The Power of Connection

Musings by Dr. Julia Colwell

Authenticity is bravery

The audience of 70 people was still. Riveted. What they were witnessing is rarely seen in public. They leaned forward in their seats, trying to predict where in the world this might go. Like watching acrobats somersault through the air, there was a palpable tension: would they catch the trapeze bar, or fall?

This was a first for me, bringing our powerful EPI practices out to the public eye. The planners went over and over the details, nervously trying to pin down the right introduction. It was a lot to try to communicate: the intention behind Colorado Public Radio to use the power of the human voice; the passion behind Spaceship Media’s new innovative version of journalism, one that focuses on unifying instead of polarizing; and Evolutionary Power Institute’s emphasis on using our practices to create a joy-filled life. The venerable Nomad theater provided a relaxed, homey feeling, a reassuring elder that had supported connection and transformation many times before. We were in the right place.

We had three hours together, in bodies, with no screen or virtual platform in sight. As Brad from Colorado Public Radio led us through recording 10 seconds of “room tone” (ie, silence), then lengthy wild applause, and finally brief but jubilant cheering, we started to attune to each other. Eve and Erica described Spaceship Media’s commitment to journalism that unites, instead of inflaming and dividing. Meanwhile, EPI community members were scattered through the auditorium, trained in how to “loop” with themselves, the audience, and the overall room. The setting was primed for transformation.

Julie onstage at the Nomad Theater ready to demonstrate the power of connection.
Then our intrepid pair stepped up to their microphones, me in between them. The spotlights were bright and hot. Tina stood looking a bit pale in the light, guarded but ready; Shannon’s body was palpably shaking.

I’ve wondered about courage many times. Am I supposed to feel brave? I’ve concluded that I only ever feel scared while I decide to step off a cliff into the unknown. As I stood between Tina and Shannon, I felt my body straighten up as I realized what I was witnessing: actual, alive, in-the-moment bravery. The audience knew it too.

Julie speaking: the power of connection.

Tina and Shannon took the harder path, the one that veers away from the known, off into thin air. I’d talked to them about trying out some lower risk issue, maybe babysitting or a driving conflict, and they humored me. But they were ready to go deep. Before we stepped onstage, they described how much distance there was between them, and how easy it was to get into an escalated conflict. They wanted real change, knowing that they’d tried so many times before and just couldn’t figure out what the issue was.

I squinted into the lights and turned to Tina to ask about her sensations. She talked about her queasy stomach, and then acknowledged how walled off she felt. I asked her if she’d prefer I begin with her mom, and she nodded gratefully, so I walked over to Shannon.

As frightened as Shannon clearly was–microphones, audience, hot lights, going public with her most vulnerable self–I watched as she stood up tall and chose to go digging to find the truth. That’s the moment she catapulted off of the platform into space, without knowing if she’d be able to grab the trapeze bar.

Perhaps you’ll listen to the recordings of what unfolded next (the Wedge will have a bonus episode where this event is highlighted). You’ll want to, as witnessing Shannon and Tina’s willingness and bravery was truly breathtaking. It’s difficult to summarize what happened, except to say they uncovered the real issues, what had been sitting in their bodies all along. It might have been easier to steer away from that soul-level authenticity by staying in conflict or distance. But they picked the harder path and found themselves by connecting with their bodies. And then found each other, as they courageously spoke their vulnerable, powerful real experience.

Choosing to stay in the safety of disconnection, rather than jumping into the roiling, unpredictable waters of relationship is quite understandable. However, the resulting loneliness is a pandemic for our species, resulting in high levels of depression, anxiety, and a raft of health issues.


Last Saturday, we all leaned into the connection that directly results from authenticity. We became our own temporary community, as the whole audience then tried out this unusual experience of finding individual truths that hide in complaints and blame, then unearthing what we really want. From this rich soil of emotional connectivity grew new possibilities, places in each of us that had room to come forward.

I send out thanks to CPR, Spaceship Media, the EPI community, our Nomad kin from that day, and to you all who are reading this. As familiar as the story of our individual aloneness might be, being part of this powerful event reminds me that it’s a simple matter of choice: do I pull away and into my old patterns of disconnection, or do I choose to be scared, take a breath and jump off the platform into the vast unknown, believing in the power of connection to be out there to grab ahold of and take me on a new wild ride. Shannon and Tina demonstrated what is possible when we jump: deep-hearted love, being seen and known for our true selves, and discovering the web of life that’s been there all along to catch us.

The power of connection, a line of folks hand in hand, looking out over the sunrise.

The Power of Connection takes us to Creative Brain; Creative Brain naturally wants connection.

Dr. Julie Colwell

My takeaway from this magical event was a recommitment to taking my own step off the cliff of what is known, and being brave–just like Shannon and Tina..

Blessings,

Julie

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Dr Julie Colwell

Dr Julie Colwell