personal growth

 – – part 2/3 – –

 

THE SEMINAR:
If you read the previous post about who Tony Robbins is and how his Unleash the Power Within seminar came into my life, then you’re all caught up for this next post that goes into what I experienced — and what you would, too, if you go!

The seminar is about four days in length at around thirteen hours on average per day.

Day one of registration was filled with a super long line outside of the Prudential Center. Hundreds of people all ready to get inside and start. I remember walking in, passing security and seeing everyone high-five each other left and right as I made my way over to the check-in table. As I signed in, the volunteer handed me my packet filled with Tony’s latest book, a workbook and some goodies. As soon as he let go of the bag —I will never forget this— he smiled at me and said:

“Great! You’re all set! Now walk through those doors and make a right. Oh, and remember, as soon as you walk through those doors, life will never be the same again.”

I looked at him puzzled, but thanked him, smiling back and proceeded to walk through the door. They asked me to grab a button that would set the intention for the day. Amongst a whole wall of pins, I knew which one stood out to me the most: brave. I grabbed it and proceeded to find a seat.

And there I was, walking into the Prudential Center arena, to join 39,999 other people from around the world (42 different countries represented) for an event I don’t think many expected. Seats were all getting filled quickly. Music started to blast like it was a club. “Where am I? What am I doing here, alone?” is what I thought; I found my way to a seat and gave out a giant “GULP.” Here we go.

As the program started, it was HIGH energy. What do I mean? Well, you were told to get your butt off the chair, to start dancing and jumping to the BLASTING music and to smile like you’ve never smiled before. While I was there alone, and didn’t know anyone else, my dance wasn’t as much. But, man, you know when your favorite song comes on and you just can’t help but shake what your momma’ gave you? Well, yeah, that happened. Great job DJ!

You were asked to shake the building. To massage the person to your left and then let them give you a little back rub, too. I mean, what? All boundaries were just instantly removed and, long story short, I found myself with some new friends pretty quickly. I legit felt like I was at a club and the music was blasting like there was no tomorrow. I noticed some aromatherapy scents coming through the ventilation system and when I looked at my watch, there I was, partying like I was in Cabo on a Saturday night… only it was Thursday, 10AM.

Tony finally came out and, WOW, the energy of the room totally went up a hundred notches (didn’t even know that was possible). And there he was. The man who was going to change my life with a program he made and has been delivering around the world for years. Well, let me tell you, the man has a presence. I was seated SO far away, but, somehow, I felt SO close and connected.

The next thirteen hours were filled with Tony asking you some simple questions about your life, asking you to reflect. He made you think– hard. He not once drank a sip of water. He not once went for a bathroom break. He was on stage the whole time. This man was dedicated to you and making sure you walked away unleashing your power within.

Without giving away too much, he asked us to think about a problem in our life and to really see how that made us feel. Then took us on an exercise where he said, “You see how that has limited you? The things it has kept you from? Now fast forward. If you continue thinking that this is a problem you will never overcome, what will it steal from your life in five years? ten years? twenty? forty?” Needless to say, the pain was so intense thinking that something (whatever that something may be in your life) could stop you from living your best life ever. And then, at one point, we all overcame it. All 40,000 people in that arena just burst in screams of freedom. And just like that, the limiting belief we had was gone. It’s very hard to explain, but it was absolutely beautiful. After that moment, the music came on SUPER loud and we dance-partied for the next ten songs. Ah-mazing. All the happy endorphins you could ever imagine.

And then, at around midnight, just when I thought I was home free, Tony said something that made me GULP all over again: the fire walk.

He showed us a video of the coals being burnt throughout the day and of people laying them down in the form of a walkway. He told us that we didn’t need to walk over them and that if we were going to complain about the possibility of getting burned, then to please not go for it. It was OK if we didn’t want to do it, but he really believed we could do it. The next hour was us getting hyped for the firewalk. Next thing I knew, we kicked off our shoes and 40,000 people, all barefoot, walked out of the Prudential Center to the parking lot ready to conquer what we thought was the impossible.

I remembered seeing a video once of Oprah coming to Tony’s UPW seminar and walking on the fire. I mean, if Oprah did it, what was my excuse? Homegirl did it. She did it to set an example and I wanted to keep that example going– especially to my own self.

We chanted “yes” all the way from our seats to the hot coals. “Yes” to us overcoming our biggest fears, “yes” to overcoming what we think is impossible.

The secret behind not getting burned, many will say, is in the science. How the ash actually reduces the conduction of heat is one of those explanations. However, I would reckon that the secret of not getting burned is to not fear it, get in a positive mindset and be truly intentional with what you are doing. Ask your body to protect you. It’s kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy; if you focus on getting burned and keep fearing that you will get burned, chances are you will get burned. But thinking positive things and keeping your attention away from the fear of something (like getting burned) will make you accomplish things that you never thought you could!

So, we finally made it down to the coals and I was up to walk on them next. I was ready, but I got suddenly got pretty scared. I placed my right foot on the coals and OUCH, it was HOT; I got a burn. But I instantly, in a heartbeat, changed my mindset, my self beliefs, and was like “I AM DOING THIS, I AM COMMITTING, I DO NOT FEAR THE FIRE– RAWR!!” and pressed my left foot on top of the coals and proceeded to walk. Guess what? IT DIDN’T BURN! It WASN’T HOT! How crazy was that?! It felt like walking on cold grass and, before I knew it, I was done. I DID IT!! The staff all made me jump up and down, cheering my success! I actually did it. Say whaaa. I, Loren, walked on hot coals. Put that on my résumé.

Honestly, I did get a little bit of a burn on the bottom of my right foot afterwards from that first step. But nothing on my left. Science can have its way with explanations, but I’m more of an emotional and physical believer. Walking on that fire meant something to me. I actually tried it and, in a moment of crisis, changed my thinking and succeeded in achieving what I once thought was impossible. It was a moment that made me prove to myself that I was stronger than I gave myself credit for; it was a moment I will never forget.

The next three days were just like this– minus the hot coals, but filled with more deep conquering exercises, mostly comprised of meditation, and totally filled with more rave music AT BLAST (they make sure to keep it FUN). Learning, listening, partying, meeting new people and being told that you are just SO kick ass was what this seminar was all about. We focused on ourselves, our goals and wishes in life, our health and, if we had a business, how to maximize it. The whole experience, at about 52 hours of working on YOU (talk about total immersion), can be summarized with the one word: amazing.

It makes you wonder, what else in life can you accomplish that you thought was impossible before? If you can walk on fire, what other things are out there for you to just break through?

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Part three in this series is up next!

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Brooklyn native, Latina, and founder of Enlightened by Bravery, an adventure/travel and wellness blog that focuses on drawing inspiration from adventures around the world back into your life // iPhoneographer // Francophile

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T.

Two New Zealand Star Experiences That Drove My Love For Astronomy

Bright. Plentiful. Stars are just everywhere. Unfortunately, growing up in New York City meant that I really didn’t get to see all the stars that exist in our night sky. The highest I ever counted was about nine from my dining room window, though I am pretty sure that five of those ‘stars’ were actually airplanes because stars don’t usually blink red and white right near John F. Kennedy Airport, right? No, no they don’t.

Living in New Zealand, though, that number went from “nine” to nine-hundred (and quite possibly to nine-thousand) fairly quickly. I felt comfortable with the first one hundred, but the more they appeared at night, the more scared I started to become. I had, what you would call “astraphobia,” the fear of stars and space. And the feeling was real. It was like I was a cavewoman and someone lit a torch in front of me for the first time. You can’t process it. You feel threatened. You feel like you don’t know what to believe. Camping in the middle of farmlands and mountains and being surrounded by pitch dark and little lights in the sky was just scary.

So what did I do? I ignored them. I prayed to the heavens above for super cloudy days and urged my husband to park under a tree or something so I wouldn’t see them. Basically, I tried to not see them for months. I pushed my feelings to the side and continued onward. Suppression was working.

After three months of traveling around, we found ourselves camping overnight at Lake Pukaki in the South Island. And that’s when I had to face the music. And then some. I was making dinner inside the campervan when my husband called my name in a frantic, excited holler from outside: “Loren! You, MUST SEE THIS!”

I knew that he was looking at the sky. But there was a part of me that really wanted to see what all the fuss was about. So I put my spatula down and slowly crept of out of the van to join him outside. He had a warm smile on his face and, with his index finger, pointed up to the night sky. Staring at him, I shook my head “no.” I didn’t want to see anything; yet, part of me did want to see something. I needed to at least peek. So I clenched my hands over his, took a quick gulp, and slowly gazed my eyes up towards the sky.

And there they were. THOUSANDS of STARS. If not millions.

I freaked out.

I felt absolutely small.

WAIT, is THAT THE MILKY WAY?!

Who am I?

What is life?

I cannot.

I quickly pulled myself away and ran inside the van to cry. It wasn’t necessarily the stars I was crying about this time, but more so the beauty of the night sky. WOW!! The beauty was overwhelming. But then it suddenly made sense: all this time I was avoiding them because, for the first time in my life, I felt outnumbered; it was a feeling I didn’t think was possible to have, let alone brought on by nature.

My hands were shaking, but it was such a beautiful sight that I knew I had to go back out there and accept that I was just this small human on this big, beautiful earth and that we are just floating around in this universe.

That night, I didn’t leave the van, but instead let all the feelings come. I journaled while my husband fell fast asleep. The enormity and beauty left me curious. Now or never. So I opened our window, slipped up on the windowsill and spent the night looking up, becoming friends with the stars.

Twinkling. Plentiful. Bright.

I was never going to be bigger than them. Their presence was overwhelming, but being overwhelmed is a temporary feeling. This was a sign from the universe to learn more. The stars were trying to show me more.

So I went seeking more.

 

1) Tekapo Stargazing and Hot Pools

location: Tekapo, South Island, New Zealand

 

While down in the south island, I found out two things: (1) we were in the Mackenzie Region, near Tekapo, which is part of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve and (2) there are only eight Dark Sky Reserves in the world and this one just so happens to be the most southern, darkest place on the globe. Crazy!

We researched a bit and came across the Tekapo Star Gazing experience. I was falling more and more in love with the stars every night– they were fascinating to me now!– so, naturally, we booked the tour and my goodness what an awesome time!

You start off by boarding a courtesy van late in the evening (the darker the better!) and they take you to Tekapo Springs. Once you’re off, some hot cocoa/tea is there to warm you up before you head outside to the main deck. Your guides point to the stars above you with a laser (it’s pretty cool that it reaches infinity!) and explain to you the constellations they are a part of. With our own naked eye we were able to see: the milky way, another galaxy (yeah, seriously), venus, jupiter and thousands upon thousands of stars.

My little heart was just so full!

If that wasn’t enough, there were two telescopes that we were able to use! We saw Jupiter up close and its moons, as well as that other galaxy up close– apparently you can only see it from the southern hemisphere. *swoon*

After our tour of the stars outside on deck, we all went into the changing rooms to put on our bathing suits (togs) and entered a 38ºC (100.4ºF) hot pool. Floating beds were handed to us and, as we laid on them, staring up to the night sky, our guides told us stories of constellations, Maori legends, and answered any questions we had about astronomy.

I didn’t want the evening to end. It was peaceful, magical and it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen elsewhere in my travels before!

travel tip: make sure to look at the weather. Stargazing is best when the night is clear (not many clouds) and the moon isn’t visible (less light). I love Accuweather’s ‘Astronomy’ predictor for this!

 

 

2) Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center

location: Mt. Cook, South Island, New Zealand

Don’t know if you know, but Sir Edmund Hillary was from New Zealand and, with Nepalese mountaineer, Tenzing Norgay, they were the first men to climb Mount Everest– ever!

This alpine center is actually located right next to Mt. Cook, the mountain that Sir Edmund Hillary trained on for many years, in order to build up his mountaineering skills and stamina to take on Everest!

Part of the Hermitage Hotel, the Alpine Center is “the world’s only theatre with 2D, 3D and a Digital Dome Planetarium, contained within the same space.” What I fell in love with, though, was their 360º Digital Dome Planetarium. You pay about $20 and you have unlimited entrance to the shows they play in the theatre all day! From the big bang, black holes, to what we are doing today to continue learning more about the stars and planets in our skies, you will learn so much in a fun, educational way. Your entrance ticket also allows you to watch various 2D documentaries, along with a 3D short film giving you the inside scoop of Mount Cook. The best part? When you come out, you are in the mountains and, if you wanted to go hike into the Mt. Cook area you just learned about, the Hooker Valley Track is a beautiful way to bring everything into reality.

I learned so much that day and kept all of the fun facts in mind as we kept traveling through the beautiful night skies of the South Island.

travel tip: make a day out of it! get to the theatre in the morning when it opens, start watching presentations for a few hours, treat yourself to a buffet lunch in the hotel, then go out trekking into the Hooker Valley Track for a view of Mt. Cook!

These experiences have definitely made me much more interested in astronomy and have given me my next little fun thing to learn: how to shoot night sky photography. The world is absolutely beautiful and I learned, yet again, that embracing those curious matters in our minds leads to fascinating observations, discoveries, and, well, new loves.

Astronomy, continue teaching me your ways <3.

xx,

B.

Brave Series: Exploring New Zealand’s ‘White Island’– an ACTIVE marine volcano

According to Maori legend, White Island was formed when Maui first came in contact with fire, holding it in his hand, feeling the intense burn, diving deep into the sea and letting it go. What resulted was ‘White Island,’ New Zealand’s active marine volcano.

James Cook first saw it in 1769, it last erupted in 2001, and it rises about 1600 meters from the seafloor.  As scary as it sounds, there are actually tours that take you out there for the opportunity to experience it yourself. In an effort to overcome fear and give in to my curiosity and intrigue, we booked a tour to the mighty, natural formation. That’s right, we voluntarily went on an active volcano and into its inner crater– and it was cray.

I can honestly say that I’m not the same person I was when I last left New York City earlier this year, already. We all grow and development is natural, sure. But, I can tell you this: New Zealand has put my love of nature and understanding/intrigue natural disasters on a whole different different level.

Volcanoes are scary, yeah? Especially if they are active. But that fear inside of me, is a fire of its own, driven by a cloud of bravery that peeks over, dodging the flames and wanting to experience and understand more of the world’s offerings.

We booked a trip with White Island Tours and I honestly couldn’t sleep the two days beforehand; I was shaking in my bed sheets, worried that I was surely going to die.

I remember eating my last meal the night before: pad thai. And I remember putting on my shoes one last time that morning: hiking boots. Sure, it seems silly to some, but don’t we all go through things like this?

We checked-in around 9am that morning and departed Whakatane on a boat; destination: White Island. We passed rivers, islands, marine wildlife and, 80 minutes later, we saw her. I turned for a quick photo, thinking: “Gosh, I’m okay with just cruising, do we really need to land?” Fear was present, but there was no turning back.

We were handed life vests, hard hats and a gas mask. Anchored just a few meters away from the volcano, we got into a little inflatable raft and landed on the beach.

It was like we landed on another planet. Rocks, rubble, gas. It was all there. And the risk of disaster? Well, I appreciate that our tour guide brought up the obvious point and said that in the case of an emergency, either if the volcano were to erupt or a landslide should occur, that we should run and seek shelter behind a rock formation on the other side. Ouf!!!

My mind just couldn’t comprehend what was around me, what was happening. It was like an out-of-body experience. The only thing I knew, though, was that I was there. I was finally there.

With our tour guides leading the way, we safely walked on the volcano, avoiding ‘soft spots’ that were ready to burst should we have stepped on them and learned about all the minerals present: sulphur, iron, among others. We even learned about a mine that existed there and ceased its operation in the early 1900’s for sulphur & gypsum (a mineral you’ll find on the head of matches!), due to it being super hazardous, leading to an unfortunate event that took the lives of ten men and a few cats. One cat did, however, make it out alive and became somewhat famous in the nearby city after being rescued!

Our gas masks did come into play when we approached high levels of sulphur gases. When mixed with the saliva in your throat, it caused an irritation, causing you to cough. It dawned upon me, as my group all coughed together in a manner equal to that of an unsynchronized choir that we, as humans, are fragile. A natural gas can have this effect on us. It was honestly, pretty darn humbling.

As we approached the inner crater and saw the pool of super acidic water (a.k.a., where the eruption would occur), I wasn’t so scared anymore. Being vis-à-vis to the thing that caused me so much grief the nights prior was humbling. I let my guards down. I experienced a sense of calm. It was actually pretty darn cool.

Our tour ended shortly after and I was so bummed! I secretly wanted more. We boarded our rafts back to the boat. They gave us a light lunch and we spotted whales on the way back to Whakatane.

I was so proud that I conquered a fear and decided to go on such an excursion that led me to understand and experience more of Earth’s natural beauty; I would highly recommend the tour!!

I bought this Paua shell ring down in the South Island. Paua is native to New Zealand and it’s beautiful. The shell’s pattern in my ring below reminded me of a mountain. I feared mountains when I first arrived, but then I climbed a few. I also feared volcanoes, but I’ve now hiked on one and visited the inner crater of another. My ring will now represent mountains and volcanoes and the bravery to climb/visit them, head-on.

I love you, New Zealand.

xx,