Monday, August 12, 2013

I had intended to keep updating my blog throughout my travels, but my inspiration to write started being expressed through written letters to friends back at Twin Oaks.
I deleted my facebook yesterday, and now I think I will put more energy toward writing, and more of the connections I am looking for.

When I left the Possibility Alliance months ago, I continued my sitting meditation practice, even though I didn't have others to share it with, and I was longing for that. I guess I would call it spiritual community. Unfortunately, that need doesn't feel fulfilled for me in religious churches, though I can get something out of it when I attend.

My practice slowly waned when I was at Teaching Drum. There was no one to sit with. When I'm alone in my practice, I have trouble focusing, even when I know that regular meditation and spiritual practice in my life benefit my mental health hugely.

I started running again-it became my practice. It takes patience and steadfastness as meditation does. When I am running and practicing sitting meditation regularly, I am doing really well. But, I struggle to keep these two things in my life regularly.

My unhealed emotional stuff was revealed to me in a way it never has been when I was at Teaching Drum. Teaching Drum is a small community that hosts a wilderness immersion program every year. I spent about a month there in June.

I was surrounded by people who had lived in the woods for at least a year. The learning curve was huge, and I couldn't meet the expectations others had of me. I'm a gardener. I have skills in lots of other areas, but I am no way a master in anything. I would say I am most skilled working with plants.

I didn't know how to start a fire without matches, or hunt and butcher a deer, or even poop in the woods. I didn't know I was going to be almost constantly surrounded by mosquitoes, and the only way to keep them off was to rub a thick layer of deer fat on my skin. I didn't know that people enjoyed cooking with the deer fat, and that it would be so difficult to swallow down a meal of fish and ramps stew when my throat was coated with the waxy fat. I felt intimidated and overwhelmed, but then I saw that it was okay for me to talk about how I was feeling, and communication and healing was an important aspect of life at Teaching Drum. With the way people were coming and going so much when I was there, it was hard to see that, at first.

The difficulties I faced there were opening me up to painful growing experiences. I needed more structure, and I needed to motivate myself to learn things I'm passionate about. It reminded me that I have to bring into my life what I want, and if I don't know how to do it, I have to figure it out. I also learned that I still have a lot to learn about communicating with other people. No one's going to make me break all my unhealthy patterns. No one's going save me, or heal me. It's up to me. This reality is empowering, and also, really scary!

I remember my first day gathering wild leeks (ramps) with a camp. The day just sort of flowed. The were no watches. The sun rose higher in the sky, and we set off to gather ramps after breakfast. We spent all day gathering and packing ramps into bags, and I noticed I kept wondering what time it was, but after a while I just let the thought pass, because it was useless. Once we arrived back at camp, I was incredibly hungry, and we cooked fish on skewers over the fire. Afterward, someone encouraged me to boil water for drinking. Everyone else there had gotten accustomed to the bacteria in the wild water.

The sun started to set, and I felt calm just listening to the different animal sounds around me, and letting night fall. I looked toward the spot where I would be sleeping. My bed lay on soft branches of balsam fir, a deer pelt, and my sleeping bag to crawl into. I wanted to memorize the distance between the fire and my bed, because I knew when night fell, I would have to remember it with my feet. No flashlights here.

Something felt incredibly right about all that, even the scary aspects of it.

Quite a bit has happened since I left Teaching Drum. I spent a week back at Twin Oaks. Mostly events have occured that continue to remind me of all the healing I have to do, and that have shown me where I'm stuck, and the harmful patterns I repeat again and again.

Years ago, I thought I would be further along than this. I haven't met the expectations I continue to set for myself. It has only taught me not be be so harsh on myself, and not expect myself to be somewhere I'm not.

I'm taking a bus to Chicago tomorrow. I will be attending a ten day silent meditation course north of the city. I hope I gain more ability to look at myself and be okay with it. After the ten days is over, I'll return to Teaching Drum. I will arrive in time for the wild rice harvest.

p.s. more photos I have taken at Teaching Drum can be viewed here:

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