What is a journey?
We're all on a journey, whether we know it or not. Our lives are one long epic journey from start to finish, a quest to find clarity and meaning, to find a life that is more purposeful, deeply satisfying and filled with joy…it’s about transformation from one state of being to another. And within that epic journey, there are many smaller journeys. These journeys are intentional…you have the choice to embark on them, in one way or another, or to ignore the call to adventure. A journey you choose to embark on might any of these…each of which may start as a dream:
Starting your own business
Finding a new job
Making a success of a new job
Planning a wedding
Going on a trip
Finding your way to better health and balance
Moving out of a relationship
Starting a new hobby
Creating a work of art
Writing a novel
What journey are you embarking on right now?
For me, creating and growing my business, HUM, is certainly the most challenging and enriching journey of my life so far. I never expected this business project to actually be a true journey of transformation…transformation of my entire life and lifestyle, of my perspective, my health, my goals, and so much more. Things that were important before became insignificant; things I’d known little about became fundamental to personal growth and fulfilment.
One day, an unexpected angel dropped in for a visit
I’ve been very lucky all along on my own journey to create and grow HUM. I’ve met wonderful people who have inspired me on the way. One day, as I was in the midst of developing my product line and facing all the challenges that presented, a mentor introduced me to Ami from ARAS in New York City (Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbols). I happened to be on my way to NYC, so I arranged to meet with her.
As we were sitting in the reading room chatting, about archetypes and journeys, we were interrupted by an unexpected presence…a picture fell off the wall. Strange… Ami said those pictures had been securely pinned up on the wall for many months. On the wall was an outline of Joseph Campbell's hero’s/heroine’s journey, with images representing various stages of the journey. He had a theory that all the great historical stories and myths shared a common pattern, a journey of an archetypal hero. He outlined the 17 stages of his hero's journey in The Hero With A Thousand Faces (1949) which has inspired writers and cineastes ever since. The stages he identified can also be used as a roadmap for personal growth.
The image had fallen from the stage called “Finding Allies Not Like You”. And it was an angel. I got goosebumps... Hmmmm…. What was this angel coming to tell me? Surely a message for me on my own journey, I believe in synchronicities.
The visiting angel reminded me that there is ALWAYS a light at the end of the tunnel…and the light can take many different forms. The “hero’s journey” reminded me that transformation is possible for everyone. It reminded me that the journey may be a beautiful experience, but it will be difficult, and that we have what we need to face our fears and overcome every obstacle. Every journey has different stages, and each stage requires something different of us.
Inspired by my visiting angel and by my own journey, this is how I see various stages of any intentional journey along with some thoughts and 18 different practices and rituals that may help you at each stage. The stages you journey through may be in a different order, and some may come up more than once. But essentially, I’ve found, a personal journey follows the path of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. And guess what…you get to be the hero of your own story!
By the way…I can’t stress enough the power of yoga, meditation and mindfulness to support you and inspire you through every stage of your journey, wherever it may take you. I only wish I’d know this much earlier in my life.
What stage are you at right now on your intentional journey?
THE CALL TO ADVENTURE (a.k.a. Dream the Dream…Plant the Seeds)
Your journey may begin with a dream. The dream may triggered by an outside circumstance. It might begin with a discovery. It might be a mix of these things. Your dream calls you to move away from your comfortable ordinary life and into the unknown towards something new. Dreams are the seeds of future growth. So give yourself permission to dream. Unconditionally. Without boundaries. Be sure to take notes along the way. And know that the seeds of your dream might blossom into something very different than you imagine at the beginning. That’s the beauty of endless possibilities.
For your dream to become a journey, you need to be intentional about the way forward. Set your intention to create your guiding light. You don’t have to have a clear vision of the destination when you start your journey, or even of the pathway to get there…but it really does help to have a certain idea of the direction you wish to head in.
Every journey requires a map of some kind…so that you don’t get lost. It doesn’t matter if you switch directions once you’re on the path. Dream the dream…and then make a plan to align your intention with actions. This might be a business plan, a project outline, a health plan, a travel plan…. A plan means putting down solid roots so that you can rise from a strong base.
Set your intention. And then focus strongly on bringing it to life. It’s really true, what you focus on expands.
PRACTICES FOR WHEN YOU HEAR THE CALL TO ADVENTURE:
EMBARKING (a.k.a. Take the Leap…Just Do It)
You have a dream, you’ve set your intention, you have a plan that you’ve carefully researched and prepared. You see the way forward…or maybe you see so many possible directions, you’re confused. You have enough information to begin…or you’re overwhelmed with too much information. You might find that to move forward you need to invest time or money or make a radical decision.
And so you hesitate. Uh oh…Am I really going to do this? And you think of all the reasons why you shouldn’t.
When you find yourself hesitating, I found it’s helpful to stop and take stock of exactly where you are and what you’ve got at this time. Don’t wait for everything to be perfectly aligned and prepared. If you really believe in this dream…then just do it. It may be a messy journey…but it will be beautiful in unexpected ways.
Moving forward on any important journey requires courage and confidence. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. I promise you…it will be uncomfortable, it will be daunting and sometimes really overwhelming. Moving into the unknown can be very scary…but who knows what treasures you will find? This journey may be your destiny. If you know in your heart that this is what you want to do, if you really feel it in your heart…then just do it. You CAN do it.
As you embark on this journey, mindfulness is one of the most valuable tools you can take with you. Mindfulness offers you the tools to stay grounded in the present moment, to notice every aspect of your experience, without judgement, and to appreciate it. Just be here.
PRACTICES TO HELP YOU TAKE THE LEAP:
FINDING ALLIES NOT LIKE YOU (a.k.a. Look for Inspiring Allies…Ask for Help)
Your journey will be made richer and probably a lot smoother with the help of allies: guides, collaborators and mentors. Know your strengths and never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help when you need it. There will always be somebody willing to join you on your adventure. An ally might bring practical, cost-effective services you need to make things happen. They can help you through a challenge by offering a different perspective. Or simply inspire you along the way with interesting thoughts and ideas.
Asking for help might also mean digging deep to find your own inner teacher for clarity or inspiration. Or asking for divine assistance…whatever you believe. I believe the Universe is always there to support you and provide help if you ask for it and if you are open to receiving it. As Joseph Campbell says, “One has only to know and trust, and the ageless guardians will appear.”
Asking for help might mean letting go…and this can be hard for some people. Let go of the need to control everything, let go of any expectations. And always stay in gratitude.
PRACTICES FOR WHEN YOU ARE LOOKING FOR ALLIES NOT LIKE YOURSELF:
NIGHT SEA JOURNEY (a.k.a. Dig Deep…You’ll Find Your Light)
You’ve dreamed the dream, you’ve done your research, you’ve invested time and love and energy and maybe money, you’ve found the right people to help you along the way…you’re DOING IT.
And then…your fears catch up with you. This can happen at any time during the journey…and it may happen more than once (believe me!). You come to a point where you feel like you are stumbling in the dark, fear and stress grip your body, heart and soul. You think…OMG…What am I doing?!! Why am I doing this? What have I gotten myself into?!!!
The “night sea” is dark and deep and filled with unknown hazards. It symbolizes the darkness within. At some point on every journey, this is where you meet your fears. How you face them is crucial to how you move forward.
The “night sea” is the crucible of transformation…and this is where your courage is most important. When you have the courage and the tools to face the darkness, you will find your way back to the light. This is also where you see the potential and the possibilities that exist and that are all out there for you to find. It might just take a new perspective, a different way of seeing things, to find them.
My best piece of advice, having faced the night sea a few times…believe…believe in yourself, believe in your idea, believe in your ability to get through to the light. Never let even the tiniest doubt set in - have unwavering, unshakeable confidence that you can do it, that you have incredible gifts the world needs.
PRACTICES TO HELP YOU FACE THE NIGHT SEA:
Only you can find your way back to the light, but there are lots of practices you can use to get through the dark. Here are a few ideas...
FIGHTING ADVERSARIES & OVERCOMING OBSTACLES (a.k.a. Figure it Out…You CAN Do It)
Every journey that is worthwhile will bring difficult challenges and many obstacles. Finding your way through the obstacles is a beautiful and often frustrating dance, two steps forward, three steps back, a step to the right, a step to the left, and then you’re finally ready for 5 steps forward. You will often find yourself far outside of your comfort zone, and there will always be a new skill to master. This part of the journey might be difficult, but it will likely be extraordinarily enriching and rewarding. Here are some tips to stay positive as your figure things out:
Mindfulness practices can help will all this. By paying attention and tuning into the present moment, we can develop a better sense of awareness of what is happening in our own minds (i.e. our perceptions, thought patterns, reactions) as well as a better understanding and connection to the world around us. This helps us to SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY and can transform the way we think, feel and act.
PRACTICES TO KEEP YOU GROUNDED AND STEADY AS YOU FIGURE IT OUT:
FINDING THE TREASURE & COMING HOME (a.k.a. Discover the Real Reward…And Pay It Forward)
One day, you finally reach the end of your journey. Like any journey, it’s about transformation, and so you emerge like a butterfly coming out of it’s chrysalis, or a lotus flower rising from the mud to blossom in the light. A new you.
At the end of any journey, it’s normal to think about success. What does success mean to you for this particular journey? There are always many ways to look at success. It’s a question of perception. And I believe, if you pay attention to how you feel at every stage of your journey, you will be surprised to discover the real rewards of your journey. The real reward may be finding your true self and the light you are meant to shine…that may be the gift for you. Other rewards may be satisfaction at bringing your dream to life, serenity, sense of fulfilment, and pure joy. Personally, I think that finding joy in what you do every day is the biggest reward of all.
And I believe that it’s important to help others with what we learn on our personal journeys. After all, even though we are individuals, we must remember that we are all ONE. We are all the same. We are all in this big wonderful journey of life together. So let's pay it forward!
PRACTICES TO END YOUR BEAUTIFUL JOURNEY:
Happy travels!!! Enjoy every moment of your journey.
Get more inspiration for your journey with 30 Days of Inspiration for Your Home Yoga and Meditation Practice
ARAS: The Book of Symbols - extremely interesting book that combines original and incisive essays about particular symbols with representative images from all parts of the world and all eras of history.
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