Courage

courage-ee-cummings

Back from retreat and right into new duties as studio manager for geoYoga– on top of some other big changes.

Things can be pretty scary sometimes, can’t they?

However: I am encouraged by my students and friends, those I meet on the path, to be strong, to remember that all things are temporary, and that we can find some measure of ease even in the discomfort. I am grateful to remember that you don’t always have to do things alone. I am reminded that I am not the first person to face these challenges. I see signs that I’m growing up, and, as ee cummings says, that takes courage.

Etymologically speaking: have you ever noticed that the word “encouraged” includes the word “courage?” Seems silly now, but I hadn’t seen this until today. The idea that in being encouraged, you are given courage- how brilliant, simple, and true.  I am given courage by my community, by my family, by what is called in the yoga and Buddhist traditions a sangha.

There have been times in my life where I did not know how to ask for help- or I thought I didn’t deserve the help- or maybe I was just afraid to look like I needed help. Now, I can look with eyes of love at the compassion and kindness of my family and friends (I never knew how many I had!) and know that sometimes it’s just your time to receive.

I recently received an especially sweet and compassionate encouragement from a senior teacher:

Move toward whatever nourishes you- to whatever illuminates the path for you.

I’m sharing her words with you as well, in the hopes that you may find courage there when you need it.

Finally, noticing how the quality of courage can change as we grow and mature, I am inspired by this beautiful poem that I’ve used in class recently. I hope you enjoy.

Courage

It is in the small things we see it.
The child’s first step,
as awesome as an earthquake.
The first time you rode a bike,
wallowing up the sidewalk.
The first spanking when your heart
went on a journey all alone.
When they called you crybaby
or poor or fatty or crazy
and made you into an alien,
you drank their acid
and concealed it.

Later,
if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
you did not do it with a banner,
you did it with only a hat to
cover your heart.
You did not fondle the weakness inside you
though it was there.
Your courage was a small coal
that you kept swallowing.
If your buddy saved you
and died himself in so doing,
then his courage was not courage,
it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.

Later,
if you have endured a great despair,
then you did it alone,
getting a transfusion from the fire,
picking the scabs off our heart,
then wringing it out like a sock.
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
you gave it a back rub
and then you covered it with a blanket
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.

Later,
when you face old age and its natural conclusion
your courage will still be shown in the little ways,
each spring will be a sword you’ll sharpen,
those you love will live in a fever of love,
and you’ll bargain with the calendar
and at the last moment
when death opens the back door
you’ll put on your carpet slippers
and stride out.

“Courage,” by Anne Sexton, from The Awful Rowing Toward God (Houghton Mifflin)

With love and encouragement- and wishes for, perhaps, a more specifically yoga-related blog soon-

Laura

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One thought on “Courage

  1. Debi

    And tell me please my friend, how is this NOT yoga related? How much courage I have needed in class, and how much ENcouragement you have given me! I continue to learn, through teachers and friends and the many tools they (you) have given me, that yoga gives us, and requires of us, courage…on and off the mat.

    Reply

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