Look the Tiger in the Eye: Face Your Fear

Temazcal

All that talk about heat in last week’s post reminded me of all of the HOT situations I’ve been in.   The sweatiest, scariest, most liberating, experience I’ve ever had was in a temazcal in Cancun, Mexico.

I had never heard of a temazcal until this particular Mexico trip.  I’m a curious, adventurous person and naturally wanted to learn what this thing was all about.

A temazcal is a sweat lodge that originated with Indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica.  It was used as part of a curative ceremony thought to purify the body after exertion, heal the sick, improve health, and aid women during childbirth.  It is currently being recovered by all sectors of society in Mexico and Central America and is used as a cleansing of mind, body and spirit.

I was looking for a cleansing experience so I signed up … and convinced my husband to join me.

There were 6 of us who showed up about an hour before sunset for this ritual.  A husband and wife team were our guides and they greeted us outside the mud hut (pictured above) on the sand near the ocean.

We started the ceremony by turning north, south, east and west and honoring the four elements: earth, wind, fire, water.  Then, we squatted through the small door and entered the structure.  I could tell we were in for something special … exactly what, I didn’t yet know.

Once we were inside, we gathered in a circle on the floor.  Hot lava rocks were placed in the fire pit on the ground.  Then the door was shut and the room got dark … really dark.   And things got steamy.  Our Temazcalera (a specially trained healer – in our case, the wife of the 2-person team) started guiding us through the journey of self-discovery.

The heat combined with the darkness were tough to deal with.  I got scared.  I couldn’t see!  I was hot.  I felt a bit trapped.  But I stuck with it.

Our guide asked us what we saw in the rocks.  I saw an open window in the distance.  I felt like opportunity was everywhere … and so was the heat and the darkness.  I felt vulnerable, but alive.

Then more rocks were brought in.  It got hotter.

Our guide then asked us what animal we most identified with.  For me, it was a tiger.  I was sweating profusely.  A coconut shell was floating in an urn of water next to me.  I poured it onto my body.  Instant relief, but the fear was still there.  “What ifs” where flying through my head – what if I pass out, what if I freak out, what if I want to get out?  I kept going.

A third round of rocks were added to the fire pit.  The heat was almost too much to bear.  I felt like I was going somewhere deep, somewhere important.  I traveled on.

We did some chanting.  We opened ourselves up.

Then a fourth  – and final – round of lava rocks.

By this point, an inner transformation was taking place.  So intense, so amazing, so powerful.  I felt like I was climbing a mountain, scaling a wall, overcoming my biggest obstacles.   My strength, focus and determination amazed me. I was achieving mastery over my mind, which is often a “monkey mind,” creating mini-dramas and holding me back from doing that which I know I can do.   Wow.

At end of our adventure a jar of honey was passed around.  I smeared that honey over my drenched skin and allowed this nectar of the Gods to sink in.  It felt fantastic (not sticky at all!).

The coolest thing happened next …

As the door opened, I could see the dark night sky emerge.  A huge shimmery moon shined down on the ocean and beckoned me forward.  Now, I’m typically not a gal who loves swimming in the ocean.  I grew up in Florida and prefer to spend time on the sand, not in the water.

But this night was different.  I didn’t hold back.  I ran from the beach and dove into the waves.  It was the lightest I’d ever felt.  I had sweated out all that old residual stuff (fear, regret, resentment, anger, self-doubt, anxiety, you name it).  All that was left was ME, the real Jenny.  All that was left was NOW, not the past, not the future, just NOW.

I’ll never forget that feeling.

That experience gave me the strength to embrace so many new adventures in my life: starting my own business, having a baby, traveling to new lands, creating a life on my own terms.

FOCUS OF THE WEEK

  • Open up to new experiences where you can learn a thing or two about yourself, especially when you are traveling.  Embrace the concept: “When in Rome do as the Romans do.”  Culture is powerful.
  • Notice your default tendencies when you feel fear.  What do you do?  Soldier on, pull back, freeze?  How’s that working for you?
  • Recall a time when you looked fear in the face and rose above.  Tap into that powerful inner strength the next time you encounter a challenging situation.

Enjoy this last week of summer by looking back on all that you have accomplished.  Acknowledge your ability to face your fears and do the thing you think you cannot do. You are amazing.

xoxo

Jenny

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