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True North: A Call for Courage


The art, calligraphy, inspirations, and ponderings of Riana Nelson.

Riana Nelson Blog


True North: A Call for Courage

Riana Nelson

When we want to move across a challenging body of water, our vessel of choice is: a boat. Boats don’t allow poor weather or rocky seas to stop them. They can carry us across the deepest of underwater crevasses and currents without fear or stagnancy. Fairly reliable, they magically and gracefully transcend logic to float across the darkest and coldest of seas.

In a recent yoga class, the instructor announced that the postural theme for class would be the ever-challenging "boat pose" (Paripurna Navasana).

The instructor went on to explain that, similar to a boat, even in the face of a horrible storm in our lives, it’s how we choose to set our sails which defines us: not the size of the storm, or the height of the swells. Similar to a boat's course, our navigation may change along the way, but it’s up to us in our minds to stay routinely loyal to our own “true north” and destination. I immediately loved this imagery as it related to our yoga practice, and our daily life.

Then, she asked us rhetorically: “What is YOUR true north? What does that mean for you?"

My breathing tightened. Resistance. I tried to open myself, unhinge myself, and dream of a non-negotiable destination with an unfaltering compass guiding me. But all I felt was a flash of pain in my heart, and immediately I thought of my family.

Things are not always what they appear on the surface. There’s some crazy things happening in the depths below the horizon line in my personal/family life. Some elements are simply out of my control, and I am a bystander. Like a horrible car crash happening in front of you, it doesn’t make it any easier to witness or deal with: and the uncertainty of what's to come brings with it many navigational questions like: “so... how do I maneuver from here?"

It also makes me think: how easy it is for us humans to get used to the calm plateau when the weather is fair! We find solace in the flat mirrored sea, comfort in the quiet tranquility without wind, and we're amused by the predictably uniform cerulean sky. The true test however comes in how we muster ourselves when we see the dark clouds approaching. Our bodies are a vehicle for our own minds, dreams, and determination: across an often angry sea of unforeseeable circumstances. We have the ability to brace ourselves, lift ourselves, and keep our minds in an optimum state to take on the seas.

Many times, navigating the rough sea could require an alternate unexpected route, a route you previously discounted, or we need a shift in our internal “sails" to help us get to where we want to go.

Join me in harnessing the courage to gather strength from deep within, be grateful you're aware enough to see the storm coming, and recommit ourselves daily to our True North with a sense of optimism: whatever that may be for each of us.

What’s yours?