Times Like These Require Courage
In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined the courage that was going to be required to face the year 2020.
I could not have known my predestined trip to India would play such an enormous role in how I dealt with things, like a world-wide debilitating pandemic, country-splitting racism, and the enormous waves of emotion and depression that come with both of those.
Watching these things come into fruition, and discovering that they were going to knock me on my ass, like a hurricane force wind was not at all what I had planned for my year. Interestingly, largely because of social media, I watched much of the world be effected the same way. Then something strange happened. People started contacting me for readings, chats, phone conversations to help them deal with their anxieties and stresses.
It stopped me in my tracks. How on earth could I, where I was emotionally, be of any help to anyone? I wasn't even able to really help myself much from one day to the next. Regardless, the calls were coming in, and I was booking sessions. So, I did what I do when I am overwhelmed. I went to sleep. It didn't help. As a form of avoidance it works wonderfully, but getting me ready to provide healthy guidance for others? Not so much.
Mentally taking inventory, I realized I had some other tools at my disposal, recently learned tools -- meditation, kriya, yoga. So, I sat in meditation. I did some yoga. I did breath work. I centered myself as best I could. I focused on the cosmic oneness. I felt better, but I still wasn't sure I was going to be able to make a difference for my clients.
You see, I exist to be of help to others. It's who I have always wanted to be, and having to shift in order to do that, despite theses crazy times, forced my hand. It forced me to step forward, not even knowing where exactly I was going. It forced me to muster up courage that I was certain I did not have. Courage I was going to end up coaching others to explore for themselves. Self-confidence. Self-love. Self-compassion.
Each time, about 30 minutes before a reading was to begin, I sequestered myself in my home office, meditated on the energy of the person I was going to be reading for, and tuned in. A couple times I would light some incense or put a fresh flower on my statue of Durga Maa that I brought back from India with me. Durga is the goddess generally viewed as embodying courage, although there is so much more to her. (More about her, her many arms and tools and their meanings later.) I chose her because my time in India had shown me that I could benefit from more devotion in my life (Jai Hanuman), and since I am not inclined to show devotion specifically to a god or goddess, I chose to be devoted to being compassionate and courageous. Compassion was an easy choice, that comes naturally to me -- well except for self-compassion -- that requires effort. Courage was going to be work as well, and I knew as soon as I took it on, the Universe was going to hand me situations in which I would have to develop and use it. Hello, 2020!
As I tuned in for the reading, nearly every time, my heart would begin to race. The overwhelming anxiety present in the world felt encapsulated in this one person's aura. And in the next one's. And the next. This was, in this moment, the vibe of the cosmic oneness. We were one in our fear, panic and anxiety. We were one, and the vibration was getting increasingly more powerful. It was then that I realized that bringing out my courage was not only critical for me, but for the planet. The shift had to start somewhere, and the people in my life were asking for it to start with me. So I opened myself up to the most authentic conversation possible. I focused on delivering message with grace, tact, and love. I put myself in the shoes of those I was coaching, and little by little, both our energies changed. Conversations that started with furrowed brows, heart palpitations and crying, ended with deep breaths, relaxed shoulders and even laughter.
Then something unexpected happened. My clients started using a new word in their appreciations. They started telling me I had courage. Out of nowhere and without prompting! They said I was courageous! It blew my mind! Then I started to realize that courage was made up of many other things. Like the many arms and tools of Durga Maa, there are many facets and interpretations of courage.
Goddess Durga is depicted as a warrior woman with eight hands carrying weapons of different kinds assuming mudras, (symbolic hand gestures) that represent her teachings:
In her first upper right hand, she holds Chakra. It represents duty and the responsibilities we must perform in life.
Her upper left hand holds a conch. It represents happiness, and specifically speaks to performing our duties cheerfully and without resentment.
In Durga's second right lower hand, she holds a sword which represents the eradication of our vices -- learning to discriminate and eradicate our own evils.
The bow and arrow in her second left lower hand symbolize character. It reminds us that when we face difficulties in life we should not lose our character or our values.
In her third lower left hand, she holds a lotus which symbolizes detachment. As we age, we learn the benefit of relinquishing attachment to that which is external to us. It is like the lotus flower smiling and giving its beauty to us, despite it growing in dirty, muddy water.
The club in her third right lower hand is the symbol of Hanuman, symbolizing devotion and surrender. It reminds us that whatever we do in life, we should do with love and devotion and accept the outcome as the Almighty’s will.
Her fourth left lower hand symbolizes courage. In it she holds a trident or trishul. We must have courage to eliminate our evil qualities and face the challenges in our lives.
Her fourth lower right hand, outstretched, palm facing us symbolizes forgiveness and blessings. It reminds us that we must forgive ourselves and others for mistakes and/or any hurt we may have caused.
Durga Maa is depicted as riding on a lion or a tiger. Tigers symbolize unlimited power. An image of Durga riding a tiger indicates that she possesses unlimited power and uses it to protect virtue and destroy evil. The lion is a symbol of uncontrolled animalistic tendencies like anger, arrogance, selfishness, greed, jealousy, desire to harm others, and more. Her sitting on it reminds us to control these qualities, so that we are not controlled by them.
She is usually shown wearing a red sari. The color red symbolizes action and the red clothes signify that she is destroying evil and protecting mankind from pain and suffering.
(This info was collected mainly from this article.)
Once I took a closer look at the many parts of courage, as represented by Durga Maa, I realized that as long as I am consciously working on and aware of as many of these parts as are available to me in that moment, then I am taking action in courage. So are you! If you are practicing forgiveness -- that is courage! If you are taking action in line with good character and values -- that is courage! If you are completing your duties with happiness and not with resentment -- that is courage too!
Having this image and representation of courage in the form of Durga Maa, is an amazing visual of how each of us is actually already being courageous every single day. It ceased to be a goal to attain, and became a skill to hone -- one I apparently had the whole time.
If this pandemic, the spotlight being shone on racism and violence in our country, and all the other things that have come with this "year of hindsight" have shown me anything, it is the importance of stopping and looking deeply within ourselves. The first thing we may find may be those dark things we seek to hide. Racism. Sexism. Fear. Manipulation. Narcissism. And if, when faced with those ugly pieces of ourselves, we stop there and back off in denial, we never get to the treasure trove that is available when we can move beyond them. When we accept our own darkness, we can then shine light into that darkness to clear it away. Both the darkness and the light lie within us. It is our duty, our responsibility to courageously create balance and healing in ourselves, so we can bring those things to the world as whole.
The courage is inside you. Look. You will find it.