Your Assignment, Should You Choose to Accept It

There is a common feeling of uneasiness that many people share– that they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. This feeling is amplified in the current context in which we have a heightened awareness of what is going on in the world and the realization that what is going on in the world is a crisis for the future of humanity and much of life on this planet. It’s only natural that we ask, “what is my role in all this?”

But this feeling derives from a deeper and older questioning than that which is stirred be current events. Do I have a purpose in this world? Why am I here? What am I doing and what should I be doing? Do I have a “mission”?

It’s easy to adopt answers that derive from reductionist psychological thinking on the one hand or metaphysical belief systems on the other. But my experience is that these will not make the nagging feeling go away. The true felt/sense of purpose, though fleeting and subtle in its early stages, grows as one dives deeply into the nature of oneself, (One’s Self).

Traditional cultures always had initiatory rituals and ceremonies to mark the shift from the dependent child phase of life to taking responsible and purposeful action in the world as an adult. The Native American Vision Quest is a clear example of how ritualized solitude in nature along with fasting helped open a seeker to a voice beyond their ego for guidance. The ceremonial use of “hallucinogenic” or sacred plants and psychedelic compounds is an ancient and also presently growing movement helping people find a clearer sense of themselves and a healthy direction. Some forms of meditation and some of the modern, deeper experiential therapies, also offer possible approaches to clarifying meaning and purpose in life.

Still, it is one thing to have a vision or idea of what to do, and another to choose it and do it. When we return from transcendent moments of clear vision, we face the challenge of resistance within ourselves and others, and the tendency to not accept and act on our “mission.” Your mind will use every trick in the book to make the expression of your vision seem either impossible or too trivial. Yet, wise elders tell us that it is essential to live it out lest we feel lost and confused. I’ve come to believe that the failure to act on our best sense of right action is one of the most potent contributors to depression.

This is why integration work is so vital to any ritual or process that takes one to the deep places beyond our conditioned mind to our deepest truth. Just as it takes intention, courage and guidance to seek a vision, it takes intention, courage and guidance to bring that vision into manifest expression.

I can say this of what I’ve learned from my various and ongoing quests for vision and the challenges of walking it: 1) Discovering purpose begins with recognizing and accepting what I face in the present; 2) I am not alone in what I am here to do; 3) It is not for me alone; 4) It feels really good when I am doing it.

May you find your way to open beyond the noise and chatter to your true vision, voice, and action towards the unfolding of our species’ awakening.

Postscript: Some years back I was “told” (and told others) that I would help organize a concert to celebrate the movements for life-affirming, progressive causes in Rockland County. The right combination of allies and time came together to help fulfill this vision. See below and join us if you can.

Coming Home – Communing With Nature

Communing with Nature

NEXT RETREATS: May 19 and June 23, 2013

How do we honor the ground on which we walk, the universe of stars and planets, the body with which we sense and breath, the very matrix within which we live? How do we honor Mother Nature? Indigenous peoples, including all of our ancestors, had ceremonial practices and rituals of initiation that fostered the experience of Nature as ally and protector, Nature as teacher and guide, Nature as source of strength and courage. They honored nature by opening to her in all these ways for their own good and for the good of the whole community. In these times, we can learn from these ancient ways to help us in uncovering our own human nature and bringing ourselves more fully into this world.

Everyone knows that being in nature can be relaxing and somewhat rejuvenating. Yet, three things can make the experience far more profound: 1) a conscious intention to open to the transforming power of the natural world; 2) learning to practice meditative methods and rituals that support awakening consciousness; 3) preparing for the journey with guidance.

For over twenty years, while living in California, I guided groups on wilderness quests that incorporated many of the ideas and practices of indigenous peoples along with other psychological and spiritual modalities. I called these experiences Quests for Wholeness and they involved four days of fasting alone in the desert wilderness. These sacred journeys held the intention for individuals to have experiences that were healing, enlivening and empowering for themselves, and at the same time, inspired them to orient their lives to better serve the Earth and all its inhabitants.

Living in New York, in the Lower Hudson Valley, I’ve been looking for practical ways to bring the teachings of these deep wilderness experiences to folks here. I have personally learned so much from the time alone in nature and the teachings I received have shaped much of the direction for my life. I’ve also seen profound experiences and growth in others who have made the quest to open themselves to the infinitely wise counsel of Mother Earth’s creative intelligence and energy.

Now that Ginny and I have our home in Tomkins Cove, our back door leads to vast wooded mountains, and we can offer guided experiences for communing and awakening with nature. We have been exploring these hills and trails with attention to finding good (and safe) places for people to be alone for several hours or overnight, depending on their needs. Small groups will be able to prepare together, find a place for solitude in nature and return for integration of the experience.

The Coming Home retreats provide an opportunity for you to be in solitude in nature and explore the questions you have about your life journey. Your experience will be driven by your intentions: for healing wounds of the past; envisioning direction for your life; or empowering you to act on your visions. The day-long process begins with a small group preparing together in the morning and receiving guidance in the use of meditation and simple, nature-based rituals before going out for the solo time. You then will go to a site to be alone in communion with the land, sky, plants and creatures that you encounter. Afterwards, we gather together again around the sacred fire to share and learn from the experience.

When we chose the name Sacred River Healing for the container of our work, Ginny and I wanted to honor both the river near us and the river within us. We recognize the healing that nature provides for our minds and bodies. We also see the harm that humans have done, and continue to do to the natural world, and we honor the healing work our soul’s call us to do FOR nature at this time. I strongly believe that these experiences will deeply serve both purposes.

If you feel called to participate in one of these journeys, or if you have questions, please contact me.

Cost: $80