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Cultivating Courage

April 26, 2016

cultivating courage


You are born courageous. You came into this world with nothing and you trusted that you’d be taken care of, that you’d survive and be nurtured by those who brought you here. Maybe it didn’t happen exactly that way, but you didn’t know how it would turn out, you just came sliding down that birth canal into the unknown. What you've learn over the years is to be cautious, to watch your back, and to distrust what the world lays out before you. Now, don’t get me wrong, a certain amount of healthy caution is necessary to live beyond the age of five. You need to know what that a hot stove can burn your hand and a rushing train will run you over. What you don’t need to know is that if you take a risk, if you reach out, become vulnerable and open that you are going to suffer. This is when the courage valve gets all clogged up with the gunk of cynicism, resentment, withdrawal, and a host of other emotional shutdowns, blocking you from realizing the full length and breadth of your humanity.


How can you get in touch with the lion in you when you only see the timid mouse? First, it’s about perspective. Take a look back. I bet you’ll find numerous times when you took a risk—moved across the country, went on a blind date, took an acting class, or simply (really, not so simply) opened up to a friend about something very private in your life. You are courageous! It’s like a muscle, you just have to work it, practice it and use it to experience the strength of it. And, that’s where we come to the second part of cultivating courage. You have to trust yourself. You have to trust the Universe. Not easy, but if you practice, if you take small steps, then bigger ones, and (this is key) if you listen to your heart, your “coeur” it will lead you. Your heart will override your reptilian impulse to scurry under a rock and hide from the bright light of your brilliant self. Courage isn’t something other people have and you don’t. It’s something you accept and cherish the more you practice, the more you know that whatever the challenge—whether it’s to get up on a surfboard for the first time, speak up in the face of injustice, or express your love for someone—you will be more human, more you, having taken the risk. Whether you see yourself as a mouse or a lion, it doesn’t matter. Inside of you exist both fear and courage—they serve to teach, grow, and challenge you to embrace the undaunted spirit, the hero within you to get out there and roar!

Practice this meditation for 40 days to evoke your courage: Meditation for an Invincible Spirit.