heal, potential, born to heal, Karyn Shanks MD

Practice and commit.

Dear One.

Agreement 4/5, how to expand into your sparkly wholeness, lands now.

Where we’ve been:

  • 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.

A sneak peek into my new book, Unbroken: Remember Your Wholeness, a manifesto to healing in a world that keeps us sick, suffering, and stuck, available later in 2023.

As always, sending you so much love.

Practice and commit.

We’re flowing even when it doesn’t feel anything like flow, remember? So, how do we achieve optimal flow, the zone? It’s not accidental. It must be intentional. To harness the powerful energy of neuroplasticity, to get our biology activated to realize our goals and dreams, we must practice. Daily practice helps us acquire and deepen the well-developed skill set we must have to experience our zone. And remember, the zone isn’t just for the exceptional few, the elite athletes, artists, and dancers. It’s for all of us.

A well-ingrained habit needs daily practice for thirty to ninety days, depending on who you ask. Point is, it takes practice to create the new mind grooves of neuroplasticity that allow us to succeed. Ideally this practice occurs when conditions for learning are optimal—when your energy is best, your mind is the most alert, and you are not distracted so the task has your undivided attention. These conditions don’t have to be “perfect” though. If we waited for the perfect time, perfect energy, perfect everything, we wouldn’t practice at all.

One of the greatest motivators for me is knowing what’s at stake when I avoid doing what I need despite the discomfort that can arise. I won’t get to feel the way I want to feel. I won’t get to unleash my potential. I won’t get to heal my suffering. And there’s a clock ticking. This is my finite life. If I don’t do it now, I might not get to. Interviews with people on their death beds reveals their deepest regrets are what they didn’t do, not what they did do.[1]

How do we begin our practice?

We always start with self-compassion, don’t we? We breathe, we check in with ourselves, we welcome all the feelings, even the resistance, judgment, and fear that inevitably arise. We hold them as portals to our new path.

We use compassion as we notice our stories.

I don’t have time. I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know how. It hurts. It’s too hard. I need just one more day.

We acknowledge how these are the stories we tell to avoid uncomfortable feelings. We hold them and our feelings tenderly and pay homage to how they served us at one time. We make room for a better story.

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

We commit. Commitment is your decision to practice. But it’s got to be more than a promise to sustain the transformation we’re after, doesn’t it?

We must allow the transformation. The commitment we’ll work with here is about allowing.

What does that mean?

Allowing means releasing all certainty about the future. We release what we think we know. Where we’ll land. What will happen. Who we’ll be. All of it. We brave the notion that we’ll never be the same. We allow it.

Healing is all about becoming. We allow the uncertainty of becoming. And just like the bud that becomes the spectacular rose or the caterpillar that becomes the butterfly, we allow ourselves to emerge into the next iteration of ourselves, the upshifted equilibrium, our potential and possibilities. When we practice and commit to ourselves, we allow our own spectacular becoming. Like the rose, like the butterfly.



p.s. Here are the first three agreements:

Hold yourself with fierce compassion and safety.

Keep things simple, small, and slow.

Release what you think you know.

[1] Bronnie Ware. Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. 2019.

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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