I travel a lot, and I meet the most well-intentioned, beautiful beings who are fighting against the injustices of the world. They stand for ending sexual violence against women, the destruction of Gaia, climate change, social inequality, and any number of other very good causes. I appreciate that these people are DOING something to heal the world. Their passion seems admirable and their commitment and self-sacrifice command respect.
Yet, I find something about the energy of some forms of activism weighing heavy on my heart.
We’ve all met the angry feminists that lash out at men, the rainforest activists who judge those who drill in the Amazon, and the Occupy activists who hate the 1%. But how can we possibly co-create a more beautiful world if we’re coming from the energy of judgment and hate? As one of my spiritual teachers said, (forgive her language), "Fighting for peace is like f*cking for virginity."
When I was in Australia speaking at the Uplift Festival in December, 70 spiritual self-help leaders, elders from the indigenous tribes of five different nations, and change-the-world activists spent a week before the festival participating in an ongoing conversation about the intersection of spirituality and activism. How do we marry the principles of "Being" that we learn through our spiritual practices with the practices of "Doing" embodied by many activists on the front lines of global change? Are we better off sitting on our meditation pillows, raising the vibration of the planet and emitting frequencies of love into the world? Or do we need to get off our pillows and go DO something? Is there a way to be even more effective by merging the two?
So . . . (cue the unofficial theme song of this book, Sara Bareilles “Brave”) my new book The Fear Cure: Cultivating Courage As Medicine For The Body, Mind, & Soul comes out today! You can find out more about the book at TheFearCureBook.com. This website also includes a special gift I created for you—the "Prescription for Courage Kit," which includes 5 guided meditations I recorded with my musician friend Karen Drucker—one meditation about getting in touch with the voice of your Inner Pilot Light, one about dealing with uncertainty, one about moving beyond fear of loss, one about how it's a friendly universe, and one about Oneness.
The Prescription for Courage Kit includes almost two hours of guided meditation—as a gift and celebration of today's launch of The Fear Cure. Karen and I had so much fun recording these meditations. The field in the studio was palpable. You could actually feel a pulse in the room, like angels were there with us, helping us serve you. I can't claim credit for any healing, calming goodness you might find in these meditations. I feel like Karen and I just got used as instruments of service, and something Larger Than Me came through us and landed in these meditation mp3's. I hope they help fear cure YOU and bring you peace.
When I returned from Albany, New York, where I was filming the PBS special for The Fear Cure, I came home to galley copies of my new book The Fear Cure! The gestation process of birthing a book is a slow one, much slower than birthing a human. So it’s always exciting when you get closer to meeting your book baby. But it also feels quite vulnerable to the ego. Mine prattles on with thoughts like “Will anyone like my book? Did I go too far over the edge into the spiritual realm with this book? Who am I to be writing a book about fear?”
Of course, if you’re crazy enough to try to write a book about fear, all your fears will come rearing up too! As I held the book galleys in my hand, I could feel the edge of that fear, but I was able to use my spiritual practices to bring me back to peace and trust in the Divine much more quickly than I once could, and that’s what I hope this book will do for those who read it. When I tune into my Inner Pilot Light, I know that this book will have its own journey in the world. I trust that whatever is in the highest good will come into being, and I don’t have to worry or grasp or control the process. It’s safe to let go and let God. The perfect outcome for my book baby is already chosen and I can just surrender into the flow of it.
As Joyce Carol Oates so eloquently said, “I never understand when people make a fuss over me as a writer. I'm just the garden hose that the water sprays through.”
That sums up how I feel about this book. Tosha Silver reminds me often to banish the word “my” from my vocabulary. This isn’t “my” book. It’s God’s book, and I choose to let God bring this book into the world however God pleases.
That said, surrendering something like a book into the hands of the Divine isn’t about passivity. Sometimes the Divine fills us with shakti, and the shakti courses through us until we leap out of the chair to take inspired action. And that’s what got me to my computer to write this, because I realized YOU CAN HELP bring this book into the world! I have two requests, in case it feels yummy to help spread this message. But first, let me tell you a little about the book.
I’m writing this blog from Pisac, Peru, where I’m meeting with shamans as research for an upcoming book Sacred Medicine, an exploration of anomalous healing. My spiritual love affair with shamanism began on my wedding day at Post Ranch Inn in 2005. I was browsing through the posh resort’s list of activities. I read through it—yoga, group meditation . . . shamanic journey. Now that sounded interesting! With no idea what a shamanic journey actually was, I thought it would make for a good story. A shamanic journey on my wedding day? Why not?
Now mind you, I had no idea what a shaman actually was. And this was long before I had left my job in conventional medicine. I was not the “woo woo” New Age type at all, and I tended to be cynical and even mocking of things that didn’t fit neatly into my rational little box. But it was my wedding day, and I was happy, and I was feeling a little . . . I don’t know . . . unusually willing to explore outside of my comfort zone.
I showed up in the yurt in the middle of a meadow, expecting to encounter a long-bearded Inca decked out in tribal robes, maybe smoking a peace pipe. I didn’t expect what I found—a handsome Kiefer Sutherland look alike sitting cross-legged in blue jeans. Ten of us crowded into the yurt and formed a circle, while the shaman, who I later learned was named Jon Rasmussen began chanting to the four winds, invoking the spirits of nature and honoring Pachamama (Mother Earth). Inhaling a floral essence from a bottle, he exhaled misty puffs of fragrance to the north, east, south, and west, calling in the ancestors and the totem animals, before asking us to lie on our backs on padded mats. We listened and closed our eyes, while he beat a drum like a collective heartbeat. His voice intoned over the drumbeat, lulling us into a sort of tribal trance.
As a disillusioned physician who felt like I was selling my soul in order to keep the stability of a job within the insurance-based US health care system that demanded that I see 40 patients a day, I longed for a different life. As a young woman, I thought medicine was my calling. For me, medicine was a spiritual practice. You practice medicine like you practice yoga or meditation, like you won’t ever fully master it. As a doctor, I felt grateful to have the opportunity to have a front row seat on life, and as an OB/GYN, I felt particularly blessed the have the opportunity to greet the newly incarnated souls right as they entered the world.
But over time, I began to doubt my calling. Although I now realize how common my feelings were, at the time, I felt different and isolated among other doctors. Even though I felt called to medicine at the age of seven, I came to think I had made a mistake. I was the sole provider for my family, with a husband and a newborn to support, but I wound up quitting medicine at the ripe old age of 37.
It took me nine months to realize you can quit your job, but you can’t quit your calling. I’ve since realized you can use your medical education in countless ways that don’t require seeing forty patients per day. I thought there was only one way to be a doctor. You either followed the blueprint, or you quit. I now realize some of the happiest, most successful doctors are creating mission, purpose, and abundance using what they learned from becoming a doctor to serve in other ways. In case you or someone you love resonates with the archetype of the true healer but feels frustrated with the current system, I want to share with you some of the creative career choices of doctors I’ve met since leaving conventional medicine to pursue a writing career.