven by one single principle -- it's the only thing you really need to remember and follow. And while there are certainly many other principles you can follow and bring into play, I like to keep these things simple and easy to remember. The rest is just icing on the cake.
The single most important principle to put into play in your life, and start living better, and pushing more edges without taking unnecessary risks is really simple, and it's this:
Mindfulness In Action.
Mindfulness in action means maintaining a state of mindful awareness in all activities and moments of movement in your life. Basically -- as long as you are awake in your body, you are in a state of mindful awareness of your self and your surroundings. It doesn't matter how tired you are, how much you might've had to drink, or how angry you might be, you are totally aware of what's going on with yourself and what's happening around you.
What is 'mindful awareness?'
Mindful awareness, the way I see it, is pretty simple: Seeing and experiencing the world from a state of deep connectedness with the center of your being -- the truth of who you are, in your essence. Mindful awareness in action simply means maintaining this connected state and moving from there as you live your day-to-day life.
The advantages to cultivating a practice of mindful awareness can be great. Among them:
- A good sense of humor to carry you through various dramas of daily life.
- A heightened sense of overall awareness of the world around you.
- A stronger, more accurate intuition about the people and circumstances you engage with.
- Greater enjoyment of day-to-day life, and appreciation of the small things.
- Heightened sensory experience in all the bodily senses.
- A greater sense of peace and well-being over all.
- A stronger instinctual sense of what to do when facing potential danger.
- Greater ability to handle stressful or dangerous situations with clarity and ease.
How to cultivate a state of mindful awareness?
There are so many effective approaches to cultivating a state of mindful awareness -- spiritual practices such as various forms of meditation: seated meditation, mantra meditation, pranayama breathing meditation, shamanic energy meditation, kundalini yoga meditations. There are various yoga practices, and other conscious movement practices that focus on aligning the mind with movement such as Pilates, Chi Kung and various forms of martial arts. Surfing and other outdoor sports and exercises can also be great tools for zoning in -- connecting in with your inner essence and moving out from there.
It doesn't have to be complicated, it just takes consistent practice.
The best part is, the more you practice any one form of meditative self-awareness the easier it becomes to access this state effortlessly in your day-to-day life. It just gets easier and easier.
If you can stay aware and connected to your self in any situation, you will always have the upper hand. The moment you disconnect and get out of a centered place in your awareness and your body, that's usually when bad things happen: you space out and jump into a road without noticing a speeding car about to turn the corner; you forget your camera on the table at a restaurant; you decide to get behind the wheel even though you know you've had too much to drink; or you get into a sketchy cabbie's car in a developing country without following your gut instinct. The smallest, mindless mistake can prove to be fatal in any situation.
Stay conscious and connected -- be aware of your self and your environment at all times as much as possible -- and you have the best defense against any danger. You can take calculated risks, avoid unnecessary danger, and live an exciting life every day.
This is the art of living dangerously. And it's a riot -- enjoy!
Coming up: I'd be interested in exploring some other principles of 'the art' I've already identified -- as long as I get the sense it's interesting to you also, dear reader. Let me know if so shout out in the comments here at G+, send me an email, or tweet this post. I always love hearing from you.
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p.s. just found this awesome TEDx talk by William Gurstelle - The Art of Living Dangerously. According to his research, people with a greater tendency to take risks than the average are happier, more successful and more interesting overall... shabam! :)
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