Light in the Shadows - Mind Body Spirit Festival

Mind Body Spirit Festival presenter Michael James shares his story of a synchronous meeting with Teal Swan and how that led to both of them coming together to present a workshop at the London Wellbeing Festival this year.

When I first met Teal Swan back in 2014 we instantly connected. We met through my good friend (and her then-husband) Sarb Swan and I remember the moment clearly. In St James Park, London, we got talking and I found myself instantly at ease with her, saying way more than I’m used to on a first meeting. I remember commenting that she was one of the most intuitive people I’d met and we both shared a feeling of familiarity like old friends coming back together. The three of us had a great relationship together which continued until their marriage ended a year or so later. But that’s another story.

Light in the shadows

After that first meeting in the park, what followed was hours of conversation on Skype about the meaning of life and everything, including one of my favourite topics: Practical spirituality. We offered one another insights and helped each another through the challenges of everyday life, not knowing at the time how it was all one of those perfect synchronicities for building the perfect material for our workshop, Light in the Shadows, which we are presenting together at the Mind Body Spirit Festival this May. When Mel Carlyle, the Managing Director of Mind Body Spirit asked us to team up, it was an instant ‘yes’ from both of us. By this point we had already discussed co-writing a book and this organisation, which I love, seemed the perfect place to make our debut together. Years before we had met, both of us had always wanted to go to an event like the one we are going to present; one in which the speakers ‘get real’ and share their insights about how to handle those ‘murky everyday challenges of everyday living’ that everyone encounters. The relationship struggles, health worries, body image concerns and other fears. We will be sharing the ways we have mastered feeling good when things ‘out there’ are proving difficult. It won’t be another of those ‘Five steps to get everything you want’. It will be something more authentic and helpful to the human experience.

Lighthouse in a storm

In my own life I've reached many lows. There was a time when it seemed like the darkness would never end. Finding a way out of this darkness is what has led me to be able to help others help themselves out of their personal hell. Someone who hasn't been to the depths, without any knowledge of this emotional terrain, cannot guide those who have. Another benefit of these dark times is that these moments forged my best qualities and life experiences: The rags of life create the riches. Without the shadows, I wouldn't have evolved so much. And it's the same for everyone, of course.

The benefit of the shadows

Ferocious thoughts are needed for a phenomenal life just as heavy weights are needed to create great muscle. The thing is to leave thoughts be, to do their thing. We don’t analyse and go crazy at every detail of the heavy weights, we just lift them. Let the tension of the mind be. Leave those thoughts and feelings, they are not you. These shadows are nothing to do with who you are, they are just a machine, evolving you. So if you are aware of what I’m talking about when I talk about ferocious emotional storms then good. You are an Olympian, not a regular amateur.

Depths of emotion

I was intrigued by Teal’s ‘Shadow Work', an area of exploration I wasn’t so familiar with. And Teal appreciated my way of soothing people ‘like a lighthouse’ wherever they were emotionally and however life was for them. Both of us are teachers who are open with our own struggles, and both of us had also struggled with much of the personal development material out there in our own lives, and had seen others go through the same. From my experience of working with people, it seems everyone has their own personal hell yet we often keep our own quiet secret. Myself and Teal both relate to the depths of human emotion and have found ourselves as guiding lights to many others, helping them out of their own personal storms.

Diving for treasure

We all know that feeling after a stormy time in life. Not only from the relief that comes from it but also emerge better off: and more evolved, in so many ways. When we go into the shadows, it’s like a deep sea dive for treasure. It may feel harsh until our return to the surface where we have new insights and perhaps we have been ‘nudged’ to change our life in some positive way.

Michael and Teal collaborate

Here it is, our first collaboration, happening live at the the London Wellbeing Festival: Light in the Shadows: Finding self love, purpose and peace within the murky challenges of everyday living. Buy tickets.