We all know, on some level, the importance of the connections we make with people in our lives – how our relationships with others bring value and fulfillment in a way that nothing else can. We are hard-wired to connect with each other – from birth through death – nobody can make it through this life alone.
Throughout my life, I have been curious about this need for connection; and I have experienced times that I felt deeply connected to other people, and times when I felt utterly alone. During the first half of my life, I was extremely social. I always had a wide variety of friends. I was outgoing, had a heart full of love for people, and felt valued and supported by my friends.
During my twenties, I lived in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was a fun-filled and also tumultuous time in my life. I was truly free to explore who I was – I had zero “responsibilities”. I spent the days at the beach, and the nights partying late into the evening. My drug of choice during that period of my life was ecstasy. I loved the feeling of connection it gave me. I felt I was one with the people around me – it allowed me to speak openly, without fear of judgement, and come from a place of pure love. But that was a temporary solution – and although the connection felt very real, I was not able to maintain it in “real” life.
The time came when I realized that I could no longer continue on the path I was on. I was suffering from severe depression when I wasn’t taking ecstasy, because my brain was in a continual state of serotonin deficiency. I started feeling very alone and isolated and began pulling away from a lot of my friends. I realized that I needed to make some important changes in my life – that it was time to grow up, and to learn to be an adult.
Following my intuition, I moved to Colorado and started school – because I thought that is what “adults” should do – go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, buy a house…all of those things that we are told make us successful members of society. When I moved, I made a conscious decision to leave the past behind me. I was ashamed of the lifestyle I was living at the beach, and I didn’t want anyone to know what I had been up to. It was a fresh start for me, and I intended to make the most of it.
An interesting thing started happening at that time. I started having a really hard time making friends. I had to think very quickly about what I was and was not willing to say in any conversation. I was denying a huge part of who I was out of shame, out of fear of judgement from others. I became awkward in social settings, and those feelings kept me shutting down more and more over time. I started believing that I didn’t have anything valuable to contribute to conversations, and that people did not like me. What I didn’t realize is that I was doing it to myself by denying my authentic self.
The entire time, I was in denial about what I was doing; and as life often does, I started going through some really tough times. Life was trying to speak to me, to get my attention, to show me what I was doing that was causing me to feel so awful…but it took me a long time to put the pieces together. I’m still unraveling all of it, piece by piece, and understanding the miracle hidden in every moment.
Over the course of the last two years, I’ve been becoming very aware of the way that I was moving through life. I started noticing the things that made me uncomfortable..and bit by bit, I started realizing that the shame game I was playing with myself was the most self-destructive thing I could be doing, and had contributed to the hard times and often traumatic events I was going through.
I realized as I started coming back to my authentic self, that I was missing the experience of connection. Fear kept me in a state of contraction, kept my heart shut down. I started praying to God to show me how to connect with people in a way that really mattered. God gave me the opportunities, but still I pulled away – afraid of being vulnerable, afraid of being rejected.
And then one day, I found myself camping for the weekend with a group of strangers. I noticed I was drawn to certain people and wanted to connect with them, but was still feeling shy and unsure. I also noticed what was happening in my brain at the time – I was telling myself that they wouldn’t like me, that I didn’t know how to initiate a conversation, that it wasn’t worth the effort it would take to be vulnerable. At that moment, I decided to stop believing the lies I was telling myself – and what unfolded was miraculous.
I was particularly drawn to a girl named Annie. She was friendly, open, and had the sweetest accent. I wanted to find out more about her – and I asked her if she would like to go for a walk. During the many hours we spent walking that day, I allowed myself to be open. The more we walked, the more we talked, the more we found out how much we have in common. Our life paths were so similar that it was almost unbelievable. The more we shared, the more we were both able to come to incredibly deep understandings of the events in our lives. My experiences informed hers, and vice versa. We were having “aha” moments all over the place. The sparks of connection were flying in all directions, illuminating so many dark places in my mind. I will share many of these discoveries with you in future blog posts – but the point I want to make right now is that if I had not broken free from the chains that kept me in a state of contraction, I would have missed out on some life changing discoveries. I wasn’t getting anywhere trying to figure all that out on my own, even though I had tried and tried – running events around in my mind, making tiny connections, but never really getting the whole picture.
The precious reward that Life gave me that day was allowing me to experience what it meant to be intimate, vulnerable, raw – and the stories shared that day allowed us to connect the puzzle pieces together in a way neither of us had before. It was profound, and it was life changing.
Having a direct experience of that level of connection has inspired me to make a lot of changes in the way I interact with myself, and with other people. It is part of the driving force around creating the Spirit Voyage Yogini Tribe. It has shown me the importance of embracing our past, of loving what is, of seeking ways to connect and share with each other, so that all beings may benefit from our experiences. Because to me, that is the key. We don’t only go through the things we go through in life for our own evolution, we go through these things so that we may share with other people. What we heal in our selves, we also heal in others – but only if they can witness our story. If we keep all of this precious material to ourselves, what good are we really doing?
As luck would have it, as I was making all of these discoveries, the idea of creating a women’s circle that would be willing to commit to a journey such as this started developing, and all of these amazing women showed up in my life. As I trusted my inner guidance, and asked them how they would feel about it, the response has been overwhelming. The women in the Spirit Voyage Yogini Tribe are so committed to their growth, and to connecting with others, that I know the things they have to share will benefit the world in miraculous ways.
I’m so honored to be on this path with all of you, and to share with you, and to learn from you on this journey…this exploration of connections. May all of your experiences be for the highest good of your soul, and the highest good of all beings on the planet.