I just returned from a week in Sedona for the third summit of the Fit For Service Mastermind, a Mastermind formed by Aubrey Marcus that prepares members to be better equipped to be of service to the world. All of the members are people who have a calling to be of service to others. It is an incredible group of beautiful souls doing the hard work to live their best lives so that they can change lives around them.
Each quarter of the Mastermind focuses on a different element of self. This past quarter we focused on emotions, delving deeply into our emotional health. Sedona was the culmination of this quarter, ergo there was a lot of emotion!
I had a number of breakthroughs this weekend and find it impossible to write about all of it in one post. I have instead chosen to post in installments what I learned. The focus of this post is on the one emotion that comes up for me the most in my life and consequently exploded in my face every day in Sedona. FEAR.
On my first full day in Sedona, I went on a fairly easy afternoon hike to Devil’s Bridge with two friends. Getting to the bridge is a 1.8 mile hike in and the bridge itself is an arch composed of sandstone. When we arrived at Devil’s Bridge, I made an unconscious decision to not walk across it. From my vantage point it looked like it was about 2 feet wide with a drop that seemed to be a mile down (probably more like 200 feet). My two friends sauntered out to it with no hesitation. In fact, one of them actually did a headstand on the arch which made me feel like she was taunting me. I pride myself on my courage so I was somewhat perplexed at the reason my mind immediately screamed “Danger!” Here is a photo of Brittany unknowingly taunting me.
Disappointed in myself and spurred on by my comrades, I made the courageous decision to walk the bridge. It was not scary, though I would caution one to not walk it at night. Here is a photo of my extreme bravery:
I felt accomplished but was definitely pondering the reasons why I felt fear. Have I become too comfortable in my life? Have I lost my connection to nature? What was going on?
As you can tell by the photo above, the sun is completing its journey for the day. The photo was taken at 5:47pm and sunset was at 6:19pm. At about 6pm, I suddenly realized we should head back, really not thinking too deeply about the coming darkness but aware of it. We got in gear and began the 1.8 mile hike back to the trailhead.
On the hike back I said to my friend Jonah, “I need more adventure in my life.” He said, “Then go get it Carrie!” I was thrilled at this! I should just go get it. What is holding me back? I responded with, “Universe, bring it on!” Oops.
Somewhere we took a wrong turn and then the sun really did go down. It was as dark as a National Forest gets at night and Sedona itself has a dark-sky ordinance to allow spectacular night viewing of the stars. They were spectacular but I was not focusing on them once we realized we were lost. In the darkness it was impossible to discern trail from non-trail and we were far from the path we were supposed to be walking. A pack of coyotes yipping nearby made me think about mountain lions. I am a Southern California gal who grew up hiking the Santa Monica mountains, highly attuned to the presence of mountain lions. I have seen many a mountain lion footprint in the dirt, and while I love that they exist I am far from interested in meeting one along any path.
I felt fear, the kind that makes you want to run to safety. It was doubly frustrating to not know which way to run. I realized that I had forgotten nature even though I am part of it. Robinson Jeffers came to mind:
I could not uncenter my mind. It was laser-focused on finding a worn path where there simply was not one. I was also far from confident. I said to my friends in the form of a question, “The universe will provide, right?” Fortunately it did.
After about an hour in the dark, we finally began to yell “Hello!” and like a lighthouse coming into view during a hurricane, we heard a voice above us and saw a light emanating from a cell phone, waving back and forth in the darkness. We climbed a hill and found the wonderful woman named Joey who summoned us to safety. She said, “I love these divine appointments.”
Brittany, Jonah and I immediately drove to a local Italian restaurant to eat all the food and share a bottle of wine. I think we were celebrating our continued existence!
A sunset hike was scheduled the next afternoon which seemed apt to me because apparently I had a lesson to learn. This time, we would be in a group of about 20, hike an hour in, meditate for a few minutes and hike back. Before the hike my dear friend Joe said to me “If you begin to get anxious, I will hike back early with you.” This bolstered me tremendously. To prop me up even more, the man who organized the hike, Alex, asked people to bring flashlights just in case we found ourselves in the dark. This filled me with peace because I learned the night before that one should not depend on iPhone flashlights to find trails in the dark.
Still, I was observing my fear. What was I afraid of? We would be a large group with water, snacks, flashlights and could keep each other warm if we did get lost and had to stay the night. People camp in the middle of the forest all the time. From where was this fear emanating?
One thing I did notice is that Joe’s offer to walk back with me and Alex’s recognition that I would feel less afraid with flashlights touched me.
The hike was lovely. When we arrived at the destination, we sat on the ground and went silent. We were listening to nature, feeling the presence of each other, at peace to be together again. It was a stunning moment.
I allowed myself to fall into the silence, pushing the anxiety down. The awareness that the sun was beginning its final descent was jumping around in my belly, yet I couldn’t bring myself to ruin the moment and instead sat in silence with the group. This moment would not happen again in my life and I wanted to be there for it. Joe must have felt my concern because he turned to me and said, “I got you.” I nearly cried when he said this to me.
I was definitely the timekeeper and kept things moving along, even nudging Alex to begin the meditation. “Now would be a good time Alex.” The meditation was beautiful. We were all in such gratitude. We made it back to the trailhead while the sun was still in the sky and I let out a "Whoop!" when we got to the parking lot.
Here is a photo of our group just before hiking back to the trailhead. I’m on the far right looking relieved.
Photo Credit: Kimberly Mufferi
The Mastermind weekend hadn’t even begun and I had been given some fodder for serious thought. What is this fear? Where does it show up in my life? How is it holding me back? I also had been taught a very important lesson: I am not alone.
Was my fear grounded in reality? It makes sense to feel fear when lost at night in a canyon, right? I don’t think that was the lesson for me. I don’t think the lesson was: watch the clock, bring extra water and perhaps a knife. I know that already. Instead, those two days shone a light on the difference between fear that is based on stories we tell ourselves versus the reality of actually being lost at night in a forest teeming with coyotes, mountain lions, snakes, and black bears.
I was awakened to the fact that I spend too much time worrying about things that could possibly happen versus real-life situations that warrant a fear response. I also learned that I need more adventure, need to reconnect to nature, and am ready to let go of the fears and outdated patterns that hold me back from living my best life.
The weekend Mastermind sessions required a lot of vulnerability from us and I believe that my two-day dive into fear allowed me the space to be vulnerable and open for the weekend. During the weekend, I cried a number of times (especially in Aubrey’s session about living our truth), laughed for hours, shared some of the deepest parts of myself, danced with my arms open and nobody flinched. Being vulnerable felt much easier than I imagined when compared to being afraid of real death.
Becoming aware of our fears and the self-protective habits we use to attempt to deal with them allows us the space to move through them. If I fear abandonment I may give too much of myself. How to shift that? Have faith that I am enough and that I am never alone. Understand that I am trying to protect my heart from loss but I can stop doing that with practice.
If I fear my emotions and am numbing them, how can I shift that? By remembering that emotions are transient and are here to guide us. By numbing them I am trying to protect myself from pain which makes sense but isn't helping me grow into who I can be.
Damn straight Anthony! Waking up to our fears and to our truth takes courage.
I got you.