Living Is An Act Of Courage



Living Is An Act Of Courage


April 30, 2024

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, 4 B.C.E. - 65 C.E, was a Stoic, a roman philosopher who in his Letters to Lucilius, wrote: 

              "Sometimes even to live is an act of courage."

Thank you Seneca for our theme this month, Living is an Act of Courage. It is humbling to me to reflect on how smart people were over 2000 years ago! 

There are at least 6 different ways to define courage, including: feeling fear yet choosing to act; following your passion; persevering in the face of adversity; standing up for your values and what is just; letting go and moving outside of your comfort zone; and, dealing with illness with dignity or faith.  

However, you define your next level of courage, the key focus today is to encourage and inspire you to be even more courageous. I have tapped a number of resources and gradually built my tool kit of exercises to raise my courage -- which has helped me continue to persevere -- to build resilience -- to build my muscles of courage.

With our focus on inspiration, we will explore a meditation on courage, an excerpt from an inspirational book about a pilgrimage, and a Courage exercise from my Certified High Performance Coaching ProgramTM.

I have been meditating a lot lately on the every day examples of courage I observe in people all around me and in my own life. One meditation is by Don McAvinchey: Your Courage  I am drawn to this meditation because it is short, just 11-minutes, and has a common sense approach to understanding the full range of courage in the every day actions we take in our lives. Courage is a muscle we exercise every day. Let us acknowledge our courage and how we build our muscles of courage in the every day acts of living. For example:

  • Sometimes just getting up for the day takes energy and courage.
  • It can take a lot of energy just to get through the day and take care of our kids, or cook dinner.
  • It is hard work and takes courage to start to build new habits such a daily exercise regimen or new healthy eating menus.
  • It takes courage to turn off our negative self-talk or to remove toxic people from our lives. 
  • It takes courage to have difficult conversations with people -- people we work with, our friends and our family.
  • It takes courage to be open to change, to new possibilities, and step outside of our comfort zone. 
  • It takes courage to be honest and be true to who we really are. 
  • It takes courage to act on our dreams, with all the bravery we can muster.  

Don's meditation invites us to reflect a few questions. What is your particular personal brand of courage? Even if you are afraid, do you keep going anyway?  Even if you lost the game or argument, do you stand up and congratulate the person who won? Do you honor the struggle of every one? Do you acknowledge the courage you have shown over the years? 

This meditation by Don McAvinchey, a teacher on Insight Timer and an adventurous spirit, concludes with a visualization and asks us to feel that kind of courage, your personal brand of courage: "Feel this courage. And see it in yourself. And bring yourself to acknowledge how very, very brave you have been throughout your entire life. .... Just imagine all of that history could not have happened without this kind of courage within you. So just for a moment, feel that courage one more time. And, acknowledge to yourself that this courage is yours."   

I hope this inspires you to click on the link above to Don's meditation and take a chance it may reveal something to you. Meditations often reveal something we already know, deep inside of us. Just be aware and listen.  

Or perhaps you might want to listen to a different voice. I have curated selected guided meditations on Courage on Insight Timer which reflect different styles and voices. Here is a sampling of other teachers who have inspired me  -- all great meditation teachers with consistently high ratings on a scale of 1-5 by myself and other meditators.      

  1. Davidji: Awakening Courage: A 21- minute guided meditation, rated 4.9 with 51.9k plays since October 2020. This meditation will help you focus on the link between Courage and your Heart and inspire Metta, lovingkindness, and increased clarity about your passion. 
  2. Sarah Blondin: Pain as a Portal to the Divine: A 13-minute guided meditation, rated 4.9 with 269k plays since September 2020. Sarah is always special -- asking gently, "tell me dear one, where does it hurt in you?" and gently leads us to a greater awareness of our loving presence and the sigh of grace. 
  3. Tony Brady: A Blessing for Courage: A 2-minute talk, rated 4.9 with 5.7k plays since May 2022. A wonderfully short meditation which ends with a blessing for us to know the difference between when we should have Courage to keep on pushing and when we should have the Wisdom to stop or pause. 
  4.  Annemaree Rowley: Courage :  A 14-minute guided meditation, rated 4.9 with 174k plays since June 2018.  A gentle meditation acknowledging we all have fears and encouraging us to accept the challenge of the unknown … again and again and again. 
  5. Kenneth Soares: 6 Minutes of Courage, Confidence & Positivity : A 6-minute guided meditation, rated 4.5 with 589k plays since August 2018. There are wonderful personal and spiritually empowering "I AM Affirmations"  to build courage and positivity. 

I encourage you to select a mediation on Courage which resonates with you. Start your morning every day with a meditation on Courage, for at least the next 5 days or 30 days -- and see and feel the difference it can make to your clarity, confidence, and inspiration to being even more courageous.  

Next let's turn to one of the most inspirational storytellers and authors, the world famous, Paulo Coelho.  Have you read The Alchemist? It's on my Top Ten books of all time. For today, I have chosen an excerpt from The Pilgrimage: A Contemporary Quest for Ancient Wisdom.  Here Paulo, the protagonist, is walking the ancient Road to Santiago with his guide Petrus, on their way to the Cathedral of Santiago. These are Petrus' messages to Paulo that day: 

"'We must never stop dreaming. Dreams provide nourishment for the soul, just as a meal does for the body. Many times in our lives we see our dreams shattered and our desires frustrated, but we have to continue dreaming. If we don’t, our soul dies, and agape cannot reach it. A lot of blood has been shed in those fields out there; some of the cruelest battles of Spain’s war to expel the Moors were fought on them. Who was in the right or who knew the truth does not matter; what’s important is knowing that both sides were fighting the good fight.'

‘The good fight is the one we fight because our heart asks it of us. In the heroic ages – at the time of the knights in armor – this was easy. There were lands to conquer and much to do. Today, though, the world has changed a lot, and the good fight has shifted from the battlefields to the fields within ourselves.'

‘The good fight is the one that’s fought in the name of our dreams. When we’re young and our dreams first explode inside us with all of their force, we are very courageous, but we haven’t yet learned how to fight. With great effort, we learn how to fight, but by then we no longer have the courage to go into combat. So we turn against ourselves and do battle within. We become our own worst enemy. We say that our dreams were childish, or too difficult to realize, or the result of our not having known enough about life. We kill our dreams because we are afraid to fight the good fight.’ ...

‘The first symptom of the process of our killing our dreams is the lack of time,’ Petrus continued. ‘The busiest people I have known in my life always have time enough to do everything. Those who do nothing are always tired and pay no attention to the little amount of work they are required to do. They complain constantly that the day is too short. The truth is, they are afraid to fight the good fight.'

‘The second symptom of the death of our dreams lies in our certainties. Because we don’t want to see life as a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct in asking so little of life. We look beyond the walls of our day-to-day existence, and we hear the sound of lances breaking, we smell the dust and the sweat, and we see the great defeats and the fire in the eyes of the warriors. But we never see the delight, the immense delight in the hearts of those who are engaged in the battle. For them, neither victory nor defeat is important; what’s important is only that they are fighting the good fight.'  ....

‘And, finally, the third symptom of the passing of our dreams is peace. Life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give. In that state, we think of ourselves as being mature; we put aside the fantasies of our youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement. We are surprised when people our age say that they still want this or that out of life. But really, deep in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams – we have refused to fight the good fight.’ ... 

‘When we renounce our dreams and find peace,' he said after a while, ‘we go through a short period of tranquility. But the dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being. We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves. That’s when illnesses and psychoses arise. What we sought to avoid in combat – disappointment and defeat – come upon us because of our cowardice. And one day, the dead, spoiled dreams make it difficult to breathe, and we actually seek death. It’s death that frees us from our certainties, from our work, and from that terrible peace of our Sunday afternoons.’ 

Oh my... does this touch your heart? Does it make you cry? Does it take you back to your dreams?  I had goose bumps when I typed this message from Petrus. For me, it is so deep, so profound....and so empowering and life affirming!

How did it make you feel? I hope it lit a light in you which will fuel your commitment to your dreams. 

Now, let’s get practical. Here is is a great example of just one of the many exercises we do in the Certified high Performance Coaching ProgramTM

What is your call to Courageous action -- right now, in your Life? Look ahead to June 30th or December 31, 2024 and ask yourself: 

     What are three areas in my life where I am committed to take bold action?

      Where am I committed to being courageous? 

Commit today to taking 3 bold actions that are important in your life right now. Write them down in your journal or write them on post-it notes and place on your mirror, etc. Use whatever system works for you to keep you on focus. 

Interpret "Bold" in the context of your life right now. It will mean different thing to each one of us. For some of us a "bold" action may be a critical conversation we have been avoiding. A phone call with a family member or business associate to resolve a conflict. Bold may mean simply getting up in the morning, when the pain is overwhelming. It could be committing to rediscovering the joy in preparing daily family dinners. Or Bold could mean deciding to pursue your dream opportunity, moving to a new job, a new country, or taking a risk which moves you outside your comfort zone. "Bold" is for you to decide.  

Maybe you know exactly what your 3 bold action steps are. If so, great! Or maybe you want to take some time for reflection and sort though different options before honing in on the key 2-3 actions you are passionate about taking over the next week, months or this year.  

As I am finishing writing this Post, I realize I had forgotten my dream to someday walk The Road to Santiago. I have pulled my copy of The Pilgrimage off the bookshelf in my meditation room and have committed to read again. And .... I will explore how I can make this dream come true in the next 3 years! 

I look forward to hearing from you about your inspiration and your commitment to being even more courageous. I am cheering you on.

CONGRATULATIONS -- I celebrate all wins, both small and large. 

While I may not be a “hero” in the traditional sense, I am a peaceful warrior on a path of service, on a journey to deeper levels of awareness, and a mission to inspire all of us to dream big!.

I AM COURAGEOUS! -- a mantra for all of us!

Till next time, 

 May you be happy now and always, Alison  


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