One of the great joys of my life is that I am so blessed to be connected to so many extraordinary souls on this planet, many of whom are incredible artists, teachers, healers and creators all dedicated to making this a more peaceful, joyful world. One of those goddesses reappeared in my life recently, when my friend Zen DeBrucke, who teaches the art of using your internal guidance system to create a fulfilled life, returned from a sabbatical spent traveling with her beloved husband.
There was kite-surfing in Vietnam.
A three-day trek in the largest caverns in the world, the size of the Grand Canyon.
Exploring caves via kayaking in Sapa, Vietnam and Halong Bay, Vietnam.
Hiking in Nepal for 17 days to reach Everest base camp and visit a monastery with a very unique Buddhist festival.
Next, a 10-day scuba dive in pristine dive sites in Burma… Then off to Southern Thailand for more martial arts, yoga and kite surfing…
And that was just for starters….
Leaving the World Behind to Reenergize
Zen needed a break. She is a spiritual teacher and she had been working insanely hard on her business, The Smart Soul, for more than a decade.
Although she had done everything right, creating email lists, teleseminars, live workshops, and publishing a terrific book on the concept of following your internal guidance system to create your bliss, the business had hit a plateau, and Zen didn’t know what to do for her next steps. She got the inspiration to revitalize throughout travel and new adventures.
Her husband, Eric, worked in special military security assignments, often in incredibly dangerous locations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He had not had a true vacation and break in virtually his whole career.
These two in their travel blog called themselves the Hummingbird and the Boar , since you really could not find two people who are more different, or better suited for each other.
Following Your “Openings”
Zen’s spiritual teachings are focused on the idea of tuning into our own natural internal guidance system, which guides us every step of the way, to live our best lives moment by moment.
She teaches about present moment awareness, and tuning into the sensations in our bodies, vs. staying trapped in endless loops of thought, which can make it hard to discern the next best steps on our path.
She teaches people to drop back into their bodies through simple grounding meditations, starting with exercises as simple as feeling your feet and hands, and just listening to the sounds in the background, without identifying them, as you sit quietly.
The idea is to find a place of calm and stillness within your body. And to drop out of the mind.
From this place, try this simple exercise:
1. Hold the thought: “I do not have an internal guidance system.” Repeat that phrase silently a few times in your mind – “I do not have an internal guidance system” – and see how your body reacts, especially in the region between your throat and your solar plexus, all the way up to right above your belly button.
2. Then, clear your mind of this thought. Next, hold the thought, “I do have an internal guidance system. I do have an internal guidance system.” And notice what you feel in the body.
You can learn more about her teachings here: Zen in a Moment.
For many people, there is a sensation she calls an “opening” that happens when you hold a thought that is in tune with your highest purpose on your path. You might feel your chest open up, or feel lighter, or feel joy.
A “closing” sensation can feel like your belly, chest or throat constricting, and it can feel like anxiety.
The idea is that the sensation in your body corresponds to a specific thought or image in your mind.
And when something opens you it’s a good sign to follow it on your journey. While you never know where your “openings” will lead you, it’s bound to be something wonderful!
When something closes you, the idea is to question the thought behind it, and to find a thought that opens you. Sometimes we just need to find a way to shift our energy too when we are feeling “stuck” and don’t know the answer to a pressing question in our lives.
Then, Zen recommends listening to high-energy music, exercising, calling a friend, watching a funny movie, or doing anything to “change channels” to get us out of anxiety, and raise our vibration.
Sometimes we just need to joyfully drop back into our bodies in order to be able to discern our next steps.
Following Her Openings to Meet the Love of Her Life
Zen met her husband, Eric, through following her “openings.” She lived in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time, and swore she’d never return to Southern California, where she grew up.
But a friend had a giant Southwestern-style mansion that needed to be rented for house-sitting purposes for a year while the family was away in Spain. It was 3,000+ square feet of pure beauty, tucked into the mountainside valleys in the picturesque Santa Monica region.
Zen felt a pull to go there, a sense of expansion and purpose. It wasn’t what her brain told her to do, but her body’s wisdom.
She followed it and ended up going to her 20th high school reunion, which she said she never would have attended otherwise. There, she reconnected with Eric, who she had known only casually in high school.
He said he knew within five minutes of listening to her tell her story that that she was the one for him. The spiritual Goddess turned out to be a match to the warrior.
I was lucky enough to be the one who got to organize their wedding, when their wedding organizer cancelled at the last minute. It was a joy to step in and help make their day memorable and relaxing for them.
Zen trusts completely in the process of tuning into your own inner wisdom for step-by-step guidance in creating an amazing life. She teaches this again now to clients around the world.
The miraculous beauty of learning Zen’s teachings and following them is that you don’t need to have all the answers for forever, and really we can’t. You simply need to be able to open to what leads you to your highest purpose, in this grand adventure of life, in each moment.
With practice it becomes more effortless to follow your internal guidance system. It can mean having the courage to make some leaps in your life, and it’s a way to live your dreams without needing a total map to find your way.
We are our own best source of wisdom and guidance, as Zen teaches, and can tap into a higher source of wisdom, if that is something you believe in as well.
I’m so inspired by my friend, this Goddess who recharged her life by traveling throughout Southeast Asia, and is now back to teach the world how to live with even more joy and passion.
May her wise teachings inspire you as well on the path to living your dreams!
Lisa Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on the Madam President Project.