I recently had the pleasure of having a very insightful conversation with Chessa Sabourin, the Founder, and Co-Producer of Emerge Canada’s Yoga Festival, a new festival that is running this summer right outside the same town I was born and raised, and spent the first 18 years of my life in. When I heard about this festival running in my hometown I couldn’t help but wonder, if I had been exposed to these practices while growing up maybe I wouldn’t have struggled as much. I was also very surprised by the similarities in both our stories.

Growing up and living in Pembroke for both Chessa and I was a challenge. We both struggled with our own issues that seemed to hit an impasse in High School—for me it was with anxiety, depression and stomach sickness, and for her it was a severe car accident—and we both felt that we were constantly surrounded by close-mindedness, ignorance and negativity that further perpetuated our struggles.

After we both hit our proverbial breakdown point in our teenage years, we were introduced to practices and strategies that helped turn our lives around.

After a car accident at the age of 16, Chessa struggled with severe back pain. Her doctor had recommended she try yoga to help restore some strength in her back, but she was resistant at first. She was an athlete before the accident and was now struggling to keep her physical fitness up. It finally got to a point where she was feeling so uncomfortable in her body that she had to try something, and because she couldn’t find a class locally that she enjoyed, she decided to sign up for a one month intensive yoga teacher training in Costa Rica. She thought she was going to go to Costa Rica to heal her body but got so much more. After only taking two classes prior to the training, Chessa went on the adventure and never looked back. After practicing hours of asana, meditation and pranayama every day, it was pretty hard not to open her mind and heart and see that it was more than just her body that needed healing.

After completing the training her mind was blown open as so was her appetite for more wisdom and growth. She developed a passion for travel as it was an opportunity to seek, explore and expand how she could improve her life. After traveling the world she returned home to integrate all that she had learned but found the transition incredibly challenging.

For the first time in her life she felt content with who she was and happy and healthy beyond measure—but as she walked around town she noticed that so many around her were stuck in old patterns of unhealthy eating, unhealthy thinking, and unhappy living. And that is what sparked her vision for wanting to help others.

Before that opportunity came around, she experienced another breakdown moment. Her father was diagnosed with cancer. After battling the dis-ease for years and living every moment he could from his passion and purpose as a musician, it seemed his transition was inevitable. This tragedy provided Chessa with another opportunity to integrate what she had learned and open her heart more than she thought possible. For years leading up to this point, Chessa never thought she could love someone deep enough to dedicate all she had to them. It was in accepting her father’s fate that she learned how to open her heart even more and love bigger and deeper. In her father’s last few months Chessa moved home and took on the role of his full-time caregiver. It gave them some precious last moments together and more importantly, it showed Chessa how much love she can give.

If it wasn’t for the yoga teacher training that opened her mind and the seeking and exploring she did around the world expanding her consciousness, she wouldn’t have been able to show up for her father the way she did.

Chessa realized along the way that she has an incredible gift, holding space for others to emerge into their best selves, and that is exactly what she is doing with Emerge. She has channeled all that she has learned in her own journey and is setting out to provide the platform for others to be able to do the same, without having to travel too far.

After hearing Chessa’s story I couldn’t help but think about my own journey and how similar it was. After going through my own struggles, and having a breakdown at the age of 19, I was able to turn my life around by putting the same formula into practice in my life. That formula is something that changed both our lives.

If you are struggling in any way and don’t know where to begin – try following the formula below and see what happens.

The Formula for Emerging Into Our Best Selves

Open your mind –> Seek, explore and expand –> Integrate what you learn/find –> Open your heart bigger to love deeper –> Share with others

The biggest thing I want to share is that you don’t need a breakdown to open your mind, you don’t have to travel the world to seek, explore and expand, you don’t have to experience tragedy to integrate what you’ve learned or open your heart, and you don’t have to wait for the right opportunity to share your wisdom with others. You can start your journey at any time.

My hope is that reading this will inspire you to take action and follow the formula so you can emerge into your best self!

If you are looking for a place to start your journey, join me at Emerge Canada’s Yoga Festival.

Michael Eisen is an inspirational speaker, author, and the founder of the Youth Wellness Network, an organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering youth across the globe to live happier and more positive lives. After positively transforming his own life at the age of nineteen, he is now on a lifelong crusade to share with other young people the principles, strategies, and practices that gave him the strength to start living a more joyful and healthier life. Michael’s first book (Empowered YOUth: A Father and Son’s Journey to Conscious Living) is now available everywhere books are sold. To learn more about Michael and the Youth Wellness Network, visit www.youthwellnessnetwork.ca, join him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Image courtesy of Emerge Yoga Festival.