Tag Archives: Bravery

Featured Intent: Hero In My Own World


Who are you waiting on to save you?
Superhero films are a big market and it’s not just because we would all love to be super strong, super fast or super good looking. There is the relieving part of knowing that someone is coming to save us, that we’re not on our own, that someone else will step in. But what happens when they don’t? And do we really need someone else to step in? Sometimes, sure. Sometimes, being a hero is an outside job and that is okay. But we can forget that we also have the power to be our own heroes. Who knows us better than ourselves? Who else knows our distraction tactics, the lies we tell ourselves, our biggest triggers? We can be very dangerous to ourselves, but we can also be the heroes we need, because who else knows what we love, what really motivates us, what makes us light up?

So today we want to lean into that space- the space where we get to be the hero we’ve been looking for.

You too? Here are 3 resources to help: Continue reading

10 Quotes to Inspire Your Spirit of Adventure

When was the last time you took a risk? Or when was the last time you tried something different just for the hell of it? We are big believers in having a sense of adventure. Trying new things, especially if they scare you, is the best way to grow as a person. Life lessons are absorbed the best when we put ourselves out there and go for it. Go for the gold! (Are Olympic puns passe already? I think we still have a few days.) In the spirit of going out there and conquering new terrain we’ve gathered up a few quotes to inspire your spirit of adventure!

adventure quote(source)



















“Kill Your Darlings” and Confront Your Demons


SPOILER ALERT for those not familiar with the history of the Beat Poets (Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac & William Burroughs) and the story of the Lucien Carr murder of David Kammerer. 

To be honest, the main reason I went to see Kill Your Darlings this weekend is because Arclight Hollywood was hosting a Q&A with actor Dane DeHaan (Chronicle, The Place Beyond the Pines) afterwards, and being in the same room with him would officially put me one degree away from the Hollywood love of my life – Andrew Garfield (The Social Network, The Amazing Spider-Man). 

I had seen a few of Dane’s previous movies and was always impressed by his powerful and dark performances. However, at the end of Darlings I was spellbound. The movie follows poet Allen Ginsberg (played by Daniel Radcliffe) during his freshman year at Columbia University – where he meets the rest of the beat poet generation, including the charismatic and troubled Lucien Carr (Dehaan). Together they set forth to ignite a literary revolution, but instead find themselves tangled in the web of Lucien’s identity crisis which leads to the murder of their friend and Lucien’s ex lover David Kammerer.

I had Googled the story before I went and I knew the details were horrible. The real Lucien Carr only spent two years in prison for the murder, though he stabbed David and weighed the body down with rocks before drowning him in the Hudson River. He was able to get less time because he convinced the court it was an honor killing. In 1944, if a heterosexual man kills a homosexual man making “unwanted advances” you serve a lesser time in prison. It’s disgusting and disturbing and in print there’s no sympathy for Lucien to be found.

As disturbed as I was by the circumstances of the story, Dehaan gave a performance that was haunting. I’ve been talking about the movie non-stop since I saw it. Starting with the title sequence (which you can see below) and the first time he says Allen, with his voice breaking like that, it chills to the bone. It’s only two syllables but you can hear the absolute terror in them. His life is over if Allen hands in that statement. Lucien will be forced not only to spend the rest of his life in prison but he’ll have to come to terms with who he really is – and the idea of that is so paralyzingly petrifying that he killed a man to stop it from happening.

I have absolutely no idea what it is like to be a closeted gay man, especially in the 1940s. But we are exploring fear this week on Intent, and this movie has made me think a lot about the power we give fear. Lucien is the most extreme example of what can happen if we let ourselves be controlled by fear. Even before the murder Lucien has to banish the things and people he loves most from his life because he’s scared of being honest with himself and the world (granted, coming out of the closet in 1944 was virtually impossible). But that is the great thing about movies, especially ones like this. They enable us to use the cinematic drama to examine ourselves – our flaws, our weaknesses and the state of our own human condition. Are we as deeply troubled as Lucien Carr? I very sincerely hope not, but it doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn from him and this story.

I’ve been asking myself since Saturday night what fear do I let control me? I’m afraid that as badly as I want to be a screenwriter that I don’t have the talent or the gumption to make it. I am afraid of being alone forever. I am afraid of being rejected or finding out the people I love and respect most honestly don’t like me. And these fears have a daily impact on my life. This weekend I spent more time playing Candy Crush Saga than I did working on my screenplay treatment outline. I absolutely refuse to fill out an OkCupid profile even though I’ve read a quarter of my generation now meets their significant other online. I sulked home alone eating chocolate chip cookies instead of going to a good friend’s improv show because the group didn’t invite me to join.

By themselves these seem like small meaningless choices. Confronting these fears that I harbor is the first step in making braver choices in my life. It’s the key to embracing the good things I have around me and going after the things I desire, after my passions and after dreams.

Take a moment today and think about the choices you’ve made in the past week. Which ones have you made out of fear and which ones have you made in spite of it? Pick one of the former and find a way to change it. I’ve made a pact with myself that there will be no Candy Crush Saga until I’ve outlined at least one scene or mapped a character for my movie. I’ve made a pact with myself to no longer be held back by fear.

Kill Your Darlings was released October 16.


Photo from Tumblr. 

Disempower Your Fears by Exposing Them to the Light

Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 12.38.59 PM“So I just discovered Intent.com,” she said looking up at me from long dark lashes.

I nodded.

“And I found your writing,” she continued. “I found your piece about giving voice to your fears. So I wrote some of mine down.”

[Read the article here.]

I felt a smile crawl across my face. This private client is young and hungry and beautiful beyond her ability to even fathom. Her bravery never ceases to amaze me. She is about to embark on her first yoga teacher training; she just got accepted to her desired master’s program. We have been meeting with the intention of preparing her for yoga teacher training — both physically and mentally.

“Can I read you my fears?” she asked in a hushed whisper tone. She looked absolutely terrified. I could tell if I made one false move, she might bolt for the door.

“Absolutely,” I said. I steadied myself, uncrossed my legs and sat up straight. I wanted to be fully present for her. I took a deep breath. In her ever-wise ways, my young student did the same. And then she began.

The first fear came with tears. Her bottom lip was trembling. She had articulated it clearly with essential language. She wasn’t hiding anything. Her courage was astounding. Ironically, her fear centered around not being able to speak clearly and be understood. I knew it to be relevant as I had mistaken her name when I first met her. She has one of those names that has many similar derivatives. I called her by the wrong one for the first couple of weeks of knowing her. She didn’t correct me for some time. This was a good fear of hers to squelch. I could see how this would serve her well. I encouraged her to continue.

Her second fear was easier to share. She was getting more confident in this process. It was not wholly unrelated to the first fear and it is one that many young women suffer: the fear of not being taken seriously. This one was familiar. I too had suffered this one, but I was not as wise as she at her young age. I wasn’t working with the tools of awareness and integrity in quite the same manner. I knew this one wouldn’t hold much power over her for long. She only needed to see the value in what she has to offer. I gently persuaded her to go on.

The third fear was the most cliche, the most predictable, the most common. She laughed as she read it. But the laughter was an attempt to cover great, long-standing sorrow and self-loathing around this very common issue of body image. I let her release this anguish. I did not attempt to mask it. I let her see it for it’s gruesome self — a man-made demon, the product of programming and media assault, wholly and completely without merit for her or any woman.

That was it. She survived. She looked so relieved, already lighter.

“Ok,” I said. “Let’s discuss them.”

We went through each fear, point by point. We traced them back to their earliest known similar fears, memories, and origins. I explained to her the teaching’s of Eckhart Tolle in his book, A New Earth. I relayed to her the ways in which he explains a pain body and how we each have them as large, energetic masses of pain that we carry around. They start early, when we are young. Then we add to them. We build and build them until before we know it, they are making decisions for us and acting without our permission. Many people are ruled by their pain bodies — spending their time looking for misery in the outside world with which to feed it. This is why you see some people’s eyes light up when they hear of someone else’s misery. This is why some folks gravitate towards gossip and gore, rather than light and love. This practice of voicing your fears helps to dispel your pain body’s existence. If we clear these dark energetic masses, we no longer have the need to add to them or feed them.

My student was nodding. She was doing great work. She was sharing fearlessly each thing that came to mind, no matter her perceived limitations.
Fears are universal. There is no greater connection than that which we share over our fears. What’s more is that we all have a similar reaction to our fears. We do a fascinating exercise in Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training’s where we take the time to verbally describe our reaction to fear:

  • Sweaty palms
  • Increased heart rate
  • Constricted throat
  • Dry mouth
  • Arm pits sweating
  • Shallow breathing

And so forth.

Then we share these descriptors with the group at large. Some one hundred and fifty plus people share their reactions to fear. The amazing thing is: we’re all the same in our response. It’s biological. It’s the fight or flight response. It’s primal stuff. And yes, the fight or flight response is a very handy mechanism when you are actually in a life threatening situation. But that’s not what we are talking about here. We’re talking about being afraid to speak in public for fear of our inability to clearly communicate and being afraid to be seen because we have a negative body image. And no matter how terrifying that may be, we’re not going to die from it. There isn’t a dinosaur that is about to eat us. Our biological response is not appropriate for the situation. Therefore, we have the unique opportunity to begin to overcome these fears.

As we discussed these principles, my student began to perk up. She became lighter and lighter and soon, she was smiling with incandescence and ease. Once she became so effervescent, I asked her to teach (and practice) some sun salutations. She bounced up and beamed her way through them.

I offer you this practice humbly. Dis-empower your fears by exposing them to light. Darkness cannot grow in the light.

No One Buys Freedom Without Paying For It With Bravery

No One Buys Freedom Without Paying For It With Bravery

Noah benShea

“To think that men and women are born free took people who were prepared to brave these thoughts.”

– Noah

It is rare if a day goes by and I don’t receive a piece of mail or electronic mail promising me financial freedom. I am also promised that little or nothing by way of talent or effort is required on my part.  "The only man who is really free," wrote Jules Renard, "is one who can turn down an invitation to dinner without giving any excuse."

In the Star Spangled Banner America is referred to as "the land of the free, home of the brave." And I’ve been thinking about that. And I’ve been thinking about the linking of freedom and bravery. And I have a few thoughts.

The words "land of the free" precedes "home of the brave" because no one is free who isn’t required to become brave. Freedom may be a right, but being right doesn’t mean that people aren’t out to wrong you. In American history the Fourth of July represents a day when it was decided that the fight for freedom was worth fighting. Like most life battles worth fighting thinking about the implications of winning was probably an afterthought.

Winners are usually people who focus more on the fight in front of them then how they’re going to live with the winning ahead of them. Living with winning often turns out to be its own battle. Victory in life seldom delivers what we expected and often what is unexpected.

When the ideas of freedom and bravery are raised we generally tend to think of these concepts in military terms. The reason for this is because bravery and freedom are often tied to battle calls and because when we hitch these notions to calls of battle we don’t have to integrate freedom and bravery into our day to day lives. It is too much for most of us to take bravery and freedom into the grocery store or the dressing room let alone into our manner of being and living. To think that men and women are born free took people who were prepared to brave these thoughts. Brave thinking frees thinking just as enslaved thoughts are self-enslaving.

"When people are free to do as they please," wrote the American philosopher and longshoreman Eric Hoffer, "they usually imitate each other." The idea of being of free to be who we are takes more bravery than most of us can muster. To be who we are, as opposed to who others think we should be, terrifies us because we often feel it will set us apart. To be set apart makes us feel that we will be left alone. To be left alone triggers primal feelings of abandonment. To be cut off from "our tribe" or "our clan" raises pre-historical feelings of being left to die.

Fears of homelessness and starvation are not always imaginary nor are they always played out in the ways we usually think of them. Many of us acting just like everyone else are actually starving to be who we are, and until we feel at home in ourselves who among us doesn’t feel in some way homeless.

"In our country," wrote Mark Twain, "we have three unspeakable precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either." The land of the free and the home of the brave are irrevocably linked. You can’t be one without the other. Forgetaboutit! If someone tries to sell you one without the other, they’re just jerking your chain. No one, any time, any place has ever bought freedom without paying for it with bravery.

America as the land of the free and home of the brave is as much of a personal issue as a social issue. Individuals are the seeds of a society, and people who are self-enslaved don’t grow a free society. Think globally; act locally. People who want to assure a free society first have to take care of business at home.

Free yourself if you would hope to liberate another. Enslave yourself and you inevitably enslave others. Like misery, self-enslaved people like company and usually the company of other slaves so our own enslavement isn’t put in our face by the juxtaposition of friendship with a free soul.

Be brave and you will give courage to others. Be a coward to your own soul and you encourage cowardice of the spirit. Bravery is very different from bravado. Bravado is bravery hooked on hot air. Bravado doesn’t need to be cut down, it only needs a pin prick. Bravery is often inversely quiet to its actions which speak loudly. People who strut and pose with their bravery are often confusing character with character actor. Projecting how we want to be seen is very different from letting others see who we are. Bravery is not the absence of fears but simply and resolutely refusing to put our fears in charge.

Freedom and bravery aren’t the same thing but are symbiotic. They live off each other and because of each other. Freedom and bravery aren’t only a soldier’s job in a distant land. Freedom and bravery are as relevant at ground zero – the ground you are standing on. An isolated young man who refuses to join a gang is exercising his freedom and his bravery. A single mother who doesn’t want to teach her children to hate their father is exercising freedom and bravery. An old man or woman who doesn’t want to accept society’s notion of what it means to be old is exercising his or her freedom and bravery. Anyone who exercises their freedom and bravery should stand up and be saluted – certainly by themselves.

What is the bravest thing you did in your life? When did you last exercise real freedom? Ask yourself. Ask your partner. Ask your children. This Fourth of July share with one someone else not only your courage but your fears. People who are afraid to excavate their fears never get around to building a solid foundation on which to construct courage. People who are afraid to face their fears never would have faced the English at Lexington.

Freedom is more than the freedom to do something dangerous or stupid and back it up by calling it bravery. Too often we will avoid real issues of freedom and bravery to do something ridiculous which is designed to impress ourselves and others but primarily serves as psychological cape work. A great bull fighter can be full of bull. Doing something dangerous and stupid and calling it bravery is courageous littering. It is throwing away the best for something that matters least.

Real freedom and real bravery is the right we give ourselves to face what we fear most. Every social norm was once an idea that was a social outlaw. The British did not see the American Revolution as an act of heroism or bravery. The idea that "all men are created equal" was a revolutionary idea that upset those who heretofore simply defined themselves as by birth being superior to others. What a ruling society most fears is any individual who will face society’s social norm and see the Emperor as naked – buck naked.

"When we observe one person ruling over people, dictating to the entire state," wrote the philosopher Jacob Klatzkin, "we are really watching a large group of human beings conducting themselves with fear.  But who do they fear? In reality the slaves are immeasurably superior to their master in terms of power. But each slave sees himself as one against all his fellow slaves. If they desire to rebel they are afraid of one another. It is not the ruler who is the source of the fear, but the army of slaves who follow his orders. Or, if you will, they fear themselves. Their weakness is an imagination, a slave’s error. All great revolutions are really the correcting of this misconception, an error in the minds of the enslaved."

Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence: Five were tried by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Several lost sons who were serving in the Revolutionary Army. Nine fought and died. John Hart of New Jersey was driven from his wife’s bedside as she lay dying. Their thirteen children had to flee for their lives. His fields and  his grain gristmill were laid to waste.  For over a year he hid in deep forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children gone. Within a few weeks he died of exhaustion and heartbreak.

Freedom isn’t free. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness requires bravery. Let us remind our children and ourselves of that. And let us remind our children and ourselves that the battle for freedom is fought not only on a hill named Bunker but just as often in the night’s private darkness of our own bed.

And a necessary closing thought: While freedom and bravery are often linked to war, and the glories of war, peace is the real triumph in life. In scripture there is a prayer that ends with a request for "peace and blessing." For years I couldn’t figure out why blessings didn’t come first. With age however I have come to learn that peace precedes blessing because any peace we find in life is its own blessing, and any blessing we receive in life is no blessing if it doesn’t bring us peace.

"None who have always been free can understand the terrible fascinating power of the hope of freedom to those who are not free."

– Pearl S. Buck

Noah benShea Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved

Brave Spirits: Remembering Who We Are

Most of us are familiar with the idea that we are not human beings having spiritual experiences; instead, we are spiritual beings having human experiences. We hear this and even though we may experience a resounding yes in our bodies, we may not take the time to really acknowledge the truth of these statements. Integrating this idea into how we view ourselves can broaden our sense of who we are and help us appreciate ourselves as brave spirits on an important mission to learn and grow here on earth.

As spiritual beings, we are visitors in this physical realm. The fact that we came here and lost all memory of what happened to us before we were born is one of the many reasons that it takes so much courage for a soul to incarnate on earth. This is why spiritual inquiry so often feels like a remembering—because it is. Remembering that we are spiritual beings is part of the work that we are here on earth to do. When we operate from a place of remembering, we tap into the wisdom that our spirit accumulated even before we stepped into this lifetime. Remembering who we are can give us the patience to persevere when we become overwhelmed or frustrated. It can give us the courage to work through the most daunting challenges and help us trust the ancient wisdom we carry that is offered to us by our intuition.

We have chosen to be on earth because there is something we want to learn that can only happen by inhabiting a body. Some of us are here to repay a debt, learn about love, or teach forgiveness. Most of us are here for a combination of reasons, we carry this information in our souls, all we have to do is remember. As you go through your journey, try not to forget how brave you are, being here now. Honor yourself.


For more inspiration, visit DailyOM.

Kids are Adults without any issues!

A four year old calls 911 and saves his mom from seizure. Today morning, this news made me smile. The kid was so calm and relaxed and followed all the instructions peacefully, when an adult could have panicked. We live under this illusion that children are small and are incapable of doing things. It is just that their bodies are small and they have less "knowledge" (if at all what we deliver to them whole life is the real practical knowledge) and they do not understand how an adult’s so called "world" operates.

I have always treated children as a mature grown up adult. I think they deserve respect as a person and should not be regarded so much as children. We often take them lightly or even treat them so. They do understand all that. I remember, as a kid I never thought I was a kid. I always thought, I am just like an adult who is incapable of doing certain things that adult s do, because of my body size, strength or may be my knowledge.

I think children are adults who have less issues or no issues at all. One thing that we lose as we grow up is our intuition and the real touch with our own selves. A child can generally sense good or bad. More than often, they are better at "knowing" right or wrong rather than doubting or analyzing or seeking proofs. Second thing that we lose is our non-judgemental nature and the power to do things one hundred percent with little or no attachment to the result. A child does one thing, completes it and starts another. A child never gets stuck with good or bad outcomes of things. It is only when a child is growing up, we as parent, we as society, we as teachers, we as "world" teach the child to judge- not just others but themselves too. Then we teach them how results are so important. So, the genuine intuition, innocence and spontaneity in them starts getting clouded.

A child has more potential than a "conditioned child", whom we call "an adult" in our world. The way unfortunately we condition ourselves while growing up, and the way it is influenced by what is prevalent and what is norm in our sane world, makes us lose the child on the way. All the spiritual practices aim at bringing back the same child within us. Today let us celebrate the child within us and rekindle the same gentleness, innocence and strength in ourselves.


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