The hero’s journey is such a profound template. It’s profound in its universality as well as its scalability. Here is a cool breakdown of the hero’s journey as described by its popular spokesperson, Joseph Campbell:
There are mini hero’s journey’s; I have been intending to make fasting a more regular practice. I see the impact it has on me, it humbles me, it puts me in a place of surrender and gives me access to different states of consciousness. I am on my second day of fasting and I have resisting the call for some time now. I mean I really like food! But a few days ago, something in me knew it was time to follow through with my intention. So, I crossed the threshold and had to face some ordeals, namely hunger. Yesterday hunger felt like a small child constantly tugging at my shirt, “Hey, I’m hungry, let’s eat”, it was challenging. I wanted to breakdown and eat many times yesterday, I also had to move through a well-known pattern of getting a two-hour flu when I fast. Today feels like my reward, I feel present, I feel grounded, I feel like my brain, stomach, liver, and digestive system gets a reboot and I feel great today; the child tugging at my shirt has finally gone to bed.
There are also larger hero’s journeys. In my twenties I worked for seven years at a job that I despised. During that period, I knew I was not living the life that was not a reflection of who I am. The job provided financial security and gave me just enough crumbs to stay but left me starving (thanks Kendra Cunov for such a great metaphor!) As I approached my thirtieth birthday I knew I had to make a change. So, I quit my job and I decided to go back and finish my schooling. Once I made that decision I knew there was no turning back, I could not go back to the ordinary world. My journey took me from Utah to California. During my seven years in California I faced many challenges, I had to fight tons of dragons; I quit smoking, I wrestled with a demon named shame, I saw parts of myself that I don’t want to look at, and I had to honestly deal with my baggage leftover from leaving the Mormon Church. When I left Utah, I left HATING the state!!!! I hated the culture and the people, the only redeeming quality was the mountains. Now that I have returned it is hilarious just how in love I am with the culture and the people here, they feel like my tribe, it feels like home here.
It is not lost on me that I was gone for seven years, or the time elapsed in which every cell has regenerated in my body. You could say I lived a whole life while in California. And the symbolism fits nicely with the hero’s journey. And, it seems like the elixir that I have returned with is the understanding that the way we perceive the external world is simply a reflection of our internal state of being.
The day Trump was elected I had a realization I did not expect. I like many others was horrified when I woke up to see Donald Trump get elected president. I slept very little the night of the election and was really struggling so I decided to run around the lake near my house to clear my head. The movement helped me through the five stages of grief, the process helped me to realize that I had absolutely no idea how it had happened. I had not been speaking with conservatives, I had been speaking at them for some time. I feel pretty confident I could describe the conservative agenda and it is a reasonable one, smaller government (obviously much more to the conservative doctrine, but at the heart of it is smaller government). But I had no idea why someone would vote for Trump, he seemed quite extreme to me. And I realized that I needed to listen to Trump voters.
Last year I set out to deepen my surrender to the Divine. I would set an intention of surrender during my meditation. I would actively look for areas that I could surrender more, and I would ask the Divine to help me in my surrender. That prayer was answered in a profound way. After a pretty routine day of work I came home on a Friday looking forward to having the weekend ahead of me.
I sat at my desk and opened a letter from the V.A. It informed me that they had given me more benefits than I had earned and that I owed them $40,000. I am fortunate to not be in debt, and because of my military service I was on schedule to graduate with zero school debt. I have also been really paying close attention to retirement and getting my financial house in order to be successful in older age. So this letter hit with particular ferocity.
I sat back in my chair and felt that the shock. It felt like a tidal wave of fear descended from my head and washed over my body.
After the initial shock hit me I went into survival mode. I began making strategies to get out of this scenario, I started dissociating from that pain in my body by making strategies in my head. And then it hit me, surrender. I immediately stood up and hit the cushion. This meditation began quite differently then most, I sat with total heart break. I was sitting with my awareness firmly rooted in my heart center. A few times during this meditation I could feel my awareness move into my head, during which time I could feel how much suffering was there. It was amazing, when I was in my heart space it felt in a weird way good, I was just sitting with heart break, but it was only when I began thinking about it, I would suffer. The raw energetic expression of heart break felt intense, but it was an intensity that had no story. My head was telling me about how much damage and pain I was going to have to endure for the next couple years.
I don’t know how long I spent on that cushion, but I do know that it was a profound gift that I had attracted into my life. After the meditation I got up and accepted my fate, I did not know what would happen with the money, but it felt like a gift worth $40,000. I also knew that if I began thinking that I would somehow get out of the debt I would be forgetting the lesson I had just learned. I was fully prepared to pay back $40,000 that the V.A. had mistakenly overpaid me. In the days that followed there were a few times I would slip into resentment and anger toward the V.A., I would rage in my head, “THEY MADE A MISTAKE, I DIDN’T! THEY TOLD ME I WOULD BE GETTING THE MONEY, IF I HAD KNOWN I WOULD HAVE PLANNED ACCORDINGLY AND NOT SPENT THAT MONEY, AND NOW I HAVE TO PAY THEM BACK!!!” Every time this happened I could track just how much suffering I would begin to feel. I was very sensitive during this time.
Just recently the V.A. did confirm that it was in fact their fault and forgave the debt. Reflecting upon this whole episode I realized that I had received a $40,000 dollar bonus. If the V.A. had properly paid me I would have not received this extra money. In the end I received a huge bonus and a massive teaching about surrender.
Since that time I have been working on different practices to cultivate that state of consciousness centered in my heart. I have reached that state many times, and I have come to know this place as a one of silence and stillness. I am lucky enough to have practices that take me to silence when I am willing to have the discipline.