Episode #37: Laura Dawn Psychedelic Leadership Podcast.
My name is laura dawn and you’re listening to episode #37 of the psychedelic leadership podcast.
There is a grand restructuring unfolding on the planet right now. This is a time where we are being called to face our personal truth and step into deeper alignment with our truth which often requires facing big changes, as we choose to acknowledge an inner truth that perhaps a partnership or a particular career path is no longer in alignment with a deeper level of truth and authenticity we are being called to align with.
Facing these changes can require an enormous amount of letting go and bring with them a lot of upheaval. As many of us find ourselves on the precipice peering into the great unknown, we need to learn how to trust the deeper levels of restructuring that are unfolding for us both individually and collectively. And that’s what this episode is all about; learning to trust in the great unknown. I’m going to share what it means to move from trust 1.0 to trust 2.0 and how this impacts the way we live and the way we lead.
I will never forget the moment when I was standing in the garden, on our 10 acres of land in Hawaii, the land that Noah and I built a retreat center on, and I saw my friend running towards me, and he had a panicked look on his face because he was delivering the news that the road in a subdivision above our land had split open and lava was starting to flow from that crack that opened up in the middle of the road.
Now, it’s distinguishing moments like this, that truly punctuate the chapters within the story of our lives. It certainly did for me.
And for a few months leading up to that moment in the garden, I had this distinct feeling in my bones that major change was coming. And the week before the eruption, I had a solo sit with my plant teacher, with ayahuasca. And something distinct happened that night. I honestly think for the first time ever, I had an experience of surrendering, like capital S surrender, where I knew I was rapidly approaching a distinct kind of crossroads, and what surrendering looked like, was me genuinely putting my life on Spirit’s altar, and in that moment I said: I’m ready, I’m ready for whatever needs to happen so that I can be of greatest service to the awakening of humanity. And something profound shifted deep within me during that ceremony. And then I leaned over and picked up my guitar and out came a song from start to finish, that I call Trust in the Great Unknown.
And then the very next morning I woke up to the earth quite literally shifting under my feet, and we experienced hundreds of earthquakes that week including the 6.9 earthquake on May 4th 2018 that devastated our home, as we found ourselves frantically evacuating the volcanic eruption.
So after years of putting my heart and soul into building this volcanic hot spring retreat center with my now ex-partner Noah, a place that was built on miracles, we spent about 2 weeks wearing gas masks tearing it apart and trying to get as much of our stuff out as possible. And the only thing that was going through my head the entire time we were evacuating were the lines from the song, that the medicine gave me, playing in my head on repeat reminding me to trust in the great unknown. And in a very real way, that mantra saved my life.
And as I moved through what became an incredibly long dark night of the soul, a time for which I feel like I received not only a PhD in grieving, and grief work, I also learned an enormous amount about what it means to trust, which is the topic I want to speak to in this episode because, as it so happens, this topic of trust is once again very up for me right now and considering the state of affairs and since that 2018 volcanic eruption that changed my life, pretty much everyone in the world has now gone through their own version of the rug being pulled out from under them in some shape or form through this global pandemic.
So I know it’s not just up for me, but for so many other people as well, we are all learning to dance with trust right now, as we continue to find ourselves moving through such turbulent times of great change, both individually and collectively.
And I hear lot of people talking about trust these days, especially in the “spiritual communities”, and I want to share what I’ve learned about trust through working with plant medicines, and also particularly through the wisdom teachings around what it means to trust, that I learned through Pema Chodron’s, from the Tibetan Buddhist lineage, that has been incredibly helpful and of course through my experience of dancing in this ceremony of life that we all find ourselves in.
And what I want to primarily say about trust, is that it’s not what we think it is, it’s certainly not what I thought it was, and I want to talk about the difference between what I call Trust 1,0 and Trust 2.0 and that there’s a way we cling to this version of trust, Trust 1.0 that is actually like a bypass that prevents us from strengthening our capacity to make direct contact with the present moment, and stay centered amongst the whirlwind of change. It’s the little t trust that weakens us rather than strengthening our emotional resilience in the face of change.
And I want to highlight in this episode is that the way we relate to trust, specifically the narrative we hold around it, that it influences the way we live and also, it affects our capacity to lead, no matter what domain we find ourselves, in the psychedelic space or not.
Ok so first…Why is trust so important?
Well, it’s important for a million different reasons, not to mention that we live in a culture essentially built on the foundation of mistrust. So there are so many different ways we can talk about trust, especially when we’re talking about leading, which is inherently a relationship that requires trust, or cultivating trust within teams or at work, or in any of our relationships, marriage, family or otherwise, right, there’s many dimensions of trust we could look at, but for the purpose of this episode, I’m focusing on the trust that we cultivate between ourselves and life, the trust we have between ourselves and Spirit, because that’s the foundation, all other trust emerges from the trust we cultivate within ourselves.
And I think this kind of Trust in terms of our relationship with life is one of the crucial differentiating factors in terms of how we navigate through change. And our capacity to successfully and gracefully manage change and transitions, especially in today’s world, where change is only accelerating and becoming more extreme, is the difference between flow state living and flailing, it’s the difference between catching the tidal waves of change and thriving, or totally freaking out and getting pummeled by these waves of change that we are all facing.
And also, it’s the difference between being able to stay centered amidst the chaos of change, and holding our seat in the center of the upheaval, rather than getting tossed about, and thrown off-center, and this is so important because we are much less effective at leading or influencing positive change when we are thrown off-center and destabilized.
Right, so trust is a crucial component of heart-centered leadership and being able to take action from this centered place.
Ok so let’s make this a little more applicable to your life, a little more concrete, and let’s explore the difference between what I call trust 1.0 and trust 2.0.
So What are some of the big changes, or small changes you are facing right now? Either personally or professionally? Now I’m curious to know what your inner narrative is around this process of transition you’re moving through.
And what is your relationship to trusting the process? Maybe you’re resisting this particular change in which case we might be looking at trust, but if you are relating to a narrative of trust, what does that narrative sound like?
Just think about it for a moment. And hold on to that thought, because we’re going to circle back around to it.
Now I don’t know about you, but I just happen to know a lot of people who are moving through some big portals of major change, there’s like this fundamental restructuring going on in many of our lives right now, so many people are choosing to leave long term relationships, pretty much everyone I know is breaking up. There’s also this crazy royal toss-up in people relocating, I feel like it’s musical chairs for home base right now, and then I also know a lot of people who are feeling called to either pivot their offering, or are moving in entirely new career directions.
So you know, all the big stuff is up right now. And I loved how grandmother Jyoti , in the last episode referred to this as a time of truth, we’re being forced to face our own truth on so many different levels, and we’re being called to move into deeper alignment with that truth, which requires an enormous amount of letting go, and inevitably requires trust.
So as some of you know these also happen to be the big transitions that I’ve been moving through as well, which is why I said this topic of trust is particularly up for me again right now.
After being together for a decade, Noah and I signed the divorce papers on Tuesday, and then I flew out to Austin about 12 hours later, after spending a few really intense days packing up my life in Hawaii for which I’ve been based out of for about 10 years now. And I’m also evolving my offering by bringing my content into a little bit of a newer space, which again requires some adapting, as I’m focusing on working more and more with teams, which I’m really excited about, both in the psychedelic space and in the corporate space, by offering what I’m calling psychedelic-oriented leadership development and team building.
So you know, all minor changes…unfolding in my life right now.
But in all honesty, it’s changes like this that sort of force us to peer over the edge of the precipice and come face to face with the darkness of the unknown.
And this, this is where we meet our growth edge. And this is where we say hello to fear.
And Pema Chodron, one of my favorite teachers talks about how the spiritual path is all about coming to our edge, and we know this right?
And when we meet this edge, we’re being called to take a step beyond what we know to be true. And this can bring up an enormous amount of fear, because we know we can’t take a step forward without simultaneously letting go of our past.
And as we all know, letting go is fucking hard and it’s emotionally painful.
It bring us to the precipice overlooking the dark abyss of the unknown, because we’re being asked to let go of so much, letting go of comfort and familiarity, letting go of what we knew to be true; deeply ingrained ways of being, deeply ingrained patterns. And it requires letting go of beliefs, of who we thought we were, what we thought we were or were not capable of.
And we step forward and choose to open towards what is yet unknown, this is what we are talking about when all throw around that word…transformation…this is it, this is what we’re talking about.
And it requires that we have the courage to trust enough to open towards life; in a way that we never have before, which is incredibly vulnerable.
So of course standing on the precipice of what is yet unknown brings up all of our stuff. Fear is part of the deal when it comes to meeting our growth edge, it’s part of the path. Especially when you think of it from an evolutionary perspective, we are biologically geared to fear the unknown, to move away from the unknown, not towards it. So the habitual knee-jerk tendency is to run back towards what’s familiar, safe, and comfortable.
This is why this path requires inner strength and fortitude to keep showing up to do this kind of inner work, and why the cultivation of trust becomes such a crucial part of the spiritual journey.
So there are sort two different narratives I want to zoom in on and illuminate around how we choose to cultivate a relationship to trust.
And now it might seem like splitting hairs here, but I’ll just say that how we choose to orient ourselves around this concept of trust is actually really important with huge implications for the way we experience the reality of our everyday lives, personally and professionally.
So as I explore these two slightly different narratives around trust, I’ll call it trust 1.0 and trust 2.0. And I want to make a case that trust 1.0 is easier to reach for because it’s more immediately comforting, like reaching for ice cream when we feel bad, rather than training ourselves to reach for the long-term healthier more supportive option, like putting your shoes on and getting outside and going for a walk, and choosing that option when you feel bad. That’s Trust 2.0 – it takes just a little more effort to reach for it, but it brings with it much more long-term wellbeing and resilience.
But like everything I share, don’t take my word for it. Start paying attention to the way that you relate to trust, the narratives you reach for when the going gets tough, and find out what’s true for you.
Ok, so let’s start by exploring Trust 1.0 And I’ll share this definition from the dictionary that says that “trust is dependence on something in the future; or contingent upon the future.”
This is the kind of trust that focuses on the end destination and its contingent upon outcomes, and it’s a way we become attached to what we want the outcome to be. I trust that everything is going to be ok. This ignites hope, and hope can be psychologically beneficial. So it’s not to say that any of this is bad.
Of course, it’s helpful to sooth ourselves through positive self-talk in those difficult moments by saying: I trust that it’s all going to work out. But that often comes with something else, it comes with an attachment for the outcome to look a certain way that keeps us in our comfort zone, living inside the same box that we’re actually being called to step beyond.
So you go through a divorce or a breakup and you say to yourself “I trust I’m going to find another partner one day” of course that’s more helpful than saying to yourself, oh my god, I’m hopeless, I’m never going to find another partner who loves me ever again, which can move you into despair and even depression.
And our words are powerful, on a very real level, based on the most current models of neuroscience, we can make a strong case that the words we chose, the narratives we tell ourselves largely influence the outcomes of our experience.
So again, I’m not saying that this trust 1.0 is not ok, but it’s the energy behind it, and the attachment that comes with it, that backfires. And I think it’s the kind of trust we cling to that actually moves us away from the present moment, it’s sort of an escape route away from staying present and staying open to making direct contact with whatever we are experiencing in the present moment; and staying open to our capacity to feel.
So when we are sort of being forced to sit in the rawness of the dissolution of a marriage or a business, or you’re relocating and you don’t know where you’re going to live, or you leave a job that brought a lot of security, it’s actually really tough to sit in the middle of that kind of discomfort because we’re being forced to make contact with the true nature of reality, which fundamentally groundless, it’s impermanent, it’s always shifting. The true nature of reality is that it is always in flux.
And so when things are really falling apart, it’s incredibly emotionally difficult to sit in the middle of that kind of discomfort, we don’t want to feel it, and we all (as in all humans) have deep levels of conditioning to move away from it. And this kind of trust, Trust 1.0 is like this little hook that just pulls us off-center, it’s a way we can use it to numb out, to cover over, to move away from the discomfort of the present moment, like reaching for ice cream.
And from my perspective, it actually sits at odds with Trust 2.0.
So Instead of pinning our trust to an end destination, and creating an attachment to what that outcome looks like, which can actually erode our trust in the long run, we learn how to trust in ourselves.
Trust 2.0 is about trusting in our capacity to have the courage to stay present with whatever unfolds in our lives moment by moment.
So it’s not like, oh I can trust the process, as long as it works out for the better. It’s about, I can trust the process because whatever life brings me, I trust that I have the courage to face it, to be with it, to learn from it, to grow from it, and I think most importantly, I can trust that I can stay open and not shut down, or close myself off, in the face of emotional difficulty. That’s Trust 2.0
And as Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe once said: “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” which is truly a profound statement to reflect on. “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
And essentially what I’m really talking about is trusting your capacity to open to and stay in right relationship with the true nature of reality which as I said is fundamentally fluid and impermanent, and it’s choosing to open towards a more dynamic relationship with life where know that things fall apart and they come back together again, and they fall apart again, both personally and professionally, and that this is just a normal part of life. And we grow old, and lose loved ones, we trust that falling apart, the bittersweetness of the transient nature of reality is ok because that’s part of the process. And this is how we actually befriend fear, and we stop being so afraid where we constantly try to resist change, control the situation, and the outcomes, but we sort of loosen our grip so we can let go, stay open, and enjoy the ride, this very special ride we call life.
So we place our trust in our capacity to embody the knowing that there is no ground to stand on, there really isn’t, there are just false stories you tell yourself, we all tell ourselves that deny and cover over this truth. But the true nature of reality is groundless, and instead of being afraid of it, we can create from that place and we can be liberated by it. And that’s where we place our trust, in befriending impermanence.
And I came across this definition of trust, by a woman named Rachel Botsman who happens to be a trust expert, which I really like and resonate with: she defines trust as a confident relationship with the unknown, that’s trust 2.0 – which is really very different than that dictionary definition that says it’s dependence on something happening in the future. That’s trust 1.0.
So you know, on a personal level, going through this divorce with Noah and choosing to let go of my home and my land in Hawaii really brought up a lot of stuff for me, it’s still up.
And I feel like my heart is centered, and strong, and tender, and vulnerable, but it’s open, and it’s resilience and strength, and I do feel centered through this whirlwind of change because of what I’ve learned about trust 2.0.
And yes, I feel in my heart and in my bones that incredible things are unfolding in my life and that really good things are coming my way, but this teaching around trust has made me so much stronger because I’m not placing my trust in the outcomes of what might or might not happen, because I don’t know what’s going to come next, I don’t know if I have one more day or 50 more years on this planet, I don’t know what the future holds or if I’ll find land that I love, like I loved my land in Hawaii, but I do trust in my capacity to face whatever unfolds in my life with courage and with an open heart and that makes me much stronger than trusting that everything is going to be fine and work out. I don’t know that to be true, but what I do know to be true, is that I can hold space for whatever that looks like. That’s trust 2.0.
So it’s like holding the vision and the prayer for our lives without attaching it, just holding it lightly.
So when we cultivate this confident relationship with the unknown, as Rachel Botsman called it, I believe this is the kind of trust that truly leads to whole-hearted living; it leads to open-hearted and open-minded living.
Because trust is a way we can learn to orient ourselves towards a more open stance towards life. And when we learn to open to life in this way, we open to possibility and we’re much less afraid to take these big leaps of faith, especially the ones that reside at the intersection between fear and excitement. And that’s where all the juiciness is, that’s where all interesting things unfold in life, in that intersection between fear and excitement which is why I point my inner compass towards that very distinct feeling.
And when we embody this open stance towards life, this is how I conceptualize flow state living. It’s about staying fluid, flexible, and adaptable in the face of change, and it’s how I think about resilience, this is how we learn to stay centered and hold our seat in the midst of the upheaval of change.
This is also what integration and transformation is all about.
And it’s this kind of wholehearted living, where we lean into life with unconditional trust that requires a lot of courage, but when we say yes to life in this way, it opens up the doorway that leads to extraordinary living.
And I’ll just say, it’s really tricky to stay rooted in trust 2.0, because it’s not our natural tendency. We as humans want to cling to the solidity of outcomes, we don’t want to push off the shores of safety, we spend almost all of our time looking for solid ground to stand on because we pretty want to do everything in our power to deny the true nature of this transient reality.
So it absolutely requires a lot of practice. I know I’m not rooted in trust 2.0 all the time, or I might be in some situations and not in others, or I’ll oscillate between no trust at all, or having conditional trust, because I’m human and this is what coming to our edge is all about.
But there are certainly tools we can learn to draw upon to help us simply stay open to the present moment which is what trust 2.0 is all about, it’s subtle, yet incredibly profound, and that’s really what it’s all about, so tools including wisdom teachings, and also working with plant medicines. And from my perspective, this is one of the core teachings that plant medicine are here to offer us, simply how to sit and stay present, because as human beings, we are almost never present, so they are teaching us how to open in this way, and hold our seat, hold our center, especially in the face of emotional difficulty and get more comfortable with groundlessness. And this teaching of making contact with groundlessness has had such a profound impact on my life and also the way I work with plant medicines, and if you want to dive deeper into this topic, I recommend listening to episode #4 titled bowing at the altar of impermanence, which is like a companion episode to this one.
And we also learn to develop trust 2.0 by reaching for other tools, an obvious one, is mindfulness-awareness practice, which to me, is a daily practice that goes hand in hand with the medicine path. Other tools include the cultivation of compassion, the practice of equanimity, and the practice of embodied self-awareness, which Alan Fogal defines as present-moment, non-judgmental attention to sensation, movement, and emotion. Somatic awareness is very helpful to have in our toolbelt. These are all tools that I’m teaching in my psychedelic-oriented leadership development training programs for individuals and teams.
And of course, there are many more, and it’s also beyond tools, it’s an attitude we learn to cultivate towards life.
Now, I did mention at the beginning that this kind of trust has huge implications in the way we live, of course, it has implications in how we love which is such a fundamental part of being human, and also how we lead. And I briefly want to touch on this leadership aspect before we wrap up here.
So how does Trust 2.0 make you a more effective leader? That’s a really good question. And I’m sure you can already start to see what the implications are here, but one big reason I’ll point to is that Trust 2.0 increases your level of emotional self-awareness, which is a huge component of emotional intelligence, and high emotional intelligence is really the foundation of effective inspired leadership, which is why mindfulness training have moved into the corporate space in such a huge way, because mindfulness can improve emotional self-awareness, emotional regulation, empathy, adaptability, all aspects of emotional intelligence and… Trust 2.0.
Now in terms of teams working together, it’s not such a huge jump to see how if more individuals on a team embodied more of those skills I just mentioned, especially related to emotional intelligence, how that would improve team dynamics. Trust is the glue that makes teams stronger and more cohesive, and this has implications on communication, on creativity, and innovation. Again, so much more I could say about that, but I’ll leave it there for now.
And just as a side note, if you’re not familiar with Brene Browns model around Braving Trust, specifically for teams, I highly recommend checking that out as a good starting point for improving trust amongst team members, and I’ll put a link to where you can find that in the show notes.
And just in case you are listening to this and don’t self-identify as, or consider yourself to be a leader, I invite you to explore that inner narrative, because at the very very least, you are in fact leading a party of 1. And you, as a party of one have the capacity to light a tiny spark that then has the capacity to ignite a revolution and influence a significant amount of positive change.
And learning how to stay centered and maintain an open stance towards life, making peace with the transient nature of reality amidst the whirlwind of change, that is in and of itself a revolutionary act that directly contributes to the awakening of humanity.
So I invite you to once again think about the changes that you are facing in your life. And I invite you to hold a vision for what you want your life to look like, pray into that vision and place it at the center of your altar, and then go of what that outcome will be, hold it lightly. and then can you trust that whatever life brings your way, that you trust yourself that you have the capacity to surf those waves of change? Can you trust that you can stay open to the transient nature of reality? That’s trust 2,0 and That’s wholehearted living.
Alright friends, that’s all from me for today.
I’m going to leave you with this song, this powerful mantra called I release control, and if you can, if you have a moment, I invite you to pause what you’re doing and to take your seat, and find your center, with a strong upright back and soft open front, and relax your shoulders and open your chest, and allow this vibrational frequency of this mantra to guide your way towards letting go, and releasing control, and leaning into trusting whatever is present for you right now in the present moment.
Once again, my name is Laura Dawn, and you’re listening to the psychedelic leadership podcast, until next time.