Courage to Be

Yesterday as I prepared for class a theme jumped into my consciousness, something that requires tremendous strength, something that we all do, but so often don’t give ourselves credit for, ‘the courage to be you.’ The courage of your heart.

I offered this dharma wisdom in class and the inspiration was affirmed when a student was reflecting that this message was exactly what they needed to hear with what they were currently facing in their life. I said to them, “I think this is a message that we all need to hear.”

Perhaps the inspiration came from watching the Mr. Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor over the weekend. I hadn’t connected those dots, until mid-class when I was suddenly called to speak about how committed Mr. Rogers was to his mission, to being true to himself amid a time when television, particularly kids television was moving faster and faster and farther and farther from his theme of acceptance and simple life lessons.

Courage lives within all of us

My favorite theme, my personal mission statement as a yoga teacher, and what I hope to offer to every student who enters class when I am teaching is courage. I believe courage lives within all of us. Whoever we are, however we’re showing up in the world and in our relationships, this is tremendously fearless. When we stop to think about how we engage in the world, as a mother, father, brother, sister, son, or daughter; as a committed partner, husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend; as a listener, a leader, a responsible employee, a vocal advocate, a committed member of a group, board, congregation, or simply our family, it’s enough to celebrate. Sure, we make mistakes, but that’s what requires all the more courage… that we continue to show up with all of ourselves, with our perfect imperfections. That we show up knowing that we aren’t going to always ‘get it right.’ We may miscommunicate, we may stumble in the face of our challenges, but nonetheless we persevere. This takes remarkable courage! The courage to be you.

Give yourself time to pause and reflect (each day) on what’s required of you and how you went about your business. Celebrate your wins and use your losses to learn and continue to grow. You are valiant. You are bold. You show up in amazing ways all the time, that are frequently unnoticed even by you. You are brave and strong and willing. You are open and understanding. You embody grace. These things may not happen all at once, but you possess these attributes. Keep doing what you’re doing and know that you’re supported by the universe.

Ordinary Courage

My favorite definition of yoga comes from the Bhagavad Gita, as Krishna teaches Arjuna, “There is no need to worry whether things go well or ill. Devote yourself to the yoga practices, for yoga is skill in action.” Krishna is reminding all of us not to be anxious or burdened by our attachment to our efforts, but to continue on the path wholeheartedly. As I was confirming the latin root of courage I stumbled on this gem from Brene Brown. “Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.”

The courage to be you is breathtaking, it’s a wonder to behold. You’re “ordinary courage” is extraordinary because no one lives it quite like you. Be proud of yourself, for being your most authentic self. Honor the courage you’ve shown in the face of your fears. I hope you continue to show up in this way. This is the courage of your heart.

That’s the message I believe we all need to hear.


Question: Where do you need to find the courage to speak up? What’s holding you back?

Here’s a nice blog piece about Yoga is Skill in Action by an old friend and yoga teacher, Cindy Lusk