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.
I’d love to share – there will be some who read this and recognise how this could be part of their life journey.
Once I learned about a Vision Quest, I realised that it was something I had to do, and to do it right now.
From the day I decided yes, I felt different – mainly a calmness and a noticeable heightening of my senses. I noticed more – vision was sharper, hearing more acute.
3 weeks on from saying yes, I was on my way to Kentchurch. It was to be a time to step away from my daily life and to go deeply into the person I am.
In my first blog post I wrote
“I want to escape the noise and chatter of my daily life and listen to my inner voice. I’ve spent too long looking for the answer via books and other sources of external knowledge. The answer will be within me”.
Before I left, I wrote a letter of intention and created a 10-page autobiography.
There are 3 stages
Stage 1 Severance:
A time for preparation, with guidance, getting ready for the Vision Fast. The preparation, for me, included getting used to being in a small tent for 4 days, but that will be luxury compared to just having a tarp for shelter when I’m on my own. My preparation also included eating a lighter diet and giving up caffeine; I didn’t want to be going through caffeine withdrawals alongside hunger.
Whilst at base camp we learned more about the Medicine Wheel and the 4 Shields/Directions, that would give some focus to our time alone. We walked the land to find a place for the solo fast. We also did a night walk. Many people don’t like the dark. I was happy and decided I wanted to be alone in the ‘edgy wood’. We each spoke with David and Jen about our autobiography and we discussed my unknown grandfather.
Stage 2 Threshold:
The Vision Fast. This is when I spent 4 days and 4 nights living on my own in the wild. We went through a ceremony to set us on our journey, into the spirit world. Whilst there I could drink water, but no food. I was alone with my thoughts. A lot of time to think. No technology, no watch.
I judged the passing of time by the movement of the sun. How many of us really listen to the sound of the wind and look closely at plants? I did slow down and could feel myself merging with nature. Away from all distractions it was nature that guided me to find my vision. I write more about the detail to this via this blog post. We had a buddy during this time and moved a stone each day at a meeting point to show we were still around.
Stage 3 Incorporation:
I met my buddy at the meet point on the 5th morning. We went to base camp where we did a return ceremony. We had fruit to break our fast. Then a shower (hot!). First time I had showered since arriving and clean clothes were great, I’d stayed in the same clothes for 4 days!!! We then went to Abergavenny for breakfast. Time to re-enter the modern world. The quest leader, David Wendl-Berry listened to our story and mirrored back what we said.
David’s website says: You will emerge from the Vision Quest with a profound connection to the Earth, and to all of nature. You will in all likelihood know yourself more completely, have dealt with unresolved issues from your past, made plans for your future, discovered who you really are and what your purpose is in life. You will take these discoveries with you to your people – your family, friends and colleagues.
The Vision Quest continues to impact, and I’ve changed. More authentic – I no longer dye my hair and my business photos are with me without makeup, the natural me.
A week after my return I wrote a blog post
“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.
I realised that a lot of my life was happening ‘out there’. I still have my energy, but it can also show itself in quieter ways too – appreciating nature. Being a person who radiates warmth and energy. Striking up conversations, looking for more depth. Saying things that come across as wise. As they should. I’m now a wise woman.
I booked this up just before going on my Vision Quest – I had a strong call to go there. Part of my trip was a small group National Geographic holiday, but I also had 10 days for solo travel. I spent some of this at a Buddhist Retreat, and most of my time in quiet places where I could connect with nature. I loved being alone, especially after having a garrulous roommate.
“Sometimes you need to sit lonely on the floor in a quiet room in order to hear your own voice and not let it drown in the noise of others.” Charlotte Eriksson
I note in a blog post: I’m moving more to being quiet, to only speak when there is something to say, not to chip in with a ‘me too’ comment or to say things that aren’t relevant. I’m having more intention to my actions. If I’m focused on writing an article, I shut out all other noises. I’m getting much better at doing this and not having my senses a flutter on things that are going on around me.
Before coming to Nepal, a wise friend got me thinking that I was doing too much. We all have set points that we return to (why diets rarely work long term) but the comment was enough for me to drop some plans and make sure I was rested and in a calm state for this time away.
And the message has stayed. Being calmer, more thoughtful, in Nepal, taking time away from the group for quiet times. Sitting looking at the lake, or time spent in meditation at the monastery was far better for me than hiking to the top of a hill or going to a group lunch. I prioritised me, and it does no harm.
I want to live more intentionally, and to make quiet time a priority. Each day is just as important as the next in creating the life I want.
“In solitude, we see more clearly. Alone, in moments of prayer or meditation, or simply in stillness, we breathe more deeply, see more fully, hear more keenly. We notice more, and in the process, we return to what is sacred.” Katrina Kenison in her essay, Why You Must Have Time Alone.
This is still true.
Whilst on my Vision Quest, I learned how to be grounded. You can literally be grounded, by walking on earth/grass/sand. And I love to do this as much as I can. 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. Read my article on the benefits of being grounded here.
9 Months on …
9 months on and I’m more comfortable in my skin, happier with the person I am. Not willing to settle, to move away from situations, and people.
Indeed, my Vision Quest was a journey inside, to understand more about the person I am. Very much open to the elements. I was told you got the weather, and the experience that you need. I did. And I’ll tell more in another 3 months.
The quest is a liminal state – deep listening and prolonged daydreaming. The word Liminal is from the Latin for Threshold. We were severed from the familiar and the everyday – caffeine, phone, watch, food. Time whilst alone to reflect on my life – the challenges, difficulties, questions about a sense of direction. Remembering the parts that we may want to forget. You don’t try and figure it out, you just listen and experience. When I returned to base camp David was not a therapist but told back my story so I could fully hear it and embrace it. My story has been maturing these past 9 months, but still not ready to be told.
If any of this resonates, I’d love to hear from you.
Sometimes you read a book at the right time. Putting aside Wolf Milk I picked a book off my shelf Embers by Richard Wagamese and opened to read this. My formatting.
I AM MY silence.
I am not the busyness of my thoughts or the daily rhythm of my actions.
I am not the stuff that constitutes my world.
I am not my talk.
I am not my actions.
I am my silence.
I am the consciousness that perceives all these things.
When I go into my consciousness, to that great pool of silence that observes the intricacies of my life, I am aware that I am me.
I take a little time each day to sit in silence so that I can move outward in balance into the great clamour of living.
Richard Wagamese – Embers.
Want to go back to all my articles, you can via these links
A VISION QUEST – June 20th, 2019
A Vision Quest – Part 2 – July 5th, 2019
My Vison Quest: The Return – July 15th, 2019
The time to un-become everything that isn’t really me – July 17th, 2019
It’s good to be quiet and take time for yourself – October 16th, 2019
The Benefits of Being Grounded – November 23rd, 2019