Christian Pankhurst – founder of Heart IQ about true leadership, the newnormal, embracing pain and vision of humanity as one …
How would your describe your journey to Heart IQ?
It started with a powerful moment back in the year 2000 at a personal development seminar and I had really a powerful dream. When I woke up, a profound sense of love, peace and presence came in like a wave of white light and I was infused with this euthoric clarity – I wanted to facilitate and bring people back home into their hearts. It was as if I was given an imprint of what I call today the new normal – this sense of what connections should feel like, what can be possible, what it really means to be together in a community, thrive, be authentic. Now it was my mission to offer these experiences and to bring that to reality. I’m a trained martial artist and a chiropractor and so my healing journey is very practical – I love stuff that is embodied, real and I don’t like to teach anything that I can’t show in the moment. So if anybody asks me to talk about concepts, belief systems or anything that can’t be proven by the physical experience or feeling, I don’t go there.
When did this realisation take the shape of Heart IQ?
Actually, when I graduated as a chiropractor and when I was taking care of patients, I noticed that my connection with them was strong but when I got them together as a group it became stronger. So even in those early days I started to see the power of group work. But it wasn’t until 2006 when I met my mentor who taught me how to do circle wok. His name is Tej Steiner from America. I remember sitting in one of his circles and being blown away by the effortlessness, the joy,the depth and the practice of coming into our hearts together. I was always facilitating before that, giving seminars and workshops, but it was that moment in 2006 where everything changed and I went from a leader that taught from the front of the room to – let’s create something magical and bring something through circle, which is emergent, there is no theme, no set agenda, there’s mistery to it.
“I believe healing is a journey and it’s accelerated in the presence of others”.
And here I’m coming to my next question. What is behind your belief that healing happens only in a group or community?
I don’t believe that it only happens in a group. I believe that healing is a process, not a destination. So it’s not true to say for me: “I’m now healed or you are now healed!” Because that almost puts a stop to the process. So I believe healing is a journey. I also believe it’s accelerated in the presence of others.We can do a lot by ourselves – personal practice of human potential and development, meditation, yoga. There are so many things that we can do to become healthier versions of ourselves, yet there is something spectacularly magnificent and powerful and amplified by being in a group or other like minded people, when it’s guided well. I do say guided well, because if you just put people together – nothing happens intrinsically, there is nothing special about people coming together, although it can create a lot of energy. You see, people are gathering around sport events in big stadiums, but nobody’s leaving healed! I use the energy of a group to conduct healing. Imaginine that the circle is an orchestra and everybody is a different instrument and I’m the conductor. I help bring these instruments together, so instead of having a noise, there is this beautiful symphony. Circle is my canvas and I get to produce art by bringing in these beautiful energies, emotions, frequencies and having it be something greater than the individual parts, so every single person walks away with imprints of something more than who they are, they were touched by something bigger than themselves. That’s the aim that I have. Whether it’s a short 90 minute session or a deep dive retreat, I want people to leave with a thought: that it was special, it was deep, it was real. And it wasn’t caused by me, it was created by us.
At this point I would really want to know about your most powerful experience in a circle facilitated by you or someone else.
I’ll share the most recent one. During our Thrive retreate one of the participants stood up and said to me: “I can feel how much you carry and the weight of the responsibilities of New Eden. I see how much you worked through the last 10 – 20 years to get Heart IQ here.” He really felt the sacrifice of all that and he said – “I’d like you to drop the role of facilitator and join me as brother, where I can carry some of this for you. Give me your burden!” He in that moment was acting as shaman, who wanted to take whatever was heavy inside of me and to let me give it to him. And he said: “I know what to do with it. You don’t have to worry that it’s going to hurt me.” And so I trusted, I felt his heart and said yes. I came onto the mat, the circle is around witnessing, holding beautiful space, and I just curled up, bent over and just fell beautifully apart in his lap, started to cry and weep. He placed his hand on my back and I could just feel how all worries and stress went away and my entire system was being cleansed and I felt the other brothers coming around creating a cocoon of protection. I could hear the women toning in the background. It was really touching and life altering. I felt like I don’t have to do this alone, became more open to collaboration and to help. I had to surrender and then life felt easier.
“Heart IQ is a powerful awareness tool to know ourselves in relationship to others.”
How do you use heart intelligence in your personal life?
It creates a framework or a language for communicating from the heart so it allows me to better communicate with the people I love and care about, it helps by resolving conflict, it helps by directly communicating needs, so that they don’t go underground. It helps me become aware of the parts of me that might be interfering with my relationships: like shadows, different parts of my personality that if I’m not aware of, might sabotage or create roadblocks and intimacy problems. So it becomes a very powerful awareness tool to know ourselves in relationship to others. It not only helps you open, but it helps you watch when you close. The key part of the work is not about how open you are, it’s – are you aware and are you at choice to open or close? And if closure is a habit or a pattern, then Heart IQ becomes a powerful practice of staying open in your life. Heart intelligence has also given me community and friendship with people who really understand what’s possible. I think we as a culture are quite lonely and we crave for real connection, and heart IQ is a family. It represents the family maybe we never had and it’s a call home, back to our essence. If I could put the frequency of heary IQ into a single sentence, it would be – the art of loving unconditionally. We literally teach people to get out of their head and be compassionate self, so that somebody could really fall in love with themselves and their goodness. Feeling of being unworthy, undeserving, thoughts like “I’m not enough” are lies that were given to us by culture, family, religion, schools, you name it. Heart IQ breaks down conditioning and helps to connect to what’s real. It helps me get to true connection quicker with anyone, including strangers. It’s improved my capacity to lead and to hold a good space for other people. Because when you’re in circle, your nervous system has to get trained to hold a vast range of energy and emotion. I’m doing this for thousands of hours and seeing every single possible human emotion, every single aspect of humanity, both dark and light. It has created this muscle in me where I have deep compassion and I can love people very quickly, even things that might seem to be hard to love. I understand that most people do bad things not because they are bad, but because they are in so much need, they don’t know how to ask. They are acting out of pain and that’s a symptom of disconnection.
What were your major milestones in the journey towards creating New Eden?
One of the major milestones was entering the competition called Britain’s next top coach and I had to show the world how to coach somebody in under 10 minutes using the heart IQ method. I had to somehow show to the camera the whole process. It went really well and I got the highest number of votes and in the end I won the competition. That exposure led me to meet people that wanted to support this work. I started to get help around the business and marketing. I had this gift of being able to do this work but I didn’t know how to fill events, how to reach people. And this is very common. Next milestone was in 2011 when we opened The Academy – it’s our professional training which trains practitioners. We trained 400 different practitioners in circle and relationship work and created a team of powerful facilitators. So now when I do events, I am no longer facilitating on my own. We all bring in our gifts and collaborate. But the biggest milestone was finding this place we call New Eden in 2015. I had no idea what I say yes to when we purchased this place, but in the last 3 years we’ve just received so many miracles. And talking about the need to ask for help, I’ve had to literally surrender to the community, to the universe, learn to get support I needed, consistently ask for help and receive… receive … It’s breaking all the conditioning inside of me that is reluctant to ask for help. This place has blasted my heart open, it’s magical and it does magical things. This place is like match made in heaven. When we had our first event here in 2016 I was blown away by how fast things moved, how people opened so much quicker, how safe and cozy it felt.
“You have to be yourself and then match your own intrinsic qualities to a need that exists in the world, then you’ll be successful!”
You mentioned that New Eden was a place for true leaders to connect. So, I really wonder, what are the qualities of a true leader, who is a true leader and do you consider yourself as such?
I would rather call it a heart centered leader – somebody who is stepping into their hearts and do leadership. They’re authentic, they are willing to lead by example, rather then using dominance, manipulation or some strategy to make an impact. They are open and vulnerable, they are not hiding behind a role, not trying to be superior, for them it is not top down, it’s with. Good leader isn’t somebody who is leading others well, it’s somebody who is leading themselves well. We have hundreds of different aspects of our fragmented personality, all wanting to have a voice, so how do we lead our own inner community? That’s why I love circles. When we sit in circle our inner community suddenly gets expressed through everybody else. Then you become me, cleverly camouflaged as you. You become a voice of my inner world, and as I learn to get on with you, I learn to get on with me. And circle becomes a way to integrate our inner world, so that we become more integrated and healthy. So leadership is the result of integration. Leadership is you being and knowing yourself in all your ranges, so that you know your light and you know your darkness, you know your shadows you know the parts of you that could be vampiristic and a real bitch, but you also know what a magnificent being you are. You are not afraid to go to any place within your own being, because you know you’re all of it. I believe that true leadership is being true to self, and then from that place being confident, clear and directive so that you can be trustworthy to lead others. I don’t think that’s something you get as a qualification. You know you are a leader when other people ask you to lead them. I know people who are naturally not really meant for leadership, so sometimes their fantasy of leading groups is not necessarily a genuine destiny or purpose for that individual. I believe following, or surrendering, or being part of a collective is just as important. In our society you have to lead to be successful. I would say: you have to be yourself and then match your own intrinsic qualities to a need that exists in the world, then you’ll be successful! Most people think that having a gift is enough, but it’s not – there should be a match between what you have to offer and what’s needed in the world! I’ve changed my whole model around what success is. A mother who gives birth is more successful in my opinion then somebody who built an empire or business.
Then what is your definiton of success?
Success is joy! I would die feeling successful, knowing that I had mastered my own internal reality, where I could in fact enjoy all of life. The entire human potential movement is often built on this idea that I need to improve, step up more, be a better man, do more, show up …I believe what people need is to be loved in such a way where they are supported and encouraged to literally reveal their own genius. I truly believe that everybody carries a spark of brilliance in their own unique way. Our education systems and culture has pigeonholed the whole idea of success. When I was growing up I went to school and I struggled with studies. I felt less there because I was put into the box of academia but if somebody had shown a different aspect of reality or sets of gifts and skills, I would have thrived. I really do feel that there is genius locked in every single one of us and for me heart IQ is a way to see, feel and to uncover it, to give birth to our true authentic selves. And what people do with that, well, that’s up to them.
Coming back to leadership. Are you that true leader you described?
I am definitely a leader because I practice leadership. At the same time I’m hesitating in answering the question, as I believe leadership is something we can carry on and it’s a journey that never ends. If you ask me – do you consider yourself healed or complete? I would say no. Because I believe healing never ends and every moment till I die will be another opportunity to open more, see more, be more. Yet, because I’m on the healing journey consciously, I feel healthy emotionally and energeticaly. I’m in the process of deepening and becoming a more authentic leader but I haven’t arrived at impeccable leadership. At certain point my team would say I’m a terrible leader and I can go horribly wrong with it, but I’m in the game of learning, I’m realizing what it means to be a better leader, so that’s a work in progress.
“Don’t be afraid to follow the bredcrumbs and to engage life in ways that might not appear to be your calling”
What would you tell someone who has an urge to do something great in his life, but has no clue where to start?
I think there’s a difference between an urge that comes from a good idea in a moment, but it might not have gravitas or a depth that sticks. There is a type of people that will be inspired by different things all the time, but nothing really touches them. But if somebody has what I call a “soul itch”, it feels like something is missing in their life and they have to do something about it. In my journey I had to face failure, and to accept that what I’m going to do isn’t going to be what I’m ultimately going to do. We have this process in heart IQ called – following the bred crumbs. So imagine a line of bred crumbs leading to your destiny or calling. Well, that bredcrumb might lead us to all these amazing adventures none pf them are the calling, but they’re leading us towards the calling. For example someone says – my calling is to become an ambassador to the United Nations and heal world hunger. If they start to think that success lies there, they are going to feel like a failure as long as they’re not there. But what if their next step is to work in a kitchen and cook some really good food, making sure that the kitchen doesn’t waste food. So now they’re following their heart, doing what feels right, still having this caling on the back of their mind. So what I would share with somebody who has this urge is – Don’t be afraid to follow the bredcrumbs and to engage life in ways that might not appear to be your calling! Trust that everything is your calling!
My mission is to embody unconditional love and to bring in a new normal onto this Earth. I want to give people an actual experience of finding their way home. I didn’t have New Eden 10 years ago, but I wasn’t failing my calling, I was still doing retreats in hotels and different venus and I was still giving people an experience of a new normal. I trust that I can bring my calling into whatever I do. What if calling has nothing to do with doing, but only with being! I have in me both passon and perseverence. So, as I proceed and I reach a wall, I don’t retreat I look for a gap and then go over it. Rejection isn’t paralyzing me. I still feel pain, but it doesn’t cause me to go back into a cave and feel sorry for myself. Our relationship to our victim story is very important. If we always retreat to victim whenever we get a loss, we will always feel disempowered. The question isn’t – do you feel pain, because everyone feels pain. The question is what do you do when you feel pain? Do you go backwards? Do you have addictions? Do you pretend that you are all good and fine to the world? Do you shut down, get cynical and blame others for your problems? Or do you become too open and get taken advantage of? And I think the difference between people who alredy successful and who aren’t is their response to pain.
“It’s our resistances to pain that makes it painful”.
And what is your response to pain?
First I need to feel it and then transform it. Pain is like the alcohol in the wine, that makes it rich, and if we’re not feeling our pain is like drinking grape juice. Pain is literally our capacity to feel our depth and we get to feel so much more rich and so much more vibrant. Those people who are willing to feel their darkness and their pain, these are the great artists and performers. People who are hurt produce the most incredible works of art. I also belive that depression is a result of avoiding pain. Most people I’ve seen, who come in depressed, are not people who are in pain, they are people who have disconnected from their pain. They are denying pain and that’s what’s causing the depression. If people were actually feeling what they deny they would come alive. If you feel what’s true, you will open, but if you only give space for what you deny, you will close. I believe that every emotion, every experience is enjoyable if we allow it fully. It’s our resistances to pain that makes it painful. For example, when I allow myself to cry it’s blissful, but when I hold it all in, I create tension in my sysytem and that is painful.
My last question will be about your most ambitous vision of Heart IQ movement in the future. How do yo see it?
My vision is to inspire the world to transition to a resource based economy, to eradicate all money, have people be so connected to their brothers and sisters that we literally live as one. We feel as if we’re part of one human family and we see the environment as our responsibility to take care of. No individual nation has a right to resources from the Earth, but we decide collectively to remove all borders, to become one Earth, one country and we all decide that all resources of the planet are to be shared. And then we blend ancient wisdom with technology and fuse them together to create the most incredible culture imaginable, deep and rich, full of heart and meaning, but super advanced so that nobody is suffering, or diseased, or doing jobs that are inhumane or lack dignity!
To learn more about New Eden go to: www.neweden.org
Interviewed by Irina Musuc