June 15, 2020
The Practice Of Courage
Courage can be defined as taking conscious action despite feeling afraid or vulnerable. The call to courage can also mean standing up for what you believe in, even though you may feel anxious and uncertain about the consequences.
As you might have already experienced, being courageous doesn’t always come naturally. It can require cultivation, and through meditation, you can learn how to manage fear and anxiety that arises and show up in your most empowered, strong, and courageous way. It will support you to move with strength and from a place of deep integrity.
First, notice if there are any places within your body where you feel tension or you feel fear, which often is encoded within tension.
As you scan your awareness through your body, you might notice the butterflies in your stomach, perhaps a contracting sensation inside of your throat or maybe even a tight feeling in your chest, shoulders, neck, jaw, or even behind the eyes. A lot of times, this tension is unconscious and it can be undetected until we become really present and aware.
Wherever you feel this tension, focus your mind into that specific area and take a few deep breaths, breathing right to where you feel the sensation. Then notice, are there any changes or shifts?
Did the quality of the tension transform in any way or did it change locations? Just simply be aware, be mindful, and notice how this tension is impermanent. These sensations will appear and then inevitably disappear.
The root word of courage is cor, which is the Latin word for the heart. Traditionally speaking, when one is being courageous, they are acting strongly from this place of the heart.
So now, bring your awareness to your heart. Hold your attention right there at the middle of your chest. And maintaining that connection, begin to repeat the following phrase silently.
“May I be filled with courage. May I be filled with courage. May I be filled with courage.”
Gently, patiently bring your attention back to that repetition, may I be filled with courage, feeling that deep connection to your heart.
And then from here, think about an upcoming event that scares you. Perhaps you have some stress or worry around this upcoming event. Maybe this is an event that you’ve been avoiding, but you know deep inside of you, it’s something that you need to do. There’s some action that you need to take, but you’ve had resistance, the resistance of fear. And as you contemplate this event, notice where you feel any tension right now in your body beginning to arise.
Then begin to take several deep breaths, inhaling deep through the nose and big exhales out the mouth. And as you breathe in and as you breathe out, just feel the tension diminishing.
Feel the stress, the fear, the worry also diminishing, and know that your breath is always available when you feel tension or the fear feels too big. You can meet the size of the fear with the magnitude of your breath. Your breath is so powerful, and just a few breaths can begin to shift your state.
As adults, the older we get, the more we become attached to the end result of things, which can bring fear and often take us out of the present moment. If you find yourself focusing on the end result, simply focus on doing the best that you can in that moment, thinking solely of your effort. Trust that whatever happens is part of your process.
Continue to see yourself in the midst of this upcoming event. See yourself as clearly and vividly, as specifically as possible, and visualize yourself navigating through this event with courage, strength and power.
You have these qualities within you -feel that energy of strength. Feel that energy of courage emanating from your chest and your heart.
If you have any thoughts of doubt arise, know that you do not have to buy into these. Often what limits our courage are these negative narratives that keep recycling over and over through the mind. Just because they are there doesn’t mean that they are true.
The purpose of this practice is not to eradicate fear or anxiety, but to listen to them, to take note of them, and to have the ability to respond, the responsibility to meet challenging situations in a way that is in alignment with your values and your sense of right action.
As you move through your day, inevitably when those moments of fear, stress, anxiety, or worry show up, just note it. See it. Observe where the tension manifests within the body. And then come back to your phrase. “May I be filled with courage.”
Wishing you a courageous day, below are some recommended practices to enhance this quality of courage and strength in your daily life: