Photo by Mario Azzi
My desire has always been to explore the world. For it’s natural beauty, culture, to dive into all forms of ritual and spirituality, and for those of you who know me well, most obviously the food.
This deep desire seemed to be born within. And I feel that it’s my destiny to see and experience as much of this world as possible, and to take anyone along that will come with me. And from that desire, finally over forty years later, and a divine introduction to my dear friend Dawid of Toerboer, VividLife Journey’s were born. The purpose; heart in, hands on journeys that guarantee a belly full of laughter, inspiration & unforgettable stories to tell for years to come.
But with our destiny also comes resistance. And it rears it’s head in many fearful ways. In my case most predominately a fear of flying. And most recently I took a quick trip from Toronto (close to home) to Victoria, BC (my home away from home) to accompany my dear friend Brenda on a training course, but also to begin the process of writing my book (which has also brought up a shit ton of resistance, I’ll write about that soon).
As Brenda and I began to head towards Pearson International Airport in Toronto I felt a deep panic set in; my breathe shortened, and I started to feel sick. Remember the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz? “I’d turn back if I were you”, that’s exactly what was going through my mind. But with it came an intrinsic sense that this is what I was supposed to do, that going to Victoria (my home away from home) was exactly where I was to begin writing my book; sitting on a bench surround by the beauty of nature in one of my favorite places in the world, Beacon Hill Park.
Each time fear overwhelms me and my mind starts to convince me to turn back I remember the definition of courage; to feel the fear and do it anyway. One of the most successful techniques I’ve used to date is mindful breathing. I close my eyes and focus on slow, steady breathing, something I learned in Yoga Teacher training called, Three Part Breathe or Durga Pranayama. Do you know it?
Anyway, It works, at least for me. It gets me out of head and into my heart, quickly. I’m not gonna lie probably fifteen minutes later once we were parked at the Airport it all came back again, the fear, the anxiety, the upset stomach, and so I stopped and focused on my breathe again.
I repeated to myself “I’m not going to let this thing defeat me.” And sometimes, a lot of times really, it is really good at convincing me it’s my spirit trying to protect me and that I shouldn’t get on the plane cause it’s going to crash and I’m going to die. And so far it’s been a damn liar. I’ve been to Japan, Ireland, England, Germany, all across the United States and Canada and minus a few rough bouts of turbulence, at which time I also thought I was going to die, I am still here. And I refuse to let this fear take me down, to suppress me and keep me locked away from the desire that burns so deep within me to explore the world.
So I got on the flight. Not without a battle between mind and heart, not without heading to the bathroom at least five times, not without the thought that I would never see my husband and dogs again, but with a deeper inner knowing that regardless I was not going to be defeated by illusion. So I buckled my seat belt, sat through the flight safety announcement, and took a deep breathe as we took off for Victoria, BC.
The flight was a good one and throughout it I took many opportunities to look out the window in amazement of the landscapes and mountains we flew over. Those thoughts of doom and gloom returned over and over but I just kept connecting to my breathe, which every time brought me to the present moment where I was safe.
We landed in Victoria and it was worth every last bit of anxiety (and almost a few accidents due to my upset stomach, lol) and so because I was able to face my fear, to break through the resistance that was so heavily pushing against me, I was able to step into my destiny.
I walked into Beacon Hill Park, sat down on the very bench I had dreamed of, and it all began to flow:
“And so it begins…
Today I sit in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria British Columbia. I hear trotting horses as I glance to my right I see a carriage drawn by horses and to my left a lady walking her dog and in front of me a large family of ducks peacefully making their way toward a pond. A magical pond filled with lily pads and an old stone bridge.
What a perfect place to begin my writing journey. I hear the laughter of children and behind me the horn of a cruise ship entering the harbor full of people on a journey to Alaska, eager to explore Victoria on this sunny autumn day.
Wow oh wow! What a perfect time and space. So blessed. So grateful. My eyes are welled with tears, my heart filled with love. It’s all so perfect yet in the depths of my mind lye all the stories, the doubt, the suffering just waiting to come to the surface to meet my new found wisdom.
Wounds to wisdom is my journey, but not without resistance, not without the old stories itching to take hold and suppress my inner five year old, to steal his joy. He’s eagerly waiting to share the story, the wisdom, the truth beyond the pain.
There it is. I feel it. It’s as if I can touch it here. Here in this magical place.
Water, Water, Water is my healer. As I sit next to this picturesque pond that one might only experience through art or a fairy tale. I am blessed.
And yet in the back of my mind I hear, “Unworthy”. A tear drops, “You’re worthy”. I am getting so good at realizing that voice for what it is: Conditioning, Resistance. Lie. Lie. Lie. This is not the truth of who I am, or is it? Does the conditioning, the resistance, the suffering pose an opportunity?
Is this the way to the light? Is it all just The Wizard of Oz? Every Tinman, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Good Witch, Bad Witch and Wizard, walking me home to the truth of who I am? So that today I could sit here in this magical place and tell the tale?
My tale. My story. My own journey down the yellow brick road we call life. Wow oh Wow! Right now it all seems worth it. All of it. Not that I wish to experience that kind of suffering again, or that I am dismissing the pain perhaps you have bared to arrive with the understanding you have today. But it all seems to have its place in bringing me, bringing you, us all to a greater understanding of ourselves, of life and of how to navigate from here without taking it all personally.
Aha, taking it all personally. Reminds me of almost ten years ago when I was handed The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and told, “This will change your life”, and it did. It was like everything that led to that moment were like little pieces of a puzzle that would eventually lead to an understanding of the whole.
But even after I read the Four Agreements many times. Still I struggled to apply its principles to my life. And every experience without being aware, was guiding me to a deeper understanding of its principles. Sometimes I wanted it all to stop. To go back to being unaware. Turning back towards the idea of a life of a success that was defined by accolades and things, but that life lacked the spiritual depth I desired.
From a wee boy I remember a calling to the light, to love, and through my journey, so much suffering, so many experiences seemed to be trying to smack the shit out of me, to condition me for ignorance, to expand my resistance to loving no matter what. To be told he was bad and he was good and this was the right way and this the wrong, all the while feeling a deep intuitive sense that this was all a lie.
But why? Why did people want to suppress, to project pain, to mislead me from my instinctual self?
And herein lies the truth; and the truth has begun to set me free, the truth enables me every day to become more alive, more present, more joyful, to live a vivid life. Not without pain or suffering but with the understanding that amongst it all, who I am and to facilitate, to explore it all, to go to the depths of inquiry to find that place that has no past, no future, the guiding light.
There’s no conditioning, no resistance, no belief, no story, only pure light!
And there I am, basking in it, dancing, singing Hallelujah!”
And so my message to you today, is that if you are struggling with a fear of any kind, something that is keeping you from living your destiny. Perhaps you can Google Durga Pranayama and give it a try. I hear it’s been scientifically proven that breathing may help alleviate stress and anxiety. Or perhaps you have another go to ritual that helps you cut through the bullshit and get right to the truth. And for whatever works, it is worth it every time.
Just imagine how my life would have unfolded if I had let every fear, every negative nelly voice in my head, every charlatan acting as a guide, lead me astray.
I certainly wouldn’t be sitting where I am right now. And I absolutely love the man I am today and every experience that’s brought me here.
Fear can lead you in two directions; you can coward away or you can rise up, face it and meet your destiny.