We teMame Annie Aver Sarasota Oct 2014 SMALLnd to think of courage as associated with facing physical threats like war, assault, natural disasters. H
opefully we don’t have those opportunities often, if at all.
What most of us experience is heartache, physical and emotional pain, loss, betrayal, and the like. The small and life-changing experiences can be terrifying, to the extent that we mask, deny, or avoid the feelings that arise. We become emotionally fearful.

Courage is not the absence of fear. Rather, fear walks hand-in-hand with courage. Courage is what happens when we open our heart and face fear, stare into the lions jaw, and
not be overcome by it.

How do we do this?                             It’s simple but not easy.

We practice living in the present moment. When we are present with what is, it doesn’t mean we agree with or enjoy the present moment. Instead, we greet it without judgment because it is what is. We don’t get to numb, cloak, or bury our feelings. We accept them and not become them. It is potentially terrifying. That’s why living in the p
resent moment is a radical act of courage.

Most of us mere mortals can’t be fully present every moment.

Instead, we continue to practice and do the best we can. The goal is that when we notice we have closed our heart to a feeling, situation, or person we treat ourselves with compassion and invite life to pierce our heart.

In our yoga practice we might explore some potentially scary poses, sequentially, slowly, and methodically. As you approach a place in your yoga practice where you sense an aversion, try pausing, connect to the breath, and just watch. You don’t have to go further in the pose but you don’t have to snap out of the pose the instant you sense discomfort. Whatever comes up when you reach that point, let it pierce your heart. Invite it in. It’s not how far you go into a pose, it’s the mindfulness you bring to it, the openness to let the process work on you, work for you, work through you.

Courage = your ability to face danger, sorrow, and pain, without being overcome by fear. Courage is a continual practice, not a single act.

Photo credit: Marianna Adams, Sarasota, FL, 2014
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Relaxing into the Gap

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For years I’ve revisited a mediation on the Fear Of Transformation that reminds me how important it is to relax into the gaps in our lives. Those are the places in between as we ride the waves of change and they can be quite unnerving. Our culture encourages us to quickly close the gaps, to feel no discomfort during the inevitable periods of transformation.

Relaxing into the gap is a daily, sometimes minute by minute, practice and I can find that sweet space of calm every time I remember to return to my breath. It’s too simple, I know. Nothing to buy, no one to consult, just breathe and relax. Simple, yes, but as my yoga teacher, Moses Brown, likes to remind us, “simple does not always mean easy.”

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