“There's an ocean inside my head
Waves that don't ever rest
This kind of beauty ain't ordinary
You look, but do you really see?
Won't you take your time on me?
‘Cause we got nowhere else to be.”
The last gift my daughters opened on Christmas morning was from my parents. Inside the box was a tropical beach towel and map of Hawaii. One girl began to cry tears of disbelief, and the other screamed with joy. From that moment, they began marking off the days until March 30, the day of departure.
The fact that the countdown to Hawaii coincided with my first Soul Shift journey was not lost on me. Yes, I was the person who developed all the content for the course; I knew every painful truth that would be shared and every positive habit shift that would be practiced, but I’d never gone through this process with a mighty team of companions.
Something told me the timing of this opportunity was divine.
Just as my daughters understood the magnitude of this special trip, so did I. My parents are on the verge of eighty; they are slowing down, and I can feel time slipping through my fingers. If I ever needed to show up for my life, it was now—for this once-in-a-lifetime trip.
More than any other time in my life, I desperately wanted to learn how to stop striving, hustling, thinking, planning, executing and just be ok with BEING. For it is the “being” part of life that makes for a memorable trip; it is also what makes for a memorable life.
I had high hopes. Perhaps the impossible shift I’d never quite been able to make would come through my team of soul shift companions.
Within three days of my soul shift family converging excitedly in our private space, I knew I’d learn as much from them as they would learn from me. With every struggle someone shared, there were multiple people who had been there and were willing to offer encouragement, guidance, and hope. Technically, I was the leader of the group, but refreshingly, I didn’t have to have all the answers. My soul shift family embraced me as a fellow participant, making space for me to learn and grow alongside them.
I quickly grabbed hold of a phrase introduced by one of the members:
Be Here Now
Those three commanding words instantaneously gathered me from a thousand different places and wrapped me in peace.
I paired the mantra with a 60-second meditation that provided instant relief from stress and anxiety. Using the sound of my breath and the willingness to let go of my thoughts, I was able to drift in the gap of nothingness.
I was met with a feeling of peace that I had never known.
Be here now quickly became my mantra; one-minute meditations became my lifelines. This practice slowed me down … filled me up … chilled me out … and gave me hope.
More often than not, my short meditations led to cathartic tears. At last, I was allowing myself to feel all that was going on inside of me.
I felt sadness for things I’d pushed away.
I felt vulnerable for damaging beliefs I needed to release.
I felt exhaustion for forging through feelings that needed acknowledged.
I felt tenderness for scars that had not healed.
Suddenly, a powerful revelation occurred to me: this is why I’ve been scared to stop … to rest … to be still. I was afraid to feel. But look! I am feeling it, and I am ok.
In fact, I was more than ok.
I soon found that stillness, accompanied by the sound of my breath, was greatly enlightening. The sound of my breathing opened the speakers of my heart.
My heart showed me red flags that I'd been missing or ignoring. It detected where I was being used and mislead. It knew which opportunities and relationships were not in my best interest. My heart revealed a more fulfilling path than the insatiable and shallow path the world often leads me toward.
Be Here Now
Those three words inspired a peaceful shift that had been impossible for so long, and now I knew why.
I’d been running from the stillness to avoid the feelings it would bring; but in actuality, the feelings that surface in the stillness are protective and helpful, guiding me to my truest and healthiest path.
The Soul Shift course ended on March 23, and the members made a special request that our private community stay intact. I understood; each of us had made individual progress, yet we felt stronger standing with each other. I, too, felt scared about leaving my soul shift brothers and sisters who’d helped me discover being and breathing.What would happen when I was faced with my most challenging territories and biggest triggers?
I would soon find out …
The momentous trip to Hawaii that my daughters had counted down was finally here. My most challenging place – the place BEING, not doing – for nine whole days, faced me.
I felt a noticeable difference after the nine-hour flight and the six-hour time difference. Oddly, I was not being controlling or harsh, rushing my daughters to get to bed to overcome the jet lag.
Instead, I relished the opportunity to sit at an outdoor café with my family on Waikiki Beach—who cares that it’s 2am our time? We’re on island time now! I chuckled to myself.
The jovial waiter began pouring water and asked, “Are you celebrating anything in particular?”
Without missing a beat, my 77-year-old mom raised her glass and said, “We’re celebrating life!”
I released a big exhale and said a prayer of gratitude:
“Be here now,
Thank you for preparing me to love & be loved.
The next morning Avery looked out the hotel window and said, “I’ve always wanted to swim out to Hawaiian rocks and sit and watch surfers. Will you sit with me?”
We donned our bathing suits and made our way to the massive rock wall. The bumpy rocks were mossy and slippery. Climbing them proved to be challenging.
As an extremely cautious child with a low tolerance to pain, Avery began to worry and express doubt. “I can’t do it,” she said defeatedly.
“Yes … yes you can,” I said with unexpected patience in my voice. “I will show you where to step. We can take it slow.”
It took twenty minutes of resting, considering, breathing, and encouraging, but she made it.
There we sat, happily watching the surfers and the giant crabs crawl upon the rocks. I noted a difference in myself. I was not antsy. I was not looking for something to pass the time. I did not say, “Ok, that’s enough.”
After one hour passed, Avery said, “Thank you for helping me be brave; I would have hated to miss this.”
“Be here now,
Thank you for preparing me to love & be loved.
Our family would soon get a chance to snorkel on the big island’s Kona Coast.
“Anyone new to snorkeling,” our guide asked. I raised my hand.
“The calmer you are, the easier it is to breathe,” the guide said as she showed me how to use the mouthpiece.
I stood on the massive rock wall nervously waiting for the wave to come up and carry me out, just as the guide instructed. The water was cold, deep, and choppy, and I felt panicked.
“The calmer you are, the easier it is,” my husband gently reminded me as he took my hand beneath the water.
After an hour of practice, I accepted my 14-year-old daughter’s invitation to swim out to the depths of the sea with the guide to possibly see some docile sharks and other sea creatures.
“Yes,” I said bravely reciting my mantra/prayer and focusing on my breath.
“Be here now,
Thank you for preparing me to love & be loved.
Natalie, my strong and capable swimmer, held my hand the entire time, pulling me forward and pointing with her finger at the amazing creatures she spotted.
Suddenly, the vast beauty of the underwater world and my daughter’s loving grip overwhelmed me with emotion. I blinked back tears knowing they may fog up my mask.
I felt exactly like Avery did when she said, “Thank you for helping me be brave. I am glad I didn’t miss this.”
One of our guides was especially open and personable. Erin shared a beautiful story of how she left everything behind in California three years ago to teach special education in Hawaii. She was unexpectedly taken under the wing of a native Hawaiian family who came to love her as their own and teach her about the Hawaiian culture.
Erin explained that the direct translation of “Aloha” from Hawaiian to English is “the presence of divine breath.” The Hawaiian word alo is presence, front and face, and ha is breath.
So when the patriarch of Erin’s Hawaiian family greeted her boyfriend, he used the traditional Hawaiian greeting that starts by sharing ha, or breath.
“The exchange of breath is done when two individuals press their foreheads and noses together while inhaling at the same time. This exchange is a significant part of Hawaiian culture. Hawaiians recognized that the breath is key to good health and believed it possesses mana or spiritual power.” (source)
When Erin told us how touched her boyfriend was by the sacred gesture, I became emotional. Her story beautifully affirmed what I was learning about breath in my own journey. My truest, healthiest path continued to be so clear.
On the final day of our trip, we were killing time before our flight and happened upon a farmer’s market. Beneath a tent was a vast collection of handmade ukuleles.
I heard my daughter Avery gasp.
I, too, could not believe my eyes.
On the very first day of vacation, Avery placed $20 of her savings next to a sleeping homeless woman on Waikiki Beach.
After walking away from the woman, she’d asked, “Was that the right thing to do, Mama?”
Avery is becoming more and more aware that the world often dissuades us from doing what we feel called to do—telling us when to give and when not to give … telling us how we can look better … how to be “successful” … and how to be happy. But the world does not know these things about us; our hearts do.
“I watched you sitting on the park bench quietly with Grandpa. I watched you just thinking and breathing,” I said. “Your heart told you to do for that woman, didn’t it?”
“Yes,” Avery said assuredly.
“It was the right thing to do because your heart is always right, Avery,” I said.
That’s when the most magnificent idea was born.
“I’m going to buy a ukulele and give it to a homeless person,” Avery declared. “On a piece of paper, I will write down exactly how to play a few chords. Then the person can play the instrument for happiness and also for money. The ukulele could give the person purpose. That would be better than money, don't you think?”
Avery and I’d spent the whole week searching for that ukulele. We’d nearly given up when we came across this tent at the farmer's market. This was no coincidence. Avery’s heart, her breath, and the spirit of Aloha had brought her here, exactly one week after she’d made that beautiful declaration.
Inside the tent was the kindest man who taught Avery how to play, so she could teach someone else how to play.
When the man handed her a piece of paper showing exactly how to play chords, Avery looked at me in disbelief.
Everything she needed to bless a life was right here. I couldn’t help but give thanks for this moment.
“Be here now,
Thank you for preparing my child to love & be loved.
My friends, let us not run from the stillness.
Let us not avoid feelings that make us cry, ask important questions, and help us see things in new ways.
When we run from the stillness, we lose touch with our breath, our hearts. That is how we get off course … go unfulfilled … and miss our chance to be a blessing.
When we sit with ourselves, we are gathered from a thousand different directions and wrapped in a place of peace.
Try it. It may surprise you.
Be here now.
Breathe here now.
Time is precious.
And there's so much life to celebrate.
*register now for Soul Shift beginning 4/23. Use promo code: BEHERENOW. This will be the last offering in 2018.
Dear friends of the Hands Free Revolution, I had not planned to launch a session of Soul Shift so soon after the initial launch, but the results were so profound that I wanted to offer it once more in 2018 and do it before summer. I can’t help but believe this 8-week experience will help many families find the freedom, peace, connection, healing, and acceptance that could lead to a memorable and meaningful summer and beyond. Use the promo code: BEHERENOW to enjoy $20 off registration. This will be the last offering of Soul Shift in 2018, so I encourage you to consider joining me and a beautiful community of people who have signed up to experience transformations like these:
“Soul Shift helped keep me grounded and still does. It is a wonderful journey of the soul filled with such grace, blessings, tears, and love from hundreds of strangers all there to support you in your struggles, your triumphs, and your moments of soul shifting. I never knew a community of people could come together like that. Friendships across oceans have been made all in the common bond of love for one another.” -C.S.
“If anyone is teetering on whether you ‘should' or ‘should not' sign up – believe me it is life-changing – very beneficial for a grandparent too (like me). There are no tests – no judgements – use the tools at your own pace. “ –R.C.
“Thank you, Rachel Macy Stafford, for teaching me to be present, for helping me understand the importance of self worth, for encouraging me to banish perfection, and for reminding me to kick that inner bully to the curb. I need these lessons, and I hope to share this wisdom with my daughters too.”–C.C
“Rachel Macy Stafford, you give us hope. Thank you for sharing your story. Seeing you now it's hard to believe you came from a place of self-criticism and harsh criticism of your loved ones. Knowing you came out of that gives me hope that I can too.”-L.S.
“Thank you, Rachel Macy Stafford. This course has been life changing in many ways. I feel the shift happening slowly and see it in my loved ones eyes.”–A.B.
“Dear Rachel, I wake up this morning feeling excited and joyful. I have struggled with depression and anxiety since I was a child. Like all of us, I have experienced many trials, hurts, and disappointments, and over the years, I’ve pondered how I can heal. But by going through this Soul Shift process, I’ve felt more peace and soul shifting than ever before. Through these exercises, I finally see and acknowledge which beliefs I can release with love, as I can clearly see that they are no longer true for me or serve my authentic self. I see now how my perception of time and perfection have been the primary thief of my peace and joy for decades. In just a few weeks, my family and I are reaping the benefits of this course and I will always be eternally grateful for this experience.”–S.S.
My friends of The Hands Free Revolution, I hope you'll accept my invitation to take the opportunity to make real changes in your life. Registration for Soul Shift closes in one week. The course begins on April 23rd but can be navigated on your own time, at your own pace, and you have lifetime access to the course content. Thank you for the love and support you give my family & me. We cherish you. Aloha!