We Teach What We Most Need To Learn
Everywhere on my website is what I call my “sentence of passion”: Cross the bridge from fear to fearlessness and fly! People have seen that, and assumed that I have no fears; that I was eternally courageous, unflappable and unstoppable from the minute I made my appearance at the Pennsylvania Hospital birthing ward in the mid-1950s.
My friends, I’m flattered. But it wasn’t (and isn’t) the case. I am human, and like all of us spiritual beings choosing to experience humanity, I have my phobias, my can’t-watch-moments, and my middle-of-the-night terrors. And I, too, am continuing on my path of Spiritual Awakening, even this far down my life road.
In the face of the adage “we teach what we most need to learn,” I decided I needed a good dose of fearlessness education myself to dismantle some of my own underlying stopping points. It certainly would help me to live my life more fully, and such lessons are things I can then pass along to you, my clients and companions on the Earth-road.
And so, once upon a third week in September, I landed at the Option Institute in Sheffield, Massachusetts, participating in their FEARLESS program. Option is always potent magic for me, a place of clarity and laser vision where I can address those things that I stop myself with, and change them solidly and long term.
The fear that I concentrated on — that I wanted to dump forever — was around health. Like my father the cardiologist, whose encyclopedic knowledge of medicine sometimes backfired on him in his personal life, I have been a real hypochondriac since childhood. I spent years assuming that a twinge here or there was cancer…a stroke…a heart attack. This pattern had gotten to the point where I had constant anxiety, and the panic always waiting to break out was grievously harming an otherwise marvelous marriage — not to mention taking its real toll on my health simply because that kind of attitude depresses your immune system. And so many of my clients come to me with the same sort of fear, that I knew I would have to live the adage “we teach what we most need to learn.”
By the end of the week at Option, I was able to dissect where the fears were from — why they were logical for me, and how I always used fear-generating questions and worst case scenarios to prompt myself to stay safe. I even had a bit of what I laughingly called “work study”: the second day there, I was slammed by a hormonal migraine and the worst nausea I have ever experienced. (While I’ve been blessed never to go through it, I imagine this is what chemotherapy side effects are like.) Taking the situation as a prompt from the Universe to put my “money where my mouth was,” I treated it completely differently than I would have previously. Simple things such as an internal wellness mantra instead of a repeating panic prediction, looking for the next moment of peace rather than pain or nausea, enabled me to ride the event and come out whole on the other side. And when I woke up at 4:30 the next morning with the pain and nausea gone, I did not wonder where it went. I merely felt gratitude it was gone, and completely accepted it was past.
One of the simplest but most powerful reminders of what the future could be came at the very end of the course, when Clyde Haberman (one of their teachers) reminded us that “the course this week was just a prelude. Your fearless work really begins the moment you leave here.” I always leave Option on a wave of love and possibility, but this time decided to start working it the moment I came home. Talks with Carle — serious, open, loving, and accepting — yielded a new mutual understanding of where we were and where we wanted to go, allowing him to be part of my path in ways I never allowed before. Coming up on our seventh wedding anniversary, the old “seven year itch” people talk about was, for us, an itch to learn more, love more, and make the next seven years even better.
So, in the spirit of “we teach what we most need to learn,” here are thoughts I brought away from the week – and which you can adopt for your own:
- I have gotten through [X] years and am still me. Change does not alter my Self, only my landscape. When I am fearless, I am an eternal flame of love and possibility.
- Thinking “best case” instead of “worst case” scenario simply feels better –-and clears my mind of fearful pitfalls. Consequently, I can take any worst case scenario that comes along and turn it inside out.
- If I “own” it (that is, accept my total responsibility for how I feel) I can change it.
- We fear what’s in the future. That’s where fear lives. In the present, all is possible.
- My ability to create is unlimited without fear. (My favorite one from the whole event.)
So screw the news reports… this year’s flu pan(ic)demic… political polemics… the fear mongers and naysayers. I’ve got my life ahead of me and intend to live the way Robert Heinlein’s beloved protagonist, Lazarus Long, always advised: To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks!