Experience: The Still, Small Circle
There I was, alone on the side of a mountain at 8,000 feet with nothing but the clothes on my back, a sleeping bag, a tarp, and four gallons of water, confined within a circle ten feet in diameter. It was August, 1999 and I had submitted myself to a traditional Native American vision quest that would last four days.
I was among 14 other sojourners led by a wise couple who had led many such quests for people like us. People seeking to see through the layers of domesticated comfort. Layers that form an invisible veli that tend to blind us to our natural instincts, intelligence, and connection to Earth and Spirit.
Laying in my circle gazing up at the cloudy blue sky, one of the first insights that dawned on me was just how much I needed this. Being plugged into the endless hamster wheel of thinking and doing while strapped to a desk and staring at a screen inside an artificial environment, it’s easy to forget what’s real. By choosing to slow down and literally plant my body onto the earth in the quiet stillness of nature naturally invited my inner stillness…my true nature to the fore. This felt right. It felt good, wholesome, and healing. So many amazing things happened during those four days that live on in my memory and in my orientation to life.
Relevance: Perspective grows in silence
Intentions are invitations. I went into this circle armed only with my intention. I was told that this intention would probably be rendered meaningless in the circle given the radical shift in perspective that I’d likely gain upon leaving it. I found this to be pretty much true. Still, I recognized that setting an intention does tend to open our hearts and minds to be receptive enough to receive new perspectives as they become available.
Your nature is Nature. The biggest shift my perspective is difficult to describe as it was less conceptual than it was contextual. Let’s just say that I felt like a person coming into nature when I entered the circle. Coming out of it, I felt that I was nature. While some of the things I experienced in that circle might be described by a rational mind as psychotic or at least imaginary. I can tell you that my connection with Earth and Life became more real and visceral than I had ever experienced before. It hurt to return to my normal life in a house.
Application: Space and Time
Space inside is reflected on the outside. During a time when we’ve all been forced to withdraw from our typical frenetic pace, take time daily to embrace the stillness within by sitting still and being quiet, preferably outside among living things. This stillness contains so much that you didn’t know you were looking for.
Shake off information for more perspective. We are so conditioned to look for more data when we are confused or need to make an important decision. Sometimes, it’s not more input that is needed. Often all that’s needed is the space and time for the best action to bubble up, simply to be seen. Give yourself the gift of space and time regularly to invite rather than force the guidance you’re looking for.