9 years ago today, I packed my sparse belongings in a van, and got a senior monk to drive me from the ashram/monastery in Los Angeles, CA to Encinitas, CA 2 hours south. A friend met me; we loaded all my stuff into her van and then went to the ocean to dive in and be baptized into a new life back in the hustle and bustle of the secular world.
It has been an interesting transition over all these years, and not always easy. In fact, sometimes down right difficult. But I have never questioned my decision, because I took the time to tune in with the truest aspirations of my heart.
In honor of this 9-year “anniversary,” I thought I would offer, as a gift to you, my chapter from the best-selling collaborative book, Align Expand and Succeed: Shifting the Paradigm of Entrepreneurial Success.
In this chapter, I share the story of my struggle to stay or leave the monastic life. And at the end I offer the technique I used to help me decide the right path to take.
If you are struggling with ANY major decisions in your life, my hope is that this process may help you to choose the path most aligned with your Truth as well. Happy choosing!
(if you are interested in obtaining the book, you can find it on my website products page: http://breathflow.com/products.htm)
SHIFT HAPPENS: Inspiration for a Life in Transition
A senior monk faced me in his simple ochre uniform. To me, however, he was more than just a monk; he was my counselor, my supervisor, my mentor and as close to a father as I felt I could have in the monastic order where I had spent the last ten years of my life. His counsel was compassionately simple and direct: “Then you must go…that is your Dharma, your truth.”
I don’t know how long I had been holding my breath, but the release flooded my being with a rushing wave of emotion and sensations of everything that was right. His words were a liberating confirmation of my own feelings; feelings that I had finally come to fully recognize only after nine months of agonizing consideration, counseling, prayer…and conscious breathing.
Transitions Serve to Awaken Our Potential
Our conversation revolved around a decision of serious impact on my future: whether or not to leave the spiritual environment of the ashram for a new, undefined way of life. On the one hand was the familiar path to which I had dedicated a decade of my life—noble, predictable, comfortable, secure. On the other hand were uncertainty, ambiguity, and fear of a fast-paced, chaotic world from which I had been sheltered for the past ten years. It was like making a decision to leave my job, move to a new city, and get a divorce at the same time…with the added burden of the one I was “divorcing” being God (not that we wouldn’t still be friends, but that I would no longer be living in His “house”)! On the surface the choice seemed a “no-brainer.” Yet deep inside there was a buried feeling compelling me to move in a new direction.
As all of us who have made life-changing decisions know, the experience can be traumatic. The territory is fraught with dark emotions of self-judgment, anxiety, anger, fear, and doubt. These days, as more and more people seek my assistance with their wellness, I realize that to wrestle with these emotions during intense transitions is to be human. However, to overcome is Divine.
In addition, there is every indication that the world is collectively moving towards a greater degree of change as old unserving paradigms crumble and fall away and new healthier, happiness-sustaining paradigms emerge to take their places.
Call these changes what you will—God’s Divine Plan, the end of the Mayan Calendar, the inevitable effects of rampant greed and corruption—the times are calling for a shift. From a spiritual perspective, transitions are a natural energetic thrust to prod us into taking greater steps towards our truth, our authenticity. That means a lot of people are either choosing to make transitions or are being nudged out of resistance, sometimes forcibly, by energies that are calling for a shift.
The Breath—Key to Accessing Your Unique Truth
The conclusion of my monastic journey revealed that I could no longer accept what outwardly appeared congruent while inside I felt out of balance. Ironically this understanding and the courage to leave the ashram came from more earnestly applying the spiritual teaching that I had learned inside the ashram! When I realized this I began to take what I had learned and transform it into something that I could share with others outside the cloistered grounds; something that significantly impacts the lives of anyone who seeks relief from suffering. The simple elegance of the result left me in a state of inspiration—literally. The very definition of inspiration means “to breathe in.” The secret lies in the way we breathe.
Using special conscious breathing techniques, we can connect with the most authentic parts of us, the parts that fuse passion and purpose into a fire of alchemy that naturally creates a path towards fulfillment of both. In other words, we discover our Dharma—individual truth in alignment with Universal Truth—our unique authenticity.
My personal breath practice led me to understand that the longevity of my happiness relied on living three important intentions:
- I take personal responsibility for my happiness;
- I face my fears;
- I trust my intuition.
If the course of my life did not support these intentions, I would continue to be out of alignment with my authentic self and suffer as a result. Instead I have chosen to listen to my inner guidance and apply it in my daily personal and professional life.
Whether or not these particular intentions resonate with you is not of consequence. What matters is that you have a means to tune in with inner guidance and live in greater alignment with your deepest calling. Conscious connected breathing techniques keep us in the present where we can access the doorway to our intuitive awareness, the part of us that is fully in tune with the natural flow of our truth.
A Powerful Breathing Technique to Facilitate Transitions
The technique to tune in with inner direction in times of transition is profound in its simplicity. Anytime you desire to resonate more with your guiding truth, follow these steps:
- Find a quiet place where you can sit undisturbed. Sit upright with your spine straight yet comfortable.
- Clearly define in your mind (writing often helps), the two or more options with which you are struggling.
- Take one of the options in your mind and begin to breathe as you think about it.
- At the same time, begin to breathe in a rhythmic connected fashion. Inhale smoothly, relax the exhale, and keep the breath connected. In other words, keep a continuous flow as if your breath were like an ocean wave rising and falling with each inhalation and exhalation. It is important not to pause, but to keep the breath connected, and flowing at a slightly accelerated rate, as if you were walking to get some exercise.
- With the option still in your consciousness, concentrate your awareness of your heart.
- Notice without judgment what feelings naturally arise. Make note of the quality of your breathing as you dwell on this option.
- Then take the other option(s) and repeat the same steps, noting the feelings that naturally arise and the ease or difficulty that occurs in your breathing pattern. For example, are your feelings joyful or apprehensive? Does your breath flow smoothly or is there some difficulty in the process?
As you allow the different options to resonate with or against your authentic energy, it will become apparent which course of action becomes most compelling. Trust yourself and take it. You will never regret it.
When your journey brings you to an important fork in the road of your life and you have a difficult decision to make—be it personal, romantic, or business—take a few moments to practice this exercise. Tune out the voices of “shoulds,” “cant’s,” and expectations of others by tuning in to the deep inner awareness that peacefully and playfully guides your life in the direction of greatest fulfillment. The results will be different for everyone, so only you can truly know for yourself. This kind of conviction may be daunting, but it is very liberating.
A Life in Alignment with Dharma
Much has happened since the day I spoke with my counselor and my whole life shifted. My decision to leave monastic life has led me on the journey to become a public speaker, wellness practitioner, spiritual leader, and conscious entrepreneur, specializing in life transformation. Yet it is far from an “easy” lifestyle. On an almost daily basis I am reminded to take personal responsibility for my happiness and face my fear by trusting my intuition. It is important to note that facing fears doesn’t mean they simply vanish because you are facing them; in fact, at times it seems like the fear is intensified. Yet I have not regretted my decision for a single minute. When needed, I tune back into the original feelings of my own inner confirmation, accessible through my transformational breathing practices. There is no substitute for living in alignment with your truth. If you do not, it will simply not feel good. If you want to experience success in the form of lasting happiness, this alignment is required.
As we continue this journey on the ever-morphing landscape of experience, the realization becomes apparent that the only constant is change. In order to more successfully manage the changes and transitions in your life, tap into your inspiration by tuning into your breath. You will not only weather the turbulence of your own transitions more gracefully, but you will also become a vitally important player in assisting the world to navigate through the perpetual waves of change. This is perfect Dharma, expressing your individual truth in alignment with universal Truth. Live it. Breathe it.
Christian Minson is a former monastic, Certified Breathwork Facilitator, and conscious entrepreneur. Through his company, Breathflow Wellness, Christian teaches the application of spiritual principles and breathing techniques to achieve modern-world success and happiness. As the “monk on the street,” he has delivered his message to churches, universities, and yoga centers around the country and abroad, as well as contributing to Vision Magazine. For FREE breathing technique downloads and more information, visit his website www.BreathFlow.com.