In many earth-centered spiritual traditions, a young person is expected at some point to go off alone into the wilderness. There, he fasts and prays until he is given a dream or vision. Often, it is a Power Animal that delivers the message he is meant to receive. This he brings back to the shaman, who helps him interpret his experience. The Vision Quest is an important rite of passage that initiates the young person into adulthood.
In our society, the Vision Quest is a bit of an alien concept. But it’s one we would do well to adopt. I think the most beautiful and powerful thing about it is that in choosing to undergo such a spiritual quest, the mind (ego) must consciously relinquish control.
You hear a lot about “vision” in success circles. However, you rarely hear people talking about being led
by spirit in this context. Usually it’s used as a synonym for strategic planning.
When your vision consists solely of strategy and planning, it becomes a mind game. If you’re sharp, it can lead to powerful results. But rarely will they be results that lead to the highest good for all involved. Thought is powerful, but it is localized. Relying on thought, or mind, alone may work well in the short term, but if you want to be sustainable and successful in the long run you’ve got to let Spirit lead the way. And that means getting your ego to support the process by stepping aside so you can open to the flow and guidance that comes through.
I’ve come to understand that vision questing is possible for us modern folk, too, even if we never get the chance to spend four days alone in the wilderness. In fact, it’s not only possible, it may well be an essential practice to take up if we are to regain our collective sanity.
Here is my recipe:
Spend time alone, daily if you can, unplugged, with no urgent agenda, and connected somehow to the natural world. This can mean sitting in your yard watching ants, taking unstructured walks outside, or even taking a bath. (Water is a natural element.) Whatever you choose to do, let this be a time of opening your awareness to your environment and your physical experience. You will probably experience mind chatter, but keep bringing your awareness back to your senses.
In time (this may take hours, days, months, or years, but however long it takes is right for you), you will find that you suddenly will begin receiving flashes of insight or ‘downloads’ of wisdom. Perhaps you’ll start tuning into messages from your power animals or guides. Or you’ll start receiving vivid and meaningful dreams. Or, you may simply start noticing that you just “know” things. This is Spirit speaking to you. (You’ll know it’s Spirit speaking and not something else, because it feels safe, true and right.)
This type of “mini” vision questing is not as dramatic as the traditional way, but it can still make a profound impact on your life. Try it!
Have you ever done a full blown vision quest? Do you engage in “mini vision questing?” Please share your experiences below!