The greatest gift you can give

lonely girl

I use the phrase ‘showing up’ quite a bit to describe what I aim to do for myself and others. For me ‘healing’ is really just about finding a way to show up fully to anything and everything. Finding a way to drop the fear, shame, the projections of ourselves long enough to feel fully, see clearly, and accept all that exists whether we like it or not.

Full presence, or showing up fully, with an open heart, soul, and mind, is without a doubt the greatest gift you will ever give another.

In leading cacao ceremonies, I hear every excuse for why we shouldn’t be where we are. “I know I shouldn’t be sad but…” “I know my life is great but…” “Im sorry I’m crying, I never cry.” Denying what we feel and the truth of our own feelings because of societal norms, spiritual conditioning, and our own self limitations. I have come to believe any ideas of how one should be are dangerous ideas, stripping people of their truth, their authenticity, and their process.

To illustrate this point, I’m gonna share a little story with y’all.

In 2009 I was at a breaking point in my life. I was deeply depressed and unhappy, struggling through a relationship, job, and life that didn’t want to work no matter how hard I tried to make it work.  The harder I tried the worst things seemed to get. Late one night before a three day silent retreat I had reluctantly signed up for (desperate times were calling for desperate measures) I found myself sobbing into my carpet, willing to do anything to make the pain end. I remember thinking I understand why people kill themselves; There was no more living with the level of inner pain and burden I was experiencing.

I spent the first two days of the silent retreat crying my eyes out and alternating between devastating sadness and anger. After all, I had forgone a weekend trip to with friends in order to be in this shitty ashram doing ‘nothing’ and feeling bored out of my mind. Well, as the saying goes, only the boring get bored, and the truth was I was both boring and bored because I was living a life that was not my own. I had lost myself so far down a rabbit hole in an attempt to be good enough and ‘survive’ I didn’t have one clue who I truly was or what I wanted.

After two days of utter despair (which in silence feels like two months), I found myself sitting in the meditation hall, listening to the leader of the retreat give a talk. I honestly could not tell you one thing this talk was actually about, but I can tell you what I subsequently experienced, because it was a moment I will never forget. I was sitting with my eyes closed, feeling utterly miserable, depressed and defeated, tears of pain pouring out of my eyes, when suddenly, a truly devastating thought occurred to me. Something a life long ‘positivist’ who believed everything should be ease, magic, and happiness had never wanted to admit as a possibility.

The realization was this; Life might actually be suffering, and I subsequently might feel this way for the rest of my days. In that moment, through the pain of this realization, I could see the dark cloud of pain more clearly than ever before, looming everywhere inside my being. But, my following thought was nothing short of a grace filled miracle. I thought, “Well, if life is suffering, and I have decided im not going to kill myself, I guess I have to live with this forever. So, I might as well love and accept whatever this is as much as I possibly can.” Suddenly my whole heart and being opened to the darkness, and within moments, I felt a massive wave of energy rush through my whole body, as all the energy that just a moment ago seemed crushing dissipated into thin air.

As I opened my eyes, I found tears of joy and relief where the tears of pain were just moments ago.  I had never felt more light, clear and free. The seemingly ‘for no good reason’ mass of pain and sadness that I did not want to experience had never really been pain at all, and the suffering had never been inevitable. The suffering was entirely my resistance to feeling the energy that was there for me to feel. At that time I could not understand why it had been pushed away to such an extent, but I was being crushed under my own dam wall that attempted to hold back that which I deemed ‘undesirable.’

Now, when I am in ceremony with someone on the verge of a breakdown/breakthrough, I have learned that this type of ‘showing up’ is the most powerful thing I can do. To take a walk into the unknown frightening darkness, sometimes with a flashlight, so whatever is there isn’t so scary anymore. I have learned to trust the other person completely, and know they will go there when the time is right and not a moment too soon. Then, in total acceptance for whats there – no matter how scary, sad, painful, or dark – energy moves and things tend to shift. I call it showing up, and I fully believe its the most important thing we can do for ourselves or another.

Because of this, I believe that the greatest gift you can give anyone is to fully allow them to be where they are. Trust that in our inherent oneness, you would also be right there if you were them. Allow them to face and explore their emotions and reality until it finds a way to flow fully, moving onto the next inevitable emotion and reality. Recognize that any discomfort and desire to change where they are is your own discomfort.

Fully allow, with trust that you and they are exactly where they’re meant to be, and watch the miracles happen.

What I’ve learned holding Cacao Ceremonies

The powerful and beautiful ladies who gathered at my last womans  only cacao ceremony, held on Koh Phangan, Thaialnd.
The powerful and beautiful ladies who gathered at my last womans only cacao ceremony, held on Koh Phangan, Thaialnd.

Image: From a Womans Cacao Ceremony held on Koh Phangan, Thailand in June 2015

About a year ago, I left Guatemala with a suitcase full of cacao and big dreams of spreading the magic of chocolate as plant medicine. What I didn’t realize at the time is how holding ceremony would challenge me to step up and grow more than I ever could have imagined. In the commitment to hold space for others, there was truly no getting away from myself. I couldn’t possibly show up in the complete, full, loved filled way I know is MY way, if I wont shine my own light inside myself.

Thus began a powerful dismantling. I had begun on my own, hiding what felt like inner destruction behind layers of fear and shame, and continued in front of my first audience of accountability, community. This audience brought up deep pains around judgement and facing my own fears of exposing my shadow. Through leading and sharing ceremony, I unintentionally forced myself to dive even deeper, learn how to show up as all of myself no matter how painful the process, and know when to love myself enough to stop and/or walk away. It hasn’t always been fun or easy… and yet something bigger than myself has been pushing me forward, propelling me when I reached even my darkest most self defeating moments.

People who say that following your truth will always be easy and effortless clearly haven’t followed their true calling. Easy and effortless does happen, and when it does it’s probably the most glorious feeling I could ever image, but to face all that you truly are… all that life is…. takes challenge, focus, bravery and sometimes, it takes good old fashioned work.

In many ways, I tricked myself into this dismantling process and sometimes I feel that I never had control over what life was asking of me. Truthfully, I never could have been satisfied living as anything less than everything that is all of me; The good, the bad, the ugly… my blissful totality.

The first moment I met a person who faced their true depths of fear and pain, to emerge embodied and whole, I knew I was screwed; Erin as I knew her was over. It was time to implode, and implode I did. Not always in a graceful, loving, or peaceful way I might add. Over the years I learned how to work with myself and energy so that my imploding isn’t always so dramatic or painful, but it still implodes regularly. I’ve even come to appreciate the implosions, knowing that each release is opening a door inside of myself, unlocking a piece of me and life that wants to come home to wholeness and love.

As I continue my education through action, my ability to show up, face and embrace myself, others, and life in a way that feels natural to me grows exponentially. I still meet ‘set backs’, or as I should say, the next layers of depth within myself, but with each layer of hidden darkness uncovered and exposed, my capacity to hold space for myself and life intensifies.

The world is transforming as we each face the fact that the structures we thought we could stand on are crumbling, and with it, the fall of our ability to deny our own unique way of being… our own inherent inner fullness, power, and love. Inner fullness won’t always mean ‘success’ or ‘happiness’ or even that all we desire manifests the way we want in our set time. It means that there is a bigger life plan, and we are allowing it. Showing up to ourselves and life, knowing there was never any difference in the first place. Falling into our own darkness and fears each step of the way. Refusing to settle for anything less than the truth we feel buried deep in our cores, and refusing to settle for less that true inner totality.

Ultimately, what I’ve learned, other than the depths of my own fear, is that I’m not here to create another ‘spiritual experience’, convince people they can be happy or even to create all they want in life. I’m simply here to become all of myself fully,  live in that fullness, and serve as a reminder to others that what they seek has always been there, waiting to be held and embraced by the totality of their spirit. Bodies waiting to be touched by depths. Minds released from false ideas of happiness, success and love. Hearts activated, souls blazing, spirits charged and true purposes grounded.

Thus, I keep moving forward, one step at a time, one fear at a time, towards my true calling; The call of full embodiment of wholeness. I offer ceremony as space of safety and acceptance for us to face ourselves, as this simple thing is one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given. My wish is that all people may exist as the whole beings we inherently are. That we may face and accept our flaws and our pains… releasing the shame, self hatred, and powerlessness that has hid precious pieces of ourselves. Then, in that wholeness, that we come together, layering whole circle upon whole circle, until we see the world as it truly is… a perfect and whole multidimensional sphere.