heal, healing stories, karyn shanks md,

Release what you think you know.

Dear One,

Let’s take a bird’s-eye view of the five agreements for expanding into our sparkly wholeness:

  • Hold yourself with fierce compassion and safety.
  • Keep things simple, small, and slow.
  • Release what you think you know.
  • Practice and commit.
  • Stay relentlessly curious.

Regardless of your life path, your personal goals, or what in your life you’d like to change, these agreements ground you in the process of transformation. They hold you while you set intentions, unlearn old stories (that may have disempowered you), release the past and its old patterns (that may have held you back), open yourself to the uncertainty of change (that may have scared the bejeebies out of you), then emerge into the new you.

With agreements made, the details fall right into place.

We’ve looked at the first two. Today, I’ll share the third with you. These are from my new book, Unbroken: Remember Your Wholeness, a manifesto to healing in a world that keeps us sick, suffering, and stuck, which will be available later this year!

Thank you for being here!

Release what you think you know.

The only way to learn something new is to make space for it.

How do we do that?

We approach life’s lessons with a beginner’s mind. This doesn’t mean we don’t know anything. We know a lot. It’s what we keep chanting—we have knowing within us we didn’t realize we had. But I’m not talking about knowing here. I’m talking about what we think we know—all the stories we keep telling ourselves.  

We’ve all been ‘storied’ in a multitude of ways, right? We’ve been parented, schooled, medicalized, churched, coached, and enculturated. You name it. And as we’ve explored, some of our most disempowering and tenacious stories have been about the nature of who we are, our bodies, and how to think about ourselves when we’re sick and suffering. It’s landed in all of us. We’re well versed in fixes for how we’re broken, not understanding we’re an equilibrium of genius. We’ve been taught thoroughly and learned well.

So far, the big new ideas in this book resonate, but when it comes to daily practice of our new knowledge? There’ll be lots of competition from “how things have always been.”

But we’re learning and building strength and resilience, aren’t we? We’re breathing. We’re keeping things simple, small, and slow. We’re holding ourselves with compassion and safety. And we’re rallying our courage to release what we think we know for sure. Heading into new territory takes courage. If this book is about anything, it’s about courage—to embrace who we are, to expand into our wholeness.

With each new lesson or step, check in with yourself. What do you notice? Resistance? Judgement? Fear? Welcome it all. Resistance, judgment, and fear tell us we’re on the right path. Breathe into your beginner’s mind, the new territory, your potential and possibilities.

If only the beginner’s mind can learn new things, where do we begin? How do we release what we think we know?

Start with what you think you know about yourself. See if you can shift from the idea of yourself as a healer, already whole, filled to the brim with gorgeous potential to the identity of yourself as a healer, already whole, filled to the brim with gorgeous potential.

This is who I am. Already whole. Filled to the brim with gorgeous potential.

Pause and breathe.

Drop right in. Hands over your heart, let your heart know you’re there. Close your eyes, breathe, and rest.

Notice your hands, your heart, your breath, your feet, activating your safety circuit.

Hold yourself and any feelings or sensations that arise with fierce compassion and safety.

Gently notice your thoughts. Without trying to fix or change them, breathe, allow your thoughts to be there. As they flow, see if you can soften. Soften your shoulders, soften your jaw, soften your hips, soften your skin. While allowing your thoughts, see if you can let go of any certainty they have. Let them soften. Without judging or rejecting your thoughts, can you make space for something new, something you don’t yet know?

Use your powerful words.

I’m right here. I hold myself and all the feelings and sensations of my body with reverence. I notice my thoughts and stay soft even if they are certain. Even if they are doubtful. Even if they would hold me back.

I can hold my thoughts about the past, present, and future even as I choose something new. I can acknowledge how my thoughts have served me in the past even though they no longer do. I can speak and hold my new truth in my heart. I can hold it all at the very same time.

I am a healer. I am already whole. I am filled to the brim with gorgeous potential. This is who I am. This is who I choose to be.



p.s. Links to the first two agreements:

Hold yourself with fierce compassion and safety.

Keep things simple, small, and slow.

Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

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