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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.


Eleven and a half insights that changed everything I do.

Note: these are all Shivanautical epiphanies.

Which means? That I came to each of these understandings after doing some Dance of Shiva (bizarre yoga-related brain training that makes neural connections and generally results in you being aware of all sorts of crazy stuff you hadn’t realized before).

The other bit worth mentioning is this:

The thing with epiphanies is that they tend to seem painfully obvious once they’ve landed. So it’s not so much the information they give you as the experience of getting it in a visceral head-to-toe-tingly way.

The story.

Some background:

This is about five and a half years ago. Just before I started my business.

I’d been through some pretty hellish stuff and I’d gotten past the scary and past the numb and now I was mad.

Really mad. At everything.

At … oh, the general fist-shakingly exasperating unfairness of the world in general and, mostly, especially, my world in particular. Among other things:

  1. The ear infection from hell that nearly killed me — and put me out of commission for the exact amount of time that was supposed to be my “finding a job so I don’t starve to death” time. Like my body had betrayed me.
  2. Being an unwelcome guest in an unheated semi-squat in East Berlin with a high-maintenance obsessive-compulsive drag king in the middle of winter in a neighborhood full of nazis may have its charm when you’re not deathly ill.

    But it wasn’t really all that much fun all my stuff about not having safety and broken promises and not having a home outside of my head … was being reinforced.

  3. My broken heart. Betrayal betrayal betrayal betrayal.
  4. A heart I broke that did not deserve to be broken. Betrayal betrayal betrayal betrayal. With a side dish of agonizing shame.
  5. The asshat owner of the yoga studio in Israel where I’d been a teacher for the previous six months. The one who didn’t pay me for that entire time, and then decided to pay me less than half of what he’d promised.

    Notice that at this point I hadn’t even gotten around to being mad about the crazy sexual harassment, that’s how pissed off I was about the money.

    And the betrayal.

    I’d left the bar world for the yoga world specifically in order to avoid being around people like that anymore and it turned out to be the same world: the unsafe one, full of people who’d screw you over to save on cabfare.

  6. The people who didn’t take me in when I lost my job and my apartment.
  7. The people who did and whose friendships I lost.
  8. My ex-husband.
  9. The numb of all that pain.

And that’s just the start.

I was so mad there was nothing I could do but dance.

After all, Shiva’s dance was sometimes called the Dance of Anger. And I had a lot of that to dance about.

Including my anger at the Dance of Shiva for a) being so damn hard, b) making me feel stupid by not being able to do it well, c) bringing realizations that seemed obvious in retrospect.

And that’s when the hot buttered epiphanies started flying.

The hot buttered epiphanies:

Insight #1: the patterns are all right there.

Whoah. There’s a theme to all this.

This betrayal thing is a narrative. The motif.

If I were watching a film about me I would want to shoot the director for making the symbolism so damn obvious that I can’t stop tripping over it.

Insight #2: the pattern behind the pattern.


Except THAT’S not the pattern. The real pattern at play is me seeing themes of betrayal everywhere and believing the truth of them.

The actual pattern is the perception of the pattern. The actual pattern is my ingrained belief that this is my only reality.

Insight #3: It’s all the same stuff.

All my exes? More or less the same person, if you’re just looking at my perception of how I get treated in life.

All my bosses? Not just the same person but kind of the same as all my exes.

And all my experiences have been reinforcing the same patterns of what is familiar.

Insights #4 – 8: What? What?! What!

What if I altered what was familiar?!

What if things can change?

What if I also found complementary patterns in my life? In other words, things that don’t suck that are going on simultaneously on a parallel course, along with all the hard.

What if noticing the good didn’t necessarily mean negating the pain of the first set of patterns?

What if it was all just additional information that expanded both my brain and my experience? What if my inner and outer world could talk to each other?

Insight #9: People are kind.

Or: there are kind people.

Like the friend I made who decided to help me before any of the yoga studios in Berlin would work with me.

He’d squatted an electric company building right after the Berlin wall had come down, and turned it into a beautiful nursery school. And he let me teach yoga and Dance of Shiva classes there without charging me for the space.

And when that fell through, he and his wife found another space and brought me in, again without accepting money.

All that without knowing anything other than that I needed support.

Insight #10: Support takes many forms.

Even when your perception of the world based on your experience is that there is no support, there is still support.

Insight #11: The job of my anger is to keep me from being sad.

Wait. All this anger is covering up a ton of sadness and loss. And fear of experiencing it again. But mostly sadness.

And I promised you half an insight too.

It’s only a half because it was… just an inkling.

Nothing I could put into words. In fact, I’m still not sure if I can. But it’s something like…

Commit to a mission and stuff starts to happen.

And it was a start.

Why I wrote this.

I didn’t write this so that you’d come to my crazy Punk Rock Shivanauttery week (though that would be awesome). Or throw yourself into the Starter Kit.

But because there are so many things we know and don’t realize. So many times when the pieces come together and you go oh.

And there is something about the oh that changes everything that happens next.

I guess I wanted to share some of the sense of that whole-body-perception. That lovely crackling sound of possibility.

And to plant some hope.

Because the thing you want (whatever that is or means for you) may not happen overnight, but getting ready to feel comfortable about getting there can happen more quickly than you’d think.

In those times of pain, it was yoga that kept me sane, and Shiva Nata that gave me the understandings I needed to learn whatever needed to be learned from.

So I could get from where I was to the next understanding.

Lots I could say about that. But mainly:


That’s what gave birth to my business, even before it had a name. Possibility.

A lot of things are possible. More than your monsters and your walls know. And even with the loudest monsters and the tallest walls, there’s always an opening. In fact, there are all sorts of openings.

And … comment zen for today.

We all have stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. We try to not step on each other’s stuff.

42 Responses to Eleven and a half insights that changed everything I do.

  1. Ingrid says:

    Just <3 <3 <3,
    and xoxoxXOXOXxoxoxo!
    So wish I could be with you on the Punk rock week.
    xoxoxo again!

  2. Josiane
    Twitter: kimianak

    Oh, Havi, thank you for sharing this! {big hug}

    About that half insight, well, I’ve experienced it in the past few days. I’d been meaning for a while to go and meet a group of storytellers to offer to teach them Shiva Nata, but I was kind of terrified (for various reasons). Last week, I realised there was an opportunity to do it a few days later; I really hesitated, but the desire to try and make this thing happen grew stronger than the fear and I decided to go and do it. The meeting was this past Tuesday, it went well, and many of the storytellers seemed to be really interested in giving Shiva Nata a try, so now I have to get back to them with a date for the first class.
    The interesting thing, though, is what I’ve noticed even before that meeting happened: as soon as I’ve announced my intention to finally go and do that presentation, my brain started to come up with crazy ideas for other places where I could offer to teach Shiva Nata, and those ideas didn’t bring up any of the crazy big resistance I’d have expected to be feeling. It was as if announcing my intention, doing that first concrete action towards making this thing happen, had made some significant shift happen.
    “Commit to a mission and stuff starts to happen”… yes, indeed. Thank you for helping me get there.
    .-= Josiane´s last post … Middle of the night musings =-.

  3. Sandra
    Twitter: sandrajapandra

    Ah, thanks, I think this is my favorite kind of post around here. (Ok, one of.) If I hadn’t ordered the Starter Kit just last night, I definitely would have after this. Looking forward to it!
    .-= Sandra´s last post … C. C. Lemon. Yeah! =-.

  4. MiGrant
    Twitter: MiGrant

    Damn, every time I don’t read your blog for a while and then come back to it, I find you saying the most amazing stuff and want to spend the next several hours going back for everything I missed. And it’s 3:00 a.m. Sleep is for the weak!

  5. Lucy Viret (aka randomling)
    Twitter: lucyviret

    Oh man. I have only done Shiva Nata a couple of times since retreat and you are making me want to go do it right now! And make it into a practice again! (And make it harder, possibly by doing it to music.)

    Damn, but things really do need to shift for me. So. Shiva Nata. Starting again. This would be good.
    .-= Lucy Viret (aka randomling)´s last post … Breaking through the wall. =-.

  6. Inge
    Twitter: _i_n_g_e_

    Thanks for sharing! <3

    A regular post Shiva Nata thought, when looking through journal scribblings:

    That's it? That's it!

    @Josiane: yay shiva-teacher-you!

  7. Kylie
    Twitter: kyliewriteshere

    This got to me, Havi. My mom gave me the Starter Kit for my birthday. I’ve been reading through the written stuff but can’t wait to receive the DVD and get started with frustrating myself. Yay. Oh, yay!
    .-= Kylie´s last post … spring has sprung =-.

  8. Hiro Boga
    Twitter: HiroBoga

    Havi, I love the courage and compassion with which you’ve held your pain, your anger and all the other hard stuff that happened to you, and danced it into understanding, insight and transformation. Your commitment to inner freedom is the essence of the Nataraj, and of Shiva Nata.

    Commitment really is the threshold–cross it, and the world opens up in miraculous ways.

    So much love, Hiro
    .-= Hiro Boga´s last post … Life Unfolding =-.

  9. Rose
    Twitter: celestialrose

    I’ve really needed reminders of 9-11 lately, so thank you for posting this.
    It’s so useful to have those little reminders so we can all experience those little “oh”s.
    Big Hugs to both you and Selma.

    .-= Rose´s last post … Feeling Right: An Inspired VPA =-.

  10. RedThread says:

    Thank you.

  11. Serena
    Twitter: LizardMixture

    I am completely floored by this post. Wow. Kind of speechless even. I’ve been thinking so much about patterns lately (of course this is because of Shiva Nata, silly! :) )
    I’d like to add one thing to the part about exes being the same person and bosses all being the same person. What about casting a new someone into the same old role, thereby creating an expectation that he/she will behave in the same old way and be thinking the same things that you thought the ex was thinking because of course it will all turn out exactly as it always has.
    .-= Serena´s last post … What the…? =-.

  12. Holly Hunt
    Twitter: metachaos

    “And even with the loudest monsters and the tallest walls, there’s always an opening. In fact, there are all sorts of openings.”

    Have you ever watched Jim Henson’s Labyrinth? Sarah is the protagonist, who is trying to rescue her baby brother from the goblin king in the castle at the middle of the labyrinth.

    This reminds me of just after she’s first gotten into the labyrinth, and she runs and runs, trying to find an opening in the wall so she could start her journey.

    She stops running, in frustration, and slumps down to the ground, where a friendly worm invites her in for tea. Boggling a bit, she politely refuses, but expresses her frustration about not being able to find an opening. The worm informs her that there are *tons* of them. In fact, there is one right across from her!

    She gets up, denying and arguing, but checking to see, and finds that there *is* an opening!

    She thanks the worm and starts to go down one way. The worm cries out, “Wait! Don’t go that way! NEVER go that way!” And she, probably since the worm has been so helpful and she’s taken so many things for granted, thanks the worm and starts going down the other way. Of course, as she disappears, the worm mutters to himself, “That would have taken her straight to the castle!”

    The movie is great for little insights like this. Not only the openings, but also that helpful people can steer you the wrong way, and all sorts of other things.

  13. John Paul Aguiar
    Twitter: JohnAguiar

    Luv this post.. glad to see you used the negatives to kick ass in the end.

    My life and business changed when I had a kidney transplant few yrs back.. amazing what you can do when your not 100% the way you see things and obstacles completely changes.

    My business and me are better for the negatives I been thru.
    .-= John Paul Aguiar´s last post … Google Says – A Strong Twitter Community Will Get Your Tweets Ranked On First Page =-.

  14. Lindsay says:

    During my yoga practice last night I focused on trying to open my heart and my mind (I didn’t even know what I meant by that exactly, other than finding a new way to learn, a new way to approach everything I feel is going to overwhemlm and drown me lately).
    And I felt it was a horrible yoga night! I couldn’t concentrate, I keep getting off balance, I kept critizing myself for being crappy at yoga (whatever that means) but I kept saying to myself; “Eventhough this does not seem to be working whatsoever I’m not going to be impressed by that. I’m just going to keep moving forward.” And then I’d almost fall over again.
    But then I woke up this morning and I read: “My actual pattern is my perception of the pattern. The actual pattern is my ingrained belief that this is my only reality”
    And my mind burst open . . . just like that. . .with the idea that we filter things through ourselves and how we choose to approach that filtering, and whether we choose to be conscious of that or not, plays a big part in defining our reality. We are not merely passive receivers of experiences. We participate in the construction of what we percieve . . . That if I want to change things (and I really do) I need to start by changing the belief system I’VE created that determines how I interpret the events of my life. . . and that all that crappy yoga last night was not crappy yoga because it was exactly what I needed to be doing in order to wake up this morning and read this statement and be able to viscerally understand it. . .

    Thank you so much. You have a true gift. That you share it so freely is such a noble act of generosity and kindness. And bravery.

  15. Rachel
    Twitter: RChristilles

    Having the chills reading this – it’s so spot on to my bings that have been coming this week after doing some crazy Shiva flailing (and 1 reason I sometimes don’t let myself flail wildly is the fear of all the things that come tumbling out later!) And still binging along while reading your post, so I have to stop, journal, read more, journal again, stuff shifting like mad – I think every insight you listed here has come to me this week, & better articulated by you so I understand them even more. Along with this feeling of finally tunneling deep enough under them so that I’m able to see things differently & start to do something about the patterns and feeling OK w/starting that. Wow.

  16. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi

    Oh you guys. Are so great.

    It’s the loveliest thing to be able to write about stuff that’s hard, and to have people get it. So thank you for that.

    @Holly – I haven’t seen Labyrinth but that is just brilliant and beautiful. Laughing about the worm. Oh, so many people who say “don’t go that way!”.

  17. Bridget
    Twitter: intuitivebridge

    I am crazy happy that you had that epiphany and then brought it to us to share.
    I feel some sad for the Havi of that moment, too.
    Often, we think that there are people with problems and other people with answers, when really we are all people with problems and answers.
    much love your way Havi-

    _ Bridget
    .-= Bridget´s last post … Observation: Prism or Prison =-.

  18. Tara
    Twitter: blondechicken

    Oh, this is just what I needed.

    Thank you!

    PS. I can NOT believe you haven’t seen Labyrinth! David Bowie in a codpiece! That alone screams Havi to me :)
    .-= Tara´s last post … Welcome to Yarn Every Day Month! =-.

  19. Wow. Said with absolutely NO sarcasm. Wow. Indeed.

  20. Bridget
    Twitter: intuitivebridge

    And, I meant to say two more things:

    many problems are anwers in disguise, and I am really happy that you pointed that out so well here, and also I deeply appreciate the idea of the complementary patterns.
    .-= Bridget´s last post … Observation: Prism or Prison =-.

  21. Bridget
    Twitter: intuitivebridge

    And geez, this post, everytime I read it (3 times now), I get something else.

    Committing to a mission! I am hearing this everywhere!

    What is your mission?

    How much do I need to articulate my mission? How does one commit? How does it work with being in the flow of complementary processes?

    I feel like my mission is to help people understand the energetic body and then to help them experience spiritual health through it.

    Thanks for giving me so much to think about!
    .-= Bridget´s last post … Observation: Prism or Prison =-.

  22. Heather says:

    Havi, thanks so much for this post. “Commit to a mission and stuff starts to happen.” That was exactly what I needed to hear today.

    I know it means something…something profound…to me. I just have to figure out what, yet.

    And possibilities…thinking about possibilities and how I see both possibilities and limitations.

    Wow. Thanks again. Got to go do some Shiva Nata.

  23. Wulfie says:

    Havi, you slay me. You really do. Sometimes it’s like you’re tapped right into my heart/head space and then you say just the right thing in just the right way so that I can feel that: Oh.

    Thank you for that.
    .-= Wulfie´s last post … Ode to Blogs I’ve Loved (with a little help from Willie) =-.

  24. Briana
    Twitter: brianaaldrich

    Oh just thanking you for being someone who plants hope in my world regularly. And I need to swim in this for awhile — “Commit to a mission and stuff starts to happen.” It’s going up on every surface that surrounds me. Your timing = impeccable.

    And, Oh God. All of my exes and bosses are the same person. Well, actually, me and my lack of boundaries (and subsequent rebellious freakouts) kept creating the same experience over and over. Such truthiness in that epiphany. Love to you.
    .-= Briana´s last post … The goods on my (so not) glamorous side gig. =-.

  25. Jessica says:

    Havi – Can I just say that I love you? I think you are a truly amazing and inspiring person. If I had more time, I would list all the reasons I think you’re great and how you’ve helped me so so so many times over the past year. But, unfortunately, I have to go to the dentist. Yuck.
    .-= Jessica´s last post … Honesty sucks when you’re on the receiving end =-.

  26. Kathleen Avins
    Twitter: spiralsongkat

    I read this post at about 4:00 AM. My head was spinning as I struggled with the deadline I was careening towards, trying to have enough work ready to send to my adviser before having to head over to my nursing home gig for the day. This post…this post felt like an arrow of light aimed straight at my heart. I read it, and had a vivid image of you looking up from your computer, and waving to me.

    Such welcome, timely, nourishing words. Thank you, thank you!
    .-= Kathleen Avins´s last post … When the going gets tough… =-.

  27. Jamey Jones says:

    Oh, Havi.

  28. Andi
    Twitter: annaline_39

    Hope has been planted, for sure. Thank you so much.
    .-= Andi´s last post … Wishcasting Wednesday =-.

  29. Deanna
    Twitter: deannalohnes


  30. Andy Dolph
    Twitter: acdolph

    Wow Havi,

    all I can say is, wow – that whole thing must have hurt a LOT – and I’m so glad you made it through and are here now helping us destuckify and such!

    .-= Andy Dolph´s last post … Projections for The Armed Man =-.

  31. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi

    Thanks, guys.

    @Andy – That’s super sweet of you. Thank you.

    @Kat – kiss! Looking right at you.

    @Bridget – so many great insights there. Wow. I’m glad.

    @all of you … just so much love.

  32. Melissa Dinwiddie
    Twitter: a_creative_life

    It never ceases to amaze me how serendipitous your posts are. Spot on re. what’s going on inside me RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND.

    Crazy how that shit works.

    THANK YOU! You are a huge inspiration.
    .-= Melissa Dinwiddie´s last post … Day 1 of Building My Empire =-.

  33. Amber
    Twitter: AmberStrocel

    I like the last half insight. I think that is what I am coming to, now. I’m not sure if I’m ready to commit, but I think maybe I have to if I want something to happen. But it’s scary, for sure. What with all the monsters and whatnot.
    .-= Amber´s last post … You Really Love Me? =-.

  34. Geanine
    Twitter: geaninethompson

    You always write with such love and passion. Thanks for sharing the hard stuff. I’m totally going to try Dance of Shiva. Very exciting! I’ll let you know how it goes.

  35. Melody
    Twitter: MelodyKiersz


    As always, you are a loving, caring and kind genius!

    This came in exactly when I needed it. I’m wallowing in all the pain of letting go of the perception of the pattern, and trying to trust that whatever comes after this will be worth it. Kind of stuck in the scary, numb, angry, sad pattern… But I’m starting to trust in the process.

    This part really resonated:

    “Because the thing you want (whatever that is or means for you) may not happen overnight, but getting ready to feel comfortable about getting there can happen more quickly than you’d think.”

    In my head, I know it will happen.. It’ll just be a while before the insights translate to the rest of me. And there’s a certain beauty in that.

    Much thanks and love!
    .-= Melody´s last post … There is no other =-.

  36. Andrew Lightheart
    Twitter: alightheart



    I’ve been dreaming of and holding my gentle, resonant, yin, Venusian baby Thing (not the new Thing, the kind-of-secret Thing).

    Your insights give me permission and quiet whispering encouragement.

    And break my heart, a little.

    Thanks, honey.
    .-= Andrew Lightheart´s last post … How to present like Hans Rosling =-.

  37. jon says:


    Nice Post.

  38. Pat says:

    Dear Havi,

    Thank you!

    Earlier this evening I had done a bit of Shivanata, but nothing big came up, just a few tiny little things–and then I read your post, and just reading your list of eleven and a half insights actually triggered a big epiphany of my own! The epiphany: I belong! (May the rest of you have this feeling in your lives, too!)

  39. […] week, Havi wrote a post about Insights. And I wanted to share three here, and why they particularly spoke to […]

  40. Sherri
    Twitter: smhutchins

    I like #9. I find that there are a lot of mean people in our world and I’m totally on board with the whole “mean people suck” mentality. However, I also know that when I take the time to understand said mean people, they aren’t necessarily all mean. Sometimes they are kind, it’s just that they’re angry at the world for being mean, too. I try to remind myself of that and look for kindness wherever I can find it. There really are kind people out there.

  41. […] act as a VPA and bring around those i-can’t-see-how circumstances; and hopefully with as little suffering (cue:Buddhist term) as possible (traumatic events often bring around side-benefits like these, but […]

  42. Kathy says:

    This one hit home.

    Insight #11: The job of my anger is to keep me from being sad.
    Wait. All this anger is covering up a ton of sadness and loss.
    I’m trying to get underneath it now, all the knee-jerk pissed offness and frustration. I’m trying to understand it better. I have numbed out and turned away from so much, and then so much more that I didn’t even realize I was turning away from that (like you said) I have built these patterns. Patterns that are no fun. Patterns that aren’t even necessarily a reflection of the truth.
    It’s such a relief now…even if I’m groping a bit blindly….I know I am getting somewhere just in the stopping…and the noticing.
    Thanks Havi.

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