Do You Live with Courage/Heart?



“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” (Nin, 1969)

The word courage is from the Latin root. ‘Cour’, which means ‘heart.’ To be courageous then means to live with heart. Living the way of the heart is to face our doubts and fears, move into the unknown while trusting that we’ll come out on the other side.

Like most, you have more courage than you realize. You have shown courage even when you have had jelly in your knees or most especially when your knees were knocking. Like most Women you do not value your Courage enough.

Letting go of guarantees:

Since there are no guarantees, we must hold the conflict of fear and courage to take risks. Courage asks us to let go of the security of logic that we use to create our layer of comfort. We are asked to find our way and at times set aside some of the beliefs, theories and theology passed down to us.  The heart risks and opens while the mind tends to pull down the shades and close the doors.

Becoming more courageous means facing your fears:

Getting clear about what you fear and what you love is an important step on your journey. If you are going to risk and work through your fears, it is important to know what they are and know if they are really yours. Sometimes we carry within us cultural fears, family fears, etc. around issues we have not thought through for ourselves. 

You may ask if I am writing a chapter on Courage, why do I focus so much on fear? It is our fear at all levels that is the impetus to push us into the next level of consciousness, that of courage.

Fear is often a prelude to courage!

For most of us, without the discomfort of fear, we could not become courageous. To be courageous we need the nudge of fear in our lives. So, appreciate your fear and put it in the frame of opportunities and possibilities. It is there for a reason. It is there to help you expand into a more courageous being. As you accept your challenges in life again and again, you will find slowly but surely fears lose their power over you and many disappear.

Why It’s necessary to know what you love:

It is also important to know what you love, as you step courageously on your journey towards a fuller life. Your present loves may be different than what you loved earlier or the earlier may still have your heart.

I remember in early childhood, living on an Island, I loved the wild roses, as well as certain meadow flowers. The roses seemed so alive: survivors, after breaking through the melting snow, and standing strong in a very harsh climate. The meadow flowers beckoned to possibilities of the summer. To this day I remember the awe and joy that I felt seeing the first flowers.

Later in life when given a bouquet of roses all looking beautiful and refined, I had gratitude for the gift. I did not; however, love the roses nearly as much as I would have if the bouquet had been a cluster with some wildness of meadow flowers,or the roses of my youth.

Lion or Lamb?

The point is: ‘be true to yourself.’ 

We are told: “This is beautiful, or that is just wrong,” and if we do not have the courage to stop and examine, we may respond or think the same as others do.

What seems like insignificant preferences when you examine your life, may be an accumulation of compromises leaving you separated from your authentic self.

Forming an intention to overcome fear of not being liked by not automatically accepting other opinions and beliefs, and you will be on a courageous path. Getting over what others think of you means gaining an increase in personal power with every step.

We do damage to our souls when we spend time trying to please others. A Spiritual teacher said that within each of us is a courageous lion. The lion cannot roar because we are too busy masquerading as lambs, to please others, to help them be comfortable.

I have reflected on this point many times over the years when I am fearful and faltering in taking another step into living more consciously/courageously. Reflecting on the lion/lamb metaphor to get clarity regarding the situation. Who I am in this situation? Am I willing to go towards freedom with the roar of courage and be the lion? Do I fear what being stronger means? Whom will I displease? To whom will I be disloyal? Do I push on anyway, or do I cover up my courage and strength to wail with the weakness of a newborn lamb? There is always a choice. What is your pattern of choosing?

Do you betray yourself?

When we step away from the heart’s way: we start closing and tend to let the mind have its way. The mind frets: ‘go this way’, ‘do it this way’; ‘I better keep my job with the health insurance and vacation time.’ It says: ‘stay in this marriage, I may not be happy; but at least there is financial security.’ The mind holds the accumulation of all that we know: the familiar, and our illusion of safety. Thus, when a big crisis occurs, we are ill prepared to incorporate the meaning as we face change that is necessary.

It is not possible for us to be without fears entirely, before we venture on an unknown path. We have to accept the fact that there will be fear anytime we leave our familiar.

You are the herb!

There will be days when you have great hunger for your soul’s desire and courageously move towards it with a directness that may surprise you. Then the other days of anxiety and wavering or “stuckness” whereby nothing seems to be going on.

Something important is going on. So do not pull up the herb to see if it is rooting or growing. It needs the darkness of the soil to germinate, to establish a solid foundation from which to catapult itself through the soil into a larger life.

You are the herb. Just plant the desire (the seed), water it, and give it a little patch where the sun will beckon it into life. You too are being beckoned into a more expansive, courage, heartfelt way of living. There will be resistance, do not judge, give yourself about six months before you review and decide if you are truly on course. View it with clarity, make course corrections, when necessary, but do not judge. Without pitting fear against courage, hold a space for both experiences, let them keep meeting. In allowing space, some of the fear will dissolve and new courage will emerge. 

Feeling stuck?

There are times when mired in fear and unease it is difficult but not impossible to get into a frame of mind that motivates change. Don’t get discouraged. If needed, get professional help to get moving; even a few sessions can help.

Sometimes a new-found strength in one area of life can be expanded to an area where it is more difficult.  

The gain …in not changing:

Difficult to acknowledge is our tendency to stay on the path of least resistance and avoid change. There is more here than first meets the eye. An immediate benefit is the fact that we fit in. Even while claiming to want fulfillment; the talk, the beliefs, and behavior indicate that there is an investment in, and some gain to be had by staying put.

Courage is a first step, an underpinning …

The first step in becoming self-responsible is a courageous step. According to spiritual leader Dr. David Hawkins (Hawkins, 1995), courage is a necessary step into conscious living. Without courage, we can get triggered into fear, shame, guilt, helplessness, apathy, and other dark emotions that keep us stuck. Courage, says Dr. Hawkins, is the level when power first appears, when the possibility for self-empowerment and self-responsibility occurs. At levels of consciousness lower than courage, the world is experienced as frightening, and/or hopeless. Courage then is the level with whichwe allow curiosity and adventure to seep in. 

A courageous heart will go forth and engage with life despite confusion and fear. (John Odonahue…To Bless the Space Between us)

Blessings, Laura 


Laura B Young

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