• Tag Archives VisionQuest
  • UnLearning

    “I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth”.

    Umberto Eco

    Enigma. The losing of a wallet. I was looking forward to finishing work on Friday. The thought of escaping to Akaroa and catching a movie made the afternoon fly along.

    A beer was sitting on the picnic table as I got home. Everything was coming up roses. When my roomie headed back to Christchurch for the weekend I still had time to make it to Akaroa. And then I couldn’t find my wallet. The enigma of losing a wallet.

    Is there an underlying truth to it? What if there isn’t. I know there were things calling to me. A phone call to a friend, a letter to write to another, this post to write. Things I probably wouldn’t have done if I’d taken that escape.

    The title and theme of this post has been sitting with me for a two or three weeks and it all began constellating last weekend as I was cleaning out the laundry in the Wainui Heights building.

    Wainui Heights
    Wainui Heights

    When I first set foot in a kitchen and began a career in cooking I didn’t imagine that cleaning laundries would be part of my full time employment. It was certainly part of my Air Force career but done outside of work hours. Most of what I’d been introduced to in that 20 year career has had to be unlearned over the last few years. Ways of doing things had become habits, habits that weren’t relevant in other kitchens, in other relationships. Habits are the ego keeping me safe.

    Maybe the terrible thing is an ego that wants everything to have a underlying truth for its life. Creating an underlying truth may become a habit leading to complacency. There’s nothing like hitting an animal on the road to erase complacency. Rushing. In a hurry to a meeting. Late. A hare in the headlights as I came round a bend the previous Sunday night, a sickening thump and the feeling of driving over a lump. I was aware during the afternoon that part of me didn’t want to attend the meeting and so I didn’t leave ‘til late. I have to say I was creating an underlying truth for not wanting to attend. A self worth issue. The immediate truth I created was the death of one of our four legged friends. Sadness and soul searching. And at the meeting? That underlying truth I imagined was unfounded.

    If the underlying truth of life is that our thoughts create our reality then I find it hardly surprising that it could seem enigmatic at times. I often wonder at the events that arrive in my life. What are the thoughts that have attracted them to me? Especially the ones that seem detrimental. Have I always been the protagonist in the detrimental or have the other parties in the events played a larger part than my own? (Separations, relationship breakups, job changes etc.) If the power of a single person’s thought creates their reality imagine the power of a thought that engages collective energy.

    Rather than being an underlying truth I imagine that thoughts creating our reality could be an overt truth both collectively and personally. This being true I marvel at my friend Elisabeth’s direction to our group when she was our shamanic teacher to have “exquisite awareness” both when we were in the middle of a shamanic journey and also in any moment we were experiencing physically.

    To do this one must engage the present moment with innocence and humility. These are prerequisites of the unlearned state. When cultivated they provide each moment with its own unique textures allowing it to become an absolutely new experience whatever we may be doing.

    Look to the moments when life has worked you to standstill. I was at a low ebb this afternoon after a busy weekend feeding the masses. As the group left and we continued to clean up I could feel my energy waning. The excitement was over. The doing was done. And as we left the complex and headed back to the house the moment began to take on a new flavour. I was moving into being. In that beingness I was open. In that quiet openness I saw this tree arrayed in light.   I hadn’t seen it that way before and it captivated me.

    Precious Moment
    Precious Moment

    I found VisionQuest to be not only a powerful experience of exquisite awareness but also of unlearning. The power of being in the present moment without preconceptions in a 4 metre diameter circle for 96 hours in nature. You carry with you an awareness that everything that happens in the circle is a teacher. Openness and innocence is required for you to be present to what the circle is offering you as teaching. At some point your focus is drawn to the minutiae of the physical – ants, caterpillars, spiders, trees, rocks, bushes. I hear it said that the devil is in the details, know that the Creator is there also.

    For those entering the VisionQuest circle a sacrifice is being made and for this they are under the protection of the Creator. The energy generated by a questor ripples outward touching the surrounding areas with peace. Spare a thought for those questing at this time. At present there are people around the world – in the US of A, in Germany, in Australia, in South America; and even a couple here in New Zealand questing and creating peace.


    “There is a road that can’t be seen

    No map can guide the way.

    Winding between thought and flesh

    Changing every day.”

    Thanks Isabelle


    P.S. The Wallet is found.

  • Haunted by the Future: Part 3

    I sometimes feel the need to make a grand statement about who I am. And this post was going to be one of them. I imagined writing about the Collective Consciousness, Unconsciousness and Conscious Evolution. These are abstract concepts and it is really in the details of our lives that we may find the precious gems of grandness.

    Yesterday I was struggling with what to write here. It has been a fortnight since I last posted and life has been extremely busy. I’ve been working long hours preparing for functions both at AMI Stadium and at the Christchurch Convention Centre.

    Last week we had the Ellerslie Flower Show here and the work was intense. I don’t think there was a day I did less than 12 hours. The most I did was 16. And others worked longer than me.

    The event was held in Hagley Park luckily not too far from the Convention Centre where the food was being prepared and then transported. There was an army of workers providing food from upmarket restaurant and cafe fare, to pizza stands, stands offering steaks, pies, fries, coffee, sandwiches, muffins, scones. Most of the time it felt like a battle to keep the food flowing from the Convention Centre kitchens to the Flower Show.

    Over the first couple of days the queues were huge. It started on Wednesday the 11th and went through ’til Sunday 15th. By the weekend things seemed to have got a little less busy or was it that we had adjusted to what had been chaos the first couple of days? By working through the chaos had order begun to make itself present? There were aspects though that could have been more efficient through better organization.  Attention to communication around the different areas could have averted overruns in production. This was already being discussed for the next one by management.

    Associated with overruns especially around food is waste and the disposal of. In such a tense and busy atmosphere conscious disposal of waste is the last thing on everyone’s mind and mostly whatever has been finished with is thrown in the nearest bin. There are recycling programs and receptacles but this becomes secondary to getting the food to the customer.

    The aspect of waste created by the event was most haunting for me. It is something that needs to be more embedded in consciousness. Systems need to be put in place so it is both user and environmentally friendly.

    9781438905686_cover.inddI am reading an interesting book at present called Who Owns The Future? by an ex-pat Kiwi who in one of the chapters uses the analogy of a caterpillar gorging itself on food before it enters the chrysalis state on its way to becoming a butterfly and likens it to the state we find the world into today – perhaps unconsciously gorging ourselves before entering the pupa stage of a new state of being. Working a large event such as the flower show certainly brings a consciousness to that idea though on a smaller scale.

    Light & Shadow
    Light & Shadow

    And how does the picture to the right figure in all of this? I took the picture on the left only yesterday. The one on the right was taken on Feb 6 for my post Waitangi Day. In it I refer to what I witnessed in the sculpture (image on left) then as a shyness.  And as I look at it now I see an element of fear, of trepidation. Interesting that I experience two different feelings about the same object on different days. I imagine that is engendered by the hauntedness that I’m supposing for this post and the fear that often goes along with the concept of haunted. Am I looking at the future with trepidation?

    Anyway to the light and shadow of the event. What people attending see is the light. The creations, the exhibits, stall holders, food outlets, etc. These are where their eyes are drawn and yet behind the scenes, in the shadow, other elements or persons are working to bring the event, the stall, the exhibit, food outlet into their immediate consciousness. And in some cases deeper in the shadow there are others providing service to those servicing the event.

    Not only that there is also the work done after the gates shut and then open the following day. The tidying of the site, removal of rubbish, replenishment of stock. All create a pleasant atmosphere for the event to unfold.

    Also in the shadow lie the unfortunate happenings – dehydration, cuts, burns, exhaustion – problems the public doesn’t get to see. One of the interesting stories I heard following the event was of one chef who had been rearranging her kitchen and putting items in her oven in her sleep during the proceedings. We laugh it off as an extraordinary circumstance. Had it gone on any longer though I’m guessing it could have turned into a mild form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    Exhaustion of workers was apparent and it was interesting to note the effects of it. For some their coping mechanism was anger and others became funny, laughing sometimes uncontrollably at the smallest of things. Its great when two of the funny get together, not so good when a funny person and an angry person are in the same space especially for the angry one. It brings to mind the amusing drunk and the violent drunk and how what may be going on in their psyche comes to the surface when the liquor takes hold. I’ll side with the funny people as I get that way myself though I do hold concern for what maybe hiding within the person who gets angry or violent when their defences drop away.

    With the onset of exhaustion a person can also become more open if they connect consciously with that space. That funny or comic self, angry or violent self are coping mechanisms and yet as I experienced through VisionQuest exhaustion can be a portal to the whisperings of your heart.


  • Working with Qualities of Soul: Shadow

    I opened my email this morning to find one from Debbie Ford who writes the Shadow Blog. In it she discusses the fall from grace of two prominent American public figures and how its a reminder for us to be more aware of the how the Shadow may play out in our own lives.

    My shadow was certainly present yesterday as I prepared for my first temping assignment at a restaurant. An event came back to me that I hadn’t acknowledged for quite a few years. Another assignment at a large cafe in Devonport, Auckland where I hadn’t coped at all with the requirements of the job and I lost the plot completely. I didn’t know where I was and didn’t know what to do.  So much so that the managers had to call in the Head Chef who was supposed to be having the day off. I left there completely lost. I  returned to the safety of my career as an Air Force chef. I think I may have completed one more assignment for that temping agency and that was it I never went back to temping. Until now. I felt compelled to explore this option once again as the casual employment I have engaged in for 18 months dried up and debt began to throw its shadow over my days.

    My assignment got off to a reasonably good start. Following the tasks that had been given me by the chef there. I felt I was on top of it – dinner service was due to start at 6.30. At 5.30 the first order came in and I wasn’t ready for it. I could feel panic setting in. Consequently that first dish wasn’t my best. I needed the help of my assistant who had more experience in this particular environment. She encouraged me all the way through and while I didn’t feel completely in control we got through the night without much fuss. I felt better about turning up today. Her support made all the difference. Though its not how I aim to be living in an inspired way it is what is happening in the now. Opening up to a new experience can have a chaotic prelude but if we stay with it the rewards are worth it.

    It has been said that the closer we get to a life of living in an inspired fashion the more the shadow conspires to darken our steps. I’m feeling this right now. While I am seeing the light at the end it seems I’m in the darkest part of the tunnel. And I’ve heard it said that night is darkest just before the dawn.

    From my experience of VisionQuest I had been, during the final night of a 96 hour Quest (fasting and meditation alone in nature), imagining I was hallucinating. The fasting and meditation produce an altered state that opens participants up to receive vision. The “hallucinations” had something of a dark nature and I was awake most of the night uncomfortable, checking to see if dawn was finally beginning to break. The days had seemed interminable and now this final night also. Sleep finally overtook me. The next time I awoke I saw it was lighter and dragged myself zombie-like back to the camp.

    I was received with open arms by the Quest protector and his assistant and proceeded to tell him that I’d been hallucinating. His answer to that was, “that is what we call vision”. Later that day vision called upon me again, this time without the darker images, this time with a message of hope.

    Myers Briggs

    I’m trying to remember how I got there and can’t. Probably something to do with the archetypal information I shared yesterday in regards to cycles. Anyway found myself at this little gem: Jung Typology Test ™. When I first took this test I was surprised at the result and how indicative of my personality traits it was. This is not to say that because we have a certain type we are going to be just like everyone else that has a similar type. All said and done each of us has a unique gift to bring to the world.

    I kept following this trail through sites and the next stop was this. The PersonalityZone. When confronted by our shadow it is often useful to remind ourselves of our intrinsic potential. What is good about me? What do these tests tell me regarding my innate qualities? What am I affirming or validating by reconnecting with these qualities?

    Watching Men in Black yesterday gave me some food for thought. Here are these two agents played by Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith who are working for a covert government organisation that deal with alien beings that have found their way to Planet Earth. Most of these beings are quite content with their lot here but there are some that have a malevolent attitude. That have a shadowy, destructive presence.

    This has parallels to what may going on in our own shadow. What is in there may be the greater unfulfilled potential of our lives co-existing with more malevolent aspects of our character. The parts of us that seek to sabotage our well-being. These parts have built themselves through years of conditioning and the bonds of this conditioning may be difficult to break.

    Again I come back to the night is darkest just before the dawn. How dark does my life need to become before I choose to break from darkness into the dawn of a new day.


  • Working with Aspects of the Soul: Joy and Happiness

    ….work not for joy, but towards it; not for reward, but from an inner disposition to serve; not for gratitude but from the urge that comes from having seen the vision and realization of the part you have to play in bringing the vision down to earth.
    Alice A. Bailey The Soul The Quality of Life

    I’d love to tell you the day was full of complete joy and happiness. That just wasn’t the case. It is now Sunday night and it was Friday morning when I posted last. There was a sense of satisfaction when I completed that. And the process was enjoyable yet tinged with a time challenge I had an appointment at 9am. Eventually got there at 9.15.

    I met the friend with whom I underwent the rite of VisionQuest – a 96 hour meditation and fast in nature. She had received some photos from one of the staff who had supported our Quest and with whom she had since become friends. I felt the happiness of reliving fond memories. It is up there as one of the highlights of my life. I am still coping with the challenge of having no regular income and I felt relief when she invited me to do a little house painting for which she’d pay me. I feel privileged to have friends and family supporting this process at the moment which I know is only temporary.

    We also discussed the program we’ve been working on together and it inched it’s way forward as we made some decisions to work with what we have rather than waiting til it seems absolutely perfect. You’ll be sure to hear how it unfolds over he next couple of weeks.

    Following that I had another meeting scheduled and the person was running a little behind. What could have become a frustrating situation was an opportunity to remind myself of the day’s intention and flow with it. I spent the time sitting under a tree with a book on awareness and doing the exercises outlined therein. Very illuminating. And finding myself being at peace with what is. More of what could have been frustration arrived as we were meeting with others arriving. More opportunity opening up as the little knowledge I have regarding the internet is in fact exponentially more than others have understanding of and so I offered to serve.

    Following that I headed out to a family gathering. Every couple of years the family comes home – well the ones that live outside of Christchurch anyway. My parents, my sister and brother and I don’t have far to travel. I have a brother in Australia with his family and another living in the North Island. When we gather we have the best time. I can’t say we’re totally dynamic free but we don’t get caught up in the stickiness of some family dynamics and this allows us to just be together and have an awesome time. Most of the grandchildren were there and that adds to the carnival atmosphere as well. I guess that’s part of the ultimate vision to know that we here to enjoy Planet Earth and while on the surface there wasn’t a facade of absolute ecstasy throughout the day there was that deep sense of contentment of being part of a diverse and wonderful family. Thank you, thank you, thank you .