With over sixteen years of extensive and original research on a simple word called courage, I have been amazed how people have difficulty embracing and applying the original definition of courage (“heart and spirit”) that I wrote about in my previous blog posting. Upon reflection, we have not had a tool that concretely defines the actions of courage such as simply being able to give yourself permission to claim your personal courage. Our culture is trapped in attachments such as being “busy” and having stuff. Reflect on how often throughout the day you say, “I am so busy.” Let’s take a look at that conundrum.
The dilemma starts with a slogan I use in my training programs that reflects a cultural mantra: “have, do, be.” Merging your professional and personal life you will find that with courage, you are able to transcend “have, do, be” to one of “be, do, have.” In the spirit of “be, do, have” you are making a gift of your life and ultimately, that choice touches all of mankind. This is not an easy task when our society values what you have and what you do.
This type of spiritual learning is not in the head nor is it in the form of a Roman numeral outline that requires you to follow sequentially the details or is it a rote form that requires you to fill in the blanks. This attachment to processing content details is the opposite of a contemplative lifestyle. Contemplation means nonattachment. Therein lies the sacredness of the small things in life.
Cultivate a Contemplative Dimension
So to begin this type of learning, you are required to cultivate a contemplative dimension grounded in a practical conviction of Being. In spiritual courage there is acceptance in every circumstance, including death. Acceptance should not be confused with resignation, but rather the ability to accept what is at the moment. You can do this by asking a couple of questions: “What can I control at this moment?” and the cosmic joke is “nothing” (other than acceptance, free of struggle, judgments and angst) and “What prompted me to create this circumstance?” The person aligned with their true Self accepts rather than resists by giving what you are doing your fullest attention such as when you are angry. Anger (not aggression) is an attitude that offers an opportunity to be vulnerable in heartfelt courage. This is spiritual maturity and presence is the gateway to spiritual development.
A contemplative life may include a meditation practice keenly aligned with reflection. This spiritual commitment to reflection resides in simplicity and yields a harmonious and natural life. Probably the biggest trap to this lifestyle approach is attachments. Attachment, like the word courage, is old French, attaché, meaning “nailed to.” If instead we choose an appreciation for the present, we will not be nailed to future “things” that might seduce us to think we have that illusive control. Besides, every day is a day of uncertainty. Only the ego mistakenly believes that you have a schedule set in stone when you walk out the door. Why? The ego strives for certainty.
Letting go of attachments to outcomes diminishes the unhealthy desires and emotional ups and downs that start to move you to your heart or true Self. This work becomes easier when courage actions are implemented such as self-discipline to refine your inner observer or simply a declaration that you will give yourself permission to claim your courage. The heart matures during different stages of courage development. Soon you begin to diminish the distortions of the false self witnessed as “instant opinions.” For example, your relationship with work is a deeply personal choice. You may be vacillating about retiring during economic uncertainty, but as your courage consciousness matures you will notice huge shifts in your perspective about fear, blame or how to transition to a new phase in life. Lack of courage stymies a positive shift in behavior.
While you are alive, attachments, whether to material items or social values, may make you feel safe and comfortable, yet they limit your spontaneous enjoyment of new experiences in the present moment. Ironically, in order to step up in your life or your career, you must first delve deeper into your true Self to find a solid foundation that supports living a courageous life.
• Do you seek security through an attachment to your home?
• Your ethnic group? Your denomination? Your job title?
• Do you have a staunch attachment to some belief that prevents you from manifesting your courage?
• Do you hover in scarcity mentality and unconsciously stay attached to the almighty paycheck while your dreams wither for lack of spiritual nourishment?
• Are you willing to let go of your possessive attitude toward everything?
• What do you pine for?
Try making a list of the things to which you are attached. Review your list and assess where and how these attachments found a home in your psyche. Stopping is the tool to eliminate this draining energy, and learning to become indifferent to the outcome should not be confused with loss of spirit or passion. Spirit and passion remain constant, only regrets diminish. Non-attachment centers you in Being and all its daily joy.
The decision to be content with only the material world or to strive after the spiritual world is always your choice. As one dear friend said at the last stages of her life, “Honey, you ever seen a U-Haul truck pull up with the Hearst?”
Sandra, The Courage Expert
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