"Any fool can run towards the light. It takes a master with courage to turn and face the darkness and shine his own light there."
- Leslie Fieger author of the Delfin Knowledge System
I used to think that courage was mainly an outward expression of bravery or risk in some way. I related courage to adventurous feats like sky diving, walking over hot coals, bungee jumping, singing in front of a large crowd, wrapping an Albino Burmese Python around your body and so on. I imagined that in order to be courageous, you had to undergo extreme feats, enough to place you in the face of danger, embarrassment, or whatever situation that could result in consequence.
But I have since learned more about this idea of courage and how it directly ties to mindfulness in a more simplistic manner. Being courageous encompasses many scenarios. Sometimes the “courageous” action or response can be subtle, but just as profound and effective as a close encounter with something more physically “daring.”
What I have found is sometimes notable courage is doing those things that seem, at times, the least bit courageous. Learning and accepting to swallow our pride and say no in the midst of the status quo may feel uncomfortable, yet empowering. Maybe we're the party pooper who makes the decision to ditch the celebration early to give our bodies the proper rest for rejuvenation. We may invite ourselves to be courageous by taking a full breath in the midst of conflict and instead of fighting back out of “perceived strength,” we silently listen to our bodies and the internal reactions that surface. There are the moments when avoidance feels powerful because it convinces us that we are strong enough to not let a circumstance affect us. But what about the courage seen in vulnerability through allowing our experience to be felt and heard?
In yoga and meditation, we can practice this type of courage in a variety of forms as well. We can choose to surrender in a child's pose during yoga class because our bodies feel tired that day. Maybe we are accustomed to always challenging ourselves to that advanced variation in a sequence but we decide to hold back from exerting this additional effort. Our meditation may feel awkward, frustrating, and impossible, but we have the courage to be compassionate and meet ourselves right where we are.
Whatever the case may be, courage comes through many experiences all worth respect and acknowledgement. Subtle or bold, all courage holds a similar essence in being true to ourselves, our inner voice, and being willing to take risks and experiment from time to time. Courage is a spiritual path because it asks our spirit to explore our individual edges and habits.
And as I've notice, the more often I recognize even my simple feats of daily courage, the more confidently I can move through life and all of it's hurdles. Warriors need training to feel equipped in battle, just like we all need inner encouragement to be brave in the ways that aren’t always perceived as courageous. Find your own strength and develop your own courageous identity. May you be courageous, May you be strongly compassionate, May you honor your inner strength. Happy Friday all!