I'm reading
Courage is making space
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
Courage is making space
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
Courage is making space
Pass it on
Pass it on
Articles
23 July 2019

Courage is making space

Giving ourselves permission to retreat to a place of nurturing requires courage.

Written by Jane Hone

Behind extraordinary ideas, there are extraordinary people. Dumbo Feather is a magazine about these people.

Discussed in this Story

I was terrified of athletics races at high school. Before a race, I would feel a churning in my stomach like I was going to vomit. But I was a fast runner, and it seemed important that I push myself to do this thing I didn’t want to do, so I never backed out.

When I left school, I continued to seek out versions of athletics carnivals in life—that is, things that made me uncomfortable—and, naturally, they sought me. I didn’t climb any mountains or travel as a journalist to a war-torn country, but I went to job interviews and on solo adventures overseas; I gave uni presentations and told intimate stories about my life at open-mic nights; I confronted strangers doing the wrong thing in public and practiced surfing in the treacherous waters of Victoria’s east coast.

And when I think about courage, I want to write what I tell my yoga students: that it’s important to frequently push up against the edges of our comfort zones, because it’s too easy to get comfortable these days. I want to outline an epic definition that involves being brave-hearted and stepping fearlessly out into the world; a Brené Brown-flavoured clarion call about daring to fail and rising triumphant. But the words that keep ringing in my ears are these: Courage is making a clearing in the forest. Again and again, like a song: Courage is making a clearing in the forest. They sound from somewhere deep within me and reverberate through my body.

Because it occurs to me now that the well-intentioned instinct I had to push myself as a teenager isn’t serving me so well anymore. It’s mutated into a voice that often tells me I can’t quit, can’t call in sick, can’t do anything but keep being the person who shows up again and again to run the race. To say yes to the thousand things so that no one—including me—is let down.

What feels courageous these days is moving through the dense bushland of life and finding a space to kneel down—a clearing—in which to take off my armour, unpack the contents of my heart and lay out the most sparkling items from the deepest parts of me. To have a picnic with myself in a still and quiet place. In essence: to stop running for a moment and rest instead. What’s uncomfortable is giving myself permission to bow out of plans and crawl back into bed.

One of the reasons making space can be uncomfortable is because it forces us to see what’s really there—to confront our identity separate to and beyond what we project to other people, or as defined by the roles we play (The one who can be counted on; who “soldiers on”). It’s where we ask the really important questions, like what we’re running from and what we’re running towards. It forces us to explore what we truly need and what makes us feel alive. It opens up a direct line of inquiry with the heart.

I don’t mean that we should all bury our heads in the sand or disengage from the world. Obviously there’s too much happening for that, and the planet needs our attention. I still believe that we need to move outside our comfort zones on a regular basis, but it seems to me that many of us have forgotten how to also retreat back into these comfort zones when necessary—how to find a place of nurturing and nourishment. We forget that stillness is a balm for the heart; silence a salve for the soul.

It turns out Brené Brown is on the same page. I recently read a piece of her writing where she talks about the need for idle time “that makes us lose track of time and self-consciousness, creating the clearing where ideas are born.” Idle time or rest time might not seem like fertile grounds on which to cultivate world-changing behaviour, but that’s exactly what they are. Making space allows us to remember that we are human beings and not machines. Rather than disengaging, withdrawing into our inner worlds ensures we stay engaged with the outer world.

Jane Hone

Jane Hone is a writer and yoga teacher based on the Mornington Peninsula. She’s passionate about helping people to slow down and realise the magic of the every day. 

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