Updated: May 8, 2019
Reflections on the wellness industry & your ticket to freedom
Let me tell you the story of the tourist
and that of the traveler.
The tourist takes a trip not to be changed or affected, but to escape, deny, and disassociate.
The tourist hears but does not listen. She sees but does not feel. She moves but is not moved. She investigates but does not invest. She pretends to be part of it, but swiftly returns to her comfortable life. She sees the truth but quickly closes her eyes. She wears the mask of truth so she can tell herself she's brave. But in her heart she knows, she's lying. She takes more trips, only to continue the same cycle over and over again - coming home empty handed and ever more afraid.
The traveler takes a trip to become new, to grow, to learn, and to evolve.
The traveler is open and willing to be part of the unknown, and the mystery. She's ready to let go of who she was, to become who she is. She's humbled not hardened by experience.
She is bold and adventurous. Scared but certain. She wants to know the truth, and turns over every rock until she does. She does not turn away from pain, fear or discomfort. She is determined to be free from all that ails her, and unshackle others on the way. She does not allow short term failure to become her long term fate. When she falls, she rises. When she rises, she is more whole, more liberated, & more at home in her life.
The Wellness industry is MASSIVE and ever expanding! We're talking billion dollar business - Yoga, nutrition, meditation, acupuncture, fitness, health food stores, supplements, therapy, reiki, etc etc etc! Getting fit and "healthy" has not only become trendy but also necessary as our rate of disease sky rockets.
So many people, including practitioners, are often faking or haphazardly committing to their health while "guiding" others out of the dark. They are modeling health tourism rather than committed travel. It's hard not to feel annoyed and frustrated by the industry when it has become so polluted with poor values and less than authentic "leaders." There are doctors who smoke, nutritionists who binge drink, psychologists with no compassion, energy workers who exude negativity and yoga teachers with no discipline or reverence.
If you're not embodying your work, if you are not a living example of your work, you are not leading with truth & integrity but rather following the motto "do as I say but not as I do."
I am often in awe of these inconsistencies and how they impact the people who are following their flags or worshipping their words. It's rare, I find, to discover leaders who really do practice what they preach with authenticity and heart. It doesn't mean they are perfect every moment of every day, or that they don't struggle; it means they lead from a place of integrity and truth even and especially when it's easier to say, "screw it."
While studying meditation, one of my mentors referred to this type of behavior as "spiritual tourism." Those who want to connect with themselves and the truth, dip one toe in and then call themselves a yoga teacher, energy worker, or whatever else. On the other of side of the spectrum, medical school doesn't make you a successful doctor, neither does a busy practice. In fact, if doctors weren't secured by the health care system they'd be behaving much differently. Doctors aren't measured or paid by how well they treat or support their patients - if they were, many of them would be broke and out of business.
I don't necessarily blame anyone, including health practitioners, for their lack of authenticity, discipline, and integrity when that is simply the pattern of our world today, isn't it? Lots of people pretending to be something they are not, and never fully committing to their ACTUAL desires, because of fear, criticism, and inevitable failure. The fear epidemic is the reason for so much of the global pain everyone is enduring - and it's easier to blend in than stand out, to repeat old patterns than create news one, and to play it safe than explore the unknown. But this is NOT how we heal. This is not how we thrive - as people and as a planet.
People are paying 100's or even 1000's of dollars on expensive retreats, cleanses, fitness trainers, etc, to dip their toe into health and then immediately revert back to their old, unhealthy lifestyle and habits. If you truly wanted to change, wouldn't you just...change??? If you truly wanted to be healthy & happy, wouldn't you just focus on that every day until you created it? There are too many conflict of interests and not enough embodied leaders.
If we spent half as a much time practicing health as we do building our career we'd live in a different world. The same mind that created iphones, online apps, and sky scrapers can certainly create health & wholeness. It simply requires you to commit and recommit every day, and sometimes every moment, until it becomes who you are and not what you "do." Just because you do yoga, does not make you a yogi. Just because your doctor practices medicine, does not make them medicinal. See how that works?
Just because one wears the uniform of health, justice, peace or anything else doesn't mean that one is embodying the energy behind those uniforms. We have to care enough about ourselves to take our life in our own hands and guide others to do the same. And just because everyone is "doing it," being unhealthy and unhappy, doesn't mean we have to choose that destiny.
If you want to be happier, healthier, and wholer, you have to decide to commit to that every single day even when it feels impossible to do so AND even when no one else will join you!
If you want to be energized, uplifted, motivated and inspired, you have to commit to all of the practices that create that force of joy and bliss. If you want to heal fully & thrive fully, you have to decide to let go of everything that blocks that experience. It's not an easy path, because it is not a trodden path. There won't be many people joining you, and you'll be judged and criticized for your bravery - you'll even be called a fool. But you'll know the truth in your heart. And if you let the fire burn through the fear and judgment you'll get what you came for.
The world is FULL of people who will never get what they desire most - they'll leave this planet wishing they lived like a traveler instead of a tourist.
That is the difference between the tourist and the traveler. One is committed to temporary & instant gratification while the other is committed to lifelong freedom & truth. The traveler will end up in places that the tourist was too blind to see. The tourist will be drinking daiquiris thinking, "my life is so cool." While the traveler is on top of a mountain overlooking something only a handful of people have seen, thinking, "my life is so complete."
So how do you know if you're a tourist?
Questions to ask yourself:
1. Do you allow other people to dictate your life & pursuit of happiness?
2. Do you make decisions and choices from a state of fear or a state of love?
3. Have you tried all the trendy mind body wellness practices but none of them have stuck?
4. Do you regularly(or ever) make decisions or changes that terrify you?
5. Are there beliefs and behaviors that you refuse to let go of?
6. Do you do things because you think you should, or because you want to?
7. Are the people closest to you modeling health, happiness, and harmony?
8. Do you judge others for being joyful, peaceful, and healthy?
9. Are you holding a death grip on the potential for change?
10. When life gets hard do you revert back to your easy patterns of self destructive behavior? (ie: smoking, eating junk, going back to unhealthy relationships, accepting abuse, etc)
How do you embody the traveler?
1. Shine the biggest, brightest light on your darkest parts
2. Take up the motto "travel lightly" by simplifying your life
3. Let go of anyone or anything that does not align with your pursuit of health & happiness
4. Be bigger & bolder than the fear inside of you - without this you'll never discover & explore the uncharted lands within
5. Be kind, respectful and open to yourself and everyone else
6. Show up with curiosity when things get challenging or uncomfortable
7. Be willing to fall on your knees in humility
8. Pick those less fortunate up when they fall, even if you think you don't have the strength
9. Be present to the wonder and magic of the unknown
10. Above all, be so fiercely motivated by the truth that you'll accept no mimic
We are all imperfect, all learning, and all failing every day. The difference is that some of us finally tire of being blindfolded, miserable and drunk on lies. We burn our tourist cocoon and emerge as traveling butterflies determined to become the masters of their lives, bodies, and minds.
All you have to do is ask yourself - how free are you?
How free do you want to be?