If you strive only to avoid the darkness or to cling to the light, you cannot live in balance.

Try striving to be conscious of all that you are.

~ Gary Zukav



Chapter 8 Recap:

In Chapter 8, Phoenix confronts Rafiki with his intense emotions and frustrations over the sudden change in his ex-girlfriend’s decisions. Phoenix vents his anger, questioning the reasons behind the breakup and seeking answers. Rafiki challenges Phoenix’s focus on fixing himself and urges him to release his emotions, leading to a powerful and cathartic outburst that unravels deep-seated pain and past wounds.




…This was why I had kept my heart locked in a steel box. I keep rocking back and forth, mourning all my losses. Everything seems to bubble to the surface at once. The pain in my body is so acute. My mind reminding me it’s always my fault. I cause this because of my actions. It’s what I’ve always done. It’s what I will always do.


After a few minutes, my sobbing subsides as abruptly as it started. I take deep breaths, then start to breathe normally. I wipe the tears and stand up.




“Look at that balance, Phoenix. The old you could never to do that. You would lie curled up in a ball for hours in that pain. You’ve come so far.” Rafiki sounds impressed.


I don’t agree with what he’s saying. I completely lost it. I allowed myself to give into pain, grief, and anger. I push people away when I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I shake my head in disagreement.


“Do you remember the story about the Chinese Tai Chi Master and Student your therapist told you?” Rafiki asks, a glint of admiration in his eyes.


How could I forget that story? It’s what I strive to be. I was on a trauma retreat with 20 other men many years ago, and I asked the question, “How do we learn to manage the emotions that arise from our trauma? Cognitively I understand what happens, and yet, I still lose myself to it.”


My therapist decided to explain it using Asian philosophy. This is something he does quite a bit. Kind of like Jesus; using parables to make a point.


An Aikido Master and his Student were practicing balancing poses. During these centering exercises the Student kept falling out of the pose. The harder he focused on maintaining equilibrium, the more he toppled out of his posture. The Master, on the other hand, stood unmoving, watching his Student struggle. Like a mountain in a windstorm, the trees bend in the wind while the mountain remains steady, unaffected.


The Student was getting frustrated. He couldn’t stand it any longer. He complained, “Sensi, how is it you never lose your center”


In a calm voice, as unwavering as his one-legged pose, the Master replies, “You misunderstand. I lose my center all the time. I am just faster at recognizing it and getting back to my center than you are.”


“Phoenix, it’s not about stopping your emotions,” Rafiki continues. “It’s not about stuffing them either. It’s about recognizing them, allowing them to surface, allowing yourself to release them, then bringing yourself back to ground. I don’t think you realize how fast you catch and reground yourself.”


You misunderstand. I lose my center all the time. I am just faster at recognizing it and getting back to my center than you are.. Click To Tweet



I contemplate what he says. It’s true. Whenever I’m off, my breath automatically takes over and I can center myself quickly. I’m not as reactive as I once used to be. I guess I do show progress.


“Sometimes we are our own worst enemies,” Rafiki insists. “I want you to see how far you’ve come. We’ll talk about this in a little bit. For now, just know, you are not who you used to be.”


I nod this time, although not fully agreeing with him. I know there’s been change, yet not to the level I expect of myself.


I feel worn out. Even though the screaming and crying wasn’t very long, it feels like I just ran a marathon. I’m emotionally and physically exhausted. Will I be able to make it the rest of the way? Going down hill is the easy part!


Rafiki’s voice softens, and he slowly turns around looking in my eyes. “Phoenix, you’re going to run yourself to the ground trying to answer questions only she has the answers to. What was said was that she needed to continue to find herself. End of story.”


“That’s what my ex-wife used to say.” My shoulders slouch, resigned. I don’t say this out loud, but a nagging thought comes to my mind. I cause the women I love to lose themselves.


As if reading my thoughts, like he always seems to do, Rafiki’s sing song voice pops up once again, “She just let go. She just let go. She just let go.” He turns and starts to skip, push, and jump down the trail once again…


Chapter 10

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