138: Fellowship Ft. Kelsey Zahn: Exploring The Liminal Space, Meditation, Waking Up, And Finding God In Everything
Hardships, disabilities, fear, and emotional trauma are just some of the negativities we encounter in life. In this fellowship episode, Thane Marcus Ringler talks to Kelsey Zahn Melton, a freelance hairstylist and makeup artist by trade, yoga and meditation teacher in training, and lover of all things food and coffee. Today, Kelsey empowers us with her vibrant aura by educating us about the liminal space, meditation, and how to find God in everything, all of which helps us overcome difficulties. Join Thane and Kelsey as they relate their experiences to our everyday lives.
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Fellowship Ft. Kelsey Zahn: Exploring The Liminal Space, Meditation, Waking Up, And Finding God In Everything
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I wanted to read a review and it was left on iTunes. It’s a five-star rating. Thank you for that by Nyjir. Nyjir said, “Thane has started a movement for the next generation that is inspiring and powerful. If you know your time is now, this is the show for you.” Thank you, Nyjir. That’s kind. If you want your rating to be or your review to be read, I would love to give you a shout-out if you’d give us a minute of your time for a rating and review. Thank you for that. This is a fellowship episode. These are a little bit shorter than interviews and more of a peer-to-peer conversation. I am excited about sharing this conversation with you. It was such a joy for me to have. Our guest is Kelsey Zahn-Melton who lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Drew, and her dog Stanley Tucci. She is a freelance hairstylist and makeup artist by trade, yoga and meditation teacher in training, lover of all things food and coffee, and hopes to hear more about the shape of your soul one day.
She is in a season of exploration entering into the liminal spaces life has to offer as humbly and simply as she can manage. Mind you, she is writing this so perhaps the truth is a bit romanticized here. Most importantly, she would love to hear from you. You can find her @KelseyZahn on social media or The-Curated-Life.com. This was such a fun conversation with Kelsey. It’s a beautiful space that she’s in life, raw, open and vulnerable about deconstructing and reconstructing everything in her life. We cover a lot of interesting topics such as the liminal space or the space in between. We’re talking about overcoming hardship and disabilities. We talk about energy healing, the benefits of yoga and meditation, curiosity, fear and security, waking up, finding God in everything, understanding emotions and much more. I know that a lot of you will be able to relate to these topics and this conversation. You’re going to be encouraged by it. I’m going to stop talking and allow you to start reading this fellowship episode featuring Kelsey Zahn.
Kelsey Zahn, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.
The first one I want to touch on is Zahn versus Melton. This is an interesting dilemma because my fiancé and I had been talking a lot about last names. How did you decide on your last name?
When I was growing up, my last name was Buffenbarger. It’s long so we would shorten it to Buff all the time. When I became a professional, I needed a business card. Buffenbarger doesn’t fit on the business card. I went by my first and my middle name and my middle name is Zahn. When I got married, my husband’s last name was Melton. It meant a lot to him, number one, that I take his last name. I was like, “I will do that, but I’m still going to go by my middle name.” It’s because I’m insubordinate and what I mean by that is I was doing a Bible study, a leadership development program. One of the segments was about rebellion and insubordination. As a child of an undercover cop, father rebellion wasn’t in my cards. He told me I would stay in jail, so I didn’t do that. In the study, they defined insubordination as obeying externally or believing even in your mind that you’re being obedient but still having a heart that is rebellious. I realized that a lot of my actions, especially in my early marriage were me being insubordinate because I wanted to maintain autonomy.
I relate to that. For me, in approaching that type of relationship and covenant, how much inwardly I want to maintain autonomy. It’s hilarious. It’s humbling. That insubordination word is powerful because it’s from the heart, which is where the important things always lie. There hadn’t been some funny stories of that?
My favorite is that there was a prosecutor who hated my dad because my dad arrested bad people and that’s subjective anyway. A prosecutor who was pissed off at him called him Officer Barfenbooger in court.Meditation is not about ignoring the parts of ourselves that we have deemed bad, but accepting them. Click To Tweet
I was fascinated by the place that you’re in life. It’s a place that more of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, should be in or are in, but we don’t call it out as it is. I’d love to start by hearing how you would describe your place in life.
It’s a liminal space. It’s the space between spaces. I heard it described once. It’s often the space of I would rather not because growth and change aren’t comfortable. It requires something of us. We are trained from a young age that it’s easier to stay and have all the reasons why like our arsenal of, “The money is good,” or “It’s not that bad.” The space I’m in that Thane is referring to that should be more direct about is that I’m considering basically upending what I’ve done for several years.
I’ve been a professional hairstylist and then when I moved to Los Angeles a few years ago, I started doing hair and makeup for photo-shoots and bands. I toured for a while. I love what I do in terms of I love the people I get to work with. I’m very humbled by the experiences that I’ve been allowed to have. There’s always been a pull to something else. I’ve tried to leave the industry probably every year since I’ve been in it. I went into it because I naturally am a tactile learner. I’ve always done my friend’s hair since I was little. I assumed, “I’m naturally good at this. This is what I should do.” I never questioned like, “What else could I do?” Because I had learning disabilities as a child, I didn’t think that college was an option for me.
My older brother was incredibly intelligent. It’s all the reasons why that we form. We allow those to be our barriers versus our motivation. I allowed myself to be a victim to other people’s capabilities versus going, “No. What could I do? Where could I go? What could I learn?” I thought this was the only way for me because it wasn’t traditional. I’ve always sought nontraditional modes of learning. A couple of years ago, we moved back to Los Angeles. My husband and I had moved to New Orleans for a year. I had gotten out of the industry when we moved because I was burned out. I was very tired. Coming back though, I was like, “This is the thing I know how to do. It’s how I make money. I’ll do it for a while until I figure the next thing out.”
I like to call that the beginning of the year of breadcrumbs. It’s not stopped where God started putting little inklings in front of me. It was number one, bringing me back to Him. A resurgence of faith that started at all. Leading me through different modalities of learning about different energy healing or I became a certified yoga instructor. I had the opportunity to lead a small group before the organization that I did my yoga teacher training through. It’s called Holy Yoga. It’s a Christ-centered yoga organization. I led a Monday morning meditation virtually at 6:30. I loved it. Because of that, they offered me the ability to record the meditations for their SoundCloud.
It was the first time in my life where I sat down to do something. I wasn’t worried about it being perfect. I wasn’t worried about if I sounded right or if other people were going to judge it, but that didn’t matter to me. It was an obedient action of using my voice for something that would further something I believed in. That’s a combination of both faith but also stillness, quiet and giving ourselves the space to think. I’m doing meditation teacher training, which has been the most challenging experience ever.
Tell me more about meditation training and why that has been exceptionally challenging?
It’s been exceptionally challenging because it’s stirred a lot of things that I thought I was passed on a lot of layers. I consider myself to be a progressive person of faith and that I grew up conservative. There was a lot of damage done because of that culture. I walked away for many years, like baby out with the bathwater, I was done and got His infinite grace. He doesn’t leave. It was like me running a million miles away and only to turn around and He was right there. I ran smack dab into his chest. When I did that first weekend, because neurons fire together, wire together, all the wiring from my childhood of this is scary or bad, like surface. I don’t feel that way, but it was like I’m learning about Hinduism. I’m learning about tantra. Tantra for the audience is not just about what Sting and his wife do. That’s not what it is.
It was a School of the Science of Spirituality. It’s got a lot more things to it. It definitely has some facets that are dark and sticky and I am not comfortable at all with. Instead of being curious, being open and learning that first couple of weekends, I allowed fear to take over. What God has been doing in me through this is going, “Am I not bigger than this? Did I not leave you here for a reason? Am I not bigger than fear? Can I not use all things?” It’s been a powerful transition in my heart space of feeling like I need to be guarded in Fort Knox. Brooke Boon, the Founder of Holy Yoga often says, “God gave us a perfect-fitting set of armor, number one.” Our set of armor is misfitting, heavy and clunky. It doesn’t work. We need to leave that behind.
When God gives us his set of armor, we don’t need to girth up underneath it. We don’t need to be like, “I got this,” because we’re covered. I’m still in the process around it to be completely honest. There are definitely days where we’re chanting for like a long time. I’m like, “Lord, you can transmit whatever comes out of my mouth for your glory. It’s fine.” Not that I’m going to do that in my room by myself like people do. For me, it’s been a learning and unlearning of bad wiring. It’s surfaced a lot of deep childhood stuff that I thought I was passed.
I’ve always thought of childhood work. You’re addressing an inner child thing, inner child Kelsey, is like going to small self, pretend is how I’ve always envisioned it but the fifteen-year-old me showed up and she did not want to see me. She did not want to talk to me. She did not look at me. It was a practice of offering compassion to her and being like, “It’s okay. When you’re ready, I’m here.” That may sound weird and woo-woo to people. That process of going back to a version of yourself that carries a deep wound and it’s almost rewriting the wounding story inside of yourself and learning to apply the balm of compassion and love to those wounds. Over time, they’ll get smaller.
One of the conversations I had with a friend of mine at Good City Mentors, which is a mentoring program here in LA that I do on Fridays. The lesson was on courage with the kids and sharing your story. Part of courage and sharing your story is talking about a challenge that we faced and that by sharing the challenge and what you’ll learn from it, you gain power for yourself and for others in that and unlocking that. He has OCD and faced that as a young kid. He also has a very strong propensity towards depression within his genetics and his family. Through some of those and some other traumatic things, he went through a dark time.
What he had to come to realize and shared was that he had to stop trying to cure. He had to start trying to understand how to handle and live with, because for him, those things aren’t going to leave. He can get more comfortable with them. That’s what the tools he’s working on is how do I become more comfortable with these things and recognize that it’s not about trying to remove them, but trying to accept them and embrace them and live in the midst of them, in spite of them or with them. I’ve been captivated by that thought that so often we want to eliminate our brokenness. We want to eliminate the things that we don’t like about ourselves or that others don’t like about ourselves. That is a place of fear like you talked about.
I love the contrast between curiosity and fear. That’s love and fear like God talks about and how when we’re fearful we become guarded and afraid. We long for security, which are all places that stunt our growth and keep us from being who we are called are capable of being. It removes us from the reality of being human, which is even a bigger problem because we start seeing ourselves or others elevated when no one’s elevated. It goes full circle. I’m curious in that practice, in that process, what are your thoughts on that idea that it’s not about fully healing or moving but becoming comfortable with? Would you agree with that or what is your perspective on that?
It’s both. It’s not about curing and the word cure means to cut. That is something we often think, “If I can cut this part of my heart away, maybe it wouldn’t hurt so bad. I wouldn’t have that shame or I wouldn’t have that darkness inside of me if I could cure it.” The word fixate has the same root as fix. We get obsessed and fixated on fixing ourselves. The work of meditation is not about ignoring the parts of ourselves that we have deemed bad. It is about sitting with them, getting comfortable with them and accepting them because it is through acceptance and compassion that we can transform our suffering.
Instead of judging ourselves because shame says I am a bad thing. Guilt says I did a bad thing. We often get those two things misconstrued in our lives where we identify heavily with the things we do, the words we say, the things people say to us, and we take it all personally. We put it on as a piece of identity. We don’t question like, “What am I allowing to be on me or in my heart or in my mind?” We take it all as reality. I wrote a piece on my blog, but I use the analogy of this girl who had been told to remain small her whole life because of tall poppy syndrome.
The idea that if you rise above the other poppies, they’ll cut you down to size because if you think you’re too special, if you drive a nice car, whatever the thing is in my upbringing, it was like, “We’ll cut you back down to size. Don’t be too big for your bridges.” I’ve planned on writing another follow-up piece that was all about blaming the people for the tall poppy syndrome. Right before I fell asleep one night, I heard the words, “You held the weed whacker also.” I was like, “Wow.” It’s the fact that we often accept the things as the truth and we don’t have filters. To circle back, the process of meditation is such a great filter for being a sieve to sift out the things that are true versus the things that we can let go of and start that process of healing. For me, when I meditate, I always invite God, Holy Spirit, Jesus to be with me, be my guides, be my healers. I invite a host of angels to surround me and to walk me through and show me what I need to see, bring up what needs to be brought up so that it can heal. What we don’t feel, we can’t heal.
I was disassociated and numb for most of my life that I didn’t truly feel most things. I’m a two-wing one, so my one side has certain emotions that feel unacceptable to me. It was also part of my upbringing like don’t be angry, that’s a bad emotion. It’s like, “No, anger is a good emotion if it’s used well.” You need to be allowed to let the thing out and you can move on. If you suppress, if you bury it down deep inside, it gets stuck and that comes out sideways later in another relationship and you’re like, “Why am I upset about this thing? This thing doesn’t even matter.” Where I see the healing through meditation for myself and for so many others, it puts space between sensation and reaction. Sensation happens and you go, “I feel angry.” You can pause and go, “Where do I feel angry? I feel it in my heart. Why do I feel angry? They touched a sensitive place in my heart. Did they mean to do that?” Instead of reacting fast, it allows you to slow down and get back in your body, get back in yourself. I was disassociated that you cannot just react because there’s no buffer between the sensation rising and being like, “You’re a horrible person,” or whatever the thing is.The Bible is meant for you to question so that you can know what you think and believe. Click To Tweet
The thing that’s cool about that is that’s something we even talked about back to Good City Mentors. I even wrote about it in a blog post with the other group that I was a part of, because it’s as simple as putting a pause into your daily lives. How do you create space between input and action, whatever it is, especially if you’re a high school student? How can I create a few seconds of buffer between this situation, comment or circumstance and what I do as a result of that? Who do I choose to be? Who do I choose to show up in the world? Space is such a powerful thing, and that pause and meditation are especially for adults. The thing is we all are trying to be kids again. That’s the journey back, but how do we create more of that consistent buffer?
I feel meditation is the practice for that. The book that I love was by Dr. Joe Dispenza called You Are the Placebo. The biggest two tools that he mentioned in there is gratitude and meditation. Those are the things that caused the most transformation not only mentally and spiritually, but physically like real physiological change that he proved through scientific study, which is powerful. For you, what is your meditation practice if you had to give a description about it? How would you describe your meditation practice? What do you do? What are the rhythms? What does it look like? Give a breakdown of that.
I’m in the process around that because it used to be rigid, I feel for me where it was like a to-do item. Many of us when we think of meditation, it becomes another to do. Meditation is a practical tool. If you meditate for twenty minutes every day for eight weeks, you will rebuild the gray matter in your brain and you will begin to shrink your amygdala. That’s one way you can buffer that fear response in your life where you’re making decisions out of a place of anxiety or fear is by giving yourself. That research was done through Transcendental Meditation, TM, and mindfulness practices where you have a single point of focus for a certain time.
Specifically, they’re talking about what your prefrontal cortex, regrowing gray matter, but eventually it does help your whole brain reorient itself. For me, knowing that helped me have a little more grace around it. If there are days where I get up and I can meditate, first thing, I will do that. I prefer to do yoga right when I get up. I like to move my body first and true too in the original Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras way back 400 CE or whatever it was. They talk about all the practices of yoga are meant to move you into meditation. You’re preparing the body through movement for meditation, for stillness. I prefer to meditate a little later in the day because I find that it helps reset me.
It’s mostly the reset. It’s like a reset button. I feel refreshed after I do it. I always journal after I do it. That’s a huge thing is having a buffer space after you practice. No matter if you practice for 3 minutes or if you practice for 3 hours, having a buffer space before you get up off your cushion, go into your car and let go about your day to process what is taking place. Even if it’s one word like pay off, if your brain wants to be quiet or if it’s sparkly whatever the thing is.
For me, I enjoy heavily anchored practices in this season of life. What that means is your anchors can be body, breath or sound. Those are the three most common. A mantra can also be an anchor. You can use any combination of them so that your mind doesn’t get distracted. When a meditation teacher tells you to focus on your breath, it’s not just, “I’m focusing on my breath.” It’s what does it feel like? Noticing if it’s cool or warm. Noticing what it feels like when it enters through your nose and noticing the rise and fall of your belly. Allowing your awareness to settle into those rhythms versus being distracted by a litany of thoughts about the day and this person or that thing.
When that does happen, you gently remind yourself, “I’m thinking,” and come back to your breath. I heard somebody talking about their mindfulness practice and when they went to their training, they asked one of the teachers at the center, “My mind won’t be quiet and I am frustrated. I get judgmental with myself when I’m practicing.” I’m like, “Stop thinking agitated.” They said, “The seeds you water will grow. Water the seeds with gentleness and kindness when thoughts arise because thoughts will arise. If you can practice gentleness, kindness, and be tender with yourself even in that space, that will come out of your practice with you.” Ultimately, that’s the goal. It’s not about what happens on the cushion and that state of tranquility that you feel when nobody’s talking to you. You’re like in bliss in your awareness. When you’re in your awareness of floating or whatever the sensation may be, to take that stillness and that deep inner peace with you out into your life, that’s the transformation. That’s what you’re looking for.
It’s fascinating because this is something I need to hear as much as anyone else. When I was competing as a golfer, I incorporate a practice of mindfulness meditation into my training regimen because of how important it was for my mental performance, especially within practice and performance. Since competing professionally, I’ve digressed into the minimal, practical application of that practice to where now my meditations are more prayerful in the mornings around my time with Jesus, but they’ve been loose and not rigid at all.
I’ve felt the need to return to some rigidity to reestablish a better foundation for it. Even that twenty-minute a day for eight weeks study is a powerful encouragement to me. Hopefully to everyone reading that there is a real transformation that is possible even in something as small as twenty minutes a day, which isn’t a big task. I was doing ten minutes a day and that still felt a lot because it feels like a waste of time, especially for achievers like me. I was like, “You’re wasting time.” No, that’s the most beneficial time of the day that you can spend.
You brought up at the end there awareness and this ties in well with what you’ve been talking about. Even what we talked about before of waking up and there’s a book by Anthony de Mello. He was a Jesuit priest. He passed away several years ago. He did a lot of his work in India. He has a book titled Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality. I would describe this guy as a more animated Richard Rohr in the sense that he is fiery. It’s amazing. The whole premise of the book is that you need to wake up. It was honestly one of the better books I’ve read. They’re mini-chapters.
It started out a little. It gives you momentum because it’s like, “Finish it on,” and the start was a little slower. I was like, “I don’t know about this guy.” I was not that inspired to read it, but I kept going and I’m glad I did because he works through the process that we all have of denial and refusal of wanting to wake up. We’re going to face that our whole lives in different realms. I know that’s something that you mentioned about your stage of life is that process of waking up. How would you speak to what waking up means to you?
It’s been a long process. It started when I was 27, I went on tour and it was the first time in my life where I wasn’t identified as my family’s child or my brother’s sister or my boyfriend’s girlfriend or my husband’s wife. No one knew those people in my life. They only knew me. That was a wild experience for me to live with people for that amount of time who only knew me for me, for the me that I existed as at that time. It started as the baby process of awakening, I would say. That was the year Inside Out came out, the Pixar movie for children.
My husband, Drew, and I went to see it in the movie theater when I was home on break. It destroyed me. I was a mess. He was like, “What is wrong with you? I don’t understand.” I couldn’t function the next day. I was like, “All my islands are broken and sadness has touched all my core memories. I proceeded to schedule my first therapy appointment ever in my life as a 27-year-old woman and also texted my friends who had medical marijuana cards and I was like, “You’re coming over on Thursday after I go to therapy and we’re going to get high.”
Undercover cop dead, I never did anything. I was like, “We’re doing this.” It turns out I’m not that big of a fan, but it’s fine. I went about it in strange ways, but it was in the beginning. A year later was when it kicked back up again. Life was falling apart here in Los Angeles. My husband and I moved to New Orleans where it’s easy to go to sleep because their motto was, “Let the good times roll.” You go for a walk with a glass of wine and your dog and you’re set. You don’t have to think about the things, but I was doing coaching at the time and I still felt the stirring. When you’re a kid, your mom comes in your room, I was like, “It’s time to get up.” You’re like, “A-ha,” and you roll around with the covers. She comes in again, opens your blinds and pulls the covers off of you. It felt like there was a hand in my brain reaching into this part of myself that was asleep and trying to pull the covers off. My inside self was going, “No.” It was brutal. It’s painful to wake up.
It’s like Wim Hof in your life or something, like jumping into an icy lake. It’s not comfortable and you feel you’re going to hyperventilate and die, but you can get through it. That was the beginning I would say like inside out then that experience. When we moved back to Los Angeles, we’ve started going back to church because we wanted rhythm, not because we were like, “Let’s give this faith thing a try.” It was like, “Let’s have community, rhythm and a ritual because rhythms in life are important.” My husband and I church hopped for a while and we ended up at this church I like called Radius.
The first Sunday we were there. The pastor recommended this book called Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Calhoun. It struck me for some reason. It was the Holy Spirit pressing on my heart where I was like, “I need to order that book,” because I was curious. I knew God was real. I was like, “I’m curious about You. Give me a gateway back to maybe knowing You better.” I hadn’t picked up a Bible in several years. I was not about to. I got the book. In the introduction, I don’t read intros to books, but I did. She has the word worship as an acronym for how you can read the book. Each letter is a different way of doing a segment of spiritual disciplines. O stood for Openness to God and I was like, “Yahtzee. That’s what I want. That’s what I’m here for.”
I opened it up to that section and the very first thing was contemplative prayer. That first day I closed my eyes for contemplation. I was in tears because God was real. He was talking to me about stuff and I was like, “God, the Father, You are real.” That was the year of the breadcrumbs. It’s like nourishment. When you’ve been sick and you haven’t been able to eat anything, you eat a cracker and you’re like, “I feel much better.” The next day you can drink a cup of broth. You’re like, “I’m a little more alive.” It’s that process of getting little bits of nourishment back to your soul and that kept going.
Going through Holy Yogas training, I was resistant. I told the person from Holy Yoga, there’s no way you could pay me enough money to go to a Jesus Camp. By day three of said Jesus Camp, I was face down in a puddle of snot and tears on the yoga mat face-to-face with Jesus. You can’t unsee what you’ve seen. You can’t unknow what you’ve known. That’s another moment of awakening where you reckon with a part of yourself, deep inside of your soul that you’ve denied or shut down or put to sleep, allowing it to come back online, allowing it to wake up.We are the fullest, most in alignment, most true to our original created selves in Christ. Click To Tweet
The number of times meditation came up in my life before I was even aware is profound to me. Ana Wim, my friend was like, “Do you want to volunteer for this half-day Holy Yoga event I’m hosting in Redding. I was like, “I knew I needed to do it and God made the way.” One of my good friends has a best friend that lives up there. We road tripped up together. We went to this event. I volunteered to lead the meditation. It was a transformative experience. There’s a church in Redding called Bethel. My upbringing was like father-son.
I encountered the Holy Spirit for the first time. I was like, “The Trinity is a real thing. It’s not made-up teaching or whatever.” That was another layer. It’s not without a doubt. It’s not without questioning. It’s not without me going fifteen steps forward and 120 backward where I wrestle with much of it. If you’re in a place of awakening where you haven’t wrestled, I would question if you’re waking up. It makes me feel like if it’s too comfortable, is it right?
Wrestling is required for waking up. That’s very valid. Faith is not the elimination of doubt, but rather the decision to take a step especially with the doubt.
Peter Rollins is a modern-day Irish philosopher and he says, “To believe is human, to doubt is divine.” As people we want to believe in things. It’s our human nature. We’ve done this since the dawn of time. If you never question, if you’re blindly led, that’s where I was when growing up. People would always say, “We want your faith to be around,” but they didn’t mean it. My upbringing was much like, “Don’t question, just know. Don’t doubt, only believe.” That never sat right with me because the Bible is full of paradoxes. It’s meant for you to question so that you can know what you think and believe.
Our pastor did teaching about the Holy Spirit and was talking about how the Holy Spirit is our advocate to argue with God for us, but to also argue with us about ourselves, where we lose the sight of our identity as children of God. He goes, “Let me argue you on that. Let’s get in a little bit. Let’s work around it.” He asked a question and he said, “Why are you ashamed of your passion for God?” I was like, “That’s deep.” Those wirings of my childhood where it was this belief I had to hide who I was in my faith for fear of loss of belonging.
That was my wounding, it’s the loss of belonging. I notice those things coming up now. I didn’t have them for the first blissful year of coming back to faith because I was blissed out of my mind. I was like, “You’re good, Holy Spirit. Amazing Jesus, yes.” I’m in this position where I’m, “This leaves me belonging in certain circles.” I don’t want to offend anybody. There are many parallels in meditative language around faith where I’m like, “Do you not see?” The Buddhist teachings I’m learning like, “Jesus.” It’s funny to me. I’m in a class all the time.
I’m going to say this because it’s my mother tongue. Nobody be offended, but in the Bible it says. It’s because I know the stories. I know the parallels. It’s cool to see how many times this process of learning other teachings helps me connect different stories in the Bible where l was recording an episode for my friend’s podcast. We were discussing the verse in Genesis 2 where it talks about God breathing life into Adam. As we were discussing it, I had the revelation that Jesus was here to do as the Father did.
When He bestowed the Holy Spirit upon His disciples, He breathed on them. That’s where we receive the fullness of the Trinity because God breathed into man, Jesus breathed Holy Spirit into man and Jesus was the sacrifice. It’s this beautiful connective picture or there are a lot of meditations around asking who I am. I thought about when Moses goes to the burning bush and God says, “I am that I am.” In the creation story, God creates man in His own image and all other things were created after their own kind. We were created after the God kind. Therefore, I am that I am, we are who we are in Christ.
We are the fullest, most in alignment, most true to our original created selves in Christ. Seeing these parallels or one of my favorite contemplations, that question of, “Who am I?” We often ask it from a place of ego. Even though in the meditative state, it’s supposed to be from a surrender place. It’s still an ego question to know who am I, but the contemplative practices work God show me you, then show me me. From that humble positioning, we can see ourselves through His eyes. You could take it one step further and ask because we often view the world through our obscured lens versus through the clarity that we can be given through Christ.
One of the parallels that’s interesting that I read in a book called The Lessons of History, which is an amazing synopsis of this book called The Civilizations of History that these two historians, Will and Ariel Durant, did. It’s 100 pages and it’s profound what their conclusions are. The ones that stuck out to me was on war and history and how peace is not possible unless there’s a higher power or authority in place that creates peace. That’s where you see that peace is only found sustainably through God or even perfectly through God. Peace is such an indicator of God and his presence because that is the higher authority that we can fully trust even when we don’t want to and don’t feel like it.
This is not to say there’s a walk in the park to trust or that peace is always over us. That’s not true. It could be and potentially that’s the goal. That’s what we strive for. In that sense, even the ordering in that and even what you shared is at first we have to know what’s been done and what’s being done for us from God, which unlocks our ability to know us fully and truly, and accept us fully and truly, which then unlocks our ability to do the same for others. That ordering is important. It is an ongoing process our whole lives, which is interesting to realize because we want to arrive. That’s not going to happen here at least forever. There are many glimpses of it. One of the things you mentioned that is helpful to think about is finding God in everything versus that parallel that we all fall into is determining what he is or isn’t in. That’s hilarious if we think about it. Why are we prone to determine for God what he is in and what he isn’t versus finding him in everything because he’s there?
I had a profound moment when they were talking about Hinduism. In Hinduism, you can basically worship anything. You could worship a mountain, a stream, a goat or whatever. I was like, “They have the right idea, but it’s obscured,” because God is the creator of all things like. He is the source. All things flow out of Him. Therefore, you can see God in all things. I have many times looked at creation and wept because I see God’s love for humanity and the beauty of creation. I’m not saying God is a tree. I’m saying God is in the tree. It gets dicey for people because the semantics sound too similar.
If you think about it from a biblical place in the poem that is the creation story, He is intentional about the way that He does it. The first three days are separation. He’s creating and separating. It’s almost a painter with a canvas who’s getting the outline made. The last three days, He is filling what He has created with the creation to inhabit, fulfill, and bring his perfection to life, to give it more nuance and texture. We think we can divorce God from the thing He created, it baffles me. Even our view of Jesus to believe I had a disheartening conversation with someone who I said, “I believe all people are chosen.” It is ours to choose back. We’re already chosen. When Jesus died on the cross, He died to reconcile not just mankind to Himself.
He died to reconcile the whole of the universe unto himself. The fact that we think, “He was this man who lived, breathed and walked in.” We can get wrapped up in the story that we forget the continuation. We think it just happened in the Bible, but we forget that it’s been continuing on for generations ever since. That story could now be volumes to fill a library of His continued word, breath and movement. If you think about it from a place of the word, the Bible is the word of God, but so is creation because God spoke it into existence.
These are the things that are helpful to work through. It’s the framework I used for my book. There’s simplicity then complexity and then there’s simplicity. That far side simplicity is that form of mastery that we’re all in pursuit of and we have to wade through complexity to get there and it’s this beyond.
Our pastor has been teaching a lot on chiasm. It’s a term and it’s that where you have simple simplicity, complexity simple, simplicity. He gives it the analogy of the Hobbit where he starts at home and in the middle, there’s a housed treasure. He returns home. It’s this idea that in the middle of these two paralleling stories of forces is the treasure. It’s enfolded inside.
That makes the journey and the process the most important thing. It’s true. I think about my journey with golf. From an external perspective, it was a failure. From an internal perspective, it was a success because of what it did inside of me as a human and what it produced within me. In a sense too, that far side simplicity is a beautiful refinement of what that journey held. It’s almost a catalyst for the next because it’s the bookend to the next journey, which helps us keep going. I love how Rohr talks about mystery is endlessly knowable. How in that pursuit of God, it’s an endless pursuit because it is endlessly knowable.
We can’t get to the bottom of the depths, which allows us the freedom to keep pressing. God wants us to seek deeper and deeper. How do we do that without ending the journey? The danger we all have is to get into a place where we get into a circular spin where we’re not progressing, but we’re remaining where we are and entrenching in where we are. I don’t know if you’ve looked into spiral dynamics at all. It’s the same concept. There are 8 or 9 spirals. You’re spiraling up through your journey in life. It’s a great construct for thinking about how we can get stuck in a spiral without moving onto the next. That becomes unhealthy for ourselves and for others. Energy is one of those things especially within Christianity that’s shunned to our own detriment. The concept of energy and energy healing like you’ve gone through, give a little bit of a taste of what that’s done for you. Why is that important?Darkness has no power of its own. Click To Tweet
We fear what we don’t know. I often talk about sin. We get obsessed with it. It’s a bad, horrible thing. For me, the literal meaning is to miss the mark. It goes one step further of it’s the realization that darkness has no power of its own. It’s a great manipulator. It’s taking something that was originally good because everything was good in its original creation. It’s the manipulation of that thing into something that was never meant to be. It’s the harm of self or others. It’s the manipulation of food to being our numbing device. It’s the manipulation of sex to be a distraction or harmful to another person.
It’s the manipulation of energy to be used for dark rather than light because energy is all around us. It’s a scientific thing. Emotions, number one, are energy in motion. Number two, we aren’t stagnant beings. I can’t remember the scientific term for what a person is, but nothing is as solid as it seems like in quantum physics. If you compressed all the solid matter in the universe, it would fit inside of a teaspoon and that bends your brain a little bit. If you can get out of the place where energy is woo-woo, you can re-orient it around like everything is made of molecules in motion. That’s all literal frequency energy. That’s where you can get into, like words have an energetic frequency.
That is why when people talk about even in the Bible, life and death are held in the power of the tongue. The things you speak and the things you eat and think in your own mind, those things carry an energetic frequency which affects the resonance of the rest of creation. It’s those studies where you could say things to water and then have it for me to crystals and the crystals where hateful things are said are awful. They’re deformed, often discolored. The crystals were the words of love or beautiful snowflakes. Gratitude, part of the reason that’s such a transformative practice is it’s one of the highest frequency words.
Gratitude can change the energy that you feel in your body. It can make you feel more energetic because you aren’t being bogged down. Think about when you feel sad, that’s a heavy emotion. It makes you feel more tired. When you’re depressed, you don’t feel, “I’m going to pep myself. I’m going to go run a marathon.” You’re like, “No, I’m going to lay on the couch because I can’t move.” The real shift for me happened when I started learning about how emotions manifest as disease in the body. Looking at my own life and seeing how that literally played itself out. I read several books on it.
You can read The Body Keeps the Score. You could read a great book with the most intense title. It’s called Feelings Buried Alive Never Die. It helped me realize so much, going back to that idea of what people put on me and accepting it. I accepted the things that were said or that I thought about myself or whatever. I often say you have thousands if not hundred-thousands of thoughts in a day. They whipped through your brain and went through a screen door. If you have a specific thought that’s repetitive or it’s charged with emotion, thoughts just don’t go away. They turn into a neuropeptide. They turn into physical matter.
When they’re charged with emotion, when they are charged with that repetitive energy, they have to go somewhere and they’ll get stuck in your body. When you have a repetitive thought, it’s like a six-lane freeway to a car crash. This is where meditation comes in. It’s to learn to identify those on-ramps in your life and learn to take a detour. That’s been something that’s been profound. I used to have chronic migraines. I had three-plus migraines a week. I functioned through them. That’s what repression will get you. It was stuck energy. It was repressed energy that I wasn’t allowing myself to feel, face or acknowledge.
It was manifesting as literal migraines all the time or I had two major hip surgeries when I was a child. For women, trauma often manifests in your pelvis. For men a lot of times, it’s in your back because a lot of it has to do with financial responsibility. I’m still learning a lot about it. You’re like, “I’m dipping a toe in the pond that is an ocean of information.” It was Harvard or Stanford came out with a study talking about you could remove your whole brain and all your memories would be stored in your body. It would be stored in your tissue like in your fascia and in your muscles.
That’s such a powerful thing to try to get your brain around. That’s when you can take energy out of the woo-woo, “I need to be scared of this realm,” and go, “Maybe I need to do acupuncture,” which is working with your literal energetic body. They call them the meridians in Chinese medicine. The channels that energy in your body flows through. Maybe I have something stuck somewhere and I need to do that or Reiki maybe a little too scary for some people. I myself was trained through a woman who’s a Christ-centered Reiki practitioner. It’s tapping into the Holy Spirit. It’s tapping into the energy that is of God. It’s important. This is the other thing I often tell people is, where is your intention being placed?
Because if your intention is even as the person receiving, if you’re afraid, that good intention of the person practicing on you could be thwarted. If you enter it perfectly with the person, if you trust, if you are open to receive healing and believe you are worthy of healing, that is crucial. Many of us doubt that we are worthy of love, of healing. We doubt that we are worthy of the transformation that can be given to us. That’s where I see the people in Christian circles and not in Christian circles that have chronic problems where they don’t allow the transformation because they believe they’re broken.
That’s something I get upset about when I talk to a lot of conservative Christian people is they are obsessed with their brokenness, fallen nature. I talked to my spiritual director about this. I told her, “Janice, I never saw you again. All the money I’ve spent, you would be worth it for what you told me.” She talked about in Russian orthodoxy that we believe in Western theology. When the fall happened, our core became sinful and that Christ died so that his blood could cover over the shame and the sin. In Russian orthodoxy, they talk about when man fell that it’s almost like a sheath covered our true core. Our true core is made in God’s image and it’s beautiful, radiant, love and joy. It’s all the things that He created us to be. When Christ died, He tore the veil. When we come to Christ, the veil around our hearts falls off and our true identity can shine through.
Kelsey, we will maybe need to do a round two here because we’ve gone past our time limit and it’s sad. I’m going to end with two one-offs. The first is imagining your 50-year-old self. What advice do you think you would give yourself?
Getting more external, if you could send a morning text reminder to every Up and Comer out there, what would you say and why in a text message they’d get on their phone?
Remember to breathe. This could be for our next episode. I have a whole thing around breath and God that I briefly touched on, but Brooke Boon talks about how every time we breathe, we receive the fullness of creation. Breath is powerful. I don’t know if any of your readers have done breathwork, but you can literally change your state by how you breathe. A little tip is that if you exhale longer than you inhale, so if you inhale for a count of two, when you exhale for a count of four, that will calm you down. Inhaling upregulates your body. Exhaling deregulates your body, so it calms you down. That’s where transformation can begin even is when we slow down our breath. That shifts your energy. If you’re in a stressed situation and you take a deep breath, it keeps you calm. Navy SEALs do the four-square breathing for a reason.
There are some great resources out there. I’d get to take a Wim Hof class, which is sweet. It is fascinating even learning about the components of breath because when you exhale, you’re off-putting CO2. When your CO2 is heightened, you get the feeling of claustrophobia because it’s uncomfortable. That’s where that whole fear comes from. It’s fascinating, everything is connected. Kelsey, where’s the best place for people to connect if they want to say hi or drop a few comments?
You can find me on Instagram, @KelseyZahn, and my email and stuff, I do believe it’s on there. If anybody has any pressing questions, you can reach out. I also have a blog that I don’t write on much, but it’s called The-Curated-Life.com.
Until next time, this has been much fun. Thanks for coming on.
- iTunes – The Up And Comers Show
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- Kelsey Zahn-Melton
- @KelseyZahn – Instagram
- Good City Mentors
- You Are the Placebo
- Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality
- Spiritual Disciplines Handbook
- The Lessons of History
- The Body Keeps the Score
- Feelings Buried Alive Never Die
About Kelsey Zahn Melton
Kelsey Zahn Melton lives in Los Angeles with her husband Drew and her dog Stanley Tucci. She is a freelance hairstylist and makeup artist by trade, yoga and meditation teacher (in training), lover of all things food and coffee, and hopes to hear more about the shape of your soul one day. She is currently in a season of exploration, entering into the liminal spaces life has to offer as humbly and simply as she can manage (… mind you ‘she’ is writing this so perhaps the truth is a bit romanticized here). Most importantly she would love to hear from you, you can find her at: @kelseyzahn on social media or the-curated-life.com
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