Archive for April, 2013
Courage is the ability to conquer fear; to confront danger, despair, pain and uncertainty.
Physical courage is required when facing the above, and, for most of us, death or the threat of death. Moral courage is ‘acting rightly’, especially in the face of opposition, popular opinion and/or peer pressure.
Ernest Hemingway defined courage as “grace under pressure’. Maya Angelou said, “Courage is the most important of the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”
In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man muster their courage, individually and collectively, to overcome their predicaments and follow the Yellow Brick Road. Arriving at Oz they discover the splendid truth; that courage resides within each of them.
Daily living requires courage. At times, just the act of getting out of bed and facing the day is valorous. Overcoming trauma, difficult childhood, striving to become independent and authentic all demand courage.
This week I invite you to reflect on your personal courage. Own the integrity, dignity and resilience that naturally arise from the practice of this essential virtue.
“Fear: an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by expectation or awareness of danger” Merriam-Webster (2004).
Body sensations of fear serve to warn us away from physical danger. So to, the emotional sensations of fear; and we often experience them simultaneously.
It is the ‘expectation’ of fear that is my focus this week. All of us entertain the big fears: health; money; food; shelter; work; relationship and death. We also spend valuable time and energy worrying about little fears: how we look; being accepted; doing well at everything; saying the perfect words; and being judged.
In Smile at Fear, Chogyam Trungpa says, “Fear is nervousness; fear is anxiety; fear is a sense of inadequacy, a feeling that we may not be able to deal with the challenges of everyday life at all.” He invites us to study our fear. Where is it coming from? How is it manifesting? To become fearless we must understand our fear.
Spirituality & Health/May-June 2011 published ‘Five Insights For Fearless Living’ by Jeff Golliher from his work, Moving Through Fear: Cultivating the 7 Spiritual Instincts for a Fearless Life (March 2011).
One: Don’t empower fear; Two: Challenge and move through our deepest fear to find freedom; Three: Cultivate and strengthen our spirit; Four: Mastering one fear will loosen the power of all the others; Five: “Two questions – ‘How can we move through our fear?’ and ‘How can we become who we are meant to be?’ – are, for all practical purposes, one and the same.”
Fear, like other emotions, comes and goes as it pleases. Overcoming fear is work; a process, not an event. Becoming fearless is an exceedingly worthwhile practice.
We all worry. Relationships, money, health, the future, the past, all are great fodder for worry.
The minutia of daily living piles more fodder into the trough of worry. How we look, are we on time, did we say the right or the wrong thing? Should, could, must, have-to, what if, maybe and fear run amok in our minds.
Chronic worry is unhealthy. Recent research at Purdue and Harvard Universities as well as study results published in the British Medical Journal, all point out the mild to serious effects worry has on our health.
Don’t worry, be mindful. Stay present. Not easily done, but well worth the effort as peace of mind and better health are tangible rewards. Become pro-active! Visualize a Guardian at the door of your mind marked WORRY. The perfect Sentry, vigilant and tireless at denying worry entrance. Change the ‘should’, ‘must’ and ‘have to’ words into choice words–I ‘want to’, I ‘will’, I ‘choose to’. Choice words are empowering.
Life is full of randomness and uncertainty. Stop worry from robbing you of enjoyment and vital energy. Energy more profitably spent managing life’s vicissitudes.
I am a gardener. As I mature my fancy turns from vegetables to flowers predominately. For the past 8 years my well-shaded yard has been an intense task-master. I am finally succeeding.
My diligent efforts to grow garden fresh tomatoes, lush strawberries and spicy jalapeno have given way to weekly trips to the local Farmer’s Market. Too many trees make for too small yields.
Many of my favorite flowers have also been shelved in favor of low light, little or no sun varieties. Repeatedly visiting the low light section of the Western Garden Book and re-reading relative issues of Garden Gate magazine, coupled with trial and error plantings, and I am finally having some real success.
Part of that accomplishment is acceptance. Accepting that my beloved Geraniums blossoms but a little. Relishing the sparse blooming Hydrangea and Roses. Accepting the garden on its terms and not imposing my will.
Learning to listen to the garden and work in harmony with its nature is a very productive meditation.
If we are what we eat, we are also what we think. Our thoughts shape what we believe and who we are.
The majority of our thinking is wild; untamed. Domesticating our thinking requires diligent training, intentional focus and unrelenting practice. Start the process by editing the can’t, should, must do, have to words from your thinking. Replace them with choice words. I choose, I want to…empower your thinking. This is the hardest work you will ever do.
Put a guard at the door of your mind with strict orders to deny entry to negative thinking; to the thoughts that sabotage hopes and dreams; the thoughts that steal peace of mind, success and contentment. Become the Master of your thinking.
“The world we have created is a product of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” Albert Einstein