Love and Ebola: a Web Event for West Africa

Ebola Virus

The Ebola virus is wreaking havoc on the people of West Africa. The number of people infected is doubling every few weeks. But despite the endless media coverage, this epidemic seemed quite distant to me – until I heard that two nurses in Texas had become infected. Suddenly Ebola seemed to be right at my doorstep.

I began my career as a nurse; one of my first nursing jobs was in ICU, caring for critically ill patients. That’s probably why every new report about the 2 nurses infected with Ebola upset me so much. I remember all too well how hard a hospital nurse’s job is under ordinary circumstances – and there is nothing ordinary about an Ebola infection. At first, I was so angry about these two young nurses infected with Ebola; I wanted to find someone to blame for their pain and suffering. But it doesn’t accomplish anything to play the blame game, does it? More and more people continue to catch Ebola and suffer while we sit around and debate about who should get fired. Anger is a waste of time.

For the last few days, I’ve been asking myself, what can I do besides sit around and wring my hands about Ebola? What can I do to help? I actually considered joining Doctors Without Borders and heading over to Africa myself; nurses are always in short supply. But 9 months abroad is not very practical when I have a daughter to raise. Sacrificing my own family’s well being isn’t the answer.  But I want to do more than just donate some money – I want to personally DO something! Once a nurse always a nurse, I guess.

This epidemic teaches me how interconnected our world is today. Our fates are interwoven with the fates of those suffering in West Africa, whether we acknowledge it or not. So, why not USE our interconnections to help those suffering?

I am a spiritual healer, I have spent the last 20 years learning how to send the healing energy of love out to people in need. Remote healing techniques make it easy to send powerful healing love and prayers to people suffering with Ebola on the other side of the world. And as a nurse, I know that NOTHING is more healing than the energy of love and compassion.

I need your help with this. Can you join me in creating a healing web of love and prayers for West Africa? You don’t need to be a healer or know anything about energy or spiritual healing. You don’t even need to leave your home!

Simply join me by phone, and I will guide you through a simple process for offering love and healing light energy to those suffering with Ebola on the other side of the world.

We are all connected. Why not use our connections to help those suffering with Ebola? Let’s shine the healing light of love on this epidemic. 

Web of Love for West Africa

Sunday October 19, 2014
2:oo PM Mountain

Love and Ebola: Web of Love #2

Saturday October 25, 2014
1:oo PM Mountain

You can be part of this healing web of love via phone or internet connection. Please send an email to me at: nancy@nancylankston.com if you’d like to participate. I will send you simple instructions for joining this event.

The power of this Web of Love increases exponentially
with every person who participates.

I hope you can join me. 

On Shamanism: A Perspective

The word  shamanism was chosen by Mircea Eliade for the title of his groundbreaking book, Shamanism, Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, published in French in 1951, and in English in 1964.  He chose it not because the word (from the Siberian) was commonly accepted, but because it was nearly unknown to his audience in the western world, and lacked the negative western connotations of medicine man/woman, witch, plant doctor, etc.

It was chosen again by Michael Harner for his own groundbreaking book, The Way of the Shaman, in 1980.

Most spiritual traditions pass through a period of intense consolidation and integration, which makes it relatively easy to talk about things like Buddhist, Christian, Islam, Jewish ‘beliefs.’ Shamanic practice is a path of direct revelation with modest reliance on ‘received truth’ to guide our paths. There are no texts that are universally accepted.

Shamanism, (still a vital part of indigenous life-ways in many parts of the world, and drawn directly from Spirit and the Ancestors where that connection has been lost)  is a collection of techniques and attitudes/approaches to Spirit bolstered by some shared agreements.

One central agreement is that personal Spirit Guides and Power Animals are available to to guide us.  Another agreement is that everything is alive, conscious, and can be communicated with. We speak to the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds, the winged ones, the rock tribe and the plant people. We send our prayers and words up to the cloud people, to Father Sun and Mother Moon; we send them down to Mother Earth and the tribes that crawl in and under the earth. And we listen for their responses, their words of wisdom, their advice. We two-leggeds do not see ourselves as above or below the others, but as an integral part of this enchanted world in which we live.

 

(for additional thoughts on shamanism, you may wish to read Nancy’s post here.)

Wholing as Healing

Shamanic work is centered on WHOLENESS: removing what doesn’t belong, and reclaiming that which does.  Shamanic healing is focused on wholeness to the extent that my Spirits often use that word as the healing message, telling me how to provide “wholing.”  While spellcheck hates the word, for me, in this modern western culture, I find it far clearer to use and understand than the enigmatic word “healing.”

Bodies are wonderful vehicles designed to experience this reality, but they are also limited: they sometimes suffer mechanical problems.  Our energy body is the template that forms our physical body – when it is distorted by losses and intrusions, or forced to share space with other energies, it causes distortions in the template and health problems in the physical body.  Soul retrieval and power animal retrieval are well-known examples of restoring or gathering energy to increase power.  Removal of thought forms, curses, extractions, and compassionate depossession are  common methods of eliminating energy losses.  The correction is to  remove that which doesn’t belong, and bring back that which belongs but has been lost.

In other cases, energy is  dissipated during fits of anger and/or emotional upheaval, or simply attached to too many memories of triggering events.  Energy attached to a memory can be reclaimed through recapitulation; energy thrown away in a fit of anger is simply lost.

Occasionally, energy is stolen; more often, energy is simply leaked through various energy gates (chakras) and through rips and tears in the energy body.  Plugging energy leaks can be a powerful a way of restoring energy, and should be a more commonly used tool in the shamans bag of wholing tricks.

Always, to insure maximum health and strength – as well as that thing shamanic workers call power – bring the energy body into WHOLENESS!

 

 

 

Friendship

I’m incredibly lucky to have developed an amazing partnership with Jill Carter and Nancy Langston over the past year.   Located in different parts of the country, each week we set aside time to meet by telephone, and each week we over-run our budget of 2 hours.  We’ve talked as long as 6 hours at a stretch, and it’s not unusual to send many emails and have unplanned calls in between.

It’s a relationship like I’ve never had before, and sometimes seems to be both a shamanic meant-to-be as well as a deep, deep friendship.  We aren’t the same, we don’t complete each others’ sentences.   Our backgrounds, our training, our mundane lives are all quite different.  Instead, we surprise each other, and we inspire each other to deeper learning.

An amazing pattern has developed so obvious and clear that it’s undeniable.  Each time one of us is challenged in our lives, the lessons reverberate through all of us, and we each are suddenly ‘gifted’ with surprising experiences that show a deep similarity: as if spirit is intent on showing us multiple faces of each kind of event.  Of course we journey and do healing work for each other, and often that takes each of us far off of what had formerly been our “beaten path.”  But that’s what you do for friends, right?  You get inventive, you get involved, you try new things.  You experiment.  When all three of you are Healers, that can make things really interesting!

Is this really a “meant to be” or is spirit simply capitalizing on the opportunity?  I have no idea…

What I do know is that it’s accelerated my understanding of non-ordinary reality so much that I barely recognize myself and my self-imposed limits from a year ago.

More importantly, it’s given me an entirely new vision of relationships, and how independent people who don’t “need” each other can become stronger by choosing to work together.  And the web that’s winding us ever closer together feels much deeper than friendship, and more like true sisters.

We met in July of 2013, and soon we’ll finally be physically together again for a few days – teaching each other, sharing, gossiping and laughing.  I can’t wait!

Recapitulation

This is the third of my series of posts about my solo Vision Quest.  The 1st post is 
Your Job was to Show Up, and the second is And The Walls Came Tumbling Down.  

Right now I long for a human hand in mine, guiding me.  I want to hear a human voice chiding me, encouraging me: I want the comfort of someone who can listen to me as I stumble falteringly through this process and will say calmly, “yes of course, this is the way it works.”  How is it that I feel so confident of what I am advised by Spirit and so rewarded by my progress, and yet ache so for the simple comfort of a friend who can share this path with me?

How many times will I think I understand, only to learn that once more I’ve only scratched the surface, and the real answers lie still deeper within?

In the end, every deep dive is a journey into self and spirit, and there we must go alone.  For me, this deep dive is into the heart of myself, mediated through my shamanic practice.

In Shamanic practice, recapitulation means a concise but detailed review of one’s life, or of segments of one’s life, with a view towards reclaiming the power attached to past memories and events.  To that fairly standard definition, my spirits added that I was required to use this time to release all remaining patterns and both give and experience full forgiveness for missteps and mistakes.  Sometimes things we hold others accountable for turn out to be caused by our own fears: failure to love fully, failure to understand, failure to allow others the same grace we demand as our own right.  Atonement was, originally, a process of ‘wholing:’  at-one-ment, becoming at one with the universe.

This is not about wallowing in the past, reactivating old grudges and the illusion of victimhood.  This is about truly and deeply understanding your own full role in everything that has happened and releasing old ties.  During recapitulation we do not assume that because we were “young and innocent” our own harmful behaviors had no meaning or weight.  From the view of the other, they may have had enormous weight.  Nor does it mean that because we were young, we had no role in our victimization.

No, I don’t mean that a beaten baby is responsible for what occurred.  But most human interactions are far more shaded, more subtle than that, and sometimes our own ignorance/fears do play a role.

This is dangerous territory… we may have participated without ever rising to the level that our society calls guilt.  Finding that we played a roll doesn’t mean that the other’s behavior was justified, but it does mean that we have learning available to help us.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  This doesn’t mean you ‘deserved’ what happened, or that you were at fault.  It only means that somehow your behavior intermeshed with that of the other, and that combination allowed the situation to go to a very bad place.  It also doesn’t take the offender off of the hook: their behavior is their choice, and they own it.  But it does restore to us a role of agency; of understanding and reclaiming our own power.  It’s when we finally and fully understand and release our ties, our patterns, that they lose the power to ensnare us: only then can we be confident and free.

Shamanic perspective includes a recognition of our actions in past lives.  This is not a tit-for-tat view of karmic obligation, but a focus on learning; sometimes learning is best received by personally experiencing injustices similar to those we’ve perpetuated, but the goal isn’t punishment.  At any time it is possible to break the cycle of retribution by learning the lessons, integrating them, and moving on.  This is a profound process that can bring healing to both sides of a painful event.  It can also reverberate in all directions along the time line, bringing healing to both our ancestors and descendants.

Recapitulation is not about placing blame, but about understanding: understanding means coming as close as is possible to recognizing what happened from the perspective of everyone involved.  When you truly see through another’s eyes, when you see through their pain and misunderstandings, you come to understanding from a very different space than we usually access.  Intellectual understanding is not enough.  Intellectual understanding may give you the strength to resist the pattern, but it doesn’t erase it.  The attraction to the pattern still exists.  This is why we tend to feel like we are sucked into same-old/same old patterns, experiencing the same damaged relationship dynamics over and over again.  When you understand at a very deep level, the attraction falls away and there is simply no pull calling us to squander energy on a similar situation.  We see it for what it is, not for what we wish it was, and the magic falls away.

In my research, all of the references to shamanic recapitulation that I’ve found focus on reclamation of used energy.  Memories have life, have texture, have substance.  That substantial feel is energy – the energy spent by everyone that was part of the event.  During recapitulation one literally sucks the energy out, returning the not-mine energy to the universe, while reclaiming the personal energy.  Afterwards (and it may take several passes to complete the process) the memory is curiously thin, insubstantial.  It feels almost  like a story from someone else’s life.

Many people resist dissolving the energetic part of their memories: they feel like part of their foundation is lost in the process.  That accepts the energetic loss as valid while giving the memory priority.  This resistance is a misunderstanding of the process: the memories that form us have already formed us, that doesn’t change.  What changes is our penchant for being sucked into the same dramas again in endless repetition.

To reclaim an undefended, free heart, it is crucial to glean through the past and apply all of the learning available, so that the heart doesn’t repeat past mistakes.  It is strengthened by the energy retrieval and is prepared to face the world afresh.

Releasing ties (often called cords) doesn’t mean that you won’t continue to love and remember someone.  It does mean that you cut all mutual obligations, and you reclaim the parts of yourself that you may have forfeited in the relationship.  If the person remains in your life and is loved, new cords will form as appropriate.  Cutting old cords, however, keeps the relationship current and keeps us from acting out of old, no longer appropriate emotions.  An example of cords that need cutting would be seen when a parent refuses to allow their child to grow up and take on an adult role, but continues to hover and want to ‘fix’ things.  It may sound like love, but by preventing the child from learning they are depriving them of their right and need to grow.  Of course, there are also cords that should be cut with people we no longer want in our lives.

Cutting cords is a crucial part of recapitulation, but a small part.  The more intense and grueling part is the blow-by-blow remembering of all of the ways I succeeded in past relationships, and where I personally failed.  What is difficult is to agree to let go, to agree that these comfortable patterns will no longer drive my actions.

For my faults I offer up love and compassion for myself:  I ask for forgiveness from the other’s soul, and I ask for blessings from Spirit to ease the path of those to whom I’ve presented hardship and pain.  This is heart work: deep, poignant, draining and necessary.  Oddly, at the same time that it is draining, the recapture of the energy empowers me further.  It’s a paradox I can’t explain.

The gift, of course, is that to the extent that I succeed, the ache is eased and the instinctive ‘need’ to shield my heart is removed – I am again operating as Spirit intended in the World.  My heart and soul are free to learn and love again.

Most of us shut down from time to time.  Most of us find our burdens too heavy and recoil behind barriers.  The gift is to reset the clock and free oneself to begin to again live fully with an undefended heart.

And The Walls Came Tumbling Down

(This is the second of 3 or 4 articles that I’m writing about my 3 day solo vision quest in New Mexico.  The first, “Your Job was to Show Up” can be found below.  There is a subscription feature on the right that will notify you of future posts as I publish them.)

The idea of having an open heart sounds good, just as it sounds good to have a closed heart opened – in the abstract.

But like anything, be it a habit, a body joint, an idea – things allowed to grow stiff can be painful to loosen up again.  When I came down from my so-peaceful stay on the mountain and had my heart break open, I was shoved into the pain, self-doubt and internal dishevelment that is so often part of Spirit breakthroughs.

I’d gone to the mountain in part to release that which no longer served, and the first day I thought I’d done all of that.  It felt like weights dropping as outworn ideas and illusions fell away.  Most of what I dropped had already been working loose from the rigid framework that had held everything frozen in place.  I began my “pre-work” when I committed to the Vision Quest 9 weeks earlier.  I journeyed regularly, I harnessed my dreaming to the task.  Much of my  work cropped up in dreams: I can always rely on them to tell me the things I don’t wish to hear.  I did the work; spent time with both meditation and dream re-entry, consciously “let go” of much that no longer served.   Letting go with the  conscious mind and again with the emotions are not the same thing: so it was the second round, the emotional letting go, that happened without much fanfare during the first day I was up on the mountain.

I don’t know, really, how Spirit works – but in retrospect I suspect it knew that I needed the comfort and enveloping love of the next two days to heal me enough to withstand the final step – the breaking open of my heart, which was the necessary preface to releasing so much more.  When it did happen, I was completely taken by surprise.

Shamanic practitioners work with their hearts, not their brains.  It is heart that connects with Spirit, heart that sings songs of  joy and praise, heart that allows us to work with Spirit to bring healing.  The rest of us – mouth, voice, hands, brain, imagination – activate and manifest what is first born in the heart.  So my sacrifice must be made: the heart must be freed even if the pain is fierce.  Nor is this sacrifice endured only for the sake of the “other.”  My own life hangs in the balance: it is for me to decide if I will remake it with courage, or allow it to atrophy into a dumbed down version, a mockery of what a human soul can be.

After we experience injury and loss we typically wait out the storm then seek to ‘close the door’ on what has passed.  Too often we have yet to go deep and fully  understand before we close those doors – and the result is something like a scab that covers a wound while the poison within continues to fester.  The lesson is not yet learned.  Shamanic practitioners often say that when our souls fail to learn the lessons presented, the situation recurs until we do.  We continue to attract inappropriate mates, bad jobs, abrasive situations.  Too often, locked in a cycle of pain, we become discouraged and we decide “that’s what life is” or “that’s what men/women are like” or “that’s what work is like” or even “that’s what politicians are like.”  In fact, none of those things is true – life, men/women, work etc are many, many things; when we can learn to deal with our problems at a sufficiently deep level we can choose differently and free ourselves from patterns of repetition and suffering.

When we fail to learn, we lock ourselves into an increasingly difficult spiral down: we become discouraged, cynical, unable to trust.  We protect our hearts with walls and abandon our quest. Meanwhile, Spirit continues to send the lesson with increasing zeal, attempting to break through and finally achieve that “teaching moment.”

This is when the practice of recapitulation becomes essential.

Walls around the heart are more common than not in our culture: we accept them as a necessary protection against the vagaries of a world we think can’t be trusted.  Those who love fully and easily are scorned as naive.  Yet living with a heart muffled from the Wild Joy of the world is no life at all.  As the shielding increases one loses spontaneity, joy and finally connection. Worst of all, our souls lose the ability to learn.

An undefended heart is vulnerable, but strong.  Properly prepared and fortified, it avoids the old traps simply because it fully understands what happened,  the old mistakes and patterns are obvious, they do not attract.

When we are so swaddled in our protective wrappings that the world can’t break through; when we are not fully, bravely, trustingly a part of it, we block this process of learning.  We forfeit our souls’ ability to continue moving forward and risk leaving our life tasks undone.  While I still could access a manageably smallish joy, I knew that I’d wrapped my heart up in dent-proof packaging, and I knew that it was muffling the rich textures of the outside world.  I knew that the walls had to go – I just wasn’t ready for it to happen now.

Recapitulation is the process of re-examing our lives at a detail level and in depth.  It allows us to take a profound look at our own life, learn the lessons offered and release the suffering that simmers within us like a low-grade fever.  With successful recapitulation, we become ready to move forward, incorporating knowing without cynicism and self protection without blame or masking, and again take a vibrant role in our own futures.

Having been gifted with a re-opened heart, it was essential for me to go deep and practice a thorough recapitulation of all of the events that led me to wall up my heart in the first place.  This isn’t about wallowing in sorrow, grief, misdeeds – it’s about deep learning.  It is about claiming the wisdom my own life offers, but doesn’t insist that I accept.

It is the price of keeping an open heart.

Reflections on Flow

Reflections

Magical Elemental Flow

A potent inner tide flows through you. Each wave  is sparked with the divine energy of Spirit. This sacred tide  flows within your core and throughout every tissue in your body; it flows with the essence of you from womb to grave. Elemental flow is the first rhythmic motion within every developing baby; its gentle waves literally ebb and flow baby’s physical body into form.

Even as an adult, the state of your inner tide has a profound impact on the health and performance of  your entire body. Small restrictions in your flow cause problems such as chronic pain, anxiety, palsy, loss of movement, obsessive thinking, hyperactivity, headaches, earaches, insomnia, depression, learning disabilities and even auto-immune disorders. 

The Dance of Flow

If you could take a microscope and peer into your own body, you would discover your inner flow. Every cell in your body is constantly flowing and vibrating. At the atomic level, you are actually made from billions of tiny particles dancing and oscillating in space. 

Each type of atom in your body, from hydrogen to iodine has a signature vibration. This means that each type of tissue within you has its own unique vibrational pattern: lung tissue vibrates in a distinct way. And the vibrational dance of liver is also unique. Bone vibration is different from nerve or brain vibration. And blood and lymph each create a unique dance of their own. Each tissue has its own dance.

“Energy moves in waves. Waves move in patterns. Patterns move in rhythms. 
A human being is just that: energy, waves, patterns, rhythms. 
Nothing more.  Nothing less.  A dance” 
~Gabrielle Roth ”

When your body is hurt, diseased or traumatized, its vibrational dance shifts into an out of balance, distressed state. And the same thing happens in an unhealthy mind, or a grieving heart. Balanced elemental flow is absolutely essential for a healthy, joyful body and mind.

Elements of Flow

“Be humble, for you are made of earth.
Be noble, for you are made of stars.”
~Serbian proverb 

What are you made of? Your body is formed out of elemental earth, air, fire and water. About 70% of you is actually water. But there are also earthy, solid parts of you; your bones are created from minerals like calcium and phosphorous. Your muscles contain potassium, calcium and nitrogen rich proteins. Elemental air provides the fuel that your body requires; your lungs pull in oxygen with every breath. Within you brain and spine, nerves fire to  stimulate the movement of your muscles and the passing of your thoughts. Spirit flows and dances with earth, air, fire and water – and somehow your amazing physical body is magically created.

 Soul Flow

Beyond the physical structures and fluids of the human body lies the mystery of Akasha or Spirit; the magical emptiness. Within us and all around us lies the formless Space where the energy of love flows unbound and unstructured. The potency of every possibility waits for us within this magical Space; creativity and healing flow from this place.

There was something formless and perfect
before the universe was born.
It is serene. Empty.
Solitary. Unchanging.
Infinite. Eternally present.
It is the mother of the universe.
For lack of a better name,
I call it the Tao. 

It flows through all things,
inside and outside, and returns
to the origin of all things.   

~Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

☾ ☽

The Shamanic World

Ponderosa Guide

Ponderosa Guide

Shamanism is the oldest spiritual practice on Earth. It has existed since the beginnings of our human tribe. Ancient cave paintings in Australia, the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa depict Shaman performing rituals tens of thousands of years ago.  “Shaman” is a Siberian word that means “one who sees in the dark”.  

Throughout history there have been many different types of Shaman and practices vary from tribe to tribe. But the hallmark of every Shaman, both ancient and modern, is the ability to intuitively “see in the dark” and travel beyond this physical plane into non-ordinary reality. The Australian aborigines call non-ordinary reality the Dreamtime. The Celtic tribes of Britain referred to it as the Other World. And modern Shaman continue to use ancient methods to enter a deep meditative or trance state and see in the dark, beyond this reality.

Maintaining Balance

Shaman believed in the “web of life” long before modern theories of ecology were formulated; I consider Shaman to be the first environmentalists.  From a Shamanic viewpoint, everything is alive and has a spirit; grass, pine tree, fox, flower, stone and river are all infused and flowing with spiritual essence and consciousness. To the Shaman, Mother Earth is a pulsing, flowing living system where humans are completely interwoven and interdependent with every other form of life. All of life is interconnected; any belief that humans are separate from other life forms is an illusion, according to Shaman.

One of the Shaman’s primary roles in the community was (and is) to maintain balance between the members of the tribe and all other forms of life on Earth. In indigenous cultures, Shaman performed many sacred ceremonies and spiritual rituals for the tribe in order to maintain balance; e.g. blessing every hunting expedition, divining where the tribe should settle or when to plant crops, welcoming newborn babies into the tribe, and helping the dying make their transition to spirit gracefully.

Shamanic Healing

Shamanism is also the oldest form of healing on this planet. Long before antibiotics, surgeries and heart stents, Shamanic healers journeyed into non-ordinary reality to learn about the nature of illness and help their tribe heal. And today, modern Shamanic practitioners such as myself continue to journey, seeking guidance and help with the healing of many different kinds of physical, emotional and spiritual wounds.

Shaman are said to see with their hearts, rather than logical minds. And Shamanic healing practices have a deep spiritual and emotional focus. Psychopomp, spiritual intrusion, soul retrieval, energy extraction, depossession… there are many Shamanic healing practices with odd and intimidating names. These ancient healing practices are designed to help you:

  • locate and release energies from your body-mind-spirit that do not belong there
  • regain power and other energies that are lost or stuck in your past
  • locate and unlock aspects of your Soul or True Self that are frozen or “lost”

Shamanic healing is very effective for understanding and healing painful or traumatic experiences. And because of the Shaman’s focus on balancing the entire web of life, Shamanic healing practices tend to be innately holistic,  integrating all aspects of body, mind, heart and spirit into the healing process.

The Journey Process

A Shaman journeys in trance state in order to perform ‘divination’ and gather spiritual information about your illness and its cause. The shaman acts as a “hollow bone”, becoming a channel for healing energies and spiritual wisdom. You may travel to non-ordinary reality with the Shaman, or they may go alone. During the journey, spirit allies help the Shaman to uncover the cause of the illness. The spiritual helpers may also assist the Shaman in performing any process required for healing during the journey. The Shaman may merge with a helping spirit and/or elemental energies in order to help you heal. 

When Shaman travel into Dreamtime in search of healing, they seek guidance from allies and guides in spiritual form; e.g. angels, ancestors, departed teachers – Shaman call on all sources of wisdom. And the answers may be found in non-human forms as well;  a power animal or totem, a wise old tree, a flower, a gem stone or even a place of power on Mother Earth may hold wisdom that is the key to healing. In the Shamanic world, healing wisdom is found in all forms of life. 

Everything is Connected
Separation is an Illusion
All is One

☾ ✧ ☽

Your Job was to Show Up

(This is the first of what will probably be three or four parts following my Vision Quest odyssey.  I try to publish on Wednesdays.  There is a subscription service on the right that will enable you to sign up for notifications of further posts.  Thanks for your patience as this experience works through me and is integrated: I’m just barely a step ahead of whatever I write here!)

 

Too smooth, too easy: that’s how I felt a day and a half into my 3 day solo Vision Quest. The fasting felt easy, the solitude felt easy. The ground was boney but I had no need to sleep a whole night at a time, so I slept until my hips and/or back hurt and then got up and gazed back at the stars, the moon.

I began to get uneasy. Yes, I had visions. Yes, I was in a mild state of altered consciousness from the time we drove through the front gate, and that intensified once I was up in my solo site on the mountain. Check and Check. But there was no sturm und drang, no bring-me-to-my-knees dramatic breakthroughs.

It was lovely. Time passed simultaneously slow and fast – so much happening in the great patience of sitting still that sometimes it seemed like hours had passed and it was only minutes, at other times I could barely comprehend that another day had evaporated.

Day 2 slid by gracefully as I sat with lizards, birds, insects. I sighted a spirit bird unknown to the ornithological experts I consulted when my quest was over. Hummingbirds buzzed me repeatedly, nudging me to stay alert.

My inclination to worry raised it’s head: was I wasting time when I should be engaged in deep conversation with spirit? The message came back loud and clear, “Your job was to Show Up, you did that, so just relax.” As the last evening approached I was discouraged when my mind suddenly snapped into clarity and planned the details of my packing and departure the next morning: disgusted, I went to bed early, then awoke into the glory of a midnight sky spattered and layered with dustings of stars, some so infinitely far away that I’d never seen them before. I watched until after the moon rose at 1:00, then slept for a few hours before waking to watch the sun rise for the last time.

Soon after sunrise I snapped again into ultra this-world clarity: I broke camp, packed, I treated myself to a wet-wipe bath and dressed in fresh clothes for my re-entry. I carried my bundles down the path to the road below, keeping with me only my bug spray and the luxury of my folding chair. Within moments of returning to my site and resuming sitting, I was back in an altered state of consciousness: again alert and aware of messages flying between me and the tree people, the rock nation, the sky, the cloud people – all of the many tribes I met with from my mountain perch during those three days. I sent gratitude and love from the depths of my aching-with-the-beauty-of-it-all heart, and just before the truck was due I walked down to meet it.

There was no talking. Other Questers jumped off of the truck in silence and grabbed my pack, the water jugs, loaded us up: I slipped into the cab of the truck as my first tears began to fall. When everyone was retrieved we turned and headed back down the jostling, rutted road. At the base camp we unloaded in silence and filed down to the fire circle for a ceremony of return and release from our silence.

But I wasn’t fully back yet, and from the kabuki faces of one or two others, I wasn’t alone. So while most hugged and began halting conversations, and with laughter ringing harmoniously around me, I wandered back to the outside dining area and sat apart, tears now flooding
my cheeks. I had heard the words before, had heard someone say that spirit “broke my heart open” and thought it a metaphor, but as I felt the jagged ripping inside my chest I knew it as a literal experience. The physical sensation was vivid. The tears had their own lives, and seemed unconnected to any specific emotional crises, they simply flowed until they were done.

Each of us was given a beautiful, perfectly ripe peach. I know that food is grounding, it helps bring us back from an altered state, yet eating that peach seemed impossible at first. I prayed endlessly over it, thanking it for it’s exquisite beauty, for it’s willingness to sustain me physically; I prayed that it be in harmony with my body and bring me health, and that anything that I did not need would fall away.

The first bite was amazing. I knew in my body for the first time that food is sacred medicine, and how it should taste and feel.

Emptying for Change

Our lives push us to constantly ‘gear up.’ We put ourselves into higher gear/high alert and rev our internal motors; we also gear up by acquiring gadgets –  stuff we deem necessary to support what we do.

We rarely prepare for change by dumping things and relaxing. Yet there is much to discard: old ideas, old identities, old patterns of being. If we look objectively we see much that no longer serves us.  Both the accumulation of ‘stuff’ and the accumulation of outworn identities stifle us, make us feel choked.  Yet letting go is hard: instead of seeing traps, we use them as shorthand to self identify : we talk about our “stuff” from wardrobes to record collections to yachts – and the things we’ve done – traveled, made babies, held jobs — without regard for whether all of this is still current.  The experiences will never be deleted; each outworn identity contains skills and learning that are part of us forever.  Still, there is a crucial difference between continuing to identify with a role that no longer belongs to today, and simply holding it as a foundation.

It can be painful to let go.  We cling to roles that no longer fit.  We see this when a father dominates a son or daughter into adulthood, without letting them establish their own identity boundaries; when a politician leaves office but continues to engage with political detail that is no longer in his charge.  And we see it when men cling to their football hero self from high school, as their wives cling to their high school cheerleader self.  All of those identities inform who we once were, but no longer are.  Clinging to outworn identities keeps us from moving forward and finding a role that fully engages all of our abilities in the now. It keeps us from growing.

Tension freezes energy out: it stiffens our body and slows energy flow; rigidity and tension create less room than expansiveness and flexibility do. So all of the forms of ‘revving up’ must go too, so that our relaxed selves won’t exclude opportunities that wish to become part of our lives.   Right now, instead of ignoring everything that isn’t  familiar, I am taking a more flexible stance.  I am allowing my boundaries to become fluid instead of rigid, I am questioning the habits that automatically exclude those characteristics I am not yet comfortable embodying, and I’m taking the time to look again.

I’m looking to learn not who I am, but who I might next become.  I am conducting a Spring Cleaning of my Soul.