lessons on intuition, adversity and anxiety
It's hard to put into words the magic that occurs when beautiful souls come together to raise the vibration of their community and the world but The Good Fest brought this to mind. I spent last weekend visiting friends in Austin and my trip happened to coincide with The Good Fest, a day-long wellness festival with thought-leaders focused on inspiring change and creating an inclusive community around wellness.
The festival rotates to various cities with different speakers, brands and vendors at each event. Aside from a general focus on wellness good vibes, there doesn’t seem to be a theme for each festival. In my opinion, the event was about making self-care your highest priority. The talks focused on meditation practices, sustainable living, listening to your intuition, welcoming internal transformations, and learning how to overcome the anxiety that so many of us deal with today.
The days leading up to the festival were rough for me - I was coming down with the flu, but still pushed myself to travel to Austin. I also had a big decision weighing on me regarding the next step in Lyme disease treatment. I was thrilled for a change of scenery, but I was overwhelmed, anxious and wasn’t sleeping well. Fortunately, I flew out on a Wednesday, which meant I had two days to recover before the weekend activities. By Saturday morning, I was finally relaxed, feeling more like myself, and excited to attend the festival.
Let me tell you, I left the festival feeling inspired. I met women I've long admired like Lindsey Simcik and Krista Williams of the Almost 30 Podcast. I heard stories of empowerment and perseverance and even made some new friends. In the hope of inspiring you to also create positive change within yourself, I’m sharing a few of my takeaways from the festival that I think you might enjoy!
We already have the answers within us, but listening to our intuition takes practice.
How many times throughout the day do you use the phrase, “I think…”? A lot, right? When we say “I think…” we cue our brain to search for an answer based on feelings and emotions fabricated from the past. When I taught yoga, I encouraged my students to shift away from this tendency to stay stuck in our heads and consequently in the past. I'd usually begin class by asking my students to take a moment to settle into their bodies. Then, I’d ask them to drop their focus from their head into their heart. In doing so, the practice becomes more than a series of postures, but also a path of spiritual and personal growth during which we learn to connect to our deepest, most authentic selves.
However, I’ll admit, in this age of information and overstimulation, listening to your intuition doesn’t always come naturally and learning to trust it certainly takes practice. While we can’t always be on our yoga mats or in a meditative state, we can do little things throughout the day to embody a practice of introspection. Author, reiki healer and intuitive dating coach, Nikki Novo, left us with the following suggestions:
• The next time you’d like to speak from your heart or intuition, simply saying “I feel” instead of “I think” can cue the body to tap into our deepest self that knows us best.
• The next time you’re about to say, “I don’t know,” try to remain open to your intuition and instead say, “I’m not sure right now, but the answer is coming.”
• If you’re looking for answers, try journaling - it’s a way to be honest and authentic with yourself and might provide the answers you’ve been looking for.
With these simple changes to our language and self-help practice, we allow our body and intuition to take its time providing the answer from within.
Adversity is the fuel to find our purpose.
Whether it’s trauma with a capital “T” or lowercase “t,” we’ve all likely experienced some form of adversity. In an incredibly moving speech (the warehouse was absolutely SILENT), activist Brittany Piper shared her story of childhood loss, sexual violence, and hitting rock bottom when she was arrested for assaulting a police officer. Yeah, rough stuff.
Despite everything she had gone through, she came to a point when she realized that in order to heal, she needed to forgive not only herself, but also those who were the source of her trauma. In other words, she knew forgiveness and healing could not coexist with bitterness.
Up until that point her life, she realized if you deny a traumatic experience or obstacle in your life, it will define you, but if you own it, it will empower you.
Today, Brittany leads holistic mind-body healing retreats to teach other female trauma survivors how to welcome pain with empathy. Her work has been recognized by The U.S. Army, The Clinton Foundation, Elite Daily, Yoga Journal and more. She is a rape survivor and leading national expert and advocate on sexual violence prevention and recovery. She speaks to tens of thousands of audience members each year, reminding us all that while healing is a life-long journey, true activism is overcoming adversity and finding purpose in our pain.
Overcoming anxiety starts with setting small, obtainable goals.
Let me ask you something, what happened after the last time you broke a bone or physically hurt yourself? You probably went to the E.R., got an x-ray, received a cast or brace, told your friends and family, rested, followed up with physical therapy, etc., right? Now, what happened after the last time you experienced anxiety or hit a low-point emotionally? You probably felt ashamed, moved on and didn’t really do anything to address the source of the pain.
Sometimes, it seems like the older we get, the more terrified we are to make mistakes, especially in front of other people. (If I tripped and fell down in front of you, I’d probably feel embarrassed before I even felt physical pain!). We’ve been taught to constantly compare ourselves to others which has created a deep-seated fear of judgement, especially when it comes to speaking about our mental health.
Bizzie Gold, celebrity trainer and founder of Buti Yoga and BREAK Method, spoke to us about ways to transform your life, especially when it comes to mental and emotional transformation related to past trauma. She reminded us not to get caught up in our story or let the pain of it continue to define us (a theme that continues from the above section). Instead of focusing on what’s been done to you, Bizzie wants to empower you to focus on healing your emotional wound so that you can start building the life you want instead of being a victim of your life.
To overcome anxiety triggered when trying to avoid something that previously caused fear or sadness, Bizzie suggested setting small goals to reinforce and build confidence to overcome the source of your anxiety. For example, the next time you have an anxiety attack, start by trying to observe your thoughts. Ask yourself if these feelings are serving you right now? Are you in fear? Is your fear based in reality or worry? Am I safe? Why am I feeling anxious? When you’ve calmed down a bit, or maybe even in the next day or two, write a letter to yourself (my “letter” to myself can be found here).
Acknowledge how you felt in that moment of anxiety or panic. Name your fears or outline the worst and “most realistic” outcome of the situation. Now write yourself a pep-talk. That situation you thought was impossible? Maybe you start to notice a step you can take to resolve it. That person who scares you? Maybe you realize your fear is misguided, and what’s really scaring you is the emotion that lies underneath.
Writing a letter may sound silly, but it can help us process emotions and give us the opportunity to physically and energetically release feelings holding us back.
When we let go of the past, our brain and body can move into the present moment. When we’re in the present, we have the power to tell the body that it’s YOU who has the energy and control, not the mind.
So the next time you’re struggling with anxiety remember that you have the capability to change, heal, and take back your power.