Only a little over 3 short years ago I was at a yoga teacher training and we were assigned an exercise to trace the outline of our bodies. After we finished tracing our bodies we were asked to fill in everything that we loved about ourselves. At this point in my life I very much self-objectififed myself. I wrote down things like ‘big beautiful breasts, tan skin, skinny stomach’- everything that patriarchy would articulate as the ‘beauty ideal’. When I was dissatisfiedly finished I gazed around the room at the other woman’s bodies and witnessed all the soulful things they loved about themselves. The thing that caught my eye the most was everyone’s hearts. Everyone’s heart was exploding from their body and I suddenly realized ‘omg I don’t have a heart’.
Before this training and in my previous life I never felt loving. I didn’t feel loving towards myself and I defiantly did not feel loving towards anyone else. My heart was as armored as could be. All that I yearned for was to have a pure heart full of love- but it felt nearly impossible at that time. It felt as if I was the tin-man. If I had only one wish granted from a genie, it would be to have a heart. Little did I know I always had a warm, tender, juicy heart- it just needed to be unthawed. The unthawing process could only unfold with the willingness to engage life with courageous love. Love that requires leaning into the razor blade edge of discomfort. Love that depends on counterintuitive actions to the ego’s habitual patterns.
There are 3 major types of courageous love- courageous love towards the world, courageous love in intimacy, courageous love towards oneself. By engaging in these 3 acts of courageous love- the inner tin-man realizes that a heart more expansive than the cosmos has always been within him- he just as to do the work.
Courageous love towards the world:
Courageous love towards the world asks that we show up every day remembering to open-wide. The individualistic culture of the western world has tampered our spirits and created blindness from the mundane magic that is available in every single moment. We are taught that the other is ‘dangerous’ and to stay to ourselves. It is not not a norm for us to say hi to everyone we see on the streets or truly care about what someone responds back with when you ask them how they are. Courageous love towards the word asks that we show up every day and remember our ordinary purpose as humans- to be beacons of light. When we allow ourselves to be a vessel, all of our little problems seem to take care of themselves and we find ourselves living in a elevated state of confidence and joy.
Action: Every time you show up anywhere for the next 2 weeks (the market, school, work, your own kitchen!, etc. pray to be used- pray to be a vessel for light to flow through)Any time you are wanting to close off when you are in a public place- counteract it and choose to instead represent the one who sent you. Journal about how you feel at the end of the day.
Courageous love in intimate relationship:
In A Course In Miracles it states that we believe that we have many problems, but we only have one- our separation from God(love). In intimate relationships it is a lot more challenging to lean into that razor blade edge of unconditional love because there is a whole lot more of our egos invested! Again, the most important thing to remember is that God/Goddess( you fill in what resonates) wants to use us. Our willingness to be used is most important, and in the situations that seem near impossible to love we need to demonstrate to the world the potential of the heart- the potential of courageous love. Prayer is the medium of miracles. In situations that seem ‘impossible’ to love we must remember that love is not of our making, it is a mystical force that is done through us. This is where the all-mighty force of our higher power comes in to restore our minds back to love. Just like we need to pump iron to build muscle, we need to build a spiritual musculature system- and prayer is the channel to do this. We must remember that God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
Action: For 2 weeks pray for the miracle of courageous love in what ever intimate relationship(s) is most turbulent. I would encourage you to write it in your journal in the morning and in the evening. Pray for the same things you would wish for yourself and to see them through the eyes of innocence and love. Pray to be shown how to show up differently and how you can be in service.
Mantra: Please bring forth the miracle of courageous love.
Courageous love towards oneself:
Radical forgiveness is the foundation of courageous self-love. When we show up closed off in the world, when we give someone the finger and tell them to fuck off (whoops!)- we must remember to forgive ourselves! We must remember that we are human, and navigating this life thing is not easy. We eff up, and it is okay. The only way to open up the portal of the heart once again is to be gentle with ourselves and then choose differently. The beautiful thing about life is we can constantly choose again. We don’t ever have to be stuck in molasses- we always have the choice to open-wide. It might be super uncomfortable to forgive ourselves sometimes, but courage is having fear and going towards it anyways. Forgiveness lifts us above this world and teaches us how to see with spiritual vision, with the mind, sight, and heart of God/Goddess/Spirit.
Another vital practice of courageous self-love is setting boundaries for ourselves. Boundaries make people feel uncomfortable sometimes- and that is OKAY! When we are living authentically, not everyone will like us- and that is more than okay as well! Courageous love doesn’t mean being a people pleaser, it means not holding onto aversions. Setting boundaries can be a sticky landscape, especially for woman, but at the end of the day we need them so that we can show up genuinely and be fully in service to the world.
Action: For at least a week set 1 boundary a day. Examples of boundary setting : *Say you are in the middle of doing work, and someone approaches you- say hello with warmth- and then graciously tell them that you need some space to be. *If someone calls and you only have 5 minutes- instead of ignoring their phone call, answer them and tell them you only have 5 minutes- and give them your all for the 5.
Mantra/prayer: I forgive myself for being human, but I remember that I am so much more- this is where my power lies. Please restore my mind to love.
It is a sure thing that once we begin to practice the 3 types of courageous love, the tin-man inside will be skipping down the yellow brick road with a trail of butterflies following! A little over 3 years ago, I literally did not believe I was love or lovable- but, I had the radical willingness to open my heart. I knew that nothing was more important in life than courageous love. Today everyone tells me my greatest gift is my open heart and my ability to love. This is nothing short of a miracle built from action.
In ACIM it states that our intentions are not enough, our willingness is everything. By taking these simple (but not easy) action steps we invite the universal force of love to take over us and show us how to love.
Please share a comment about what courageous love means to you in your own words or a specific way you can take action today!
Also- please check out my coaching services if you are interested in having a personal guide in this journey of courageous love! I offer 1:1 coaching services that help you uncover love so that you can live in this bountiful miracle- mindedness!