“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.”  ― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

Early in my studies and understanding of the mind, whenever a fellow classmate would question why a troubling event occurred in their life, or why something that looked really challenging would suddenly fall into place when they least expected, my teacher and coach, Michael Neill, would repeat this phrase “there is a kindness to the design.”  What I heard was: In the design of life, there is a soft pillow at the bottom of each hard fall, waiting to catch you — EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. The words and the sentiment were nice, but I wouldn’t realize the depth and truth of the statement for a few years. Sitting across from my husband one night at dinner we began to look at how far we had come in a few short years. There was a period after my brother-in-law’s suicide where I didn’t think he would recover… but there we were 2 years later, living with more love of life and peace of mind than we had ever experienced. As we both reflected, he began listing different paths we wouldn’t have taken had the suicide not occurred. At first, I could sense his discomfort even suggesting there was a “bright side” to losing his brother — and he definitely wasn’t suggesting there was one — but he saw a glimpse of how “ok” we all are, always. In an instant, I saw deeply what Michael repeated over and over. I saw the absoluteness of “the kindness of the design”. Looking backward, I saw the invisible pillow that caught us both, helped us up and pointed us in the next direction of our lives. From that point, I began to ask myself: What would I do differently if in every moment, I knew no matter what I faced, not only could I find the courage, ability, and resilience inside myself to be ok, but that I didn’t have to go searching for it because it’s there already just waiting for me to fall into it? Without effort, I began to live life unafraid of anything coming at me. I knew it could hurt but I also realized my infinite potential to bounce back. It revolutionized what I would allow in my life and in the life of The Cypress Initiative. Our growth, expansion and impact are, in no small part, because of this realization both inside of myself, and inside those on our team. Today we work to point the youth and adults we serve in the same direction. We challenge them to see and ask for themselves: What they would DO or NOT DO if they knew they would always be ok? If they knew their “ok-ness” didn’t reside in whatever they were chasing or running from? What if they knew it didn’t reside in their ability to retaliate, or find justice, or avoid tragedy, or evade trauma, or acquire straight A’s, or get into their dream college, or achieve their goal weight… but rather, had an unwavering realization that their “ok-ness” was a living, breathing part of being alive — a SPARK inside?   With immense love and gratitude, Brooke Wheeldon-Reece