After an exceptionally emotional therapy session, I was feeling quite exhausted and lost. Surviving multiple traumas creates a need for grieving — and I was experiencing grief in a new wave.
There is a particular park I enjoy visiting with a fountain I love to sit beside. I’ve always found it helps me to regroup emotionally and ground myself in the present. So, I decided to make a stop.
As I sat on the bench, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the sound of flowing water, I had a quick vision of a group of turtles surrounding me.
As I looked out at the fountain, I saw a few turtles gathering by some steps on the far side. Trusting that mini vision was my intuition, I walked over for a look.
I watched as one turtle struggled to climb the fountain’s step. The turtle almost made it over the edge, but she simply couldn’t hold on any longer.
She toppled over, falling onto the step below, landing on the back of her shell. Her head was under water, her arms and legs sprawled in defeat.
“Girlfriend, I feel you,” I thought.
I pondered flipping her back over or trying to help, as many of us may do when we feel our assistance is needed.
But I recalled a spiritual teaching: The principle of non-interference, which teaches us to interfere neither in the natural process of nature nor others’ individual journeys. It also teaches us not to interfere in our own journey, meaning not trying to force outcomes, fix, cure, or control.
I did not interfere. But worry crept in.
“What if it can’t breathe?” I wondered. “What if it dies? How will I know if I need to step in?”
I underwent a profound spiritual experience that day — a gift that provided me with more inner peace than I had felt in a while.
For 12 whole minutes I watched the turtle work to upturn herself, resting after repeated attempts. Baby turtles even climbed on top of her, but she did not stop. Eventually, she flipped herself over and swam away like nothing at all terrible had happened. A mere inconvenience — or maybe even something less than that, for the rest of creation has perfected the idea of simply “being.”
Everything that turtle needed to survive was innately programmed into her. Turtles can hold their breath for up to an hour — some sea turtles for as long as two! And when they cannot get oxygen through their lungs, the opening at the rear of their shells can expel water and filter oxygen for aquatic respiratory purposes. Talk about a superpower! But it is only in a pressured situation that those innate skills can be tapped.
And isn’t it the same for us? We, too, are programmed with every skill we need to overcome our obstacles. But what gets in the way?
Fear, doubt, feeling overwhelmed, our minds racing with “faulty” messages we’ve picked up from years of being told, “You aren’t good enough, smart enough, thin enough, pretty enough…” We hear these messages so much we start to believe them. We forget about and detach from our instinctual nature and our intuition — our Soul, always guiding us in the right direction.
The turtle instinctively knew what to do, without fear or worry blocking her awareness. This is why mindset is so important and why reprogramming our beliefs away from shame and into self-love and radical acceptance are lifesavers. Without it, we won’t live. We will only simply exist.
We have everything we need innately programmed into us to live our best, most authentic lives. But it is only fully discovered through uncomfortable situations. It is how we grow, just as seeds grow: Under pressure, in the heavy, wet, and cold underground. Something so small it could be blown away by a simple breath is able to defy gravity, soil, roots, and rocks to sprout.
It is in our experiences of trauma, sadness, and despair we find the strength to bloom. It might just be the exact opportunity we need to discover our own superpower.