Feeling at home within yourself is a lifelong journey. It’s not easy to get there but once you do, it’s very comforting. Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen’s guest in this episode is Amber Fortier, the Founder of Embody Me. Amber is passionate about helping women embody the best versions of themselves so they can live the life they always dreamed of. She joins Jason and Whitney in this conversation about how you need to know with certainty that you always have your back. You need to love the flaws and nuances that make you who you are. Tune in and join Amber as she shares her story of self-love.
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Feeling At Home Within Yourself With Amber Fortier
One of the emotions that I have acknowledged that I have been struggling with and I have talked to other close friends and family members about is loneliness. The reason I’m bringing up loneliness to kick off this episode with our special guest, Amber Fortier, is one of the reasons that I contributed to this sense of loneliness that I have been feeling and with other people is the lack of community involvement and presence.
One of my favorite places to go here in Los Angeles was my yoga studio, Jivamukti Yoga, which I had practiced many years ago when I lived in New York City. I was a chef at the Jivamuktea Cafe back in 2006 and that’s how I’ve got into yoga. Prior to working at the Jivamukti Yoga Center in New York City, I had never taken a yoga class in my life. Through chefing and creating this beautiful plant-based food for people I was like, “I’m working here. Why am I not taking yoga classes? I am employed by a yoga studio.” Through the healing power of food, I discovered the yoga community in New York City. Years later, when the Los Angeles version of Jivamukti opened, it was this joyful moment to return to the start of my practice fourteen years later.
The unfortunate part and the reason I’m talking about going back to loneliness and community is my yoga studio was a casualty of the pandemic as many yoga studios were, even larger chains like YogaWorks. Many healing centers and wellness communities were tremendously affected by this. I want to start this episode with you, Amber, talking about this uncomfortable feeling of loneliness and disconnect from the community.
I know you have returned to California. You were overseas so you have had some interesting perspectives on this being in multiple countries during a pandemic and also running an incredible wellness business. You have this virtual wellness studio called EmbodyMe.live that we are going to talk about. I want to touch on loneliness, the community and how those things are intertwined. What has been your experience personally and having gone through a pandemic in different countries?
It has been interesting going through a pandemic in multiple countries. I was living in Amsterdam during the start of the pandemic. Now, I’m in California. I have experienced loneliness, missing my friends and family, and feeling worried like, “I hope no one gets sick and I have a chance to see you guys again.” A lot of emotions and a lot of things come up during this time but what’s helped me was always finding that sense of peace within myself. Loneliness with the community is present. We miss seeing other people and being in our social groups. What’s helped me to stay grounded and centered within myself is connecting within, connecting with myself and making sure that I feel at home when I’m with myself.
That’s an interesting phrase because when I hear you say, “Making sure that I feel at home within myself,” I want to dig into that and have you describe the emotions of what that feels like to be at home in yourself. For someone like me who has struggled with loving myself and having this intimate feeling of home within myself, I feel like I’m now starting to get a deeper understanding of the feeling you are describing.
What is that like for you? When you say, “Feeling at home within myself,” how do you describe that sensation, that relationship? I know specific readers of ours who struggle with self-love and with feeling connected to themselves. For someone who maybe hasn’t practiced as much as you or isn’t familiar with that feeling, how do you advise people to even begin that journey of connecting and feeling at home within themselves? I have had a lot of challenges with it. It has not been easy for me.
It has not been easy for me. It has been a lifelong journey of feeling at home with myself. It feels comforting. I always know that, at the end of the day, I always have my back. I know that I love myself, all of my flaws and the great things about myself. All the nuances also have a place and also make me who I am and I love them with all of my heart. Coming to this place of radical self-acceptance and knowing that it doesn’t matter where I am, who I’m with or what I’m doing, I always have myself, I can rely and trust on myself. It’s such a comforting feeling.
I’m curious how you’ve got to that place. When you say that word trust and also radical self-acceptance, I feel like that’s something a lot of people strive for but it’s a lot easier said than done. I have been reflecting a lot on that and noticing the struggles that people are going through, especially on platforms like TikTok where content creators tend to be vulnerable and raw. We see that as a growing trend of people sharing the hard parts of their lives.
I feel like if you could sum it up, we hear and see a lot about burnout and also people trying to figure out themselves and their sense of self. When you share this, it’s inspiring, Amber, because it feels like you have gotten to a place where you are feeling a lot of that. What was that journey that brought you to that part of your life? What did you do and try to get there?
My journey has been a little bit crazy. I had a rough childhood. My mom passed away while giving birth to me and my dad remarried when I was three years old but he passed away when I was ten. I always felt this lack of belonging in a way. I never had that strong connection with my parents and I did not get along with my stepmom when I was younger. She is different from me. I was also raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. All of that combined, my whole childhood, I never felt like I could be myself in a way. I always felt like there was some disconnect going on.You wouldn’t know who you are if there are so many expectations. Click To Tweet
I always felt that life is happening to me. I don’t have control of my circumstances. I have to be this way and live this way if I want to go to paradise or else my parents are going to be resurrected and I’m not going to be there. How selfish could I be for being that way? That was something that my family used against me a lot, which is wrong when I look back at it. I’m like, “That is screwed up to say to a kid.” When I was a teenager and trying to figure out, “Who you are? What do you believe?” When I’m figuring out myself, I was lost and I had no idea. I knew that I wanted something more. I knew that something was missing in my life. I’m young and I had no idea what I was looking for.
When I turned seventeen, I was like, “I need to get out of the house.” I didn’t care about going to college. That was the only out for me because I was seventeen at the time. I ended up living on campus. I was like, “I have some freedom. I get to figure myself out a little bit.” It was hard though. I was going to school full-time and working three jobs. I was paying for school all on my own.
For those who are US-based, we know how expensive school is. I went to the University of Redlands. It was $75,000 per year. That was all on me. If I want to move out of the house and have this independence, then this is what I’m going to have to do. That year was difficult. I was burnout and still feeling lost. I was working so hard and not even knowing what the point of all of it was.
I had this revelation one day. I worked 15 or 16-hour shifts at two jobs and I was like, “I am unhappy now. What is the point of this? Is this all that life is?” I had this weird thought that’s like, “Why am I working hard and not making any money? What is the point? I should just be a stripper.” I had that thought popped into my head and that changed my life. I was like, “Am I crazy? Are you going to be a stripper?” I did it and it completely changed my life.
For the first time, I felt that I have control over my life. I get to make a lot of money and have fun while doing it without feeling burnt out, having to please other people, and having to work for crappy bosses and managers. For me, all of my other family and friends, I see everyone around me slaving away, not making any money, not being happy and not doing what they want in their life.
That was a turning point for me to feel like I have my destiny in my own hands and I can do what I want with my life. In 2018, I had this horrible breakup and there was so much drama. I was like, “Screw it. I’m done.” I sold all my shit and I bought a one-way ticket to New Zealand. I went there for eight months by myself. I was nineteen at the time. This is where I started to learn that I have to be home with myself and feeling like I am good wherever I go.
That started when I was on the road by myself because I’m like, “I’m in such a beautiful country. Nobody knows me. I don’t know anybody.” It was such a liberating feeling because, for people who have grown up in a religious household, there are always many expectations and so much you have to live up to. I needed that sense of freedom to figure out who I was at my core and learn how to live my life authentically.
You have such a great story, Amber. I feel like you are living a life that a lot of people are interested in. First of all, you sharing that thought crossing your mind about, “Maybe I should be a stripper,” brought back a memory that I had in college of thinking the same thing. Hearing that you decided to do that, I’m fascinated. We have talked a little bit about sex work on the show. There was an episode with our guest, Kelli, who talked about this a bit and we talked about OnlyFans. You are describing feeling that sense of control, freedom and the ability to express yourself. I assume that stripping counts as a form of sex work. Am I right?
There are a lot of stigma around that. I’m curious, what was that journey like to make that decision? Did you tell anybody about it? Were you judged for it? What was that lifestyle like? You are doing something quite different with your life now. There are a lot of contrast that you have described in your story that I’m curious about. I would love to know what was it like being a stripper. How did that impact you aside from the financial elements that you talked about?
Being a stripper is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. It’s funny because growing up, I was always talked about badly in my family. As a Jehovah’s Witness, you marry someone who’s Jehovah’s Witness and you raise your kids as a Jehovah’s Witness. It goes down the lineage for so long. Growing up, they would call me the bad apple. “Don’t hang out with the bad apple.” I don’t know how the phrase goes like, one rotten apple in the bunch but you know the gist of it.
I always had low self-worth and self-confidence growing up, which is silly looking at it now because I feel like I’m such an elevated confident version of myself. I had many limiting beliefs, so much guilt and many problems in my head because of it. When I became a stripper, I learned that I am awesome. Being a stripper, you get to be yourself. There’s no guidebook of how you have to talk to customers and how you have to dress. There are no rules. I’m also an Aquarius. I hate rules. That rubs me the wrong way. This was like, “I get to be my authentic self.”
I realized in the job, some so many girls try to be the “stripper image” and I was making three times as much money as everyone else being myself. People would say, “You are traveling. That’s cool. Here’s $1,000, have fun on your vacation.” People vibe with my energy because I’m a real person and I’m just myself. The biggest blessing that it taught me is that by being yourself, amazing things come your way.
Growing up, I never felt like I could be myself. I had one version of myself when I was at school, another version when I was at home, when I’m at church and when I’m with friends in church. I didn’t know who I was because there were many expectations of how I had to act and dress. I’m completely being my authentic self and realizing, “I can make a lot of money by being me.” I didn’t even realize I was that cool but apparently, I am. That was cool to learn. It’s teaching me to let my light shine and don’t dim myself down because I’m scared of the judgment of others. That was the biggest lesson that I learned from being a stripper.
It is something that many people strive to have. I’m in awe of this story because I feel like a lot of people express that they don’t get to the place that you are at until later on in life. It’s incredible how you went through a lot of trauma in your early childhood. You lost your parents and you had a lot of challenges with the expectations.
Statistically, people in similar situations tend to have rough lives. I could be wrong but I’m still in awe of how you have been able to pivot your life. That to me is a rare quality. It makes me curious, what’s the rest of your life going to be like? Not that you “have it all figured out” but you have gotten to a place that it feels like a lot of people are trying to get to and it’s remarkable.
Part of that feels like, Amber, that you are saying it’s about that authentic expression and somehow you were able to find that path. It feels like a lot of people struggle to find that. I know with your work, with your company, Embody Me, this must come up often as it does in many wellness and well-being structured situations, whether it’s yoga or something.
The number of times I have been in a meditation class, the breathwork class, a yoga class where you can energetically feel people releasing and sometimes you hear it or they are sharing, people crying and talking. I have been in a lot of classes where you would sit around in a circle and share. A lot of what you are describing is what I know people are wanting to get to but they don’t quite know how. In addition to it being remarkable, it’s amazing that you are supporting people with that journey. I’m curious about your work thus far, Amber, are you finding the same thing with your clients that they are looking for this type of support so that they can achieve what you have discovered already in your life?
Yes. At the end of the day, we all have so much deconditioning that we need to do to come back to the core of who we are because we all know that we want to be ourselves. We all know that we want to be happy and to live fulfilled lives but often we get so wrapped up in what other people think or what and how we think that we need to show up in our lives that we stop ourselves.
I’m also grateful that I was able to make these choices at such a young age. I feel like I have done so much with my life and this is just getting started. Often, we have these nudges, thoughts or ideas like, “Maybe I should do this,” but we don’t act on them for years. It’s lingering in the back of our minds and we don’t do it.
For me, what has changed my life is I always follow my intuition and I act on my intuition from the start. I don’t sit with it too long. I’m like, “I have this thought in my head. This thought is here for a reason. I need to do it.” It’s so funny because the same thing happened when I went to New Zealand. I had this thought, “New Zealand sounds cool.” Four days later, I bought a one-way ticket and I was ready to sell my stuff. Trust in our gut and trust in our instinct because it’s here to guide us. We have to be here, be ready, open to receive and trust that it’s leading us along our path for a reason.
I’m glad you brought up intuition because one thing that I have been sitting a lot with for myself is getting clear about what is my intuition versus subtle traumas steering me toward or away from something. This is something I am still unraveling. Let’s say, for example, in the context of a romantic relationship or even a business relationship, I certainly have trauma in both areas that I’m still unraveling and healing. I often ask myself, “Jason, is this intuition? Is this a past pain or trauma you haven’t fully resolved masquerading as intuition?”We have so much deconditioning to do to come to the core of who we are. Click To Tweet
For you, Amber and Whitney, we talked about this body feeling of intuition, the gut feeling. We often talk about how we have the second brain in our guts, the enteric nervous system, all the nerve endings and how that’s connected to our neurology. The big question is, how do you both, and have you experienced challenges like I have, with discerning between real intuition and subtle traumas masquerading as intuition?
I have a little formula that I love to use when I’m thinking, “Is this intuition or is it anxiety?” The way that I like to think about it is that intuition is always cool, calm, collected and grounded. Your intuition is not like, “Stay clear. Don’t do this.” Freaking out, massive crazy energy. It’s always going to be super calm and grounded versus when it is in anxiety, first I like to think, “Is this a past trauma that is making me feel like I can’t trust this person? Is this something that has happened in my past that is making me feel this way? If so, this might be my anxiety, not my intuition.”
I like to use the example of an airplane. Let’s say when you were a kid, you had this scary experience. There were lots of turbulence and now you are a little bit freaked out about flying on an airplane. Twenty years later, you are on a plane and if it’s your anxiety, you might think, “The plane is going to crash. Something bad is going to happen. I need to get out of here now.” You are freaking out and sweating. That’s your anxiety.
If it’s your intuition, it would more or less be a voice in your head that’s like, “This plane isn’t that safe. Maybe it’s a good idea for you to get off the plane, drive there instead and you are going to find a better way.” Always the feeling and the energy of hectic and crazy versus calm and collected helps me to decipher between if it’s my anxiety or my intuition.
That’s something that you need to practice because it makes sense when you share it. I reflect on times in my life where I have struggled to understand it like you, Jason. This is why I felt lit up when I heard you share the word trust because that’s my word of 2021. I identified over the past few years that I struggled trusting other people in some cases but mainly I struggled trusting myself. What you are describing here is this reaction that I have to not trust myself. Sometimes, that blocks me from knowing my intuition.
Also, as I’m talking through this, I’m thinking, “That is a helpful way to help me work on this intuition versus anxiety,” because I tend to trust my anxiety, not my intuition. I felt so resistant because of the way that I was raised, which was not with a lot of self-trust. I was raised inadvertently by parenting, society, school and all that stuff to second guess myself, which has made it hard for me.
I feel like my anxiety and my intuition have a link, where sometimes I feel anxious because I’m not trusting my intuition. It’s like, “I don’t feel good now because I’m not giving myself what I need. I’m ignoring my needs by not trusting my needs.” Thus, I have anxiety. They both can be clues. If I feel anxious, it’s like, “You need to tune in and listen to your intuition now. Maybe you need to do the exact opposite of what you are doing because that’s probably why you are feeling anxious.” Does that make sense?
Yes. A lot of the time, it’s not always the loudest voice that’s the right voice. Our ego loves to scream, whereas our higher self is like, “If you want to listen to me, I’m here but I don’t need to yell over this little screaming child now.” For me, I always can tell because my intuition does not scream, yell and need attention. It’s just there. Whereas your anxiety is like, “There’s a house on fire. Help me.” It’s screaming and freaking out. It’s like a little child having a tantrum. Whereas if you say, “It’s okay. I don’t need to be scared now. I don’t need to feel anxious.”
Maybe a good tip for you, Whitney, is when you are having this, “Is this my anxiety versus my intuition?” Give yourself a little self-parenting in a way. If that brings that anxiety down and your intuition, whatever it was saying, is still there, then your intuition is there and you should follow it. It’s something that you need to practice and even practicing it with the smallest things like, “What should I wear now?” Instead of changing your clothes, “Maybe this is too much. Maybe I shouldn’t do this,” stick with your intuition. The smallest things that you can make a practice of doing are going to help you in trusting your intuition for bigger things.
It reminds me of a trend I have been seeing a lot more of, which is intuitive eating. Calling it a trend is not doing it justice because it’s an important thing to learn, especially for those like me who have a history of disordered eating or struggles with eating. Interestingly enough, as a side note, I had an appointment with a new therapist. I like to disclose my history of disordered eating. I switched my language from an eating disorder and she did, too. Now I’m like, “She had a phrase for it.” She didn’t want me to feel like it was a disorder or something is wrong with me. She wanted me to feel more empowered. That’s how I feel about intuitive eating.
Also with the clothes, Amber, I have been practicing that a lot. I learned that through The Life‑Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The author teaches you, when you pick up a piece of clothing, you can determine, whether or not you want to keep it by how it makes you feel in that moment. You can do this with objects all around you. It has given me so much clarity when I’m buying something new or deciding if I’m going to pass on some article of clothing I have to someone else.
I have a tendency sometimes to hold on to it because of anxiety. If I can tap into how I feel about it, I can let it go knowing that it’s no longer serving me or maybe it never did. The same thing can be true with food. That also leads me to something I wanted to ask you about, which is intuitive dance. What does that mean? I don’t think I know. I know that’s part of your work with Embody Me and I’m curious, what does that entail? What does that look like?
I freaking love intuitive dance. It’s one of my favorite practices and I’m so glad that we offer this on Embody Me. Essentially, you have music on and you are connecting with yourself. There are different forms of intuitive dance. Usually, we have some themes. Since we are talking about anxiety, let’s say that our theme is intuitive dancing to release anxiety. In our body, we hold on to so many emotions. For example, you are driving in your car and somebody cuts you off. Your body tenses up, your fists get clench, your shoulders contract and your neck maybe get tight. Those emotions are stored in your body.
When we do an intuitive dance practice, it’s releasing all of this stuck energy out of our bodies. You are maybe shaking, moving or moving that energy through, which in itself is so freaking healing. They call it an embodied practice. You are using all of your senses and you are in the moment. You are releasing all of this energy that you are holding on to. At the end of it, you feel so much lighter. It feels like you have been wearing a backpack for weeks, years or months and you are like, “This is what it feels like to be normal again.” There’s a weight that’s being lifted off my shoulders. It’s such a beautiful practice.
We have had people crying during their practice, people laughing, jumping, screaming, kicking the air, getting all these emotions out. I feel like in our society, they teach us to hide our emotions like, “Don’t show when you are upset. Don’t show it when you are sad.” We spent so much of our lives keeping so much in when in reality, you need to feel it to heal it. By feeling these emotions and letting them out, you are creating so much space for new, better and empowering emotions to come into your body essentially.
I have my own version of intuitive dance I have realized that I have created. I didn’t have words for it. Any longtime readers or any longtime people that have known me, know that one of the most challenging aspects of my daily existence is doing the dishes. We have friends that re as well. People, for years, have been like, “Jason, treat it like a moving meditation.” I’m like, “It’s not a meditation.” I meditate every day and I resist that.
I have shouted this out episodes ago that I created a Spotify playlist called Happy Feels. I went on and put 150 of the songs that bring me joy. You put on a piece of music and it is a way to change your state of being. We know that the vibration and the feeling of the music can change our state. You are talking about the intuitive dance classes you offer with Embody Me and your experience with it, Amber.
What I did is I started to, on my daily dishes, put on my Happy Feels playlist and dance whilst doing dishes. I will shake my little Puerto Rican butt doing the dishes, jamming along. In all seriousness, it has been a quantum shift for me in doing dishes. I don’t necessarily look forward yet, but dancing, I will move my shoulder, shake my butt and do the dishes. It has been a change in my relationship with doing dishes. I don’t know if you want to offer intuitive dish dancing on Embody Me but it’s an idea.
Please, do. I’m curious, Jason, how do your animals react? Are they like, “What is he doing?” Have they gotten used to it? Do you dance with them?
I do grab them because they like to be around me. My cats, Claudia and Lynx, and my dog, Bella, will be around in the kitchen while I’m doing the dishes. If I have a giant stack of dishes and it might take me 30 to 45 minutes to get through the dishes, I might take a little break, grab them, start swinging them around and like, “Dad, what is this? Can’t you just leave us alone?” When I involve them in the dance, they get a little freaked out and maybe a lot annoyed.
This also reminds me, Amber, I want to know how someone who’s a little shy or introverted pushes through to do some of these classes that you offer. To be clear, we are talking about Amber’s virtual wellness one-stop-shop classes on Embody Me. The first serious yoga center I went to in Los Angeles had what they called ecstatic dance. I don’t know if there are multiple studios in the area that did it but it was a thing in Santa Monica. I don’t know if people still do it. I was so freaked out, not because I was uncomfortable with the fact that it was happening. I’m like, “Fine. You do your thing,” but because they expected me to participate.
There was one class where they did it in the middle of the yoga practice or at the end. There’s one experience I had where I didn’t feel like there was a way out and I was like, “I’m stuck here. I’m confronted with this uncomfortable moment.” I’m totally cool watching people dance and dancing on my own in private but I have always felt uncomfortable if I feel like other people can see me dancing. It is weird, by the way, because I used to have a big passion for dance and wanted to do it professionally when I was little.When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, the number one question you need to ask is why. Click To Tweet
For some reason, people dancing around, getting wild and loose with it, I am still not fully comfortable doing that. My question to you, Amber, how do you encourage people to participate in something that’s out of their comfort zone, which ties into the show, especially when it comes to self-expression that would be healing but the mental and emotional obstacle of doing it in the first place?
One thing that I love that happened during the pandemic is everything going virtual. Since our whole platform is all virtual, it gives people the space to be in their comfort zone. As hearing from you, you weren’t in your comfort zone at a yoga studio. There are lots of people around you and other people’s energy. A lot are going on that doesn’t make you relaxed and be present in the moment. In all of our classes, you have the option to have your camera off. First and foremost, that is the best thing. If you don’t want to be on camera, that’s totally fine. You can be naked dancing around your house with your camera off if that is what you please. First, you can do it with your camera off.
It’s even more special because people can prep their space in a way. For me, I have my little office. I will light my candles or my incense and dress in something sexy that makes me feel super good and then do a class. You can completely be in the present moment. With intuitive dance specifically, you want to tap into your body. You want to be completely in your body and out of your head. When you are in a safe space where you feel comfortable doing that, then the results are magnified.
That immediately put me at ease so thank you for sharing that. As you are describing it, I was like, “If I could ease myself into it, maybe one day I would feel more comfortable.” That flashback to being in that yoga room, I almost felt frustrated that I was uncomfortable. It was like, “I want to participate on some level. I see all these people dancing around and they seem so free. I wanted to get to that place too but I wasn’t fully there yet.” That’s a huge part of the wellness journey of wanting something but feeling so uncomfortable, you don’t know how to push through that barrier.
I transition to doing virtual yoga classes. I like that I can support myself in the way that I need versus trying to adhere to the structure. This also goes back to a part of Jason’s question, which was how to know when to push yourself through something, identifying the resistance? I have noticed depending on your personality because you also brought up the rebelliousness Amber, which Jason can relate to and me to an extent. I’m not super rebellious but it comes out at me at times. I’m a questioner so I need to understand why. If something doesn’t make sense to me, I have a hard time doing it.
I enjoyed the structure of the in-person yoga classes I went to for many years but it was still an obstacle to leave the house sometimes. It was an obstacle to feeling comfortable in certain clothing if I was feeling uncomfortable in my body that day. It was an obstacle to be in a room with other people and feel comfortable in the space. I am not someone who likes to have my yoga mat close to someone. I want to be able to stretch out. I like being around others and the community but I don’t like them being too close to me. What you were describing is setting up your space.
I would find myself going to class early and having to ground myself. The whole process was two hours plus, which is fine but as many of us struggle with time, that can become an obstacle and suddenly, doing yoga feels like this huge stressor. Everything that you are describing it’s like, “You mean I can get all the benefits of something without all of those stresses and obstacles? That’s exciting.” It lit me up just hearing you describe that. I want to take one of the intuitive dance classes now, knowing that I can have my camera off and no one has to see me if I don’t want them to is nice. That’s an important element.
We call it This Might Get Uncomfortable because it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. It might get uncomfortable but that doesn’t mean you have to stay with it. That’s part of it, too. I’m curious about both of your thoughts on this. Sometimes, getting uncomfortable is not what you need. Sometimes, it’s not good for you to be continuously uncomfortable. It can feel traumatic, it can feel a burden or it can lead you down in the direction that you don’t want to go in. I’m curious, especially for you, Amber, because this is your first time on our show, how often do you push yourself out of your comfort zones? Have there been times where you were like, “This is out of my comfort zone but I know that I’m not supposed to be here so I’m going to go back into the comfort that’s serving me?”
When I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone, the number one question I ask is, “Why? Am I doing this because I want to grow as a person? Am I doing this because I have to? Am I doing this because of someone else’s expectations of me? What is the point of this uncomfortable feeling?” Based on that, you can decide, “Is this worth it? Is this what I want to do?” I spent so much of my life, my first eighteen years doing things that I didn’t want to do all the time, that now I’m like, “We are all adults here. We get to choose what we want to do. We get to create our own destiny. For one, is this what I want to do? If the answer is yes, then I will push myself out of my comfort zone.”
I feel like if you have a strong why, then the uncomfortable feeling is worth it because you know that at the end of the tunnel, you’re going to come out a better person. Versus if you’re just doing this because you feel like you have to or, “I see everyone else on Instagram doing this and I feel like I have to be like them, therefore, I’m going to do this because I feel like I have to.” That’s always the question that I ask myself.
That’s so brilliant and wise, Amber. I mirror that and I resonate with that in the sense that even in the wellness community, there are a lot of pressure and expectation. I have certainly felt and I have talked to other people about reducing our wellness journey to checking the right boxes off. “I’m doing my ecstatic dance. I’m doing my yoga four times a week. I’m eating my Goji berries. I’m doing my colonics. I’m doing my green smoothies. Now I’ve got to add celery juice. I’m going to my Theta healer. I’m doing my ayahuasca, my MDMA. I’m going to Burning Man.”
I feel like the commodification of the wellness industry in some ways has mirrored the commodification of the human life period. We get to a point like the traditional Western capitalist structure of, “I’m going to go to college, find my life partner, marry them, have two kids, move to a nice house in the suburbs, have my 401(k) and get my Mercedes.” It feels, in some ways, like what you are describing resonates with me, that many people are like, “I was like this for a long time. I’ve got to be a raw foodist now. I’ve got to do the colonics. I’ve got to work with a shaman.”
I felt like to be fully healed and be who I was, I had to do all of these things to peel back those layers. What I found was, for myself, in some ways, it became a trap because I realized I wasn’t doing it because I was letting my intuition guide me if I think this person, this practice will give me the healing, the perspective or the expansion that I’m needing and wanting. It was more like seeing everybody else, “I’m going to go to Julian’s ecstatic dance class. There’s this new mala bead company and I need those volcanic fancy mala beads. They are Kauain volcanic mala beads? I need those. That’s going to open up my chakras.”
I say it lovingly and jokingly but also seriously that we can get into even more conditioning by getting in the wellness industry sometimes. Even though we are attempting to decondition, peel back those layers of ought tos, have tos, should dos. Sometimes, I feel like the wellness journey, if we are not clear about our why can add even more of those layers on top.
I have been working on this myself because I have a wellness studio and I felt I had so much pressure of like, “I have to do yoga every day. I have to walk my talk,” when it was just leaving me exhausted and feeling like I’m doing things because I have to. With my own practice, I do yoga once a week and I meditate for five minutes a day. That’s enough for me because that makes me feel good. What is the point of these practices? Why are you doing it?
Coming back to what makes you feel at home on your own body is all these practices and all these things are supposed to make you feel whole. It’s supposed to bring you back to yourself. If you are constantly trying to keep up with the Joneses in a sense, then you are running further away from yourself at the end of the day.
All you need to do is to do what feels right for you and knowing that what I’m doing for myself is enough because so many of us have all these have tos and should dos. We overwhelm ourselves. It’s a lot of conditioning from the American dream. We always have to work and hustle. In a way, there’s a sense of hustle in our self-care sometimes like, “I’ve got to take a full pass.” All these things that we have to add to-do list when just being is enough.
One thing that I’m so grateful that you offer is breathwork, depending on the style because there are different types. Maybe you can talk a little bit about it, Amber, in the different offerings. It’s interesting to me, over the years, when I learned about breathwork and tried it out, I became passionate about it for a while. I would recommend it to people. A lot of people were resistant to it. I’m like, “What do you mean you are resistant?” Your breath is one of the most powerful tools you have and yet, a lot of people are not even aware of how they are breathing but they are resistant or afraid to learn breathing techniques. It’s mind-boggling.
On my Apple Watch, there is an automated feature where it will remind me to take deep breaths. It’s cool because there’s a breath training element built into it. A lot of times, I just ignore it. I will look at it sometimes and be like, “I probably should do some deep breathing.” A lot of times I’m like, “I don’t feel like it. I’m just going to let myself automatically breathe. I’m not going to put any attention to it.”
I find it so interesting because when I do focus on my breath or I do something like EFT tapping, which I know that you also offer I’m like, “I forgot how much power I have in my breath in my hands.” Touching a certain part of my body through tapping will relieve anxiety and stress. We have all this power and yet, we tend to want to go do something different like mala beads. “Maybe I need to buy new yoga pants. I need more yoga equipment. Maybe I need to go to this specific class. Maybe I need to eat a certain way.”
It’s adding more in versus stripping down to the basic things that we don’t have to purchase. Maybe you purchase a class. In your case, you offer paid classes, which makes sense because not only do we need the training but the accountability. I would rather spend my money on something like that than by all these other tools that might end up being thrown away. They are temporary versus training myself and holding myself accountable for using what I already have and reminding myself how powerful it is to do nothing but focus on my breath.If you’re not this depressed, anxious person, then who are you? Click To Tweet
No hate for your mala beads or whatever devices and things that you have but a lot of the time, we try to use them as a quick fix. “I’m going to drink this SlimFit Shake and 15 pounds gone. I don’t have to think about it.” We are so conditioned, especially with marketing and advertising these days of, “Take this pill. It’s a quick fix. Do this and you are going to feel better,” without doing any of the work.
A lot of the time, I have also felt resistance when I’m doing breathwork or meditation. It’s normal because we are not used to sitting in silence. We are not used to sitting with ourselves and calming our energy down. When I learned about the biological benefits of breathing, I was completely mind blown. I’m like, “By taking ten deep breaths, I’m releasing chemicals in my body that’s helping me to digest and relax.” It’s so much is going on within us that the breath is important.
We are living in such a stressful society. We are constantly in our fight-or-flight mode. You get a text message and that spikes up your adrenaline. You are driving in traffic, get a call from your boss, check your emails or get a notification from Instagram. A million impulses are being thrown at us 24/7, that our bodies are in a fight-or-flight mode for an unnormal duration of time. Many of us live in this fight-or-flight mode. Especially if you are breathing fast, it has a lot of bad long-term effects on us. It has effects on your stress level, sleep and weight gain. There are a million different ways that it can impact you.
Simply by taking a few moments to slow down your breathing and focus on your breath, it might feel a little bit weird at first because you are like, “I need to sit here and breathe.” In the end, so much is happening on a biochemical level that you will feel refreshed, nourished and amazing at the end of it. By learning to incorporate these things into your day-to-day life and learning how to live and breathe a little bit slower than normal, you are going to notice the effects of how much more calm and grounded you feel. It will also teach you how to recognize when certain situations or certain people are not good for you. This has been helpful for me.
I’m always so focused on my breath. I can hang out with someone. Instantly, if I notice that I have a spike in my heartbeat that I’m starting to feel anxious that maybe I’m starting to sweat a little bit, then I’m like, “What is it about the situation that’s causing my body to react this way?” That will give you so many clues and it will help you to live your life in alignment based on how your body is reacting to things.
I am curious about people’s resistance to doing these practices. When I talk to people who are afraid to do things like EFT, breathwork and go to yoga class, I have had a lot of experiences, Amber, where I will release energy in a part of my body that I didn’t know I needed to release per se. There are a lot of stuck emotions in that part of the body.
People always joke in yoga classes and you probably have heard this a million times being that you run a virtual wellness studio. We carry stuff in our hips. There are a lot of energy we carry in our hips. I have always had tight hips. Whitney has been in certain yoga classes with me where I will, in the middle of class, start weeping and start crying out of nowhere. I didn’t come into class sad or depressed but something will happen in the middle of a yoga class, a breathwork class or in tapping workshops where I will suddenly break out and bawling in the middle of class.
I wonder if people subconsciously are afraid of not only facing those emotions that they didn’t necessarily know. That’s why I say subconscious. There are things on a subtle subconscious level that they know need to be addressed, healed and looked out for. The fear of not only having that emotional release but having it happen in a public setting. Culturally, by and large in American culture, there are a lot of shame around crying in public or front of strangers. There are a lot of shame in showing raw, visceral, painful and uncomfortable emotions around people.
For me, as a man in America, it was always, “Don’t cry. Guys don’t cry.” All the times I have cried in yoga class, breathwork class or tapping workshop, that came up. It was like, “I’m crying in a room full of people I don’t know.” I wonder if that holds a lot of people back from attempting or even experimenting with all of these wellness classes that you offer, the things we are, all three of us, are so passionate about. They are afraid of having that A) Profound and deep emotional release but B) in front of a whole room of strangers. I wonder if that freaks people out.
Part of it may be that people are afraid of letting their emotions come out in public but to go even deeper than that, we often associate our identity with these feelings of who I am. I know, some of that I personally went through is, I’m scared of who I’m going to be at the end of this. There’s so much unknown of, “If I release these emotions of I’m not this depressed and anxious or whatever person, then who am I? What am I?”
There’s so much unknowingness that people are scared of change. A lot of people are a bit scared of the unknown and who they are when they release certain parts of them. This is what I have heard from some students. It’s like, “I’m scared to be someone who I’m not. I have always held this anxiety within me. I have always been this person. What do you mean I can be a different person?” I feel like maybe and subconsciously it is a little bit of that, in addition to feeling insecure in public and feeling out of your comfort zone in that way as well.
That’s profound and it makes a lot of sense. When we look at the types of resistance people face, it’s tough. We do so much escapism and many distractions. I acknowledge that. It’s something that most people face. I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t have some distraction. I read this book Stealing Fire and it had me reflecting on all of the things that we do to make ourselves feel good and have the pleasure to alter our consciousness. Sometimes it is dance, sex, doing a drug, alcohol or playing video games are a huge thing. Those things aren’t inherently bad or wrong. It depends. It’s a case-by-case thing.
I like to ask myself similar to what you were saying before about staying in your comfort zone. It’s like, “Why am I choosing this? Is this the right thing for me?” Sometimes I don’t have the answer so I will set a time limit. For me, my favorite escape is watching TikTok videos. Sometimes, I was having a low energy day so I spent hours watching TikTok off and on, laying around in bed. It’s interesting, too, because there’s the hustle culture mentality that I feel I’m trying to break free of. Sometimes I’m like, “If you want to spend a random Wednesday laying around watching TikTok videos do it.” Sometimes I feel like that’s good for me.
I have to ask myself regularly throughout that period, “Does it still feel good?” Doing something setting a timer has been helpful. I have done the same thing with food because food can be something we do to comfort ourselves. There’s the term comfort food. Even foods that we don’t associate as comfort foods, sometimes it’s just the act of chewing and the texture of food. I’m sure the two of you have experienced at some point where you are eating something and suddenly you are like, “Do I even still want this?”
The first bite is generally great but you can get into this unconscious experience with food. I’m doing this hand gesture of thinking about sticking your hand in a bag of chips, popcorn or any food that you can grab by the handful and eat. It’s fascinating to me when I have awareness and I stop mid-bag. I’m like, “Do I want to finish this bag?” It’s not from a, “I don’t want to eat too many calories,” standpoint. It is more of a, “If I’m not deeply enjoying it, then what’s the point of me finishing the bag?” I might find more enjoyment by putting the bag away and eating it another time.
I have noticed through some wellness classes I have done in the past where they will have you taste chocolate. Instead of chewing it quickly, let it sit on your tongue and melt. Savor a tiny piece of chocolate. If you savor it and pay attention, close your eyes and notice everything about that one piece, you could feel truly satisfied with the smallest portion. We have become conditioned through our lifestyles to eat food quickly and not even savor it for what it is unless it becomes this habit. Maybe that leads to overeating, numbing out and not even taking in something special. The fact that many of us are disconnected from our food systems is nuts.
We take food for granted when so much work went into creating it and it’s gone within a moment and we are on to the next thing. That’s one of the greatest meditations that you can do but it has that whole awareness around, “Why am I eating this food? How is it making me feel?” The more I can tune into those questions as I’m doing something, food, shopping or whatever else.
We have talked about retail therapy on the show and how similar to as we discussed, people are trying to buy something to make themselves feel better but it’s not getting to the root. All of that is coming up for me as I’m hearing you talk about this fear to change. It feels too hard to even stop and savor things sometimes but if we can try it out a few times, we might find that we prefer it that way.
I had a real-time realization I wanted to share. The reason I was smiling was like, “I never made this connection before talking about the presence of food and being present while we are eating. The act of self-nourishment.” I have been a little bit under the weather and I have been doing a lot of soups. Even though it’s the middle of summer, I still like to rock myself some nourishing dense hearty soups when I’m not feeling all that great. I had a big bowl of soup. I was looking at it and I’m like, “That’s a big old bowl of soup.” I’m eating the soup and I’m trying to be as present as possible to each bite of this soup because it was a good soup. I was proud of this soup. I was like, “Good job, Jason. You made a good soup.”
What kind of soup was it?You are experienced enough just by being where you are right now. You don’t need qualifications. Click To Tweet
It was like a chipotle bok choy soup. It was a miso chipotle broth. It’s hearty, healing and simple. I’m about halfway through that big bowl of soup and something popped in and said, “You are not enjoying this anymore.” I was determined to polish off that entire bowl of soup. Here’s what I realized. Not only was I grateful for that presence of realizing that I wasn’t enjoying it as much anymore after the first twenty bites but I was already full after half a bowl of soup. I was satisfied and satiated.
The thing that came to me in the middle of our conversation now was, as a child, I was praised for having a clean plate, “You did a good job.” You probably relate to this, “Good boy. You finished your meal.” There has been a subconscious thing. I hadn’t thought about this in years. Here, I’m alone. Mom and Dad are not around. It’s me and the animals. They are not like, “Good job, dad.”
I am trying to finish that big ass bowl of soup because it’s praise. I have associated finishing my entire meal with accomplishing something and being praised for accomplishing something. Nobody is keeping score. No one is like, “Jason finished another meal. Give him another check. He’s got a gold star coming, everyone. Good job, Jay. Keep going.” No one is doing this. To the point, can we bring the presence practice to say, “I’m full and I’m going to save this for lunch tomorrow?” The other layer of conditioning is how much I was praised as a child for finishing my entire meal and that’s still affecting me as an adult.
As you were both speaking I was like, “These are principles that we need to apply to every single area of our life. Am I still enjoying this job? Does it still feel right? Does it still taste right?” If not, you don’t have to be stuck there. Often, people probably have the same feelings as you, Jason, “I want to accomplish this. I have to stick through with what I was doing.” 20, 25, 30 years go by and they are like, “I have hated this for many years now.” You kept going because you felt you had to. I love what you said about that and that is what I do daily like, “Does this feel good?”
I moved to California. I have been gone for a few years. I hang out with some people that I used to be friends with and I’m like, “This does not feel good. I don’t want to hang out with you anymore.” It’s not that anything happened. There was no drama but listening to my inner voice saying, “This doesn’t feel good anymore. It doesn’t feel expansive.” It’s permitting yourself to say, “I’m going to trust this feeling. I’m going to do what feels good for me.” Always listen to that feeling when it arises.
It’s interesting because one thing I wanted to bring up earlier and this feels like another time to do it, is how each of us responds differently to the circumstances. We have triggers and different needs. The big lesson here in this episode, Amber, is tuning into yourself and it’s not always easy and fast. It’s a big experiment to figure out what feels good to me. There are a lot of research done on habit building and how rewards can play a big role in it. It’s interesting listening to your story, Jason. You are like, “No one is giving me a gold star.”
I realized that my day is structured around getting gold stars because I have this water bottle that tracks how much water I drink in a day. It lights up and does a little celebration when I finish the amount of water for the day and my watch tracks it so I can look at it. Now, I’m 30% through the amount of water I’m supposed to have for the day. That’s beneficial for me because, without that, I might not hold myself accountable.
Those little rewards from a device are helpful. I do the same thing with exercise. Anyone who has an Apple Watch knows that you can turn it on to have the activity monitors. It tells you how many times you have stood up, which I love because standing is important in this day where we spend so much time in front of computer screens, office chairs or whatever chair you have. It tells you how much you have moved your body and exercised, which is important.
I looked down at my watch and I’m like, “I haven’t moved my body that much now.” I had these two thoughts crossed my mind. One is, to your point, Jason, “It doesn’t matter. It’s my Apple Watch. Who cares if I don’t meet my movement goal for the day?” Another part of me was like, “I want to complete the circle. I want to get my reward.” I decided, “I’m going to listen to that and see how I feel.”
At 9:00 PM, I did a pretty intense exercise on my rebounder, which is my mini-trampoline. It was stored away and I hadn’t used it for a few weeks so I took it out and found a class using the rebounder. It was fun and I burned calories and got my movement score for the day. I was like, “Great.” I had all these endorphins rushing and it’s interesting when you come to those crossroads and you have that chance to say, “I don’t need to. I’m not going to bother. I know I don’t need to but let’s see what happens if I try it.” That tends to work well for me.
Also, based on the research of habit building, having that push that accountability, which is such a huge part of your virtual studio, Amber. The community element is key because when something holds you accountable, whether it’s your Apple Watch, a teacher or whatever structure you need to create. When you know someone is counting on you and cares, it can push you towards developing these great habits for yourself. Most times you do a lot of experimenting to see how much it benefits you.
A huge takeaway from this episode is to tune into yourself, you’ve got to keep trying things out but creating systems for yourself where you will try it long enough to decide if it’s good for you versus poo-pooing it because you are like, “It’s not for me.” It’s like breathwork, tapping, intuitive dance or whatever else. Hearing you share what you did earlier, Amber has opened my mind up. I’m like, “In the past, I tried ecstatic dance and it didn’t feel right for me but that’s not the same person I am now. Why don’t I give it another try again?” The great thing about virtual classes, Amber, is you can always leave early.
In-person classes, it’s awkward to leave a class early. Sometimes that’s for the better. You have to tough it out and give it a chance before you leave. Virtual classes, for better or for worse, you could leave. Maybe that works for you better and it allows you to say, “At any point, I can leave.” Maybe that will open you up to trying something new. I’m incredibly grateful that you offer what you do with Embody and this feels a good time to let our readers know that, as a sponsor of our show, you are offering a seven-day free trial. They enter the code WELLEVATR to your website.
Amber, before we wrap the show, I love to maybe hear you describe the process of signing up and what they get. What are the first steps for someone who wants to start a free trial and try out some of the things we have talked about? What do you recommend as that journey from signing up to trying out some classes and seeing if it’s something that they are going to enjoy?
The signup is simple, you go to our website at EmbodyMe.live. There will be a little link for you to do your seven-day trial. We have a quiz at the bottom of the page that I always encourage people to try to do the quiz first. You answer some questions and it will let you know what types of things might be right for you. We have different meditation classes, journaling classes, fitness, yoga and dance. We have a lot of things that we offer so if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, “I don’t know what to try.” Do the quiz that might give you some guidance on what’s right for you. Have fun and experiment. You can try something once and say, “This isn’t for me.” At the end of the day, you will feel good that you did try it out.
We have noticed that a lot of people during their seven-day trial will sometimes do 1 or 2 classes a day and think, “I can do a short twenty-minute meditation in the morning. I could do something at night.” There are many different ways to mix and match and find what works for you. Have this playful attitude of giving things a try without having any expectations. You might not like it, you might fall in love but it’s worth it to give it a try anyway.
I know some of our readers might view themselves as new to some of these practices and some people might be experienced with things like breathwork or EFT tapping or even journaling. In terms of how you structure the offerings, do you guide beginners into more beginner-level classes? Are there advanced classes? How do you structure that to meet people where they are at, Amber? I know there are people from a variety of different experiences and backgrounds who are reading this episode.
All of our classes are beginner-friendly. Come as you are because you are experienced enough by being where you are now. There are no qualifications that you need. Come with an open mind. We are here to guide you. If you need modifications in a yoga class, for example, we always give modifications. If it’s something like breathwork, the classes are easy and simple. You can ask as many questions as you need to. Sometimes we have so much pressure on like, “Am I good enough to try this? Am I ready?” Know that wherever you are now, you are ready enough. Give it a try and you will realize how effortlessly these things come.
You also have such a great blog section on your website, which is EmbodyMe.live. I was going through your website and seeing some of the articles you have posted. The blog is chock full of amazing information if people want to learn about chakras and Hoʻoponopono, the sensational styles of yoga for relaxation. You’ve got some specific posts in there, which is great. Sometimes when you see blogs, it would be like, “This is super general.” I love the specificity and how well written it is and I love the diversity. You have many teachers and many writers. Am I right in understanding, your teachers and your contributors are all over the world? Not your staff but your contributors are international. You have people from many different countries here.
Yes. It’s amazing. Even our teachers were from eleven different countries, there’s the US, South Africa, India, Germany and Spain. We have such an international team and it makes it special because you get to do something that’s a little bit out of the ordinary. When you go to an in-person yoga class, for example, it’s the same teacher. The teachers are all more or less from the same area so we have such a mix of experience, which makes it unique and special.
You get to make friends with people from all over. I love our platform. We had this EFT tapping class for attracting miracles and we were all hanging out for 30 minutes after the class talking and chatting. It’s like, “Do you guys need to go?” We are here talking in the classes way over. It’s nice to connect with like-minded people who are open to having new connections, open to these new experiences and who are all trying to embody the best version of themselves.
We can’t wait to share this with our fans and our followers on social media. For you, dear reader or however you are consuming this beautiful show, the website to enjoy Amber’s incredible virtual wellness studio is EmbodyMe.live. You can use the code WELLEVATR for a seven-day free trial to take a deep dive and experiment. Get comfortable, get uncomfortable, do whatever you want to do. It’s in the comfort of your own home.
We are grateful for your wisdom, lightness, joyfulness and everything you have been through, Amber, in your life, too. You are a living example of someone who has been through a lot of loss, struggle and challenges. Here you are shining, sharing, creating this beautiful online community and being a living example of not allowing the challenges and the tragedies to derail our lives. For many human beings, myself included, I have let loss, challenge and my perceived failures derail me for big periods.
I love your energy, your perspective and the presence you bring showing us that we don’t have to be defined by our story. We have a community of people that are here to help us and you are a living presence of that. It has been a wonderful opportunity to get to know you. Immediately, when Whitney and I met you, we are like, “Amber is our person.” I remember we looked at each other like, “She’s our human being.” I want to acknowledge you for that. Thank you for bringing that presence into the world with your classes, brand and here on the show. It has been a joy having you here.
Thank you so much. It has been fun. This is my first time sharing my story. Thank you for creating the space and allowing me to do so.
We will have links to Amber’s website, EmbodyMe.live. That code is WELLEVATR for a seven-day free trial. If you want to follow up with her and soak in more of that amazing energy, she’s teaching classes on the platform with her international roster of teachers. We encourage you to check it out, follow up with her and take advantage of that seven-day free trial. With that Amber, we adore you. We appreciate you. It has been a breath of fresh air. I feel energetically much better after having this conversation with you. I can only imagine what people are going to feel when they come to take classes with you. With that being said, thanks for getting uncomfortable or comfortable with us, dear reader. Thank you to Amber and we will catch you again with another episode soon. Take care. We love you!
*We use affiliate links in our show notes. This means we receive a small sales commission if you purchase an item based on our recommendation.
- Jivamukti Yoga
- Learning How to Let Go to Recieve Love and Healing with Kelli Tennant – Previous episode
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
- Happy Feels Spotify Playlist
- Stealing Fire
- Are We Ever Fully Healed From Our Deepest Traumas? – Previous episode
- Amber Fortier – Instagram
- Embody Me – Instagram
About Amber Fortier
Founder at Embody Me | Embodiment Coach. I help busy female entrepreneurs create a prosperous mindset + spiritual practice to support their thriving businesses. I founded Embody Me to help women embody the best versions of themselves so they can fearlessly go after their goals and live the life they have always dreamed of. I’ve been a yoga teacher and taught in countries around the world. I have taught hundreds of women of all ages to find true balance and bliss through yoga and wellness practices.
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