What exactly is courage? It’s root word means “heart” and so the heart is the seat of courage in our being. Making the decision to let our heart lead us where our mind feels fear is the best example of courage I can find. Knowing that fear is our constant companion, and choosing boldly to follow our heart’s truth is another paradox of life on earth. To be who we truly want to be means stepping into the fire, walking on hot coals and overriding the fearful part of us that craves safety. It means that to continue moving forward in the face of fear is to be more fully realized, satisfied and actually alive.
To embark on even the simplest adventure calls for courage. Some days it takes courage to get out of bed, other days not so much…there was a 10 year period of my life during which I was terrified of airplanes and elevators. My career at that time involved repairing high-tech video equipment and so I spent my time searching for solutions to make machines work again. To me, airplanes and elevators were equipment failures just waiting to happen, created by the most fallible of beings, the human! What now sounds kind of reasonable was in direct contrast to my real life – because at the same time I wouldn’t engage in air travel I could be found rafting and kayaking wild rivers, scuba diving and exploring deep wilderness with steady nerves. Our fears are not always rational or reasonable, bringing to mind the fear we can see at the sight of a teeny, tiny spiders or bugs- inspiring a surprising number of adults (including me) to squeal in fear.
Of course now I realize that all along it was that old traveling companion – the fear of death – that was cloaked in creative excuses for staying home! It wasn’t until life called me to a foreign country that could only be accessed by airplane that I faced my fear. The whole world then opened to me. Hawaii, no problem, Thailand, no problem, and India, yep I got there! And, I am still a confirmed home-body who wants to leave a small carbon footprint. And I also like to visit tropical beaches as often as possible so I can now almost fearlessly step into a jumbo jet.
Fear of closeness with others is one of the most common fears that many people bring to the meditation sessions I hold. Once bitten, twice shy – and yes opening ourselves to intimacy after a painful ending takes courage. Living alone, that too is considerably courageous, when the fear of living alone overcomes the fear of loneliness, then perhaps we can engage with another in a new, healthier, less fearful way. I’m banking on it! Co-dependence is defined as a neediness, a gigantic overwhelming fear of aloneness. And yet, there is always this challenge to be more, to explore, to expand and to release the bonds that hold us back from that. Is it actually love or need that is running our lives when we “commit” to a relationship with another? That is a good question to ask, regularly, I believe, and to be able to love fearlessly, for sure.
How is fear holding you back? I think it is an important question – learning to choose between love (adventure) and fear is a moment by moment exploration. How to encourage courage to facilitate a life lived in the light of love?