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Notes from The Blonde Experiment: Releasing Self Concept to Find Freedom

May 17, 2008
The experiment began in a circle of spiritual warriors. The question I posed to the group was: "What mask or persona would be the most difficult for you to step into? What image would you never want to portray? Whom do you most judge outside of yourself?"

From an independent, rebellious, struggling artist, I heard, "Become a business person; wear a suit and tie everyday and have a lot of money." From a butch, comfortably masculine lesbian it was, "Shave my legs and wear dresses and makeup." A successful businesswoman replied, "Be a street person, unkempt and dirty." My answer was, "Be a stereotypical ditzy, sexy blonde."

My image of myself as a serious, aware spiritual teacher did not jive with things culturally deemed blonde: silly, sexy, playful, seductive. The mere thought of this energy associated with me made me tremble. In my own mind I was graceful, intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate, trustworthy, and comforting. With my long brown hair and slightly baggy clothes, I felt safe and acceptable.

It was a dangerous comfort, I realized. Any time we settle into our masks, no matter how good we believe they look, we deny another part of ourselves. I had shattered masks before, and knew the tremendous energy we gain when we walk straight into our fears with open eyes.

Many years ago, I moved from a dilapidated, no-running water trailer in the middle of a huge horse ranch to a tiny apartment in Hong Kong. This towering apartment complex, were I lived with my parents, housed at least ten times as many people as the town I had left. My goal: to shape shift from a young, politically active, independent rebel to a mature, hardworking businesswoman. It was just for the summer, mind you. I wanted to pay off my debt, and I was curious if I could pull this undercover operation off. I recognized that I held myself out of the mainstream world for fear of losing my center, of somehow being assimilated. And I knew that the only way out was through.

On the plane to Hong Kong I started a list of all the people I remembered interacting with over the previous twelve years in my college town: my dearest friends, lovers, teachers, students, acquaintances, even people whose names I had long forgotten. Over four hundred names filled my journal when I finished the list. Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, I started recapitulating from the top of my list. One by one I sent love and gratitude to each person, breathing back any energy I had lost, releasing any energy I had taken on. When I landed fifteen hours later, I was ready to create a new dream.

I shaved my legs, cut my hair, borrowed a couple of my sister's business suits, and landed a job reconciling stocks and bonds at Lehman Brothers Investment Corporation. I knew nothing about stocks and bonds. I felt funny wearing a suit. But I was determined to commit to this new mask I so feared. I worked 12-17 hours a day, often grabbing lunch and dinner at McDonalds. I loved it. I felt freed from my past. I returned to the United States with a new confidence and sense of unlimited possibilities.

Over ten years later, on another major experiment, I went blonde. My mission: to once again shatter my limited self-concept and step willingly into what I judged the most. It took me months to build up my nerve, to go against the fears and agreements: "It will ruin my hair. I have a new group of apprentices coming in; I can't be blonde and sexy. It is not necessary, anyway." But once I felt the fear, it was too late; I knew had to do it.

The transformation took seven hours, as my hair went from brown, to pink-orange, and finally to platinum blonde. I drove back from the hairdresser, magically drawn to the glowing golden fields of oat straw in the sun outside my window. I felt filled with golden light, my blonde hair communing with all things gold and filling every cell in my body with sunlight. The secret mystical life of the very blonde was rapturous at times. Sunlight, golden hills, and long gold hair opened me to a new level of awareness and deep connection with honey gold internal light.

But more times than not during the blonde experiment I cringed when I looked in the mirror at my new self. I felt self-conscious. I felt fake, too sensuous, too loud. I wanted to be quiet and respectable again. And yet as I continued to watch the fears and doubts and judgments that came up, I reminded myself: "It does not matter what the outside looks like, how people perceive you. All that matters is your own self-love, your connection to the divine, your connection to the wisdom of the natural world."

The results of the experiment were fabulous: unexpected mystical connection; unlinking my need for approval on levels I wasn't even aware of; heartfelt smiles for dolled up, Hollywood-like fake blondes whom I once judged fiercely; a new sense of playfulness and silly joy; release of my need to be seen as a respectful spiritual teacher; and coming into my true nature, stepping more fully into living from the inside out, not from the outside in.

I have reclaimed my inner blonde.
About the Author
Heather Ash Amara weaves powerful practices of shamanic traditions to help people reach their potential. She apprenticed and taught extensively with Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements. She wrote Four Elements of Change and founded the Toltec Center for Creative Intent. She runs Spiritual Integrity Coaching with Raven Smith. Read more bold experiments from Heather Ash.
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