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Last month, I led a meditation amongst horses at the Heading For Home Racehorse Retraining Center. We had 2 retired racehorses. Rock DJ is standardbred who was a regular at the Saratoga Harness track for 8+ years, where he had the majority of his 29 lifetime wins and earnings of almost $290k. The other, Romans Paradise, last ran on the flat track in late 2017 and won $105,256 over his 5 year career. Contrary to some opinions, most racehorses are treated quite well. That said, they lead very regimented lives. Because of this, sometimes freedom can be the most challenging adjustment after retirement; not unlike a lot of Americans. So, the experience was new for horse and human alike. I suggested everyone (self included) drop their awareness down from their heads into their heart. Then the two horses were led in and walked around in their halters. After which, their leads came off and they were free to mingle.

There is a trend of teaming horses with humans to help the human to feel empowered. Often these scenarios involve a human asking the horse to do specific tasks. How they request the movement from the horse is indicative of how they respond in life. This was not what we were looking for with Rock and Roman. Instead, I was asking for everyone to tap into the sense of what it feels like to share space with others while all having freedom. Humans were free to walk up to horses or stay where they stood—the only requirement was to stay fully aware of their safety. The horses were free to walk up to humans or explore the large arena. As said earlier, it was a new experience for the horses to be around people without being handled or told what to do. It didn’t really take long for them to realize this truth and they went around exploring everything. At first we humans were talking and pointing out the horse’s behaviors. Then after 10 minutes or so, I suggested we be silent. There is immense power in silence that modern humans rarely experience, always filling their head with noise—including constant mental chatter. In the arena, we were actually silent in the quiet—being so, changed the energy within the arena even though we were doing the same things as moments previously. Both horses approached each attendee in time, sniffing and lightly touching the person.

When leading meditations, I drum a steady rhythm along with the guided words. As I began to to do this, Rock and Roman came over to check out the drum. They put their noses all over the head and tried biting the beater. It seemed like a possibility that drumming wasn’t going to be part of the night. However, they eventually wandered off to investigate other things. During the meditation, the horses remained free, so humans had their eyes open. That made it challenging to go into an immersive meditation. Even so, there was another moment when the energy shifted again and dropped even deeper. From my position as an observer, I felt the horses respond to the humans. Or was it the other way around? Doesn’t matter, what I know is that the energy within the arena became one of true peace. The horses lowered their heads in this aura. Shortly after that moment, the horses walked to my bag and opened the flap which made it fall. This was enough to distract the relaxation and I brought the meditation to an end. To close, I played my Native American flute. Towards the end of the song, I looked over and Rock and Roman were off to the side yet staring at me with interest. As I walked over, Roman moved off a step and I began playing directly in front of Rock. He stared at me while his energy shifted. He seemed no longer aware of what was going on outside of himself and was only focused on inside his body. At least that is what it felt like from my perspective. Eventually, I stopped playing. I think Rock would have basked in the flute’s vibration for another half an hour or longer. Regardless, all things come to an end and we did so before anyone lost interest. Hopefully, the next time we can start up right where we ended.

Why repeat this story for you? First, because it was extraordinary and perhaps you can feel that. Second, because it exemplifies my belief that animal relationships benefit people. Perhaps the wise Eckhart Tolle says it best “Just watching an animal closely can take you out of your mind and bring you into the present moment, which is where the
animal lives all the time—surrendered to life.” Humans have excellent cognitive abilities. Yet, it seems we’ve lost some of our common sense. By that, I mean the ability to sense all that goes on around us. That includes the feelings of humans and animals, as well as what is happening within group dynamics. Are we smart enough to know that these latent skills are needed again rather than something to continue to suppress?
Perhaps after centuries of gathering information, it is time for us to believe in and trust our animal instincts.RockRomanDrum

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Animal Totems

What drew you to the path of Modern Shamanism, I’m often asked. My answer is always the same—animal totems. Animals have always felt like strong allies, while humans confused me. It turns out the the Shamanic Path suits me in other ways as well, yet I would not have known that without following the inspiration of the animals.

So what is an Animal Totem or Power Animal? They are a symbolic representation of archetypal power available to us. A totem does not actually have to be an animal. It can also be plant, tree, or rock. That said, I’m going to focus on animals today.

Why look into our Animal Totems? In order to know ourselves and our potential better. How? By impersonalizing qualities we need to improve upon or release. It is common for people to want big, powerful totems. Yet, all animals, including insects, have their own value. To place good or bad labels upon them, we miss what we most need. For example, if we need ant medicine (industriousness, order, discipline and group work) but were looking for Bear medicine (introspection and the power of the unconscious) we would totally miss the mark of our needs. So, please do not compare animals. These animals, images and all of Nature help us to become more natural and connected to the greater whole of Life. Humanity, specifically American  culture, has lost its instinctive connection to Nature and Animal Totems are one was to reconnect (a spider walks across the page as I write that.) What Totems are not is a Being or Guide with whom we are able to abdicate our free will to. They are available for giving guidance and finding encouragement when we feel doubt or confusion. Yet, we are the human and only we can use free will to take action.

 

How to find your Animal Totem

First thing to remember, Animal Totems chooses the human, not the other way around. There are many ways to find the animal or animals that have chosen you. Here’s a short list….

Pay attention.

You’ll know you have a totem if you continually see an animal in many different situations. Could be in the woods, then later on a billboard, and again on TV. These kind of Totems may come to you for a period of time as a messenger, or for your entire life. Notice and learn all you can about that animal. Also, if you’ve had a lifelong bond with one particular species, it’s a Totem. The animal that fascinated you as a child and still tugs at your heart whenever you see it. Dreams of certain animals may indicate a totem, as well. Totems are most often wild. So, if you feel that Dog is your totem, go deeper and look into the qualities of Wolf.

Power Animal Retrieval.

There are people who do the process of finding your Totem Animal and retrieve it back to your soul. I do this by going on a Modern Shamanic Journey to locate your animal, who may give messages for you or may simply volunteer its wisdom. I then blow that animal back into your soul. This is done remotely or in person. If remotely (95% of the time) I send an email with your animal and explain what to do next. After the retrieval, you need to pay attention to the animal’s presence for it to be useful. Otherwise, just like any healing, it feels good until it wears off.

Card Reading.

People, or yourself, can pull cards from a variety of animal card decks. I personally have two decks to choose from and also Animal Speak Runes for finding your Animal Totem. The same as above remains true here. You will need to do your part after the reading for it to become real or useful for you.

 

Meditation

You can do a meditation for yourself or have someone guide you. If doing it for yourself; 1. be in an uninterrupted environment and put on relaxing music. 2. Make yourself comfortable. 3. Go to your mind’s eye and see yourself walking down a wood path. This path leads to an opening. Continue walking through and into the opening, as you do experience the peace of that natural area. As you do, allow an Animal to enter or appear in the scene. Ask this animal if it is your totem. If it says no, ask for it to show you where to find your Animal Totem. Typically, the first one if your totem, but not always. When you find your animal, it will speak to you through movement, sound, forms and give you messages. You may be able to just know what its communicating. 4. Trust. As the communication comes to an end, give thanks to your animal.

I am able to do the guided meditation if you it is helpful to you, just call. After you discover your Animal Totem, research their behavior, looks and family life. Learn all you can about the animal in their natural environment and compare what that lifestyle may be teaching you. If transferring that kind of knowledge doesn’t feel easy, look up the symbolism of your animal online Take what resonates with you and leave the rest.

KandTheWildOnesSmall

 

 

 

A ‘sit spot’ is a place outdoors that you go to on a regular basis and sit quietly—at least three, preferably more, days every week. The idea, as taught by Jon Young author of What the Robin Knows , is to be in this spot often enough that the birds and animals get habituated to your presence and carry on around you, rather than fly/run off because of you. With time, you are able to create a new understanding and deeper relationship with the animals and plants in that space of land. I have tried a few places as my sit spot, but never stuck to any one in particular.

This morning I am on the deck with my computer on my lap, so I can be outside while working. It’s been about 14 years that I’ve been doing this. What I’ve seen here has made its way into many an essay, as my seat is directly between a favorite tree of the local birds and the sunflower seed feeder. I have birds fly so close as to almost hit me in the head—Tufted Titmouse, Goldfinch, and most often Chickadees who are not particularly concerned with humans anyway. One Chickadee even landed on the back of the chair I was sitting in. Another time one flew into the screen on the door and was knocked out cold, so I picked him up, gave him some Reiki and off he flew. Hummingbirds have hummed in my ear. Chipmunks have eaten from my hand. The other day a Mourning Dove landed on the railing and looked me in the eye while singing her song of mourn. I’ve watched Robins feed their young and Phoebes fly for their first time. I’ve also watched Deer graze, Fox trot, Hawks soar, Bats echolocate and Owls observe. Last year there was a nest of Ravens close by and one baby talked nonstop, seriously nonstop. This morning I saw an Indigo Bunting in the apple tree. According to “On This Day” on Facebook, a couple years ago I saw an Oriole in the same tree and captured it in a photo that made the cover of The Healing Springs Journal. A couple mornings ago there was a black squirrel underneath the bird feeder. That’s right, a black squirrel. The beauty of this creature truly caught my interest. We’ve had black squirrels in the past, but I haven’t seen one in a couple years. According to the Internet, the estimation is a black squirrel happens 1 in every 100,000 squirrels. It is not a new species but an eastern grey squirrel that expresses an unusual amount of black pigment, or melanin. Oh lovely, a Blue Heron is now flying overhead. My sightings could go on and on. They are what make life enjoyable for me, so my eyes and senses are keenly attuned to seeing them.

Our culture places great value on goals—defining, working on and then reaching them. It had been a goal of mine to find a sit spot. As I said earlier, I never stuck with any one location (and it has to be the same place over and over.) This lack of follow through had at times disappointed me. As I reminisce over all that I’ve seen from right here on the porch, it’s obvious that I’ve had a sit spot all along—the deck, yet hadn’t named it as such. Our goal seeking sometimes distracts us from what we already have available to us. This can happen in our self-improvement, while we search for ways to become ‘better’, overlooking what awesomeness we already are. A similar idea is exploring a city or country far from home without ever having done the same in the locations we live. Or telling our dogs how to behave, without observing what they are already doing that is perfect. Or, reading about bird behavior in a book, without paying attention to what the birds are doing right next to us. My point ultimately is that sometimes we miss the obvious when focused on a goal or end result. For instance, I had thought it necessary to find a sit spot somewhere else, missing the fact that almost every day I sat on my porch observing tons of wildlife behavior.

In what areas of your life are you searching for better, when something unnamed, yet just as satisfying, is already in your daily living? Most likely you’ll find the answer in the areas of your greatest disappointment or dissatisfaction. It is often in these places where we miss what is already there. Perhaps the Gods of Disappointment have sense of humor or maybe it’s that we are often disappointed when we have attached to a specific, and often romantic, result and hence are looking only for a certain scenario. Remember to keep your mind exceptionally open, for its necessary to see the old with new eyes. Once you’ve seen it, keep the awareness close to your heart, knowing we are always provided for.

A caveat if you are interested in finding your own sit spot; the kind of peace experienced by simply watching the world around us tends to wane motivation for the priorities of modern life. You may end up following the words of the poet Mary Oliver in her poem The Lark; “…Squander the day, but save the soul…” Doing so is contrary to the messages we receive regularly from outside, which say ‘buy this’ ‘do more’ ‘be better.’ And yet, the modern world could use people that have genuine peace at their core. Or as the Dalai Lama says “The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.” So, go, find your peace in whatever way you can—a sit spot or dancing with friends. How doesn’t matter, that you bring peace to the world does.

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Staying Clear

One of my teachers, John Perkins, mentioned that an indigenous tribe he spent time with had no word for sustainability. This may seem inconsequential, yet it is significant because for them there was no opposite of sustainable. All of their choices were made in honor of the future; anything different was incomprehensible to them.

Language is an interesting part of human life. I love stringing words together to explain concepts that stir in my mind. Yet, I’ve never been a particularly easy student of language itself. There is evidence that speaking multiple languages creates an expanded thinking process. Available words, or the lack of them, such as sustainable, affects the way we think. I am always interested in expansion, so for this reason I’d like to learn more languages other than English. Yet, it doesn’t happen. Then during a workshop, I mentioned that one reason I love animals (beyond having been born with the animal-loving gene) is because we communicate without speaking. While, I may say words to my dog or horse, it’s more presentation and energy that they understand. In that moment, it seemed perhaps I have learned a second language…a nonverbal one. Practicing this language expands my thinking beyond cognitive thought, in order to take in the communication of my senses.

A few years ago I went to Zimbabwe to volunteer in a lion program. The trip itself was kind of like being back in college, except instead of going to class I went to activities such as lion walking, cub sitting, elephant drives, and various chores like painting fences. All the lion activities were my favorite and allowed the opportunity to practice nonverbal language. My favorite moment was the first time a female lion rubbed up against me in greeting. When I was assigned snare search (looking for poacher’s snares on the perimeter of the reserve) on horseback, I was excited to be with one of my favorite animal species—horses. That was until I got to the barn, where the horses were underweight by U.S. standards. The saddles were old, in need of repair and did not fit well on the horse’s backs. To top it off, most of the people I was with had never ridden a horse before. Regardless, we tacked up and set off. As people got somewhat used to being on a moving animal, the guides had us move up to a trot. Again, most people had never ridden before, so they bounced around on the small and brave horses’ backs. I was the most experienced rider, yet because the saddle didn’t sit evenly on my horse, I was no better than the others at finding my balance. When the guide brought us up to a gallop, I was horrified. Not only out of empathy for the horses, it felt horrible for me too. We all survived.

The following day, I was sitting next to the river that ran through the reserve. This is where I went for quiet contemplation. The horses were free at that time and could go wherever they wanted on the 3,000 acres, like the Zebras that shared the same land. They chose to come to the river where they stood belly deep in the nourishing water and ate the greenery growing in the river. As I sat in my semi-meditative state, I watched the horses having a level of freedom rarely seen in the U.S. They had a herd of friends, space to roam, a river to lounge in and food and shelter to return to. While they still looked thin to me, I realized that plenty of horses in America have more food available to them than many humans do in Africa. These horses definitely had a different life than my horse, Tom. Yet, who was I to judge which lifestyle was better? As Americans we are provided much privilege and how we are able to care for our animals is one of them. Whether it’s for the best is up in the air. Sometimes we harm our animals with too much care, such as excessive food and micromanaging their behaviors. Yet, we assume that because we are well intentioned, any other kind of care is negligent. I think of myself as open-minded, empathic and tolerant. Sitting by the river at Antelope Park, I saw a prejudice or bias in myself not previously noticed. While it’s hard to admit to you and myself, there are probably others yet to be seen. Open-mindedness isn’t static but takes effort, awareness and remembrance. I’m going to continue giving it my best go.

Our primary language, as well as our culture’s ideas, shape how we see and the judgments/opinions we make. Are we willing to step out of that conditioning to see the world anew? It sometimes takes traveling to another country, but can also be done by continually clearing the lens we see through. Not an easy task. People say they want to “make the world a better place.” This is a noble sentiment, yet who’s world are they referring to? And who is to be the judge of better? Plato said;

“As youth fades and time brings changes we may change many of our present opinions. So let us refrain from setting ourselves up as judge of the highest matter.”

We will continue to have opinions and preferences, yet let us be aware of the futility in believing people in different situations should subscribe to the same ideas—that’s what causes wars amongst nations, families as well as inside ourselves. The most powerful change we can make is to be kind to all others, while being aware of living our own lives in alignment with our deepest priorities.

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Soul vs Ego

“You do not have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body.”

—C.S. Lewis

Soul or ego? After asking myself this often, I’ve concluded that we do not choose one at the exclusion of the other, they are both integral parts of ourselves. Yet, these two facets typically have different priorities and which one we give our allegiance to creates a very different focus to our life, even when doing exactly the same activities. For example, egos like definitives, comfort, same-ness, accomplishments, and end results. Souls adore depth, experiences, growth, journeys, and expansion.

 

I once had a photo portrait session with a talented photographer who had taken one of my “Calling Council” workshops. I note the latter, because she wanted the portrait to show that side of me; the teacher, my ancient self, my inner shaman, and may I say my soul. I brought with me a selection of feathers, wings and skulls. Seeing the end result (see below) was an interesting experience. I could see the power I normally only feel, while simultaneously realizing a photo is simply an image of a moment in time. Our lives are a string of ongoing moments—some powerful, some weak, some in the middle. My belief is that we are eternal beings having the experience of being human. As a person we present ourselves to the outside through an image, that is what the ego does for a living. Sometimes this is done consciously, sometimes unconsciously. Either way, we are responsible for both the image we present and its alignment to our unseen soul. We are not in control, however, of what others think about or perceive our image. I have many people who underestimate me, and others that overestimate me. This helps me know that I am the only authority of myself and life. In contrast, the first half of my life was spent making my decisions based on my best guess of what other’s thought of me—not always consciously. While I am still more comfortable being seen positively and do weigh how others react to me, I now truly know people’s understanding of me has more to do with them. All I can do is remain true to my inner self and leave the rest up to the outside. Anything else brings confusion and disappoint.

 

Ultimately, wholeness includes both ego and soul. Just like the whole of a body has both legs and arms. They serve different purposes, but it’s most helpful when they are moving in the same direction. If they aren’t and your feet are walking forwards, yet your arms keep moving backwards, the balance of the whole will be disturbed and you go nowhere. Conversely, when working together they are a powerful team that can go in any direction. We are born whole. Over time, we begin to shut areas of ourself down. Perhaps we sense that if we show our whole selves we will be shunned for being too big, too much, too sensitive or not enough of this or that. In other words, we may think we will not be accepted due to our differences. Even if this is true (which is doubtful), is it more important to have the acceptance of others at the expense of being true to oneself? That does not seem a fair trade to me. So, we continue to quest for alignment of our inner and outer. There are as many ways to do this as there are numbers of people willing to work on it.

 

After a couple years off, I’ve decided it is time again to offer the “Calling Council” workshop mentioned above. For six consecutive weeks, we will journey to different facets of ourselves in order to become aware of where they are aligned and where they may be conflicting. This will be held in an intimate setting in Saratoga Springs. To find out more visit the webpage by clicking here.

 

Whether you come to call council among yourself in my workshop, I encourage you to consider if your whole being is working in unity. If you find conflict, consider how you may align your inner and outer, soul and ego, body and spirit. There is no end destination on this quest, instead its ongoing. Still, those moments of flow when all of you is walking forward are worth the effort.

 

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Eating Knowledge

The other day, I was contemplating a polarity in our society. On one hand, we are a throw-away culture—tossing out packaging, things that no longer work or we have little use for. On the other hand, we want to “fix” ourselves and the people around us. This can be witnessed by the marketing strategies of any number of businesses, specifically cosmetics, fitness, and self-improvement. I wonder if there is a correlation. Does it feel as though we will be tossed out if not repaired or useful to others? If so, is that true?

Over the last couple years I have had a few challenges. There have been times when I wanted to simply fix these situations. Simultaneously, there is this deep sense that it is a natural cycle and to wait. In nature there are periods of fallow before regeneration. Are humans any different? While our culture doesn’t endorse it, what if we allowed for these periods of rest and inaction, just as the earth examples for us? Wondering, I allowed for the quiet. There were times when my head screamed to make changes. I joined business groups and read countless books. Yet, they did not fulfill my hopes and I went back into the stillness. As it turns out, over this period I came more into myself. Would this have happened if I quickly “fixed” my outward appearance of “problems?” My guess is no. In our western culture that might not make sense. Wouldn’t we come “into” ourselves only after we’ve transcended our problems? From where I’m sitting now, not necessarily. Cliche as it sounds, sometimes what we call the problem is actually the gift—as the time spent within it gives expanded insight into life. Until we recognize this, the value of the experience will remain latent. Additionally, our society’s desire for comfort has few models for addressing the soul level growth that I’m most interested in. One example of this playing out is that I’ve been a Shamanic Reiki Master for over 10 years, yet I have only recently committed two afternoons to giving sessions. One may say that earlier I was afraid to put myself out there, or fear commitment, or have insecurity issues. Regardless of all those potentials, my belief is that it simply took me this long to fully integrate the innate abilities of my soul with the personality of Katrina.

Taking in new knowledge, is quite a bit like eating food. Remember the story of Adam and Eve? The following is not scientific, so excuse my rudimentary explanation. First we consume food; this is the most conscious part of the process. Next comes digestion, as the food goes down to the stomach to be mixed with the digestive enzymes, gastric juices etc to break down further. Then it gets absorbed to be used by the body as energy. Lastly, the food is eliminated. So, how does that look as a metaphor for learning? We consciously take in the information. We digest it and it goes throughout the body to be processed. Next it is assimilated by the cells to be used as energy—also called thoughts and beliefs. Lastly, its eliminated through the actions we take. Our behaviors are based on this cellular knowledge, for it is what runs the subconscious. Additionally, we don’t dictate the amount of time this process takes, no matter how quickly the intellect can understand the ideas. At the risk of going too far out there, the process can take lifetimes depending on the depth and nature of the subject. What we do have choice over is what we decide to consume. Healthy food and nourishing information are both wise choices to make. At times we use information prematurely; when it is in our heads only. This is when we take on a new belief, yet our outward experience remains the same. This is because our subconcious hasn’t caught up to the mind’s new understanding and hence our actions are still based on old beliefs. Or, it’s recognizable in others when you hear what someone is saying, maybe even agree with it, yet somehow you can tell they are simply repeating someone else’s words. On the flip side, you know when someone fully grasps what he or she is articulating because you might describe them as “speaking with heart.” Which means the “digestive” process has taken place and the person is communicating from their body.

Years ago, I did a shamanic journey and met a wise monk. We conversed for quite awhile and I knew it was an important conversation. I returned to waking reality and remembered the meeting but nothing about what we talked. Disappointed, I went back to this man in another “journey.” He told me it didn’t matter if my mind remembered our conversation, the cells of my body did. Only after years, have I come to realize the enormity of that. There are times the human personality uses spiritual information to feel special, to prove its worthiness. It takes great humility to accept true knowledge without hubris. Apparently, I wasn’t ready to hear that information in my head and ego. It was, however, time for my cells to understand that level of knowledge. So, in this instance the monk by-passed the eating phase of the digestion process. My body still assimilated and perhaps eliminated it by bringing the knowledge into class scenarios and healing sessions. I can’t be sure, since I still don’t intellectually remember what we discussed.

To close, I ask a few questions for you to contemplate over time; Do you lose out on soul growth by searching for ways to fix your discomfort with situations you consider problems? Are you more comfortable repeating what others have said, than accepting your body’s need to express it’s knowledge, which includes your own feelings, emotions and desires? Do you allow the full process of digesting information before proclaiming it? Whatever your answers, continue asking the questions and remain open to your truth.

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Tears for Trees

Tears rolled down my cheeks as the trees I have visited most every day for the last 18 years were being torn down with heavy machinery. These trees have witnessed my tears, heard me sing, soothed my fears and given me a sense of belonging that the human world has not. They are my friends. I use the wood products these friends will be made in to; so who am I to be against their death? Mother Nature also gives the death sentence; it is the cycle of life. Additionally, I do not doubt that the remaining trees will benefit from the openness and sunshine. So, what exactly does make me so sad? With contemplation, I find it to be the lack of reverence for life and the community these trees live amongst. Trees have been proven to communicate and help each other grow through an underground network of fungi. Not having words or tears does not equal an absence of compassion or community.

The first week of cutting, the birds were silent. Later, not so much, as they flickered around not knowing where to go. Same with the deer who were wandering down the side of the road, wondering where to take refuge. I haven’t heard a peep or sighted the porcupines that move slowly among these trees—what are they doing? And the Barred Owls I’ve run into regularly, how have they been affected? This forest is personal for me, as I know it intimately. Yet, the tears that roll down my cheeks are not just for these specific trees and animals, but equally for the condition of our culture. We live in an artificial and disposable society that believes itself to be real and important. Money for instance is a human construct, yet it has become equivalent to our life force. In America, we seem to groom kids for winning more so than good character. In this situation with the trees, the falsity is that we need to “manage” the forest for it to thrive. This is only potentially true, because of the damage humans have done over the last two hundred years interfering with the natural growth cycle of trees. No matter what, life will go on—for the forest, for the animals that call it home, for the men doing their job and for me. The real question is; will we have reverence for that life as it continues? Will we be mindful of the others, humans and non-humans, we share our home with? Will we recognize that the tree’s life does not depend on us. Instead, we depend on the trees, as they produce the oxygen that allows us breath. Thank the good lord they are willing to share. How are we reciprocating?

Thich Nhat Hahn suggests;

“We need to change our way of thinking and seeing things. We need to realize that the Earth is not just our environment. The Earth is not something outside of us. Breathing with mindfulness and contemplating your body, you realize that you are the Earth. You realize that your consciousness is also the consciousness of the Earth. Look around you–what you see is not your environment, it is you.”

So, my question turns inward as well—will we have reverence for our own personal nature? Another favorite quote was spoken by Howard Thurman;

“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”

One of the great tragedies of our time is how hard it is to hear our genuine voice. The “strings” come from everywhere—the greater whole, advertising, our families or that one person we most love. Their ‘sound’ is often loud, perhaps rational and appears real. Meanwhile, our true guide is quiet, humble and when heard sounds too much like ourselves to be taken seriously. To hear it takes silence and subtle listening, as well as a belief in our deep self. None of which are strengths of our busy, noisy, outward-focused society. Additionally, I sense that because our culture lacks a function of unconditional belonging, there is a fear that going inward to meet and know our own self, will further separate us from the world—from others. My senses also tell me that the opposite is actually true. To go inward and revere our own nature will ultimately show us our connection far deeper than blindly following society, someone else or an ideology. When we are true to our genuine voice, we have no desire to attach strings from either end—the controlling or the following. Such an appetite is the result of weakness and insecurity. It is worth noting that a poverty of strings does not mean pure solo flight, rather that we have self-responsibility within the whole.

This essay may seem hard on our society, let that be no reflection on the beautiful people within it. Culture is a structure in which people live, not the people themselves. However, it is up to us as individuals to create the change we want to see within it. We have reached a turning point. I feel it, my guess is you have too. While, we may differ in what we want, it seems most of us sense a need for transformation. I personally and whole-heartedly want to see a world that is genuine, true, and reverent for what is wild and alive. I want to see love for our inner and outer environment and to know that we belong. I want mindfulness and questioning to bring us to what is real. Mostly, I want humans to feel the connection that exists between the earth and all that live upon her; those with two legs, four legs, wings, and roots. To do all that starts with loving oneself. Not love based on personal achievements, but for the divine fact that we have been given the extraordinary gift of life. Let us choose wisely how we use that gift.

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