We’re not meant to travel life’s pathways alone. In other times and other places, a culture’s members are guided through life’s transitions and trials by the elders who have already traveled that terrain. Girls are ushered through the tangle of adolescence in the fold of older aunts and mothers; boys step into their manhood in the company of other men. New mothers walk next door and hand over a crying baby to a trusted aunt while the mother cries from overwhelm and exhaustion in the arms of a sister. Men can pass a day outdoors with other men, finding comfort and solace in the silence.
These days, separated and isolated as we are, we must find mentors and guides in other ways. We rely heavily on friendship. We call family members. We read books and receive the wisdom of teachers we’ll never meet. We seek the guidance of a therapist or religious clergy. We seek when life becomes unmanageable and we call when we’re on our knees, suffering through a dark night of the soul. Far from being a sign of weakness (as many people in our culture believe), asking for help is a sign of strength. The curves and cliffs are too treacherous at times, the nature of our human psyche too complicated and paradoxical to expect ourselves to know how to “do life” without help. We’re not meant to travel life’s pathways alone.
When I look across the landscape of my life, I bow in awe and gratitude to the guides and mentors who have inspired, influenced, and shaped me: my husband, my girlfriends, my books, my teachers, my therapists, my rabbi. These people stand as totems around the perimeter of my psyche, protecting when the barriers need fortification. They serve as voices of hope when the world has looked dark and despair seeped into the cracks. When I’ve struggled through particularly dark times, I’ve called them in through my imagination, seeing them sitting around the edges of a tent as they sing to me until I can once again rest on shores of light. We’re not meant to travel life’s pathways alone.
As I’ve received, so I give. I give to friends and husband, sons and nieces. I stand as their bastion of hope and light when the dark curtain falls. And I give to clients, to readers, to course members. I consider it a great privilege to guide people into the deeper layers of their learning and healing. Through my 30-day courses, I guide both as teacher and as student, sharing in the group phone calls more personal stories from my own life that illuminate where I’m stuck and where I find openings. I may be a few steps ahead in terms of my ability to keep my heart open and not get hooked by relationship anxiety (it’s been many years since I’ve fallen into a projection and stayed there for more than a few moments), but regardless of where I am in my own journey the wisdom of my course members never ceases to amaze me; I learn so much from them every time I run a live course. I get dirty as much as I offer signposts along the path.
Along these lines, I would like to share one of my favorite thank-you emails from a recent course member (shared with permission):
“I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.” – Walt Whitman
I feel like I’ve really “been around the block” in my search for inner harmony. Well, it’s only been about six years, but I sure did a lot of searching in that amount of time! For me, in many courses, books and programs there is a subtle exaltation of the work above the people that are studying it. At no point did I feel that way during this course, however. Sheryl, I feel like you have not forgotten what it feels like, on a very detailed level, to be someone who has not found the work yet. Even though I know they are well-meaning, for me, many teachers give me a feeling of “I’ve cleaned up and I will tell you how to get clean, but I will not get any dirt on me with you.” But with you as my teacher, I felt like I was with a gardener who does not think dirt is a bad thing, who gets her own hands in the soil and cultivates every day. I never got a sense of an exultation of the work or the product or idea above the people.
My favorite parts of the course were:
The weekly support calls: it was so soothing and powerful to me to hear your voice and to hear you interacting with people over the phone. I found myself really buoyed on the days after those calls.
The honesty: This course was not a “make yourself a better human” course. To me, it was more like a “welcome to the beauty (and drama) of humanity, let’s look at all of it and help each other come to the fruits, without ignoring or downplaying any of the difficulties we can and will face”. I loved that you talked about resistance right up front and let us know to expect that and how to work through it. I love that you helped normalize thoughts and concepts that I thought I was alone in dealing with.
I’m so thankful that there’s somebody out there who gets it and who has the clarity and gentleness to help others. I think some people may get it, but their approaches (for me) were too black and white. Either you get it and you’re a winner or you don’t get it and you’re lost and can’t use their program. But with you, those grey feelings and concerns are normal and nothing to be ashamed of.
I’m humbled when I receive emails like this, and my heart opens wide. It connects me to the deep privilege of being able to share what has helped me and thousands of others live life with more of an open heart, connecting more regularly to the place of self-trust. The giving and receiving and giving spiral around and through each other into one interconnected spirographic design of love.
Last year, when I was immersed in creating my Break Free course, I considered packaging up my 30-day courses and turning them into self-guided programs that would run alone without my guidance. At that time, I felt wrung dry, like I had nothing left to give on an ongoing basis to a group of learners. But once the program was released, I experienced a renewal of energy, I remembered how much I love connecting with my members, and the 30-day programs that I ran at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 received the fullness of my enthusiasm.
I would love for you to receive this enthusiasm. I would love to guide you on the next step of your journey and get to know you through my live programs. If you’ve taken my other courses and you’re feeling stuck in your process, if you’ve taken Open Your Heart already and would like to review the content in the context of a supportive group, if you’ve been following my blog for a while and you’re ready to take the next step in your journey, please join me for the next round of Open Your Heart: A 30-day program to feel more love and attraction for your partner. This course is for you if:
- You want to learn how to feel more love and attraction for your partner.
- You want to learn the skills of love that will allow you to feel more in love.
- You’ve struggled with being an infatuation junkie, chasing after the feeling of longing that we equate with true love, and want to learn how to break free from this insidious addiction that prevents you from fully embracing your loving partner.
- You want to create more healthy sexual desire, based on presence and kindness instead of absence and mystery.
- You struggle with any realm of attraction, including social, intellectual, and physical attraction.
- You never had a honeymoon phase with your partner, never felt “in love”, and would like to move beyond the belief that this means there’s something wrong with your relationship.
As Rumi wrote in the 13th century:
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.
The program starts on March 12th, 2016 and I will only run it once more this year. I’ll meet you there.