Saturday, January 28, 2012

Vision Collage for 2012

I went to a gathering at Adonna's with about 8 other women. After potluck dinner, we started ripping out magazine images that we were drawn to to use in our individual vision collages for 2012. My dual words for the year are "Guided" and "Light-hearted". The idea for an abstract vision collage of colors and textures and light started emerging as I kept ripping out those things from the pages - intentionally not choosing anything identifiable. I wanted to convey the mystery and the unknown and the feeling of light-heartedness in the darkness that comes with feeling guided. The beauty in the darkness. I also wanted to look at the collage and be reminded of the energy and the ability inside myself to validate my intuition and listen to it. I chose black poster board for the back ground and incorporated gold foil I gleefully found in the pile of magazines. I wanted to do something that would surprise myself and others - that would be different from the usual way of making a collage - there's a challenge and a thrill for me that comes with being able to do that.

Nature and the Human Soul Conference Day 4, Sunday, Jan 22nd

Sunrise Sunday Morning

Iona Mass in the Cottonwood Pavilion Tent

Nature and the Human Soul Conference
Day 4, Jan 22nd 2012 Sunday
Bill Plotkin and Fr. Richard Rohr
Hyatt Tamaya, New Mexico
1,000 Attendees from around the world

My Notes and Musings 

7am Iona Mass with Fr. Richard Rohr. Beautiful ceremony. This was the first time I took communion and felt the meaning of it. The sunrise walking to mass was astonishing. Everyone was noticing it coming up.

9am Bill Plotkin

There is a crisis at the end of each stage. The crisis at the end of the Wellspring (stage 5): you've been using the form/craft and one day you wake up realizing the delivery system walls are just too small. What you have to do next will feel like a betrayal of your teachers. Fear of being absolutely humiliatingly ridiculous. Because you have to go out on your own limb. But, you know you have to do it.

The truth is, you leave home at the beginning of every stage. Stage 6 means leaving the home of your teachers/mentors. Stage 6: Artisan in the Wild Orchard

We all have our unique fruits that want to come through in stage 6 (in the beginning, we'll feel like a fruit!)

The passage into stage 6 is called Induction. Time to assume full obligation of cultural leadership. Creating new cultural forms. Healthy culture evolves. Has to keep evolving. 

The never before seen ways and gifts in culture come through in stage 6.

Antonio Bachato poem "You Walking"
"You make the road by walking"

Task: create and implement innovative delivery systems.

There are people who are primary doers and people who are primary be-ers. (Western society tends to have  a bias toward the doers)

Task: the advanced cultivation and integration of the 4 selves

Bill Plotkin's new book that he is working on is about the nature-based map of the human psyche and he is thinking of calling it "The Wilding: The South" 

We're each born with a whole self. But often we just embody 1 of the 4 facets. We get a free ride with that one, the others, we have to work with to integrate and develop. The one that is the easiest for us is opposite to the one that is hardest for us. Each self corresponds with one of the 4 cardinal directions.

North: The nurturing and generative adult, healer, spiritual warrior, make things happen, leader, protector, benevolent. Knowledge lives in the North (there is a bias toward this one in Western culture)

South: The Wild, indigenous, magical, sensual, emotion-loving, erotic, one, in the body, knows "I am from Earth - my body in particular is completely at home in nature" 

East: Innocent sage. Innocence and wisdom are very closely related. Wisdom lives in the East. Innocence: pure presence of being. Trickster and fool. Non-attached (not detached) sees the bigger picture and is able to lighten up and have easy conversations with mystery.

West: In love with the sacred darkness. Sees that dark is as sacred as light. Its a profound place to live in. (There is a bias against this one in Western culture) Read Rilke's "Love Poems to Darkness"

We start developing our facets. By the cocoon, we need to be in conversation with all 4 facets. By stage 5, we need to be online in all 4 facets. By Stage 6, we need to be able to integrate them all and be in all 4 facets at once.

[I'm not entirely sure which facet comes easiest for me and which is hardest. North and South both seem fairly neutral - with some things coming easy and hard alike in both of those facets (nurturing, generative easy; leader - difficult; south feels very familiar. The fact that one is opposite the other should help though. My guess would be that the West comes easiest to me, which would make the East the one I've had to work the hardest to develop and this makes sense. I've been working on lightening up, not taking things seriously and becoming more at home with not taking myself seriously and being able to be a trickster or a fool. I wish Bill had said more about the west - guess I'll have to buy his new book when it comes out! But darkness has never seemed like darkness to me, and, yes, I guess I've always had a pull to it - which would make sense too with my enneagram 4, but who knows. I bet Bill Plotkin's easiest one is the West too because he told that story about Death telling him on one of his vision quests that it wouldn't have a conversation with him anymore unless Bill embraced Death's wife, Joy.]

Gerard Maley Hopkins, poem about everything in the world being unique. Relationship between soul and spirit. "As Kingfishers Catch Fire"
"What I do is me, for that I came"
That life is relational.
A human can't play their instrument until they go through initiation into adulthood (and they have to be integrated in all 4 facets to do this)
The being we all dwell within is Soul.

This stage feels vaguely familiar because you're moving back into the east hemisphere, the being half, you were here once already in childhood.

Beginning to give up the striving and the making things happen of the 4 previous stages of life you have been in: 3,4, 5, and 6

Stage 7: master in the grove of elders. Confirmation of mastery of your soul work, celebrated for developing your own forms and bringing gifts into the world.

Retirement is an ego-centric western phenomenon "We don't need you anymore" message. "Now I get to have a good time finally!" sadly, you weren't doing that all along then when you could have been. 77% of Americans HATE their jobs. "You mean, you weren't having a good time all along?"

In healthy culture, the highest status are the elders. In our western culture, they are the lowest.

The original sacred meaning of crone is wise woman, magic. The word has been wrecked in Western culture. 

Crowning - a kind of royalty to someone who has had an adult life of mastery, gender unspecific. 

In terms of your conscious intent, leaving, being tugged to leave the delivering soul work beyond in a sense. Going to cosmos-centric. Experiencing yourself as a member of the entire universe. Pulled by larger context to the work of caring for the soul of the world (not focusing on your soul work so much anymore)

Our soul work doesn't stop at crowning, its so in our psyche by this stage, that its on auto-pilot so the energy that had been used for keeping that going can now be redirected.

Tasks: Now you are paying attention to:
- Defend and nurture innocence and wonder of children (in ways even initiated adults cannot)
- Mentor and initiate thespians and wanderers (some adult's soul work has also called them here) Think of true elders as birth control!
- Mentoring adults whose soul work iso in the elder's general realm
- Guiding the evolution or transformation of culture. They get together to guide it and are called a council of elders. In a healthy culture, the politicians and united nations would be elders and they wouldn't be elected because they would be ignited. Not elected, earned, grown into!

How do we maintain the balance of human and more than human world? Elders are looking out for this balance. Speak with voices of great authority and everybody respects them.

Stage 8 - Sage in the Mountain Cave, implies a place outside the village, but pyscho-spiritually they are in the mountain cave. Their consciousness has shifted to the cosmos. The goal-oriented ego has surrendered attachment to outcome. It happens, like it is taken away from us.

There are no developmental tasks in stage 8. The universe carries the tasks. Both children in stage 1 and elders in state 8 don't have tasks. Its the opposite of naming in childhood; as elders, in a way, we forget our names. We return to stage 1, but now with the consciousness of whats going on. 

The sage is the human archetype of stage 8. Its the wildest human being. Lives a life of spontaneity. Role-transcending vivacity. Moved beyond the active leadership of stage 7. A humble hermit consultant.

When you come into the presence of stage 8 elders, you are in a wild place. There are galaxies in the elder's eyes. Elders can only answer questions from the largest possible context. Presence of stage 8 elders in society have ceremonies stoked by elders. 

Universe tasks for stage 8:
To tend to the universe. Keeps universe from being diminished. Elders anchor the capacity for ceremonies of whole community that keep the universe going.

Tomas Berry, stage 8 elder, Sharing wisdom. There is a universe because existence communicates itself. 

Presence of elders coordinates human realm with cosmological realm. Evokes experience that human is integral, bound, controlled and given by earth. An enduring imaginal presence even after death. "When they're gone, then they're everywhere"

Final passage is Death.
Who dies? book by Steven levine

Who dies based on what stage the person is in when they die? In stage 8, nobody dies - what's ending has already merged with the universe, but the universe suffers a great loss.

Gifts of the stages:
Stage 1: Luminous presence
Stage 2: Wonder
Stage 3: Creative Fire
Stage 4: Mystery and Darkness
Stage 5: Visionary action and inspiration
Stage 6: Seeds of cultural renaissance
Stage 7: Wholeness
Stage 8: Grace

Each gift does not go away; it gives birth to the next gift.

"Wholeness in the world supports the presence of grace"
We begin in innocence and end in grace.

Final break out group meetings:

To have a sense of whats possible. Where are you? Where do you find yourself? Continuing the conversation. An affirmation/confirmation of where I've been, where I am, and the possibilities for where I can go. Where is your attention going?

Show up with where you are and where you're at with the best, authentic you. By doing that, you will be helping those you are around be who they are and see the possibilities too.

Challenge: be where I'm at as much as possible regardless of acceptance or judgement.

Not having as much of a problem letting go because there is so much beyond.

Remember your emotional foot print on others - your potential all the time either to project your wounds on to them or to be in the present moment in a healing, authentic space instead.

11:30am Fr. Richard Rohr

There are seeds in the pot at the front of the stage, on your way out take one and place it in the urn as a way of sealing your commitment to this process of development.

[My thought just now, when we make God small, we make ourselves small]

Narcissism. No more time for it.

We are the embodiment of mystery. But we have to fall in love with it and struggle with it. 
Divine Allurement - Brian Swim
Cosmos itself is moving toward salvation. Led toward union. We are the first generation that is aware we live in a still expanding universe. It will go into a retraction, which involves a union, which will only take a few seconds. 

Aetheism and agnosticism are by and large a product that exists only in wester culture. Western culture created it, did not exist in indigenous cultures. 

Trust your inner experience and go into your inner experience. Bill just gave you all a bunch of tools for interior journeys. A lot of us don't know how to go there, don't want to go there, or don't think its necessary to go there (have substituted belonging systems for inner experience that you can then trust instead of the inner experience!)

The people that get bothered by the "forms" in the church are often the ones who have inner experiences so they have experienced the "formless". Its not that they feel compelled to throw out the forms, they just know that you don't walk with either one or the other. You learn to walk with both the forms and the formless. And this is non-dual thinking.

How to observe the natural world and how to be vulnerable and open. When the head, heart and body find freedom in the same moment, its presence and you are capable of unmediated inner experience. And you can go back to the forms with greater understanding and compassion and humility.

Nature is the first bible and the second bible came 14 billion years later. 

1/2 of the world does not have clean water. 

Spent too long worrying about who's in bed with whom instead of who even has a bed!

[Guided walk on my own Sunday afternoon and continued delving into questions. I felt like going to the original wound/abandoned dump pile spot again to say thank you and good bye. When I got there and after I said thank you and sat in silence for a while, there was nothing more to say. It told me to go wander on until I came to something that called me to have a conversation. So I did. Not soon after, a beautiful purple/rose colored round, smooth rock caught my attention. I said hello to it and introduced myself and told it why I was drawn to it. These are the words that came, which I later recorded as best as I could remember them:

Communion with a Rock

Your sparkle in the sun caught my eye,
Your pinkness, new-oldness, 
Your smooth, calm lake basin,
Unwounded, solid moon.
How you are in Earth,
On all sides and underside,
The top of you above the surface, 
Catching my attention.

I ask you if I can take you.
I promise I will keep you.
I promise. I wait.
I hear you say, "Leave me.
Know that I am here,
And there is a chord of connection,
between us, that grounds you down,
Into Earth, as I am. 
Solid. Calm. Unwounded, 
alongside the wounded place."

So, I leave you, rock, here.
I know you in my heart.

What are my tasks going away from this conference?
- Keep meditating
- Do a nature wandering experience at least 3 times a week
- Journaling and listening to voice
- Poetry at least once a week
- Practicing present mindedness in the everyday routine
- Solitude/withdrawal
- Yoga
- Go to meditation centers with others at least once a week
- Hiking/walking
- Dance
- Really avoid low consciousness situations and activities (violent movies, t.v., drinking/parties without a reason for celebration, negative or high drama people, limit internet and Facebook)
- Put self in unfamiliar, place self to be exposed to new things outside comfort zone and conversations with strangers
- Really listen to intuition/voice inside/outside in nature
- Be quiet when I want to speak and speak when I want to be quiet (especially in group settings)
- Positive affirmations to self of self
- Eat healthy, take good care of body
- Gratitude everyday
- Expect to be guided and remember that I am guided!
- Kindness to self and others
- Be where I am authentically as much as possible

Friday, January 27, 2012

Nature and the Human Soul Conference Day 3, Saturday, Jan 21st

Nature and the Human Soul Conference
Day 3, Jan 21st 2012 Saturday
Bill Plotkin and Fr. Richard Rohr
Hyatt Tamaya, New Mexico
1,000 Attendees from around the world

My Notes and Musings (there are a lot of them today)

8am Bill Plotkin

Confirmation might end with a leave taking.

When  you emerge, your ego is an agent for mystery. 
Purpose: facilitate experiential encounter with soul - your unique place meat to take with earth community. Finding your path to destiny. The iniatory process is not a straight line, its windy road. Inception is the point of entering into that process, a type of imitation. Only mystery determines when we make the shift. In every moment of our life, we are in some part of some iniatory process that ends with an iniatory passage. 

There is no recognizable form of the caterpillar in a cocoon, it liquifies, caterpillar soup. There are cells in the caterpillar, called imaginal cells, which know how to transform into a butterfly, imagining flight. 

Wanderer incessently crossing borders psychologically, spiritually, geographically, doesn't now exactly where to look. On her own looking for clues and destiny. A hide and seek - looking inside for it and in the outer world. Putting yourself in places to be exposed.

Developmental tasks:
1) Leave the home of adolescent personality and social scene. Bye. 
2) Hello. Exploring mysteries of nature and psyche. Striding deeper and deeper. How? Its really difficult in western society. How do you put psychological distance between yourself and mainstream american society?

What can you do/how can you wander given the limitations (population density etc.) A small % of college students are in stage 4. [I know I have been since I made the decision to transfer to College of the Atlantic when I was 20 and major in Human Ecology] In stage 4, the center of identity expands, a human among other humans.

Have to spiritually self-reliant. Wandering great distances geographically because we are often alone.

Relinquishing attachment to adolescent personality. Relinquishing one part of life without yet knowing what is coming next. Somehow, you have to get across this territory.

- Need to spend time addressing developmental defects from previous stages. Soulcraft work is where its at. Its counter-therapeutic. Its not therapy anymore. Therapy can be counter soul-craft.
- Adress any addictions like obsessions, the addictions that are keeping us stuck and attached
- Sacred wound work. Each of us is born with a particular vulnerability where we will be wounded. Something that wounds one person wouldn't another who didn't have that particular vulnerability. Its a wound that cannot be healed and isn't meant to be healed because its the entry to the depths, to the soul, to opening and allowing mystery to penetrate. The ego is not the problem - the problem is a rigid, immature ego. The goal is to mature the ego so it can be flexible enough and grow down into the soul. Its a psychological or spiritual sense of vulnerability, fragility inside.

We tend to experience ourselves as victims, but the core wound is a different kind of wounding, sacred, numinous. 

Core vulnerability, 1 or more wounding events. The places that are most tender hold great treasures. The wound becomes sacred when we can go back experientially. Starting in stage 4 it becomes possible and even necessary to go there (don't go before stage 4)

To relinquish attachments to adolescent ego:
- learning to choose authenticity over acceptance (in stage 3, it was learning to balance acceptance and authenticity. In stage 4, its practicing authenticity over acceptance, whenever possible)
- Making peace with past. What is left incomplete? Who do I need to forgive that I haven't yet? Take care of it now. [I know, I need less and less social acceptance as I move through this stage]
- Learning the art of misidentification. You misidentify from the life of the earlier 3 stages. How? Practicing meditation and being in the present moment. Developing a witness that is not attached to the previous life. Because parts of your personality are going to get really scared as you stride deeper and deeper, but as things come up, you have these skills of non-attachment.

Exercise: Leaving Home Walk on the Land: Wander aimlessly until you have a sense of mystery in and around you. You're surrendering, submitting yourself to the extraordinary mystery. Then wander more until you're drawn to another non-human that feels to you as if it too has left home. Be with this. Praise it for the way it is for its having successfully left home. Then tell it out loud your own deepest feelings about your own leaving home. Talk about ways you've left home (or about ways you've never left home and having been polishing your adolescent personality if that is the case) Listen at the deepest level to what is calling you toward something else. What do you really want in life? Even if it requires you to leave what you have now. Dare to claim it and wait it. Meet back in break-out groups to share at 10:20 in one hour.

[There was first a little road to the right, with footprints, or a place farther ahead that looked intriguing to me. I had to wander down that little road to the right, just to make sure it wasn't the right one. There were too many footprints and it deadened. So I went back toward the original place of intrigue in the distance, wandering through the brush to get there. Another road to the left came up that looked interesting, but I didn't need to take it to find out it wasn't right this time. I knew. And I kept going straight. I climbed a hill. At the top, I spotted a golf ball lying far from the field of golfers below. Was this the non-human object I was called to talk to, the one that had left home? Litterally it had, but it did not feel right. I bent down and picked it up. The words on the golf ball read: "Top Flite. Tour Range" so I pocketed it and continued touring the range. A few minutes later, I saw an abandoned road sign on the ground. Was this my object that had left home? Again, no strong feeling. The sign, however, said, "Keep Right" so I did. And I saw to my right about 100 feet ahead, what appeared to be a metal frame. I walked toward it, and came to a dumping site in a pit, strewn with metal carcases, barrels, and broken bottles. It reminded me of an abandoned foundation I used to adore exploring across from my house as a child. I walked around it seeing if any object in particular called to me. Then I realized, it was this spot of land itself that was calling to me. It was the land itself that had left home. The essence of this land had gone beyond the abandoned objects piled on it. The land stretched deep into the earth and far into the distant mountains. The land mingled with with the air and went up to the clouds. The energy of the land had left home in the sense that it had gone deeper and was not just the land of things dumped on it, but the land that spread all around nourishing itself from the undamaged parts of the world still in existence, gone deep into itself for validation and knowing of who it really was. The wound of abandonment was only a part. The metaphor of this place began tying into my own and mirroring me, talking to me: To bring beauty to where there are scars and dump piles and feelings or appearances of abandonment, in the spiritual sense, through either the physical transformation of abandoned objects into art (as I have done in various art/land art projects throughout my 20's or through shifting/transforming the unseen and intangible places of abandonment to beauty/healing. My longing is to make this my life, to embody this somehow - but I don't yet know how. I do have a sense of peace, just being with you, land, knowing that we are where we are and thats simply all we can be right now. I have a desire to keep entering into dialogue with nature, opening up, being receptive. You have more to teach me, the metaphor that is nature and how that mirrors myself. Life as an actual unfolding of mystery.]

11:30am Bill Plotkin

We are always leaving home. Allow yourself to be completely gripped by mystery. 

The 2nd task of the wanderer: Exploring mysteries of nature and psyche. Stage 4 is, as much as possible, a withdrawal. (Stage 5 is back to society with a gift to embody, back in a different sort of way)

Subtask: Aquiring and using soul craft skills. Techniques for soul encounter. That we might have a glimpse of the image at the center of what we were born with. 

Soul Encounter: an experience of the mystery that you have a unique relationship with. A revelatory vision of the image or story you were born with to live into the world. Glimpse of the primary theme. The largest conversation you can have with the world. The promise it will kill you to break. You know you have to embody this.

[Mine has something to do with Web - to connect the dots, to draw the lines of relationships, to catch the drops and support them, hold them, transform/heal them, relate them into something that gives them wholeness and beauty. Over the summer, was given in a dream, the assignment Web. Then talked to a spider weaving its web about a month later and wrote a poem about it, glimpses coming, but still not clear]

Skills: Dreamwork: (not interpreting) but it wants to change/crack the ego open. We do our best to assist the dream and be open to the dream doing its work on the ego.

Self-designed ceremony - if the mystery has called and you feel like answering back.
3 steps: 1) my ceremony is starting, draw a circle and step in 2) an action that says to the mystery what you want to say to it, generally a yes, I am willing to surrender and be at the mercy of that which the mystery has told me. Your knees will likely get week if its a good ceremony. Another way you know, is if the results are unexpected, a surprise, something that helps you wake up.

- Vision Quest
- Poetry/music/dancing
- sacred sexuality

Cultivating relationship to all of life:
- solitude
- nature wandering
- shadow work
- praising the world
- art of being lost
- befriending the dark and death
- developing relationship to spirit

12pm Richard Rohr

Ritual substituted for reality in religion, example: confirmation - even the expectation that it would really change you has been lost in the church. Very well disguised egocentrism - this is not any soul awakening or encountering its just glorified self-interest and its still "all about me"

We are being led and guided by forces, but you only receive that guidance if you open to it and expect guidance! If it is not a gift to the bigger than you, than it is not a gift to the community.

You expect to be used, you expect to be an instrument, and you allow it!

You do not rush toward closure and answers. You awaken subtlty, allowing and hearing the little sublets. To balance saying with not saying. To balance knowing with not knowing. To be at peace with not saying and with not knowing. You won't move to further stages if you don't have this peace with not knowing. Spiral dynamics and Ken Wilber.

When you move from one stage to the other, you have to go through a dark night because you don't know the next stage and you're going into it not knowing.

You have to have compassion for those who still "need to know" and be able to detach yourself enough to not care what others think of you. That is the bigger response. Being able to distance yourself enough to be okay with them not being able to hear you. You are able to hear them and feel compassion for where they are at and not need to change them.

If you really are initiated, you are able to turn your wound into a sacred gift.

People that don't or won't struggle with their core wound, won't go deep. 

What you do with your core wound, which invitees you to the rest of your life, but never goes away. 

2pm Bill Plotkin

Poem by William Butler Yates (poem about his soul encounter) written in his late 20's or early 30's. He also wrote a book called "A Vision". This poem is called, "The Song of Wandering Angus" It predicts what Yates did his entire creative life. Angus is the Irish God of Love, Beauty and Youth (not a cow!) Hazel is a magical tree, suggesting a magical place.

A time in your life when there is a fire in your head and you go out to the magic place that opens heart and belly and there you go fishing in the depths. At a magical time, dawn/dusk. Called by your true name. The true name. Poet spent the rest of his life plucking apples from the sun and the moon.

There are 3 phases of descent.

How do you recognize an encounter with your soul?
Soul Encounter Traits:
- experienced during a non-ordinary state (fast, dream, illness, substance - plant allies in sacred ceremonies)
- experience is very deeply moving (not just interesting) tend to feel a violation of who you thought you were.
- Uncanny, erie, numinous, mysterious, 
- shakes whole world to its foundations
- accompanied by synchronicities
- evokes profound emotions of hope, gratitude, joy and grief (grief for all the years lived without knowing) and fear for living with the burden
- boundless desire to live its and equal terror to do so
- to embody the image, would serve the whole community
- ecstatic, rapturous, beyond reason, lifts us out of ourselves
- relationship between this soul encounter and earlier unexplained mysterious experiences (the same theme that showed up then)
- you get a confirmation vision/dream/encounter about a month after the first encounter
- they end up being confirmed by the joy that comes through living them!

Exercise: Stage 4 practice: Outside. Bring journal. Prepared to offer gift. (Fears: nothing will happen and something will happen) could be a poem, tears, expression of yearning or joy. Consciously cross a threshold upon entry and return. Human crossing into sacred consciousness. A consciousness of mystery. A crossing such as crack, stream, branch, rock.

3 taboos during sacred practice: In the sacred time between thresholds, no eating, no speaking to humans, no human shelter. 

Wander aimlessly until you feel called by something, that really catches your attention! a place or thing. Once you feel called (if nothing calls, just have presence wandering) Wait until you're chosen. Observe the thing that chose you for a length of time. Record senses. Might offer a gift. Go very humbly. Then, introduce yourself out loud using words or sound. Tell this other being or place the deepest truth you can possibly tell right now about yourself. Why you've been wandering around waiting to be called. Might speek about your greatest doubts, questions, fears, yearnings. Can also speak in body language, song, poetry. Then tell the other about it. Describe its features and what it is about it that has interested you or repelled you. Keep going that way until it interrupts you (with a sound, strong emotion, etc)

Doing this is different than fabricating metaphors (like the last exercise for me) This is actually waiting to see what it has to say to you, not your mind fabricating metaphors. Have the conversation. Don't interrupt it. Keep going with conversation. Finally, express gratitude. Then cross over your threshold again. You're not necessarily going to learn anything about yourself here. Be back in breakout groups at 3:30.

[I wandered into an arroyo. Things like trees and rock mounds keep seeming interesting but not really grabbing my attention, so I kept going. Then something made me wander down little hill/mini canyon where I noticed miniature arches carved by rain in the earth. 3 arches. I peered in one, and saw what was calling me. A little round ball of earth that looked for all the world like it had a face, like Buddah. Senses recorded: awe, birth, some discomfort, fear, difficulty finding a comfortable place to sit and keep eye contact because of shifting sand and feet falling asleep, childlike, bringing back memories of childhood making miniature landscapes and houses, rough, cool sand down back, tiredness. Oooh, delight. Throughness. Entering. Penetration. Solid. Still. "You are out there and I'm talking to you out there feeling like you are also in my soul, in here. You are outside and inside at the same time. The line, the barrier, between us is imagined. When I put my hand into the archway and close my eyes, I can feel energy. It is only when I touch physical earth of the archway that I forget and think there is a barrier because I feel a barrier with my body.

Afterwards, writing about it, Little ball of dirt budda face, you pulled me over to talk. I offered it the two golf balls I found on previous wanderings. 1 golf ball said: Top flight, Tour Range. The 2nd golf ball said, "Practice, top flite, infinity" They symbolized for me the gift of willingness to wander and "Tour the range" and to practice constantly having presence and conversation with infinity, or mystery. At the end, when I was saying my gratitudes, and looking for another gift to give or words for a poem, I was instructed to take back one of the golf balls, the one that said "Pracitce, top flite, infinity" as a remembrance for the practice and the experience. 

My threshold was a crack in the road.]

4pm Bill Plotkin

Stage 5 "In the beginning, all you have is a dream" The shift between south and north hemispheres, starting the 2nd half of life. The youngest person in the western world Bill has seen at this stage was 25.

First half - world is in service to us. In the 2nd half, the ego is in service to the soul and the world. We are serving the world in a way we are only able to after soul initiation. Shortly before soul initiation, still experience soul as voice inside yourself or in nature, that voice, intuition, not sure why you have to do it, but you know you have to listen. After soul initiation, the world is reversed and the mature ego recognizes its in service to the soul, mystery. Its the greatest fulfillment.

Poem: "Revelation Must be Terrible" by David White

"You thought you were just going to keep learning stuff?"

"knowing you can never hide your voice again"

Soul apprentice at the Wellspring
Its a mystery bubbling up from the depths, coming to our consciousness now. Apprenticing to those mysteries and to a craft that will allow you to deliver those waters to your people. 

Danger: you could become so enamored by these insights, dreams, etc. that you don't do anything with them. Or Danger: you start building your irrigation ditches etc. and get caught up with building the delivery systems to the point that the ego gets inflated. And you lose track of where the wellspring even is.

Delivery system: craft, art, career, profession. A job is not a delivery system until you realize the soul gift you are delving. 

The soul doesn't care what delivery you use, it just says "embody me"

Tasks: Determine 1 or more delivery systems that will work well enough for you and your gift. You say, "Give me a clue for my delivery system" Soul says, "Thats not my job" You have to figure that out, maybe with the help of muse or mentors. Some things you don't know how, you just know.

The soul provides: Knowledge, abilities, values, the skills, talents you are just born with, no explaining why. Soul initiation is when an answer fully claims you and you accept your calling. There is a radical simplification of life. Problems that aren't relevant anymore, simplify. 

Task: How do I transform my personality so I become an effective vehicle for soul? 

A sacred wedding between soul and ego. A match made in heaven. Ego says, "Without you, I'd have no idea what my purpose is in life, soul you have given me that gift of embodying you, soul"

The specialty of the strategic mind is implementation not in knowing what to do or how to be in control. 

Soul says back, "I am completely incapable of embodying myself in the world. I don't have the hands and skills. You can make me real. I wouldn't be without you."

Task Cont.
Continuing exploration of relationships to soul. Still heading down in soul encounters. 

Exercise: Come back at 5:30, sunset is at 5:24.
Let yourself be pulled to non-human being that feelings like a wellspring of itself. Something that is manifesting. Look, feel and intuit its soul powers. What are the truths it makes everyday with its own body? Tell it about what you know about your soul image/story/power (or that you don't know and how you feel about that) What are you naturally good at? What are your qualities that people are inherently drawn to? What kinds of situations do you keep attraction? What life stories do you keep telling?

[I wander to a beautiful cactus who holds the setting sun in its arms. Cactus with Gold flowers. Beauty. Preciousness. Open arms, but prickly. Blooming. Opening. Holding light. Cradling rays along spines. Surviving desert dryness, heat, cold, wind. Surrendering and lifting up at once. Moving ever so slightly with the breeze. Unique.

I try to answer the questions in the exercise: stories: These are the ones I told in my spiritual autobiography for the Center of Action and Contemplations Internship Application. The stories of growing up in a loving family in nature in the Maine woods on a  farm with horses, of transferring to a small liberal arts college on an island in Maine and majoring in Human Ecology, of taking 6 months off to volunteer at a camp hill community that turned out not to be the spiritual healing I wanted/expected but a spiritual growth experience that challenged me greatly and which I feel grateful for, trip to Chile to make land art in the desert, Lots of Travling, The intensity of grad school, the need to do something creative and study something creative and totally challenge myself there despite the stress and pressure, Falling in love twice and what that taught me, and now the CAC internship has to be added in. The patterns I see myself going through - lots of ups and excitement, followed by periods of withdrawal/recharging/refinding direction. Soul/image/story/power/what I know of it: That it has to do with the place I'm most vulnerable to being wounded in: [abandonment, lack of validation/affirmation/attention/lack of validation for my intuition/feeling worthless/loss of identity/not capable] Something about bringing beauty to those places or through transforming those places. That its more than just the physical transformation of abandoned objects, but that it goes deeper than that into the transforming of unseen wounds. Maybe? I'm not sure. My dream about mindfulness vs. mindlessness. Web/connection. Communion with a spider building its web. The reminder to be the connector of the web and not the one caught. People have always said I'm good at bringing people together and holding friend groups together, creating situations that bring people together. People have admired my adventurous spirit (which to me, just seems natural and is not something I'm being brave about, its just the way I am. Travel sense and enjoyment. Sense of timing and pacing and focusing in creative projects. 

Not much time left, sun is going down.]

5:35 Richard Rohr

"You can't see until you're there. Until you see what you want to deliver, you just get caught up in the delivery systems. You've made the means, the end. Its a constant temptations, to make the medium the message - and often times, they're not the same thing. Stage 3 people accessorize the medium, protecting and defending it. Stage 3 church is preoccupied with minutia.

There's some work here. Preocupation with "Is my delivery system better than yours?" and no asking if there's any soul even to deliver!

Don't be too sophisticated about your delivery system either! Don't dismiss it immediately. Be prepared to be surprised. And don't judge a book by its cover. Sometimes there is a soul in there in that person. Instead ask, is this person a loving person? Is this person a happy person? If you're flowing, you're flowing and it doesn't matter what label or identification you have.

Appeal to courage, integrity and authenticity.

Yes, an individual journey. Its individuation that leads you down to a place thats communal and connected to all, that goes deep enough to connect you to those outside of your delivery system.

Any person operating from soul level bears fruit no matter what they do.

Its gonna happen and you know its gonna happen. If you have discovered your soul, it will be drawn out of you, others will notice it and help to draw it out of you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nature and the Human Soul Conference Day 2, Friday, Jan 20th

People wandering off on their wandering exercises 

People working on their life maps and journals

The Hyatt Tamaya Hotel and Sandia Mountains

The arroyo during my "Baby Praise Wander"

A tree noticed on the return from my "Baby Praise Wander"


Nature and the Human Soul Conference
Day 2, Jan 20th 2012 Friday
Bill Plotkin and Fr. Richard Rohr
Hyatt Tamaya, New Mexico
1,000 Attendees from around the world

My Notes and Musings

8am Bill Plotkin

Early Childhood
How do we welcome/support a newborn child in a way that they will grown into an authentic adult? - to increase the chance that they become themselves and are able to embody God or the mystery in their unique way?

Goal: to sustain/develop child's trust in self/family/community/world

Tasks: child doesn't have any tasks at this stage. The parents carry the tasks:
1) Preserve child's innocence (present centeredness)
2) Formation of intact, culturally viable, healthy ego. Acquire basics of language and social skills. 
Parent's task is to balance these two tasks, which have a natural tension. Preserving and embracing child's natural wildness and curiosity, celebrate from infancy to age 4 or so, saying yes to needs (at this point there are no wants, infants only have needs)

How? Careful observation and mirroring of personal qualities. Infant receives the message "We see you! You belong here! We're glad you're here!"

"I, thou relationship to world"

To bring back in current life stage involves: Being purely, innocently present to the now, encouraged through meditation, yoga, dance, music which enhances your capacity to be present in all relationship.
Also, solitude in nature - outside the human -colonized environments, also expressive arts - working with materials, allowing to come through you (not with any intention to sell or impress) just, what wants to show up? Funnel through. What allure you? Apprenticing to own intuition. Hang out with infants and be present with.

Praise Walk Exercise: Praise each thing or place in nature that calls to you, out loud, drawing, etc. Embodying, not just appreciating, but praising. Be back in 45 minutes, by 9:30am. Then work with your life map anything to add to first life stage.

9:45am Richard Rohr

No one gets perfect mirroring. No parents know how to mirror perfectly. Wounding at the same time as mirroring. We're very vulnerable. 

An unitiated parent still wants the child to mirror them!

We all carry an original wound. Unmet needs keep recurring in the 20's and 30's (affection, validation) Sometimes revert to childish acting where you then pass on your wound to another. 

10am Bill Plotkin

Middle Childhood
Book: "Living by Wonder" by Richard Lewis

Naming - the transition to having conscious self-awareness. We know what a name is at that time. There is often a really big dream that shows up around age 4 or 5. That becomes an essential key. If you are a parent, keep note of these dreams for your child. Do any of you remember a dream from that age?

Garden/explorer Stage 2

Goal: learn the givens of nature and culture

Tasks: balance gradually shifts from the parents to the child
1) learn enchantment of natural world and feel fully at home in it
2) Learn cultural ways of your people, necessary to learn one way of being human first in order to become fully human later.

Becoming at home in body, in our imaginations, and in our emotions. As much outdoor playtime as possible. People who had natural childhood and free playtime outside are those who find/see the metaphor they are during a vision fast/quest. 

Book: "Last Child of the Woods" by Richard Luve, also Book: "Saving our child from Nature Deficit Disorder"

Discovering enchantment of human body. Imagination cultivated in childhood and onwards is the single most important faculty in the descent to soul later on. Imagination is rooted in nature play in childhood. "Imagination is nature" William Blake

Every emotion has a treasure in it. Each tells a child (and parents) about that child. Taught to celebrate all emotions and find the jewel in them. 

How much were you as a child exposed to these dimensions of healthy culture? [an extraordinary amount. Especially imagination and out door play, that was my childhood]

Social practices - languages, how to celebrate, grieve, how do you support someone else in grieving? Prayer

Values - Children in stage 2 need to be taught values. Because they don't know what they are yet. Need to know what they are first before they can tinker with the values and make them their own later in life. 

General knowledge: Computers and television do not aid in knowledge!, especially in stage 2. Stage 2 is not the time to teach a child how to save the world. First they must learn to love the world and feel at home in it and learn their relation to others. Important for children to learn history of their ancestors. Important for them to have an ethnic identity. 

Mythology - stories that suggest reciprocal relationship with the world help us pose big questions, enlivening metaphors. 

Cosmology - the big story of the world. Where did world come from?

Education in stage 2 - essential in and out of school to learn about the natural world. Thinking is only one way to know the world. The four windows of knowing are:
1) Thinking
2) Feeling (including emotions)
3) Senses (observation, sensing)
4) Imagination (most ignored and repressed in western society) Why? Because thats the one most essential to grow up. Why doesn't culture want you to grow up? Because its bad for business! Imagination is the way to find out what is real that thinking, feeling and sensing can never get us to.

[imagination is real and where it brings you is wonderful connection to the unseen]

Tools to bring you back here and complete unfinished tasks from this stage of life:
- multiday solo wandering
- Celebrating and cultivating imagination
- Apprenticing to dreams so they can work on you
- Creative writing, playing, gardening, dance, music, poetry, places to muse, basic crafts with hands

Exercise: Go for a walk/adventure as a 7 - 10 year old. Travel back in time to childhood. Sense as you did then. Feel as you did. Think as you did. Imagine as you did. Collect treasures. Draw. Let go of adult agenda. Pretend. Explore. Build. Observe. Wonder. Skip. Allow world to be new again. Bring a treasure back with you and share it and your experience with someone.  Be back in 45 minutes. 

[I lay in the leaves and looked up at the sky and rolled around and got covered in leaves. I tried to play an imaginary game with leaves and sticks. It was hard to believe in it like I did as a child. I looked around and spotted a perfect, white see shell or snail shell, the size of a grape. It was my treasure for the day. Where did it come from? I told the person I shared it with that it reminded me of a sea shell my dad gave me when I was 9, which I still have. Inside it is a note of appreciation of who I am and who I am becoming from him.]

12:15pm Richard Rohr

Its not what you say to your kids, but the energy you say it with. Your child will be excited about what you're excited about. 

"Growing up is bad for business" We live in a culture, and sadly a church, that doesn't really want us to grow up.

Find what you can be excited about! Where your energy can naturally flow!

The western world is pretty ritually starved. No healing rituals for those coming out of war or out of middle childhood or out of any of the stages of life. 

2:30pm Bill Plotkin

Robert Bly Poem: "One pice of Bad Information"

Stage 3 Early Adolescence, Thespian at the Oasis
"The whole world is a stage" especially applies to stage 3. Pscychological stage, usually begins between 10-13.

In this stage, we begin experiencing ourselves as members of a peer group (sex, society) that goes beyond nature and family. Puberty is the first passage where we're conscious of ourselves on both sides of the transition.

The parents are losing a dependent child, or a child actually. Instructions in sexual identity and puberty rights are extremely important. 

There are 2 stages of adolescence between childhood and adulthood, stage 3 is early adolescence.

Goal: Fashion authentic social identity, social individuation, cultivating a unique social presence, becoming yourself socially. Discover that life is a kind of drama and we realize "Its up to me to cast myself in a role that feels good to me and that everyone else is doing the same" What role do we want to star in?

It is a stage that is most gender-differentiated in social roles. After stage 3, gender differentiation lessons because part of stage 4 involves cultivating the gender side that is weaker and balancing that out. Societal archetype for masculine: societal entrepreneur - emphasis on competition and achievement. Feminine societal archetype: Communal Gatherer - emphasis on direct care cooperation, the fleshing out of what already is, wants heart connection and warmth of relationship.

World becomes more personally constructed and chosen. 

Task: To create secure and authentic social self that generates both social acceptance and self-approval. What parts of my persona are acceptable to peer group?

- value exploration and principles. Adult parent needs to say, "I enjoy/value how my life is. I see you becoming something different. I am proud of you"

- Emotional skills get more sophisticated, there are 4 phases of emotion:
1) Feel it, let it happen and run its course
2) Go inward, what was that about? What did it tell me about me and my values? (not to criticize self)
3) Action - how will I act on it to make the world or my relationship to the world and others better?
4) Illumination - step back and look at the whole cycle and say "Well, that was interesting. What did it teach me about begin human?"

-Art of conflict resolution.

- Status assigning skills - getting good at determining what place in peer group (friend, relationship, avoid) Not being too passive or too aggressive.

- sex and sexual relationships

- sustenance skills - how are you going to provide

- Studying of human/nature responsibility

People in a healthy society will not accept those that damage the web of life.

- Welcoming home the loyal soldier, a lot of inner critics and inner flatterers

Book - "My name is Chelus and I'm in Recovery from Western Civilization" 
There is another passage often necessary in western culture, but that did not exist in indigenous culture. It is the passage, called awakening, from ego-centric early adolescence to eco-centric early adolescence. Not to be confused with the passage from early adolescence to late adolescence.

Choose one of these two exercises, do the first one if you can and are up for the challenge.

Exercise1 : Teenager Diad Walk - go for a walk with someone else you don't know. Tell each other about your teen years, first experiences. How well is your authentic self doing now? How are you with conflict resolution? Emotions? Sex? Relationships? How are these issues showing up now? 15 min. each.

Exercise 2: Wound Walk: Go out on land and let yourself be drawn to something that looks or feels wounded to you. Look at it very closely. Let your emotions flow. Tell it out loud about your own roundedness. Feel/sense/imagine your wound or roundedness. Make/create something for/with the wounded part, forgive, accept, hold that wounded part. Record any discoveries. 45 min. then meet with breakout group to share.

Musings: Amazing diad walk with a lady in her 60's. I knew I wanted to challenge myself to the died walk.  But I knew I wanted an older woman for where I'm at in my comfort level. It was so incredible to share so much with a stranger and have her share with me. We had a connection and a lot of similar experiences to share. I learned some wisdom from her, which reaffirmed what I already knew: "Opening up to your wound and being able to live vulnerable to it is directly related to your bringing your gift into the world" "You do the best you can with the resources you have and next time you will have more resources and will do better" For me, I shared about desire for validation, appreciation, affirmation, wanting my intuition to be validated, when in reality, I am the one who validates and honors my own intuition. I also need to learn to live with not having my intuition validated by anyone else but me and opening myself to the vulnerability and criticism that may come with that. Learning to live with following my intuition regardless of how people respond to me, good or bad. That will allow me to be more present in relationship to others and the world. We also talked about how no mirroring is perfect and no wounds process is perfect either. I was still grateful to hear an honoring of my intuition from the lady I partnered with who left me with the words, "Its young people like you that give me hope for the world. You will have a good relationship and you will be able to raise a child to become an authentic adult."

5pm Bill Plotkin

He gave the current western growth stages (notice nothing beyond stage 3, yikes!)

Stage 1 - Obedience training and entitlement Training
Stage 2 - Primary socio economic training
Stage 3A - Conformity and rebellion
Stage 3B - Secession (well, I was hoping there would be another game, another way, but I guess tho is it and I've got to play getting a career and getting settled and moving up in the world)
Stage 3C - Capitulation (suppressing soul and inner voice)
Stage 3D - Management
Stage 3E - Pasture and Playtime (retirement)
Stage 3F - Failure (Grandma's failing again)

Lack of feeling a personal authenticity leads to a willingness to give up and play these roles. Role and impersonation (mask) in order to be socially accepted. Leads to an undermining of present-centeredness, which leads to a diminishment of wonder, which leads to not understanding our place in the more than human world, which diminishes the capacity for relationship with others and ourselves, which leads to a lack of presence. 

How did we get here? This is the sacred wound of the human species. Yes. This is the only way it could happen. 

The solution is to address the latest task of where you're at. The symptoms are there because of developmental business that calls to be addressed and worked beyond. Wildnernes therapy is a major solution.

Going back to the Awakening passage that seems to be a modern phenomenon of western culture. 
What happens to a large group of westerners is a passage called Awakening from egocentric to ecocentric early adolescence in stage 3, where people cart addressing the unfinished business as if they just woke up realizing, "The American dream is something more like a nightmare - to work harder and make more money so I can buy more stuff" Awaking from the trama of industrial society. Moving from viewing the world as a collection of objects to viewing it as a communion of subjects as Thomas Berry puts it.

The awakening is often triggered by tragedy/loss, knocks us off sideways enough to take an objective look at where we are and what we've been aspiring too. Radically change their lives and move from ego to eco centric stage 3. Awakening is the passage westerners are most in need of, more even than the descent to soul.

In an ego-centric stage 3: Person believes or acts as if the goal in life is individual self-improvement and believes the capitalist society is sane. [thank my parents and God, I was never here]

In an eco-centric stage 3: person believes and acts as if self improvement isa  means to an end, is in service to something greater, to serve the more than human world. The ego is not understood as the central character in life. The ego is seen as a member of vital community. Has not yet begun descent to soul and doesn't quite know yet what soul is. [this was where I was at, probably from 13 or so until 20, when I left home spiritually]

Bill says, a very small percentage of Americans, like the entire indigenous cultures, do not go through this awakening phase, does not exist for them. These are the ones who had lots of access to outdoor play in nature, imagination, and ignited adults raising them. When Bill asked for a raising of hands of who did not have to go through the "Western Awakening" very few people raised their hands. I did, but was shy to raise it all the way up because of how few people did! I was shocked. I know I never had to go through this awakening phase, but had never realized how lucky and rare this was until now. How lucky and rare to have access to nature and imagination and initiated parents that raised me to never believe from the start in the american dream or the industrial society climb, to know that that was false from a young age and to know that developing a relationship with the divine and following my own excitement, no matter where it led, was completely acceptable and encouraged in me from my parents. What an awful lot of gratitude I owe to them and my brook-side child hood home in Maine and to my undergraduate degree in Human Ecology, which stressed the exploration of relationship between humans and the environment and making that relationship better in whatever field you go into.

Stage 4 ego understands itself in service to the world.

A person in stage 3 doesn't understand what stage 4 is about, what the descent to soul is, but they may think they do. Analogy of a 9 year old not knowing what sex is, but thinking they do. [Haha, I had no idea what sex was at age 9 and did not presume to know. I knew that I would know later on when the time was right and I wasn't going to worry about it until then]

Awakening involves a type of dying to consumer culture agenda. An agenda we're all steeped in every day of our lives. A type of dying not necessary for those raised by initiated parents in eco-centric environments. Very few people don't have to go through this awakening. [I know that I didn't and don't have to go through this, because I never believed it and fell asleep. Boy, is it hard not to though!]

The passage from stage 3 to 4 is called Confirmation
Poem "The Journey" by Mary Oliver
"Must go out into the storm. It has your name on it. You know what you need to do."

You heard a new voice that you recognized as your own. "To save the life of your soul" That is enabling you to be born. The soul waters are flowing under your everyday life and one day, you will go down deep enough, through the opening your wound creates, down where there is an opening"

What is being confirmed? Mystery is doing the confirming. You hear call to spiritual adventure and you know it involves a descent. [Yes] You have healthily completed an adolescent identity [Yes]
The only purpose was to build it, not to live in it. [Yes] You've done well enough, have an adequate adolescence. You're ready for the descent to soul. A shift in the primary question - who am I beneath my social persona? Deeper. What is life really about? Beyond getting a job and establishing a primary relationship, traveling, raising a family, volunteering? What is it beyond? What for me is he difference between sex and romance? Between social network and real community? Between companion and real friend? Between job and real soul work? Between ambition and real vision for life? [I've been asking and searching these questions since mid-teens I think]

Most Americans have accepted having compensatory ambitions rather than a revelatory vision for life. 

What is soul? Consciousness? To be fully human?

A large number of teenagers come up against these questions and they find no ignited adults or elders to guide them, so they bump off, maybe to return later in their early 20's late 20's or mid-life crisis, or not at all.

Marten Prechel Book [haha, I'm reading one of his books right now called "The Toe Bone and the Tooth" that my room mate recently let me borrow]

Confirmation is the shift in what your world is, what it means to be human. An utter mystery. Understood that ego is meant to be the servant of mystery!

"The shape that waits in the seed of you to grow and spread its branches against a future sky" - David White

Dance. Express Unique relationship with Mystery what has been stirred in you?

Musings: At the end of today, I went back and did the stage 1 childhood/infant exercise, the praise one from yesterday. Yesterday, I was not up for doing it at the time and went back to my room for quiet and meditation instead. Today, on my own and with a greater chunk of time at my hands, I wandered pretty far out into an arroyo. I crossed through culvert (something I used to love doing as a child) and began to imagine myself as an infant, fully present to the world. My praising came in infant talk, no words, only sounds and chirps, like an animal, crawling and walking wobbly and unsteady. It was so much fun! I wanted to praise and gurgle at everything! When I crossed back through the culvert, I entered back into my own stage, but the presence of the infant carried with me for the rest of the night. In the hot tub and talking in the hotel room with people, I found myself, very alive and funny and amused with life.