I recently went on an Acharya/Teacher Vision Quest. The assignment was to go into nature with various questions to answer about my current path as a yoga teacher, questions about my strengths, my challenges, the personal blocks that hold me back, how I would like to grow and evolve in my teaching. I was to move along a path stopping at points on the path to find symbols in nature and write and reflect on the questions given. I thought about where I could go as I really wanted to leave the city for the day. Who better to help me find a secret, serene nature spot but my mother, the ultimate tree hugger, a title she owns proudly, as she really hugs trees. Also, my mother is an excellent driver on the freeway and me, well I am just getting my, shall we call them, freeway legs. I am getting them.
I needed to work with my quest in silence and I knew my mother would be a fine companion in this as she can have fulfilling connection and conversation with the trees and other divine life forms in the forest for hours.
In the beginning of the quest I was to ask in my own way for guidance and support.
I ask for guidance from inner spirit and outer spirit, to open me up to my highest wisdom, to bring forth the highest love, light, insight and power within me. I ask these forces raise my consciousness and intuition in service of my learning. I ask that these forces and my learning be in service to people of this planet so that I may support them in their journeys of healing and personal evolution. May compassion guide me and become an accessible medicine for all.
After parking and having a quick snack we were off on the nature trail! We were the only ones on the path. How peaceful you may be thinking? Well, yes after about 10 horror movie scenarios popped in and out of my head. We could be killed out here! After my horror movie medley ceased, I settled into the gift of the forests peace around me. My mother had no fear. This fear is not something that has been with me as a usual companion in nature, too many recent scary movie nights on Netflix.
Interesting I was starting this path with fear I thought, might as well use it! I used the fear as a practice of steadying my being and trusting literally the path in front of me. The trail was clearly marked with a few forking paths here and there and I felt grounded in our tree filled environment.
My mother and I are strong in many areas but directions and locating ourselves in a physical space is not one of them. After a life time of getting lost, losing our cars in parking lot after parking lot, we know this about ourselves. I just live totally in the moment I used to tell people as an excuse for why I got lost so often. Well my mother and I have admitted our problem for years now and we have gotten better! In fact I can’t remember the last time I was wandering around in tears in a parking lot calling to my lost car that never answers back.
As we continued on the path, me answering my quest-ions, the path started to look a little rougher. There were more sticks, leaves, bushes and rocks on the path. Clearly people hadn’t been here for a while. My mother and I kept moving. How nice of us to clear the path a little for the next group that would come.
Ahead of us the path opened up as if it were a mouth that wanted us to come into it. We decided to explore the area. We couldn’t get too far off. As the scene shifted from designated trail to wilder woods I looked around my environment for a marker. I remembered Hansel and Gretel and I for one was not going to end up in the oven at some witches house! I saw what looked like the stump of a tree with three pieces of wood growing out of it. My first thought is that it looked like a middle finger. I didn’t want nature flipping me off to be my marker so I changed it into a geyser. Ok, got it, I thought to myself.
We wandered a little while longer, I was gathering great insight and feeling beautifully connected to the world within and outside of me. After reflection on my third question we starting walking back to the main trail. It seemed straight forward enough, really, I mean it’s not like we were snaking around all over the place. As we walked along thinking we were returning to the main trail head, I knew, we knew, we were lost. We started laughing at first because of course we were lost, this is what happens to gals like us! But then we started to get a little worried. Those horror movie scenes that went away earlier were starting to come back. Was it just the clouds moving over the sun or?
We started back the other direction in hopes that was the right way. I remembered my geyser and started looking everywhere for it. I am going to find it I kept repeating, and with confidence. We walked and I looked and we walked and we looked. After a while I saw it! We were going to get out alive! No witch, no scary creatures, no missing my evening yoga class! As we approached the wooden geyser, I realized what the shape truly was, it was an anchor. It was my anchor, our anchor.
We returned to the clearly marked path, started walking again in a contented silence and then stopped by a beautiful river to breath and be and for me to ask my last question.
When I finished the quest I was filled with insight and hope from the questions and the little gifts of nature that illuminated my teaching path. I celebrated my ability to get lost in the woods but with an anchor. This experience mirrored for me my own growth and ability to return to my center, to locate and ground myself in the world, in my environment. When I am swept away by dramas, fears, passions, confusions, a wild adventure, or just simply lost, I have a solid anchor in my center and skills to find one in the outside world and I will find my way back. Like that little baby spider I saw on my path swinging down from a branch and then crawling back up to her stability, I can and will return to this home I have worked so hard to build inside of myself.