The Hero’s Journey
Luke Skywalker, Dorothy of Kansas and Oz, Django Unchained, Harry Potter: their stories capture our attention and hearts. The downtrodden prevail, and are thus transformed into heroes. They have made the Hero’s Journey.
This journey beckons to each of us, and within the journey lie all of our dreams, dreams of freedom to become all we are meant to be. And then some.
And what does “freedom” mean, anyhow? Can I get it? How can I get it?
Though these questions ultimately drive our lives, they’re often buried under day-to-day demands. We may feel we don’t have the time, money, support or energy to pursue our dreams. After all, no one said fulfilling our dreams was easy.
But the call to freedom never ceases. Answering the call is the ultimate act of courage. Yes, it requires effort, and yet it also comes with exhilaration, since it’s the work we were born to do.
What do we mean by ‘freedom’? Can I get it?
Though difficulties in our life don’t go away, freedom gives us the ability to laugh through them, and still enjoy the journey. No matter what, freedom is always available to us: it resides in our own minds and hearts.
The heroine or hero doesn’t have any unusual talents or abilities. He or she is simply one who cannot ignore the call. Human beings have made this journey since time immemorial; therefore we can too.
What is the ‘Hero’s Journey’?
For each of us, it’s our ultimate inner voyage of discovery and surrender. We meet challenges, push the envelope of our comfort zone, and learn to let go of outdated opinions and emotions (our inner ‘demons’) that keep us isolated and fearful. Meanwhile, we explore life’s mysteries and enjoy a greater sense of living this amazing phenomenon called life, rather than just getting through the day.
Heroes and heroines are brave, and overcome natural apprehensions in order to take risks. These may entail unveiling and releasing past hurts, shedding light on our fears, sharing our dreams, and learning to trust more deeply.
The exploration transforms those experiences or beliefs that had haunted us and held us back (our inner ‘demons’). Through this inner alchemy, their positive qualities emerge, and we are equipped with greater talents and understanding, our allies on the journey.
Results include greater joy, humor and interest – that is, greater freedom. We leave behind things like loneliness, resentment, guilt, shame, and anger or irritation when things don’t go our way.
It’s important that we build our muscles to do this every day of our lives; eventually it becomes second nature, and transforms our life into an exciting voyage. We never know what will happen next. It’s also valuable to learn from and practice with others who have undertaken the journey, can share tips and tricks, and be role models and companions on the path.
Six Benefits of the Hero’s Journey
The road of adventure, outlined by the Hero’s Journey, teaches us six things.
1. We can do it.
Greater self-confidence and resilience are natural byproducts of the Hero’s Journey.
2. We can still enjoy life in the ‘ordinary’ world.
Though we return from the journey different from when we left, our life is richer for it, and we have more good things to share with others.
3. Challenges are our practice ground.
We gain a deeper appreciation that difficulties won’t go away. And on completion of our Hero’s Journey, we realize they weren’t as hard as we thought.
4. Change is beautiful.
While our lives will surely change and inevitably some things and people will drop away, we’ll enjoy the company of others who enrich and beautify our lives.
5. I am not alone.
Our relationships with people can finally become what we’ve been looking for.
6. Every day is an adventure.
Life gets extremely interesting! Every day becomes something we look forward to, full of learning and exploration.
This Hero’s Journey post was originally featured on Hollyhock retreat center blog.
Doug Duncan & Catherine Pawasarat are modern day teachers of transcendence. Their work with students draws upon Buddhist, Western Mysteries, modern psychology and other traditions.
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For more on the Hero’s Journey, and how you can embark on the journey to more fully become the hero or heroine of your life: see our Hero’s Journey video.