Mike Thompson and Ash Warner are on a mission to help people uncover what already exists within their human experience and inside their bodies.
As partners and facilitators at Minneapolis-based Delics, which they founded together in 2022, they offer a variety of transformational experiences for individual clients as well as small and corporate groups. These experiences range from breathwork to sound healing to restorative yoga, all of which are designed to promote deeper levels of consciousness and awareness.
And with everything that’s competing for our attention in today’s chaotic world, getting into these emotional spaces can be fairly challenging.
“In this society that we live in nowadays, it’s so easy to turn on the TV or scroll through Instagram or do whatever it is that releases dopamine and doesn’t actually provide the space for people to really sit with what’s happened to them in a day – and definitely not what’s happened to them in their lifetime,” Warner said. “Our goal is to assist people in not being afraid of what they’re feeling, helping them feel capable of feeling it and not feeling like they need to dissociate or run from things.”
Warner, whose titles at Delics include reiki practitioner, sound journey creator and psychedelic preparation and integration coach, compares the avoidance of deep feeling to piling up dishes in your kitchen sink.
“You keep putting stuff into the sink, but you don’t clean it,” she said. “And eventually, when you do take everything out, the plates that have been on the bottom for a month are moldy and maybe there’s an entire ecosystem growing in there.”
By providing a safe space for people to dive into what’s alive for them in the moment, Thompson and Warner are able to help people to uncover and begin to process experiences that have perhaps been buried inside them for a long time. In other words, they help them begin to clear the dishes that are at the very bottom of the sink.
That’s not always easy, especially in a culture where there is “no space for mental health,” Warner said, and people are supposed to present a stoic, non-emotional front no matter what they may be going through.
“It can be scary at first, and we’ve seen everything from people screaming and punching the ground to being numb and in shock,” said Thompson, a sacred tea arts practitioner, breathwork facilitator, yoga instructor and psychedelic integration guide. “It takes a lot of courage to be seen in that way in front of others, but we’re getting a lot of positive feedback from people who have come to our events and started making instant shifts.”
That said, Warner and Thompson are never about forcing people into anything they don’t want to do.
“Sometimes people aren’t ready,” Warner said. “Sometimes when people sit in a state of presence, they get overwhelmed by everything that comes up because they didn’t even realize that they were so ‘go-go-go’ all the time.”
The good news is that if you want to change the way you interact with the world around you, there are plenty of small steps you can take that can, in time, lead to positive results in all aspects of your life.
“I had a really good teacher who always encouraged ‘two degrees of change,’” Thompson said. “It’s enough where it’s manageable, but over the long term, it makes a difference. Look at it this way – if you’re sailing a ship and you take a compass and change the direction you’re going two degrees, after a while, it’s going to have a huge, huge impact on where you end up.”
Looking to make some subtle shifts so you can become more present? Here are a few of Warner and Thompson’s suggestions:
- Connect with your senses: Our senses influence how we experience life, but we’re often too busy doing other things to fully pay attention to them. If you’ve discovered that you’re not spending enough time smelling the proverbial roses, Warner recommends “the 5-4-3-2-1” exercise. It works like this: you acknowledge five things you can see, four things that you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. “It’s an immediate entry point into dropping into presence,” Warner said. “It’s something you can do anywhere – in the grocery store, even in the bathroom!”
- Put the phone down: Many of us are in the habit of picking up our phones any time we have a spare minute, whether it’s standing in line at the bank or waiting at a traffic light. In an effort to combat this impulse, Warner and Thompson have made a challenge to one another: “if it’s going to take five minutes or less, don’t touch your phone.” During that time, it’s all about being fully present and trying to experience everything they possibly can. Challenging yourself can help you identify how often you’re actually looking at your phone, which can be instrumental in changing that behavior. It can also make breaking the ingrained habit more fun. “You can say, ‘OK, I’ll reward myself after five minutes of not touching my phone at the grocery store by being able to look at it, but then I’ll set a timer,’” Warner said. “I look at it as play – can I play this game and see if I can beat myself and constantly do better?”
- Practice box breathing: Breathing is a great way to center yourself and bring yourself into the present, and box breathing is an easy entry point for people who haven’t done breathwork before. Here’s how you do it: inhale for a four count, which is roughly how long it takes to get to the top of the breath. Then hold it in for four, exhale again and hold again. “It’s kind of like making an imaginary box,” Thompson said. “When you do this, you can start to feel that state shift almost instantaneously.”
- Try journaling: Writing isn’t an activity that everyone is comfortable with, but it doesn’t mean you have to sit down and craft the next great American novel. You can begin by simply jotting down the answers to a few questions. Here are a few prompts to get you going:
– What’s one thing that’s been hard today?
– What was a big win you had?
– What’s one thing you’re grateful for?
– What’s something you’re looking forward to?
Don’t want to write these things down? Try starting a dialogue with your spouse, a family member or a friend with these questions as a guide. You’ll be surprised at what you might learn about yourself!
- Find new rituals to add into your life: It’s not necessarily a bad thing to want to come home after a long day of work and watch TV or have a cocktail, Warner said. “Those aspects of living are rooted in ritual,” she said. “It’s like you wake up in the morning and you have a ritual of drinking coffee, but some rituals can be better for us than other rituals.” What Warner has found helpful is the idea of “swapping out” a ritual. For example, when you get home, challenge yourself to not do the thing that you normally do and see what ideas present themselves to take its place. These ideas can be different for everyone, but it works best if the new activity is something you enjoy doing or have thought about trying but never quite got around to it. Perhaps it’s taking a guitar lesson or learning to make jewelry or tending to your garden – anything that helps you tap into your creative side. In time, you’ll gradually find a balance between the two rituals and you might even find yourself wanting to give up the dissociative one in favor of the creative one! “I really believe that creativity is something that every single person has,” Warner said. “Amidst the process of dissociating and distracting, it’s something a lot of us have lost touch with, and the creative aspects of being human – well, that’s part of the point of us even being here!”
In addition to one-on-one, group and corporate sessions, Delics also hosts a number of events and gatherings across Minneapolis and online. To follow their schedule, follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
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