Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Bravery

I just finished a wonderful, very challenging book for me, called "When Love Meets Fear" by David Richo. David Richo is also the author of "How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving", which gives you an idea of what he writes about...being a grown-up and being mature. He is a former Roman Catholic priest who converted to Buddhism and is a psychotherapist. I highlighted different parts to share with you.

So much of the time it is in the sharing with you here on my blog that I realize the purpose in my highlighting and sharing...and this is the case here, so thank you...

In the early part of the book, David Richo writes about fear. I really identified with this quote:

"Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past me I will turn to see fear's path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." ---Dune: Frank Herbert from the book "When Love Meets Fear" by David Richo

Here is another quote, a different type of quote, from the same book that I also identified with. I feel this way a lot lately. A lot.

"St. Francis in the cave prayed: "Let me hide in the womb of this wet earth that sponges me in soft gentle mud. O womb of earth, hide me from eyes that freeze me in paralyzing fear."

And yet there is so much hope...another quote, again from the same book:

"Our work on our fear follows a simple path: admit you are afraid, allow yourself to feel the fear fully, act as if fear were not getting in your way."

And then one last quote, this one about the last part, the acting as if the fear weren't getting in the way:
"I make the choices I would make if I did not feel the fear. A good question to ask yourself is: "What would I do if I were not afraid?" "Acting as if," throughout the day, throughout the week, throughout the year, builds a bridge to fearlessness. It is a neuronal highway. This is how you can change the messages in your brain, creating a highway to freedom from the cellular fear. Since fear is encoded in us physiologically, freedom from it requires a bodily change. Every time you act as if you were not afraid, you instruct your cells to let go of fear. Every time you rationalize it away and do not act, the fear is instructed to leave everything as it is. We are never free from fear entirely, but we are free from being gripped by the neurotic story lines that surround the fear and make us so ashamed and powerless that we cannot handle it. That is true freedom from fear."

I know that I am needing to rebuild my "Be Brave" neuronal pathways. When Jessie and I had the discipline of BE BRAVE, I accomplished so much. I really viewed BE BRAVE as a spiritual practice. Slowly I think I slipped backwards into being afraid of so much. Or perhaps (yes, this is it!) I just moved on to a new level, but haven't had the courage and the energy to step up and to venture to where I want to go, to move in courage and bravery where I am now. I can blame the depression, but I won't. I want to move on with depression.

I want to emphasize that it's not that I'm not being brave now; it's just that I'm not flowing the way I was almost a year ago when we did the challenge. Jessie is---YAY! I take inspiration from her. I know that my circumstances are different, but I want to be heroic in them, and I don't feel as though I am.

Randy Pausch is heroic in his circumstances. My circumstances are nothing like his, and he can be a marvelous example for us all in how to face troubles, even life-threatening troubles, with grace and courage and dignity.

I want to be like Randy Pausch. I want to build and strengthen the neural pathways that lead me to do courageous things in my unique circumstances. I miss BEing BRAVE.

I'm still not sure where I'm going with this, exactly. Just the general direction. Toward BEing BRAVE.

~Photos by LoveHubbie Mark, some altered by Me


thailandchani said...

That does sound like a very interesting book!

I thought of a book you might like. Reading this made me think of it. "Grace and Grit" by Ken and Treya Wilber. (Yes, it's that Ken Wilber.

Also.. "The Resilient Spirit" by Polly Young-Eisendrath.

As for bravery, I admit to not being very brave about a lot of things. In other areas, I can be foolishly brave.

Olivia said...

It is, Chani! Thanks so much for your book recommendations; they sound right up my alley. Bravery is such a weird thing. I don't know if I described it very well in my post, but I feel like there is something I need to do soon, I just don't know what it is yet. Love and peace, O

Carla said...

Looking at all the beautiful nature photography your LoveHubbie takes, I can't help but think of the grace in BEing exactly who and how you are this very moment. We humans are nature too! We experience growth and blossoming and withering and hibernation -- and our personal seasons aren't always in tune with our environment's. You're so good at honoring where you are. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself here.

Olivia said...

You're welcome, Carla. I have to say that I feel so privileged to have a place to come and share myself where people will actually care and give attention to what I have to say and feel. It has really changed and affirmed who I am.

Your reminder to me to be content with being present and not knowing the next step---this is very helpful, Carla. I can BE and BLOOM :)



Kikipotamus said...

OMG, I am SO with you on this one. I want to forge new neuronal pathways. I didn't participate in the Be Brave Challenge, but now I really need something like that. I want to do this "act as if" thing. It is very in line with what I'm learning from Pema Chodron and Shenpa, too.

Isn't it funny how we have brave periods? When I practice making phone calls, I can reach a place where my phone phobia is quite weak. But if I go a month of no phone calls, I am back where I started...paralyzed and unable to pick up the phone.

PRACTICE! I have to 'act as if' over and over and over and not stop. Sigh.

Olivia said...

Kelly, It is truly, truly a practice. It got to where it was EASY to be brave. And I would just "see" what the next thing was. And I knew that if I did the hard thing, the next thing would still be hard, but easier, and my life would EXPAND not contract. It was a brave period that was invited, but more---"generated"---via the support of the group, and especially, Jessie. You just KNEW she, and everyone else was going through the same thing and it made ALL THE DIFFERENCE! :)
Courage and love, O

Rick Hamrick said...

Yet another of the myriad advantages to being fully engaged with life, to being completely present, is that the ego-driven concepts of fear and bravery are shunted aside for simply doing what you are inspired to do as your part of the scene unfolding.

Given less opportunity to hesitate, we all are braver than we would otherwise be! I think of fear as a stew: as one sits for prolonged periods, the fear grows ever so slowly. Bravery is a quick stir-fry: a couple of fast trips around the wok, and you're ready to go.

For me, fear has a great deal in common with procrastination. In both cases, the more I think about them, the stronger they get. And, by simply stepping into the task at hand, they are both instantly dissipated. Not gone forever, but gone for the moment.

I had not seen that most-recent speech by Randy Pausch, O--thanks for including the link to his site, where his "charge to the graduates" of Carnegie Mellon this May is viewable. He talks of such simple concepts, yet ones we all wander from: seek your passion and live it when you find it, live life fully--you will have fewer regrets at the end--and build relationships based upon your passion, as those people will be ones who you honor, and who honor you.

Olivia said...

Rick, I do appreciate your comment and will consider the alternative of being present and just acting in the moment.

I do find something, it seems, in reaching, even striving. Looking within, into the future (as opposed to the present) and feeling the present fear intensely, then moving on nevertheless to a desired action. All for the benefit of a future desired result.

I also find something in a structured program like BE BRAVE in which I had the intention to challenge the fear on a daily basis. It was kind of like an exercise program for my courage muscle.

I'm not sure I could grow as much or get the same positive results by being fully present and having it end there. Perhaps that is because I'm not so good at being fully present!

Well, for me, at least, I think there is value in feeling the fear rather than shunting it aside. I'm not sure what it is, but it is more of an embracing of a feeling, which I can do in the present. It makes me more present.

I hope this makes sense. I could be missing what you were saying. I am adding here a contrast, where I'm coming from just now!

Love and peace and presence,


Rick Hamrick said...

You know, O, I think we all should go about this in whatever fashion gives the result we are seeking. The bottom line is, we're here to learn how this game works, and it works a bit differently for each of us. Some of what we learn is globally applicable: breathing, for example. Some of what we learn may apply only to our own little situation, and none of the six billion others would find it helpful.

Most of the time, what we learn falls somewhere between those two extremes of applicability.

I agree with you that part of being present is experiencing, that moment, what your feelings are. My merhod of expressing the difficulty in moving forward while one's ego is busy plucking our strings was too strong: if we have feelings, stuffing them or gruffly pushing them aside is a really bad idea. Perhaps I should have said, "moving through them..." as that better-expresses what I believe: feel what you feel, and then do what you are inspired to do, even if the feelings were counter to taking that action.

And, as human beings with the capability of imagining the future, we will never stop doing so, nor should we! It's pretty hard to realize your dream unless it is future-focused! They don't call it a dream if it is focused on the past--that's a regret, and we cannot take action on those to cure the problem in the time it occurred. We can, of course, take action now to fulfill ourselves and check off a regret. My mom did that, by finishing college and graduating in the same ceremony with my sister. Turning a regret into a dream is a great way to feel strongly about one's self.

Thanks for continuing the conversation, Olivia!

Olivia said...

Thanks for the clarification, Rick, and congratulations to your Mom. I love discussions SO MUCH! Thank YOU for continuing,



Rick Hamrick said...

It probably is no news, Olivia, to learn that I saved one last reminder for its own comment entry, and you know what it means:

There is no wall.

Angela said...

"We are never free from fear entirely, but we are free from being gripped by the neurotic story lines that surround the fear and make us so ashamed and powerless that we cannot handle it. That is true freedom from fear."

Thank you for sharing this, O. It sounds like a fantastic book and your entire post about it is just beautiful.

Angela (letting go of the neurotic story-lines, even if momentarilly - thanks to my blogging friend, Olivia.

Olivia said...


I'm so glad you liked it. It is SUCH a good book. I've missed you---I was just thinking about you today---and it's good to see you here. Love, O

laundrygirl said...

These are such great quotes. I realized recently that I have been so fearful that I am often paralyzed without even realizing it. This sense of dread lingers over my head and I have gotten used to in in some ways, so much that I am just starting to see how much it has held me back.

Olivia said...

Indeed, Kristine, fear can really, really hold us back from so much. Bravery is going along with what we want despite the fear. I love the BE BRAVE process because of the flexing of the bravery muscles it fosters! I'm glad the post inspired you, Peace, O xxoo