Courage and Vulnerability

 

Vulnerability
sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always
comfortable, but they’re never weakness.

Brené Brown, Daring Greatly:
How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and
Lead

We have funny ideas about courage. To most of us, it seems somehow synonymous with physical daring. We think of soldiers as courageous, and people
who lay down their bodies in front of bulldozers in acts of protest. Somewhere
along the line, we have conflated the concept of courage with physical risk. We
think you’ve got to have guts to be courageous.
But, actually, the root of the word courage is cor, which means heart. So, the central
idea behind courage isn’t guts at all. It’s heart.  In yoga and Ayurveda, the anahata chakra is commonly referred to as the heart chakra. It is the balancing
point between the lower three chakras and the upper three chakras. It is the
mid-way point between the very root of our being and pure ether.
The word anahata translates
as unstruck, unhurt, or unbeaten. The anahata
chakra is the origin for mystically or celestially arising sound that can only
be heard within the realm of pure consciousness.
Consciousness, in this case, does not belong to one
individual. It is a fluid multiplicity. The opening of the anahata chakra, then, connects us with the consciousness of others
and makes a sound that reverberates across creation. This openness allows the individual to be united with the
social, with other consciousness-es.
Courage, then, requires not physical fortitude, but
psycho-spiritual vulnerability. And of all the virtues, vulnerability seems to
be the most difficult to cultivate.
Brené Brown, a researcher who has been studying vulnerability for years,
characterizes vulnerability as the ability to be authentic, to present
ourselves to others truthfully instead of representing who we think we should
be.
Vulnerability, at its heart, means keeping the heart
open, no matter what the consequences are. Brené Brown says: 

 To love someone fiercely, to
believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in
time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are
risks that involve vulnerability and often pain.

Courage,
then, does require willingness to accept pain, but not in a “put up your dukes”
sort of way. Courage means being fully present in the world in the face of rejection,
betrayal, and plain old everyday difficulty. It means being present to the pain
of others even when it hurts you, too.

 

 
This
is the kind of presence that we create by accessing the anahata chakra. It is the presence that is both grounded in our
most authentic selves and also fully present to the ethereal consciousness that
we share with every other living thing.
From
this perspective, courage requires not hard, unwavering aggression, but indiscriminate
yielding. Courage is the soft heart fully engaged with the world. 

To hear more about courage and vulnerability, check out Brené Brown’s TED talk:

 
 
 

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