How to Step Off of The Crazy Train and Take Time to Just BE

The Crazy Train—it’s a train I regularly find myself riding.  And the funny thing is that I hop on without even realizing it until I find myself in a semi-crazed and frantic mode with my hair so wind-blown it is permanently standing on its ends. It is then that I decide it is time to step off, even if only for a moment.

If you live in this Western Culture where it has been ingrained in us since birth to value more, to be more, and to do more, then you too probably know what train I am talking about.  We probably waved to each other yesterday while both riding on it.

I don’t have to tell *you* that life is busy and sometimes it seems as if we have too much to do and not enough hours in the day to get it all done.  We may find ourselves constantly living in our heads, thinking about what needs to get done next rather than living in the moment, fully present with what we are doing right now.

These past few weeks have been particularly crazy–shuttling kids to and from school, to and from activities, coaching soccer, working on my Ph.D., teaching yoga, teaching other classes, writing, planning more work to add to my schedule, caring for the household, investing in my marriage and other relationships.  I am paradoxically trying to find balance by doing more.

And while I love the work I am doing and the activities I participate in, I simply forgot something in the midst of the hustle and bustle.  I forgot that I am a human BEing, not a human doing, and I need to take the time to just simply BE. To savor the moment that is so quickly passing me by.

As Rob Bell says, “We are meant to feel the depth and density of everyday moments.” If we are caught on the hamster wheel, we lose this experience, and may soon find ourselves spinning on a wheel that is out of control if we don’t take time each day to step off, to just be.

When I first got sober, I was meditating every day, multiple times a day.  The benefits were immediate and immense.  I felt more at peace, calm, less reactive, and more grounded.  As my plate started to overflow, my meditation practice fell off—as happens to so many of us.

The other night, I found myself in that frantic mood I just spoke of—not a crazy frantic—just mind racing from one thing to the next, thinking about all I had to do and get done.  I decided to just sit for a moment and shuffle my Oracle Cards to see what the universe had to offer up.

Of course, “Slow and Steady” was the card that I drew. “…Moving too quickly will only yield unripe fruit with a bitter taste. Slow down. Breathe. Meditate. You’re not a human doing. You’re a human being. Just be.”

I took a deep breath. Wow. “You’re not a human doing. You’re a human being.”

Those words really struck a chord.  Just like the acorn who transforms into the majestic and radiant oak tree just by surrendering to nature’s process, maybe I too am like the acorn. If I can slow down and take the time to just be, will my life unfold as nature intended?

We are here to fully experience all that is unfolding around us. To co-create. To love. To deeply know ourselves. To know the Truth. Stepping off the train doesn’t mean you stop participating.  In fact, it means you are participating more fully.

The Oracle Card went on to say, “Everything will work out if you can apply the brakes and become more aware of what’s happening in this moment.  A calm focus on the now, breathing in the beauty of your surroundings, will restore your power to consciously co-create your world.”

Funny thing is, the very next day I forgot all of the wisdom this card had offered to me. Ha! I had so much to do to get ready to leave town and my mind was onto the next thing, even before I was! Not surprisingly, I lost my phone.  Panic set in. I’m leaving town! I have a ten-hour drive! What will I do without my podcasts and audiobooks!?!?

Then it clicked…oh, I can just be. The universe was obviously nudging me in that direction. As soon as I found acceptance, I found my phone.  And I decided to take the advice that was offered.

Instead of engaging my mind and listening to all of my favorite authors and speakers, I decided instead to tune into my body—which has wisdom to offer that the brain is not capable of. I cranked the music LOUD in the car. I felt the music. I sat there taking in the depth and density of each moment. I was present. And it felt divine! I felt calm and grounded.

Next time you find yourself riding The Crazy Train…

Just Notice

Notice what your mind is doing. Is it present with the now, or is it in the future thinking of all that needs to get done? Notice how your body feels in reaction to these thoughts. Are you holding tension? Notice your breathing—is it shallow? Is it rapid?

Just Breathe

Take a few deep breaths to slow the mind down. Know and trust that life is unfolding just as it should, and that really, you don’t have any control. Breathe into the fact that you are here to experience this life in a physical form—to BE. If you’re caught on the crazy train, you will miss so much if you don’t take the time to consciously breathe it all in. To savor the depth and density of the moment.

Just Be

This can be in the form of mediation or a mindfulness practice. Anything that will drop you back into the now and help you to slow it down. You can sit in stillness and just listen to the sounds you hear. You can crank up your favorite song and notice how it feels in your body as you listen. You can focus on your breath. Taking these momentary pauses throughout the day can help us to be more present, to be with life as it is.

No matter how busy we are, we can all find time.  When you’re brushing your teeth, when you’re sitting on the toilet, when you are in the car, before or after eating a meal, you can even set a timer on your phone to send you reminders throughout the day.  The list is endless when it comes to opportunities to slow it down.

Don’t forget your true nature—you’re a human BEing. Take time, right now, to be just that and only that.

The Hero’s Journey: The Journey YOU Were Born to Take

The journey of the hero…we see it in movies, read about it, and dream about it, yet few of us realize that this is the path that we too are destined to walk. It is the path we must walk. To feel fulfilled in this crazy life, you must be the hero in your own story. Now, I can already hear what some of you are already thinking.

“Yeah, right, I’m no hero.”

“Come on, that’s not for me.”

“I am just an ordinary person in this ordinary world with ordinary struggles.”

But let me tell you this: You are powerful. You were born to embark on the hero’s journey—and not just once, but multiple times throughout your life. Because the hero’s journey is ultimately the journey back to the center of self, something if we ever found it in the first place, have to keep journeying back to over and over again.

You see, the universe requires growth. If you look all around you in nature life is growing, changing, dying, being reborn.  We must do the same, for we a part of nature.

I have been a fan of Joseph Campbell for years, and he talks about the monomyth, the ultimate narrative archetype, which is known as The Hero’s Journey.  You can see examples of The Hero’s Journey in all sorts of mythic adventures: Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, even Simba in The Lion King.

This is such a prevalent storyline because it is a story that lies in our collective unconscious.  It lies there because it is the journey of man since the beginning of time.

When I talk to my readers, clients, and friends I notice that so many of us are about to embark on a new journey, are in the midst of one, or have just completed our adventure, and are awaiting the next call.

I see people getting married, getting divorced, trying to salvage a troubled relationship, trying to have a baby, quitting drinking, desiring weight loss and a change in habits, wanting to begin or change a career, wishing to start a blog or start writing, wanting to redefine themselves in some way—all of this *is* the hero’s journey.

Why look at the hero’s journey? Because knowing which stage you are in on the path can help to illuminate the next steps. If you can see your path as the journey of the hero, it will help you to find the strength and endurance to accept the call to adventure, conquer the trials and tribulations that are sure to come your way, and become the hero of your own story.

It’s not easy, but it will be worth it—this I can promise you.

In The Hero with an African Face, Clyde Ford says, “Ultimately, the hero’s quest is not along an isolated path but on one traveled by all of humanity: not a victory over outside forces, but over those within; not a journey to far-off worlds but to the very center of one’s self.”

A journey you are destined to take.

I am embarking on a new adventure, a new journey when it comes to my career.  However, I have just wrapped up a fifteen-year long journey—the journey to sobriety from alcohol.

That’s not to say the journey is entirely over.  There will continue to be trials and tribulations, but I have already experienced the entirety of the journey, have weathered the storm and know that I can stay in the “reward zone” if I continue to acknowledge my WHY.  Why I went on this journey in the first place.

Let’s take a look at The Hero’s Journey.  Your journey and my journey…

The Ordinary World

This is where the journey begins.  Hero’s start out like everyone else—living their ordinary life in the ordinary world, often unaware of his or her potential. For me the ordinary world looked like this: everyone drinks alcohol, so why shouldn’t I?  This is what people do—they do it to celebrate, they drink when there is sorrow, they drink to foster connection, and they drink to ease boredom.

This was my perception, anyways.  And I wanted to be no different.  I wanted this ordinary life—to experience the suffering, sorrow, and tragedy in life, along with the happiness and joy with the help of my numbing companion, who helped me to limp on through, making life more tolerable, or so I thought.

The Call to Adventure

When you are being asked to leave your ordinary world, you will hear a call.  Often it is faint at first.  A small little whispering from your soul telling you to “go this way.” It is often so faint that we dismiss it, write it off as just a crazy idea.

If we don’t listen, the call will get louder and louder and LOUDER.  It will not only be a cry from your soul, but outside forces will begin to conspire to move you in the direction or your calling.

I heard the faint call in my early 20’s.  My soul was whispering “You are keeping yourself in a cage.” And, “There is something better out there for you, and drinking is going to keep you from it.” But I wasn’t ready.

Refusal of the Quest

Refusal of the quest is a natural and necessary part of the journey.  Deep down we know that our former self will have to die so that a new self can be born—and this is fucking scary as hell.  Our comfort zone (even if it is miserable) is called the comfort zone for a reason–it is comfortable because it is known, it is predictable, it is our identity.

Fear, lack of self-esteem, lack of confidence in one’s abilities, or the abandonment of hope and faith can keep you stuck at the threshold of the call—it can be difficult admitting that change is a must “yet passing such thresholds and facing such challenges and discoveries are the essence of the inner hero’s journey” (Clyde Ford, The Hero with an African Face).

Some of us are crawling around as caterpillars, thinking it impossible to transform into beautiful butterflies.  But if you look around you…there are butterflies everywhere.  All of life walks this path.  If it is possible for them, it is possible for you.

I refused the call to sobriety for over ten years.  I did everything I could not to hear it.  I didn’t want to leave my comfort zone, even though in many respects alcohol made me miserable.  Early on, I didn’t want to do the work to change, and better yet, I didn’t think the change would be worth it.

I tried to regulate my drinking and told many people I would always regulate (yeah, right) because I NEVER wanted to quit…I was clinging and grasping to this part of myself BIG TIME. But the call kept getting louder.  It was no longer a faint whisper in my soul, it became desperation.

The call came in the form of domestic violence, almost two divorces, and infidelity to name a few. How bad was I going to let my life get before I accepted the call? Obviously, desperation is not enough to propel you forward. You have to also WANT to take the tumultuous journey to the new self.

The call also now came to be found in the form of outside voices…my husband, my parents, both telling me “this is a problem for you.” And you know what? That made me really fucking angry…because I knew they were right. (Ouch! This is still painful to admit!)

Accepting the Call

When you are truly ready and willing, you will accept the call. And not a minute before then. Clyde Ford says, “The hero’s journey is not for the faint-hearted wanderer, curious but not serious about where the journey leads, nor is it a journey to be taken in the throes of anger, but one to be relished in the spirit of high adventure.”

Had I accepted the call when I was angry when outside forces began to conspire and become a part of the call, I would have failed miserably because I would have initiated the journey from the place of anger.

The call must be accepted from a grounded, centered, and strong place.  That place in your heart that knows now is the time.  You must have faith that you can handle all of the trials and tribulations that are bound to come your way.  You must know that you can handle the death of your former self.  You are ready to be re-born. Joseph Campbell says, “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure?”

You must look at this as an adventure, one you are willing to take, not one you are reluctant to embark on. You must be committed.

I said “yes” many times over the past few years.  Dabbling in sobriety, stringing together days and months.  But I wasn’t committed to the adventure, to the journey.

I wasn’t ready to weather the trials and tribulations, and ultimately I found myself back at “Refusal of the Quest.” If you step back to refusal, that doesn’t mean the call will let go of you.  You just step back to that point in your journey, and the call will continue as it did, getting louder in the form of suffering, sorrow, danger and possibly disaster, urging you forward, until you are ready to accept the call whole-heartedly, never looking back.

I got to that point.  Where it was desperation combined with a serious WANT.  Desperation alone is not strong enough to sustain you; you have to have the want, the will to be reborn into your new self.

I asked myself what will it take to accept this call? I had tried everything I knew, up until that point.  I had partaken in a million self-development workshops and courses, received numerous certifications, tried out different healing modalities, read all about others experiences in sobriety, participated in Hip Sobriety School.

I knew that I was not on an isolated path, but on one traveled by all of humanity, in some form or another.  If they could do it, I could do it too.  If life had become more fulfilling for them, I had to trust that life would be better for me as well and that all of the tests, trials and tribulations would be worth it.

I knew deep in my heart that AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) was not for me, which would have been the next logical step.  Instead, I chose to go to a rehab, a place that offered multiple healing modalities and didn’t push AA down your throat.

I went with the conviction that this is it. I am ready to be reborn.

Tests, Trials, and Tribulations

In this stage of the journey, the universe will test your commitment.  It will throw all kinds of trials and tribulations your way.  If the journey was easy, you wouldn’t draw strength, courage and fortitude from it.  It would not have the transformational effect of you feeling your personal power, your ability and willingness to persevere and transcend.

If it was easy, it wouldn’t be the journey of the hero.

This is why you must have a powerful WHY.  Why are you going on this journey? Why do you want it? The universe guarantees that it will test your commitment. If you don’t have a powerful why you will find yourself back at Refusal of the Quest.

This has to be about YOU. You have to want this for yourself, you have to be curious about what the next life holds for you, you have to have the curious spirit of a warrior to make it through the trials and tribulations of your journey.

Choosing to go to rehab was a trial in and of itself.  How can I be gone from my family for 30 days? How can I tell those around me what I am doing? Can I withstand the shame of openly sharing my struggle with addiction? Can my free-spirited, authority-hating, rule-breaking self handle the strict structure of rehab? Can that part of me who thinks I know everything (haha!) surrender to not knowing, to not having the answers, to taking a beginner’s mindset into this experience?

Then came the trials and tribulations of choosing the path of sobriety prior to the start of summer—one of the biggest drinking times of the year.  With parties, camping trips, vacations, kids at home…can I weather all of this without being miserable?

Looking back, I can now see that I chose the perfect time, or better yet, the perfect time chose me.  If I could weather the trials of summer and make it through, then I could handle anything sober.

Allies and Helpers

You will begin to see the magic of the universe as you endure your tests and trials, in the form of people, things, and places that will support your journey.

As previously stated, you are not meant to walk this path alone.  Others are walking beside you on the same path, others have gone before you, others are simply there to support you on your courageous journey.

Remember, life is happening FOR you, not to you.

Joseph Campbell says, “We have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we only have to follow the thread of the hero-path.”

I have found allies and helpers EVERYWHERE.  They are there, especially if you keep an eye out for them, knowing that they WILL be there, you will begin see them all around you.

Reward

You’ve made it…and the reward is yours for the taking. When you being the journey, you can’t possibly know what the reward will look or feel like. You will have an idea, but ultimately you have to surrender to the journey and have faith.

To trust that the new self that will be born will be the transformation of the caterpillar into the beautiful butterfly.  The butterfly who has wings to soar to new heights, to taste freedom that wasn’t possible with the old self.

I have found freedom.  I am no longer a slave to a substance that destroyed my body, mind, heart, and soul, simply because I said “yes.”  I now have happiness I didn’t think was possible for me.

That’s not to say that life isn’t still full of trials, tribulations, sorrow, and tragedy.  But having walked the path of the hero, I now have more tools to draw from, more internal fortitude and strength to know that I can weather the journeys ahead.  I now look forward to the next journey, instead of resisting or fearing it.

Drawing from the internal well of resources you developed as you walked the path, maybe the next call doesn’t take ten years until it is accepted.  Maybe next time you can jump right in because you know what lies ahead in the path.

You know that you can do it.

You know that you are a hero. The hero of your own story.

The Road Back Home

Having been reborn, you return home, anew.  You must share your hero’s journey because now you have the light to illuminate the path for others who are right behind you in their journey.

You are now the hero that they look to.  Having done it, you show others that it is possible.

We must light the way for others out of respect for those who lit the way for us.

We are meant to grow so that we have more to give.  The journey is not complete until you travel back home as your new self, to share your journey. It doesn’t matter if you share with one person or 1,000 people, but you must share to see the journey to completion.

Where are you at in the hero’s journey? I would love to hear your story.  I would be honored to be any ally and helper in your path in the form of a witness, or in whatever form of help you may need.  Remember, you are not meant to walk this path alone.  Keep an eye out for your allies and helpers, reach out to them, use them. There is no I without we, and no we without I. We need each other.

Cliff Note’s Version of The Hero’s Journey:

The Ordinary World

  • Your comfort zone

Call to Adventure

  • You hear a faint voice telling you “go this way.”
  • The call won’t leave you alone, it will get louder until you accept the call

Refusal of the Call

  • A necessary step in the journey
  • We must refuse to know that it is truly a calling and not just a crazy idea
  • We refuse because it is scary, knowing that a death will occur—the death of the old self, the death of an aspect of our identity

Accepting the Call

  • We say “yes”
  • We say “yes” in the spirit of adventure, from a strong, centered, grounded place
  • Desperation will not sustain you, you must have a strong WANT for a new self, a new identity
  • We must have a powerful WHY

Tests, Trials, and Tribulations

  • The universe will test your commitment
  • We must be tested in order to gain strength, fortitude, and harness our internal power—elements that are critical to success in the many journeys we will take
  • Remember your powerful WHY during this time to keep you going
  • Remember that it will all be worth it and the reward is waiting for you at the end

Allies and Helpers

  • You are not meant to walk this path alone, this is the journey of all of humanity
  • Remember that life is happening FOR you, not to you—the helpers are there FOR YOU

Reward

  • All of your hard work does not come without benefits
  • There is light at the end of the tunnel, you must trust and have faith

The Road Back Home

  • Your new self, your new identity must be shared
  • We must be an ally and helper to others, we must light the way or the journey has not been completed

Finding Authentic Connection Through Self-Acceptance

I recently came to the shocking realization that I am an approval junkie. Ouch! This is painful to admit, and it was a surprising realization because I have always considered myself to be the kind of person who didn’t give a fuck what anybody thought of me. This is who I am, take it or leave it.

This past week, I found myself investigating a fear—the fear of being seen through my writing. The fear of showing who I am not just in one on one relationships, but in a broader context. I asked what this was about, and I realized it was my need for approval that was causing me to hold back—it is keeping me from sharing my learning, sharing my work, and ultimately from telling the truth about who I am.

You see, that’s the thing about approval—it is an insidious little beast that often operates just below our conscious awareness.

It can hide in all of the little things—the way we dress, our facial expressions, how we act around different people, what we share or don’t share of ourselves, how we communicate and how we listen. When you sincerely inquire, you will find that you too may be addicted to approval, and it is painful.

Many of us associate approval with connection. We believe that if you approve of me, that means you like me and that, therefore, we have a connection. The problem is, it is based on a false sense of connection if you are contorting yourself or modifying your actions to fit the mold you think others desire.

Genuine connection relies on vulnerability and authenticity and showing up as yourself in relationships and in the world. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown explores how vulnerability and self-acceptance are required to connect with others in a meaningful and authentic way. The thing is, vulnerability is hard! And extremely uncomfortable.

Self-acceptance requires approving of yourself, 100% (imperfections and all!), and when you approve of yourself, you don’t need the approval of others.

Brene Brown explains that you will belong only as much as you accept yourself because, “True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

When we don’t accept or approve of ourselves, we fail to see the areas where we are accepted, and when we do not manage to see this, we fight even more for approval, and it becomes a losing battle. It is often said, “Where your attention goes, energy flows” and where we are placing our energy breeds more life into that arena. So, if your energy is going into winning approval and acceptance, you are implying a lack in that very search and, ironically, what you will find is less of what you are looking for.

Approval and acceptance only come from within and it is based on love, not fear. Byron Katie says, “The irony is that the struggle to win love and approval makes it very difficult to experience them. Chronic approval seekers don’t realize that they are loved and supported not because of but despite their efforts. And the more strenuously they seek, the less likely they are to notice.”

Love is what we are. Love is unbounded, accepting, inclusive, infinite. Fear is separation and separation is painful. What you are mistaking for connection (approval) isn’t actually connection at all if it involves contorting your authentic self or is based in fear.

Through my inquiry into this fear-based drive to win approval, I uncovered some steps to help defeat this beast.

Step one: Know who you are

Some of us have spent so much of our lives contorting and shape shifting like chameleons to gain approval that we don’t even know who we are. So you must start here. Who are you? What do you like and desire? What are your honest thoughts and opinions?

If you are starting at ground zero in getting to know yourself, there are many resources to aid in that unveiling. I was at ground zero a few years ago, and I loved Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map and Style Statement. They are a great place to start to uncover the nature of your personality as it wants to express itself in this world, and to tap into your emotional power and know how it is you want to feel. Dawn Barclay’s exploration of Core Values is also a great starting place. Once you know who you are, you can begin to authentically show up in your relationships and in the world. But you have to start here.

Step Two: Investigate the fear

Whose approval are you seeking? Why do you need their approval? What would happen if you didn’t know whether or not they approved of you? How would that feel? What if they just completely disapproved of you and let you know? What would that do to your inner state?

Once you acknowledge what the fear is you can see how it is unknowingly driving your behavior. Make friends with the fear. Inquire into the fear. I love Byron Katie’s approach to inquiry. Let’s say you find that you could not go on if you didn’t have your mom’s approval.

Inquire: Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it is true? How do you react when you believe this thought? How does your body respond? What thoughts, feelings, and emotions arise? Who would you be without this thought? Turn the thought around—to the self, the opposite, the other.

For example, turnarounds for my initial thought might be: I cannot go on if I don’t have my own approval. I can go on without my mother’s approval. I cannot go on without approving of my mother. List all of the reasons why these turnarounds are true. Check out Byron Katie’s book, I Need Your Love—Is That True? to learn more about this process.

Step Three: Shift your focus to gaining your own approval

Where do you already approve of yourself? Make a list. What actions do you take on a daily basis that you approve of? What do you love about yourself? Where your focus goes, energy flows. If you focus on your greatness, your greatness will expand.

How does your body feel when you list all of the ways that you approve of your life? If you are trying to find happiness outside of yourself in the form of having a cheerleading squad that always approves of you, you are fighting a battle you can never win and the result will always be more pain.

Step Four: Make light of the fact that you are an approval junkie

Laugh at it, laugh at yourself. See yourself as a small child shouting “Look at me! Look at me!” trying to win your parent’s approval. See how silly it is that you are doing this as an adult. Make light of it.

If we take things too seriously, we will not be able to move past that which holds us back. We have to acknowledge that this is a part of who we are and that it’s served a purpose in our lives, but it is no longer serving us. List all of the ways that being an approval junkie has been beneficial. List all of the ways that it is not serving you.

Once a painful concept is inquired into and met with understanding, we can shift the emotional charge. This doesn’t have to be something that is dark, painful and impossible to get over. This is just our inner child seeking love and acceptance in the wrong places. Accept and love that inner child. Have fun with her!

Step Five: Begin to think in terms of outcomes

For every action you take or interaction that you have, ask: What outcome am I seeking? Do this before all else, whether it is a big or small action. If the outcome you are seeking is approval, scratch it, because you know that approval seeking is painful and does not foster love and connection. What outcome do you really want? Take action from this place.

Step Six: Spend more time listening

Listening doesn’t involve trying to prove anything. Listen to yourself—your thoughts and emotions. Act from an authentic place and listen to the responses. Become open and interested in the experience of others. Give, instead of trying to get.

We think approval=love, but love is allowing everybody to experience life as they desire. Listen to other people’s desires. Trying to manipulate someone’s approval of you is not love. Love doesn’t want to change anybody. Love doesn’t want you to change or manipulate yourself either.

Step Seven: Have Courage

This is a courageous endeavor that you are about to embark on. One that will change your life and foster the experience of more love and connection.

Brene Brown says that “courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” Letting our true selves be seen requires immense vulnerability. She says, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” Be a warrior for truth and love. Because that is ultimately all we need.

Why Weird is Awesome

“Where’s your will to be weird?” –Jim Morrison

 

I have been working on fully embracing my weirdness—and I have to say, it is pretty scary.

You see, I am into some pretty weird things. By weird, I mean things that my family or certain friends might reject or consider to be out of the norm—which ultimately only means it is out of the norm for them. Because there is a tribe for everything out there that is weird. We just have to find our tribe.

I find myself afraid to share my weirdness with those who are close to me because I fear rejection, and this is a very natural fear. Recently, I decided to start putting my work out into the world on a larger scale when I created my website and started blogging. I let all of my weirdness hang out, and it was (and is) scary as hell!

This is who I am: Someone who loves exploring the unconscious aspects of self, regularly analyzing dreams and participating in Active Imagination. I am fascinated by subtle energy—the body’s chakra system, the meridians, and how tapping can produce somatic and psychological release. I love diving into symbolism and exploring the possibility of a holographic universe and the fact that the whole—past, present, and future—may be contained within every cell. I love Kundalini Yoga and Yoga Church. I love listening to crazy music while practicing my Vinyasa Flow. I might one day try a naked yoga class (Ha!). I like to use foul language and do things that may shock people. These are just a few of the weird things that I love.

Let’s look at what weird means. According to Merriam-Webster, Weird is: Unusual or Strange.  This is entirely subjective. What does strange mean? Again, Merriam-Webster says: Different from what is usual, normal or expected. Or, not known, heard or seen before.

You may or may not think some of the things on my list are weird, and it depends on whether or not you are my tribe. Maybe we are a tribe in some areas, but not in others.

The bottom line is that to thrive—we must all embrace our weird. We must also bring forth that which is not known, heard, or been seen before, in essence, that which is, by definition, strange.

Embracing your weird is scary. The fear is a result of processes occurring in the reptilian brain—we need our social systems to survive and thrive. And what I love may be rejected by those closest to me, and that is scary. We need connection—that is what we are here for and any threat to this will naturally lead to fear.

However, not embracing your weird is a rejection of your authentic self—which is more dangerous than worrying about whether or not your friends will embrace the fact that you love going to naked yoga classes.

We live in an amazing time of global connection with access to the internet, and our tribe is out there. We can find our tribe and connect with others who share in our weirdness and live as our fullest expression of ourselves, which is actually in harmony with the direction the universe has been heading for the past 13.8 billion years.

I just finished watching Rob Bell’s, Everything is Spiritual, for the second time (it’s amazing, I highly recommend that you watch it!). You see, the universe is WEIRD. Let’s check it out.

It all started with a single bang, a single particle. Those particles bonded to create atoms.  Atoms joined to form molecules. Molecules joined to create cells. And cells began to build life systems—leading to the creation of humans and who we are today.

What is so weird is that scientists have been able to deconstruct this process and have identified that atoms can be taken apart into particles, and even those particles can be de-constructed—150 subatomic particles have been identified (Quantum Physics—some pretty trippy stuff!).

This is where it gets really freaking weird. Subatomic particles behave in ways that we can’t understand. They can appear at Point A and leave at Point B, without traveling the distance between. They can also travel every single possible route from Point A to Point B. WEIRD, right?

For 13.8 billion years the universe has been ever expanding. 13.8 billion years of ongoing creation. Trip out on that thought during your next yoga practice.

It has also been increasing in complexity, depth, AND unity—everything in the universe wants to be a part of something bigger than itself. We are in a natural forward movement, and when you’re resisting this you will feel dis-ease because you are going against what the universe has been doing for billions of years!

A lot of us in the yoga community can get pretty weird (no pun intended!) about other new forms of weird yoga that are popping up. Just Google “weird yoga” and you will find: Naked Yoga, Cannabis Yoga, Dog Yoga, Equine Yoga, Aerial Yoga, Karaoke Yoga, Twerking Yoga…and that’s just to name a few.

No matter what you believe, this is in line with the trajectory of where the universe is heading.  Yoga is increasing in complexity, depth, and unity. Unity because more and more people are embracing the practice because they are finding their own little weird niche. The niche that is calling to their soul—to their unique expression of self.

The universe is in constant creation. It wants us to be weird—it is the nature of all of existence. It wants us to create. So who am I to not create something that is speaking to my soul? Who am I to not love what I love? Because love is also fundamental to the laws—love requires tremendous complexity, depth, and unity. So if you’re not following that which you love, no matter how weird it may seem, you are resisting the natural forward momentum of the universe.

Embrace your weird.

Embrace what you love.

Embrace the weird of others.

Don’t let your primitive, reptilian brain hold you back from following your heart towards that which is calling to you—no matter how weird that calling may seem. Your tribe is out there.  You can Google it.