Updated: Sep 2, 2019
There is a Hero sleeping in your heart. And we all one day have to take “The Hero’s Journey”. We might embark upon this journey because we have to face a transition in our life; career changes, major diseases or a crisis (death of a loved one, divorce, etc.).
At some point, we will be called to take “The Hero’s Journey”.
What is “The Hero’s Journey”? Also known as “the monomyth” it is a common framework of a category of fairy tales and stories that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and experiences a crisis in order to win a victory, which results in coming home changed or transformed. This conceptual framework was best articulated by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).
When we are confronted with The Hero’s Journey, the “call to adventure” – very often we are initially faced with massive resistance from our Ego. The Ego keeps in place our self-image, and our “safe place”. We don’t want to change. We think we know what to do. So, we are afraid to take a journey into the unknown.
Fear is so powerful and it is our greatest teacher. Learn more about facing fears and dealing with them in this podcast at The Sanctuary Coaching and Healing Center iTunes Podcast here.
“Make a habit throughout your life of doing the things you fear. If you do the things you fear, the death of fear is certain” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I was confronted by all these concepts – the hero’s journey, the rise and fall of the ego and fear a few years ago when I embarked on a personal journey of transformation. Many voices, inside me and around me, were telling me to not do it, to stay safe, in the known. Yet the call was too strong to not take it. As time has passed, and I learnt some powerful lessons, here are some insights I wanted to share with you…
Let’s go back three years ago. At the time, my teacher told me: “Guillaume, I think you like your life right now. So unless your world as it is right now has become UNACCEPTABLE to you, YOU will never change and do the Real Work”. What he said to me that day triggered me so much. I was very upset with him and by myself.
Because while I wanted to change, and while I thought that I had enough, I was angry! Yes, my life was, in fact, making me really unhappy. But I was stuck. I was paralyzed by fear.
I was in agony. So that phrase “Guillaume, I think you like your life right now” was a slap in my face with a big truth I did not want to see: despite the pain, despite the agony, I was still not changing many things in my life. The pain revealed by that comment triggered my own “Hero’s Journey”.
So here is what the journey’s looks like:
Source: Drawing from J.L. Kelly. Link: http://4jlkelly.com/tag/heros-journey-chart/
CALL TO ADVENTURE
We are in a place of discomfort. Inside us, a voice is telling us “there is something else better somewhere for us”. Or we are sick with a condition that is calling us to look at ourselves deeply. We need to reassess what we think is truth, challenge our status quo, embrace the possibility of another “I”. Personally, I stayed in the “call to adventure” phase for maybe 10 years of my life.
MEETING A MENTOR
This can be in the form of a friend, a “random” person who shows up in our life with a message, a teaching, wise advice that is going to touch us deeply and help us get to a threshold point. I believe the whole universe and our spiritual allies send us help in human form. Stay open to finding your teacher, your mentor, or your coach.
Personally, I had many significant wise teachers on my path – each of whom played a role in getting me where I needed to be.
TRIALS AND FAILURES – CHALLENGES AND TEMPTATIONS
It’s the beginning of the true battle. The fight between the Ego and our higher self. The fight between the light and the dark, the known and the unknown. Our true calling and our small self. We are offered the choice to stay and continue life as it is, or to embrace our calling, and to let ourselves fall. In the Franciscan spiritual teachings, it is called “a fall upward”. This phase can go for months or years. We meet more mentors, more helpers. We have full support yet resistance is so strong that we have to battle it with awareness and determination.
GROWTH OF NEW SKILLS
Despite some apparent stagnation in the trial and failure phase, challenges and temptations are the places of growth. We are learning new skills. We fall a lot but we rise too. We continue to fall, upward. And a question keeps coming up, louder and louder: “WHO AM I? WHO AM I? WHO AM I?”
“When you get your 'Who am I?' question right, all of your 'What should I do?' questions tend to take care of themselves.” ― Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
DEATH AND REBIRTH
This is when everything collapses. The beliefs we had, the way of seeing and feeling ourselves, and, the world around us shifts forever. It is the right of passage I talked about in a previous posts and podcast. It is painful, bloody, at all levels of our being: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
Very often if not always, a profound spiritual message and experience comes upon us. We are revealed part of the great mystery of life, of who we are, and we can see a glimpse of the divine architecture of the whole universe.
I have tried to describe here that moment for me. That death and rebirth happened over two months of my life in an incredible whirlpool of events. Yet I have left many details out as I feel they are part of my intimate core and not to be shared. What I do know is that everyone will be revealed that part inside him or her when they die and get reborn. It’s the revelation and changes mentioned in “The Hero’s Journey”.
This is probably one of the most beautiful parts of “The Hero’s Journey”. It is the reconciliation. We are finally aligning who we are with whom we were supposed to be. We are reconciling our physical and mental bodies with our spiritual body and soul. We have made peace with ourselves. It is a central teaching in all the spiritual traditions. Personally, it is when for me the duo “Prayer and meditation” became so powerful as I explained in a previous post and podcast, yet I wish I would have started it before in my life.
“Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holy of holies of Jewish time. It is that rarest of phenomena, a Jewish festival without food. Instead it is a day of fasting and prayer, introspection and self-judgment when, collectively and repeatedly, we confess our sins and pray to be written into God's Book of Life.” Jonathan Sacks “My humble prayer is that all men everywhere may understand more fully the significance of the atonement of the Savior of all mankind, who has given us the plan of salvation which will lead us into eternal life, where God and Christ dwell.” Harold B. Lee
As this stage of the journey we are humbly receiving a gift. A gift that will support our own healing but has the power to heal the world and those around us. It is time to come back from the unknown world, to come back and give.
THE REFUSAL TO RETURN
In many of the Hero’s journey tales it is described that often the Hero might not want to return but continues to hang out with the Gods and stay in the state of ecstasy.
"The full round, the norm of the monomyth, requires that the hero shall now begin the labor of bringing the runes of wisdom, the Golden Fleece, or his sleeping princess, back into the kingdom of humanity, where the boon may redound to the renewing of the community, the nation, the planet or the ten thousand worlds. But the responsibility has been frequently refused. Even Gautama Buddha, after his triumph, doubted whether the message of realization could be communicated, and saints are reported to have died while in the supernal ecstasy. Numerous indeed are the heroes fabled to have taken up residence forever in the blessed isle of the unaging Goddess of Immortal Being." Joseph Campbell
If we get out of this phase and return, the trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world. We have to become a master of the two worlds. Jesus and the Buddha transcendental Heroes. They are showing us a way to transcend ourselves yet to BE in the world. So for us, normal human being, we are called to achieve a balance between the spiritual and the material world. Infusing all that we do, say, create with the teachings we have brought back.
Welcome back to the world. You are reborn. You have been humbled to your knees. Your heart has cracked. You are filled with more Light, more compassion, more grace.
So are you ready to take Your Hero journey? I believe that all of us are ready to take the journey if we listen to our heart. Yet our head is going to fight very hard to keep us where we are today, often stuck in our limited beliefs, jailed by our shadows and conditions we don’t fully want to let go of.
In a healing session recently with a client, the spirit of the disease cancer came into the healing space with a message: “I will go away when you will see me, accept me, and understand what I came to teach you”. It might sound crazy to some of you, but I can assure you that it was very real. This message from “cancer” was to recognize that in the depth of the storm, of the pain, of the disease, behind the curtain of fear, there is support and grace, and it is always present if we can hear it and allow it to flow through us.
Next week we are starting A Men’s Circle, online and in NYC, for every man going through their Hero’s Journey. Anyone experiencing or coming out of difficult transitions in life, at work, etc. whatever the reason – we welcome all men to join (more info here). Because what we need the most is a tribe around us that understand and accepts what we are going through.
Lastly, my own “hero’s journey” was one that was supported by extraordinary teachers, mentors and a few true friends. Throughout my journey they have been present, there for me, and given me the right messages at the right time to support my growth. So, I want to finish this post by thanking all these great souls from the bottom of my heart. For all the help I received on my journey, my offering is providing a safe space for other men who need support and healing through the Men’s Circle. Wish us grace, wisdom and light as we journey together…
PS1: Interested in the men circle? More info HERE
PS2: Next Post; Taking a Journey: What I have learnt about shamanic journeying, tips for meditation and special access to a new shamanic drum meditation from The Sanctuary Healing Center.
See you next time or at one of our event & workshop here.