Practicing Courage Through Movement

courage fear movnat


Do one thing everyday that scares you. - Eleanor Roosevelt

After practicing movement and martial arts for so long, I sometimes lose track of the reasons I started in the first place. Lately, I've been on a bit of a hiatus, but I was able to get some training time in last weekend. The combination of time off plus the intensity of training reminded me of why I do this in the first place, and, more importantly, why I want to do this every single day.

You see, when I train regularly, I feel capable. I feel like I can handle whatever life might throw at me. I feel eager to face more tests and rise to more challenges.

I think this is one of the most important elements of any kind of regular training routine: that it allows us to challenge ourselves in such a way that we can overcome small hardships regularly. This gives us the mental stance of seeking out more challenges, rather than avoiding them.

One reason I feel so off when I'm not practicing regularly is because I'm stagnating. In the absence of challenge, the spirit turns soft, just as the body becomes weak in the absence of load.

Applying Your Training to Everyday Life

Many of the obstacles we face require us to trust in our skills, to work with and rely on others, to go out on a limb, or to take a leap of faith. Sometimes the biggest thing stopping us is fear of the consequences of failure: if things go horribly wrong, can I land on my feet?

So how can movement training help with this?

I'll use this weekend's training session as an example. The main focus of the workout was actually overcoming fear, so the skill I was working towards was balancing across the top of a swing set. The surface itself was well within my capabilities, but the height added an element of fear that made it much harder. Here is a list of the ways I tried to accomplish that and what I learned.

Walking home, I felt more in control of myself, having explored an entire toolbox of mental tools to overcome my inner demons and accomplish my goals despite them. I was energized and eager to tackle the blocks in my life, confident that I could handle them.

Obviously, you don't have to be ten feet up to face your fears, but the point is that it should be a part of your training or practice. Doing that safely requires a careful and skillful manipulation of risk and danger to challenge your sense of safety without actually putting you in harm's way.

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