Working with Courage

By Janet Solyntjes

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Mindful Living: Teachings and Practices from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), August 27-31, 2015 — Click here to learn more

In my early years of meditation training I was unable to sit still for long, maybe five minutes, before I would shift my body with hopes of improving my practice. My body hurt, my mind was impossible, and I was crawling out of my skin much of the time. My practice revealed glimpses of “calm abiding” and “dignity,” but it was tough going!

My teachers reminded me that practice was a breeding ground for courage. Courage, I was told, becomes the seedbed for nurturing our deepest aspiration for a meaningful life and for a sane society. It takes courage to be present to the unknown, to touch what is frightening, to let go of what is familiar, and, once again, open. Now I remember to bring my heart to the cushion ~ how else will I cultivate bravery?

Three Minute Practice: The Courage of this Moment

Ask yourself this:

  • What would it take for me to fully inhabit the experience of being human right now?
  • Can I feel the sensations of my body?
  • Am I being tugged about by my internal narrator and not realizing it?
  • What am I really feeling in this moment?

After reading through the list of questions then do nothing. Simply be. After a while, go through the list of questions again. Now once again, simply be. After three minutes drop the exercise and proceed through your day.

Whatever you did during the three minutes required some level of courage (a willing and open heart) for it took you out of the habit of dis-attention into active self-reflection.

~~~

JanetSolyntjesJanet Solyntjes, MA, is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition and Adjunct Professor at Naropa University. A practitioner of mind-body disciplines since 1977, she completed a professional training in MBSR with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli and an MBSR Teacher Development Intensive at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Janetleads mindfulness retreats in the U.S. and internationally and is co-founder of the Boulder-based Center for Courageous Living.

One thought on “Working with Courage

  1. Hi Janet,
    We have met briefly with passings through Boulder over the years. Now recovering from a virus caught in Cuba and reading your 3 minute practice:the courage of this moment, it is clear yet again, it is always a new moment. Every moment requires kind inquiry rather than conclusion – which is what can be done a lot when we are sick.
    Thanks for these words of wisdom.
    Hope you are keeping well.
    Catriona

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