Courage to Begin Again
‘Begin Again’ is one of my favorite sayings… as a hashtag, it’s a mantra for the electronic age to inspire self-care. As someone who likes to achieve and prefers forward movement, cultivating the practice of starting over was a big deal, a REALLY big deal! I had to consciously give myself permission to let go of what I thought life should look like, embrace the reality of what was. And that required me to pause and breathe!
Sometimes I needed more than just ONE breath.
Starting over, even in the best of circumstances, can be scary and unsettling. Rather than starting over, or even pausing to see if we’re on the “right” path, many of us have been taught to push through, to keep on keepin’ on. Maybe you’ve heard something like this: “You’ve come so far. You’ve invested so much time/energy/money/etc. It would be silly/wasteful/irresponsible to turn back/quit now.”
Sounds logical doesn’t it?
Using only logic and reason to define life and living well doesn’t feel very good does it?
The Yogis teach that we have THREE minds to guide us. Logic and Reason come from the brain, which is only ONE of the three minds: the intellectual brain of the head, the emotional brain of the heart and the intuitive brain of the belly. The brain helps us determine fact from fiction. The heart helps us sort out preference, what we like and don’t like. And the belly clarifies what is real and worth from that which is unreal or based on myth. Remembering (or relearning) how to re-engage the dialog between the three “minds” and facilitate collaboration is a practice in itself. One that is critical to Inspired Living and fundamental to the practice of Yoga.
In the space of that breath, I found the COURAGE to begin again. . . to overcome the fear and be in the unknown. Not because I knew what to do or that I knew I would be successful, but rather because I knew change was inevitable. Whether I liked it or not, change was undeniable. Breath reminded me that I have the power to choose. Choose my next step, choose how I respond to what is.
- Sometimes taking the breath in was the act of courage.
- Sometimes courage was expressed in releasing the breath.
Courage is not an answer, nor is it a solution. Courage isn’t logical. Courage is emotional. Courage is often intuitive. Noticing the breath simply creates the pause that allows us to feel and notice the moment just as it is. In that pause the breath invites us to CHOOSE to begin again. Courage is accepting responsibility to choose. The choice to be with what is, just as it is.
Draw in the breath: INHALE. Courage. Discover permission to NOT have the answer! That’s Compassion.
Let go of the breath: EXHALE. Courage. Allow permission to be in process. That’s Trust.
INHALE. EXHALE. (repeat!)
With all the buzz of the holidays, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and distracted. This is why I encourage yogis to NOT abandon their practice in this season, but to generously, compassionately tweak it to fit your schedule and your seasonal capacity. A little yoga is better than no yoga. And anything done mindfully is Yoga!#itsallyoga
Wisely adapting your practice might mean shorter practices, fewer practices or even a shift toward more gentle and restorative styles. Remember, even a little yoga is better than no yoga (and it’s all yoga! when we do “it” mindfully!)
Strategy for Cultivating Courage
If Step 1 is cultivating breath which allows for permission to begin again, Step 2 is establishing an attentive nature and a receptivity to what we notice. This is the practice of dharana (focus) and invites us to notice what is and opens us to the opportunity for choice. But how do we know what to choose?
Step 3 of this preparation to Begin Again is Introspection. Introspection is a form of meditation, the practice of seeing clearly with “new” eyes, seeing through the veil of illusion or Maya. In other words, in the pause for breath with the focus of attention, we connect to Witness. Witness is the non-judgmental observer who helps you see more clearly, to explore your story, beliefs, assumptions and experiences in pursuit of Wisdom.
Stephen Cope, author or numerous Yoga books, identifies two ingredients for meditation: (1) Establishing a calm, abiding space and (2) peeling back the layers to see clearly. Asana (posture) and pranayam (breath) (as well as the Yamas and Niyamas) lay the foundation of safety and security enabling us to peal back the layers of armor, protection and “fitting-in” strategies to see the true Self. Yoga calls this Self the Atman, or the Divine Spark that lives within each of us and unites us as One.
Seeing clearly is about recognizing not only what is but what isn’t. Rectifying these disparities can require a great deal of effort and work. A coach or therapist is often a great asset for this part of the practice to maintain the sense of safety and provide an objective, Witness perspective. If you are ready for this deeper work, consider accepting my offer of an Inspiration Check-up to see if we would be a good fit for your work of Introspection.
Once uncovered or remembered, truth and clarity allow us to confidently, and competently choose our next right step. In other words, we’re ready to Begin Again.
THREE Steps for Courage & Preparing to Begin Again
- Just Breathe: Cultivate Breath to pause and embrace permission.
- Observe and Comment: Engage Attention to feel and notice opportunity.
- Choose Wisely: Invite Introspection to see clearly what is real and true and access wisdom.
When the “prep” work is complete you’re read for action… the practice of putting your intention into form!
Invitation to practice:
Choose a pose that is grounded and open. Take a few breaths and feel into your body.
A Daily Practice by Catherine Esposito Prescott (an excerpt)
Can you play with fear?
What he means is
can you make a space within your fear for the grace of one breath?
Can you breathe in it, can you breathe through it?
Can you balance it with peace, with hope?
Watch your breath. Notice how it moves and what you feel. Invite a mindfulness in body shape and check in on what you are feeling.
Once calm and grounded, notice what shows up in the moments of your practice. You might notice strong sensations or even emotions. Keep focusing on what else you are aware of.
Without attachment to the answer, continue to repeat “I am aware of… ”
- What do you hear, see, smell, taste, touch?
- What do you feel in your body?
- What do you feel in your heart?
Rather than getting tripped up on the mental energy of explaining WHY you feel what you feel or even How to fix or address what you feel, it’s enough just to notice. This is the Observe and Comment stage of preparing for what’s next… preparing to begin again.
Are you Ready?
A simple daily breath practice is a powerful tool to help us begin again and cultivate courage. Courage in breath is the simplest, most powerful way I know to begin again to live in peace and hope. Peace with what is and what has been. Hope for what is to come!
Any moment is the perfect moment to begin again. Are you ready?
Want an easy, accessible place to begin? Check out our free videos on YouTube!