Thursday, July 28, 2011
A Time of Holding in the Way of the Sacred Feminine
This year's Quest was dedicated to experiencing the Sacred Feminine. In the spirit of the feminine, the women and men attending SpiritQuest entered into an intention to hold whatever transpired in loving awareness.
Being still within and lovingly holding whatever presents itself is an elegantly simple concept, yet in practice, it stretches us to meet the resistances of our own Divine awareness. Our busy minds may be challenged to quiet down. Our intense emotions may be challenged to soften.
We experienced many challenges that come with entering into a state of holding, and to the credit of every SpiritQuest participant, we met those opportunities with great grace.
Any time you bring a group of people together, there are challenges. The differences in our personalities and life-styles alone create opportunities to learn how to find balance between honoring the needs of others with the needs of self.
Add to that the tests of cooking outdoors, keeping a sacred fire tended 24 hours per day for five days, and the powerful energy that we can experience when we are in ceremonial space, and you have plenty of opportunity to see the layers of yourself.
During Quest, each of us created loving space within ourselves to hold what no longer serves us, as well as space to hold our unique brilliance. We discovered within ourselves our capacity to hold the fullness of our sisters and brothers with that same loving care.
In that agreement to hold ourselves and each other in unconditional love, we experienced days of gentleness and kindness, where old wounds unraveled themselves and disappeared. We willingly stepped up to new expressions of ourselves; greater depths of self-honesty; and profound trust in the Divine, ourselves and our SpiritQuest family.
The trust we had developed with each other and the appreciation we learned to have for each other made it very difficult to part when Quest was over. We had found a community in which we truly belonged.
In the age of "getting things done" and "making things happen," the concept of simply holding life in its suchness has become a foreign concept. And yet, this holding, this nature of the Sacred Feminine, is fundamental to lasting healing and happiness.
Of course, we did get things done during the week. We cooked, washed dishes, tended fire, gave massages to each other, shared stories, prayed, danced, and sang. Yet, because we were also willing to honor the silent space of holding, we experienced an exquisite balance between our Sacred Feminine and Sacred Masculine natures.
In that balance life was, as my Cherokee ancestors would call it, "natural." The "natural" is a state of harmony with all living things. We witnessed this natural state when a hummingbird flew over our sacred fire as we danced in honor of hummingbird.
We experienced this natural state as we found a delightful flow between exerting a little more energy to finish our shifts at the sacred fire and resting to receive a luscious healing session. We discovered this natural state as we learned to talk to the wind while we tended Sacred Fire or invited the rain to pass around our questers.
We recognized that we are part of a natural order of holding and acting, giving and receiving, resting and contributing.
All the Quests over the past 16 years have been precious to me, but this one was particularly sweet. Embracing the Sacred Feminine in our lives, in practical application, seems to have brought us into a richer experience of natural order and harmony.
I am deeply grateful to each brother and sister that joined us in person, or in spirit, at the Sacred Fire. Your beautiful essence, and your willingness to hold whatever was present, has woven a web that has touched my heart forever.
Thursday, July 07, 2011
SpiritQuest has come to a close for this year, and has left us contemplating a significant question as we return to our daily lives—What is important?
It is so easy to go through the habits and rituals of our everyday lives without pausing to think about what is most meaningful and significant in our existence. Quest, whether you joined us physically or spiritually, causes us to pause and consider what matters most to us.
Most of us know as we are flying or driving back home that we will return to quest again because we discovered some part of ourselves that had been asleep or forgotten.
We discovered the miracles of simply being alive and the great joy of living in community consciously. Childhood wounds healed as we found acceptance and worthiness in some significant way. Some of us had peak spiritual experiences that have allowed us to know the wonder of the Divine within us.
Before quest, many of us experience a compulsion to let go of things we no longer need. We might let go of physical belongings or attachments to beliefs, or we might surrender long-held feelings of pain of anger.
In the silent space that we became as we entered quest, we created an opportunity to be re-created, as we recognize the beauty of who we truly are. Now we must decide how we will express that beauty in the world.
Perhaps, you too, have been experiencing the process of letting go of beliefs, feelings or things that no longer serve you. Perhaps you experienced the stillness within you as you meditated with the sacred fire. And perhaps you feel a freshness within yourself as you recognize more of the wonder of life itself.
So now, what will you do?
Before you get caught up in the seeming demands of your usual life, consider asking yourself—What is important?
When you know the answer, begin shaping your life around what matters to you most. Whether it is difficult or easy, acting on what matters to you most is the perfect expression of Spirit within you. It is the expression of your Divine nature.
If you were to follow the advice of the ninth tenant of the Cherokee people, you would “do it now.” You would see what needs doing and do it. You would allow your world to revolve around what you know you are called to do, and you would not wait for a better day, because there is no better day.
The rest of your world will follow your lead. Your resistant spouse, your skeptical children, your doubtful parents, or critical friends, will quiet down when you know what is important and you do it, regardless of what anyone else thinks or says.
As you continue with strength on your path, it will cause those that question or doubt you the most, to begin wondering about what is important to them. That is one of the gifts your conviction can bring to others.
Conviction is not something any of us can put on when we need to look strong. It comes from deep within when us know we are doing what is important for us to do.
My prayer for you at the end of this questing time, if you wish to receive it, is that you will know what is important for you and when you will act on what you know, you will be supported financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually in your beautiful service to the world.
We would be delighted if you would like to join us at SpiritQuest, bringing your love and ability to hold life without judging it. Just imagine yourself standing before the sacred fire, offering the fire a pinch of tobacco with your prayer for the world, someone you love or you.
Provided we get some rain in Left Hand Canyon in Colorado prior to quest, we will have a sacred fire burning 24 hours per day. If we can’t have a physical fire, we tend a virtual one. (We have needed to do this during a fire ban in a previous year and could literally smell the smoke from the etheric fire.)
If you like, you can burn a candle during the hours you are at home and awake. Light it with an intention to merge with the sacred fire at quest. Perhaps you would like to meditate with your candle, in the same way we meditate with the fire when it is our turn to tend it. We pay attention to the wisdom of the wind and the gifts of Mother Earth’s children.
The sacred fire, like the sacred fire in the council house of a Cherokee village, is the center and heart-beat of our community during the entire week. Whether we are questing or supporting, the fire is the source of our strength and inner peace—a living reminder of the light of the Divine within each of us.
When we are challenged by something, we go to the sacred fire to gain inner tranquility and clarity. We choose not to gossip or complain about things, but rather find someone to talk to that can help us see our lesson and what we need to do to be in harmony with ourselves and others. Many of those talks take place at the sacred fire.
Nine tenants of the Cherokee people, shared with me by my elder, guide us throughout the week, to live in the noblest way with Spirit, the earth and each other. Perhaps one of these will speak to you as a focal point for meditation during the week.
1. Speak only words of truth.
2. Speak only of the good qualities of others.
3. Be a confidant and carry no tales.
4. Turn aside the veil of anger, to release the beauty inherent in all.
5. Waste not the bounty and want not.
6. Honor the light in all. Compare nothing. See all for its suchness.
7. Respect all life. Cut away ignorance from one's own life.
8. Neither kill nor harbor thoughts of angry nature, which destroys peace like an arrow.
9. Do it now. If you see what needs doing, do it (in a good way). Remember, if you think you are the only one or the one that is always right, wake up.
We will be living consciously with the Mother Earth all week. Consider taking a walk each day close to the mother, and breathing in the goodness of the earth. Notice the trees, flowers, grass, and animals. Remember to give thanks for them.
In fact, for a schedule of what is happening throughout the week, visit: http://www.newdreamfoundation.com/camp-information.htm
We will also be blessing the water during a special ceremony on Thursday night. You can join us by blessing a bowl of water at home and when you have finished giving your thanks and gratitude for the water, share it with your loved ones, pets or plants. Or even take it to a body of water near you, sharing the blessed water with the waters of your homeland.
It is our practice at quest to laugh often, love deeply, live in gratitude, walk in harmony with mother earth and all her children, and pray with full hearts. We hold space for each other, knowing that each person in camp is doing their best. This is a good way to live life, in general. Perhaps you would like to bring focus to this practice in your life during the week.
As we hold the earth and each other in compassion and love, we also hold the world with that same love. We’ll be holding you too. So as you share this week with us in Spirit, I hope you will find a moment to hold us in your heart, humanity and our precious planet.
Reverend Ariann tells us the prayers from SpiritQuest reach deeply into creation. We would be honored if your prayers joined with ours in a sacred union of love for all of life.
We are deeply grateful for your meditations and prayers for rain in Left Hand Canyon, Colorado, where quest will be taking place, and where forest fires have been burning.
This question came up recently in a discussion I was having with a friend. We were taking a look at whether feeling or not feeling like going to a spiritual event was a reflection of intuitive guidance or resistance to spiritual growth or even awakening.
Some years ago, I remember being hesitant to follow my calling because I didn’t want to seem disrespectful to someone else. A very wise master pointed out to me what I didn’t want to look at. He said, “It is very good to be respectful, but it can also be a great place to hide.”
I wonder how often I denied myself some measure of spiritual awareness because I wasn’t “in the mood” to go, when what was really going on was that some part of me knew I was going to get to meet myself and my truth at some deeper level of awareness?
Thank goodness for my elder. She never let me have an excuse. If I wasn’t in the mood, she basically told me to go tend to myself until I was ready. That’s an important lesson as a ceremonialist, because as I have learned over the years, I’m not always in the mood to facilitate when it’s finally time to do the ceremony.
In the early days, I was nervous, and nervousness has a way of overpowering everything. It’s hardly good for putting you in the mood to stand up in front of a group of people and hold spiritual space for ritual.
The irony has consistently been that once I enter into the sacred space within me, the mood follows. More than once a ceremony, ritual or retreat I participated in, even though I wasn’t in the mood, proved to provide some of the most powerful insights and lessons of my life.
Not being in the mood, more often that not, has been a reflection of my fear rather than my intuitive guidance.
Certainly there have been events that were not mine to attend. The way that I knew I was receiving intuitive guidance rather than reacting in fear was by entering the sacred space within me. When my heart is full and I am at peace, the messages are much clearer.
I discovered that true callings are apparent in the quietness within me, even when I don’t feel up to it. I’ve also learned that following those callings have been worth the effort every single time.
Often times, some judgment or fear came up for me to look at. Because I followed my calling, I committed to be present to the feelings that were manifesting inside me. And spiritual ceremonies and events are such wonderful place for getting to know ones self, and finding deeper love for the broken and fearful places inside.
When the ceremony or event was over, my reward has been greater inner peace and self-love. Because I chose to call myself out of hiding, my life was deeply blessed.
If you have found yourself saying, “No,” to sacred opportunities because you didn’t feel in the mood, I invite you to consider whether or not you might be hiding from yourself. Perhaps, your mood truly is a reflection of your intuitive guidance. Perhaps your body is overly taxed and needs to rest, or emotionally you need to disconnect for a while.
Sometimes our intuitive guidance is leading us to something that is better for us. And sometimes, our fears are leading us away from what will set us free. Entering into the silence of one’s sacred space is a beautiful way to gain clarity about whether your mood might be limiting your freedom.
Friday, July 01, 2011
Healing the Hearts and Souls of Our Institutions
Once you begin a practice of compassion in your journey of spiritual freedom, it becomes fairly easy to find compassion for yourself and those you love. The next level of compassionate work is with people you don’t know, and while it requires a little more intuitive connection, genuine care often arises fairly easily for others suffering or in need.
With practice and sincerity, you can get the feel for being compassionate with those that present themselves or who you have turned into an enemy. This typically takes more work, because in order to feel compassion, we must transcend our attachment to being right. We begin that process by compassionately holding our own wounds, particularly if those wounds were at the hands of our enemies, in order to then lovingly hold the wounds within others.
While finding compassion for our enemies may seem like the most daunting challenge of all, for many of us compassion for large institutions can prove to be the most foreign and difficult to access.
Isn’t it interesting how government, the press, churches and big business are easy to criticize and difficult to forgive as long as we don’t personally know anyone: 1) in public office, 2) reporting the news, 3) officiating at a church, or 4) running a large corporation? After all, institutions are just megalithic, power hungry organizations. They don’t have hearts and souls, do they?
You can live with the theory that large institutions don’t have hearts and souls until you meet someone that assumes significant responsibility within that institution. If you decided to have a heart-to-heart conversation with someone running a large institution, you would quickly find that they encounter the same kinds of dilemmas and challenges operating these large organizations, as you do in your own personal life. The difference is scale and the number of lives affected.
As a business consultant some years ago, I learned that businesses and organizations reflect the challenges of the people working within them. So do they have hearts and souls? In a sense, they do. They embody the myriad of hearts and souls, desires and challenges, of every person that participates inside them.
Have you ever been to a concert where everyone was singing a favorite song with the band? The room seems to have a vibe of its own. The collective feelings of everyone there seem to merge into one, big energetic pulse.
Families have their own rhythms too. We have certain habits we form together, ways in which we do or do not express our love. We even create our own internal language, patterned from things we used to say as kids or typical parental forms of encouragement or admonishment.
That’s what happens in institutions. Whether you do or do not want to ascribe a single heart and soul to a concert, a family or an organization, when we gather together we do seem to create something greater than ourselves. That greater expression is a reflection of all of its parts—namely, all of its participants.
So who are we criticizing when we complain about an institution? We are railing against all of it is members. We are complaining about other people. We are closing our eyes to their struggles and holding ourselves above them.
Institutions, like people, need compassion when the people within those organizations are feeling the weight of their challenges.
Have you ever experienced someone compassionately listening or being present to you when you are struggling with a significant decision you need to make? Isn’t it wonderful to be able to express your frustrations until things finally quiet down inside? Isn’t it remarkable how clarity usually follows on the heels of your inner stillness. The right and best choice seems to be suddenly clear. Their compassion helps you find clarity.
Imagine yourself holding in compassion some institution that drives you crazy. Imagine all those people inside the institution trying to get clear about what to do next. Imagine how much easier it would be for the people operating those institutions to make clearer and better choices if they felt less criticized, and particularly if they felt compassion.
During the next few years in and around 2012, I expect we are going to see many large institutions struggle, as we enter into this age of truth. In the same way that many of us as individuals and within our families have been facing our deeper truths together, institutions are also going to be held accountable for the truths and lies upon which they built their foundations.
In as much as compassion has helped you and your loved ones discover and express your deeper truths, the same is now true for our large institutions. The gift of compassion in helping us safely recognize, own, and reveal our deepest truths is meaningful whether we are talking about individuals or organizations. True freedom from the bonds of our self-made challenges, for us as individuals or within institutions, emerges within the arms of compassion.