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Using breath to clear panic w/ Josh Solar

Josh Solar

No one on earth has ever scheduled an interview and been like, ‘Oh hey, what if we record on a day that waves of fear and panic about a pandemic are dropped across the planet?’

But if you could have the ideal guest for such an occasion, it’s breathwork wizard, meditation guide, and reiki master Josh Solar.

We’ll help you navigate the panic of a pandemic — including a trusty breathing technique that will calm you anywhere, at any time, for any reason, for free.

Mentioned in this episode of the podcast, you’ll find lots of breathwork practitioners, including: Josh Solar himselfPick up his breathwork class (which he scores and then records because he’s a musical GENIUS) here.  <– This class is fantastic and I do it regularly!

We also mention The Softness Sessions, which are Breathwork 101, in which I’ll help you ease into a breathwork practice!  We start on 3/19/20.  You can pick up your seat here.

As for other practitioners!  Both Josh and I are trained in breathwork with David Elliott, Erin Telford, and Wim Hof.  Josh mentions Dr. Belisa’s book, too!

So long as the world is stuck inside, pick up Glennon Doyle’s Untamed, which I’ll read a portion of in this podcast.  It’s soul food at the deepest levels, particularly for those who are a 4 on the Enneagram.

Please listen in and learn how to make simple breath modifications your default panic-management technique.

P.S. Nourishing or numbing?  One question to shift it all.

How to Experiment

how to experiment

One of the things I get asked by my coaching clients (3 year-long spots open in April, get on the wait list here!) is how to begin something new or different. They want a road map or plan that will mitigate all the risk involved in trying a brand new thing (of course), and I assure them that risk is built into the whole thing (of course).

The good news is, we can absolutely figure out a way for you to move forward that doesn’t lead to fear-puking on your shoes every morning.

‘How to experiment’ is an extremely flexible framework that can help you enter into a new project, idea, concept, collaboration, or phase of your work at the deepest levels.

Psst!  This is a podcast episode!  Listen in below, or just keep reading if you like to go fast.

First, let’s talk about Wim Hof. He’s fascinating because if you listen to an interview without knowing his story, he sounds absolutely insane.

He holds many Guinness World Records for bodily feats and generally defies all that we thought we knew about the limits of the human body.

But his refrain when teaching is often: “Don’t think about it, just do it!”

How do you keep your body temperature steady while taking an ice bath?

How do you run a marathon in the desert without water?

How do you climb Mount Everest in your underwear?

“Don’t think about it, just do it!”  (Also YES he has a method, but that method is so simple that we naturally ask 3,427 questions with no solid answers when presented with his achievements. I have been there and very much done that.)

Frustrating as his sentiment is, I don’t think he’s being condescending when he says, ‘Don’t think about it, just do it!’  I think he’s tapping into the primal bits of ourselves that simply know what to do, and that are perfectly fine to function without letting the limitations of the mind stop us.

So, when we dive into a topic like ‘How to experiment,’ we just do it.

First, we give ourselves permission to change the way it’s always been done.

The podcast has been me talking to you for the past five years. (Yup, five!) That has been absolutely lovely, and there are hundreds of episodes to enjoy at kristenkalp.com/podcast. In order to shake things up a bit, I have to give myself permission to change and grow.

You’ll have to do the same before you make shifts in your work.

If you’ve got a thing you’ve been doing a single way for some time, it’s okay to make space for that thing to change. It’s okay to try a new drawing style or close a shop or start a shop or give up on that process or withdraw from that partnership that hasn’t been working. It’s okay to stop working for free, to draw boundaries around your time and energy (see: Structure That Doesn’t Suck), and generally to make room for your own growth.

I’m going to illustrate the ‘how to experiment’ process in four steps for the sake of ease, but of course the real life process is rarely this obvious and straightforward.

We don’t have the kind of time it takes to acknowledge every single way that your particular path through life can swerve and curve. Your job is to try and figure out which step you’re currently in so that you’ll have a better idea of what to do next.

Step One: Listen for your little knowings.

Little knowings, meaning: feelings, thoughts, images, ideas, or ways of being that appear suddenly and that you know to be true. No data or science or other mind tools required.

All I knew for weeks and weeks was that something about the podcast needed to change. I would sit down to write or to record and get a shrug from the universe in return. That’s never happened.

Because I am wise and trusting of all that is, I freaked out and completely panicked. OH MY GOD AM I DONE WITH THE PODCAST, I DIDN’T KNOW, HOW COULD I NOT KNOWWWWWWWWWWW????

Some part of me knew that this energy would shift if I could sit with it and allow myself to be open to change. (Again, that sounds so simple, and is actually excruciating. Patience in the space of not knowing is difficult for me 100% of the time.)

Step Two: Record your little knowings.

In the case of the podcast, I wrote down ‘KK and the Rainbows’ weeks and weeks ago with no idea what it meant. It just kept coming up, flitting into my brain on repeat, so I grew frustrated enough to put it in my calendar.

‘KK and The Rainbows! There, you get an hour on Thursday, okay!?’ Please note that I gave this concept that clearly wanted my attention a block of time without knowing what would happen when I reached that space on my calendar.

Making space is where the free podcast series, Structure That Doesn’t Suck, really shines! If you put a concept or idea on your schedule for next Tuesday at 10am, you don’t have to worry about it until next Tuesday at 10am. The brain-swirling stops when you give a little knowing the space to exist.

When I say ‘record’ your little knowings, I mean type or talk or text or write or print or draw or paint or sing or whatever you would like. Recording what you know, as information becomes available, means that you won’t forget each fragment as it comes. It often arrives in jumbled order and with scattered pieces in play. The pattern is only obvious if you have the discipline required to record everything you know as it reveals itself to you. When you have enough information to see the next step, you can move forward.

Most people don’t bother to record their ‘little’ ideas or ‘funny’ knowings or the ‘strange’ phrases that pop into their heads. That refusal to write stuff down slows the experimentation process considerably. If you get 15 pieces of intuitive data per day and don’t record any of them, you won’t progress as quickly as the person who records everything they know as it becomes available to them.

To put it a different way: you can be the wisest, most intuitive being on earth who records nothing and eventually get surpassed at every level by the person dedicated to recording and tracking the patterns in their little knowings.

To record your intuitive knowing is to be a good steward of your gifts.

(See also: own your woo.)

Step Three: Follow your little knowings.

Following your knowing means you a.) keep an ear to the ground of your own heart and b.) try not to be frustrated when you only know the next right thing.

If you’re walking your own edges, you will never, ever get your next 57 steps delivered in a PDF manual from someone else’s class or program.

You’ll get the next right step. Just one. (My thanks to future friend Rob Bell for delivering this message to me so many times over the past six years!)

Turns out, ‘KK and the Rainbows’ is actually the framework for a new way of doing the podcast!

You are now a Rainbow. That’s the most inclusive word I can think of — I don’t even care that you be a human in order to enjoy! — and it’s also indicative of the magical nature at the core of your being.

We rainbows need affirmation that we’re not alone. We also need tools to address the challenging nature of being a sensitive, feeling creature in a world wired to shut us down and push us toward productivity and profitability at all costs.

The podcast experiment works like this: you’ll call in live on alternating Tuesdays, and we’ll record the podcast together for an hour. I’ll talk for twenty-ish minutes, you’ll ask questions via video or chat box (because introverts), and we’ll all turn on video chat at the end for a chance to see each others’ pets and wave and giggle. Why yes, I *am* in this for seeing as many animals as possible!

Step Four: See what happens.

Please note that ‘see what happens’ is a neutral phrase. It could go either way.

This could be the greatest advancement the podcast has ever seen, or it could be the worst ever due to lack of attendance or unknown technical difficulties or the trigger for a zombie apocalypse.

The same uncertain nature will be true of your experiments. If they’re truly experiments — not safe bets — they could just as easily slip into disaster as glory. Glennon Doyle mixes the words ‘scary’ and ‘excited’ to call it ‘scited,’ which is precisely how it feels.

I’m committing to six live KK and The Rainbows episodes to start.

To be invited to all 6 live podcast recordings, you just have to be on my email list and I’ll take care of the rest.

I’ll still tell you what’s going on in my business and how you can get on board with things like The Softness Sessions (i.e. Breathwork 101, we start soon!) and the live-in-May-in-Portland Voice Workshop, but the tools I’m presenting won’t be continuous pitches.

We’ll record together on alternating Tuesdays at 10am Pacific, and the following week the recording will be available to everyone who couldn’t attend in real time. The overall pace of the podcast slows down, but the time we get to spend together goes up!

This experiment is completely dependent on your showing up.

KK and The Rainbows, minus any questions or participation from others, is just KK.

My great fear is that absolutely no one will show up.  But I’m doing it anyway.

I hope you’ll do the same, no matter which experiment is on your docket.

Get on the email list and come be a rainbow with me!

P.S. ‘But Kristen!  I don’t HAVE little knowings.  I can’t hear my intuition…at ALL.’  <– That’s a fantastic sign that The Softness Sessions will be so so good for you.

We’ll build your inner listening muscles and intuition muscles, slowly over the course of six weeks, so that you’ll get better at listening to you.  We can absolutely put down the tools of your mind so that we can ‘not think about it, just dooo it!’ 😉

More details here, a podcast about it here, or sign up here.

Buy The Softness Sessions

How to Update Your Emotional Operating System

I’ve recently rediscovered the work of Fred Rogers — Mister Rogers to those of us in the States who grew up with him — and the work of his foundation as well. One of the core values of The Fred Rogers Center is ‘The Deep and Simple.’ To quote their brochure:

Whether you are a child or an adult, substance and authenticity still have a place in this world.  We develop meaningful programs that emphasize the importance of connecting with children and families.”

The Deep and Simple is such a helpful articulation of what I’ve been trying to do for a long time now: not to give you easy-to-follow-but-ultimately-unsatisfying advice, but to help you access your own Deep and Simple bits with me.

I’m gonna talk all about the ways breathwork, my regular Deep and Simple practice, has continued to shape my life, and how it can help to shape yours, too.

Listen in to the podcast below, or keep reading for the shorter, transcript-ish version.

But first! Let’s talk about your default Emotional Operating System.

We humans get a default Emotional Operating System installed long before we ever go to school or even learn to speak. As infants and toddlers, we pick up on the unexpressed emotions around us and within us. We learn to cower at loud noises, or we learn to make loud noises as a means of self expression. Bear once said something like, “I can just picture you banging pots and pans as a kid” and I was like, “YUP, that was my favorite game!” He grew up in a household in which noise was swiftly punished, and can’t imagine being able to haul out every single pan in grandma’s kitchen to bang away with a wooden spoon for hours on end.

We figure out what makes adults respond to us kindly and not-so-kindly. We learn that it’s okay to feel our feelings, or it’s most definitely not okay to feel our feelings.

I learned that adults liked me better when I was silent before I went to Kindergarten, so I did my best to be as silent and studious as possible throughout my school years. They never said, “Please be silent Kristen, we prefer you that way,” but I was emotionally intelligent enough to notice that I got compliments for sitting quietly, for paying attention quietly, for reading quietly, and for holding my big questions inside because they made adults uncomfortable.

I also internalized the message that feelings were bad, and therefore when I had feelings *I* was bad. As an Enneagram 4, I have so many feelings, which means I spent a lot of time labeling myself as ‘bad’ for the first few decades of my life: if feelings are bad, I must be the WORST HUMAN ON EARTH.

Most of our Emotional Operating System goes online before our memory kicks in, so often we can’t access its nuances via means like talk therapy. It’s both pre-verbal and subconscious.

Further, ancestral trauma can set us up with deeply held, nearly uncontrollable reactions to various stimuli. In studies of generational trauma in rats, two generations of animals cower at the sight of the tools used to torture their grandparents, even though the tools have never been used against them. Terrifying, right? No matter our family of origin, we have painful and subconscious reactions to certain stimuli locked into our DNA. The female inheritance on both sides of my family tree is enduring an absolutely joyless existence in a loveless marriage, but I should shut up about it because there are more miserable people than me somewhere else.

Soooo….how do we come into the present reality? How do we undo the damage caused by the emotional wiring locked into our DNA?

When we find a Deep and Simple spiritual practice that resonates with us, we can begin to access and update our Emotional Operating System.

I’ll use breathwork as an example because that’s what I’ve used to do the work of rewiring my patterns over the years.

If you’ve found meditation or yoga or knitting or chanting to be the way you do your Deep and Simple work, FANTASTIC. And keep going!

Breathwork is ideal for those of us who have a history of abandoning our bodies in times of stress or difficulty (see: the long journey to the body), who need a tool that’s still doable on days with low energy (see: running a business with depression), and who prefer to do our biggest work privately (see: Introverts at Work).

At the beginning of a breathwork practice, we’re making pretty big shifts with each session. We’re taking on pretty massive updates each time we do the work. It’s incredibly intense because, in Emotional Operating System terms, we’re moving from Windows 95 to Windows 10. That’s a twenty year leap in technology, minus any helpful programming notes or instruction manuals.

As we see progress, we’ll naturally have clunky bits and awkward phases. Some settings disappear or get rearranged as we continue to do breathwork regularly. We all have our Windows Vista phase, when it feels like everyone has turned on us and nothing is quite right.

Slowly, though, we get to the latest operating system. We have updates that go from build 10.1 to build 10.17; in geek terms, those are relatively small changes that aren’t nearly as complicated or major as they were at the beginning. With time we get to the fine tuning details phase, not the Throwing Out Societal Systems One By One phase.

Over time, breathwork becomes less about producing big breakthroughs and more about maintaining our day-to-day emotional wellbeing.

Now I’m gonna explain this in personal terms, ’cause that clinical ‘Emotional Operating System’ term sounds really nice and lovely and easy, doesn’t it?

We all know that updating our hard drives or computers or phones is ALWAYS going to be ‘really easy’ and only take 3 minutes…right up until we’ve been on the phone with tech support for hours, we’ve lost our license key for that really expensive software and have to buy it again (Curse you, Photoshop programs I’ve repurchased over the past decade!!!!), and we have to do a bunch of work all over again because it mysteriously vanished from existence.

It’s a real pain in the ass, and we all know it, but also we get new features and new possibilities and apps that make our lives easier when we bother to update everything.

Breathwork is like that. It isn’t easy, but it is WORTH IT.

A bigger example: a few years ago, when I discovered breathwork, I was certain I’d be depressed forever. It seemed to be a strange-but-integral part of my identity. (I wrote about it over and over, sharing the tidbits I’d learned as time went on.) My mom has been depressed all her life, as has my father. It streams down both sides of my family tree, and there didn’t seem to be any escaping it.

For a long time, I had trouble imagining a day in which I would have enough energy to shower, brush my teeth, and leave the house. I was completely seduced by despair, and I couldn’t imagine being free of depression. It runs in my family and it’s taken over many years of my life, so I’m stuck with it, right?

Breathwork helped to create space within myself to do the work necessary for getting free of depression.

It helped me find a little more energy each day. A little less fear of delving deep into my emotions. A little more freedom to explore possibilities. A little more insight into my own life, including my future. A little more room to observe and have kindness toward that sad, miserable version of Kristen who had given up on life.

And now.  Little by little.  Years into practicing, with the rest of my life to keep practicing…

I wake up feeling like my default is neutrality — if not joy — on any given day. If you’re used to waking up and proceeding to calculate precisely how many hours you have to function before returning to bed, as I did for many years, this is nothing short of a miracle.

After 18 years of taking a pill each morning, I’m tapering off of depression meds with the help of amazing medical professionals. (Of course I can’t promise that breathwork will be the cure for whatever is happening within you. But I can share my story, as I’ve been doing for the past decade, and trust that it will help those it’s meant to help.)

Further! I used to be triggered by specific phrases those close to me said, or slamming doors, or being unable to resolve conflict within 3.4 minutes of its start. Now, I can often hold off the emotional avalanche and articulate precisely why that avalanche threatened to start. (Not all the time, but often.)

Over the years, and because of breathwork, I’ve grown kinder and softer than ever before. I’m able to hold bigger and bigger amounts of space for people to see what they see, know what they know, and feel what they’re feeling. I have less vested interest in specific outcomes.

I freak out less about dumb shit that doesn’t matter, mostly because I’m too busy working on important things that do matter.

Finally, I’ve got some serious freedom as an empath. (If you’re a person who feels what other people are feeling, often against your own will, please check out kristenkalp.com/empath for more insights — and the Empath Beginner Kit is free when you join my email list!)

Where before I would cry because someone in the room was crying, I’m now able to hold my energy and emotions in such a way that you are free to cry, and I am free to cry OR NOT. For the first 35 years of my life as an empath, that ‘OR NOT’ wasn’t even an option.

You’re sad? I’m sad.

You’re mad? I’m mad.

Breathwork has helped me to regulate my emotional volatility — enneagram 4 here, emotions are what I *do* — in such a way that I feel out of control or like I’m ‘too much’ far less than I did in the past. Emotions provide useful information, and I’m free to engage with them, but they don’t run the entirety of the show.

This hasn’t been pretty progress.

I’ve gone into my breathwork practice with dread, despair, fear, and rage on many occasions. I’ve wailed and screamed and kicked and wept and cried so hard I did that gulping-for-air-fish-out-of-water move more times than I’d like to recall.

I’ve shouted out my too muchness and not enoughness. I’ve fought for my right to be on the planet, both literally and metaphorically. I’ve used breathwork to tame asshole brain, to go to the heart of suicidal ideations and dispel them, and to uninstall bullshit rules society has handed me over the years.

It’s been intense and awful and painful and beautiful and transcendent and weird and spunky and courageous and fearful and messy and gorgeous and WORTH IT. Every damn time.

You begin to trust breathwork to do the work you need, even if you can’t articulate what you need when your session begins. Trust means the practice stirs up less resistance over time.

And! Asshole brain has calmed the fuck down. It pipes up less now, and when it does it’s more and more obvious. When I hear, ‘You’re a no good sack of shit and everyone hates you’ internally, I wave hello to asshole brain. Good try, but that was really obvious.

My breathwork practice has beaten back asshole brain thoughts by 70% on the regular, and by about 90% on the best days. (I started writing this in November, before the move to Portland, so from a few months in the future I’ll say that breathwork has helped me to regulate asshole brain significantly. These amazing, I-beat-asshole-brain stats dip significantly when I’m sick and can’t breathe and can’t work and can’t remember my new zip code when quizzed about it on order forms. Given a few milligrams of the right allergy meds, the ability to breathe reliably, some time to learn my zip code, and the ability to work again, the stats are back to the reported levels.)

Breathwork has helped me get freer than ever, is what I’m saying.  And it can help you do the same.

I can’t promise that it will be easy to start or to continue a breathwork practice. I can’t say that you’ll immediately experience magical shifts or emotional movements. I can say that every single person I know who has stuck with this practice has grown bigger, more magical, more joyful, and more self aware over time.

In a world that values dollars and prestige and awards over nearly anything else, internal progress might not mean much — but to me, growth, magic, enjoyment, and self-knowledge are the name of the game.

If you’re curious, I’d be happy to show you how to take up a breathwork practice — slowly, slowly — through The Softness Sessions.

In The Softness Sessions, I’ll walk you through an incredibly-challenging-yet-universal life lesson I’ve faced, then sit with you as you breathe. I’ll introduce the breathing pattern each time, and we’ll breathe together for increasing periods of time over six weeks. (Also I spent *months* encapsulating each lesson into a single, highly repeatable and helpful nugget of wisdom.  Deep and Simple x6 sessions!)

The Softness Sessions are Breathwork 101 and would be awesome for you…

If you know you’re running a broken Emotional Operating System.

If you’d love to loosen your ties to asshole brain.

If you’re ready to create healthy new emotional patterns.

If you’re tired of letting your ‘too much’ness or ‘not enough’ness stop you.

If you’re curious about breathwork but don’t want to dive in the deep end to start.

The Softness Sessions are for you.

This is the most powerful and direct program I’ve ever made, and it’s $88.  You can pay in 3 monthly payments of $29.69, so you’ve got one less excuse to skip this one.

Buy The Softness Sessions

I should absolutely charge more — and if I was a passive-income-obsessed douchelord trying to get you into a funnel and then upsell you to a $$$$$$$ program full of systems and hacks, I would — but *I want to make it as easy as possible to say yes to doing this work.*

Breathwork isn’t sexy and often isn’t fun, but it IS beneficial in the deepest, truest ways possible.

Buy The Softness Sessions

Also, my telling you all these things has no doubt freaked you right the fuck out.

I’m telling you breathwork will help you feel things, and you don’t WANT to feel things.

Most people are afraid of feeling what they’re feeling.

Maybe you live in a constant state of fear that your feelings, when felt, will cause the destruction of everything on earth and possibly take out a few neighboring planets. Imagine all-out Kali-goddess-like no-holds-barred decimation, then take it one step further, and that’s what you picture happening if you feel your rage/upset/disappointment/fear for even a few moments.

So you push the feels down. And down and down and down, growing more fearful of them all the time because they grow in intensity as you add to the not-felt pile. Life is like trying to hold a feelings-laden beach ball under water at all times, and the minute you stop actively wrestling it the ball pops up again. (Generally this popping up happens at incredibly convenient times, like when you’re grocery shopping or when a kind stranger makes eye contact.)

Or maybe you’ve learned to numb your feelings with the speed and dexterity of an Olympic athlete. You use food or alcohol or screens or [insert habit here, I won’t judge] to avoid feeling much of anything.

YUP I’ve done that, too. Numbing can mean that you’re eating a whole pie in one sitting, but it can also happen with the flip of an emotional switch. I literally said to myself, “I’m never going to feel this way again,” and shut down my heart to such an extent that I married the absolute wrong person and stayed in a relationship with him for a decade. As always, there’s no judgement for the dumb shit you’re doing right now, ’cause I’ve usually done that dumb shit myself. (Remember how my parents’ families are full of joyless, loveless marriages? I repeated that pattern, 100%. And then I chose something different. You can, too.)

Whether locked or numbed, your feelings are inaccessible to you. You’re running a clunky Emotional Operating System. <–Please note that YOU are not clunky or broken or whatever you say about yourself — it’s only a function of crappy foundational programming.

Every feeling you’ve stuffed isn’t going to magically disappear without your conscious effort, just like that old computer from 2007 hasn’t magically updated its hard drives or processors while sitting in the closet over there. <– THIS IS THE MOST FRUSTRATING THING ON EARTH BUT ALSO TRUE. Unfelt feelings and the lessons they have to teach us don’t disappear.

Breathwork can help you begin to process those unfelt bits in a safe way. Only that which you’re capable of handling will show up in any given session. You won’t have to dive into that big traumatic event in your life on Day One.

You can wade into the waters s l o w l y.

This is a process, and as you learn to trust the process — and me — more will be revealed and released.

The other option is to keep shoving and numbing forever, growing more unfeeling and fearful as the decades roll on. As Brene Brown says, “The body keeps the score, and the body always wins.”

You can access and begin to change your Emotional Operating System.

The Softness Sessions make the beginnings of that effort as gentle, enjoyable, and sacred as possible.

I’d be honored to help.

Join us now.

Buy The Softness Sessions

Details!!  The Softness Sessions — i.e. Breathwork 101 — start on March 19th and last for six weeks. Each session is released to my teaching portal on Thursdays and is about an hour long.  We wrap up with a live group breathwork session on April 30th.

You’ve got access to all the sessions and the live class in downloadable form. You can repeat breathwork sessions as you see fit.

BONUS ALERT: If you hop on board now, you’ll get an actual real life snail mail book/journal combo to use alongside the audio. The book is perfect for recording your experiences!

If you sign up after the 17 remaining books are gone, you’ll still get the digital version and can print it on your own. Early birds get those bookish worms! Get your spot!

If you’ve got any questions whatsoever, email me: k@kristenkalp.com!

Ready to do this? Grab your spot!

“It’s not the honors and the prizes and the fancy outsides of life that ultimately nourish our souls. It’s the knowing that we can be trusted, that we never have to fear the truth, that the bedrock of our very being is firm.” — Fred Rogers

P.S. Softness is the secret.

A breathwork practice is accessible to anyone who doesn’t have significant lung problems or a respiratory illness. Being able to breathe is the only requirement for participating in class.

Since the West Coast move led me to acquire allergies so debilitating that I couldn’t reliably breathe, I repeat: PLEASE don’t attempt this if you have asthma, ongoing lung issues, or uncontrolled medical conditions that affect your breathing.

If you can breathe without issue, hop in The Softness Sessions now!

Own Your Woo

Denying your power weakens it.

You have superpowers — i.e. woo, intuition, whatever you choose to call it — and if you’re one of my peeps those superpowers probably aren’t entirely mundane in nature.

So often, I see coaching clients with superpowers shrug off their magic like it’s no big deal.

I’ve watched my peeps bat down compliments about everything from their extraordinary singing voice to their artistry with a camera. They’ve fought me about how tripling their income through hard work and new practices is no big deal because they were going for quintupling their income, so their efforts don’t count. I’ve had a friend cure my fever by holding my hand for a few minutes and increasing my body temperature. Like, I shit you not — cure my fever.

The power we collectively possess within us is far more capable of creating better worlds than any single policy on earth, but we pretend it’s no big deal. We minimize ourselves and our talents at every turn.

Owning your woo means refusing to deny your power.

It means allowing yourself to see what you see, feel what you feel, and know what you know. What you see, feel, and know might be different from what others see, feel, and know, which is where courage is required.

Your power will always ask you to speak up. To tell us when you see a better way forward. To make art where there’s now a trash heap or an abandoned lot. To grow plants in the soil where I could only make dandelions grow. To steer us away from energetically volatile humans. To help us enter into peaceful transitions from one phase of our lives to the next. (Yes, doulas, I’m looking at you!)

Here are a few ways to tell if you’ve been denying your power all along.

When talking about anything spiritual, intuitive, or mysterious, do you:

+ offer the disclaimer of ‘this is woo woo’ before you begin?
+ write your power off as something ‘everyone can do?’
+ refuse to share your tenderest, most soulful and ‘weird’ bits with your partner(s) or friend(s)?
+ try to blend in and pretend you don’t know the things you know?
+ mold yourself to others’ societal standards because you’re afraid of using your own?
+ downplay the role of the spiritual in your life and the lives of others?
+ overcorrect for woo in the direction of the ‘logical’ and ‘practical’?
+ squash your intuition and then proceed to slowly die inside?

Let’s stop doing this shit.

“Despair dresses in the costume of reason. However, it forgets the miracles of healing that become available when we enter a broader story.” — Charles Eisenstein

Denying what you know empowers harmful societal systems that are more than happy to take your power away and then sell you the ‘solution.’

First up! Denying your woo benefits the patriarchy in a big way.

“The witch hunts in Europe coincided with the rise of Western medicine as a profit-based and exclusively male profession. The witch hunts coincided, too, with the expansion of European imperialism and the European slave trade in Africa. The more territory European colonists claimed, the more people they enslaved overseas, the more women they publicly murdered at home. Ironically, this whole era in European history is known as ‘The Renaissance.'” — Ariel Gore, We Were Witches

Women were healers and medicine carriers until men of old decided that medicine was their domain, and thus the persecution of witches and wise women was carried out throughout the ages. You will not be burned at the stake for learning plant medicine, for using tools of divination, for helping others heal, or for listening to the guides, spirits, and ancestors who have much to say when you learn to speak the language of energy.

Some part of you — probably the most ancient and wise part — has trouble believing this, but it’s true.

There is no upside to denying the parts of you that are gifted at healing, that know just what to do or say, or that make people feel safe, seen, comfortable, and loved.

It’s safe to know what you know, see what you see, and feel what you feel.

Next up! Denying your woo benefits capitalism in hugely profitable ways.

“There are no grades anymore…sometimes I think you forget that. There are never going to be grades for the rest of your life, so you just have to do what you want to do. Forget about how it looks. Think about what it is.” — Meg Wolitzer, The Female Persuasion

When you stifle your inner knowing, it’s much easier to market to you via authority figures who claim to have the solution to your very specific problem. How often have you purchased a product or system, particularly in business, that is being marketed as The Way? When really, there is no One Way. There is no next level. There is only where you are now, and you listening deeply to you, keeping an ear to the ground in order to discern your next right step.

The odds of your next right step being a multi-thousand dollar program that teaches you about Facebook ads — when you haven’t done the deep work of developing your voice, honing your talent, sharing your work, and asking for help — is precisely zero.

Please note that developing your voice, honing your talent, sharing your work, and asking for help are often free or cheap endeavors. Sure, you’ll have to use lots of clay to become a better sculptor, but you aren’t required to spend triple your supply budget on seminars, workshops, and online programs in the name of earning more made-up credentials or selling in ways that hurt your soul.

I’m not asking you to give up on education or to cease attendance at workshops! I’m only asking that you run firmly and quickly in the opposite direction of absolutely anyone who has a one-size-fits-all system that is being touted as The Way. Listen to the voice within you that shies away from an authority figure, even if everyone else is firmly in love with them.

Even when I’m at my most market-y and salesy, I’m happy to turn people away from my offerings because they aren’t a good fit for everyone. Honesty about others’ needs helps keep me fundamentally in alignment with my deepest values, one of which is listening to my inner cues about those who are interested in my work. Sometimes it’s time to work with me, sometimes it isn’t, and I’m happy to tell you when you ask.

Speaking of which, 6 year-long coaching spots open on January 16th for KK on Tap

You’ll have access to my program and book archives and get free admission to the upcoming Voice workshop this May, as well as have quarterly 1-on-1 and group coaching calls with me. Most peeps make their money back within a few months, and some clients go as far as to increase their income by 450% when working with me. (Yes, I shit you not, 450% increase in income.  I can’t promise you’ll have those results, but I can promise you’ll like your business more by the end of our time together than you do right now.) Hit up kristenkalp.com/tap to get details and to get on the waitlist!

Next, we move on to a consequence of denying your woo that you might not have considered.

Denying your woo — i.e. your intuition — denies not only your power, but my power and the collective power we humans wield when we are honest about the workings of the universe.

Denying your superpowers makes those around you question their own, while refusing to accept compliments teaches everyone around you to either stop complimenting you or to deflect praise as well.

To claim our woo is to claim the possibility of a more fulfilling life, starting right now.

When we tap into and fully own our woo — the mystery, the unknowable, and the grace within it — we regain power at a fundamental level.

Power to heal our own bodies. (See: tiny annoying progress.)

Power to tell our doctors that no, they actually don’t know what’s best for us, and fuck you for shaming me about my weight.

Power to claim dominion over all of our emotions, our too-muchness, and our not enough-ness.

Power to be vulnerable and to be deeply human, even when being alive feels like a shit show.

Power to undo our old patterns and beliefs in the name of healing.

Power to be fulfilled by our work when it isn’t making 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 figures — and especially if it never will. By design.

Power to be filled up by music, by shared conversation, by nourishing food, by making love, by books, by learning, and/or by most everything the world has on offer at little cost or within the context of community gifts freely given.

When we fully claim our intuitive nature and our knowing,
we have the power to create a world in which libraries are better funded than prisons,
and in which our fellow humans value kindness to the earth and to others
more deeply than they value buying more cheap shit at Target and then going home to play with it,
alone.

The first step toward owning your woo is to acknowledge that it exists. And it’s accurate.

For example. Bear and I had lots of fights about Louis C.K. at the start of our relationship. I would contend that he was a bad person, I could feel it, and Bear would say Louis gave lots of money to charity and that he was dedicated to progressive causes. I know, but he’s gross, I would contend. Bear would grow frustrated that I couldn’t back up my feelings with facts or evidence, and that was that.

Years later, when it was revealed that Louis C.K. was and is a sexual predator, Bear apologized. Lots. There was no way I was going to follow the dude around with a video camera to catch him doing nefarious deeds, but there was also no way I was going to deny my knowing just because dude gives money to charity. I knew he wasn’t to be trusted, even when the facts needed to justify my feelings weren’t obvious to those around me.

You have those powers, too. You know that dude is to be avoided from a thousand yards away, or that woman is going to leave you a 1-star Yelp review no matter what you do, or that teacher isn’t in alignment with what they’re teaching even if they have Oprah’s approval and have sold 43.9 million books this year.

Your instincts are real, and your knowing is real, and the only reason that’s weird is because capitalism and science haven’t yet found ways to make your knowing tangible — and therefore sale-able — to the general public.

You’re drawn to people and programs for ‘no good reason,’ while others leave you with a case of the heebie-jeebies. If we simply stopped buying shit from people who give us the heebie jeebies, we’d be 20% further along as a society than we are right now. Like, if everyone stopped listening to R. Kelly because he’s a serial rapist. If we stopped buying Trump stuff and supporting him in any way because he’s a man without a moral compass. If we stopped investing in big oil because sure, it’s profitable for stock holders, but it’s also killing the planet and all of our lives depend on stopping its reign.

Your overriding your instincts is harmful to you, yes, but also to society in general.

Your instincts whisper things like, ‘Hold people accountable for their actions. Give less funding to shitty corporations wherever you can. Delete the Amazon Prime app from your phone and buy locally more often.’

These are small changes that really do matter. Asshole brain will say they don’t matter, or they’re no big deal, or Amazon is unstoppable, but those things aren’t true when we collectively imagine better futures.

Honor. Your. Knowing.

Is there anything you know is true, but don’t yet have the facts to prove?

When scientists did extensive studies of blue mind and found that humans are happier and healthier when they’re in the presence of large bodies of water like the ocean, we all smacked our foreheads and said, “Of course!” Our inner knowing is often far, far ahead of science.

Do you have any experiences that defy explanation or sound absolutely unbelievable?

During the last breathwork training I attended, I was tending to a woman breathing in front of me. The spirit of her father approached, looked at me, and said, “Isn’t she great!???” with all the love in the world. I nodded, crying, because yes of course she’s great! The fact that I was communicating with a spirit and not a human in this reality was strange to me, but no less true because of its strangeness.

Further, I’ve experienced moments of timelessness, of deep knowing, and of connection while doing breathwork. I’ve met lines of my ancestors stretching back through time. I’ve convened with animal spirits. I’ve been healed by an ancient oracle who lives in another realm. I’ve breathed out anger and hurt and pain and societal installations meant to silence me. I’ve been healed of illness. I’ve seen paths forward through seemingly impossible situations.

Breathwork has helped me to cure both my thyroid and my depression, and to connect more deeply to my inner knowing.

If you’re curious and would like a breathwork 101 class to try out my favorite spiritual practice, The Softness Sessions start soon!

We’ll take six weeks to ease you into the breathwork through the lenses of my biggest life lessons so far. One participant, Joanna, said, “I just love this course. I feel like it should be a prerequisite for adulthood. This isn’t the sort of thing that usually blows up and goes viral, but it should. I can’t think of very many people I know who wouldn’t benefit from your wisdom and this process. Your stories and heart and experiences are so beautiful. The realness is rare and refreshing.” Check it out at thesoft.space now!

Have you ever known you were meant to take a class, attend a workshop, or learn from a person, even though it made no logical sense at the time?

I once got on a plane to attend a workshop for a teacher I’d only seen once in a magazine. Turns out, that workshop and its setting put glorious forces in motion! I fell in love with Laguna Beach, had some of the best days of my life, grew closer to my best friend, reacquainted myself with childhood beliefs I’d left for dead, and cradled myself around my dying spark of aliveness for long enough to take the next step in my life within a few months. (The next step was getting a divorce.)

Did you ever override your instincts about a person, place, or event, only to sorely regret it later?

Which superpower do you regularly deny, ignore, or pretend is no big deal?

Which of your superpowers are you ready to claim as your own, even though it’s scary to do so?

Have you ever passed up an opportunity that others called you crazy for missing, only to find out that you avoided a disaster of epic proportions?

Have you ever received knowing visually or aurally without knowing where it came from?

Do you ever have premonitions that come true?

Each of those questions points to a way of knowing. They aren’t the strictly capitalist, ultra-productive ways that you can download an app and begin using immediately, but they’re no less valid because they aren’t available in the Apple store.

Honor. Your. Knowing.

In the coming weeks, you can consciously:

+ stop offering a disclaimer of ‘this is woo woo’ before you speak about spiritual matters.
+ stop writing your superpowers off as ‘something everyone can do.’
+ share a tender, soulful bit of knowing with someone you love.
+ know the things you know without pretending otherwise.
+ use your own standards of measurement for reaching success, fulfillment, and joy.
+ center the role of the spiritual in your life instead of relegating it to the edges of your existence.
+ give credence to the woo instead of deferring to the ‘logical’ and ‘practical,’ particularly when they lead you in opposite directions.
+ acknowledge and voice your intuitive hits instead of slowly dying inside.

When you speak about your intuition plainly, avoiding the eye darts or hushed tones that often turn up when people talk about spiritual matters, you do each and every one of us a favor.

You honor the ancestors — yours and mine — who knew so much without speaking, and who honored their knowing by caring for the earth and each other with varying degrees of tenderness.

You also honor those who gleaned spiritual meaning from their everyday lives through intuitive means when capitalism, the patriarchy, and a host of other oppressive societal systems kept them from being free. (A short list of the evils that thrive when we override our inner compasses at a societal level: genocide, ecocide, slavery, discrimination, hatred, warfare, and ever-inflating, unstoppable military spending for nuclear proliferation so extensive that is has the ability to wipe our existence from the planet in a matter of seconds.)

Finally, you honor yourself, your interiors, and your truest work when you move in the direction of your inner knowing. The world doesn’t need one more person who’s quieted their knowing and taken up a life of extracting resources from the earth or from one another.

We need those who know, and who honor their knowing.

Who listen, and who act accordingly.

Please listen. And act accordingly.

P.S. The next step from here?  Sensing the sparkle.

Structure That Doesn’t Suck, Part V (The end is here!)

This is part five, the final part of the Structure That Doesn’t Suck series! Please take time to enjoy episodes one, two, three, and four before you proceed.

You’ll want to grab a notebook and writing implement, ’cause we’re about to scribble. This is one of those more-questions-than-answers episodes to help you wade through the murk of overwhelm and into tangible answers and parameters. (It’s also meant to make you feel hopeful about your future! If at any point you find your asshole brain shouting hateful commentary at you, come back to the place where you are well, your next steps are entirely doable, and you’re capable of completing the task before you.)

Once you know what your Next Most Important Thing is (that’s Structure That Doesn’t Suck, part 4!), it’s your job to bring it to life.

Mostly that feels overwhelming, though, so you figure you’ll buy a class or seventeen to help you learn to do the thing better before you start doing it for real. Or you decide to finish up alllll those pressing tasks like organizing your pencils and learning to knit before you add any part of this project to the calendar.

You will be tempted to push your Next Most Important Thing to a vague but ever-present ‘later.’

This, the final episode of the Structure That Doesn’t Suck series, is all about bringing your important work into the right now of your life.

I’m going to use the example of The Softness Sessions, a course I made this year that opens again in March of 2020, but you can use this framework to support any of your important work. Classes, workshops, photo shoots, books, magazines, videos, coaching packages, therapies, you name it!

Let’s actively create a container for your work.

Lunas are plagued by nebulous, undefined, unclear, ever-shifting and broadening work.

For Luna, this is about pinning down details and choosing a way forward from a web of infinite possibilities. Yes, it can be tricky. No, it’s not impossible. This exercise is about aligning what you can see in your mind’s eye with what you can produce in the physical world.

Hermiones are plagued by safe, sturdy, reliable, secretly-bores-you-to-tears work.

For Hermione, this is about taking risks and trying on new ways of being in the world. It’s about aligning what you feel with what you do every day, not trying to separate the two and then paper over the disparities with busyness.

Questions and answers form the most basic level of your Next Most Important Thing’s structure.

When I was making The Softness Sessions, I knew I wanted to combine breathwork with the hardest life lessons I’ve ever learned in an approachable way. I knew I wanted the course to include audio lessons that are completely portable and reusable, and I wanted to actively dance between using words and wordlessness throughout the program. It was important to me that those who take the class walk away with an increased knowledge of their own interiors, not merely listen to blah blah blah on my end.

I didn’t have ANY idea how the physical world form of The Softness Sessions would take shape.

So, I started asking questions.

How long would the course last? Six weeks felt good.

Where would I host it? I looked into a new publishing system that would include creating new infrastructure, but I decided to use a system I already had in place. (Teachable, if you’re curious.)

How would it be delivered? Via weekly email, sent on Thursday.

How long would each session last? The teaching portion would last for under thirty minutes so that each session would be under an hour. Time was really important to me, because without that parameter I could easily have made seventeen 3-hour classes that no one had the fortitude to finish.

Finally, when did the course take place? We start on March 19th, 2020! You can sign up at thesoft.space!

With a few questions, we went from a nebulous ‘beginner course for breathwork’ to a 6-week class with 1-hour sessions (hosted on my teaching platform and) delivered on Thursdays via email.

Physical world decisions make a container in which your creativity can flourish.

Infinite possibilities are overwhelming! If you’ve ever been to a bakery and stared at the display case in gooey-eyed wonder, unable to pick a single thing, you know the overwhelm is real. Physical world parameters create a way forward when you can see only choices, choices, and more choices.

Let’s draw out some physical world characteristics and use your instincts to answer the questions. (There are no right or wrong answers here, only answered and unanswered questions.)

When in doubt, make it smaller instead of larger to prevent scope creep.

Read: three people instead of three thousand people. Five paintings in an art show instead of fifty. Ten new clients instead of two hundred.

First, remind yourself of your Next Most Important Thing. Take a moment to feel it within you. (Whether you like it or not, this project lives within you right now! How does it want to FEEL?)

How will this project be defined? Weeks, months, modules, hours, pieces? Other?

How many of the defining unit will be used? i.e. 6 weeks, 3 modules, 2 hours, 8 pieces?

How many people can participate in the first project? 3 people, 30 people, 300 people?

What is the single most important daily activity you’ll have to complete to make this happen?

What is the smallest, simplest feasible version of the thing? (i.e. the living room tour, not the multi-continent arena tour)

What is the cheapest, most fun way this could come to light?

Which resources already at your disposal could be used to make this happen?

When will the Next Most Important Thing take place?

Now, write a single paragraph that sums up what you’re making, and by when.

Let’s get even more specific.

Keep in mind that it’s okay to not know! Scribble the first answer that comes to mind. Your asshole brain is NOT welcome here.

What is the tippy-top most general thing that has to happen in order for this project to take place? (i.e. writing if you’re making a book)

Which people can you ask for help, guidance, assistance, or advice about this project?

Which people can you ask for help, guidance, assistance, or advice so you can clear your most dreaded physical world obligations for long enough to complete this project?

What is a very, very low price for this thing? What is a very, very high price for this thing?

What, in your estimation, is a fair price for this thing?

Which person or group of people will help keep you from getting caught up in perfectionism, procrastination, or both?

When will this be completed? Date and time on the calendar.

When will this be released to the general public, if applicable? Date and time on the calendar.

Write another paragraph that summarizes what you’re making and what you’ve learned before you continue.

Okay, that was the easy part! Now we’re going to tackle your beliefs.

You’ll want to skip this part. It will seem silly and hippy woo bullshit to consider these possibilities.

DO NOT SKIP THIS PART. We are making a roadmap for your future self to refer to when the going gets rough, tough, or impossible.

Where are your beliefs about scalability likely to trip you up? (i.e. This isn’t big enough, I’ll just add _________ and ________ and _________ and instead of offering it to 4 people I’ll try and get 4 THOUSAND people interested!)

Where are your beliefs about passive income likely to mess with you? (i.e. I could do this course I’ve never done live ONLINE and make the BIG bucks with NO effort because WHITE CIS HET MALE PODCAST GURUS say it’s the best way!)

Where are your beliefs about what’s possible likely to take you down? (i.e. I could never get paid for that.)

Which parts of this project are you likely to overthink or overcomplicate?

Which parts are you likely to ignore because they’re uncomfortable or difficult?

Where are you likely to get hung up in perfectionism or procrastination?

Those are the MOST important questions you can ask about a project. You’ve outlined the demons you’ll be facing as you bring it to light.

Your Future Self thanks you for making this list!

Finally, take time to add pertinent basics to the calendar.

Add the daily task you’ve got to complete for this to happen to the calendar. This is a Bare Minimum type task, like writing 200 words, or editing for 20 minutes, or asking one more person to participate.

Use your self knowledge to create a doable make-it-happen calendar that allows for making, marketing, and completing the project with the help of your Bare Minimum task(s).

If you’re a Luna, your job is to complete the daily task that moves the ball forward without fail. There’s generally one small, simple task — writing, painting, sewing — that gets you the most bang for your buck. DO THAT THING. Every day.

If you’re a Hermione, your job is to let the making — not the marketing and selling and fixing and perfecting and scaling — take center stage. Stick to that deadline you’ve created, because you could easily take the next seventeen years to make this thing more and more perfect before you release it.

Structure That Doesn’t Suck supports your whole self by creating and then maintaining a Hermione or Luna Hour, then helps you bring your Next Most Important Thing to light by giving it parameters in the real world. I hope this series has helped you sort through the overwhelming number of options available for everything — including your own work — in order to do the next right thing in the coming months.

If the Structure That Doesn’t Suck series has you feeling confused or frustrated or like, OH GOD THIS ONLY MADE IT WORSE I NEED HELP — or you now have an outline but you know you need help bringing it to life! — you’re a good candidate for business coaching. KK on Tap means you’ll work with me for a full year, and we’ll get this structure thing under control.

KK on Tap biz coaching spots open in January, so get on the waitlist now!

Also! There are 35 new podcast episodes in 2019! If I helped you make more than $35 in your biz this year — support this ongoing work with a payment of $35 at kristenkalp.com/podcast.

The Softness Sessions start in March, and you can pick ’em up at the Early Bird Price of $88 right now!

P.S. Please enjoy the happiest of every holiday ever!!!! 

I’ll release a new podcast on 1/1/20.  The whole regular-podcasting-and-checking-of-email-enterprise will resume in earnest on January 14th.

Between now and then, I’m moving from Philly to Portland (a few thousand miles, for those who aren’t up on U.S. geography).  Hugs and hope and all good things to you between now and then!