One Day Vision Quest [ Notes from Sedona ]
In the past few months I visited Sedona more than in the previous 5 years, combined. I want to share with you “few words” from those recent trips to the wilderness, the kind of wilderness, that a (usually barefoot) city dweller can handle. Imagine! This is the short version…
If you are not familiar with Arizona, Sedona is a town with the most amazing rock formations. Nature’s cathedrals. Many people come here to feel the energy in the vortexes. The natives say the whole place is sacred and have special energy.
Two of my recent visits stand out. One was very spontaneous. Inspired. The other – planned. To me it was interesting to see the difference between one and the other.
Both were about bliss, awe, beauty, depth, openness, and also about conquering something within.
The traditional vision quests are longer. From several days to several weeks. They also include fasting and sleeping under the stars. But if all we have is one day, if we are inspired to go NOW, why wait?
STAGE ONE. ANSWERING THE CALL.
I was on the way to my morning appointment, when this one country song was playing… It lifted me up and left me hanging between dreams and the fully awakened state… and I wanted to stay there. An hour later, driving McDowell Rd, I thought “I would rather be on a dirt road! I’d rather be in the wilderness. I’d rather sieve the soft Sedona sand thru my fingers.” The moment of inspiration was so strong – I decided to go…
I didn’t know that I’m going for a quest. I only craved the energy of the mountains. It wasn’t until the late afternoon when I felt that it’s more than this.
I arrived in Sedona three hours later. The whole drive was rather weird. I “looked” at my thoughts, as they were showing up, with suspicion: all trucks were sooo beautiful, the drive was sooo smooth, and I was filled with appreciation, that I can leave town and drive, and a sense of privilege to be in one of the most beautiful, breathtaking places on Earth.
And here is the morning of the planned trip, a week later:
I planned so much. Two trails, a video, a bike ride video with a gopro, eat, read, meditate, eat again. I took more clothes than sane, and two pairs of shoes. ( This is NOT a vision quest, this is making sure I don’t have a vision. ) I wanted to leave at 6am. When at 8am I was still getting ready, it hit me: it was a perfect metaphor for what I’m doing with my life. Wanting to do too much. Creating too much. Starting too many things. Finishing few. Truly, a type of greed!
I unpacked, and left.
STAGE TWO. CONNECTION.
Why go alone? – you may ask. Because alone we connect better with nature. Sometimes we crave chatting, sometimes chocolate, and sometimes: silence, stillness and substance, that’s found when we reach within.
Our inner landscape is reflected in the external landscape and vice versa.
Climbing a mountain – a good exercise when we need to “work thru” something – is a frequent symbol in mythology.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes, that when we climb a mountain we find ways to transform the negative into positive. The veils of illusion lift, allowing us to have deeper understanding of ourselves and the world. [at times the veils of illusion fall and pile up around our feet trapping us, so we fall, trying to free ourselves from the stubborn fabric, we look even more desperate, clumsy and impatient – but! – it’s only if we analyze too much!]
Estes says a mountain represents the levels of mastery.
- The lower level represents the urge towards consciousness.
- The middle part of the mountain is a test of the knowledge gained on the lower levels.
- The higher part is an intensified learning.
- The peak represent confrontation with the ultimate wisdom.
In the myths, the mountain is a symbol, but if you climbed a real mountain on your own, you might remember that at different levels, something else is going on in your mind. You have different thoughts about yourself, the hike, and anything that’s on your mind, depending on where you are.
STAGE THREE. FEELING THE EARTH. TOUCHING THE GROUND.
Martha Beck’s “Finding your way in the wild new world” changed how I AM in nature.
Hiking is no longer a workout. It’s relating to the stones and plants, the path, the dead trees that are still a vital part of the landscape, it’s relating to the sky, and the birds, the fading flower under my feet, the massive Thunder Mountain ahead of me, and the rain on the horizon.
I “open my energy” to the mountain and I feel something being returned to me.
STAGE FOUR. LISTENING.
Hiking alone I’m thinking “what’s next for me?” I know I am on the right path, and yet the “right path” has forks and crossing paths and so on. I was opening myself to a voice from within, from my guides, from some reliable source. A lot came to me this way on various trails this spring.
Did you notice how most people desperately want someone to give them answers? We go to psychics, when we are most lost. We ask other people who may know better. Hire mentors. Read. We search for some kind of a script. As if our life could be simply outlined like a business plan for a veggie stand. What does it take to finally stop looking outside and take a plunge into “what do I know?”
Back to Sedona:
Taking the first steps on the path is like a ritual.
I want to leave a part of me behind, and get in touch with the part that is receptive, and feeling free and complete, even when saying “I don’t know.”
As I’m climbing, I’m asking questions.
Now I know how to listen.
Slow steps… Paying attention…
Releasing the need to “figure it out.”
Opening to whatever comes…
Not judging the answer…
Not arguing with the answer.
Checking how the answer feels (is there an underlying fear or is it “preposterous enough”?)
This. Is. It.
Earlier I decided not to expect anything huge, so I could notice the small things. Now, small or big may be just a judgement. It’s irrelevant.
What interferes with trusting the voice?
Intellect. Logic. Need to know too far ahead. Needing a guarantee.
On the “inspired trip” the inspiration was very prolific as soon as I started walking down the Chimney Rock trail. I heard I need to write the little book of purpose. Made plenty of notes. Could not write fast enough. The next morning I sat down in the garden and wrote the entire detailed outline of the book.
On the planned trip I was inspired to do a Summer Soul Discovery Program.
Here I feel resistance. Would anyone go with me on a vision quest on a hot summer day?
Would anyone wake up at 4 am to do a ritual in the mountains? Would anyone…
I’m still learning not to question. My job is to create, to express, to remove the heavy inner barriers from realizing an idea.
All I knew is that the Soul Discovery Program was inspired – and was outlined that evening at a restaurant and I worked on it the following day.
What else may happen on a vision quest?
You may release some blocks. Find your spirit animals. Get in touch with the wilder self. Receive messages in any form from any source. Gain understanding. Not want to go back home. You may find “your” places in nature that you strongly connect with.
The end of each day.
In the end of the inspired day I could not understand that that much bliss and awe is possible to experience in just one day. And yet, I opened up for more.
In the end of the planned day I felt, strangely, loneliness (rare thing.) I sat with it.
Is this true that I’m lonely? What is the opposite of loneliness? Connection. Can I connect? Yes I can. Can I connect right now with my mind with people that are close to me? Yes, I can.
Instead of sinking into the sadness, I found idea how to change it there and then.
How could I compare it?
I thought that one day was better than the other. But Thunder Mountain taught me lessons on judgement, acceptance, symbolism, and letting go. That things are easier, if we don’t use judgement when not necessary. When I sat down to meditate along the trail, I saw old campfire right in front of me, with four or so broken bottles scattered all over. Instead of just sitting there I cleaned up the glass. Because I withheld judgement against those who left it like this, picking up the glass was a light meditation. (and act of care – against accidental fire or an animal hurting itself)
Turning judgement to compassion. Opinions to appreciation. Nature helps us find gifts in every experience.[And I love when my car is dirty from dusty roads and rain.]