Courage, Heart, and the Inner Voice

Today is Memorial Day here in the United States. While the rest of my family loaded the minivan for an early morning of surfing at the beach, I attended Gabrielle Gerard’s yoga class at my favorite place on earth to practice yoga, The Space Above.  Today’s holiday class was Connecting to the Warrior’s Heart. And guess what – I have the heart of a warrior.

The warrior in yoga learns to practice nonviolence towards self, especially when confronting the inner battles that can cause chaos.  Our emotions swell and deflate daily, even moment-by-moment. Things go well, “hooray!” I’m having a rough day – “what’s wrong with me?” These cycles of happiness and sadness, peacefulness and anxiety, wash across us like waves on a sandy shore. The warrior seeks spaciousness and heart to be with What Is with compassion and courage. The word courage comes from the Latin word cor, which means heart. Brené Brown expresses the original and more modern takes on courage beautifully:

“Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and, today, courage is more synonymous with being heroic. Heroics are important and we certainly need heroes, but I think we’ve lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we’re feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage. Heroics are often about putting our life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line.”

I hold Warrior pose and my quads are quivering, my mind directs, “Take a break, for God’s sake!” I dig deep, find my courage and breathe through the momentary challenge. When I stretch forward into a balance and feel the flush of victory – I did it! – my ego is giddy. I breathe equanimity, knowing that the temporary setbacks and victories are part of my journey but do not define who I am. It is when I find the courage – the heart – to listen to my Inner Voice that I find the peace and the freedom to live fully into my own life.

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