I discovered Tony Robbin’s material this past year during my current growth spurt (we are always growing right ; ) ). I had heard of his name but had never really paid attention to his work and approach to life until this year, when I have been reading and devouring everything I come across on relationships, marriage, pain, life, healing and growth.
After watching a particularly enlightening story and interview done by Oprah on Tony Robbins and his Unleash the Power Within (UPW) event, I made the decision to attend one of his live events. Before this, I thought the listening to the audio CDs and the occasional YouTube video from one of live events was the same as the actual experience.
I was convinced otherwise.
I will share my thoughts and insights from this weekend. As with my other recommendations, I would encourage you to do you research before you decide to attend. We are the most vulnerable and susceptible when we are at moments of pain and weakness.
Day 1: Firewalking, conditioning ourselves and moving past fear to life
I arrived for the registration at 10:30am and joined a large and quickly growing lineup of excited people eager to get a good seat. There was a good energy buzzing around the parking lot where we were lined up and conversations with strangers flowed easily. There was an almost immediate level of trust and a strong rapport between people as we shared why we were here, why now and why a Tony Robbins event. Americans, Brazilians, Germans, Brits, Canadians, Colombians, South Africans. They said there were 5,000 people from 44 countries registered.
The doors opened and we were quickly filling up the venue being charged up by pumping music and a dance team on the stage.
The next 12 hours went by so quickly filled with life, energy and an overwhelming sense of excitement. The focus was on fear and from his viewpoint, all fears come down to two core fears:
1. Fear that we are not enough
2. Fear that we will not be loved
His talked about how our lives are the meanings we associate to the things in our lives. All meanings are driven by our emotions. And we all have patterns of emotions which we associate to those meanings. The patterns are our physiology (how we use our bodies), our psychology (what we focus on becomes real) and the language we use and the meaning we associate to our experiences.
We are driven by our needs of certainty, uncertainty/variety, significance, love/connection, growth and contribution. His premise ist that each one of us has at least two of the first four as being dominant in our lives, e.g. Love and significance. And we will always find a way to get our two dominant needs met, one way or the other, postively or negatively. And that often, there is a price we have paid for having our two dominant needs shape our lives.
A master at reading the room, he would have us up dancing and chanting “Yes! Yes! Yes!” whenever there was the slightest dip in energy in the room with a high energy music power mix keeping us going. The result, we were kept energized and engaged through out the next twelve hours and throughout the weekend. An amazing mastery and display of audience engagement. I couldn’t believe how much energy and how much confidence I had surging through me. A familiar feeling of fulfillment and of being centred as from one of my runs.
The build up was leading to his famous firewalk. For nearly three hours, he kept us focused on getting us into a state of certainty that we would walk over hot coals (1,200-2,000 degrees farenheit), push past our fears and celebrate our accomplishment on the other side. Reinforcing what we had the started the day with: we have to be in the right state to move forward in life past challenges and obstacles to truly grow and to be alive. Our state is all based on how we move, what we focus on and what meaning we place on things and situations in our lives.
This was to become our symbol, a re-awakening that we truly already have everything we need to move past our fears and to live life fully. He didn’t give a magic pill that made the fear go away. In fact, we can’t make fear go away. Fear serves a healthy purpose. We let it get out of hand when we let it dominate our thoughts and our actions or inactions.
It takes courage to recognize the fear. to acknowledge it, and to use it to move us forward. What he did was to make us realize that we already have what we need.
There was a very powerful moment for me when he did an emotional flood exercise:
It has been a long time since I have felt that level of gratitude and appreciation, of love. I couldn’t stop it. Wave after wave of memories, people and experiences came back to me. I had been focused so much on my pain for a long time and my fears, that I had forgotten how much I have.
I had tears rolling down my face and couldn’t stop. My family, my friends, the stranger on the plane, their love, their support, their strength. The moments of realization of just how much I had been given and choose not to acknowledge or to celebrate for fear that they would not last. Sharing that moment with the strangers around me made it even more profound. It was in that moment that I truly realized how selfish I have been in my relationships and in my life.
I woke up.
I didn’t get to bed until 2:30am feeling peace, love and a certainty about life.
Was the experience enjoyable? Yes it was
Was it enlightening? Absolutely
Was it uncomfortable? Without a shadow of a doubt
Did I leave with doubts about some of what we did? Yes
Would I recommend it? Absolutely
I will share my thoughts from the second of the four days in my next post.