A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending weekend meetings with Adyashanti (Adya), whose spiritual teachings draw from cross-cultural wisdom.
One of the stories Adya referenced was that of King Arthur and the Holy Grail. While legend refers to it as the cup that Jesus drank from, in today’s world, the Holy Grail refers to, “A thing being earnestly pursued or sought after (Dictionary.com).”
Adya told us we’re not going to find the Holy Grail in the familiar. When we pursue our heart’s calling, we plunge into the unknown. We’re called to the deepest darkest parts of the forests where there are no paths. Sometimes we find a scary monster; sometimes we find the Holy Grail. Eventually we make our way out.
But how can we be certain we’re headed in the right direction?
When called to do something (a.k.a. find the Holy Grail), whether it’s relatively minor or daunting, like a cross-country moto-book tour, these are the questions I ask myself to confirm my intentions.
- Am I following my heart? I question whether the undertaking is meaningful and whether it’s consistent with my values.
- What’s the worst that can happen, and what’s the likelihood it will? When I worked in Health and Safety, I was constantly evaluating work practices based on risk and potential severity of an injury. I learned to apply that same logic to other life decisions. When pushing your comfort zone, your mind is going to come up with all kinds of reasons why it’s better to stay “safe.” Keep questioning and be objective. The answers will surprise you.
- How does it feel if I don’t do it? In other words, do a gut check. Imagine what it feels like to go. Then imagine what it feels like if you stay put. The more you exercise and trust your intuition, the easier it is to follow what it’s telling you.
- Do I expect that I already know it all? I ask myself this when threatened with overwhelm. Anything new will seem daunting at first. We need challenge (within reason) to thrive. Take it one step at a time.
- What is the opportunity cost of doing/not doing what’s being asked of me? This is actually a trick question because you can’t know the answers. You don’t know what doors will open or close with either choice. You may have expectations on either side or perceptions of how things will go or not go, but you’ll never know for sure. The biggest opportunity cost is failing to live up to your potential because you were afraid to follow your heart.
Recovering from failure and learning is inherent in living. We fall many times while learning to walk. We learn how to balance by losing our balance. Why do we think things should be different with “adult” challenges? As with riding a motorcycle, we’re less likely to lose our balance and fall if we keep our eyes trained on where we want to go, and keep moving!