Becoming the Teacher

Your Hero’s Journey: Atonement with the Father

 

I was crouched down outside of the Forest Hall, with my hands clutching my heart.

 

I could not stop uncontrollably crying.

 

Rewind just ten minutes before. I was laughing and playing with my group at the Thailand mindfulness center called The New Life Foundation. I had stumbled upon this miraculous healing place from a fortuitous and serendipitous chain of events – aka met someone who told me to go somewhere where I met someone else who told me to come here.

 

We were engaged in an improv workshop. The goal of the workshop was to simply be completely present in any activity or role you were playing. The facilitator was moving from one act or scene to the next, so we never knew what to expect.

 

I was exhausted from staying up late the night before and being awakened by the regular roosters and dogs that call Thailand home. So exhausted I couldn’t think anymore, I simply was following the crowd.

 

Suddenly, the facilitator grabbed his chest, and fell.

 

As if he was having a heart attack.

 

No thoughts went through my mind. It was simply raw unfiltered energy.

 

Dad.

 

I ran out the door.

 

And let the sob rip through me.

 

Gasping for air, my mind could not understand at that moment why on earth I was reacting so viscerally to what was obviously a play-act of death. My mind could only watch as it stood aside and allow myself to sob out every tear in my body.

 

I was lucky to have good friends nearby. A few came out and simply held me, not needing any explanation to why I was reacting this way.

 

After what felt like an eternity, I had the strength to walk upright. We walked up the hill.

 

I told my friend, “My dad. He died of a heart attack.”

 

It was as if all those years of grief culminated in my soul finally, and viscerally, watching him die. And in that moment, I felt fully free.

I would never be the same again.

 

***

 

In this stage of the Hero’s Journey, the Hero must confront and be initiated by whatever or whoever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories, this is the father, or a father-figure who has life and death power. The is the center point of the journey.

 

In Star Wars, Darth Vader represents this for Luke Skywalker. In Harry Potter, it’s Dumbledore. For me, it was my dad. For you it may be someone totally different, even a woman.

 

This is the initiation stage, where the Hero steps fully into the role of the leader.

 

Facing authority can be intimidating for many. Some of us avoid it by rebelling against it, some of us by placating to it. When we truly face authority, we do so on equal ground.

 

Even if externally we feel like we are David in David and Goliath, when we face authority with courage, we are choosing to see ourselves as equal. When we believe this, our outer world mirrors our inner, and that authority recognizes our own authority within us.

 

You write your own rules.

 

You become the teacher.

 

Love Always,

 

Keeping to Your Own Path

Your Hero’s Journey: Distraction and Temptation

 

I was on my fourth chocolate-chip peanut butter cookie. And I was rationalizing to myself that at least they were homemade “healthy” cookies, made with almond flour, honey, and organic peanut butter.

 

But something inside of me was telling me otherwise.

 

I couldn’t do it anymore. I knew I had a great job. I loved the people I worked with. I even felt that the work was important. The income and benefits were great. But I couldn’t help asking myself…why do I feel so lost?

 

The question behind it all was really, “What is my purpose?”

 

We’ve all experienced and even caved to distraction and temptation. We are human beings after all. It might not be cookies for everyone, but getting on social media when we feel depressed (does that work for ANYONE by the way???), or “taking the edge off” with a glass of wine (or whiskey in my case), or even signing up for another training can all be forms of distraction, comfort, and numbing.

 

Please don’t get me wrong. I think enjoying life, including cookies, the occasional hot toddy, smiling at baby pics on Instagram, and enhancing your own personal growth and development are all good things.

 

Really, it’s the motivation behind WHY we are doing them.

 

We can take the exact same action, but come at it from two different places.

 

Fear.

 

Or Love.

 

Fear is what I see creating more scattered, controlling, or attached energy. Fear is what leads to what I lovingly refer to as SOS.

 

Shiny Object Syndrome.

 

Oh, I’ve had it. And still to this day must be aware of it. I think any multipassionate, creative person who wants to heal the world can easily get bogged down in SOS.

 

SOS, temptation, distraction all represent the stage in the Hero’s Journey when the hero feels tempted by material things that may lead the hero to abandon or stray from her quest.

 

This can also take the form of being tempted to “go back” to a more “comfortable” way of life, and give up on your quest.

 

The thing is, there is a difference between giving up, and taking a rest.

 

The way you know is by looking at your motivation.

 

Is taking the rest – by going to that training, taking some time off, stepping back to look at the bigger picture, enjoying a cookie – allowing you to love yourself MORE?

 

Or is the temptation, the distraction, merely feeding self-deprecation, discouragement, and burnout?

 

These are questions only YOU will be able to answer for yourself. Our Hero’s Journey is not easy. There will be times when we want to look back over our shoulder, or to the left and right, and see if there is a way off this ding-dang path we chose.

 

But what I’ve found is that even when we “fall off the wagon,” or veer off course, we always seem to find out way back to our path.

 

Because our path is our true life.

 

After all, it’s the only one we’ve got.

 

Love Always,

 

Returning to Love

Your Hero’s Journey: Meeting with Love

 

Ugh, I’m running late again! I think to myself as I scurry around my apartment, getting my things together. I hurriedly throw on a tank top and shimmy on my slightly worn but oh so favorite Prana pants. They make my butt look nice. Quickly, I dart into the bathroom to grab a hairband for my short, dark blonde hair. In a moment of pause, I remind myself to breathe. I am going to yoga after all.

 

My blue eyes gaze intently at myself in the mirror. I look OK for having no makeup on and being in a total rush, just slightly flushed. I don’t usually care too much what I look like for yoga, since I’m gonna get all sweaty anyways. After hastily shoving on my Smart Wool socks and my hiking boots, I grab my winter coat and my yoga mat and run out the door.

 

I walk briskly down the street, careful not to trip over the uneven bricks in the quaint Shepherdstown sidewalks. Although it’s a cold December Saturday in West Virginia, there are still people walking along the main drag of German Street doing holiday shopping. I bustle the block and a half to Jala Yoga, and shove the old door open with a creak.

 

Good, I’m not late. There are still a few people sitting and standing in the little lobby. Ruth, a sweet, middle-aged woman, gives me a hug as I enter. My friend and yoga teacher, Soozie, is sitting at the little desk writing down people’s names to check them in. But although I love them, these wonderful friends are not what catches my attention.

 

But the guy sitting on the stairs has.

 

At first, I thought it was just because he was a guy, and not a lot of guys came to Jala. But in the back of my mind, I was rapidly and semiconsciously deciding if I thought he was cute or not. He had long brown hair in a ponytail and dark eyes. His face was cleanly shaved, but still had a rugged look. He looked to be young, about the same age as me, and looked fit, in a lean way – neither super built nor scrawny.

 

Hot hippie flashed through my mind.

 

Followed shortly thereafter by Jesus.

 

As in the guy looks like Jesus.

 

As fast as I measure him up, I brush it aside. Play it cool, D. Thank God I wore my Prana pants.

 

Both he and Soozie look my way as I walk inside and set my things down.

 

“Hi, Danie!” Soozie smiles warmly as she stands up to give me a hug. When Soozie hugs you, man, it always feels like she really means it. She never rushes away or gives you that half-hearted awkward one-armed hug. She’d hold you and rub your back a little, like she hadn’t seen you in ages. I saw her yesterday.

 

Soozie continues to stand after our embrace. Almost like she knows my curiosity is brimming over, she nods towards the stairs at her left.

 

“This is Jonny, remember, the one who gave us directions to the hiking trail in Maryland?”

 

Recognition hit me. So this is Jesus. Shit… I mean Jonathan.

 

Upon hearing his name, Jonny stood up to greet me. He had a handsome face to begin with, but his wide grin totally transformed it.

 

“Hi, I’m Danielle.” I said. I felt quite outgoing and myself at that moment, even though I often felt a little awkward meeting guys for the first time.

 

“Do you want to be called Danie or Danielle?” Soozie asked. “I keep introducing you as Danie since that’s what I call you.”

 

“Well, I’ve usually introduce myself as Danielle, since that’s what I call myself in my head,” I answered.

 

Oh great, I immediately think. Now you’ve just told people you’ve got voices in your head.

 

I turn to the cute new yogi. “And do you like to go by Johnny or Jonathan? I’ve heard Soozie call you both.”

 

He paused as he thought about it, gazing upward.

 

Then his gentle gaze shifted back to me and he replies, “Jonathan, I call myself Jonathan in my head.”

 

He smiled, like we had a sort of inside joke about introducing yourself what you called yourself in your head. Which could be funny, depending on what you call yourself in your head.

 

“Jonathan it is then!”

 

“Well, I guess we should go upstairs and start,” Soozie said, and we walked up the rickety stairs to the yoga room on the second floor.

 

We roll out our mats, and I lay mine next to Jonathan’s. Not too close…but not too far either. We chat for a bit as other students filter into the room. When Soozie enters we all quiet down.

 

“So this month I want to focus on the Bhagavad Gita. Specifically, on this idea of dharma—or purpose. The Gita is a story of the warrior Arjuna, and his spiritual guide, Krishna. The story is about this battle, and as Arjuna goes to the battlefield, he looks across at who are supposed to be his enemies and sees his friends, family members, and people he respects. He lays down his bow and says he’d rather die than kill these people. Krishna then explains that it is Arjuna’s duty, his dharma, as a warrior to fight.”

 

She pauses and takes a breath. I always love Soozie’s classes because she brings these metaphors into them.

 

“So what do you all feel is your dharma?” She asks the class.

 

I always want to jump up and answer the questions Soozie asks. Usually I have to restrain myself so that I don’t feel like I am dominating the class. But this time, I really don’t have an immediate answer.

 

Jonathan answers, “This, the practice, the yoga.”

 

Hmm, that sounds like a nice answer. Given what is going on in my life currently, I answer as honestly as possible, “Being myself and helping others with that too.”

 

Soozie smiles and nods her head to both of us, acknowledging our answers. And with that we begin the breathing that will lead us through the asanas, or postures.

 

Depending on the class and how I am feeling, sometimes I just get right into the zone and focus on my yoga. But today, my mind is a bit distracted and curious about the guy next to me.

 

During a vinyassa, I surreptitiously peek over and see that he has jumped lightly into a full handstand. His gaze is focused and forward, his arms strong, his shirt is off. All very distracting and nice things to look at.

 

But I can’t help but stare at the black boxy ankle bracelet on his left leg…

 

***

 

This is the point in the Hero’s Journey where the hero experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all-encompassing, unconditional love.

 

Sometimes this love is in the form of a God or Goddess, sometimes it is in a romantic partner or a deeply trusted friend.

 

The stage of falling in love is like none other. It’s vulnerable, it’s inspiring, it’s confusing, it’s mesmerizing.

 

What if meeting this love isn’t so much about someone else though?

 

What if this is about falling in love… with yourself?

 

When we love ourselves, we are able to give so much more of ourselves to the world. When we berate or neglect or criticize ourselves, we cut ourselves off from our own source of love, our own source of power.

 

The Hero’s Journey is about finding our way back to ourselves.

 

It’s about returning to love.

 

Love Always,

 

What to Do when You're Falling Apart

Your Hero’s Journey: Road of Trials (Part 2)

 

On the Hero’s Journey, we all encounter our own Road of Trials. The funniest thing is, for some odd reason, we all seem to believe something is fatally wrong with us for experiencing these trials in the first place.

 

Not so, my dear!

 

If you feel like you are falling apart, you are not alone. The completion of a relationship, the sudden end to a job, the roller coaster of emotions that accompanies any sort of loss could all be a part of your Road of Trials.

 

What I’ve found with the empaths I work with is that they are highly sensitive to other people’s suffering… and can be quite unaccepting of their own. We can be very hard on ourselves. Which, added on top of already challenging situations, makes life feel damn near impossible.

 

When it feels like you can hold it together the answer is not to beat yourself up more for not being perfect. Yes, I know you are aware enough to recognize patterns you may be running that you no longer want to run. But criticizing yourself for not being “perfect” only takes you further along the roller coaster of fear and inadequacy.

 

There is something simple and powerful that CAN help you when you feel like you are falling apart – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

 

Acceptance.

 

Complete acceptance does not mean you need to “like” what’s happening or your behavior. It is simply observing what is happening without judgment. I say that like it’s the easiest thing in the world. We all know it’s not.

 

That’s why I believe it is important to fully allow ourselves to feel that our feeling are valid.

 

I was working with a client who experienced a huge personal breakthrough when she realized that her feelings – all of them – including the “ugly” ones – were totally valid!

 

She was able to use this mantra “My feelings are valid” in every scenario that had caused her suffering and unravel it from the root.

 

One practice I employ when I feel myself caught up in a shitstorm is the one below. It’s call “Experiencing Your Experience.”

 

1.     Experience Your Experience

Give yourself permission and space to fully feel your entire experience. This means emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations. If you can take space by yourself or express this aloud to someone who can hold space for you, this is ideal.

 

State aloud: “I am experiencing… (emotion, body sensation –aka breathing, hunger, etc. -, and/or thought)”

 

Ex: “I am experiencing Anger. I am experiencing wanting to cry. I am experiencing the thought that I don’t get why this happened to me. I am experiencing taking a breath. I am experiencing…”

 

2.     Clarify that You are Empowered

 

Once you feel the intense energy dropping and are experience more space and calm, State aloud: “I am the creator of my reality. I am the chooser. I am empowered to do what is best.”

 

3.     Take whole-hearted action

 

From this point of clarity, peace, and empowerment, you can then decide what is the best next step to take.

 

This process does require a few things. It requires your awareness that you are in the middle of the fire. It requires that you make a choice to give yourself some time and space to process and feel this. It requires bravery to be completely honest with yourself and others. And it requires that you be compassionate and courageous as you move forward in learning from this.

 

Although it is not easy, I find this process to be comforting every time I use it with myself or with a client. It’s amazing how something so seemingly small as really listening and giving permission to ourselves can create such massive healing and transformation.

 

Just know, if you are going through some major shit, you are not broken. You never were and you never will be.

 

You are whole.

 

Love Always,

The Road of Trials

Your Hero’s Journey: The Road of Trials

 

Have you ever gone gung ho into something, only to hit an obstacle (or several) when the rubber meets the road?

 

I ran my first ever marathon October 1, 2016.

 

I was super excited. I had trained for months. I had bought a new sports bra. I had fancy energy gel packs. I was READY.

 

And then the rubber hit the road. Or whatever material my New Balance minimalist shoes were made out of.

 

At mile 0.1, I encountered my first challenge. My running belt was bouncing around, since I wasn’t running with the water bottles I had been during my months of training. “This is gonna get old over 26 miles, but it’s really just annoying, nothing more,” I thought. “Just get in the zone and remember for next time,” I told myself. I trotted along with a great pace, according to my Nike+ Run app.

 

At mile 2, it started to downpour. Like not just a little sprinkle. A heavy torrent of rain that made me wish that I was wearing goggles with little windshield wipers. Every inch of me was soaked. On the plus side, it made everything stick to me, including the dang running belt, so it was suctioned in place. OK, it’s fine, I’ll dry out.

 

At mile 4, the possibility of dry seems like a distant memory. We were entering the section of the race that spans the historic C&O canal trail. And rain means, puddles. Lots of them. Funny enough, we were all trying to “avoid” them. I hear someone behind me say “This is going to be a long 11 miles.” That’s when I was like “Fuck it, I’m just gonna run down the middle of every single one.”

 

At mile 7 my left hip was starting to bother me again. Despite a regular regimen of chiropractic and massage appointments, the week before it had started to feel inflamed. I was hoping that resting would allow it to be back in tiptop shape, but I could feel that aching coming into my gait. “I can keep going though. It’s quite flat on the trail. And by the time I get to the hilly section, I’ll be totally in my groove,” I reassured myself.

 

Then, I devised a great plan! Normally, I run with music. Music seems to anchor me to really positive states and heightens my running experience. So I decided I would take a break from the music and listen to the rain and the forest for a bit, and at mile 13, the half way point, I would turn my music back on and Presto! It’d be like starting the race all over again. A perfect reset button for my energy.

 

Except the Universe had other plans for me.

 

My phone died.

 

Yep, the piece of equipment that I had been using to pace myself, keep me energized, and know how far I had come up and went kaput on me in the eleventh hour. Or mile 7.5.

 

OK, now I’ve had it.

 

This isn’t the fun time I thought it was going to be.

 

My inner privileged-white girl just wanted to go drink a pumpkin spice latte and be done with this.

 

Because of the rain, a lot of the mile markers hadn’t been put out. And because this was a grassroots, local race, there were water stations every three miles or so. And there ain’t a whole lot of smart people who decide they want to run a 26 mile race in West-by-God Virginia in an October rainstorm. So there weren’t many people around.

 

It was just me… and me.

 

The ultimate test. I knew this was more than just physical endurance. It was even more than mental endurance.

 

I had to remember and connect with WHY the flip I decided to do this...

 

***

 

The "Road of Trials" is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals, that the hero must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the hero fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes.

 

Think of the stories A Christmas Carol and the visits to Past, Present, and Future. The Triwizard Cup in Harry Potter. Aladdin’s three wishes.

 

The Road of Trials can feel like you are undergoing torture…I mean, transformation. It’s where you have to rely on your inner strength to keep you going, because all outer reserves have failed. It’s where you have to pick yourself up out of the dirt, again and again.

 

The good thing about being face down in the dirt is you don’t have anywhere further to fall.

 

Falling isn’t failing. Not getting back up is.

 

So when you find yourself hoofing it on the Road of Trials, take a deep breath. You are exactly where you need to be. You are strong enough.

 

And you will make it through.

 

Love Always,

 

3 Ways to Find Your Own Heroic Strength

Your Hero’s Journey: Belly of the Whale (Part 2)

 

Many moons ago, the Great Creator called together all the animal beings in his creation. The animals came from far and wide, because they were grateful servants of the Creator and willing to help in any way they could. They all congregated in a large circle.

 

The Creator said to the animals, “There is something I wish to hide from the humans. That Secret is the knowledge of the fact that they as human beings create their own life experience. Human beings are masters of their own destiny. Now, I need to hide this someplace where they cannot find it until they are ready for it. I need your help, where shall I hide it?”

 

Right away, Eagle says, “Give it to me! I’ll fly it to the moon and hide it on the dark side. Why they’ll never find it there.”

 

The Creator thought and replied, “No, for one day the humans will go to the moon and they will find it.”

 

Then Salmon spoke up. She said, “Woohoo, give it to me! I’ll swim it to the bottom of the deepest sea and I’ll hide it in a reef! Why they’ll never find it there! No they won’t. I can promise you that.”

 

The Creator said, “No, no. Believe it or not the humans will one day go to the bottom of the sea and they will find it.”

 

Then bear said, “Well, give it to me. I’ll carry it on up to the highest mountain and I know of a cave way up in there and I’ll hide it way in the back among the bats. Why you know I don’t believe they can find that mountain, let alone the secret.”

 

The Creator said, “No, one day the humans will even scrape the mountains down and they will find it.”

 

That’s about the time when Grandmother Mole spoke up. Now you see, whenever Grandmother Mole speaks, all of the creatures become very still and quiet for although Grandmother Mole has no physical eyes through which to see, she can see though the eyes of her heart.

 

Grandmother Mole said quietly, “Put it inside of them.”

 

The Creator said, “It is done.”

 

***

 

Ever wonder why, if we are the creator’s of our own experience, it can seem to gosh darn hard to find that strength when you need it most?

 

We all have stories that we play on repeat. Many of these stories can be quite negative and self-limiting. These are the types of stories that cause disease, depression, and “numbness” towards life. These stories can prevent us from accessing our inner strength.

 

However, we can use these stories to help us on our Hero’s Journey. When we are in the “Belly of the Whale,” in the heat of the fire, in the thick of the storm, we MUST go deeper.

 

A simple process that I base my work and life on is called “Feel, Heal, Real.” When I feel like I am in the middle of a storm or I am witnessing someone else go through it, this is the wisdom I rely upon to help me and others tap in to that heroic strength.

 

Feel

The first step is to Feel. The block that prevents healing, abundance, and inner strength is not fully feeling, or accepting, who and where we are now. Through compassionate presence, allow yourself to get in touch with the deeper story that is causing suffering in your life. By fully feeling it, the energy can now shift, and you can heal.

Heal

Once you Feel, you are ready to Heal. Healing is a process unique to you. There are many methods of healing depending on the story. In any situation, all healing paths will incorporate a spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical approach. The common theme in all healing is presence – allowing yourself to come fully in the now with your experience. Then you can choose how to proceed – to release what no longer feels true and to integrate what does.

Real

When you Heal, it's time to Real. This means that you are taking action – but from a space of “non-doing.” By feeling and healing first, you are in a state of peace. Taking action from this state allows you to experience what you are creating in a physical reality. The Real stage is where you are creating experiences like vibrant health, money, relationships, and abundance. The Real phase of the Hero’s Journey is where you witness the fruits of this inner work. 

 

Practice this process at any time – especially when you feel confused, lonely, afraid, sad, hurt, or angry.

 

1.    Fully accept that you emotions are valid.

 

2.    Allow yourself to feel the experience and once that feels complete, let go of what needs to go, and bring in the learning.

 

3.   From this clear space, you can take true action and witness a change in your reality.

 

You will see your Destiny unfolding before your very eyes.

 

Love Always,

 

No Turning Back

Your Hero’s Journey: Belly of the Whale

 

I was standing on the top of a 30-foot wooden pole. And the only thing I could think to say to myself was, “Breathe.”

 

It felt like the whole forest was quiet. I couldn’t hear anything, despite the fact that there we seven people yelling at me from the muddy earth below.

 

I was slowly, so slowly, turning. My knees were slightly bent. I was inching one foot in a pivoting motion, following carefully by the other. My size five feet were hanging ever so slightly over the edge of the pole. I couldn’t even think about how small the diameter was. All I could think was, “Breathe.”

 

A few moments before, I was grabbing on to the outer circumference of that pole, with both feet on a large staple-like step.

 

When I had started the climb for this exercise, I just took it one step at a time. “This isn’t so bad,” I thought. Just step and breathe. Step and breathe. The staples were big enough I could easily grab on like handlebars, and I felt like my feet had a pretty sure grip in my hiking boots.

 

But when I got to the top, there were no more steps. Well, scratch that. There was one more step.

 

On top of the pole.

 

As I hugged the pole, I could feel it gently swaying, like the surrounding trees. My mind had gone blank. “How on earth do I get up here?” I asked myself. More like my feet asked me. “Danielle, how do you expect us to get up there?”

 

Then I had a brilliant idea. I don’t need to take this step. I’ve already reached the top.

 

I’ll just go back down the way I came.

 

But as soon as I looked down I knew that was a bad idea.

 

Not just because of looking down, although that certainly contributed to it.

 

But because, I knew, I really had not reached MY top.

 

I knew I could take that step.

 

I just had to trust… myself.

 

And maybe God.

 

Because there were no more hand holds. There was nothing but thin air to grab onto. I simply had to take the big step… the one that felt like a mountainous, impossible leap.

 

I have no idea how I did it. I just knew that I had. Because there I was, standing on top of the pole, slowly, so slowly, turning towards my destiny.

 

***

 

Every Hero experiences being in the “Belly of the Whale.” This is the stage that represents the final separation from the hero’s known world and old self. By entering this stage, the hero shows her willingness to undergo a metamorphosis.

 

This is the stage like the caterpillar going into the cocoon. The whole thing turns to goo. This is when it feels like your entire life as you know it is falling apart, maybe YOU’RE even falling apart. This is where you decide to let go completely and undergo your complete transformation.

 

What needs to go in your life? Let it go. What needs to be reborn? Rebirth it.

 

Know that you are not alone here in the belly of the whale… you’ve got LOADS of friends. Also know that this stage doesn’t last forever. It’s temporary. But oh so necessary.

 

This is when you not only realize, but truly decide, there is no turning back.

 

You cannot reenter the life you left. The box is too small. You are too precious.

 

And your Calling is too big.

 

Love Always,

 

Feel the Fear

Your Hero’s Journey: Crossing the First Threshold (Part 2)

 

Fear.

 

We all feel it.

 

Think of all the stories about Hero’s you know. Even in the midst of brave action, the Hero doesn’t NOT have fear.

 

Crossing the First Threshold, taking that first leap into the unknown may be the scariest thing you have ever done.

 

Fear is the thing I hear the most when I ask, “What’s holding you back?” It’s the reason people give for not doing what they love, for not putting themselves out there. It’s the energy that prevents us from not sharing our gift with the world. It’s what keeps us stuck in a state of dis-ease.

 

Fear is what makes us stay on the hamster wheel...to not leave the job that drains us, to put off teaching the message we want to share, to not pursue the adventure that is calling out hearts.

 

For me, fear gets me running around like a chicken with her poor little head cut off.

 

(And I like chickens, so I want to keep all our body parts intact here…)

 

The question is then, How do we face our inner “chicken?”

 

How do we face our fear?

 

The first step in any change is acknowledgment. We must first be aware that there is fear in the first place. A simple way to acknowledge this could be:

 

“I am experiencing fear.”

 

I use this phrase instead of “I am afraid” for a specific reason. It could “just” be semantics, but our words describe our inner reality. “I am this” means “I = this.”

 

And that’s not true.

 

You are not fear. You are not your stories or thoughts or emotions. You are so much more than that.

 

By first claiming your experience, you’ve stepped into the space of the observer. Now you can start giving some space to that experience. For example, by saying:

 

“I observe that I am experiencing fear.”

 

This is where you are just watching it, just witnessing it. Like a slow motion movie. Feel the intensity but know you are not the energy of it. It is something that is moving through you. Fear like any other emotion, is energy in motion.

 

There will be a point where you feel separate enough from the fear that you have enough space to make a choice.

 

Will I let fear drive, or shall I?

 

And I know you, oh powerful one.

 

You shall drive.

 

Because you are driven by something that is so much bigger than fear.

 

What is it for you?

 

What is your why? Why do you live the way you do? What do you do what you do? Why do you love what you love?

 

The question “Why” in this sense spirals you up, rather than down. In this space, you get to connect with your bigger reason. Your purpose.

 

You get to choose. Purpose over Fear.

 

Every time you go through this process of choice, it makes you stronger.

 

Fear is not something to be feared. It’s something to be felt. Faced. And utliamtely furthered inton another chance to fulfill your purpose at a higher level.

 

Once you choose, act from that space. That space of Love, Oneness, and Peace. Your Haven Within.

 

Because the antidote to fear is action. Action from Love.

 

Let’s review those steps.

 

1.     Acknowledge: “I am experiencing fear”

2.     Observe: “I observe that I am experiencing fear.”

3.     Give Space: Watch with Compassion and Feel the Fear

4.     Decide: Choose to Drive.

5.     Connect: Why? For what purpose? What moves you?

6.     Act: Do from a space of whole-hearted you.

 

It’s a simple, yet a life long practice. It’s the practice that brings all into physical reality. It’s the process of healing, of clearing, of creating, transforming, and completing. It’s the process of fully living.

 

Next time you feel Fear, clap your hands my Dear.

 

 

You are Living.

 

 

Love Always,

 

Taking that First Step

Your Hero’s Journey: Crossing the First Threshold

 

Do you remember your first day of school?

 

I don’t readily recall mine. But I’ve heard stories from others. Spanning from the hilarity of being so excited they tripped on the stairs, to throwing an absolute fit and clinging to their parent’s leg.

 

School was the big unknown at that time.

 

Venturing into our full-on experience with our calling is no different. It is a big step into new territory.

 

The first threshold is the point where the Hero actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of her world. She ventures into an unknown and even dangerous realm where the rules and limits are unclear.

 

A lot of times, we say we want to do something different with our lives… but our actions speak differently. This can be because even though we may not like our current belief system or way of life, it is something that is known. On some level, that certainty is comforting.

 

And I will not lie, stepping out of that container IS uncertain. It can feel scary. But it doesn’t have to be dangerous. In fact, it can be the most exhilarating step you have ever taken.

 

Crossing the threshold is that one step you take when you KNOW your on the path. When I set out to hike the Appalachian Trail, I knew I had crossed the threshold when I took my first step on the path in Springer Mountain, Georgia. This is where I left my old life behind and entered a world I was unfamiliar with.

 

I recently had the opportunity to experience a client’s performance – his debut of his work. Of course, he has answered the Call many times, but this was a new threshold for him. And he will cross many more along the way.

 

The funny thing with crossing the threshold is we can agonize about how on earth we are going to do it, when all it is taking a very simple and single step.

 

The agony seems to come from wanting it to be “perfect.” Let me tell you, the Hero’s Journey ain’t perfect. It’s messy. It’s sweaty. And it’s glorious in it’s imperfections. Because in every “mistake” we are learning something, going deeper, getting pushed further inside in order to bring what’s real outside.

 

So the how for crossing the threshold is simple – just do it. Just take that small step. Write the email. Make the phone call. Design the course. Put your face in front of a camera…a person…an audience…yourself.

 

Take the step… and see what happens.

 

Love Always,

 

4 Questions for Radical Transformation

Your Hero's Journey: Supernatural Aide (Part 2)

 

I walk in to the small grey concrete shala after stepping somewhat ungracefully off the back of a motorbike. It’s hot. India hot. Like the sun wants to crawl inside your skull. I guess that’s why so many westerner’s come here to experience enlightenment.

 

Removing my sandals at the threshold, I enter a small simple, office, with a desk, a chair, a cabinet, and a padded bench. Behind the desk, I notice that the large cabinet is filled with trophies and medals, that despite the collection in it, is quite unassumingly set back. One of the quiet Indian men there politely offers me a seat, murmuring “The teacher will be here in a moment.”

 

I’m reviewing a piece of paper overviewing the yoga practice, called Prana Vashya, that I will be learning over the next month, when another man walks in.

 

When he greets me, I almost am not sure this is the teacher. He is young man, maybe only a little older than me. But that is not why. For some reason, I pictured an Indian yoga teacher as a formidable force, someone who may be strict and aloof, or float six inches above the ground. Intimidating.

 

The man who speaks to me does not strike me as that. He is warm and welcoming.

 

In my nervousness, I ask “What is your name?” even though I know damn well who he is.

 

He humbly answers, as any person on the street would, “I am Vinay Kumar.”

 

I feel instantaneously included and cared for by him as he gives me an overview of the month-intensive course and listens intently as I share my background with yoga and how my body is feeling. When I walk out of the office and back to my room at the guesthouse, I have a sure knowing that I have made a great choice of who to help me deepen my yogic studies.

 

I could not comprehend at that moment how much that man would change my life.

 

The first class kicked my ass. I had been traveling for a few months prior and had not been practicing regularly. Even though I had still been active, running and doing a practice a few times a week, it was a whole other level taking a led class with Vinay. The sequence flows smoothly, but quickly, with a certain breath pattern. During some movements we hold our breath and I know I was gasping at certain points. And that Indian heat was wicked.

 

Over the coming weeks, I experienced a whole gamut of thoughts, emotions, and physical experiences. There were days I would look at the clock in the hopes we were near the end. For a week I had to modify nearly every pose due to an intensely tightened muscle in my left leg. Some of my fellow students and I would greet each other mutely at the gate of the shala in the mornings, happy to be there and at the same time feeling a sense of foreboding about the next several hours of our lives.

 

I also had one of the most enlightening experiences of my life thus far.

 

During one back bending practice, I was feeling particularly down in the dumps. I cannot recall why I was in this state. I do vividly remember the feeling during our warm up twists that I just wanted to run out the door, cry endlessly, and not come back.

 

But through the practice, that intense emotion lessened its grip on me slightly. I just kept listening to what Vinay would tell me to do, did it, and went on to the next pose. Eventually, he told me to stand up and do back bends on my feet (leaning back as far as I could). Then, totally unexpected to me, he said, “OK, now drop back.”

 

A what?!

 

I totally did not think I was ready. But he assisted me and I trusted him completely. When my hands touched the mat, I felt the most intense surge of empowerment I had felt in a long time. I left that class walking on air, so excited to come back for more.

 

Talk about complete and instant transformation.

 

I could go on and on about what I learned while practicing with Vinay and his qualities as a teacher and a human being. He was someone so humble, so inclusive, and so sweet, while at the same time so powerful, so tough, so wise, and so not going to let you get away with anything.

 

Really, there is one story that could sum up what kind of person this teacher is. One Prana Vashya practice, I was clipping along merrily, keeping up with the breath pretty well and moving well in and out of the poses.

 

At one point though, I went through a transitional pose and my mat wrinkled up in the back.

 

“Oh, well,” I thought, “I’ll fix it my next go round.”

 

But when I got to the next round, it was flat again.

 

Hmm, strange. But I didn’t give it much more thought. Guess it just fixed itself.

 

A few poses later, my foot caught my mat, and it rolled up again.

 

Vinay was walking around the room, counting the breath clearly and steadily, giving each student precise and pose transformative cues as he did every day. As he walked by my mat, without missing a beat in the teaching, he took his toes around the edge of my mat and flattened it for me.

 

A simple act that made me want to cry again; this time with tears of gratitude.

 

***

 

The simplest things are what allow for the most profound transformation.

 

And when we are in the thick of a transmuting (aka tough) experience, the most powerful tool can be a simple question.

 

All of our suffering comes from the stories we live in our minds. Our stories come from our thoughts. Our thoughts come from our conditioning – what we have learned over the course of our life and what our ancestors have passed down to us. You are on this planet with the purpose to heal. Not only heal yourself, but also to heal this old conditioning of the human species.

 

Four powerful questions can help us to open our hearts and go inside for the deeper answers.

 

Notice the thought you are thinking that is causing suffering.

 

First, ask: “Is it true?” (Yes or No. If No, move to 3).

 

Second, ask: “Can I absolutely know that it is true?” (Yes or No).

 

Third, ask: “How do I react, what happens, when I believe this thought?”

 

Fourth, ask: “Who would I be without this thought?”

 

These questions can give us access to another perspective. To a truer version of our own story.

 

These questions are based on The Work by Byron Katie. There are also several sub-questions that can provide additional turnarounds to the problem.

 

A turnaround is simply a mirror image of the original thought. For example, “I am not good enough” turns into “I am good enough.” Or “He doesn’t listen to me” could be “He does listen to me” or “I don’t listen to him.” When we examine examples of how all of these statements are true, we loosen our grip on the problem.

 

Then the reality of that story of suffering begins to crumble.

 

You go from wanting to run out the door to dropping backwards and catching yourself with your bare hands.

 

And the fold in your mat flattens out again.

 

Love Always,