The Seven Paths

Today, The Seven Paths—one of the most beautiful, and one of the most profound books that I have ever read—has officially been published.

The Seven Paths
The Seven Paths

Originally self-published through the Anasazi Foundation for over a decade, I first read The Seven Paths in 2006 after my attempted suicide. Up until that point, I had been living a very selfish life full of fear and lies. Like the main character in the book, I was running away from my people and my problems. All I wanted was to be left alone.

And yet…all I wanted was to not feel so alone.

Reading The Seven Paths was a complete game-changer. It helped me realize that “happiness in life’s walk depends upon how we feel about others in our hearts.” Indeed, happiness in life comes from living for others—or, in Anasazi speak, living the path of WE.

From The Seven Paths:

I have learned that the point of life’s walk is not where or how far I move my feet but how I am moved in my heart. If I walk far but am angry toward others as I journey, I walk nowhere.

…We travel only as far and as high as our hearts will take us. When I ran from my people, this is what the hills, the trees, the valleys, and the streams invited me to learn—and before it was too late:

The the success of my journey depended on whether my heart walked forward—toward my people—instead of backward, away from them.

Since reading The Seven Paths, my life has completely changed. Looking back, I can actually distinguish a clear line between living for myself and trying to live for others. My life before was a desert wasteland of selfishness. But my life after reading The Seven Paths, and living its principles, has been an oasis of peace and community. Of course, life has had its ups and downs, but I don’t lose sight of what is important: living the path of WE.

It’s no small thing to claim that living the principles found in The Seven Paths have brought me more joy than any other self-help book, but I claim it. In my opinion, The Seven Paths is the ultimate self-help book because it encourages the reader to leave the path of ME and live the path of WE. “Finding ourselves” and “helping ourselves” means that we lose ourselves and forget ourselves in the service of others. The Seven Paths taught me that—for which I will be eternally grateful.

I invite you to purchase a copy of The Seven Paths and read it for yourself. I promise you that its words will inspire you in your walking and help you move forward.

ANASAZI Foundation and Me

My first day at ANASAZI Training. What did I tell you? Chubby nerd.

In September of 2007, after being led on a difficult, five-mile hike through everything that I could possibly be allergic to, I laid underneath my simple shelter on the ANASAZI trail in Arizona and wrote, “I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m not cut out to be a TrailWalker.”

Thus began my first week as an ANASAZI TrailWalker!

ANASAZI Foundation

For those of you that don’t know, ANASAZI Foundation is a wilderness therapy program for troubled youth and struggling young adults. ANASAZI offers a 50-day, wilderness-based, residential treatment program and outpatient services rooted in the belief that all people—regardless of their struggles or at-risk choices—possess an inherent “seed of greatness.”

Because of my father’s line of work, I had known about ANASAZI Foundation for years but never really understood what they did. After significantly painful and difficult experiences in my own life, my parents suggested that I enroll in ANASAZI and participate in the program. After learning that it was a wilderness therapy program, I believe I said something like: “Ah, heck no!”

Attempting to “bust a coal” (build a fire) during my frist week at ANASAZI.

But for whatever reason, the idea participating at ANASAZI worked on me….little by little….until, about a year after my parents had suggested that I enroll in ANASAZI, I printed off an application to work there.

Okay, first of all, you need to understand a few things about me: I hated being a boy scout. Is there a way to emphasize that…without using expletives? I HATED being a boy scout. Camp outs, tying knots, being “outdoorsey”….? No. Not for me. No. No. No. I was a chubby computer nerd fully satisfied with my lot in life.

So again, for whatever reason in 2007, I printed off an application to work at ANASAZI Foundation, a wilderness therapy program. I honestly do not remember my thought process at the time. I cannot remember filling out the application. And I barely remember the drive down to Arizona to start work. (I vaguely remember a phone interview from a member of the office staff: “You do realize that you won’t be walking on marked trails, right? You’ll be climbing through canyons and bushwhacking.” “Oh yeah, sure,” I lied. Truth be told, I literally did not know what the term “bushwhacking” meant. Literally.

Getting the hang of it at ANASAZI in 2010. 🙂

And before I knew it, I found myself in the ANASAZI office going through training. I was learning how to build a fire with sticks and pack my trail pack using a tarp and something they called a “burrito.” I thought to myself: Why am I here?

Soon after that, I was out on the trail, curled up in the fetal position under my tarp, sweaty, sore, tired and bruised. I couldn’t control my allergies and I couldn’t sleep. I was physically and mentally miserable. Again, I thought to myself: Why am I here?

But I kept working at ANASAZI. And as I did so, a change came over me. ANASAZI became a major turning point in my life: working with amazing individuals (the staff and the participants), learning about the ANASAZI way, having personal awakenings and strengthening my relationship with the Creator were experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything. ANASAZI rejuvenated my soul and taught me to “walk forward” with a “heart at peace.” I often describe this period of my life as if I were “seeing color for the first time” because there’s really no other way to describe it.

In October of 2010, while working with a Sinagua band (participants over the age of 18) I found the answers to questions I had had for years. After telling them my background of coming to work at ANASAZI, I said “I can’t remember why I applied to work here….but I now know why I came.”

The simple principles taught at ANASAZI (the fundamental belief in a Creator, Forwards and Backwards Walking, having a new beginning, a Heart at War and a Heart at Peace) can, and have changed the lives of thousands of participants. I am constantly amazed by the caliber of the staff and the miracles which take place in that blessed program on a daily basis.

More than that, I marvel at the healing which takes place in the families that participate in ANASAZI.

For these reasons and more, I have quietly pledged in my heart to consistently support ANASAZI. I hope and pray that you too will discover the peace and joy that comes from living the ANASAZI way.

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