Messages from The Pod
A Rite of Passage
Catching my breath, and creating a roadmap
Now many people have asked me: What áre you doing all alone for 5 days in the woods? And what do you dó all day? Is it a full-on silent Buddhist meditation retreat or shamanic vision quest? Are you going to be a nun? What’s all this about?
Form matters, trust me I know. From my earliest memories of introducing myself in new working environments, I always said: “I am a free spirit and need to come from a free space to be effective”.
For me, this week and quest I am on, is in a sense, new. For 20+ years, I have been on quests, retreats, journeys and immersion weeks with many different guides and from many different schools of thought. From shamanic journeying to silent meditations, to systemic yearlong(s). From ancient wisdom traditions in the tipi to academically structured compassion training at Stanford U. All these retreats, daylongs and weekends came with a format, a structure that supported growth and flow.
This week is different. As you might have read, the Campbellian ‘Call to Adventure’ is something you feel and not something you think. And it wasn’t until I arrived that I knew why I was here. This was not only another Rite of Passage for me; one you can take at any age. This was also an opportunity to create my own so I can pass it on.
It is time to be the teacher and teach. It is time to expand the frame yet again and find vocabulary for birthing this next step.
This week, I created my own program and I experienced first-hand what it was like being guided by me. With an outline for a plan, with routines and rituals yet with room that allowed for part of the form to naturally sprout and come to life. To discover also, what the program could look like.
Beyond rules and constraints from society of ‘how things should be’ or ‘this is the format forward’, I created my very own.
Now that I am at the end of the week, I can see some of the contours of the framework, not wired or carved in stone, but a loose and malleable form that adjusts and tweaks depending on who is doing it and what they need. In this case: me.
Elements of nature: blowing out the cobwebs
As I let the dust settle for the first 36 hours, I was gentle and kind with myself and allowed some last actions and work. On this second day I ventured out into the woods and walked and walked and walked. I connected to the earth and breathed in so much fresh air I was almost dizzy. I cleared the air inside my head and felt grounded.
In between all these walks, routines of silence and nurturing my body with a good-food-routine at breakfast, lunch and dinner, I took cold showers and wrote a lot. Once I settled-in to this new rhythm, my emotions started to flare up. The silence laid bare what was really going on. I couldn’t sleep and woke up in the wee hours to find I needed to journal, to write things down, to release words, download and get things out of my system.
On day three my main task was to keep a fire going that heated a large hot tub. To keep it burning in the rain all day, I had to add wood to the fire every 20 minutes or so. It ended up being a very wet daylong activity. Twice, I lay in the tub for over an hour warming my body from the inside out. Feeling fresh with the cold air and the rain on my face. Laying in the water allowed for letting go of so much bottled-up emotions and stress that I had accumulated. It felt as is the water cleansed and helped me drift out feelings that I had ignored since our arrival back in The Netherlands in 2019.
Revitalized and emotionally cleaned-out, I felt lighter. With rosy cheeks I felt warm until deep into the night, even with temperatures being near freezing point.
It was fascinating to lie there and realize that water and fire are mutually destructive; water will extinguish a flame, just as fire will boil water away to nothing. The freezing cold air combined with the hot water and the smell of the burning fire created a ritual in itself. The delicate floating in the water, balanced with the heat of the fire and the cold of the air created a fresh sort of balance and created a magic that now lies at the heart of my program.
Bringing it all to the Fire; Kumbaya and all
After clearing out the mind in the fresh air, grounding myself in routine and ritual, after washing away stuck feelings, it was time to release and let go. I decided to bring it to the fireand attempt the healing power of a shamanic fire ritual.
I had never done a shamanic journey with a fire ritual alone before and to be the teacher and the subject all at once was a true challenge. I prepared well by getting the wood and lighting ready, positioning my seat and making sure I was out of sight as much as possible. Then, I started the ritual with a humble and gentle meditation.
Aided by audio recordings from one of my teachers in the US, I started the ritual by lighting the fire. Without having to go into detail here; the ritual is similar to a visualization and consists of bringing to the fire that which you want to release but also your visions for the future. Listening deeply to hear what the shamans call ‘your original instructions’.
It reminds me of the journey Simba the Lion King, takes and the message he gets:
“Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life.”
Harmony and Unity alike
From my place of root by the fire, I went back inside the Pod and into a deep sleep. In full knowledge of the vision ahead.
Barbara writes about the qualities of kindness and compassion and takes a positive approach to health. She supports leaders and teams in their personal development and compassionate leadership. To cultivate what is often referred to as ‘soft skills’ and what she calls the ‘hard skills’; communicating with presence, practicing deep listening and a non-judgmental attitude; being (self)compassionate and building (self)awareness. www.berooted.nl
“By connecting to yourself first, we start living from the inside out and become more resilient.”
Image credit: Joshua Newton on unsplash.com