How can a modern person be spiritual? There are many obligations to modern life. There are bills, children to raise, aging parents to help, chores to do, etc. How can one retreat to daydream and ponder life?
Right now, in my life, I need to retreat and go inward. I wish I was in ancient times where I could spend time in a forest or climb to the top of a hill or mountain to reflect. My wise ancestors spent time in the forest and in caves to meditate. Sometimes I wish I was in simpler times.
My Buddhist teacher, Bhante Sathi, said that it doesn’t matter what time you live in. Every time period has its struggles and challenges. He said it’s essential to train your mind – this is urgent. He told a story about his neighbor. His neighbor was busy and she said she didn’t have time to meditate. She wanted to meditate but she filled her day with other things. Then she found out she had cancer. All the other “things” didn’t matter anymore. Things are like large balloons. They are big and appear to be special but filled with nothing. It is important to set our priorities. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. What is important to you?
I decided to find answers to my questions by doing a shamanic journey with a recording of drumming on my iPod. According to Wikipedia, “Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world.” Shamans are in every culture around the world.
I have done many shamanic journeys before. I use it as a tool to dig deeper into my subconscious mind. Sometimes I get answers and sometimes I do not. The journey taps into my imagination.
I did a 15 minute shamanic journey. My journey started out on a wooden dock that extended out into Lake Waconia – where I live. I have used this entry point many times. I ran on the dock toward the water and jumped into the lake. I allowed myself to sink to the bottom of the murky lake. One harmless shark swam by me. I found the latched door at the bottom of the lake. It was square-shaped and made of rusty metal. I opened the door and found myself in another body of water. This water was deeper and clearer. The water was blue with small fish swimming around. As I sank a little deeper I noticed that I was a mermaid with long blonde hair and a blue tail. It felt natural for me to be a mermaid. Then all of a sudden I was trapped in a large glass box. I could see all around me but I was stuck in a square box. I put my hands on the glass. I needed to find a way out. I found another square latched door at the bottom of the glass box. I opened it and I entered space. I was floating in space and I was formless. I could see the stars in the distance and the milky way. I was suspended in space. I was stuck, again. I felt calm but I also felt an urgency to keep moving.
I stayed in space thinking my journey was over. I accepted the fact that maybe this was all that I was to see and experience. Then I saw a portal…a tunnel. I floated towards to the portal and I was pushed down into the spinning tunnel. Then I was dropped into a new world. This world looked a lot like earth. The only difference was the buildings were oblong and metal.
One grey alien greeted me. He wanted me to come into one of their oblong buildings. I followed him into the building and he had me sit in a chair that was a simulator. There were other aliens standing around me. They were about to hook me up to the simulator but I became fearful and I jumped up and ran out of the building. Through mental telepathy I told them wasn’t ready to continue. They let me go.
I ran up the hill to a hobbit-like home. It was a simple house with earth all around it. I have been to this house many times in shamanic journeys. This was where my spiritual guide lives (one of them). I opened the door and sat at usual kitchen table. The home was comfortable with simple wooden furnishings, candles, and a wood stove. My guide sat across me. She is an older woman; a reflection of myself in old age.
She held both of my hands in her hands. She had kind eyes. She asked me, “What do you want?” I told her that I am struggling to find time to be spiritual in my present life. She told me that time is an illusion. I have plenty of time. She also told me there is nothing to possess…only being. She told me to keep going. I was on the right track.
I could sense that my time was up. I was waiting for the call back in the drumming. My guide asked me if I wanted to dance to the drumming. So while holding hands I danced with my guide until it was time for me to go. Once the drum beat changed I headed back up; the same way I came down. I left the hobbit house, passed the oblong buildings, went up the tunnel, and went into space. Then I opened the latched door to the first body of water, then opened the second latched door to Lake Waconia. I emerged from the water and found myself back on the wooden dock. My journey was complete.
My guide said time is an illusion and I have plenty of time. So back to my questions: How can a modern person be spiritual? How can one retreat to daydream and ponder life? Each person has a unique life and unique circumstances. In my own life, I need to set priorities. My priorities include mediating every day. According to my Buddhist teacher, when we die we lose everything…except our mind. Therefore, we need to exercise our mind.
There is a lot of symbolism in shamanic journeys and dreams. My mentor who is a Franciscan Sister said that it’s important to have someone help interpret the meaning of the dreams. It’s good to get an outside perspective. We may have clouded judgment or we may not “see” what another person sees.
I still have a need to retreat to meditate, daydream, and ponder. I decided to go on a solo hermitage retreat. I will stay in a small one room cabin for the weekend. I will have no technology with me. I will eat simple foods and journal with a notebook and a pen. I will have no contact with the outside world. I will recharge and reconnect with nature.
“The new psychologies of hypnotic suggestion and ‘creative visualization’ are increasingly aware that we are capable of infinity more than the assumed constraints of ‘physical laws’ on our bodies and minds would have us believe.” – Lawrence Blair