I’m a couple of days away from my second Vision Quest, going back to Kentchurch in Herefordshire. A few days of preparation and then I go for my solo – 4 days and 4 nights with out food, a tent or technology. It’s heading for 2 years since my last one and I wrote several blog posts about it.
1. A Vision Quest
We must all follow our vision quest to discover ourselves, and to find our relationship with the world around us.
I’m at a point in my life where I want to think again on my life purpose but this time to do it in nature. I want to get in touch with the deeper part of who I am. You may think this would come easy to me, it is an area I work on with my clients, I use psychometric tools and interesting exercises alongside coaching. It’s quite a traditional, and effective approach and yes, I have done it on myself, but now time for a different way.
On Friday 5th July I will be starting a wilderness Rites of Passage where you do a vision quest and spend 10 days in nature, 4 of these spent on a solo fast.
2. A Vision Quest – Part 2
I’ve had a range of emotions for what’s coming up – scared and nervous, with an upset tummy for nearly a week. Then the calmness came. And that remains.
I don’t know in any detail what will happen, that’s good for someone like me who likes to be in control, at all times.
If you remember from this blog post – I talked about the 3 stages.
The first stage started once I said yes. I wrote a letter of intention and created a 10-page autobiography. I like writing and that flowed well, interestingly filling the 10 pages with little effort.
Through my re-read I noticed what I didn’t include, or downplayed, and I’m sure that will be one of the things we talk about.
I know some of what happens over the first few days. We get prepared, we each talk with David, we find the place we will go to for our vision fast.
3. The time to un-become everything that isn’t really me.
Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place. Paulo Coelho.
A year ago, I thought this statement was true to me as I embraced my single life and caught up on my life after nearly 40 years in relationships. I hadn’t had much time alone and loved living in town, going to gigs and enjoying spending time with friends.
My life was happening – out there.
I was also interested in my life direction – I’d run Amazing People as a career consultancy for 21 years. Was this where I wanted to focus the rest of my life? I’d been getting more interested in meaningful ageing, for both myself and others. I didn’t want to have a life unlived and feared that more than death.
Finding out about the 4 Shields and the Vision Quest process it was exactly what I needed.
Taking a week to gently get ready for the course, the 4 days preparation at base camp and then the 4 days and nights solo fast – no tent, no food, just water and nature with a simple shelter along a gentle re-entry has been powerful. In a quieter way.
4. My Vision Quest – 9 months on
9 months ago, I went on a Vision Quest. A time out of your daily life
“We must all follow our vision quest to discover ourselves, and to find our relationship with the world around us”.
It was truly life changing.
Whilst on the solo fast you can write in a journal and every 3 months you need to write it out again. This is important to deepen the learning from the experience.
I did this for the first time in October, whilst in Nepal. I wrote word for word, and I’d written a lot! The second review was in January. That time I wrote what was key. What resonated. What I needed to reflect on.
Now, in April, whilst on ‘lockdown’ due to the Corona Pandemic it is time for the 3rd re-write. I’ve just completed it – good to be reminded of certain things, and to realise the impact it has had on me. I can’t share the detail; I need to keep it within for the full year. In 3 months, the year will end with a 24-hour solo fast to close the quest.
5. Closing my Vision Quest
Last weekend I closed my Vision Quest. It was a year and a week since I went out to nature and spent 4 days, and nights alone.
A time to contemplate what was important to me in life. Following this we kept it quiet within ourselves. If I’d shared my thoughts, I’d have had other peoples’ impact. This would have taken me away from the purpose of being alone.
Over the past year I re-read and re-wrote my diary every 3 months, keeping my attention on this important time. During my time alone I’d written over 80 pages, including an outline of a book and 10 poems. A week or so ago, I re-read the journal I summarised down to the core detail and made notes on where I wanted to focus.
I arrived early afternoon. Pitched my small dome tent and walked the land. Beautiful nature, and time to prepare. I didn’t want to rush the following day. Saturday morning, I made a cup of tea around 6.30 and then walked with my rucksack, into one of the woods. Whilst I considered putting up the same shelter as last year, for one night, and knowing it would be dry, I opted to sleep under the trees and the stars.
I was travelling light. In the wood I sat on a fallen tree and listened to nature. I heard the sound of the wind in the trees. I think I made out 7 or 8 different birds singing. So quiet, so peaceful.
6. The Benefits of Being Grounded
You can literally be grounded, by walking on earth/grass/sand. And I love to do this as much as I can. When on my Vision Quest, without food, if I felt spacey, I was told to lie tummy down on the floor, to get back in touch with me.
Being grounded means being present and at peace in your own skin. Making sure you focus on the now. Paying attention to what is going on around you, and within you. When I’m in nature this is noticing the trees, flowers, the air on my skin, the sun in the sky. I like to touch the trunk of a tree, and to feel this energy within me.
I consciously ground myself before a client session and before I study. I close my eyes, focus on my breathing and make sure I’m centred and in the moment. I then imagine I’m putting down roots – they don’t have to be thick, even a thin root can break a rock. Using my imagination to see these roots is a good way of being centred.
Being grounded means I’m less likely to be affected by other people’s behaviour. Whether someone cuts me up as I drive, pushes in front of me in a queue, says something cutting, it doesn’t affect me. I let it go. It’s about them, it is not about me.
HOW TO BE GROUNDED
7. Stop being so busy
Busy! I used to work double shifts – there was always so much to do, and I prioritised my work. This past year I’ve spent less time working, I have been more focused, but I have a busy social life. I love new experiences so why stay in when there is a band to watch.
I know I’m not filling my life because I don’t want to be alone – I love my nights in, but I do want to get more time just to be. Time when I’m not doing anything, just allowing myself to be quiet.
I read an article which resonated (and I probably spend far too much time following links to interesting articles!). The author David Sbarra includes a quote from the book Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte: