“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.” ~August Wilson

It takes a great deal of courage to be on a spiritual path. You may not recognize your own “Warrior Nature” in a positive light, yet every time you choose love over fear, or take responsibility for your life, your thoughts and actions, every time you consciously manage your personal energy, you are demonstrating a resolve and determination that is essential for achieving higher states of consciousness.

In this series, we will explore this “spiritual warrior” essence, how it shows up in your life, and when you may need to cultivate this aspect. We will also uncover ways in which this aspect may not be needed in quite the same way since 2012.

warriorMany years ago in 1988 my first spiritual teacher said that the most courageous thing you could do was your spiritual work of going within. At the time I was so blissed out to sit with such a luminous being I had no idea what she meant. Little did I know I was still in the honeymoon phase?

She went on to explain that we had to be “spiritual warriors” which seemed like a strange paradox to apply to all of us peace-seeking hippie yogis. Seemed to me like meditating and chanting was a piece of cake compared to actually going to battle.

She continued, “We must be ruthless with our own ego mind.” The nature of the mind was to wander this way and that; and we had to constantly monitor it and bring it back to stillness, to center, to alignment–to Truth. Not an easy task at all. I had (and still have) a very active “monkey mind” – jumping from one thought tree to another, very creative, entertaining, and quite busy. Additionally, I came from a highly intellectual family—a sharp mind was everything.

Meditation was very tough for me on my own. I needed the practices of chanting, yoga, pranayama and japa or mantra repetition, to give me something to DO to get into stillness within. Just sitting was excruciating.

Thank goodness for Reiki energy healing, as applying Reiki to myself would put me in a very meditative space very quickly. After years of feeling like I had no discipline, I finally realized I did Reiki on myself every day, and that WAS my spiritual practice!

Perhaps you too have a spiritual practice, but don’t quite recognize it as such. It could be as simple as being in nature, where you connect with the inner stillness. Even some forms of exercise when performed mindfully can take you within.

How to Recognize your Spiritual Warrior

One of the challenges is actually recognizing this warrior nature, as most of us are not actually on a battlefield with opportunities to be a “hero”. This was certainly the case with me.

My name, Kumari is a Sanskrit spiritual name meaning “forever young,” and “warrior.” I could relate to the “youthful goddess” aspect of the name; my Mom always looked much younger than her years. But I recall telling a young man I just couldn’t see the warrior part of me – he laughed and said, “Oh yes I see it–it is there—think Xena!” He was referencing the TV show of the Greek warrior goddess. So that became my mantra whenever I felt weak and small: “Think Xena!”

For a long time I could not relate to the warrior aspect—it felt so opposite of what I thought I was cultivating. You know, like Peace?? Perhaps a more accurate depiction would be “courageous” or strong, tenacious even.

Then one day my teacher told a huge crowd how I had gone through fire to come to the ashram spiritual community. I was very surprised! She listed a series of decisions—how I left my law practice, left my family, gotten rid of most of my possessions to move to Florida, etc.

Finally I too realized that I had a lot of courage—to follow my heart, live differently than most people, to reach out to teachers who were “controversial”, to be a student continually. Courage to open my heart even when it felt broken. To continually choose love over fear of loss, when I worked in the AIDS hospice and watched so many young men and women suffering. To try new things, and to open to new ideas. To regularly take responsibility for my thoughts and emotions (this one is BIG).

The courage to dance to a different drummer, not to live by outer standards; not to follow outer influences. For instance, it has required enormous courage to create a successful healing practice when everyone told me it couldn’t be done, especially not in a small southern town full of seniors. It saddens me that many very talented healers are not able to survive doing what they love because of the need for professional courage when charting new territory.

The courage to clarify and LISTEN to my own inner guidance. Eventually this meant even questioning my spiritual teachers when my heart felt differently. And then to act upon and speak that truth, no matter what.

And perhaps the toughest of all, to continually face my own shadow side—to accept it at the same time I committed to continue to heal it. To bring to light parts of myself that I am deeply ashamed of. To be imperfect.

Courage is not always bold in appearance. Mary Anne Radmache notes that “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

It is my sincerest hope that in recounting some of my courageous moments, that took me way too long to identify, it will inspire you to claim your own moments of courage and conviction, and shorten your own path to unearthing your Spiritual Warrior within.

In what ways are you courageous—a Spiritual Warrior?

 Next: Techniques to strengthen your Warrior Nature (aka Your Courage)

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