Welcome to Part 2 of my conversation with the amazing Sierra Bender!
To outline our chat from last week, Sierra is the Global Tribal Leader of Female Empowerment. She’s the best selling author of ‘Goddess to the Core’ and a devoted advocate for women and girls empowerment. Sierra is a true force of nature.
Her voice and mission spans around the globe from the United States, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Costa Rica to South America; featured in media including Oprah Radio, CBS, Univision, USA Today, Marie Claire, Shape, Whole Living, Yoga Journal, Fit Yoga, Yoga International, and Natural Awakenings.
Sierra has been a leading pioneer in the women’s empowerment and leadership movement for more than 25 years. Her versatile teachings have been found in spiritual retreat centers and executive boardrooms. Sierra’s extensive clientele includes Olympic athletes, the Vanderbilt Cancer Center, and Country Music Television (CMT) to name but a few.
If you haven’t yet listened to Part 1 of our intensely passionate chat, check that out first before diving into this week’s interview.
This week we delve into the depths of topics such as:
• How purpose connects us to our higher self.
• The importance of feeling safe for personal transformation.
• How the body is the last frontier for transformational healing.
• What would it be like to think with your heart and feel with your mind?
• How every disease and illness has an emotional profile.
• Taking back the Goddess (and what exactly is the Goddess?).
• Opening your heart and trusting your intuition.
• Self love, self love, self love!
On the topic of self love, I feel moved to share a few words about the untimely death of a man loved by all – Robin Williams. I’ll admit that I find myself deeply affected by this tragic loss and its prompted the contemplation of my last two discussions with Sierra. In particular, I’m referencing the extensive discussions on love – specifically, self love.
Robin Williams was someone who suffered from the all too common affliction partnership of depression and addiction. Although he didn’t speak much of it, in a 2010 interview with the Guardian, he stated that he had anxiety and fear about everything. This alone is a profoundly disturbing statement.
Many of us knew Robin as a zany, manic, genius-level comic. But who was he really? Because he was always “on”, even friends acquainted with him for 35 years say they didn’t truly know him.
The work of Robin Williams touched millions of people around the globe – myself included. He was known for his generosity and kindness. His love, expressed freely made the world delight in pure joy. There was one caveat however. Robin was remiss with love for the one who mattered most – himself. This is an acutely piteous example of how fame, success, money, and love sourced from the external world are meaningless without a sense of love, connection, and self worth within oneself. Lack of self love provokes a profound sense of inner isolation. An isolation so vast that despite an immensely loving outer world, the mind is incapable of moving beyond its own perpetual darkness – a darkness we label depression.
Depression is a blanket term for unresolved emotions. It’s a complex composite of pain turned inwards in the desperate attempt for concealment. We live in the quick fix culture of perceptual distraction, where emotional energy leaks are numbed out by drugs, alcohol, pharmaceuticals and a plethora of limitless addictions to remove us from what we need to do most – feel. When we don’t feel, we don’t heal. When we don’t heal, we are never real. And when we are never real, we are empty inside. This is what creates the immense sense of isolation referenced in the previous paragraph. It’s tragic to think of anyone feeling so utterly helpless and alone that suicide is the only way out.
What we don’t need is a culture that medicates pain, unhappiness, and low self worth; a culture that ardently rejects what hurts us inside so we feel no other option but to create an ill-fitting mask of false happiness.
What we do need is a culture that lovingly supports emotional expression in ways where we feel safe to release that which burdens our soul. A culture that encourages authentic expression through feeling, healing, and love.
Emotional pain affects all of us to some degree. The only way out, is to go deep within. Pain expressed without judgement, labels, or timelines is what finally sets it free. With each layer of pain released, we become more whole, more loving, and more accepting of ourselves and others. As Sierra says, “feel and deal so you can heal” or as I always say, “feel and heal so you can be real”.
For most people, the fear of who they truly are – both the shadow and the light – outweighs the courage required to feel, heal and express oneself authentically. It is this fear that initiates the construction of protective masks that we take on as illusory identities – identities which causes us to separate from our true Self. By running from our pain, we drive it deeper into our psyche – until we end up with what we now call depression.
So, inspired by Sierra’s wise words about self love over the last two podcasts, and Robin Williams tragic final exit choice, this week I invite you to explore four salient questions:
1) Do you love yourself – your heart, your soul, your light, your wounded parts – all of you?
2) If your answer was no, why?
3) What would it take for you accept yourself?
4) What is the next smallest step that you can take towards loving yourself?
Tough questions. Important questions. Questions that implore you to think with your heart and feel with your mind. Love in the external world begins with love in your inner world.
It’s a shame that Robin Williams couldn’t consistently experience the joy he gave to so many others. We can learn from the tragedy of his example. Self love connects us to the true source of our light. Beyond our own shadow, we are the light and the world is desperate for more light. Be you – unapologetically YOU. The world needs you…now!
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