Blazing Your Trail

When we stumble across life altering moments on our journeys, it can be hard to stay upright. When I think back on the last year of my life, much has changed and shaped the person that I am today.

In reality, this is a never ending process: one that takes constant self study and personal awareness. But in this case I’m specifically talking about those moments when you think, say, and feel the wow that effortlessly surrounds you. These are the times in our lives that force us into a higher level of awareness; to a consciousness that can no longer be ignored.

If you’re wise in those times, you won’t choose to ignore what they’re telling you.

A few weeks ago I was sitting on a small prop airplane looking out its tiny windows—air so full of sound I could barely swallow—and found myself wondering what would be screaming through my head if we were to take a nose dive.

I caught the same wondering curiosities on the others’ faces and felt a fluster of warmth run over me. What if this was it? What are my regrets; my meanderings; my wishful thinkings; the words and actions that went unsaid? I slowed. I asked myself again. And then again.

I was embarking on a week’s worth of meditation, yoga, personal development, and business strategy. The week was planned out for us, dawn to dusk, and unapologetically titled the Trailblazer’s Retreat.

I’ll never forget the feeling of the old, bouncy (and very questionable) van as Charmaine and Erin sat with me—eyes wide open to what was ahead. Roughly 9 miles later we turned left and promptly into the Blue Osa’s immaculate vista. I remember thinking to myself: Is this real life? Am I really here?

Speaking for myself, one of the biggest personal challenges I had going into the week was to be completely vulnerable, namely around or within a new group. As I slowly cruised the open air kitchen and patio saying hello, I felt the sting of subtle resistance to be fully open. I wasn’t being heart strong.

What is holding me back? What am I telling myself in this moment? I was very aware of this tensity. And yet, when I took pause and centered myself in the moment, I simply saw other smiling faces. Other faces engaged and curious about the week, too.

When I had brief respite, I began pondering.

I believe we’re increasingly raised in a society that puts emphasis on being only parts of yourself. Particularly, we communicate the niceties and hide the dirt. Struggling with life’s intricacies but being mostly afraid to talk about it; fearful of even admitting to ourselves that something needs to be addressed.

Social media and the Internet—while life giving and entirely necessary for our global evolution—have completely skewed what is Real and what is Fake in our lives.

I’ve heard so many stories about a person’s “online” life in pictures and their realities behind closed doors. It’s sad and painful to hear. My own life, in many ways, fit that bill a year ago. Our authentic emphasis has been realigned and is now placed on how good we look to others, rather than how well we function as ourselves. We must love ourselves first.

Armed with that very unscientific mental meandering, I fully embraced the week’s Authentic Relating sessions. These were times set aside for the group to be severely displaced from their typical comfort zones. Literally, it was a time to get real.

Standing in an “inner” and “outer” circle, we rotated from person to person (our faces separated by only about two feet) every 60 seconds with a new vocal or physical prompt.

What am I ashamed of? What am I scared of? What is holding me back? Spewing these things from the depths for one minute strong. Surface level at first, but surprisingly deeply held thoughts and beliefs would bubble to the top rather quickly.

And on the physical side, simply staring at this person: with love, with passion, with presence. What comes up? What do you feel? What did this person share with only their energy? What are you now noticing about another human being that you never have before? This is important.

I started finding that such authentic relating had much less to do with anyone else and everything to do with me. I was in control of how I felt; how what I said or what was said to me changed my demeanor. This may seem very simple on the surface, but it’s really quite a challenge.

Secondarily, but no less importantly, the energies of these other people became very tangible during these workshops. Their moods, their own presence, their sensuality, their gifts, their love… it was right there to breathe in.

What I took away from this experience is that in order to serve yourself—to really negotiate your own truths, first—you must be willing to authentically relate with everything in your life. From who you spend time with, to how you experience meeting new people; from the job you choose to have, to the way you spend your free time.

Ultimately, literally anything is possible in this life. You just have to start living the way you want to live. And in order to do this, you have to start living authentically by relating to your own being and to others around you with total (and sometimes difficult) honesty and vulnerability.

When I returned home from this adventure, I started living this way.

I say “no” more often. I take time for me more frequently. I was painfully honest to a few friends about vulnerable things on my mind. I’ve been fully present and engaged in times of celebration, living open-hearted. I’ve heard people in my life speak like they’ve never spoken to me before. I’m heart-centered and honest when speaking to those in my life.

Showing up completely open to the world and its endless possibilities around you can leave you breathless. But I promise that if you do so with a truly authentic approach, living through integrity and honesty, that you will be constantly amazed at what the world has in store for you. But you must be willing to listen.

It was once written:

You can easily judge the character of a man by the way he treats those who can do nothing for him.

I think that’s a pretty monumental parallel to life in general. Meaning, show up full of love and harvest the energizing areas of your life with authenticity without specific expectations or judgements.

Things will sparkle. Things will fade, as they should. Life moves forward, ever-changing.

But give yourself the space to show up to an entirely new way of life and I’m certain you’ll start to feel the rumbles of goodness headed your way.

Enjoying Spirit by Design?


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This article has 2 comments

  1. Chris, this is beautiful.
    I think I’ve been looking for this, exactly this.
    And here you are.

    • Chris Arnold
      Feb 14, 2014 Reply

      I’m glad you found this, too! Cheers to what comes next.

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