~Written by Jaunie Federowicz~
Recently I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s college graduation celebration. His was not the traditional path; he dropped out of college in 1976 and returned to complete his degree decades later. His journey was filled with the stuff of living……… children, career, a second marriage and a desire to find his passion in life, and that included becoming a member of “the college club” as he put it. Lots of choices made.
A few days before his party he called me. Did I have a few moments? Was I alone? He had something he needed to tell me before the party. His voice was serious and I noticed how my entire being went into Phoenix Rising listening/presence mode. I wasn’t sure what I was going to hear, but I had the feeling that it would require me to hold space, certainly for him and perhaps for myself. During the next 30 minutes I heard about his past. A past he felt was filled with mistakes and one of which he wasn’t proud. Guests from his past would be at his graduation and he wanted me to know more about his history. As I listened an overwhelming feeling of gratitude came over me. My friend, who had never had a Phoenix Rising Yoga therapy session, but knew of my work, was in fact taking himself through an abbreviated phone session. I was grateful to hold space and provide witness to his words.
Graduation night came and I was present. All of his family, friends and those who had supported him during the past 4 years were there. Dinner began, and it was a time for toasts, congratulations, acknowledgements, and validation. Dessert came and more toasts followed, toasts that lauded my friend’s courage, authenticity, and unique ability to march to his own drummer and do what needed to be done in his life. Sure sounded like “inner wisdom” was talking and he had listened. All of his friends and family had met him where he was at over the years. They trusted that he had the capability and capacity to navigate his own life. My friend listened with smiles and a hint of tears in his eyes.
And then came the part that brought tears to my eyes. He stood up and began to speak. He spoke to the essence of what we practice, experience, teach and live in Phoenix Rising. He spoke about how he had lived a life that was not congruent from the inside out. He spoke about his fears, denial, projection and all of his shadow parts. He talked about becoming more and more aware, so aware that he had no choice but to embrace what was happening for him and in doing so he had to make wholesale changes in his life. He spoke to listening to his inner voice and reaching out for support when it was needed.
Everything about the evening seemed familiar, but I couldn’t quite place the feeling until I peered around at the group of people sitting at tables and looked at their faces. That was when it hit me, this was a Phoenix Rising circle! Everyone was holding space for my friend, providing witness and offering unconditional positive regard for his experiences. What I learned from that evening was that Phoenix Rising happens when presence is offered, space is held and one is met where they are at.