Facing The Unknown & the Art of Fighting Fire with Aaron Quinn

This week our guest is Aaron Quinn, an Oakland Firefighter for over 20 years, a yoga teacher as well as an advanced Wim Hof method instructor.  We speak about his journey as a firefighter, which led him to develop a whole-body wellness program, including meditation, physical fitness, and nutrition for new firefighters. This program also helps recruits learn tools to aid in the parts of the job that can be psychologically taxing. 

Additionally, we touch on a variety of topics and stories that have impacted Aaron’s life. This includes his participation in brain research done on the impact of practicing Wim Hof, the role spirituality plays in his life, his ability to receive in his personal life outside of supporting others, as well as, the epidemic proportion of PTSD and suicidal ideation amongst firefighters. We end this incredible episode with a wonderful guided meditation led by Aaron to help us envision ourselves whole. 

You can learn more about Aaron and his work at @live.serve.thrive on Instagram and at his website Live Serve Thrive.

Show Notes

Welcome back to lead up and podcast. This is your host Charna Cassell and today my guest is Erin Quinn. He’s an Oakland firefighter of 20 years a yoga teacher as well as an advanced Wim Hof Method instructor. Welcome Aaron

Thank you. How are you? 

I am. I am good. I’m excited to have this conversation. Yeah, this will be a good time. So we originally met when your wife was the auctioneer for a live auction that I participated in. And I ended up hiring her to be my auctioneer for I was doing a fundraiser for trauma work in Nepal. Awesome. And I remember really enjoying our conversation, and we were talking about trauma and firefighting. Yeah. Do you remember that? I mean, it’s a while ago. Now. I don’t remember the actual conversation. I remember we had a connection. Yeah, I’ve ever been like, wow, this is really cool. And, and my wife and I, because it sounds like a really good conversation. Yeah, it was really awesome. I can’t recall the specifics. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I know a little bit more now being in the relationship that I’m in with a firefighter, but it’s being a City firefighter, very different than being a wildland firefighter and my association, I have a lot of associations with fire. But I definitely think of the the mental well being and wonder about the levels of Trump vicarious trauma and direct trauma that firefighters experience. Yeah, it’s, we can dive down that path if you want. Well, I want to, you know, I definitely want to cover all the pieces because I know like, one of the things that you’re really focused on is mind body spirit, wellness, and providing that in the fire department. And I’m, I’m curious. So at this point, Are you actively fighting fire? Or you’re mainly doing training for people? Or what’s your role at this point, I’m actively fighting fire. I’m still a firefighter. So we have different ranks. I am a firefighter. I’ve been doing that for 2020 years, almost 21. Now, and all the coaching and training that I do is for the new recruits. So when you get hired, you go down to an academy. It’s a it’s like a 50 hour week, Monday through Friday ish. I say yes, because the schedule is kind of fluid. And I get them for about an hour, hour and a half every morning from about six to 730 or eight.

And we cover everything from your fitness to mental health to performance. And that’s all voluntary. Don’t get paid for that. Oh, wow. Yeah. And I’ve been doing that for 16 years. I think at one point, somebody calculated for me, I think I’ve trained north of 250 to three of our firefighters well, over the last 17 years.

That’s wild to me that you don’t get paid for that I in my mind, without having talked with you in the details. I was like, Oh, this is his role, like there’s a paid role for the mental well being because there’s a recognized problem with PTSD among firefighters, how awesome they’ve implemented this this program. No, I guess not. No, I is where the sounds are. There’s a recognised problem. But there isn’t a lot of training around that yet. It’s coming. And unfortunately, it’s a dollars and cents Issue. Issue for a lot of departments. They just don’t have the money to fund it. And it takes you know, someone like me, who’s kind of a nerd about that kind of stuff interested in it. And also, you know, it’s hard because yet the we volunteer our time, so you’re not getting reimbursed, and it’s time away. And so maybe is what I do in the morning. Yeah, it’s easier just to just to manage things. If I, you know, get down there at 6am back by time to get the kids to school. It’s a little easier to manage that. But yeah, you would hope there’ll be more of that. But there’s not right now. It’s coming. No, absolutely. Yeah, I mean, that’s its own wormhole that we could dive into around Yeah, where we prioritize spending our money. Country you could view but entire podcast. I know. I feel like every every topic we’re gonna cover we could do a whole podcast, it’s like earlier, it could be Yes, pretty much so and so I know that one of the things that you do that I’ve also found to be really valuable. 

You is Wim Hof and I would love for for people who don’t know who Wim Hof is I would love for you to describe the what you see the values of the Wim Hof breathwork practice being and how that’s benefited you and what you’ve seen with the people that you work with. So just short, a short synopsis Wim Hof is a crazy Dutch guy who studied yoga, his entire life, and his wife committed suicide when his kids were very young. And that was a huge trauma, huge hole in his life. And he turned all the disciplines that he knew, and he couldn’t really find any answers or any salvation. Then as his story goes, he was walking by river one winter and felt compelled to get in the water, the cold and he jumped in the cold, and he got out right away, anybody felt better. And he kept doing that day after day after day after day, and in doing that, finally killed himself. And also, during the cold exposure kind of discovered a breathing technique that that that worked very well, well, for him to around trauma and healing, you know, like most people,

is probably a combination, everything he learned, kind of morph together to kind of create his own system. And then he took that, and over the years, he’s shown people and other people have found success with it. And so that’s kind of short, very, very short, leaving a lot of details, but just give your listeners a taste of it. If they’re curious. It’s Wim HLF, you can look them up and find endless stuff about him. Yeah. So the second part of the question was kind of why do I think is effective, I think, especially for firefighters, or people who maybe have more type a

kind of that kind of more masculine driven careers or jobs, sometimes the idea of asking someone just to do yoga or to sit and and focus on their breathing for 20 minutes slow kind of controlled is very challenging at first. And the Wim Hof style of breathing is, is it’s intense. And it’s like a rocket ship, it will get you there quickly, I think that works well, for especially a lot of firefighters. And so I think that’s a good access point, I kind of look at, like, the idea of like, CrossFit is a great access point, for some people to start looking at maybe different movements, or different ideas of fitness is not the best place to be, it’s not the only place to be, that’s not the only thing that works. For a lot of people, it’s a beginning, right, to jump off into the deep end, you know, so to speak. I think the cold exposure, we can talk about that, you know, endlessly that definitely has a lot of things around healing and, and connection with the mind and body and releasing of trauma that can be stored in tissues in it and in the body. So that’s a whole nother side of it. So that’s kind of a, you know, a quick, quick little rundown. Yeah, yeah, I think you know, what you’re saying is super important, which is, start where you are, and recognize, you know, one thing works for one person, it’s not gonna work for everybody. And, and if you for instance, if you can’t sit still do a walking meditation, right? There’s different kinds of practices, or a wood chopping meditation, or whatever it is, but people will say, like, I can’t, I can’t quiet my mind. I can’t go have like Zen, for instance, is definitely not the right thing for everybody. Somebody else needs a mantra, or, yeah, right. Ultimately, I think the idea of all those practices is to train you to quiet your mind. Right? So you may start with a walker or mantra, but eventually, the idea is that you put those layers back into until you get to the point where you can, there’s different access points to get there. It’s like everyone’s looking at this, you know, it’s that famous is that famous story, where like, in this room, you have like Buddha, and you have Muhammad and you have Jesus and you have God, you have all the religious people ever, and they all look at this bouquet. And they’re all gonna describe it differently. Because a different perspective, but it’s all the same bouquet. Right? I think that’s kind of the idea there. It’s meditation is all trying at the same point is just coming from different angles. Yeah, yeah. And do you want to say more about the cold exposure?

Yeah, I think at its surface, a lot of people misunderstand the Wim Hof Method and the cold exposure they get into the cold and they try to fight through this thing. They try to fight through the experience they got recruited out especially males, they get in there like I’m a fight to this I’m I’m I’m a tough this thing out. And that actually is not what he talks about. And if you listen to him, it’s all about surrendering into the cold and releasing it to the cold and welcoming the cold and you know, basically like comforting your body through this experience.

And I think that’s a deeper if you’re gonna jump like over all the beginning stuff, right to the very end of this process. That’s the deeper message is that we’re learning how to comfort our bodies and calm our bodies. Yeah, it’s just a stressful situation. You know, people right now have this saying that oh, your life begins or you only grow outside your comfort zone and

Yeah, challenge yourself. And I think there’s truth to that I think the piece that you were missing is is not necessarily about challenging yourself and being outside your comfort zone, it’s about expanding the comfort zone. Yeah, it’s about being able to find comfort, and create comfort when your body needs it. And when it’s been always being challenged, you have are constantly in this activated state, like we have been able to fight through it for a while, but your body’s gonna give up eventually, no one can last forever. Whereas if we can learn to create comfort and be comfortable, then we can keep going and keep moving. Yeah, what you’re touching on is, is how we build resilience. Right? And I can, I can be one of those people who historically was like, Bring it on, motherfucker. Yeah, we all can think a lot of people actually don’t have that. But you know, I remember being on a writing date, I had a friend who was writing a book about trauma. And he was like, join, take a break, and go for a walk. And at the time, I was like, no, no, I’m in a flow, I gotta keep writing. And there was a level of that kind of intensity that I was bringing to what I was doing. And I wasn’t, even though I know better. There was it was just a habit that I was in. And it just felt compulsive almost rather than being able to stop and go, I’m going to intentionally keep building resilience, and give my body a break and trust that there’s going to be creative flow in that space that I create, you know, in the softness. Absolutely. Right. Yeah. Yeah. So I think that’s, that’s super important. This place when you’re talking about being in the cold and going like, I’m actually trying to build my capacity for soothing and being kind to myself and gentle with myself.

You may not see that right away. But when you’re in this freezing cold water, right, rather than being like, cool, and you can take it exactly. And there’s all kinds of like biological things that happen in the body, hormonal cascades that happen, that definitely

help that process, okay, or it can help you heal as well. But again, the you know, those are easy to find those online. If your people are curious, or if you’re curious. I talked about him now, I think some of the some of the deeper ideas and philosophies are a little more hidden. So I tend I’d like to talk about those because those are about Yeah. And for you, do you want to say anything more about how you have that benefit has shown up in your life. Like once you’ve made those hidden? Yeah, I think probably one of the

biggest ways is I think I’ll oftentimes, and I guess I’ll speak to my own experience in firefighting and in life, but definitely Firefighting is you know, your, your, you train yourself as a firefighter, to detach from a situation.

And really, really, for the most part, every situation you go into is some level of heightened stressor or, or trauma, you may not be quote unquote, experiencing it, but the person that you’re going to is experiencing some some level of trauma, otherwise, they would have called you, right? That’s the very nature of it, right? So you’re constantly in these environments where you’re detaching, and you’re not feeling and unfortunately, when you’re not processing, mentally, the trauma is being stored in the body. And so we get to this place where your body breaks body hurts your body, you know, all these other things can happen, or it starts coming up in weird and weird ways you’re not conscious of Yeah, so through the breathwork and cold, I have literally, like, gone back through and processed, lived experienced a lot of calls and scenes that were stressful and, and, and traumatic, that some of them unnecessarily may sound weird to some people, but you’ll understand, like, I literally didn’t know that I like pletely forgot that that happened to me, that was like a complete shut off of of an experience. I didn’t even remember until you oh my god, this did happen. And going back through that as a almost like an observer. Yeah. And it’s through the process of the breathwork in the cold that that has really that that has really helped me that’s probably the biggest place that’s helped me you know, there’s all the other things too that I can you know, physical in other ways too, but that’s probably the biggest place it’s helped me know that’s huge. And in your experience, were you able to Woods scenes like flashbacks body memories so so for listeners that distinction, a flashback of something that you visually see a body memory something that you an old past experience that suddenly arises in your body and feels like it’s happening in present time. Are you experiencing both flashbacks and body memories during the breath? Flashbacks for sure. body memories, you know, sometimes I’ll get scared or anxious and nervous, but I wouldn’t say it’s I wouldn’t I might have, like full on like, yeah, a full on body experience. I think the breath work because it’s very intense. And your your body’s very focused on that. And it’s very driven by deep diaphragmatic

Breathing, which diaphragm is very, very intense, crazy muscle that has all kinds of things. And because of that, it tends to allow you to see, and, but not necessarily have to feel all the feels, which is it, which can be a great way to heal and then in the cold as well, because it’s such an intense environment and because your body is dealing with this cold, yeah, it also helps to just kind of, you know, let it let those things run through your body. And then your mind can process them. And we can we can move through them as many times as we need to. And we can let it go and and, and keep it moving. Yeah, that last pit moves through it as many times as you need to. So when I’m doing bodywork, I do trauma release, type bodywork with people in it. And I remind them, you don’t have to feel it all at once. Because there’s so much fear of like, oh my God, what’s going to come up? And I think, as listeners are hearing this, they might be like, oh, I want to try this. But then there’s the fear of how do I how do I actually be with something if it arises? And reminding you I don’t? You know, it’s a tricky thing, if you don’t have a practitioner there. And I know Aaron, do you work with people individually? Can they hire you as a coach, I have with you individually, I would be very happy to work with people. But in all fairness, my schedule is very, very challenging and very full. And that’s probably reasons why I really keep my teaching towards the fire department in a very tight defined section. Yeah, like, this time I do it with academies, this session is gonna be an hour each of these mornings. I just because my schedule is very right now I totally with that all being said, Yes. I’m super passionate about this. I love helping people. If we can connect, I’m happy to connect, and and help or I can help. Or there may be other Wim Hof instructors, I think that it’s an interesting thing. And I don’t know how much when you get trained. There’s any

education around trauma, or if they if everyone has the same bent that you do in terms of holding what may arise. It’s like, you know, how how one physical trader can understand trauma, and what may arise through even just through lifting weights, I’ve had massive trauma.

And the people I’ve worked with, as lovely as they are, they’re just like, befuddled, they’re like, Whoa, she’s crying, what’s happening, you know, versus someone knowing how to be with that. And so I’m curious if there’s training for the Wim Hof instructors around how to be with that, if when that arises for people, yeah, there is training, I think everyone comes into with their own experience and their own post level of training and their own, like, next level training past that. And so everyone comes with a little different slant. Some people are far more focused on the athletic performance side, right? Some people are far more focused on the anti inflammatory healing the body side, and they really go down that that path, they really understand that, you know, for me, again, like the biggest, the biggest side has been kind of the mental health and connection and trauma side.

That’s probably where I personally need to do the most amount of work. That’s probably why that’s been the most important for me, it’s kind of the way I focused on it. There are other instructors that focus on the same thing. There’s some wonderful people out there. But again, like like it, like you said, like a trainer, every trainer comes with a different set of skills and speaks different people. Well, and and there’s something really important having lived through something and having an understanding. Like if you understand what, what a trauma release looks like or feels like during that experience, then you have the capacity to be with that. When someone else is going through that and when other firefighters are going through that that you’re working with and that’s I’m I’m so I feel like almost moved to tears and so happy that you found this resource. Yeah, you’re offering it to them like I’m just


Yeah. That’s really profound.

It’s so needed. Yeah.



Yeah, I feel I wish that we could clone ourselves, you know, like people doing being of service could all be cloned so that we could do more, it’s just hard. It’s hard that we only have the capacity we have. And the times have and, and to always trust and believe that it’s enough is can be hard for me as a trauma therapist, you know, it’s like, I get so many calls, unfortunately, right now, during this period of time in history, there are not that many people to refer people to and it’s it’s a hard thing.

Yeah, it’s I think very similar to being at work in some respects. Right. You can’t help everyone. Yeah, and sometimes the people that use can help you really want to and it doesn’t work out. And I think that’s a very challenging very hard place mentally to see. situation.

Shouldn’t where you feel like, I could help? Or if I had more I, I could I can help I can make a difference. Yeah. And and knowing that, that you can’t, you know, it’s hard sometimes you look at situation, you don’t have the skill set or the tools you like, well, I can’t do anything, I wouldn’t know what to do. Right? Well, that sounds you looked at it, and you know,

what to do, and you know, you can fix it, if you had the time or energy, the resources and you don’t, and that’s very, very challenging very hard, mentally and physically to, to experience that. Yep. And, you know, that goes into I mean, that’s, it’s a bigger conversation about how systems are set up and the resources that are available, but then there’s you individually and, and how, you know, we need to take care of ourselves and for care providers. And whether you’re a therapist or a doctor or a firefighter, and having boundaries and being able to be like, it’s great that you’re like, Okay, this is the time these are my time boundaries. This is what I know I can make this offering of my time. And outside of that I really need to focus on my well being and being with my family, etc.

Yeah, one of the things that, that from a coaching standpoint, I’m coaching the recruits the most time accrues, so what I do afterwards, you know, you know, can we get you a gift? Can you pay you? Yes, my, it’s always the same? No, it’s just, you know, pay it forward, learn, learn more, you know, grow more than teach other people. Yeah, um, you know, attach the time I gave you, you know, you give them

so, I think that’s the way that you can,

hopefully, yeah, magnify your effect is like, you know, like, empowering people to be their own healers and then encouraging them to, to, to share their experience to help other people. 100% Yeah, there was, there’s so much more that I want to go into around. Let’s go, specifically the well, I want to go more into the Wim Hof trauma release. And there’s so much there’s so many other things that I want to talk to you about. You can always listen to podcasts. Yeah, that’s true. I just out Wim Hof stuff if you want. Yeah, well, let’s come back to since we’re here, right now, I want to So in your experience, so there’s there’s different kinds of resources that help people get distance from their trauma versus being so sucked into it, that they can’t they get so overwhelmed, and then their their system gets more activated. Right. And the things that I know that I’ve used with clients, so I do some ketamine assisted psychotherapy, and that’s a dissociative, which helps people be able to observe and have perspective and see whatever the trauma experiences from a different vantage point. And also, I have this meditative light machine called the Lucia number three hypnagogic light. Have you tried it? I have not tried it. Oh, my God, but I’m aware of it. I want to offer you a free session. Yeah, I actually know that there’s a there’s a firefighter in Santa Cruz, who bought a light just for the pure purpose of just being able to like, do sessions and light to the other firefighters. It’s a profound device created by a neurologist and a psychologist in Austria. And so So I’m curious coming back to Wim Hof. Do you feel like it does a similar thing like instead of compartmentalizing in a way that creates trauma, because you’re not feeling through something in the moment? It creates distance? Because your attention is on this other physical experience or sensation. Like what’s your perception? I think there’s, well there’s there’s the cold and the breathing. And I even though they work together, yeah, separate those because in my experience, those have been a little bit different. And, and I will say

the magic is, is not only the breath work or the cold exposure, but the top is time and space after that experience. So in the cold, I think it tends to be a very intense experience. So that kind of takes that, that focus out and because it’s you have this constriction of all the blood vessels, you have a massive, you know, hormonal cascade, when you get out all those blood vessels read dilate, and they open back up again. And you have all that oxygenated blood, you know, coming through in the body and into spaces that that don’t get lot of great blood flow. Always tiny nooks and crannies. And so, you know, like, the thing I kind of imagined my mind is,

as your body is warming itself, it’s going in these tiny spaces that were little things are stored that you may not even be aware of. And then you shiver and sometimes the shiver is a cold shiver. Sometimes it’s release, releasing shivers. And after a while you end up you learn how to know which is the difference between the two. And so in that case, I think it’s

The trauma release tends to be a little

less disassociated and a little more kind of like

your body working through, like, like barriers is where I visualize that. Now with the breath work, this, this is where things become very interesting. And there is some, a little tiny bit of hard science, if you can call anything hard science, and there’s a lot of,

for lack of a better word I’ll call kind of woowoo. We’re, and I’m not diminishing. Yeah, I don’t want anyone to hear that.

I love woowoo stuff. I’m all about it. And I only say that because everyone understands what that means. Yes, yes. But I was involved in a very interesting study done by dmt.org. And it’s out of San Jose, and this guy is studying whether or not our bodies can make DMT endogenously which basically means within our own cells, we know that women giving birth can and do release DMT and we know that near death experiences will release DMT as well. And there’s some thought that being birthed as the baby also is DMT. So DMT is a very powerful hallucinogen is most people probably know listened your podcast, the whole ayahuasca experiences are based in in DMT, and some other chemicals that they mix together. So long story short, they bring us into the room. They hook our brains up, they monitor our brains, they look at the brainwaves. Oftentimes, gamma brainwave state is associated with the DMT type thing. I won’t go into how they mapped people’s brainwaves when they’re having DMT experience, but they did that. So they had some individuals who

did what they needed to do. And they were having a DMT experience through outside sources, not their brainwaves. Then they bring us into Wim Hof instructors, all of us were at minimum, you know, five, five years experience instructing, and about 10 years experience practicing. So I was we’re very, very experienced practitioners and have coached for a while they brought us in, they’re very clear on the need for sobriety. And, and even to the point of no caffeine. So we’ve come in to bring us around the measure of brainwaves before for about 15 minutes, and they tell us to go go into a breathing session. And this session was an intense session, it was about a 3540 minute session, which is longer than usual. And they asked us to go as deep as we can go

using the Wim Hof Method, and they measure our brainwaves. And they found that our brainwaves were close, not the same 90, but close to the to the people with a DMT trip and very much a gamma brainwave state. Yeah, I say I say all that to say that in my own personal experience, other people it strange that I’ve heard is very much a dissociative effect to the to the to the breathwork. That allows you in a lot of ways to to see and visualize the traumatic experience. But in a way that isn’t is a triggering that allows you to process it. And one of the wonderful things about breathwork versus exogenous substances is that we have control over this experience, we can stop it at any point, or we can increase it at any point, or we can back off and come back into it again. And whereas for a lot of other substances, once you’re on the train, you’re on the train, and there’s no getting off the train. I think that’s a that’s a unique difference between breathwork and some of the other stuff out there. Yeah, that’s awesome. I’m so curious to see that to read that study. Have you heard of Dr. Joe? Dispenza? Uh huh. So, you know, he employs a teaches a similar kind of breath. Yeah. DMT breathwork, as he calls it, well, and it in Yeah, it’s but it’s very similar to Wim Hof. And, you know, we’ll do that and, and then he also does these whole, very, you know, intensive four hour long, pineal gland focused meditations for healing and really miraculous you could call it Woo, you could call it miraculous, you know, whatever you want to call it, physical healings, as well as emotional healings occur. Absolutely. Like breath is the most direct way to change your state. Even in very, I teach a lot of different very gentle breath practices, right. Super important. And you know, I think again, like there’s a different times there’s, there’s different kinds of breath, that might be a more feminine, like a softer kind of breath. That may feel like that’s what you want to do for a period. But but there’s no doubt so much healing available through this practice. Absolutely. I love it. They love it so much.

I am curious, also, what if you feel like you have a spiritual practice and how that has evolved over time and how this breathwork or any of that has played a part in that in the evolution of your practice? Yeah, so my spiritual path has been interesting, I guess like most people probably out there. My parents are atheists through and through. I would do say they’re communists. They believe that religion they see

I always tell me is the opiate of the people. And so, I grew up very uneducated, as far as it goes, not that realm. But I went to a Catholic high school because it’s a good high school.

And we studied the Bible. And that was kind of the start of my spirituality and Religious Studies and I took world religions and and

super fascinating curious about religions of the world and what they teach. And so like this, on my own, just consumed all kinds of different books on spirituality and thoughts and whether it’s quote unquote, good New Age, or spirituality, or paganism or or Wiccan stuff, or whatever, if it’s a spiritual practice, or old Celtic stuff, like I’m curious about it, and I read it, and I try to find things that resonate with me. So that’s kind of on a loose end, kind of the backstory, I would say that the Wim Hof stuff.

If anything, it just kind of re emphasized some things that I already knew. And I feel for most people in spirituality, when you find something that resonates with you, it’s more discovering something you already knew.

Right? Yoga has been a big part of that. And kind of yogic philosophies I think, are really powerful. So that’s kind of I would say, my spiritual practice, I try to teach the recruits is like far out for fuel. If you can picture firefighters do come firefighters, picture them at a young age of 20. Like they’re awful. If we call say piss and vinegar, they’re just go go go. And they’re coming into an academy. And they’re there for PT, which is physical fitness. And they’re expecting, like a military bootcamp. So you know, I’m not saying that don’t shout, you know, they’re not saying that I don’t do some of that. It’s very hard for some people to believe they, when they meet me in this setting, but they’re, you know, there’s a purpose to all that which we can get into a different different time. But at the same time, I really emphasize with them, that exercise and fitness need to become a spiritual practice. It can’t just be about physical growth, it needs to be about spiritual growth. And so I would argue that my spiritual practice includes swinging kettlebells includes, you know, working out includes yoga, it includes meditation, it includes reading an education includes being with my kids, I think, what we’ve lost, and what I’ve learned through on my spiritual readings, is that spirituality is in everything. It’s our goal to try to experience life, not from a physical or mental place only, but from a spiritual place. Yeah. And and I think that’s always a goal. I struggle with everything everyone struggles with, but that’s, that’s my goal is to try to experience all my existence from that three pronged place, not just a physical place, and it’s a struggle. No, I don’t even think down there. But that’s, that’s my spirituality and nutshell.

That’s true. It’s really it’s well said, and you know, that last part of it’s a struggle in dealing with death, which you do in your line of work. And I know personally, for me, my one of my best friends died last year, and the process of looking at it and being with it from a spiritual perspective, versus the physical bodies perspective of like, Oh, my God, I’m never gonna get to hold you or have you in my life in a physical way, in the same way that I talk to her daily, locating myself being able to move between these two states and the spiritual perspective, I get, Oh, my God, you’re doing such good work from this, from this other place that you couldn’t do from here. And I, and you finally found a place a state of love and feeling love and being able to, like, fully love and that was you were done. Right? And being able to hold that. But then when I flipped back into a physical body, state, it there’s the grief and there’s a very different experience. Absolutely. You wouldn’t want to be without grief. Yeah, I mean, the grief to some degree, lets you know, that person was special. And it not that we need to necessarily hold on to the grief. But when it comes like we can acknowledge it and be like, Al, thank you, you know, it’s part of this and it’s part of the making me understand is special. And you we were special and texture was special. I think one of the things that you said that I think it’s important for people to realize is that it’s really only this western culture that we live in that that

has this view that like, we can communicate, we can’t talk or these people aren’t still with us or that you’re crazy if you do you know, when it comes to loss and death, like

there’s a lot of other cultures and times in history that have a lot more healthier views and around it. I think, you know, we kind of tried to push away and hide it and don’t look at it and I feel like it never happened. They drink drink ourselves into oblivion to forget about it, which is

all problematic. Yeah. And so how do you you know, and relating that back to your work?

Hmm, and how you have you’ve personally coped with at being able to occupy those, those two perspectives or vantage points, or experiences. And then also what you teach the guys your training. Can you say more about that? Yeah, so I think one of the things to realize is that, you know, as a firefighter, you’re most likely see death in all its forms,

you know, in the good in the good forms, and in and in, like, horrific, like evil forms. And the worst thing you can do is, in my mind is to, is to not think about it, to not try to process them to not try to, you know, maybe I understand them, because I think there’s things you just can’t understand, but at least come to some place where you’re like, okay, like, this is, you know, maybe the best thing to do is, this is the way it is, you know, you know, and kind of allow those feelings to come.

So it’s probably the first place I talk about is this, just acknowledging the fact that you’re going to, you’re going to see and experience these things, and they’re going to be there. Another thing that I tell them is, they’re going to change you. Like, there is like, the idea of normal, coming back to normal, doesn’t exist, right for anyone. But especially once you walk down this road, you know, you’re, you’re never going to, you’re never gonna be the same. You know, it’s gonna, it’s gonna, it’s gonna change. So things are changed a good way from the change in and a more challenging way. But if we’re careful, we can, we can direct these things. And I think you have to be aware, pay attention up, pay attention to how you’re feeling, pay attention to, if you’re thinking about this thing, if you need resources, reach out and get resources, like get help with it, the last thing we want to do in my mind, is try to forget about it. Because that’s when you start to repress things.

A thing if things if a color, a cement that keeps popping up in your head is the reason this keeps popping up in your head. So he popped up, we’re gonna head into figuring out that reason. And I think that’s an important thing to understand too, like, This triggered, you triggered you for a reason. Like, we need to figure out the reason why I triggered you. So we can work through that. And that, then we can just maybe even just say, Okay, this is a very sad, sad thing. And I can I can move on. Hopefully. Yeah. And, you know, and that leads me to thinking about what an epidemic issue, like, how mental health is a really big problem it, you know, nationally for firefighters, and how that’s not being addressed. Or that how there’s, there’s a lack of resources and a lack of studies, you know, to collect data to provide to perhaps even get the resources, what are you? What are you seeing there? And if you could share more about that? Well, I have to

back up one second, when I said move on from trauma, some things we don’t move on from a great word to use, you experience things and,

you know, some things you hold with you. And that’s and so I kind of want to kind of want to do an addendum to that, because, you know, sometimes we don’t sometimes we don’t want to move on from either, and we should, I appreciate you saying that. And I think a way to, you know, maybe

add a little thing to add on to that is that it’s not that we forget that something happened. And it’s not like move on as in stopped feeling it but more we can work with it and discharge it, drain it of some of the energy that has you feel dysregulated and reactive and not in the present moment, because that’s what’s happening is those past traumas are gripping you. And sometimes you don’t even have the consciousness, right? There’s no consciousness associated with why you’re having the physical or emotional reactions you’re having. Sometimes it’s a flashback, and it’s very clear. And other times it’s like, I’m, I’m feeling this intense level of anxiety, and I don’t know what it’s about. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Cuz sometimes you don’t know. And it takes a long time to figure out what is about. Right, right. So the question is, like, what am I seeing in the mental health space in the fire service? There’s, there’s a lot of talk about it. And there’s a lot of beginning efforts to address it. I think there’s any number of roadblocks and challenges put up, put me out put up or in the way, you know,

the I think the bottom line is that just hate to say this, but money needed money. Yeah. And I know I hate to hate it, I hate to like, bring it down to that. But you know, these things cost money. And you know, if cities and federal governments need to fund these things, and people need to be trained and how to deal with it. One of the one of the real roadblocks for firefighters is that talking to a therapist that has no understanding connection to what a fire services, you may have to spend, you know,

half an hour every session explaining backstories on things and you know, that can be really challenging. absolutely understand,

just some of the jargon or some of the facts.

Always, that’s hard, hard to exist. There are people who are trying to do things and they’re doing good things. But it’s very, very challenging. It’s a huge issue, I think.

I also think that, that the margins for air are a lot smaller, you know, people work more, they’re running busier cities are cutting staffing, it’s like everything is like every industry, you try to do. Everyone’s trying to do more with less. And at a certain point, you know, people just can’t can’t take that anymore. You know, when we cut, we cut all the healthcare services, all the mental health services, these people call 911. So the call volume goes up. And so you’re experiencing more of these things, you’re experiencing people that are having a hard time. And because those services aren’t there for them, they rely on us and then that, again, it’s it becomes a vicious cycle. Yeah. So it’s really challenging the mental health stuff, I think the positive stuff I’m seeing is that it’s a conversation piece, it’s no longer not talked about, it’s talking about in the firehouse, people are very open about at least the need for it. They’re not necessary open about their own experience. We’re not quite there yet. You know, for example, firefighters are pretty open about cancer, they’ll be open about who has cancer, where they’re dealing with that didn’t used to be that way. And so it’s a process, it’s, it’s coming to an extent people are talking about it, their systems, their systems, their there’s the resources available, mostly provided through our union, which is, you know, think of unions. But you know, it’s, it’s in today’s money,

more money, more resources than any philanthropic folks out there.

Tech Tech money, please consider creating funding for mental health resources for firefighters. I mean, it’s yeah, it’s outrageous. It’s it’s so challenging. And I do wonder, and I don’t know if you know anything about this, but just what does it look like in other countries? Like, I mean, if if health care and mental health services are provided, I just wonder about firefighters in other countries. In an article that I read, there’s this quote, I’d be willing to bet that there’s a suicidal ideation and half of our employees right now and half of them have a plan to do it. So Cal Fire Captain Mike Horton.

And then another Cal fire officer said 80% of his station, house crew got divorced last year, blaming stress and time away from home.

And, you know, it’s a, it’s a striking statistic. My thoughts on that? Yeah, yeah. What are your thoughts? Yeah, divorce 100%. I definitely believe that. It’s, it’s really challenging. And right now, just to have any other backstory, pretty much every fire department, whether it’s Cal Fire, which is the big 500, fights, wildland fire or city fire departments, they’re all understaffed, and understaffed to the point where we’re the guys who are the guys and gals who are working or working.

If not quite two jobs, but one and a half to two positions. Just based on ours, you know, every person is basically filling their duty, and at least half if not a full other person’s position. And that takes its toll has a toll on on marriages. Now, the suicide 50%? I don’t know if it’s that high. But I would, I would be surprised if it’s like, in the 40s 40s or high 30s. I think, you know, it’s, it’s, again, it’s very, very challenging, it’s very challenging, and there isn’t a lot of resources, and there isn’t a lot of things that are designed to help, you know, a lot of the programs that we have they they take you away, they remove you, which can be good sometimes, and sometimes it’s not great. So guys, you know, guys hesitate. It’s it’s, yeah, you have to realize that when you’re trained to stick together, and to never separate. Yeah, it’s hard to leave that.

Yeah, so it’s very, it’s very, very challenging to

convince a firefighter to leave their people to help themselves.

And that’s, yeah, that’s a really, that’s a really hard one, there’s that there’s a piece of, of loyalty, and being part of the pack, which as humans we all want to be part of.

And as men, there isn’t the same kind of training around

seeking that kind of support for yourself. And

I almost say like in fire service, it’s not necessarily met a woman who is literally trained out of you to

even identify Yeah, like you like you never leave, you never leave. Yeah, you always go back, you always go together. Like so it’s literally trained out of you from from from time to exist, and

to some degree, it has to be turned out because your safety depends on it. Right, because nobody left behind. Like yeah, well, I have to believe that you’re gonna do everything you can because like, if I’m on the roof cut

hole in a fire in the fire underneath me burning, I’m cutting a hole with the heat off in smoke off you. But if you don’t put put water on that fire, I’m gonna burn fall through and die. If I don’t cut that hole for you, you’re gonna get burnt when you open that nozzle. So like that you have to believe that. And so then when someone’s having a hard time to convince them to

leave and separate that leave the people that have been there form is really challenging. And it can create a whole separate host of, of emotional and traumatic experiences. And so there isn’t, I said, there isn’t really a good system,

that we haven’t developed a good system to address almost all the issues. I know a number of people who have gone to seek treatment outside have left they’ve come back and they have a really hard time together like, man, it’s like it’s, you know,

it’s, it’s really challenging for him to feel like when they return that they that they can come back into the fabric in the same way or to

guilt from leaving or leaving not not that any of us like holding against them. But like, you know, yeah, they left. Yeah, like that’s a that’s another a different kind of trauma, you’ve had trauma, like you know, and like, especially when you coupled the divorce nobody else I’m like, these are guys that like

you’ve worked with them with for 30 plus years,

who have never left you no matter what. I’ve always been by your side. And most people, my marriage, including my marriage has only been we’ve been married for 12 years.

You know, I’ve known a lot of these guys for longer. Mm hmm. And like,

that’s a deep relationship. And so it’s it’s really challenging for people. It also reminds me of the bind that a child who’s growing up in a household where there’s physical abuse or sexual abuse, any kind of word, technically, somebody would, would want to remove them from that situation where the kid is basically like, well, there might be trauma here, but this is my family. And there’s a loyalty to family. And there’s also this fear of leaving, and it’s so it’s a tricky one. It’s a tricky one. It’s like yeah, maybe in certain ways, there’s going to be some some resources and healing when you leave a situation. But what else is there to then cope with and deal with the trauma of separation? Right, that if guys need to stop being firefighters, who else does it?

You know, that’s another thing too, is like, yeah, you know, great. So we have we’ve helped half a department but now what? Yeah, like, there’s there’s like this, this hard realities that I think are very unfortunate about when it comes to

helping, I don’t have an answer, and not no one has the answer yet. And I think it’s super challenging, not as simple and you know, one of the things that you brought up, that’s also super important is that and that it’s it’s within firefighting, it’s within the queer world, it’s within a lot of different communities where it’s like, I don’t if I’m not going to be understood, and I go and talk to some stranger who doesn’t get me and I’m paying money to, to explain to them, you know, my life, and so that can just be understood enough to then be able to talk to them. I mean, that’s its own challenge. And so what you’re talking about is a certain kind of training that not only the fire houses, or those systems need around trauma and mental health, but what the mental health world needs around the fire world, right, you know, that there’s just, there’s a lot of cross training that needs to happen. And there’s, there’s a lot of structures, in addition to not having the money, or in addition to not having therapists that live out in rural areas where there are people, right are fighting, right? There’s a lot, a lot. Yes. Along the lines back to this piece of you know, you’re saying you’ve been married for for 12 years, and what have you put in place to work through the challenges that, you know, you weren’t surprised by the divorce rate, right, and being away, and that can be a strain on relationships? And so how have you navigated that? I know, that’s a big question to first and foremost, it’s a lot of communication. And both parties have to be a partnership.

And you have to be very selective on on your

hard nose, so to speak. Right? Because you have to be willing to compromise a lot. Both parties. That’s general stuff in general, I think, from a firefighter standpoint, you need to be aware when you’re not your best,

which unfortunately, are most days you come home from work, and you have to acknowledge that I think that’s the first place is acknowledging, I’m not my best for whatever reason, it could just be the sleep deprivation. It could just be because you had some tough calls. It could just be because

You’ve been in that environment, and you’re coming into a different environment, you’re coming into a home environment, which is different than a firehouse environment. So I think some of it is just acknowledging I’m not at my best. And then then identifying, what can I do? Or is it even time and space for me to do these things to get to my best, and sometimes there’s not. And that’s not the two is like, I think you have to acknowledge and that is like, there is not time today, to get you to your best, there might be time. And we’ll try to make that happen, but it’s not. And if that’s the case, then you and your partner need to acknowledge that and give a little more space around that, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s one thing, identifying what can help you get to your best, you know, we can help you get better, we can help you, you know, make this make that transition, so to speak, that’s important. And it didn’t have every person, and then try trying it throughout that day, or the next couple of days to find time to put those things in place, if you can, and usually you can, but again, not always, but usually you can, I think it’s

you know, for the partner, I think understanding the firefighter like your partner has a different experience, you’ve been at work, working, you come home, your partner has been, you know, alone, by themselves for 23456 10, eight days, and my case with kids, so

they need a break, they need help, they need to, you know, not anything’s gotten done in the hat in the house, you know, this isn’t he needs to be done to dress, you know, even though you’ve been at work, it’s not your off day, coming home. That’s the way I look at it too. Like, I need to make sure that I can show up and help out and give my partner the time and space, they need to get things done for themselves, because they’ve been on duty the entire time. So that’s important. You know, I think there are a number of firefighters, and you know, that reason, they come home and they don’t do much that first day.

And you got it, it’s okay. Sometimes, but but not all times. Like you gotta you gotta really show up, whether it’s some other success things, I think, talking about how you’re going to talk about the difficult calls are difficult things, me and my wife, I don’t tell her a lot of details.

In our experience, it’s very hard for her to imagine what I’m saying and almost like, it’s almost like the, like those horror movies, that the monster you don’t see is almost scarier than loss, you see, sometimes, and so the imagination can run, I don’t share a lot of the details. But it there are some challenging calls or whatever I can say it was tough calls, and it’s and say, okay, you know, like, what do you need? What do you want. So that’s that, that talking about how you deal with that is important to the least is an understanding of, of this is how we’re going to this, how we’re going to process this together. And you know, some people really want to have we want to know, either work with their wives really want to know everything. And some of them are comfortable that some some like God, like I don’t want to tell you everything. And so you have to find a compromise in that space that you both feel comfortable with. Right? It’s going to happen, you know, I think

is a tough one. But I know from speaking my personal experience,

being in the Forest Service, there’s a lot of things that firefighters do off duty together. They go on trips to go skiing, they go to Vegas, they go to Mexico, they go fishing, and these are all great. But they take time with your family as well, and your partner as well. And it’s easy as a firefighter to be like, Well, I was at work for these days, they have four days, and I’m gonna go away for these four days, you know, the guys because you know, I haven’t had to trip myself in a while. But in doing that, then the part of the family don’t get to see you. Again, again, again. So one of the things that I have always tried to do is really minimize that time away.

If I’m away at work, I’m away at work. But otherwise, I really try to be home unless something really important. I have to I have to go do otherwise, I tried to get home as much as possible. I think that’s that’s worked really well for us. Yeah, I mean, I don’t have more questions to kind of guide that. But that’s it’s kind of in a nutshell, that’s kind of the things I think are really worked well for us. Back to what we were talking about. Before we were talking about, you know, that you think that the partners of firefighters really need not only it’s not just independence, but really taking pleasure in having their own lives like their own particular hobbies and you know, their own friends or whatever it is that they like to engage in versus certain couples that do kind of everything in an enmeshed way. And so it it had me curious also about there are people who have open relationships versus men

agonist relationships. And what you’ve seen or experienced around that, I think the idea of opening a ship is something that is kind of maybe a dated word.

I think in my mind, we all need to have old relationships. As far as like, the, you know, the emotional and support networks, we have other people, I think we have this connotation of open means I’m having sexual relations with this other person. And I don’t think always has to be that, I think it’s very, very important in a firefighter relationship, that the partner has

very deep emotional, and supportive connections with other people, other than other women, or firefighters, partners, people are not firefighters, partners, they need to have that, and my wife has that. And because there’s going to be times where

you need to talk to someone, and you need to be with somebody or you don’t want to be home alone, and you want to go out and you need to have that ability, and that you have fostered those connections, I think that’s a very important thing for firefighters ships to, to develop for the partner, especially.

You know, it’s funny, we were, we were in Tahoe, this is years ago, and the two families were traveling together. And one of the guys I work with, it was it was in the morning, and, and I got up and, and he and he and Emily, my wife were

laughing about, like, knowledge that you only know about someone if you live with them, about me go home in the morning about my routines about this night in there. And she’s dying, laughing because she’s like, I can’t leave you know that. But I know why you know that because you live with

those are the things that are really important to develop, if you’re going to be a relationship with a firefighter is are those connections with with the other partners with people in that sphere really important?

How is it for you, I know that sometimes when people are in a role or a rescuing a caretaking a service provider role, they’re good at giving, but not necessarily at receiving. And I’m curious about how you are in your personal life. And if you’re able to receive as much support as you give super challenging,

I think as you know, is super challenging. For me personally, I think for firefighters general, it’s challenging, like, again, like back to like the getting help and trauma stuff. Like you don’t want to be part of the

problem, quote unquote, like, I don’t want to use that word. But like, you know, yeah, yeah, you know, so yeah, it’s, it’s challenging, it’s hard, it’s hard to sit there and receive care and receive love. And to, it’s hard. It’s hard, because it’s personality is hard. Because again, it’s trained out of you, like you’re trained to be the last person working, you know, always worked the hardest to be the last person working, you know, someone’s doing something, you get to do it too, you know, don’t ask for anything, just give, right. And that’s the way you’re trained. And that’s why the culture is fostered. So it’s very hard to come into a family situation and turn that off. Absolutely. And I think it’s, it’s what I’ve learned over the years, it

took, you know, some discussions and fighting some understanding, you know, some making up, it’s, it’s important not only for me to be able to receive that, it’s important for to allow your partner to be able to give as well as important for your kids, if you have kids to see that. And also to be able to give support as well, too. And it doesn’t mean that you’re weak, or you’re you can’t handle it, you know, or they’re, they’re, you know, machismo stuff you might put on top of that. No, that’s true. It’s, you know, it’s part of creating, you know, it’s part of creating a healthy, strong relationship. It is. And I understand that now, intellectually, which is weird as it sounds, I didn’t understand it intellectually, before. I’m starting to understand it emotionally, a little bit more, and I’m working on trying to understand it spiritually, you know, it’s a challenge 100%.

And I think it’s what’s important here is also that you can have in, you can have the knowledge, like you just made these distinctions, you can have the knowledge and you can know how important it is. But there’s habit, and there’s what’s in our body, and what we’re trained in, and that your training is who you are a lot of the times, it’s really hard to break out of that. And, you know, I’ve seen that in working, I worked with a police chief who came in for couples therapy, and I was doing an aikido based exercise and had him walk into me in a particular way. And the way he made contact was like, you know, he’s extended his arm and he’s supposed to walk in and get in, like, place his hand on my chest, and it’s a metaphor for communication, and I’m energetically getting a sense of him and what he’s about, and I really felt like I was being pushed away or pushed over and his wife chimed in, that’s how I feel when it kisses me. And, you know, and it’s, it’s like, he hasn’t taken

Can his chief cap off yet? Right? And so there, you mentioned earlier use the word transition. And I think transitions and being very mindful and cultivating conscious transitions is such an essential in all relationships, but in these kinds of relationships where you’re like, Okay, how do I take off my, you know, my, my, my firemen, pants or whatever and step into the capacity to receive or to shift out of like some kind of ritual that you do to shift out of habit? Yeah, one of the things has been really powerful for me about going back to them pops up with the cold is that idea of surrender, and surrendering into the cold and surrendering, not being surrendering, not being a bad thing. I also have done jujitsu for 14 years. And, and, uh, one of the things there as well as they don’t necessarily sort of surrender but to, you know, yield or redirect the force, right. And I think, you know, you get the example of that police chief, you know, like, if I felt pushed away, like, again, like you’re trained to,

to create that space in that buffer to keep you away from you. And so it’s hard to learn how to transition or move away from that, or to turn that on and off. It’s very challenging. And I think like for firefighters, like,

you’re trained to not give up, like situations go into shit, and everyone’s freaking out, like you’re trying to like, like, hold together, handle it and make it better. Like, when everyone’s else’s thinking about giving up, we’re not like, that’s what you’re trained. And so to turn that off, and to realize that, when you come home to your partner, and you can

surrender release into them for a hug, or for a kiss. How do you learn that? Well, for me, the cold was one of the ways I learned that because Because unless I released into the cold, I can’t sit in that, that that that law, my experience is horrible, right? What if I listened to it? It’s powerful. Right? So that really taught me how to release into my partner and not feel like I’m

weak. I don’t want to use that word. But like, you know, I’m thinking like from a band. Yeah, I’ve thought about that, if you’re weak or soft. Oh, how did you do that? You know, it’s tough not to not view it that way to understand that it’s, it’s powerful. And it’s and it’s fulfilling, right? No, absolutely. Parties. Yeah. Right. I mean, to be able to give and to support is also deeply satisfying. And it’s a gift to be able to receive it. But you know, I think there’s also this piece around numbness. That is a really helpful buffer in traumatic situations that can then make it hard to feel and receive. And then you know, in addition to the machismo conditioning, right, and then also the deserving this piece of like, this is outside of my identity and my role, right of giving. It’s like, Wait, how do I put this other identity down for a minute, and also experience the other side of it? Yeah, I don’t know, if you have to put identity down. I think these like, just some things that I really struggle with is trying to uncouple. And sometimes we use these words, because they don’t have better words for him. We don’t, or we don’t personally know better words for him, which I start with, often because I tried to, you know, figure it out, but did this to decouple some of these phrases that are problematic, especially for men and firefighters. And, you know, like, you can be both, that’s, that’s who you are. Like, it’s not, it’s not, you’re not laying this down, like you are still a firefighter, you still do all that, and you can still be this and be all this as well. It’s not an either, or it’s a yes, and which I think is a, I think it’s an important distinction, because the Yes, n is about adding to who you are as a person or the it but the either or, there’s always a net loss, like you’re losing this to become this. And I don’t think that that’s always how you want to view things. I totally agree. And I appreciate you pointing that out. And I feel like it’s the thing that I really love about the man that I’m dating, and and I see that in you as well. And that there’s this the capacity for both, right? It’s not an either or, and that there’s a masculine presence and ability to be direct and to be clear and to be firm and take action, but then also, like see that capacity and you the ability to just surrender and to have spaciousness inside and that’s just really beautiful to hold both. So one of the things that you talk a lot about in your Instagram is how to cultivate a quiet mind.

And I’m wondering if there’s any kind of practice that you’d like to guide our listeners through? Yeah, I think we can we can work on something with listeners that I don’t I’m not quite so sure that if it if it will guide to a quiet mind, but I think it it at least helps bring you to the body and can and can help that process depending on how noisy your mind is. Sometimes it’s

It needs stronger impulses to quiet perhaps Alright, so if you’re, if you’re listening and you’re able to sit, sit, if you’re able to lie, you can lie down if you’re driving or walking, then keep driving and walking, keep your eyes open. But I always start by asking people to soften their gaze or close your eyes.

And place your left hand on your abdomen right around your navel.

And want your right hand on your chest right around your heart.

And take the left hand and just kind of move it maybe back and forth and circles and find kind of a place that feels like you have a nice connection between that hand and maybe your admin or your energy or your diaphragm. Whichever image works best for you. And same thing with your right hand. Take your right hand and kind of move that around your chest until you find a spot that feels like it wants to stay.

Then we’re going to take

nice long breaths, where breathe into the nose, into the abdomen, and then lift the chest slightly rise and then we’re just going to release

into the nose, abdomen, chest, and release.

Into the nose, abdomen, chest,

and release.

We’re gonna drop into a 468 breath. I’ll count that out. It’s a very powerful tool to help relax our body and drop into a deep state of relaxation. It’s gonna be a four, count, inhale, a six count hold and an eight count exhale.

Be a deep into our abdomen. Let our chest rise and then release.

Inhale 234 Hold 23456 and exhale. 2345678. Inhale 234 Hold 23456 exhale. 2345678. Inhale 234 Hold 23456 and exhale. 2345678. Last one. Inhale 234 Hold 23456 and exhale 2345678. Relax your eyes, Fanta nice, slow breathing rhythm.

I want you to

in your mind’s eye,

picture yourself. See yourself.

I want you to notice

how you appear.

Don’t judge it. Just notice it.

Like you’re observing yourself, third person.

Notice if you’re clear or fuzzy. Notice that there’s parts of your body that you can’t see. Notice if you’re in color or black and white.

Notice if you’re small or large.

Just notice


and exhale.

Inhale and exhale.

Now the image of yourself in your mind’s eye.

The first thing we’re going to do is try to bring everything into focus.

Spend some time

try to bring the image of yourself into focus.

Maybe as a part of our body we can’t quite see. Let’s try to bring that

image into crystal clarity

until we can

hopefully see

our body nice, sharp focus

to hold that crystal clear image of our body.


we’re going to notice,

if we’re black and white or color again, we’re gonna start slowly turning the color up

until we appear in our mind’s eye.

And full color, sharp, defined crystal clear image of ourselves.

We’re gonna take that color and we’re keep turning it up.

Until now what we see in our mind’s eye

is a glowing version of ourselves.

A powerful, glowing, sharp image of ourselves. Take note of the color

what color are you glowing

deep breath in.

And release. Deep breath in,

and release.

Finally, we’re gonna take this beautiful,

glowing image of ourselves. And we’re gonna blow this up

larger than life, bigger than you’ve ever been before.

And so all you see in your mind’s eye, is a giant,


brilliant version of yourself

really work to keep that image large and bright.

To keep it crystal clear,

a big, beautiful glowing version of yourself.

Deep inhale and release.

We’re not going to ask and invite that glowing, large, beautiful image of ourselves

to shrink down to the size of the ball.

Shrink that glowing, beautiful, brilliant sits us down to a ball.

We’re going to ask that ball to travel around our body

wherever it needs to go to provide healing, Divine Love,


passion, strength,

whatever it is that we feel we need we’re gonna ask that ball to travel around our body and bring those to that area

try to imagine that ball moving around

from place to place

now we’re gonna invite that beautiful glowing bright brilliant ball that is us

to rest

it’s gonna rest at our heart center

well, your right hand is

as we conclude this meditation

we walk away knowing that this brilliant beautiful light is us. And it is always inside of us. is always there for us.

And all we need to do is invite it to come out

big breath in.

And release

that was so beautiful.

You made me cry couple times. Aaron. That was so sweet. Oh, I love picturing you guiding a bunch of firefighters.

It’s pretty bizarre. Oh, I love it. Oh, I just love it. I love it. It’s radical and beautiful. I tell them all the time I was like you guys you guys are gonna mind is gonna be blown it’s not gonna be anything like you’re used to.

Yeah, it’s I’m yeah, if you’ve just moved me repeatedly just love that

way take all that in and process that I’ll just a few side notes. You know some of the

breath is a very powerful tool. The anchoring of the hands on the on the chest and abdomen are also very powerful. Oftentimes we find that in trauma, or physical injury. The image of ourselves in our mind can be complicated, black and white, small you can’t you can’t clear it can’t see it. But at times I tried to do this meditation and I can’t visualize parts of it.

body and it’s amazing. You’re like, why can I see that? That, that that thing. And we know that we can’t visualize parts of our body, it inhibits our proprioception, which can increase the odds of injury and all these other things. So it’s it’s a very powerful tool to start imagining these parts of your body for traumatic healing, but also for for physical healing as well. And so working on that working on the fact that we see ourselves and we can, we can play with that image of ourselves and we can bring light into that is also a extremely challenging and complex practice for many people. So say I have many guided meditations I do with the firefighters, this is one of them. i This is probably the one that most people like and enjoy.

Yeah, yeah, no, I could definitely see the value in it. And while the vibrance and the color part I didn’t find challenging, personally, my legs weren’t, you know, it was like from the waist up initially, and I am dealing with a leg thing right now. And I was so grateful. When I like embodied my legs, right, then I drew them into being and they came online, and I was like, Yeah, combat boots. I was wearing some solid shoes. That’s awesome. Yeah, no, and then it was just like the vibrance It felt so good to to turn the volume up on the vibrance and so thank you so much for that. And how can people find you and I know that you know, you’re you have a very full schedule, but they could at least vicariously enjoy you through Instagram and things like that.

Instagram I’m at, I’m at live dot surf dot thrive as a.in between each one, it’s easy to find me there. I’m not really on Facebook. So I think just Just be prepared. If you try to reach out to me at Facebook, I probably not gonna respond. I also have a website, live surf thrive.com.

And there’s contact information there for people to get in contact with me, which is easy, great. As most firefighters, I am not awesome at email. So just

make sure you email me they’ll respond email me again, I try my best. There’s a reason why I’m a firefighter. So all joking aside, feel free to reach out. Those are best places to reach me and I will do my best to meet up with anybody. Awesome. Thank you so much. It’s been great to talk with you. Yeah. And we’ll both be around too soon. Beautiful. I loved imagining him offering this work to all of these new firefighters and the resource that it would be and when I think about all you listeners also doing it I feel moved. Aaron will you be invited back as a guest again in the future because we had just barely dug into some of the questions I had. This has been laid up in podcast with your host Charna caselle. Please join us again next week. If this show feels beneficial. we’d love if you please rate and review it and share it with your friends. It’s really exciting to imagine people all over the world having conversations about sexual freedom and healing. So please share with your friends so others can find us and if you have additional questions around sex and trauma, please submit them at Charna caselle.com.

Follow me at leadup and podcast on Instagram and Facebook and read more about my work at passionate life dot work. Until next time, lots of love you

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© 2022 By Charna Cassell, LMFT. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. MFC 51238.

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