Live the Four-Fold Way


This last week the world lost a great teacher, Angeles Arrien.  An author, educator and consultant, Angeles was a cross cultural anthropologist and brought the concept of wholeness to all her work. All indigenous cultures see and honor wholeness.

Angeles was one of my favorite teachers. She believed in the relentless power and drive of the human spirit toward wholeness.  I do too.

She taught her students a way of being and living called the Four-Fold Way. It honors the four directions and offers us the responsibility of the Ways of the Teacher, Warrior (or Leader), Visionary and Healer.

A few years before my introduction to Angeles’ work, I was attending a Mind/Body conference in Santa Fe, NM.  At the bar, the night before the conference was to start, I got into a conversation with the one of the speakers.  I remember repeating some snappy little ditty I had heard about the “Five things ever business owner needs to know” or something like that. The gentleman I was talking to smiled at my cleverness and said he had only four rules for life and he shared them with me.

Show up.  Pay attention.  Tell the truth.  Don’t be attached to the outcome.

My jaw dropped, my heart skipped a beat and I actually shut up.

In that very moment, I understood that a path had been revealed. I went home with those words in my mind and on my tongue as I went about saying them to myself, almost as a little mantra, they started to ground in my being.

Several years later I discovered the wondrous work of Angeles Arrien.  Off I flew to a retreat in AZ and I learned that her work was all about learning to walk the Mystical Path with Practical Feet. I dove into the study with both feet and whole heart and mind.

Angeles studied cultures all over the world, and looked for commonalties.- ideas, beliefs, practices and even dance steps that were shared by indigenous peoples  all over the globe. She had a special way of combining ideas – and thinking in the “whole.”

One day she plotted out the Four Ways on a Medicine Wheel with the four directions and as she did that she told us another way we could sum up the direction and the way. My jaw dropped open. This was only the second time in my life I had heard these words spoken and I knew without a shadow of a doubt they were for me.

Show up and be present. (The Way of the Warrior/Leader)

Pay attention to what has heart and meaning. (The Way of the Healer)

Tell the truth without blame or judgment. (The Way of the Visionary)

Be open to (but not attached to) outcome.  (The Way of the Teacher)

She called it living the Four Fold Way. I’ve found it to be a perfect way to understand the ways I can step up and take responsibility for living the best life I can. Even when I don’t come close to achieving it, this way of living gives me structure, gives me room, and gives me plenty of challenge.

Having a positive credo for your life is a sound foundation for creating more happiness and being more fulfilled.

We are all on a journey. For some of us the path is easy and for others, it’s hard, winding, and painful. Our lives are often restricted by patterns of the past and even our very genes hold us back from the happiness we seek.

Angeles taught me that it’s through conscious choice that we shift the shape of our experiences. Our choice creates a new reality.

One night many years ago in the high desert, I chose to take the words of a wise man. I felt them resonate at my core and make me smile. I never had to write these words down, my body drank them like a potion and they became part of me.

Years later the source of those very words showed up in my life to teach me how to break the old patterns and dig down deep to find the seeds of my authenticity and power. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to learn from the magnificent Angeles Arrien.  Her word has given my life shape and meaning. She helped me expand who I was and learn to connect to the wisdom inherent in other cultures and the wisdom in my won heart. I am grateful.





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