I vividly recall the morning I signed up for the Owaken breathwork facilitator training. I mean, how could I not. It was a bone-chilling night in the Kaimai Ranges, just out of Tauranga. One I hadn’t really been prepared for, so I was cocooned deep within my sleeping bag, tucked up in my rooftop tent, on that frosty Autumn morning. It was the morning of an immersive workshop that we had all camped out the night before in preparation of.
I’d decided to start the day with a cold swim in the river deep down in the surrounding native bush at the bottom of the valley. I had been warned the previous night to remain wary of a Taniwha guiding the sacred piece of water. In my haste to get in and get it done I completely forgot to tune in upon arriving and ask for permission to enter.
I was squatting down, stark naked, letting the current wash over me, trying my best to regulate my breath and soften into the icy cold torrent.
Just as I seemed to feel as if I’d reached some sort of zen-like equilibrium I felt a sudden violent pain on my left ass cheek. I launched myself toward the nearest boulder. As I twisted myself to get a better view I was met with a perfectly formed jaw mark on my glowing white toosh. The eels bite mark more or less tasting my entire cheek. It was a giant.
My initial bewilderment was met with hilarity, then soon turned to disappointment in myself that I had disrespected space by not asking his permission. My fine was literally paid out the ass to the local grandaddy Taniwha/eel. After briefly getting lost in my panic to return to camp I paraded my battle wound and asked for some sage advice as to what it all meant.
Earlier, the previous day, I’d made the drive from Napier to Tauranga, about 4 hours, and on the way received an email that a space had become available to join the Owaken training. As much as it excited me, the cost felt almost impossible. I’d already decided that that money would go toward travel later on in the year, and I figured if it were really meant for me surely it would happen anyway.
Upon arriving at the camp that day I’d told Chelita, a friend/mentor, that a space had become available. She had already been accepted and insisted that I apply too. “You’ll make it work, they will probably give you a scholarship” (I’m still convinced she only told me that so that I’d take the leap).
The workshop was by Chelita, and toward the end we did a group breathwork session. The eel from earlier that morning found its way into my subconscious. It showed me that the paths we take in life are not linear, it’s not “this or that ”, and that it is possible to blend two appearing opposite paths, and that from that space even more opportunity may present itself. That it was not either training or travel, black or white, and that one may actually feed the other. It showed me that even though it had found a home in a narrow river deep inland, that it too would make the pilgrimage across the world when necessary, and return again at a later date with more to offer. Then in what felt like some sort of spiritual awakening I felt his energy writhe up from deep down in my spine and felt a wash of energy up my body. It showed me that that bite was really a nip in the ass to take action. Needless to say, I took the leap. Applied that night, and had received my acceptance the next day.
“Each of us has a unique part to play in the healing of the world.” – Marianne Williamson
The training itself was nine very intense months. I’d never experienced anything like it. Each week we were given tools to dive deeper into parts of ourselves, taught to guide others safely, and operate as world-class facilitators. There were times when the training aggravated deep, dark, uncomfortable, aspects of myself. At times remaining there for days or even weeks. But in these times I always felt supported and was given guidance from both the Owaken team and fellow students as I learned to navigate the unfamiliar waters.
Throughout the training I had so many shifts. For a start, I never expected to feel comfortable enough to guide others through a session, which sounds ridiculous right? I mean, that’s literally why you sign up for facilitator training. But I had honestly convinced myself that I was doing this purely for personal development. I can thank Chelita once more for giving me the nudge into guiding my first session. That sparked something inside of me. I felt a deep sense of purpose and it showed. When my girlfriend arrived home she couldn’t believe the way I appeared to be lit up. That has now come to be known as the “breathwork glow”, and it leaves me feeling so aligned and fulfilled.
The training also helped me to rebuild the foundations in my life. It had been two years since I had any real structure around exercise. I’d tried to bring myself to a place of motivation, to commit to myself but never really quite made it, then, about three months into the training I joined a local gym, and now it’s been almost seven months of dedication towards being the best version of myself and with it an inspiring community. And probably most importantly I learned the importance of inspired action. Sure sometimes things flow to us, but often it is up to us to take action when that inspiration hits, and trust that it will work out.
For months I had talked about wanting to move towards a four-day week, but fear remained in the driver’s seat. During my training, I finally let go of one day of work a week giving me time to study and focus on things that are important to me. This brings me to another point. Money. My money story has shifted immensely. Not only did I find a way to feel safe in moving to four days a week, but I paid off the entire training in the first three months, and I did so with a smile on my face and a spring of excitement and gratitude for myself in each step.
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie
I feel there is no aspect of my life that has not felt the mystical, transformative caress of this journey, and I can happily say I felt supported and celebrated along the entire process.
I’ve also seen relationships in my life shift dramatically. Friendships have transformed through my own shifts in consciousness. Not to mention all the like-minded friends I made through the training, from all over the world. The relationships with my family have grown immensely too. I even had the honor of guiding my Dad through a journey during a challenging time in his life, with huge success.
About a year or so prior to signing up with the training I attended a mens breathwork session with Lukis and Jesse. Each of us in the group was asked to stand up and express an intention for the journey. As I made my way toward the front of the room, circling around the 40 or so other men, I felt the attention shift towards me. I am still gaining comfort speaking in front of crowds which was made more challenging by having no idea what to say once I got there. I closed my eyes, recentered, and with my lip quivering, and the warming chill of tears welling, I shared my deep desire to be able to help other men who were struggling in life.. Yesterday, as I was driving to work, I was reminded of this moment, and it brought so much joy to my heart to know that now I am able to offer such a powerful tool.
I’m incredibly grateful to Lukis, Helle and the Owaken team for offering their vast knowledge, and generous hours of dedication, supporting us through this powerful shift. My mind still boggles at the fact that I can get paid to offer such a powerful, transformative experience that I truly believe in.
To come full circle, much like my eel friend, on March 1st I will be visiting the UK and fulfilling my dream of visiting the pyramids of Egypt. Turns out the Taniwha was right all along.
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” – Carl Jung