Monday Mantra: Warriorship

“The essence of warriorship, or the essence of human bravery, is refusing to give up on anyone or anything.” – Chogyam Trungpa, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

This past weekend, our group of training teachers and I investigated the Warrior postures for alignment, safe teaching, and expression. We discussed the specific humanity of this set of postures and how the simple placement of direction in space, arms, or stance could alter the experience in each variation.

I wanted to post this quote by Chogyam Trungpa who defined warriorship in his famous writings about Shambhala, an enlightened world, and also the name of the community he began in the West. This particular excerpt of his definition always inspires me as it speaks to wearing one’s warriorship in all situations no matter who we meet. Strength, resilience, and stability are the warrior’s essential arms and armor.

Additionally, I am re-sharing a post I wrote in May 2012, The Warrior Within.

Responding to either or both sources, what do you think about how warriors are depicted in current day culture? What about bravery and fearlessness? Do gentleness and tenderness also belong to a true warrior?  Who are the current day “warriors” you recognize?

– TaraMarie Perri

Original Artwork: Peaceful Warrior by Ann Marie McKelvey

8 Responses to “Monday Mantra: Warriorship”
  1. What I love about this is that just this morning I did the homework based around the image of Enso! It is my week theme for teaching as well and it was crazy to see it pop up in my inbox this afternoon 🙂 I love when that happens.

  2. Traci says:

    I always think of warriors as protectors. I love that in training yesterday you told the story about when you ask your younger students if warriors are “bad” and how they respond to that! I just watched the Bill Moyers interview with Pema Chodron and she touched on the Bodhisattva warrior so I did a little bit of research and found a facebook page for her! haha It is actually managed by her students as a tribute to her and it is filled with quotes and bits of wisdom from her. Anyway, another website describes the Bodhisattva warrior as the “one who is brave and confident enough to overcome self-centeredness in order to help others.” Doesn’t this also mean that they are protectors? Their heart is soft and open in order to take in other’s pain and suffering.

    • CallieRitter says:

      Great quote you found Traci.

      I too believe a warrior crusades for a higher cause. Their self identity drops because they care so deeply about something, and offer their best courageous self forth, to be used, and to sometimes loose. -Heros are warriors, but not all warriors are heros.- Being a warrior takes a giant heart that can act in the face of fear and survive the pain of love.

      In our culture I think warriors are very present, but you have to find them.

      The warriors I’m currently aspiring to are rational optimists and creative thinkers who see the future in their present moment. They are humble, yet beautiful and fierce, and voice is usually their weapon promulgated through technology. So many of them are women, so many of them are mothers. – – I also love Walt Disney! The females were depicted using smarts and spirit, and the men with boldness and aim.

  3. Caitlyn Johansen says:

    I read the post “The Warrior Within.” Ahimsa- I am excited to add this word to the my sanskrit lexicon. Due to my exposure of warrior iconography, I have this notion that a warrior overcomes, conquers, and wins the battle. That’s what happens in the movies right? The warrior wins the battle. This post made me reflect on the fact that being a warrior isn’t a title earned by the battles you’ve won. Rather, being a warrior is a continuous journey forward propelled by a desire to do good for others. I see this reflected in the people I see as my day to day warriors. The people I revere as warriors are people that live their lives in pursuit of effecting positive change… even if they do not have a marble sculpture of themselves somewhere saying , “On this data, here, so and so effected positive change!”

  4. Molly McSherry says:

    I follow Callie and Caitlyn’s line of thinking, where the warrior is one who strives for positive change on behalf of a larger community.
    I think, though, that while the ancient (and Disney!) warriors often affect change through their bravery in war and their skills in fighting, the true valiance of a warrior is a bit less superficial. The true warrior is the one who can employ ahimsa–non-violence–towards him or herself, while still working for change. The one who does not let success alone fuel the quest, the one who maintains a soft, open heart, while still moving, still reaching, forward. It amazes me how the Virabhadrasana postures so accurately and easily tap into these qualities…such a rich and visceral mind-body connection.

  5. Brianna says:

    I’ve always associated warriors with bravery, as some others have mentioned. I like this idea in a yoga context, because I think that there is something brave about getting on the mat. For everyone it’s something different… for those unfamiliar with movement, taking a yoga class for the first time is certainly an act of bravery. For someone who is never alone, spending all of their time in an overstimulated environment, leaving this environment for a more self-reflective yoga practice is an act of bravery. For me, it’s inversions. My greatest opportunity to embody a warrior is in the moment that I switch from being on my legs to being on my hands, or my forearms, or my head. I don’t expect the discomfort I feel when going upside-down to fully disappear (at least not anytime soon), but accepting and working with this discomfort is my own bravery challenge.

  6. Jonathan Matthews says:

    I feel as though warriorship being depicted in certain media is becoming more and more interested in the confusion, ambivalence, vulnerabilities, and failures of characters who in the past might have been seen as solely strong or solely weak…My mind goes to some recent films I’ve seen. For example, Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine portrays a horrifically neurotic and obnoxious protagonist constantly fighting against her own circumstances, both the ones she caused and the ones that are out of her hands…while she is left a beslubbering mess at the end with not much denouement to prepare, it is not to discredit her attempts at rebuilding that comprise the film; it’s just that they happened to have brought her to that particular place. Perhaps to some viewers Jasmine’s attempts did not try hard enough, but for this character at that time after the life she led, what to most of us might be baby steps were huge battles for her. This speaks to the incredible flexibility of what exactly the subject of our warriorship is. Sometimes I have to assume a warrior self to write a paper into the wee hours of the morning after a long day of dancing; other times I need to assume a warrior self just to get out of bed in the morning. In terms of my training to be a teacher, although I am constantly anticipating potential instances to become a warrior in the sense that I never give up on a student, just learning all the material requires a warrior-like diligence. With this juxtaposition of expectations and time frames, one might almost think of the students in a class as unassuming warriors who, whether or not they realize it, support and further energize their teacher to, in turn, fight with the utmost honesty and compassion for his/her students’ enrichment.

  7. Brandi-lea says:

    Jonathan, I am so in agreement with your reflection, “Sometimes I have to assume a warrior self to write a paper into the wee hours of the morning after a long day of dancing; other times I need to assume a warrior self just to get out of bed in the morning.”

    I am trying to come to terms with the variance of warriorship in my own life and searching for new a new definition appropriate for my changing battles. I believe that a majority of my life, I have approached obstacles and difficulties with the forcefulness and resolution that I then equated to a warrior-like mentality. However, as my life, my body and my threshold for stress have changed over the years, I am simply unable to “muscle through” many of the old challenges as I have in the past. This has prompted a change in my inner dialogue over the qualities of strength, vulnerability, ambition and perseverance. It has also illuminated that most of the battles I fight are with myself, even when they appear to be some outside obstacle.

    In reading, “The Warrior Within” I was struck by the idea of Yoga warriors being,strong and brave; but practicing no harm to themselves and others. For some reason, this brought to mind the mythology of the “artist” in our society. We are taught, especially in the performing arts, that in order to survive and make it as artists, we must often be willing to sacrifice so much of our selves, our lives and our relationships. We must push through pain for the fleeting window of opportunity and go after what we want with an aggressive ferociousness. Unfortunately, the country and especially city we live in rewards and reinforces this view. Art and life, however require vulnerability, compassion and longevity.

    I’ve been thinking of words that exemplify warriorship to me, a few that come to mind are: nobility, honesty, calm, presence, action and surrender. I think that the separation of surrender from defeat is so important to cultivating compassion in ourselves.

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