What’s Bravery Got to Do with It?

I stumbled into Shambhala three years ago wanting to learn more about meditation.  I figured I’d learn some cool stuff and totally bliss out while trying to get my act together.  A coworker had mentioned they had read a book by Pema Chödrön and suggested I do the same since I was interested in Buddhism.  Sure, no problem.  The Buddhists seem like oceans of calm.  I’m in.  I picked up a copy of “When Things Fall Apart” and everything I believed about myself and how I thought life should work completely crumbled.  What do you mean I should embrace fear?  Have you lost your mind?  I’ve spent my entire life running from fear.  After reading the book, I began to examine my own life.  There had to be more to it than boys, bars, booze, sex and brunch.

My biggest fear when I was in my twenties revolved around being single and that fear continued into my thirties.  I was always running from one thing to the next to escape that loneliness.  Chapter Nine on the Six Kinds of Loneliness really hit home.  “Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy.  Heartache is not something we choose to invite in.  It’s restless and pregnant and hot with the desire to escape and find something or someone to keep us company.  When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a nonthreatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down.”  Wow.  Being brave enough to face those fears is what creates a true warrior.  Being brave is the basis of my practice.  Taking time to notice everything that is happening in my mind and relaxing with it, not judging, is a constant exercise.  Bravery has everything to do with it.