CIW Board Member Kristen Ulmer has written a fantastic book: The Art of Fear: Why Conquering Fear Won’t Work and What to Do Instead.
Listen to her talking to CIW President Dr. Marc Gafni about her book, her own relationship to fear, and her (r)evolutionary approach to cope with fear in our lives.
In their dialogue, they also talk about what Marc calls Kristen’s sacred autobiography:
“How did you, Kristen Ulmer, in your experience of things, how did you come to be the person that the world needed to write this book?”
Here is the amazon description of the book:
We all feel fear. Yet we are often taught to ignore it, overcome it, push past it. But to what benefit? This is the essential question that guides Kristen Ulmer’s remarkable exploration of our most misunderstood emotion in The Art of Fear.
Once recognized as the best extreme skier in the world (an honor she held for twelve years), Ulmer knows fear well. In this conversation-changing book, she argues that fear is not here to cause us problems—and that in fact, the only true issue we face with fear is our misguided reaction to it (not the fear itself).
Rebuilding our experience with fear from the ground up, Ulmer starts by exploring why we’ve come to view it as a negative. From here, she unpacks fear and shows it to be just one of 10,000 voices that make up our reality, here to help us come alive alongside joy, love, and gratitude. Introducing a mindfulness tool called “Shift,” Ulmer teaches readers how to experience fear in a simpler, more authentic way, transforming our relationship with this emotion from that of a draining battle into one that’s in line with our true nature.
Influenced by Ulmer’s own complicated relationship with fear and her over 15 years as a mindset facilitator, The Art of Fear will reconstruct the way we react to and experience fear—empowering us to easily and permanently address the underlying cause of our fear-based problems, and setting us on course to live a happier, more expansive future.
Enjoy the Dialogue and Read the Transcript Below:
Hello Kristen Ulmer.
Hi Marc, how are you?
I am delighted to hear your voice and delighted to be here with you for this long awaited dialog.
This is Marc Gafni. I am privileged to be the president of the Center for Integral Wisdom. Kristen Ulmer is both a dear friend, a board member, and a world leader in authority on the subject of fear.
We’re here, Kristen, to talk about, after we did an initial dialog, I think it was four months ago on our new book, Return to Eros, which is about reframing and evolving love in culture and articulating a new [sexual 00:00:52] narrative and a new narrative of Eros, we’re now coming full-circle in to understand, what’s the first step? In a certain sense we did the second step first. Return to Eros is about reclaiming Eros, re-eroticizing our lives on every level: innovation, creativity, sexuality, and transformation. But there’s something that stands in the way, and then that which stands in the way is fear. [See the dialogue below.]
It’s the hidden fears of our lives that are often hidden even from ourselves, and you have spent your life engaged in this topic. I remember when we were doing work together a decade ago as you were winding down the first phase of your skiing career, and me being Jewish told you that, “We only just buy ski clothes, we would never go down any of those mountains you go down.” Oh my god, no way. But you were one of the people in the world that created extreme skiing. You were the best woman extreme skier in the world for, I think, many years, and faced down fear of an incredible magnitude, literally the fear of death that goes with some of these beyond imagination, James Bond runs dropped in by a helicopter. You literally spend your life staring into fear.
Then you continued with an intensive process of zen training and zen buddhism with my colleague and friend and your teacher and friend, [inaudible 00:02:28]. And then you began to integrate those two, to integrate what you had studied in psychology, your expert practitioner status and living in the face of fear, your zen training, and really brought these different parts together into what I would call a new whole, a new synergistic emergence, a new evolutionary offering that never existed before. And that brought you to write your book which is just a great, great, great gift.
The center was actually excited to help facilitate the publication of the book through Adam Bellow and Harper Collins. Oh my god, congratulations, what a huge gift. Tell us the name of the book!
First of all, thank you for the amazing introduction. I don’t think I’ve ever had an introduction quite like that before so well done.
My book is called, The Art of Fear: Why Conquering Fear Won’t Work and What to Do Instead. Pay particular attention to the subtitle, Why Conquering Fear Won’t Work and What to Do Instead, because I actually don’t teach that fear is a holdback. It’s actually our reaction to fear, or our unwillingness to deal with our fear in an honest way, that’s what holds us back, not the fear itself.
Beautiful, great. A great distinction. Fear is what is, it just is, and how we react to it, how we engage it is what can be a deadly obstacle.
Let’s maybe … Kristen, we’ll talk maybe about 20 minutes so that people can get a sense of just the depth of this or at least a taste of the depth as they go in order of the book.
Let’s maybe begin, if it works for you, with what we call in our distinction, “Sacred autobiography.” How did you, Kristen Ulmer, in your experience of things, how did you come to be the person that the world needed to write this book?
On A Return to Eros
In this dialogue, John Friend & Desi Springer, Founders of the Bowspring Yoga Method discuss with the co-authors of our Think Tank Book A Return to Eros, Dr. Marc Gafni and Dr. Kristina Kincaid, the importance of frameworks for a new sexual narrative and the embodiment of Eros.
Welcome, it is delightful to be here with you all. This is Marc Gafni. I’m here with Desi Springer, and John Friend, and Kristina Kincaid, and we are here to do a conversation on the Return to Eros, the new book that Kristina and I are delighted to have just put into the world through our Center for Integral Wisdom, where John, you’re been a board member for a number of years. And, John, you and Desi, Desi, you and John, are now doing this international global community built around this next leading age innovation in embodiment and yoga, the Bowspring Method.
So, maybe, let’s just start. Tell us, Desi, John, John, Desi, kind of a word about it.
Very good. We’re excited about the Bowspring Method as part of an emerging new modeling, a new paradigm that at first, it came out of the modern postural yoga world where four, literally, the last century, in the various styles, it came out of India, and spread through the West, have held a certain modeling, we consider quite patriarchal, very linear, based even on certain bio-mechanical ideas that the skeleton of the human hold the body up, and therefore to make it more upright, and you try to align your spine straight up and down. You pull your tailbone down and pull the top of your head up. This general alignment idea is all over the world.
Well, it was Desi, when I started working with her five years ago and collaborating, she said, “John, you know, have you really considered making the body more curvy?”
I said, “Well, if you do that, you’re gonna get compression in the spine. Believe me I’m an expert of so many years.”
She was very respectful and didn’t really push the argument, but in some time I started to see her point, and through certain evidence that we don’t need to get into right now, that it was, literally, helping my own body and many of our students and clients, not to follow into this modeling of just linearity and straight up and down, and the curviness, what Desi said, when you’re really in this state of true openness, when you are in a state of pure eros, in love, the body is gonna take a natural ecstatic form. If you look at it, it’s not straight up and down. It’s not this linear, like a military position. It’s a curvy, open position, and not just on the front. It’s on all sides so this has been a huge shift for us. We’ve been putting it out. Now, a large part of the modern postural yoga world is even shifting toward curvy, dynamic, functional movement. This is the really rage right now. We’re offering a very organized, systemized method, the Bowspring. That’s what we’re calling it.
by Dr. Marc Gafni & Dr. Kristina Kincaid
It was the sensual Persian poet Hafiz who understood the full power of erotic surrender in every arena of life. The ecstatic poem “Tripping Over Joy” transmits something about the power of surrender:
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?
The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God
And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move
That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I Surrender!”
Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.
Loosening the Reins
The one master who saw it as his role to reclaim the erotic at the core of life was the Baal Shem Tov, Master of the Good Name. We have already met this master of Eros in this book, and we will encounter him many more times along the way. The Baal Shem Tov was an eighteenth-century magician, mystic, and healer who founded the movement of spiritual renewal, Hasidic Judaism, that swept Eastern Europe in the 1700s. The story is told of a fateful meeting between Jacob Joseph of Polnoye, a well-known religious master of the time, and the Baal Shem.
The master from Polnoye had apparently heard of the Baal Shem before but had refused to join his ecstatic movement. Then Jacob Joseph heard that there was a lone individual in the marketplace telling stories. His stories were preventing people from coming to the prayer house for morning prayers. He had his attendant summon the renegade storyteller with the intention of severely reprimanding him. The Baal Shem came to him, smoking his pipe.
That’s the real question underlying this beautiful talk by our Academic Director Zak Stein.
Watch and listen to this fascinating thought experiment:
What would be a “seed bank” of ideas that—if preserved—would allow us to recreate civilization from the ground up, in case humanity survived some sort of an apocalypse?
Playing off of Noah’s Arc, Zak calls it the “Nous Arc.”
Engaging in this thought experiment a bunch of questions arise:
- Who gets to decide what should be in there?
- What should be the content of this “Great Library?” or in other words:
- How can we assure that we give the next generation everything they need?
The Need for Meta-Theories
In order to engage these questions, we need Meta-Theories. What are Meta-Theories?
While theories take the world as data, Meta-Theories take theories as data. Meta-Theories norm the norms of discourse.
Listen to this exciting 20-minute talk and learn:
- What a new legitimate model of teacherly authority and intergenerational transmission could be
- How our image of the ideal human looks like that we can teach into
- Why we need a theory of Cosmos and Self
- Which educational environments we need to create—in contrast to the informational environments that are stressful for most nervous systems
Enjoy the talk:
In order to live an awakened life, we need some wisdom to live by. It is the World Spirituality Dharma of Unique Self and Evolutionary Love that provides us with the Integral Wisdom to guide us every day. Our post-postmodern Dharma is not Dogma, but the best take on reality we have based on pre-modern, modern, and postmodern insights, weaving together what we know about the patterns that connect.
Enjoy this collection of 7 Dharma Quotes Graphics for Living an Awakened Life by Dr. Marc Gafni.
Apply these pearls of wisdom in your everyday life and become unstoppable in living and expressing the Outrageous Love at the core of your most gorgeous Unique Self.
Dharma gives you the best possible prism to take you out of prison.
Life Is for Pleasure
The goal here is not to get more pleasure OUT of life—but to step so deeply INTO life that you realize that you are awake and aflame with pleasure even in the midst of pain. Your heart gets ripped apart over and over again—outrageous pleasure does not occlude pain—but rather wakes us into the pleasure of being—what’s been called the “aroused feminine waters”—of divine pleasure. This is when you so deeply step into the pleasure of being—you are literally making love with life.
The Highest Pleasure
The highest pleasure is to know that through my own transformation I transform the world.
We at the Center for Integral Wisdom – together with leading thought leaders and change agents – are dedicated to transform and evolve the source code of culture through application of Integral principles.
In our Activist Think Tank, we articulate, evolve and deliver a new, Integral narrative for living – which transforms each individual, culture and life itself – creating a world of Outrageous Love, through Outrageous Love. Our mission is to love outrageously, live outrageously, and create an extraordinary world.
Some of the core memes we have articulated are the memes of Unique Self and Evolutionary Love.
“We live in a world of outrageous pain. The only response to outrageous pain is Outrageous Love.” – Marc Gafni
Outrageous Love is not ordinary love but Evolutionary Love.
Since the publication of Your Unique Self in 2012 by Dr. Marc Gafni and Integral Publishers, the teaching has evolved further into a coherent concept of how Evolutionary Love and the emergence of the Unique Self Symphony allows us to not only articulate a new Politics of Outrageous Love but to solve every problem that we are facing as humanity grows into the new stage of what Executive Board Member Barbara Marx Hubbard has come to call Conscious Evolution.
To give you an update on the newly emergent teaching on Evolutionary Unique Self, Outrageous Love, and the Unique Self Symphony, see our blog-series on UniqueSelf.com.
Here is the first part:
The Law of Feeling and Healing
The Law of Feeling and Healing, while simple in explanation, is quite profound. As the gateway to a seemingly impossible evolutionary shift, this law is our access to the divinity and untold amounts of love, joy, and connection.
Fifty years ago, God was experienced by the great realizers and religions as both all knowing and all potent and powerful. Only God knew of the immense pain in the world. Today, boundaries around knowledge cease to exist and images of unbearable suffering penetrate our hearts, bodies and minds hourly. Consequently, there is an enormous amount of Promethean talk about humans becoming God-like with the power we wield. Ignoring the fact that such talk does not take into account the infinite power of cosmos, these erroneous conversations forget divinity is not merely the infinity of power but also the infinity of pain. As our power of knowledge increases so does our awareness of the depth of suffering. In one way, we are potent like gods; we have the never previously known ability to acquire depths of understanding and graphic detail about the horrific pain happening across the planet. Yet, while we know an enormous amount about the reality of suffering around the globe, we experience ourselves as impotent. We feel powerless. Unlike the gods, we are rendered powerless to heal the hurt surrounding us. For most of us, the only way we are capable of responding is to close our hearts.
The Gap Between Feeling and Healing
Enlightenment teachers of all stripes say the reason we close our hearts is because our coiled ego clenches in a self-centered contraction. I don’t think so. We do not close our hearts—at least not primarily—because we are bad, asleep or narcissistic. We close our hearts because the gap between our ability to feel and our ability to heal is simply too great to bear. It is so hard to open our hearts when they have been broken so many times.
These broken hearts of ours hold outrageous pain. When our hearts break we become wounded and contracted. It becomes exceedingly scary to open our hearts again. We are afraid it will bring a pain that we simply cannot bear. Our wounds are further funded by the essential contraction of being a limited, fragile and mortal being. Our mortality itself is enough to break any awake heart. But the grief is not merely from our personal heartaches. We have more direct access to pain through unmediated images of horror and information about mass suffering than any previous generation in history. Our hearts are broken exponentially every time we log in. Facebook and Twitter offer us instant updates on happenings in every nook and cranny of the world. The moment we turn on CNN we see sickening videos from Syria, Congo and so many other crisis points. When we connect we feel utterly devastated. We also feel utterly helpless. We have never seen so much suffering and been so unable to heal it.
By Dr. Marc Gafni
Summary: The four faces of eros, described by Marc Gafni in this excerpt from Mystery of Love (2003), are 1.) being on the inside, 2.) fullness of presence, 3.) desire, and 4.) interconnectivity of being. As Marc describes, with its mystical role in these four expressions, the face itself is the truest reflection of the erotic. In the flow of eros, we access the experience of being on the inside of God's face, which Marc explores here through the Temple mystery of the sexually entwined cherubs atop the Ark who are positioned face to face; the Hebrew word “panim,” which means “inside, face, and before;” and the erotic experience of having a true face-to-face conversation. This significant passage from Mystery of Love invites you to embody the erotic””which is modeled but not exhausted by the sexual””more deeply in your own life.
Eros has many expressions. Each expression is hinted at in the temple mysteries. There are four faces of eros which, when taken together, form the essence of the Shechina experience. In this essay, we will explore the erotic understanding which forms the matrix of the secret of the cherubs and informs every arena of our existence. As we shall see, at the very heart of Hebrew tantra was a very precise and provocative understanding of the relationship between love, sex, and eros. This will open us up to a whole new understanding of our sexuality and will show us the way to erotically reweave the very fabric of our lives in more vivid patterns, sensual textures, and brilliant hues.
The First Face of Eros: On the Inside
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The cherubs in the magical mystery of Temple myth were not stationary fixtures. No, these statues were expressive, emotive. They moved. When integrity and goodness ruled the land, the cherubs were face to face. In these times, the focal point of Shechina energy rested erotically, ecstatically, between the cherubs. When discord and evil held sway in the kingdom, the cherubs turned from each other, appearing back to back instead of face to face.1 Back to back, the world was amiss, alienated, ruptured. Face to face, the world was harmonized, hopeful, embraced. Thus, face to face in biblical myth2 is the most highly desirable state. It is the gem stone state of being, the jeweled summit of all creation. Face to face, to be fully explicit, is a state of eros.