by Dr. Alberto Villoldo: The Four Insights are wisdom teachings that have been protected by secret societies of Earthkeepers, the medicine men and women of the Americas…
The Insights state that all creation — humans, whales, and even stars — is made from light manifest through the power of intention. The Four Insights reveal ancient technologies to become beings of light with the ability to perceive the energy and vibration that make up the physical universe at a much higher level. The ancients used their mastery of the insights to heal disease, eliminate emotional suffering, and grow new bodies that age and die differently.
The first insight, The Way of the Hero, is associated with serpent — the physical body, the material world, and sensory perception. As you master it, you’ll start to see beyond the most simplistic, literal level of reality. You’ll begin to recognize the events from your early life that shaped and molded you, as well as how your parents and culture affected who you’ve become. And then, when you outlive that story, you can craft a new one that’s better suited to a hero’s journey. You can let go of the tedious tale of a middle-aged man reliving his adolescence, or a woman in her 40s trying to look and act as if she were in her 20s, and write a far more original story for yourself. You will recognize the divine choreography of events in your past that have propelled you on your journey of healing, learning, and discovery.
Our stories are so powerful and convincing that they become internalized and get lodged in our muscle tissue as cellular memories. We physically manifest these tales with the way we walk and talk. We might forget that we’re poets and not just parents, and find ourselves speaking in baby talk. We may convince ourselves that we’re perpetual victims and, instead of striding confidently, shuffle along with eyes cast downward and shoulders hunched.
As we embody the image of who we are in our story, people respond to us as such. The way we look and act sends the message that we’re unapproachable or friendly, confident or insecure, powerful or wounded. In actuality, our story becomes a death sentence for the hero within, because it demands denying what doesn’t fit into its narrowly defined roles.
I have children, for instance, but I’m not “a father.” Of course I do fathering, and I believe that I do it well, but that doesn’t define who I am. I also do writing and healing, but I’m not a writer or a healer. Who I am is a mystery that I uncover more clues to every day. Some days I feel completely befuddled about who I am, but I don’t let that get in the way of my doing good, effective parenting. It’s just that I recognize that a character like “father,” “writer,” or “healer” is far too small to describe what I am.
The Way of the Hero teaches us that we can shed our stories, like a snake sheds its skin. This is imperative, because we can never heal ourselves within our story. We can only resign ourselves to accept the lot in life ascribed to us in the script, and then doom ourselves to the suffering written into the drama. Our aging mother will never stop being devious, and our ungrateful children will continue to ignore us.
But when we craft an epic story for ourselves, healing and transformation happen at the level of hummingbird and trickle down to inform our psychological and physical world. If we’re going to spin yarns about our life journey, we might as well make them grand, ennobling ones. It’s better to see our self as a brave traveler who made a harrowing, narrow escape that taught us to trust our instincts than to see our self as a victim of betrayal who lost everything of value to some cruel persecutor and now cannot bring herself to trust others.
None of our stories are true — they’re just scripts we’ve created. They are not our life, because they keep us living in the past, stuck in a scripted role of misunderstood son, underappreciated artist, or victim of chronic illness. Even the empowering tales we’ll learn to spin and use to replace the old, oppressive ones will still be mere trail maps. They’ll help us navigate through life and climb the mountain, but they’re not the mountain itself. When we understand the First Insight and follow its four practices: Nonjudgement, Nonsuffering, Nonattachment, and Beauty, we gradually shed our identification with ego and find it easier to let go of our stories. Instead of searching for meaning and purpose at the literal level, we will find it at the mythic level, where the stories are epic and sacred.
When this happens, we will die to who we’ve convinced ourselves we are and become a mystery unto ourselves. We will no longer ask “Who am I?” but instead, “What am I?” and realize that we’re made of the stuff of stars, that we are God appearing in the form of ourselves. We’re so much larger than our stories, and we have so much to discover about our potential.
Our new, more positive story about an absent father may be a tale of a child who learned the value of independence. We can discard the old story about our grandparents being judgmental and cruel and script a new one about how they taught us that when we are judgmental, we end up causing ourselves and others pain and misery. In this new tale, we can celebrate the fact that we were taught to value tolerance. If we wrote stories like these for our lives, we could do away with most psychotherapy.
To walk The Way of the Hero, we must cast off the narrative we have inherited. In this exercise, you’ll practice becoming a storyteller by reframing the key events of your life.
Write two stories. The first is the one you’ve been telling yourself for many years — the narrative of your life, factoring in parents, relationships, marriage, career… Start with “Once upon a time the stork dropped off a baby at the wrong house.” Write it as a fairy tale, as if it happened to someone else long ago, far away.
When you are finished, write the story again, starting with “Once upon a time the stork dropped off a baby at the right house.” Remember that healing stories explain why events happened exactly as they were supposed to in order to bring you valuable lessons that would take you further along on your epic journey.
Let your imagination flow along a new narrative that, for instance, teaches strength and compassion from an abusive relationship, provides insight to how those who disparage others in an attempt to hurt them are deeply insecure and unhappy, and understanding that this has nothing to do with you. Perhaps you find a grain of truth in their words and learn to accept that you are not perfect, and that you don’t have to meet the expectations of others.
If you feel uncomfortable writing the story because you have not yet learned your lessons, that’s okay — just write it as if you had. You can always return to certain parts later to shape them further. When you come to believe this new tale, it will start to come true. You will become the storyteller of your own life, and as a result, the universe — recognizing that you have mastered your lessons — will stop putting you back into the classroom. In retelling our stories, we uncover the positive power of the legacy we have been given.
Remember that we can only rewrite our stories at the mythic level. Own your mythic story, make it all that you want it to be and you will soon find small changes in your life that lead you to a new reality. When we break away from the limited ideas of who we are — student, parent, manager, bookkeeper — it becomes easier to explore and acknowledge who are in all our wonderful complexity.