God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches by means of opposites, so that you will have two wings to fly, not one. ~ Rumi
She loves Monday mornings. The earlier the better.
What if you can’t do this? You’re going to run out of money. This isn’t going to work. What about your kids? Are you spending enough quality time with them? Do you even know how to do all this? What makes you think you can do something this BIG? You’ve never done anything BIG before. Yeah. This isn’t going to work. Stay small.
You can’t handle all this. You’re nothing.
We met in November 2012 at the spectacular Blue Spirit Resort in Nosara, Costa Rica at a retreat facilitated by Choose Again.
It was late afternoon and I was settling into my yoga mat, on my back, eyes closed, covered with a blanket, head propped on another blanket. The air was warm, and had the sweet thickness of the jungle. The breathtaking studio had dark hardwood floors, huge sliding glass doors along two walls and was nestled in the lush forest down the hill from the main building. It was quiet. But not for long.
We were participating in a Holotropic breathing session. (I’ll spare all the details of how the breathing works...check in out here.) I had done this breathing a few times before, so I was relaxed and prepared. The sessions last at least 90 minutes and there is REALLY LOUD music playing the entire time. The music is powerful. It takes you on a journey and is carefully planned for the experience. There are no outside influences beyond the special breathing technique and the music: no tonics, smoke, potions...just you, your breath,
and your mind.
About 1/3 of the way into the process, I noticed the same recurring thought pattern trying to push through.
I was present...in the moment...doing my thing...then BAM!
You aren’t doing this right. You wanted to have this “transformative” experience. Yeah right. Good luck. Listen. Everyone else is having something incredible. Not you. This is bullshit. Nothing is going to happen. You won’t let it.
Interesting. But I’d done “work” on this sort of thing, and knew these were just thoughts, it was just my ego-beliefs-faulty programming, so I brought myself back to the present. And it would last for a few minutes...but I became uneasy. It was a struggle. I lost my balance. This pattern repeated for awhile.
Then, I made a decision to surrender and become the observer to what was happening.
I kept up my breathing rhythm, relaxed into what was happening in my mind, sat back into the seat of my soul, and put on my wading boots.
OK, I’m going in. Go ahead. Let’s see what you got.
As I sat firmly planted in the swamp of guilt and shame, I was beating myself up in an extreme way. That’s the best way I can describe it. Not physically of course, although I do remember my head moving back and forth in a “NO” type of motion for quite some time. And there were tears.
I didn’t resist, put up a fight or try to stop myself from the complete and utter annihilation that my subconscious mind was laying on me. Didn’t try to process it, or talk it down, or lay some positive affirmations over top of it.
Sparing all the gory details, the theme was your basic:
You are never going to be everything you want. There is no way. You’re not strong enough. You can’t handle it. It was like an elephant was sitting on my chest.
“You are N O T H I N G.”
Whoa....that’s some pretty dark shit.
I had no idea that depth of self-hatred lived inside me. It was ugly. I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do or how to get out.
How did that get there? How did it happen? How can I live with that everyday now that I know it’s there? Is this what my mom had? Oh....
At the point the word “nothing” was circling around and around like a flock of hungry buzzards, something incredibly beautiful happened. A great shift occurred and the thoughts that were scaring me half to death suddenly became...“nothing.”
And ultimately, THAT was the real message I was given. All of the chatter, all the negative looping, and monkey-mind taking me to the depths of the darkest corners of my being, meant
But boy did it FEEL real.
At that point I crossed over into the most incredibly powerful, peaceful, intense, spiritual, connected experience of my life. I felt absolute freedom for the first time.
It’s actually difficult to put into words the amount of love and gratitude received from that afternoon. No way to describe the beauty I saw and love I felt. I had a real time, experiential process of the teachings I had read about for so long.
It was a complete download transfer from having knowledge...to KNOWING.
But it wasn’t over.
There is ritual that happens after the breathing. Quiet. Soft. Candles. Peace. Privacy.
We walked in silence up to the main house, where we would have dinner in silence. (After a breathing, you remain in silence until the next day.)
I went to the bathroom. Calm. Centered. Floating.
Washing my hands in the sink. Feeling the warm water and the smell of the luxurious soap. I closed my eyes.
And there she was.
I opened my eyes and saw black feathers out of my back. (Think Natalie Portman, Black Swan.) I felt a cold shiver run through me.
I was the Black Swan. I had that in me. This was a visual representation of what had just happened.
It’s not over. I’m still here.
More than somewhat freaked out, but committed to silence, I relaxed into knowing “I” (my higher Self) had control over my mind.
The lessons learned the rest of that week were from places in me I didn’t know existed. True healing. True love. True learning. From dark to light and back again.
Fast forward to present day.
I made a choice. Instead of running and hiding, or numbing, or stuffing down my Black Swan and pretending she doesn’t exist, I made space for her.
I read something once that said we “all have a dark river running through us.” Mine comes from a place that runs deep and has many tributaries.
Life changed that day. I now know I have complete control of my mind and what happens in there. And that anytime I am not at peace, I am believing something that's not true. No matter how gripping and terrifying it may seem in the moment.
It’s actually very liberating and creates much more happiness!
Black Swan and I are friends now. Sort of like a fairy tale where I tamed the dragon and she is now working FOR me instead of against me. I realized her purpose was protection. But I don’t need it anymore.
She is my dark, but she also holds a great deal of power, which I have access to and can use for my benefit in many different areas.
I know not to believe her nonsense language, but to use her words as guideposts, to lean into whatever edge I am pushing, and listen for the Truth.
Now that I have seen her, know her, and can call her by name, she helps me see parts of myself that need to be healed. It’s much more efficient than me trying to pick through all that garbage on my own. She shows me the way.
She is a messenger. That’s all. No more drama. Release.
So the BIG lesson?
In order to truly be free, to experience your Self in all your glory...
ALL the light and the dark
ALL the juicy good bits
ALL the wild power
ALL the whole of life in it’s most raw, pleasurable, natural states...
to be FREE...
it is necessary to walk through the darkness to get to the light. Not around it. But THROUGH IT. And not just once.
Over, and over, and over.
And guess what you find when you go into the dark?
n o t h i n g. no - thing.
That is the practice of life. The journey worth taking.
And all those thoughts of judgment, criticism, fear, guilt, shame, anxiety?
They’re all just BS.
big big love,