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Navigating a Mindful Path Through Chaos - with Marlena deCarion, PCC: Part 2

October 30, 2020

Navigating a Mindful Path Through Chaos - with Marlena deCarion, PCC: Part 2
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Marlena and I explored the freedom of letting go of control in Part 1 of our conversation. In part 2 we look at what we actually DO have control over, and how to direct it wisely.

  • boundaries: why they're an essential aspect of well being, and how to become masterful at setting clear, loving, unwavering ones

  • cultivating our empowered adult so the younger parts of self stop dictating our choices and actions

  • identity vs. autonomy: breaking the agreements with who we’ve been taught to be and becoming who we authentically are

  • using mindfulness to navigate a clear course through fear and anxiety

Marlena also shares her thoughts on what we're really doing here, and my favourite part of the interview, what’s one thing, if we truly understood it, that would most help us navigate the crises we're currently facing.

Listen to Part 1 of our conversation here:
Navigating a Mindful Path Through Chaos - with Marlena deCarion, PCC: Part 1

Today’s guest:
Marlena deCarion, PCC is a Professional Certified Coach with The International Coach Federation and is Senior Faculty at The Coaches Training Institute. She coaches entrepreneurs, executives, leaders and teams who want to take their lives to the next level of growth and development.

Marlena deCarion Website

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The story that launched the ethos:


Marlena: There's a lot to be afraid of that, that all this isn't going to come together for us, or something's going to go South. So if we can't get away from it, then why not get to know it to know this experience? That's part of who I am. Not a mistake, not a problem. Not an accident, not something's wrong with you. You're more afraid than the next guy. I mean, I've coached people for 20 years and everybody has their bucket of fear. 

Liz: Hey, Hey, so glad you're here. This is Tracking Yes and you are exactly where you're meant to be. I'm your host, Liz Wiltzen, coach, creator and round the clock philosopher. And this my friends is where the magic happens.  

Join me and my guests for stories that will inspire you to dial up your curiosity, fine tune your courage and wisdom and create an empowered relationship with whatever's happening now.

In part two of my conversation with mindfulness teacher and leadership coach Marlena deCarion, we talk about how to ensure we are living lives of agency and freedom by putting our adult self in charge of our choices. We explore how to set clear loving unwavering boundaries, and we get into why it's essential to break the agreements of identity we've been indoctrinated into so that we can be more fully who we are.

Marlena also shares how to be with fear, what she believes the essence of a spiritual path is, and what's the one thing, if we really understood it would most help us navigate the crises we're currently facing.

Okay. So I was talking with some friends yesterday about we're really looking at responsibility for impact and when people are causing harm in the world, how do we address that? And on the topic of control, because there's only a certain extent to which we can control the harmful behavior of other people.

And we think the more harmful that behavior is the more essential it is for us to control their behavior. But. We're leaving this realm of understanding you're limited there, right? Like for example, my friends were saying, what about intervention? And because I'm a recovering alcoholic, they're asking, what do you think about intervention?

And I don't want to open a whole can of worms around that, but to a degree, I think I would not have wanted anybody to intervene on behalf of my alcoholic parents, the abusive situation my mother was in, on my alcoholism because they were part of me becoming who I became, I personally feel and this is for everyone else to decide, I'm not suggesting this is true across the board for everybody, but for me, those experiences were essential. In my path here and meet, becoming who I became. 

So I think that there is a bigger conversation about trying to control other human beings that is  not our business. We're over there trying to take care of something when we're not over here taking care of what is our business. So the question that I want to ask you about is boundaries, because you taught me something really important about boundaries in our coaching together that changed everything for me. Because we have a, a misconception, I think of what boundaries are, and you taught me the difference between a false boundary and an open hearted wise boundary. So I'd love you to speak, to speak about that. 

Marlena: Hmm. It's a big topic. I'm not an expert on boundaries at all. And, and yet I've done some work in this area.

it's my understanding that I'm boundary is when you let someone know what you will do around a certain behavior. So Liz, if you come over to my house without texting or calling or whatever, let's just say you were a neighbor and you kept doing that. You just kept coming over and knocking on my door.

You didn't give me any warning. I'm just making up a scenario. And you did that five times or 10 times. A boundary is saying, if you come over without warning and knock on my door in the middle of my Workday, I'm not going to answer the door. That's a boundary. This is what I'm going to do when you do X, rather than this is what you should do.

It's not asking you to stop coming over. It's not trying to control you. It's not trying to get you to be different. It's just saying, this is how I'm going to take care of myself in this situation. That's what I have a boundary around. 

Liz: And that's, that is the key distinction. It's not about. What I'm going to tell you, you need to do or not do it's about what I'm going to do in response.

That is such a key distinction, because I think people think, first of all, at work, we're lousy at boundaries. And I think because we live in a culture that doesn't teach us how to set them and how to hold them. And so we mostly won't do them because they're conflict, ah, avoid the conflict. But then when we say, okay, enough of this, I'm going to take a stand for what's true for me. We say, "you need to stop doing this", or even "I need you to stop doing this". And let's just say, the person is, they don't want to change. Like they're, they're quite happy doing what they're doing. And so they don't stop doing it. I mean, sometimes someone will want to work with you and they will want to honor your boundary and that's awesome. 

But if they don't and you think them changing. Is what means your boundary gets to get honored, then you're going to feel entirely powerless. 

Marlena: That's right, because we can't control the other person from doing that. I can get that person to stop walking over and knocking on my door. I could try, I could say don't do that, but what do I go over and put a lock on her door so she can't leave her house.

I mean, I can't make somebody stop doing something. I can't control the other person. I've tried my whole life. I still try. I still try to control the people around me all the time.  I try to like say it to my partner in a certain way that I think he's going to stop doing that thing. Do you know what I mean?

It's like sure. You know, like, yeah. And I tell myself all the time have at it Marlena. It's not working, but still keep trying. But really in the end, I just am frustrated. Who's the one who's disappointed? Me because he keeps doing the darn thing. I'm the one who's going to suffer.

So how do I take care of myself? Okay. He does that. I do this in response. That's what I can take care of. 

Liz: So the, I remember the, the place where you really taught me, this was, I had a roommate who was problematic. Let's say he was problematic. He, I think he maybe had OCD, but he was doing some things that were making me crazy.

Like he was doing laundry twice a day, seven days a week. And he would come down with a pile of dry jeans in the morning and put them in the dryer for an hour. And he would use a whole roll of paper towel a day in the kitchen because he didn't want to pick up a dish cloth, but he wouldn't buy any paper towel.

So there were just things that were happening. And I was trying to reason with him and, you know, can we have a middle ground? Could you buy the paper towel if you want to use that much? And he kept saying I was a bully and I was dominating him in, why couldn't I just let him live the way that he wanted to live.

And I just remember, I kept trying to be, how can I have a conversation with him where I'm not triggering him to think that I'm a bully? Like how can I be evolved enough of a person that I can have a mature dialogue with him and what you eventually helped me see was he doesn't care. He's not interested in having a mature dialogue with you.

He's not interested in changing his behavior. He's not interested in doing anything different. So you're trying so hard to get to the place where you guys can have this mature discussion. You keep trying to get him to not cross that boundary and he's going to keep crossing it. And, but, but I think the most important thing I felt there was when we think the goal is to get somebody else to act differently we're thinking that there is something that's under attack that we need to defend or protect. And in order to do it, we've got to control that person. And in order to control them, we have to close our heart to them. We have to cease seeing them as someone whose point of view or perspective or worldview matters as much as ours.

They become the enemy that is the threat to what we want, or to our wellbeing. And the only way that makes sense that they are not the enemy anymore is when they stop threatening what's important to us, but it's such a distorted perception because they're just doing what they're doing. 

Marlena: Yeah. 

Liz: Like, it's not about protecting something as much as it's about taking responsibility for it, which is a very different thing and when you hold it that way you stand in an unwavering place in your boundary rather than a fearful powerless controlling place. 

Marlena: Yeah, that's right. 

Liz: So yeah, what I read, I really learned in that experience is that an open-hearted boundary looks like. You're welcome to continue to behave in this way, but it's crossing a boundary of mine.

So you need to go. Like, for me, the boundary with him was with the bullying and the arguing. I grew up in a violent home and now my home had aggression and bullying. It was not a peaceful home and that was a boundary, but I wasn't clear, I was believing that the way to have a peaceful home was to control him.

And what I came to understand was if I want a peaceful home, I have to create it. And I don't do that by getting him to act the way that looks peaceful to me, I act the way that looks peaceful to me. Which means in this situation, I need to kick his ass out.  I need to be clear with him. You're not welcome to live here anymore. You need to leave.

And, and as soon as I did, I could carry on, like he could be OCD or whatever's going on for him, for the rest of his life. It's fine. I don't need you to change. My heart is open to you as a human being. I'm not trying to control you and change you. So 

Marlena: Well you're speaking to what you had asked earlier about what you might be, I think what we had discussed, which is like closing the heart is the false boundary, because I can't get you to change. It's too painful. What's going on? So I'll close my heart, push you away, separate as a way to have some space from this difficulty and I'll close my heart to the pain of the helplessness or the lack of, I can't control this person.

I'm uncomfortable. So I'll close my heart as a way to defend or protect. And that can feel like, okay, I've got this boundary. I'm not going to open my heart to you. And that's fine. Sometimes we do that, right. That's just where we're at. That's just what happens. And another way that you're pointing to is by saying, okay, let's say this person never, ever changes because often people don't, I'm not saying they can't, but this is the question I ask myself all the time.

"If this person is going to continue being who they are and they're not going to change, what do I need to do to take care of myself?" So that might be okay. I'm going to charge a hundred dollars more a month for the dryer bill and $50 more a month for the paper towel though. That's what I'm going to do to take care of me, to deal with, or to like, respond to what you have going on.

And if this behavior continues and we can't get along, and if this continues like this and this I'm going to look for a new roommate or I'm going to need to live alone, or I'm going to like, need to ask you to go or, you know, like where you eventually got that that was the right response for you. 

Liz: Yeah. And, and I think the primary reasons that we don't do that are, and I think there's more than one: there's something we're getting from that relationship that we don't want to give up. So I want to keep what I'm getting like him paying me rent, or if you're in an abusive marriage, I want to be married. To this person, but I actually want to be married to the person I originally married, who wasn't hitting me.

That's what I want. But we, but I want the comfort. I want the security of, you know, a partner who's helping me pay the bills is one example. I'm just giving different examples of there's something that we're invested in that we don't want to give up. And so we think if I get the other person to change, I will get to have this. 

So that's part of it. I also think it's because we want to avoid conflict. Like we want to be the good person, the nice person. We don't want to be seen as creating problems or so there's an identity that we don't want to give up or, I mean, we get really squirrely around conflict. Like for me personally, I am scared of conflict.

I don't like it. I don't want anyone to be angry at me. Ever. If never is the way that I could arrange it, that would be perfect. So, you know, I have this idea that if I, if I enter into setting a boundary, it's going to create conflict and I'm going to tell someone something that they don't want to hear, and that's just not going to go well.

Marlena: Yeah.

Liz: And, and then there's also: if I ask this person, like, if a boundary is an invitation, not a demand, which is what you're saying. If I ask this person and they don't change, I'm going to have to change. So I think those are all, 

Marlena: Yeah. Beautifully said, like, I think that absolutely those three things, absolutely those three things. We, we want something or need something from the other that we're not ready or willing to give up yet. I'm not ready or willing to risk, not having that monthly check or having whatever it is.

So until we get to the place where we're willing to give up that thing or get it from somewhere else, get a new roommate where they're going to, you know what I mean? Like we have to kind of cross that threshold, right. 

Liz: Yeah. 

Marlena: And that identity could be, I don't want to be perceived inside the situation a certain way, or I don't want to be perceived out there in the world as someone who doesn't get along with my roommate, or we might have a bigger self image of who we are.

I'm someone who doesn't have conflict in their, in their life. Oh oh look at me, I'm in a relationship where there's conflict and then that we have to change. That I have to adjust and figure something out. Right. And that I have to take care of myself.

You know what my friend says, she calls it adulting. I have to become an  adult.  Children are when we're kids, we're dependent on the environment. We're dependent on our caregivers to be a certain way for us to be okay. The move to adulthood is I'm not dependent on other people being a certain way. I take care of myself. Given how other people are. 

That's a big move right from, I'm at the effect of my world and I need other people to be different in order for me to be safe and okay to I'm the one who takes care of me in my world, given the circumstances I'm in, how people are, how my bosses, how my roommate is or whatever.

And I'm the one who decides how I'm going to be okay. What I'm going to do to take care of myself, what I need. That's more of a maturation process, right. To having our own creativity, our own agency, our own responsiveness. We might call it from reactive to creative in different adult development models.

It's like we go into, you know, having more autonomy, more agency, more influence. 

Liz: Yeah. And, and the other aspect of what you're saying there, but the, the maturing and the adulting is I think what I've seen in years of coaching and in my own experience with myself, we have these younger aspects of self.

And if they're not getting what they need from us then that's, who's out in the world operating and making the choices, because they're trying to get it from the world. 

In some of my training, a model that I learned that I find is really helpful is we have two younger parts of self that are primarily responsible for hijacking the show when we're triggered.

So we have a child in us and we have an adolescent and they have two aspects of their nature. One is the free child and adolescent, and the other is the wounded child and adolescent. And each one of them is looking at the world through their specific lens. 

So the child is looking at the world through the lens of, am I safe? Am I loved? And am I getting what I need? And if that aspect of self feels not safe or not loved, or like they're not getting what they need, it activates the traumatized part of them. And then they look to get that out in the world. 

And the adolescent is looking through the lens of, Am I doing enough? And am I good enough?

And if they feel in a place of enoughness, they're fine. But if they feel like I'm not doing enough or I'm not good enough, again, they're going to start performing or seeking it from the world. And it's really helpful to, if we learn how to be there for that aspect of self, to let the child know you're safe, I've got you. You're loved. And I'm going to take care of making sure that you have what you need. 

And if we let the adolescent know. You are enough. There's nothing that you have to do for that to be true. And if we have enough of an adult in us to do it in a way where they trust us and they believe it, then they relax and they're free to be who they really are.

And in the case of the child, that is the part of us that is in a place of innocence and curiosity and wonder and playfulness. And for the adolescent, it's the part of us that is idealistic and bold and audacious and takes risks and pushes the edge. It's the aspect of self that's deeply passionate and challenges, authority, and is committed to finding their own way forward.

And these are incredible qualities, aspects of us that aren't are adult. They're qualities of these younger parts of our self that inform the wholeness of who we are. And so part of being an adult is giving those younger parts of yourself, what they need. You being the adult, who can give it to them so that then they relax and they're integrated and you, the adult go out in the world and make the choices for your well-being.

Exactly what you're saying. I love what you said. It's like if, if boundaries, I really want to hammer home boundaries because I think it's such a tricky thing for people. Right. But boundaries are how we behave as responsible for our experience in the world, rather than thinking, I need to change the world for me to be okay in the world. 

Because the problem with that is that it doesn't work. You have a very limited degree to which you can actually change the agenda of other people. 

Marlena: Yeah. Or your environment. I was living in a place recently where it was quiet and peaceful and I was in the woods and you know, this and that. And one day they came along and, you know, chainsaw the old trees. I can't control that. Or they started spraying something for the bugs that was toxic.

It's like, there's just always something right. That no matter how much we try to arrange our life to be perfect there's so many things we just can't always be influencing. And so I have a particular view about young parts of us that you were talking about and, and the reparenting process that I call re parenting.

There's these young parts of ourselves that have needs and wants. And if there isn't a healthy parent to help them figure it out they're just running the show. So we show up at work and, you know, we might be acting from a part of ourselves that's, I don't mean immature in a bad way, but just, just younger, let's say I'm competing for a position or something.

And I'm like, feeling like I'm 12 or 15, or, you know, just like a young part of us, that's trying to get a need met. And my sense is that it's like, there's several ways that the maturing process can happen. And one is by getting in touch with the healthy adult in us. And if that's not really available growing it and cultivating it so that our adult can parent the young part inside of us, turn towards ourselves with loving kindness, with attention, with maturity, with compassion and work with those young aspects of ourselves. Like you were just saying. 

The other way that we can do that is by working with other professionals, coaches, therapists, spiritual teachers, who can be a stand in. For the healthy parent that maybe we didn't have start to model for us and help us make those decisions and help us help guide us because we might not have the healthy discernment inside ourselves to know what to do.

So we work with professionals who can help us grow up and make decisions. And then we can also lean into our community, lean into family, lean into friends, lean into other people who can, like, I feel like it's, it's a multi-tiered, it's not just, we have to do it all. We have to do the inner work, but we can also have help from the outside.

And it's kind of like a both/and. And until we grow that adult inside us to be wise enough, strong enough, clear enough we may need some help from the outside. 

Liz: Yeah. Well, you're pointing to something which is so important here, which is community because becoming this adult, this mature, responsible self responsible adult does not mean independent.

It means collaborative and co-creative. And so you're becoming an adult so that you're not trying to draw from the community to have your needs met, but so that you can receive from the community and contribute to the community in equal measure, because you're an adult, you're not looking to the community to fix something or fill something for you. 

So I love what you're saying about even when you brought in like, just friends and like, how do we create a network around us of people we trust, of people who we can seek counsel with when we're having a hard time or just sit with when we're having a hard time, because community is essential.

And it's such an important distinction to say, we're not saying being an adult means you're an Island or an independent entity in the world. You're actually more able to co-create and collaborate and participate and engage when you're in your adult. When you're not being hijacked by the unmet needs of a younger part of yourself.

Marlena: Sure, sure. I use the word interdependent, just like you're using the word collaborative and so I have my own sense of self, but I'm part of a whole, that's also, what can happen is you start to see that I, I need other people I need to rely and other people need me. 

And yet we do become more autonomous, meaning autonomous from maybe my family beliefs and history, so that I can make my own decisions about where I want to live or who I want to marry or my religious beliefs, that's a sign of autonomy. That I can decide for myself what feels right and true for me. And that's a beautiful dimension of, of growing up is that I don't have to be told what to think or believe or feel I have the option.

And I may choose to believe what my parents believed or my community, I may choose that path, but I can also choose something else. And I think that's what so much of the coaching path is. And when I read about your commitment to, yes, it's like following one's own authenticity, one's own genuine values and vision.

And you know, that's what coaching does a lot is. Help people become more autonomous. Meaning what's your true life? What's your authentic life? What's your service in the world? What are your values? Not what everyone else is telling you, you should be, but who you really are. What's going to have you feel fulfilled or happy or on purpose?

And that's a pretty big excavation process. It's a huge life-long process to be live true to oneself. That's not just like a flip of a switch, you know, that's something that, you know, as a coach, right? 

Liz: Well, so you're, you're calling it autonomy. The word I'm currently working with around it is sovereignty. Which is exactly what you're describing that to me is sovereignty. And I love that you're saying that it's this excavation, because you've also taught us that identity is something that has been taught to us and conditioned into us. 

Even like your gender, like, okay, you were born female. And that meanhere's what's available to you in the world. Here's how you have to act in the world. here's what should matter to you, here's who you should be attracted to. And here's what you should do when you grow up and, or, or like our age. Okay. You're born on this day. So every year on this day, that now makes you this age and then we're so identified with "Oh my God, I'm going to be 60 I'm 60 years old." But if no one ever told us that, that meant anything, it would be a totally different ball game. 

And so you've got to break out of that agreement. And it's really scary to break out of that agreement because you're anchored into who you are here in the world by those agreements.

So every time you challenge one of them and say, I don't know if I agree, everything changes. Not just your decision about yourself, but your whole orientation and relationship with everything changes when you choose to no longer agree. This is who I'm meant to be, or this is what I must believe. So it is excavation and it is, I, I keep saying this because this is my current rant in the world, but I, I really think what's needed for us right now is sovereignty. Like everyone starting to get clear, get off the bandwagons, get off the tribe culture, get off the, you know, I'm on the left. I'm on the right, I'm on the, whatever. Like who, what are you you personally a stand for? And why? Like, if we all just started to ask that, well, I'm a stand for this cause all my community is or all my friends are.

That's, nope, you're not, haven't gone deep enough yet. 

Marlena: Yeah, because back to the wiring of our sort of brain and nervous system, we're also deeply wired for social connection. The evolution of the cortex is, is going out of reptilian. Meaning I'm just completely a reptile. I'm not, I don't take care of my young. Mammals are wired to take care of their young and, and breed together and partner and be in community.

And that's also part of our animal nature. So as humans, we want to belong and need to belong to survive, and we're wired to belong and too much isolation, you know, they've done studies and we know like too much isolation babies don't survive. People don't survive. It's different if you choose isolation like a monk going off into the woods.

But I'm saying if you're, if you're like shunned out, if you can't get that, so you're speaking to the challenge. If I am going to keep challenging. My tribal identity, my whatnot. We're going to have to keep crossing that, that border of the part of us that's terrified. I won't belong. 

Am I going to be okay? Can I still belong? Where can I belong? How can I, can I be autonomous and still be here and be, be all right. And what does that mean? And if I do let go of that identity, then where do I land? 

And that's really so much of the spiritual path. I mean, the spiritual path is really about how autonomous one can become. How much autonomy someone can tolerate. Because spirituality is letting go of all your identities eventually, right?

Like identity after identity, after identity, because the more we fixate on identity, usually the more suffering there is. Because I've got to do all this stuff to uphold the identity and be this person and do this is tremendous pressure. And when you're on the enlightenment track, you want to free up as much shoulds and have to's and pressures and be as clear and free as you can be.

So that means letting go of all these concepts of who I'm supposed to be. And that means more and more and more autonomy. And can you, can you allow that much autonomy? That much freedom and still function and still have relationships and still connect. 

Liz: Wow. That is like the best description I have ever heard of the spiritual path. Amazing. 

I do have a couple of closing questions. I could close on that, but I have a couple of closing questions. Can I just ask you and then we'll see if they come in or not. Okay, I'm going to give you all three and then I'm going to get you to tell me which ones you would like to answer. Okay. 

Why do you think we're here or you're here living in a human body on planet earth?

Marlena: Hahaha, these small questions.

I know they're all big questions. I'm just going to give them all to you guys going for it. So, so first of all, so why do you think we're here or you're here living in a human body on planet earth. 

Marlena: Oh, you're not going to give me choice? I have to answer all of them? Oh Lord. 

Why are we here? Why are we here in a human body?

On planet earth? Like, say more about the question, like why, why are the humans, like, why, why am I here? Like what, yeah. 

Liz: What's the point? So for you in your exploration, cause I'm sure you've asked this some version of this. Why do you think you're here? What is the point? 

Marlena: I think I'm going to go with the latter.

What's the point? I think. Why am I here? I mean, that's a bigger question that scientists and spiritual people have ideas about, biologically, big bang and the evolution of human beings and know, you know what I mean? Just like, why do we, why do we exist? I mean, that's quite fascinating.

Why do we exist? And you can look at that from a spiritual perspective or religious perspective, scientific perspective. I think for me, I would land somewhere in the, fascination of evolution of life on the planet. That we evolved as a species and here we are as humans. Wow. Wow. And that we have these capacities in this functioning and that we live on this planet that has resources.

And it's just fascinating. If you look at other planets, that's not what's happening, but this planet that is like, Whoa, what a trip. And then what's the point of it. It's like, I think the point could be nothing is the point. The point is that we evolved and here it is. The point is that we're living and existing and we're on this planet and we're seeing what happens when we use the planet this way or that way. 

And, and that's just, it's kind of like, matter of fact. It's just, it just is, it's just here we are. There is no, I mean, you could just say there is no point. The point is to live. The point, is that we're living. And there is no point. You know, like what's the point of a tree?

The tree is just being a tree. There's no point, right. 


Liz: Such a good answer. 

Marlena: So there's that, and then there's another like, right,  that's not where I stop. But if you are going to make a point out of it, because we get to make a point. If you want to have a point, you don't have to, but let's say you want to, and everybody's making their points right about why we're here.

So if I was going to make a point it would be. Hm. Okay. So we're here and we have all these capacities and faculties and we're these human beings and we have these we're living on this planet, so, Hm. Like how can I make the most of it? How could I make the most of my potential? How can we as a species, make the most of our potential?

How could we make the most of our capacity to connect and love and share and the beauty and the richness and the joy and the pleasure. How could we make the most of being with the hardship and the difficulty and the challenge and the tragedy? How do we do the best we can to make the most of all of the richness of life?

And that doesn't mean we have to do something, but it does mean that the more awake and aware and present and open and available we are, the more we can experience and the more we can have the totality of our experience. Fully and completely. Like, why not, why not go for it and have it all, like, why not be here totally and fully for the whole celebration and the whole catastrophe.

Liz: Oh, it's so good. What you're saying is the point is to not miss it and you just perfectly described the whole ethos of Trackingyes. , So check. 

Marlena: I love that. Yeah. 

Liz: Yeah. okay. We have an epidemic of anxiety and fear in our culture. And so how can mindfulness help us navigate these energies? 

Marlena: Yeah. Well, mindfulness has been used since the time of the Buddha to work with fear and anxiety.

That's what the Buddha did worked with his own fear and anxiety. If we take him, you know, the Buddha himself or the archetype of a person called the Buddha. So it's not new, it's not new in the human experience. we talked about some of the reasons that, right. We have fear because we, some part of us knows we're vulnerable and we could die.

And whatever that condition is, we could die from a natural disaster, we could die from an illness or disease, we could die from being terrorized, depressed from another culture or from another race. We know that in our system, I think somewhere in our bodies, we know that we're vulnerable. 

So that's scary. It's scary to what we talked about before and not have control over everything. So fear is part of our human experience and what if that was okay? What if that was natural? That knowing that I can die as scary and not being in control of that breeds fear. Okay. Right on welcome to human experience. 101.

I don't mean that in a, you know, I just mean absolutely. And no one's exempt. No one gets off. No one has a free ticket. No one doesn't not die. So here we are all together afraid. 

And then we're afraid, you know, socially of not being accepted of not being valued, if not being seen of not belonging. Okay. We all have that in common. Yep. For sure. 

We're all afraid that we, you know, on the survival level, we won't have enough to get through the day. And so, and some of us are afraid we won't live our potential. We won't maximize our gifts. We won't live out our destiny or have any kind of impact. 

And afraid we won't be deeply loved this life. We won't love and be deeply loved by at least one other person. We so long for that. We still want that one person to know us fully as we are warts and all and love us. 

So there's a lot to be afraid of that, that all this isn't going to come together for us, or something's going to go South. 

So I feel like getting to know our fear, the particulars of our fear is helpful to know what triggers us into fear, that's super helpful. And to get to know fear itself, the universal experience of fear, and it's different for each person, let's say, but there's some kind of commonality of it. I don't want to say all people are afraid, so we should all know each other's experiences maybe, but there's some common elements to fear.

And so if that's how it is, well, then that can be helpful to get to know it, to get to know this experience that's part of who I am. Not a mistake, not a problem, not an accident, not something's wrong with you, you're more afraid than the next guy. I mean, I've coached people for 20 years and everybody has their bucket of fear around whatever it is.

So if we can't get away from it and it's not a mistake, then why not get to know it? And sometimes fear is an, ally it's telling us danger warning. Don't be afraid of this thing. Don't go over there. Don't do that thing. Don't hang out with that person. Don't eat that food. Don't drive your car.

It's telling us, it's a signal to keep us alive. So yay. 

Anxiety in my understanding is usually being anxious about another emotion. Like anxiety itself is not really an emotion. It's anxiety about feeling afraid. It's anxiety when anger comes up, when sadness comes up, when a sexual impulse comes up. The core feelings that we have as humans, we get anxious about. We get anxious about our feelings. 

So I start to become afraid. And if I can't be with the fear, then I get anxious about the fear. If I get angry and I'm not supposed to be angry, I get anxious that I'm feeling angry. And then we're so involved in the anxiety and treating the anxiety and working with the anxiety we miss that the anxiety is signaling there's something else here that's trying to be felt or want to be felt. 

But we need to work with calming the anxiety enough that we could work with the core feelings. 

Liz: Yeah. And I think that comes back to the support that you said: to be with feelings that we have an aversion to, it's good to have company. 

Marlena: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. If we can't go into our mind, our heart in an exploration or being with, I think I've said this to you before, like it's, it's, it's kind of my rule of thumb. I'm not saying I do it all the time. It's, it's a, it's a guide. If I can't be turned towards my experience in some kind of exploration inquiry meditation with kindness or openness, then I really shouldn't be, I have no business going there

Liz: That's so good. 

Marlena: Yeah. If I go there with some kind of judgment criticism, condemnation, it's not helpful. So I either go open and kind, and if I can't do that on my own, then why not get help? Why not have somebody else who's kind and available and open to help me so that I can do that work.

Liz: Yeah. Yeah. That's great. Okay. Final question. 

What is one thing, if we truly understood it, that would most help us navigate the crises we're currently facing?

Marlena: Hooo. I liked the first part of the question. And then when you put the second part out, it's like, wow. Oh, wow.

It's kind of like two parts. So the first part is like what if we knew? I mean, if we really knew that let's circle back to the beginning of the pod past, you know, if we really knew that our, our basic nature was goodness, and we really knew and believed, and without a doubt knew who we really are, that our basic goodness was love and light and care and compassion and spaciousness like that really is who we are, but it's clouded and obscured. We're not in touch with it. We're just not in touch with our basic nature. 

Then, you know, anything and everything could be different in our lives.

How we respond, how we show up, how we treat ourselves and how we treat other people. If we knew that we were interdependent and connected to everything, if we really knew that in our being and having a felt experience of that, as that has come more and more into my everyday experience, it's harder and harder to harm myself or anyone else.

It just becomes harder to hurt anyone when you feel connected to everything. 

Liz: Yeah. 

Marlena: It doesn't make sense anymore. It doesn't make sense, you know, to harm oneself or harm someone else. It doesn't apply. And so then we could live very differently together. So if we take that to the second question, then yeah, the world would look really different right now.

I mean, hugely different and it would have maybe look different, you know, pre slavery, pre every, I mean, pre pre pre. Pre-thinking that anyone can own anyone or, or have domination over anyone. So there's that. 

And if we, if we aren't in a place of knowing who we are and our nature, and we're caught, then what I've been teaching so much lately is do your best to find some ground. You don't have to feel like you're light and love and all that stuff, but like, Can you get some ground underneath you?

Can you feel your feet on the ground? Can you feel the sky above? Can you find a center and can you take care of yourself, such that you can be some, some kind of, I love that podcayou turned me on to years ago. Meg Wheatley. Can you be an Island of sanity in the midst of the chaos, whatever that looks like with your particular faith, with your life circumstances, can you become an Island of sanity in your life, even if you're not involved in helping anyone else, just yourself and an islands of sanity are a really good thing right now.

Liz: Yeah. Okay. Thank you. Great answer. And, Before I wrap it. Is there anything you want to promote? And do you want me to open the mic for you to say anything about some classes you're teaching or is there any, I should have asked you earlier to be thinking about that.

Marlena: Well, sure, sure. I mean, I want to promote freedom and I want to promote the path of wherever people are to stay on whatever path is working for them.

I mean, really now we need it more than ever. We need people more than ever to be moving towards consciousness, moving towards wisdom and compassion and kindness. I mean, we just need it. So please do not stop up whatever practices, whatever support you need, keep investing in yourself. It's going to make a difference.

And then for me personally, I am working on a launch of a bigger opportunity group, if people are interested next year. So I don't have all the details of that, but if people want to find me, then, I would say give them my email and they could reach out and be on my mailing list. And when that comes out, you know, that class, then they could sign up.

Liz: You're talking about a big group mindfulness class. 

Marlena: Yeah.

Liz: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Oh, that's amazing. Marlena has led a mindfulness group for a very small intimate number of us for, oh, we're going on eight years now. And we meet once a week and she does a Dharma teaching and lead the meditation. And then we kind of have a Q and A and a dialogue around the teaching. And it's incredible. 

So yeah, if you're opening that up to a wider audience, you guys, this, this is something to really keep on your radar because it has been so pivotal in my life and really supported me in getting more and more present and clear and non-reactive and expansive and joyful in my world. So truly I cannot recommend working with Marlina enough. It's an opportunity not to be missed. 

So, yeah, why don't I, I will put your email. Do you want to say your email first of all, but I'll also put it in the show notes. Absolutely. So it's  marlena@marlenadecarion.com.

Or you can just go to marlenadecarion.com, my website. Send me an email from there. 

Perfect. Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show. 

Marlena: Thank you dear, how much fun? This was great. It was great to be with you. 

Liz: All right. 

Marlena: Fantastic podcast host Liz. Great to be in your world. 

Liz: Thank you. And we'll see you next week. 

Marlena: Okay. Awesome. 

Liz: Thanks for joining us today, everyone. Next episode is a fascinating conversation with death, doula and ritual healer Sarah Kerr. Sarah shares her wisdom and guidance about how being in right relationship with the spiritual and natural realms helps us be in right relationship with death.

Check out the show notes for links to my coaching website: lizwiltzen.com and my coaching blog: trackingyes.com. 

And if you like the show, I'd so appreciate it if you could rate it, subscribe and share with people you think would love it. 

Talk to you next time! And in the meantime, have a great week and keep your compass lined  up with Yes.