Updated: Jul 29
Trading fear for power
In 2009, I did a 9-day Vision Quest in the high desert of California; arguably one of the bravest things I’ve ever done. Definitely one of the most profound, gifting me with an empowering and meaningful lens with which to view, and respond to, the subsequent (and previous) events in my life.
Today, it seems we are all smack in the middle of a vision quest. One we may feel we didn’t sign up for; nevertheless, one that offers that same powerful lens. #coronavirusasvisionquest
A vision quest involves 3 distinct stages, four if you count the Call to Quest. Although the pandemic feels like all 4 stages at once, it might be useful to slow down and intentionally acknowledge and take yourself through each stage.
1) Call to Quest - a sudden event, or a growing discontent, that requires a response or action
In this case, the coronavirus.
2) Severance - preparation for the quest, leaving the old world behind
As we cycle through the various emotions of this global disruption - numbness, anger, grief, denial, fatigue, hope, fear -we must finally come to accept that we will not be returning to the same world we left behind. What has been lost, what needs to be grieved? What do I need to leave behind? Laura Hollick, one of my greatest inspirations, recently held a live virtual funeral to invite people to prepare in just this way.
It is hard to let go of the old when we don't know what the new is. But only then, are we able to prepare and open to the gifts of the Call - what the new might be; how things, and we, ourselves, might change for the better; what new role we might have the opportunity to play in our lives and in the world, as we move forward. This step is crucial and makes all the difference in whether we flail around fearfully in the dark, or meet the the next step with intention. One heightens fear, the other builds courage.
3) Threshold - the liminal space, the wilderness, the gap between the old and the new - the primordial soup, where insights emerge and transformation happens.
We are certainly in the soup now - we have no idea what is going to happen, how long the pandemic will go on, what changes are coming. Transformation is happening. The invitation is to participate, to accept it and insert your vision for how you want to be transformed. Who you want to be on the other side.
So step out for a moment. Take some time and do your preparation : let go, grieve your losses, take care of what needs taking care of, formulate the questions you want answers to. Remember, this is a quest. What is your deepest prayer? Then, equipped with that intention, step back in. Notice how it feels to be here with intention.
"Most people talk about fear of the unknown. If there is anything to fear it is the known.
Because the known is the rigid patterns of past conditioning. The unknown is the field of infinite possibilities…infinite choices"- Deepak Chopra
But what exactly do we do in the void? How do we participate in this transformation?
We tend the ground. Just like a garden into which seeds have been planted. Water, weed, wait. Notice. Slow down, tend to yourself, remember your questions.
Transformation has its own timing. It is not possible to push this river. Nor is it necessary. You are here at this time for a reason. The most effective way to participate is to tend to your "vehicle" so it can be a good receiver. Move inside, listen, observe, find the tender places and care for them. Dream. Trust the process. Trust you will be guided to move into action when the timing is right.
I had all sorts of plans for my time in the wilderness - issues I wanted to solve, rituals I wanted to enact, questions I thought needed answering............instead, a great fatigue overtook me and I spent 3 days and nights lying on the earth, too tired to do anything. Full of self-judgment and disappointment for what I thought was not happening, I finally surrendered enough to hear what my deepest self wanted me to know. 1) that I was soul-killingly exhausted from so much striving (especially spiritual striving!), and 2) that the Earth was very literally there to support me. Gaia truly showed me her deep kindness, presence and benevolence.
We must be willing to be uncomfortable for a while if we wish to be released from
whatever has bound us. - Understanding the Enneagram, 361
4) The Return - the integration of what was learned on the quest, into one's life.
A typical vision quest involves going out into the wilderness, and then returning to the old life, bringing back something new. A change, insight or shift that will be of benefit to the quester, those around them, possibly even the world at large. Ours is a STAY-quest. Questing in place. Rather than returning, we consider this stage as a moving forward, a moving into the new world we are all needing to create.
I remember my guide saying that the impact of my vision quest would continue to emerge over a period of at least a year, year and a half. Integration is a process. You will simultaneously be both on the quest, and integrating what you have been given, over time. I have already noticed ways in which my experience of the pandemic has evolved over even a few short months - at all levels. Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. My priorities are shifting. What have you noticed? This unfolding, no doubt, will continue for some time.
We must make room for integration. Flowing between Threshold and Return, and then back again. Being in the soup with the questions, the prayers; and then allowing it to change you, to teach you. When things seem to be moving too fast, create some space. Slow down, do something you love. What brings you joy right now? Rest, take a break from figuring it out. When we give ourselves this time, this space, our body/mind will naturally move back into flow when it's time. If we don't, we risk overwhelm, and the inability to fully receive the gifts, to be changed by our experience, in just the way our Soul is offering.
If you are reading this, you most likely sense that something bigger than a pandemic is happening here. One of the principles of evolution is that crisis precedes transformation. We see that throughout the history of the planet. Conscious evolution means that we are aware of what is happening and can participate. We must shift from the idea of Life as something that happens to us, to one of co-creative relationship. Transformation is inevitable. How our world transforms is within our power to influence; even directly. The beauty of this virus, I believe, is that it is triggering each one of us in different ways, inviting us to the next phase of our own personal evolution which, should we heed the call, collectively means the evolution the world. Life is on our side.
May your quest be blessed.
Please visit my VQ Resources page for more information and support
If you are reading this before August 1st, I have just this minute received and invitation to a free webinar, called Pandemic as Practice, with the same tagline as mine, re: moving from fear to power! It is co-hosted by the amazing Dr. Joanna Macy and Jonathan Gustin. Hope to see you there!