51 Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone

Most of us love the familiar. Whether we realize it or not, we put a lot of work into ensuring that certain things in our lives remain constant.This personal “comfort zone” is the invisible, but very real area that defines the boundaries of what we know and understand. By staying within this comfort zone we reassure ourselves that we are safe. And as long as we are safely held within the walls of what we know we feel secure and confident.

As we move closer to the edges of that zone we begin to feel a bit shaky and unsure of ourselves. But those edges are where we grow. And by stretching those boundaries we increase our ability to receive.

T. Harv Eker, the author of The Secrets of The Millionaire Mind has said that our comfort zone equals our money zone. In order to have more money in our lives we must expand our comfort zone.

I would add that our comfort zone equals our joy zone, our love zone, our fulfillment zone, our spiritual connection zone, you name it.

So if you want more of anything in your life, the place to start is with your comfort zone. By expanding your comfort zone you will get more of what you want. It’s that simple.

Now it sounds easy enough, but most of us have built up some pretty sturdy walls around our comfort zone. Pushing them out or breaking them down requires conscious, concerted effort. And I have found that it’s easier to expand the comfort zone in small, steady, steps than in great big leaps. But in order to do that, you need to intentionally take expansive action on a daily basis.

So to get you started, I’ve created a list of 50 actions that might expand your comfort zone.

Keep in mind that the parameters of everyone’s comfort zone are different. So if you already love to Scuba dive, number 30 on this list isn’t going to expand your comfort zone very much! But there are most likely other items on this list that will work for you.

Also realize that many of these can, and may need to be, turned around to work for you. For example, number 6 is “Be the first to say, “I love you.” But if you’re the one that always says I love you first, you’ll need to turn it around to “Let the other person say ‘I love you’ first.” For some of you that’s going to be quite uncomfortable, especially when the other person doesn’t say “I love you!”

This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list. It can’t be. Instead, it’s a catalyst and a reminder for you to take small steps each and every day that expand your comfort zone.

Here’s the list:

1. Try some new food.
2. Go on a silent retreat.
3. Ask for a raise.
4. Smile at strangers.
5. Say hello to people in the grocery store.
6. Be the first to say “I love you.”
7. Perform at an open mike night.
8. Eat at a local restaurant by yourself.
9. Take a day off from work to volunteer at your child’s school.
10. Go back to school.
11. Start a new business.
12. Moonlight as a waitperson.
13. Unplug the TV for a week.
14. Write in a journal every day.
15. Learn to surf.
16. Go to a different church/temple/mosque each week.
17. Get your news from different sources.
18. Live in another country.
19. Do a house-swap for a month.
20. Use public transportation.
21. Wear an outrageous outfit.
22. Meditate for 15-minutes a day.
23. Put your cell phone in a drawer for a full week.
24. Make a fool of yourself – on purpose.
25. Call someone you admire in your community and ask them out for lunch.
26. Ask someone you admire to be your mentor.
27. Switch sides (of the bed) with your partner.
28. Confront a phobia.
29. Jump out of a plane (with a parachute please!).
30. Learn to scuba dive.
31. Say I love you to your parents/children/siblings/friends.
32. Admit you were wrong.
33. Go to a movie by yourself.
34. Take responsibility for something you didn’t do.
35. Give away all one-month’s income.
36. Give a public talk on a topic you’re passionate about.
37. Join a networking group.
38. Disconnect the Internet for a week.
39. Ask for help.
40. Get a part time job as a checker at your local grocery store.
41. Enter an art show.
42. Forgive someone.
43. Join Toastmasters.
44. Start a blog.
45. Ask for a partial or complete telecommute arrangement at work.
46. Take lessons in something you’ve always wanted to try (art, music, woodworking, dancing, etc.).
47. Learn a foreign language.
48. Read a book in a genre you don’t usually read.
49. Delegate more of your work.
50. Get up an hour earlier than usual.
51. Try a therapy or modality that seems a bit “out there.”

Which of these have the most potential for expanding your comfort zone? Which ones made you gulp or start to sweat a bit?

Which actions did I leave off this list that, for you, are particularly effective at expanding your comfort zone?

Leave a comment below and share some of yours.

Serious Spiritual People Suck!

cistine-chapel-2All right. I admit it. That title is a bit harsh. But I guess I’m qualified to write it, since the person I’m mostly talking about is myself! You see I spent a significant portion of my life being a serious spiritual person. And most of the time, when I was serious, I sucked!

And yesterday I caught myself falling right back into that sucky, serious, spiritual space and I didn’t like it! My daughter was in a great, goofy mood, and I just couldn’t meet her there. That, old, core belief that to be spiritual you have to be serious had taken over the controls again and all goofiness and fun was out the window.

The problem many of us spiritual people have, is that our models of spirituality are all serious. Think about it: have you ever seen a picture of Jesus smiling? How about God? Any candid camera snapshots of the big guy in the sky cracking up?

And how about bible stories? When was the last time you had a good belly laugh while reading that good book?

Eastern religions seem to have a bit more lightness. Think of the laughing Buddha statues. I love those. And yet, when you read the story of the Buddha’s life there doesn’t seem like there was a whole lot of goofing around happening during his lifetime.

What’s up with that? Who made the rule that spirituality and fun and joy and laughter and lightness don’t mix?

I realized just how much of a core belief this is for me just now when I watched a video of Ken Wilbur talking about Big Mind or the part of us that is the observer, detached from the events in our life. As I dropped in and tried to find that Big Mind space in me, I realized that I didn’t want to find it because if I did, I believed that I would have to spend the rest of my life being serious and stoic and removed from life.

That doesn’t really provide a whole lot of motivation to go and find the Big Mind!

So I’m embarking on a “Lighten Up Francis” campaign for spiritual people – especially myself! (And if you don’t get that reference you obviously missed one of the classics of contemporary western cinema!)

Let’s bring some lightness and laughter and, yes, even silly goofiness into our spiritual development.

I mean, how’s the serious thing been working for you? If you’re like me, not so well!

There actually are some examples of light-hearted, deeply spiritual people. When I visited Agape a month or so ago, I was cracking up. Michael Beckwith was smiling and laughing and joking… And it was one of the most deeply moving and transformational experiences I have ever had at an organized religious event.

The emergence of Rumi and the light-hearted Sufi poets as spiritual models is another example.

dalai-lamaThe Dalai Lama also seems to exude a lightness in the midst of his profound presence. You often see him smiling or grinning. And sometimes it sure looks like a pretty mischievous grin, if you ask me!

And what about all of these new – and not so new – spiritual development practices that are filled with light and lightness? Transformational dance workshops, tantra, high-energy intensives (think Tony Robbins) laughter yoga, karaoke seminars (well, I haven’t seen any karaoke seminars yet, but you get the point). We’re beginning to recognize that spiritual development can actually be fun.

In fact, I’ve come to believe that the more fun you have, the more joy you experience in your life and in your spiritual development practices, the more you actually develop spiritually!

Now some might say we’ve gone too far, that the pendulum has swung to the other side and there is too much lightness and indulgence in our modern spiritual development practices.

Well how about if we all just stand up right now and moon those folks!

So the pendulum has swung. Big deal! Pendulums do that. And we sure do need a break from the super serious spiritual systems of the past.

What can you do today to bring some lightness to your spiritual practice? How about listening to an old Steve Martin recording during your meditation practice? How about playing Weird Al Yankovich songs when you teach your yoga class! Alright, maybe that would be too far!

But seriously… no, scratch that… see if you can find a way to merge fun and spiritual practice today. Let me know what you come up with. I’d love to hear about your Lighten Up Francis adventures!

Vision Quest Journal #6

This morning I was thinking how strange it was that I had not seen, or heard, any raptors since being here. Just now, I saw my first hawk. A small one, slightly smaller than a Cooper’s Hawk with thicker wings. Almost all white or light gray underneath. Slight darker above. No other distinctive markings that I could see. Flight pattern was several quick wing beats with a moderate, circular glide in between. No call that I heard.

The water is even closer than I thought. I’m sitting on a new rock that’s at the northeast edge of my site and it’s clear that the creek is just a little ways into the brush. Probably no more than 40-feet away.

It’s still difficult to believe that it’s been bubbling this entire time. When I was scouting the site, I walked right over to the edge of that brushy area to see if I could get closer to those big old pine trees. Strange.

[Note. I looked on the map and there is a spring above where I was camped. My guess is that the spring fills up a pool during the night which overflows down the mountain in the morning. But by the afternoon, the sun dries it up. Because by late in the day, the sound of water was gone again.]

|||

Midday. Feeling antsy. Having a hard time finding a comfortable spot. Trying to stay naked as much as possible. But today, without much wind, it’s too hot in the sun and the slight breeze makes it too cool in the shade. I’ve compromised and put on my t-shirt and am sitting partly in the shade.

Antsy too because I don’t know what to do. The excitement of the first day has passed and now I’m in a place of trying to figure out what to do, how to have a vision. As I recall from previous quests, the second day seems to be the hardest.

The first day is new and exciting, in some cases you’re dealing with the discomfort of your body’s detox reaction from the fast. And while that’s unpleasant, it is a distraction from the isolation and emptiness.

Now, near the halfway point of my quest, I begin to wonder why I’m here. I begin to doubt the confidence I had earlier about the hunger as I notice the emptiness of my stomach more keenly. I begin to wonder if the insights I’ve had already are “enough.”

Isn’t it time to end this a go home? And even as I sit in the quiet of meditation I find myself reaching for something more. “Where is the vision I seek?” But nothing comes.

Just the peacefulness of this place. But I am too distracted to let that comfort me. Now I will try once more to drop into that peacefulness and allow it that to be enough.

|||

It’s amazing how quickly your body gets weak when you don’t drink water. I’ve had only 4-5 small sips since last night and my body has definitely hit a wall. It’s an effort just to stay upright. And I’ve spent much of that last couple of hours curled up in a ball on the ground.

Now I’m realizing this is where I’m meant to be. This is the place I’m supposed to get to. This is the place where I realize that I can’t get through this on my own. Alone I’m not strong enough. Certainly the strength of my body, without food and with very little water, is not enough to get me through the rest of today and tomorrow.

This is when I call out to God, Source, Great Spirit. This is when I open myself up to the support and strength of a force far greater than myself. This is when I begin to act in harmony with the words I heard earlier: “It is your vision that brought you here, but it is MY strength that will get you through.”

So now I pray. To God. To Source. To Great Spirit. To the Earth. To that is greater than me. I pray for strength. I sing for strength. I open myself to receive you strength.

You can read all of the posts in the Vision Quest Journal Series here.

Vision Quest Journal #5

vision-quest-6Sunday, September 20th.

DREAM: Ben Stiller starred in my dream. It was a movie. He was returning home to his family for the first time in many years. His grandfather was dying. He was a military specialist. Like special forces, or something. And he got into an argument with his brother. He wanted to see his sister, but his brother wouldn’t let him. Ben, said that he just wanted to see what he could have been. He could have been like her. Apparently they were twins (???) and both creative, loving, tender, fun-loving children. But his sister had had that side nurtured and encouraged while Ben had been encouraged to focus his creativity into the skills that ultimately led him into the military.

After his brother would not let him see his sister he went for a walk and came across a trailer with security guards around it. Somehow, he knew his sister was being held inside it. So, using his military skills, he broke in and rescued her. I never actually saw his sister in the dream. But I knew that he had succeeded in rescuing her. There were two women who made it official. One was a queen or a senator who allowed him to take her home.

When I woke up from the dream I had a very clear sense that I had just rescued a part of my inner child. That part of me that loves be creative and play and have fun.

|||

It seems as if there is much more morning activity here than yesterday. Almost as if the land and its residents have accepted my presence. And the really interesting thing is that there is water nearby. No more than 100-feet to the north. I hear it clearly this morning. But I have not heard it before this. It’s hard to believe I would have missed that sound yesterday morning or last night in the silence. But, unless it’s some kind of intermittent spring there’s no way it could just started this morning. There was no rain last night. Strange.

I think after my quest I’ll go visit the little creek and see what it has to say.

Now I’m sitting on my sun welcoming rock. The sun rises in a perfect spot, between two stands of pine trees below me and just in the notch of two peaks across the valley. I could not have planned it more perfectly.

Last night saw two beautiful shooting stars. And I’m still amazed at how clear the Milky Way is up here. All the branches and arms reaching out like tendrils of smoke, but not changing.

I feel good this morning. I don’t think the fasting is going to be an issue. I notice a low-grade hunger. But it is not intense and it certainly is not distracting. My body is definitely weaker than normal. I noticed that climbing up to my sun welcoming rock. But that doesn’t really matter since I’m not expending a lot of energy while I’m here.

I did have a little scare yesterday. I went to purify water from the big guy and put it into my drinking containers. The filter didn’t work. I wasn’t so worried about my time up here since I had already toyed with the idea of not drinking water during the fast. But the thought of hiking out without water didn’t sound like such a great idea. I worked on the filter for a while and finally fixed it with good old duct tape! The o-ring inside the pump handle was not making a vacuum seal in there. So wrapping a layer of tape around it fixed it.

After that I decided to drink a…

Good morning Sun!

|||

The sun took me by surprise. I wasn’t watching the trees to see where it was and all of a sudden, there it was shining out from across the valley. Feels good. And what I was saying about water is that I’m going to drink as little as I can today and tomorrow.

Today there is no wind. Wonder if it will come up later in the morning. Perfectly still now. Not cold. Probably will get hot later.

Now I’ll meditate for a while.

You can read all of the posts in the Vision Quest Journal Series here.

Vision Quest Journal #4

The wind here is alive. It can be completely quiet and calm here, then, I’ll hear the wind awakening the trees in the valley and I can follow its journey up the valley and up the mountain until it arrives here….

Hello my friend! It’s as if you knew I was writing about you. You almost blew these pages right out from under my hand. Thank you for welcoming me to your home.

It’s hard to think of myself as alone here. There are so many “friends” around me. The trees, the stones, the flowers, the birds, the insects, the sky, the clouds, the sun, the wind, and of course, The Source of it all that flows through me even as it flows through all that surrounds me.

It’s interesting that just when I looked up from writing that the first chipmunk came out to say hello. I have heard them scurrying around but none have come out to say hello, until now!

+++++++

The sun has gone down behind the ridge to the west. There will still be sun in the valley for a little bit and it will be at least 2-hours before the sun leaves the peaks across the valley.

Time has taken on a totally different meaning and texture here. I move from one spot to another as I feel like it. When I’m hot I move to the shade. When I get cool I find the sun. When I’m cold I put on more clothes. When my back gets sore from sitting, I stand up or lie down or stretch. When I feel like meditating I do. When I hear an interesting sound I watch to see what it is. When I feel like writing, I do. There is no structure or framework, other than the movement of the sun across the sky.

And even though this is such a drastic shift from the pace of my “normal” life I have not felt bored today.vision-quest-5

In so many ways THIS feels more normal to me than the way I live out there. Perhaps one of the lessons I am to take back with me is finding a way to integrate this sense of peacefulness and fluidity I feel here into my daily life.

Or perhaps it is the importance of creating opportunities to reconnect with this peacefulness on a regular basis.

Could this experience be the belonging I am so wanting to find? Could it be this simple? Perhaps.

It gets cold here when the sun drops behind the ridge. The wind still blows strong until the true sunset. Last night I crawled into my bag for a couple of hours until the wind died down. I’ll do that now too.

+++++++

The silence, when the wind completely stops is profound. It becomes clear just how loud and constant it has been throughout the day. And as if to emphasize that point, my friend, the wind, blows once more through the trees.

The silence is like those moments at the ocean’s edge when all the different areas where the waves break simultaneously fall into silence. That brief but profound silence is so deep I sometimes feel as If I am falling into it. And here, as we head into evening and night, the silence will be longer but no less deep.

Broken, now, by the sounds of the day critters making their final preparations for the night.

The sun is almost gone now. Just the very tip of the tallest peak across the valley still shows the light of the sun. But we’ll remain in the dusky transition for a couple of hours before the stars come out. Though the bright star, and especially the planet that lights up the South East sky will show up fairly soon.

You can read all of the posts in the Vision Quest Journal Series here.

Vision Quest Journal #3

vision-quest-4-600

You can read all of the posts in the Vision Quest Journal Series here.

The first round of tears has come and gone. The sorrow came over me instantly, from out of nowhere that I could determine. From that sorrow came the start of this conversation.

God, why have we created a world with so much pain and suffering?

In order to have a context from which to fully experience your joy.

But what about advanced cultures? I can’t imagine they choose to perpetuate pain and suffering the way we do.

No, they choose to perpetuate the memory of the pain and suffering in order to have a context for experiencing peace and joy.

But what about those who are born into a world without suffering? How do they experience or “remember” pain and suffering?

Through the collective and through a conscious transference of memories.

So instead of choosing to perpetuate the actual physical experience of pain and suffering they create mechanisms to keep it present within their consciousness?

Yes.

And what if a culture does not keep those memories alive?

They usually cycle back down into darkness. That is why those of you who have said, of your holocaust for instance, “never forget,” are on the right track. Not that you should remember this to bang the drum of what you don’t want – thereby creating more of it. But so that you can remember the experience, the sorrow, the pain and the anguish in order to have a psychic and emotional context from which to fully step into and appreciate your joy. That’s why your Memorial Day holiday has the potential to be such a powerful force for good in your world.

You mean if, instead of using it as an excuse for another 3-day weekend, we actually used it as an opportunity to drop into grief and experience the pain and sorrow of the world?

Yes. Exactly.

Is that one of the ways advanced cultures keep the memories alive?

It is the beginner’s version. There are more direct ways of transferring the memories. But yes, most of them do have “holidays” when they collectively remember. As you have experienced with some of your recent tragedies, the experience of pain and grief is amplified when experienced collectively.

Yes. Thank you God.

You can read all of the posts in the Vision Quest Journal Series here.

Vision Quest Journal #2

Saturday, September 19th.

Last night, I dreamt of exclusion and alienation. All dreams of how I live my life… on the fringe.. touching the circle, viewing the circle but not stepping into it, not becoming part of it, not claiming my right to belong. That is what I seek here, my sense of belonging, the deep knowing that I am meant to be here. It is not a vision I seek. It is not guidance about what I am “meant to do.” It is confirmation or validation that I am supposed to be here.

Deep within me is a place that knows this to be true. During these days of fasting, solitude, prayer and seeking, I hope to find that part of me and bring it out of hiding, out of the shadows and into the light so that I can live my life fully as one who belongs in this world.

******

Big wind today. Feels good. Cold this morning. Welcomed the sun into this new day. Then clouds rolled in and I crawled back into my sleeping bag until it warmed up. Now it’s hot in the sun. Just moved to the shade. Big, thick clouds just sitting to the Northeast. Not moving. Rain was not in the forecast, but these clouds look wet. We’ll see what happens. If I have to set up my tent tonight I will.

It was beautiful sleeping out last night. I spent as much time awake looking up at the incredibly bright stars and watching them move slowly across the sky.

Had a short talk with God earlier while I was meditating. He made it very clear that this whole “vision” thing is all about me. I’ll try to recap our conversation:

You mean you don’t have a vision for me?

Never have, never will.

Then how am I supposed to know what to do?

You choose it.

So I create my own vision?

You always have. Everything you have ever accomplished began as a vision that you created. You had a vision to do a vision quest, right?

Yes.

And here you are. You pushed through all the obstacles that got in your way. You pushed through the weakness in your body and the pain in your head. Yes?

Yes.

And you had a vision of doing your quest up here in this spot. Yes?

Yes.

And here you are. You pushed through your weakness. You carried your pack up here. You carried your water up here. And here you are.

Yes. Here I am.

And you had a vision of fasting for 4-nights and 3-days. Yes?

Yes.

And I have absolutely no that you will turn that vision into a reality.

So I need to create a vision for my life that is as compelling as the vision I created for this quest?

No you don’t NEED to do anything. But if you want to feel compelled, passionate and have the strength to push through obstacles, a compelling vision would be helpful.

And you don’t care what it is?

Not in the least.

That’s not very helpful.

I should think that would be incredibly helpful. It gives you the freedom to choose any vision you want!

Yes, but some guidance would help narrow it down.

You humans are so funny. You want to be free to choose your own “destiny” and you also want guidance to help you make the “right choice.”Unfortunately, you can’t have it both ways.

But what about the stories of people who have received guidance from you? What about Moses and all of those biblical stories?

Stories are just that… stories. And after the fact, it is easy to give me credit for something great that someone did of their own volition. You see it’s difficult for most people to believe that a mortal human, like Moses, could have come up with the idea to bring his people out of Egypt on his own. So, after the fact, they wrote me into the story.

But weren’t you part of it?

Of course! Once he made up his mind. Once he had his vision. I was with him every step of the way.

So you were guiding him?

Not guiding him so much as reminding him of his own wisdom and strength.

So the whole thing with the broken tablets and you not allowing him into the promised land… another story?

Yes and no. And the truth is a longer story than you have pages left to write on. But the bottom line is that once Moses led his people out of Egypt many of them got scared… of him. They didn’t know what to make of someone who thought for himself. They were afraid of someone who seemed to treat me as a peer, instead of my servant, someone who, in fact, was my peer. And some of those whom he had led to freedom used the fear they saw in the people to make it clear to Moses that his joining them in the promised land would not be in “his best interest” if you get my drift.

And was Moses your peer?

Absolutely. Just as you are my peer. And just as all of you are my peers.

You can read all of the posts in the Vision Quest Journal Series here.

Vision Quest Journal #1

vision-quest-1-460

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting excerpts from the journal I kept during and after my recent Vision Quest. I initially had not planned to take anything to write with. On a traditional Vision Quest you would not have any writing materials to minimize distrations. But at the last minute I decided to bring one sheet of paper for each day of my journey. I’m glad I did as there were insights that I was able to record while the experience was fresh.

My journal notes are an interesting mix of practical details, straight forward descriptions of events, observations of the wilderness, attempts at unraveling inner mysteries, descriptions of dreams and recordings of insights that came to me during the quest.

My hope is that these journal notes will be of use to those of you who may decide to do your own Vision Quest. And, hopefully some of these observations and insights will be of use to you even if you have no intention of going on a Vision Quest.

If you have not already done so, be sure to enter your email address in the upper right column to receive updates when I publish a new post.

And with all that, here is the first Vision Quest Journal entry:

Friday, September 18th.

Just remembered it’s my b-day today. Happy bday to me! Made it to Maud Lake yesterday… Barely! Altitude sickness kicked in Big Time. Worse than I’ve ever experienced. I literally did not think I was going to make it to the lake. But I knew I had to since I was running out of water and the creeks were all dry. I just kept saying, “I know I can. I know I can,” like I do with Ella when she’s really tired. For the last mile and a half or so, my head was pounding and I felt like I was going to throw up. At one point I had to stop because my stomach started heaving but nothing came up. I kept thinking I would see the lake any minute. And kept being disappointed.

After climbing over what I hoped would be the last ridge I was sure I would see the lake in the valley. But no. So I kept walking. At one point I almost stopped to get out the map to try and figure out how far I was. But I realized that would just make the journey longer and the map wasn’t going to tell me anything I didn’t already know… I wasn’t where I wanted to be so that meant I needed to keep going.

And, as soon as I let go of the need to figure out where I was, I came around a bend and saw the lake!

I stopped at the first site I found, got my pack off and immediately threw up! After that, all my body wanted was to lay down and sleep… or die, not sure which! But I wasn’t quite ready to die, and that meant doing a few more things.

Had to purify some water, set up my tent and hang the food. Still not sure how I managed to get that one done with my brain barely functioning.

Threw up again before getting into my tent. My head was still pounding and I realized I left the Ibuprofen in the food bag. There was no way I was getting out to get it. So most of the night I kept waking up with my head pounding. Some time around 3:00am it started settling down and I got a few good hours of sleep.

Feeling better today. My body is tired and in recuperation mode. But no headache. And no nausea. I’m taking it really slow this morning. No rush. I’ve lowered my expectations about how far I’ll get today. And even if I just go find a site up the mountain from the lake, that will be fine!

————————————–

Ahhh Sun!

Just walked up the hill a bit to eat breakfast in the morning sun. Feels great. My body doesn’t want a lot of food. I’m hoping it will be more receptive to food as the day goes on. Since I’d like to be fueled up when I start the fast tonight.

As I walked yesterday, I started wondering why I was reacting so strongly to the altitude this time. I had almost no reaction in Utah last month and that was about 2000 feet higher than here! And I’ve never actually thrown up before. So what was up?

It feels as if there is a very strong energetic component. When I come out to the wilderness it is with the intention of reconnecting with the earth in a deep way. In order for that to happen, all the stuff that keeps me disconnected from the earth has to be released. The energy of cell phones and computers and cars and other people. Beliefs about what is important. Perceptions of time. All of this needs to be released in order to truly reconnect with the earth. And whether I’m at altitude or not, the way my body deals with a major release of energy is with a headache and nausea. And when the release is very intense I have thrown up in the past. My energy systems are letting go of toxins and my body had to do the same. And it does it in the only way it knows how. No coincidence that my headache last night was focused mainly in my right temple and at the base of my neck on the right side. Telepathics and TMs. Two systems that are notoriously open for me and prone to taking on other people’s energy.

I tried to facilitate a clearing last night but the pain was so intense I couldn’t stay focused.

I also got a glimpse of a net of energy that seemed to connect TPs, TMs and drop down to a node of energy at the joint of my jaw.

I tried to explore it but again, the pain kept me from focusing for long.

When I look at it now, it seems to be an energetic information capture net. Sort of like a satellite dish. But it gathers info from different sources – TMs, TPs, physical ears – and seems to channel that info into the node at my jaw.

Doesn’t make sense to me that my jaw would be the central hub of that system. But that’s what it looks like. I’ll explore some more later.

————————————–

I’m very clear that I’m not doing any extensive hiking today. Just packing up my tent left my body feeling weak. Earlier this morning I climbed the hill to the west and found a nice spot for my quest.

The problem is I’m not sure if I can make it up the scree field with my pack and 4-days of water given how I’m feeling.

I don’t want to quest down here by the lake. Too many people come by. (And by too many I mean about 2 or 3 a day at most!) I think I’ll just start climbing and see how far I get. There were a couple of nice spots about halfway up. If it feels like I can’t make it all the way I’ll stop at one of those. That feels good! But first I’ve got to go fill up my big water jug.

You can read all of the posts in the Vision Quest Journal Series here.

Why I’m Going On A Vision Quest

desolation-wildernessTomorrow morning I leave for Desolation Wilderness. Even though there are LOTS of wonderful wilderness areas to explore in Northern California, something about Desolation Wilderness keeps calling me back.

This time I’m going alone for 7-days with no distractions – no camera, no books, no music, no journal – nothing that could get in the way of my connection with myself, the wisdom of the Earth and the guidance of my Source. And from sundown on Friday night until sunup on Tuesday morning, I’ll be fasting and meditating and praying as I seek guidance and clarity.

Some of the reactions have been quite amusing as I explain that I’m going out into the wild world alone for 7-days with nothing to read, write, listen to, or take pictures with.

“Are you nuts?” seems to be the meaning behind the befuddled looks on their faces.

Perhaps I am nuts!

There is certainly a part of me that feels as if I”m nuts. The part of me that is scared sh-tless about heading out there alone for 7-full days. I’ve been out on my own for 4-days, and that was a long time. How will I survive on my own for 7-days? Well, I’m about to find out!

But why? Why am I taking a week out of my already quite full life to sit in silence with nothing around me other than the granite boulders, mountain water, marmots and ground squirrels and trees?

The easy answer is that I received clear guidance that it was time for me to do this. I was wondering how I could celebrate my 45th birthday in a way that would symbolize the transition from the very challenging period of my life that I am moving out of  and into the new phase that feels expansive and peaceful. And it was clear that this was the perfect time for a Vision Quest.

And what, exactly, is a Vision Quest?

A Vision Quest is an initiatory experience or rite of passage. It is most often associated with Native American traditions, though almost all indigenous cultures have some form of vision quest. There are as many ways to quest as there are cultures. But, regardless of how one quests, the purpose is the same: To seek personal growth and spiritual guidance from the world of Spirit and the wisdom of the Earth.

Here is what Black Elk wrote about the Vision Quest:

A Vision Quest is an experience of deeper understanding of Nature and Spirit. It is a ceremony practiced by American Indians. To prepare for this “insight” one must first cleanse the body and mind by going through an Inipi or sweat lodge. Then with the help of a Holy Man is told certain things and must go to a spot, usually on a holy mountain, and stay 2 or 3 days. During this time no food is eaten and one does not sleep but spends the time in deep prayer and observation. Many times, but not always, there is a vision. This vision is then shared with the Holy Man to help learn of its meaning. Sometimes the meaning is not shown for several years afterward.

I will quest in the Lakota tradition. On my second day out I will find a spot that calls to me, a space that feels sacred. I will prepare my questing space by smudging the circle, setting up my prayer ties for protection, placing my water and laying out my sleeping pad and bag. Everything else will stay outside of my questing circle.

After a light dinner, at sundown on Friday night, I will enter the circle and I will not leave the circle until after the sun has come up on the morning of the 4th day.

While I am questing, I will meditate, pray, probably do some crying as I shed old beliefs and patterns and thoughts about who I am. And if I open myself enough I hope to receive guidance and perhaps a clear vision of my path. But, whether or not I receive a “vision” I know that this time will bring me into a deeper connection with my true self and my Source.

The Vision Quest is a powerful tool for personal growth because it integrates a deep connection to nature with solitude and silence.

If you have ever been on a silent meditation retreat, you understand the power of silence to catalyze great shifts in your awareness.

Likewise, if you have ever spent any extended time in nature, alone or with others, you understand the power of the Earth to awaken long dormant wisdom.

The wilderness has always been a place where humans can connect with spirit and seek answers to questions and solutions to problems of the physical realms.

But all of this still has not answered the question of why I am going on this Vision Quest.

Certainly the answer I gave earlier – that I received guidance to quest at this time – is not a clear answer. But unfortunately, that may be the best answer there is at this time.

Admittedly, this is a time of some inner turmoil and confusion for me. I have been questioning my path, my purpose, my meaning. I have been struggling to understand why I am here. Certainly, I would welcome clarity and a deeper understanding of my purpose and the next steps on my path.

I am also experienced enough to know that I could come down from that mountain as confused as I am now! As Black Elk said, “Sometimes the meaning is not shown for several years afterward.”

Will the meaning be clear to me when I return, or will I have to wait several years? I will let you know!