Vision Quest, Part Uno

Vision Quest Photo2Me and my fellow Vision Quest warriors helping to build a sweat lodge that we would be using for the week ahead.

 

While I was in between jobs here in Utah, I was able to complete an 8-day Vision Quest through the Oklevueha Native American Church.  What is a Vision Quest, might you ask?  It is a Native American tradition that goes back many generations.  Initially it was intended to help young men figure out what their path in life was.  It consisted of a series of ceremonies led by elders and included a complete fast for four days and nights, alone at a sacred site in nature.  The Vision Quest I attended had ceremonies, fasting, and the purpose of setting an intention to follow through on through the Quest and once the Vision Quest was completed.  The Vision Quest has 4 distinct components:

 

  1. Severance (you prepare to leave your ordinary world to quest.)
  2. Liminal Time (you step across the limitations of ordinary life to face the sacred. In this stage, you will face the tests that you have created for yourself.)
  3. Transformation (you incorporate, or embody, the essence of the gifts or lessons given.)
  4. Reunion (you bring the benefits of your quest for the renewing of self, your community, the planet, and “the ten thousand worlds.”)

 

At the particular Vision Quest that I attended there were many different activities and about 14 of us total (including staff.)  The first part of the Quest was spent on introductions, eating meals together, and ceremonies.  The middle part of the quest was spent alone in nature by ourselves (no tent, just a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and the stars above) for three days.  While we were each alone for those three days, we fasted the whole time and just had a jar of peyote tea to keep us company (the amount of peyote was minuscule, just enough to feel a slight change in the senses.)  When we rejoined with each other we shared our experiences, did a sweat lodge ceremony, a fire walk and a prayer circle.  And then the last part of the Quest we spent doing the full 24-hour peyote ceremony (this was the real nitty-gritty, face your fears and have time collapse on you-type of peyote experience.)  Throughout the whole quest there were pipe ceremonies, drum circles, and prayer circles.

 

I came back about a week ago and many friends and family have been asking me of my experience.  While I have given them little snippets here and there about my Vision Quest, it feels like I haven’t been able to give them the full story.  I think that part of it is that I went through so many different layers, I am still trying to remember it all.  Thank goodness I brought my journal with me and actually stuck to my intentions of writing in it.  So I wanted to type out all of my journal pages and give everyone the raw, unfiltered information of my experience straight from the source.  Also, because there were so many journal pages, I am going to break it into a few different blog posts–so this is just the first part!  I hope that my words resonate and inspire you (or at the very least entertain you.)  Enjoy!

 

Why do I want to do a Vision Quest?

I want to go truly within to remember why my Spirit came down here.  What is my true mission?

 

I want to be able to open up in every moment, to have an open heart.  My intention for this Vision Quest: I am open, I am clear, I am passionate.

 

9/2/17

What a trip.  I am stone-cold sober and I feel as if I am tripping.  I am super fucking nervous about this next week, I’m not going to lie.  I know that I have a ton of unhealed shit that’s going to come up for me.  For now, I’d like to mention that I am so grateful to be in my warm tent, I am so grateful that I made it to camp safely, I am grateful that I got to hang out with my aunt and uncle visiting from Minnesota for a couple of days prior to this.  It was so crazy to see them.  I was grateful that we got to do Zion’s together and have lots of yummy food, I knew that I’d want to eat a lot before embarking on this spiritual journey.

 

I have had déjà vu multiple times today and even though I’m feeling a bit shy and nervous around new people, they all kind of feel like family, they seem familiar to me.  Nina, one of the staff, told me that there is a labyrinth at Kayenta in St. George, I had no idea about that, but the way that she talked about it, it seemed so familiar.  She was telling me that she felt spirits there.  I am sleepy, but I want to keep writing.  Half of the Vision Quest peeps are out there, I feel bad being anti-social, but I feel tired.  Look at me go, I’m just writing to do something. 

labrynthThis was the labryinth she was telling me about that I visited shortly after I got back to St. George from my Vision Quest 🙂

I am sooooooo nervous about doing peyote with people that I don’t know.  I feel shy, so I feel as if I’m going to be extra sensitive.  I know that a crap ton is going to come up for me, I just know it is.

 

I have felt a bit intense because I feel as if I’m sensing everyone else’s stuff super strong.  I’m cold!  What am I going to do up on the hill when I am to sleep in just a sleeping bag?!  Yikes—and I was naughty and didn’t bring a wool blanket or flannel.

 

I am soooooooooo curious about what is going to come up for me on this trip (trip—the context is used in multiple ways, hehe.)  I truly do wonder—am I going to feel as if I’m losing my mind?  Well, I’ll tell ya what, I already feel as if I’m massively losing my mind, so there is that.

 

I need to keep looking in the beginning of my journal and remember what my intention was for doing this Vision Quest.  Spirit, please be with me on this trip (again, the context is literal and figurative, haha) and please help me to remember my path and why I am doing all of this.  K, I seriously think I’m gonna crash—please help me to remember my dreams, I am going to write them down tomorrow morning.

 

9/3/17 (in the AM)

I kept having dreams that I was helping out at the Vision Quest with different chores and I couldn’t keep anything hidden from anyone.  Everyone knew exactly what I was thinking at every moment.  Kari from my old job in Minneapolis was at the camp with her son TJ and we had a great big hug.

9/3/17 (in the PM)

Wow, I can’t count how many times that I had déjà vu with these beautiful souls on Vision Quest with me today.  I feel so, so, so incredibly blessed that this opportunity came for me.  It is truly amazing how fast manifestation can occur.  The way that I mentioned to Russell in late August how I really wanted to partake in a peyote ceremony and then within 10 days the opportunity came up.  I feel so grateful that I traveled here safely and that I am in such good health to be here.  I am also very grateful that they had an extra wool blanket and fleece for me to use tonight and for when I go up on the hill.

 

I am getting a little nervous for the big day tomorrow.  It is after lunch that we’ll grab our things and head up on the hill, although…I do wonder if in actuality we will scope out our places on the hill first?  I dunno.

 

It is so interesting not having any sort of routine right now, I am definitely staying very present and in the moment with it though.

 

It feels good to be a dirty hippy this week, it feels good to be immersed in nature and out in the middle of nowhere.

 

I wasn’t positive how tired I was, but as I’m writing I am noticing that my eyelids are getting more and more droopy.  I do feel as if I am getting more and more in touch with my soul, there is no doubt about that.  K, I am officially going to conk.

 

Love, Ilona

 

 

9/4/17 (in the AM)

Alrighty!  Today is the plunge.  Two more meals until fasting for three days!  I had this dream where I was constantly helping John with walking his dogs (in real life he doesn’t have any dogs) and then I was in Mrs. Hult’s math class and she kept rudely telling me to go walk his dogs.  Then one day I realized he was getting help from his buddy to walk his dogs and didn’t need my help anymore.

 

9/4/17 (in the PM)

Wow. Wow. Wow.  What an incredible experience this has been.  Although, I am not going to lie—my back is killing me right now.  Today we ate our two meals, egg scramble for breakfast and delicious pancakes with syrup and my new fav (I’m gonna buy a shit ton when I get back to Cori’s) Nutella!!!!  I think that the best way that I’ll be able to keep track of time is each night and each morning I will write.  I will write, write, write!  Hehe.  We did animal totem cards today before heading out on the hill and I pulled a butterfly out.  It was perfect because yesterday as we were finding items to make our sand drawings I decided to keep picking nature items that a butterfly had just been sitting on.  And also, right as a bunch of us arrived a couple days ago, we all remarked about how many butterflies there were at our camp.

 

I can’t tell if I’m feeling the peyote right now, or just feeling perplexed about the fact that I’m lying out in the open in nature right now.  I get this perfect view of the moon through these tree branches—it’s super incredible.

 

So, we also did sweat lodge ceremony and got our things organized to go up on the hill earlier today too.The sweat lodge was lovely.  Brooke, Haylee, and Gent (who I finally figured out reminds me so much of Clay in Canada and of my ex-step brother, it’s uncanny) sang beautiful songs, and we each said our intentions.  And woah, Nina is spot on…peyote does feel like a Western cowboy man tipping his hat and having a nice little conversation with you.  Wow.  Just wow.  I am feeling very lucid right now and I’m feeling a lot of love.

 

So, as Gent took us up onto the hill tonight, he took Brooke and Scott up first, came back to pick up Tanner, Keith, Alan and me.  He dropped everyone off to their respective places and dropped me off last.  He said the sweetest prayer, he goes “Grandma Earth and Grandpa Sky, please bless this one.  Bless her from her head to her toes, please be with her.  She is joy, she is love, she is sweet, she is beautiful, she is enough.  Please bless her.”  As he said it, he gently placed his palm on the top of my spine, middle of my spine, and bottom of my spine, I felt nothing except for pure love.  It was wondrous.  Wow, so I feel tired, yet I also feel as if I’m seeing wild colors as I close my eyes—although I can’t tell if it is the peyote or if my headlamp is causing that since I can only seem to get my headlamp working on the red light setting.  I think that I would like to attempt to sleep just to see if it’s possible.

 

I’m not gonna lie, lying out here in a random spot that I got dropped off at outside is freaking me out a slight bit.  I keep hearing strange noises.  I’m starting to feel hunger too, but I know that for right now it’s just a tiny feeling of hunger.  I miss my Grandma Lazar, I just had a completely random memory of her and I going out for lunch at this old restaurant in South Minneapolis, I forgot the name of it, but thank you for taking me there Grandma Lazar.  Thank you to the random restaurant workers for being there when you were for us.  K, I am for realsies gonna conk, but you better believe that I’m gonna write in here bright and early tomorrow.  SO MUCH LOVE FOR TODAY. 

Love,

Ilona

Tuesday 9/5 (AM)

I had soooooooo many dreams and they were all very vivid.

I also dreamt that I accidentally ate a bunch of Pringles and I told Linda “oh no, I accidentally broke my fast!!”  She was sweet about it and just said not to eat anymore, haha.  I awoke a couple times throughout the night and noticed how the moon had shifted places.  I slept well, REALLY well for the most part and stayed surprisingly very warm, good call on the two wool blankets Linda!  I am unsure if I felt much from the peyote tea besides maybe feeling everything a bit more vividly and I had non-stop dreams last night.  I truly do feel Spirit/spirits with me.  There was also a cute squirrel that locked eyes with me for a brief moment after I awoke.

 

Tuesday 9/5 (AM continued)

I am massively craving a green smoothie.  I am going to make one of those as soon as I get back to St. George, hehe.  I don’t care if it’s late afternoon or late at night when I get back home, I am making a green smoothie! 

 

Just think, today is a day that everyone else has to go back to work, but here I get to be free and frolic in the forest.  I am so blessed!  I’m going to get myself a Jet-boil, get my headlamp fixed, and go out on a backpacking trip in Utah on my own sometime soon…especially since I have my own little single tent now, hehe.

 

Okay, my ego is getting nervous about not being able to find work in St. George soon.  I am going to sit and meditate soon to ground myself.  I would like to remind myself about how I need to count my blessings day-by-day.  I have a home until January 1st and I am still not in debt.  I have a jar of peyote tea to my right to suit me for today.  BLESSED.

Love,

Me

 

Tuesday 9/5 (AM continued)

I keep having random flashbacks about Portland, especially about the Hawthorne neighborhood, I am unsure of what that is all about.  I can’t wait for it to warm up a bit!  I am going to do yoga stretches, meditate, brush my hair, and search for my tampons. 

 

Tuesday 9/5 (PM)

I accomplished all of my intentions.  In my meditation this morning I got the message that I should stay off of social media until I have a job or steady income of some sort.  That seems reasonable for sure.  I still do feel that I’ll land a job within a couple of weeks.  I was also informed to just go with the flow with the whole dating thing—not to rush into anything, but to JUST BE.

 

I am starting to feel the effects of no food.  It has been almost 24 hours since my last meal.  WOAH! I hear a car!  That’s amazing, hehe, I also heard a plane flying above simultaneously.

 

I feel grateful for this opportunity to detox and BE ME (that is the true me, to be a fairy in the forest, haha!)

forestimage.jpegI didn’t take pictures at all, but this is kind of how things were feeling and looking the few days I was in that forest alone…

I think that our species has forgotten that we don’t always have to be doing something to be productive.  Sometimes the most productive thing to do is to JUST BE.

 

I keep having flashbacks of going to shows in Minneapolis with Gary (I keep thinking about that one venue in Minneapolis close to the University, I forgot the name of it.)  If you can’t tell, I am just writing random stuff that comes to me.  Is this what Daft Punk meant when they named that album “Random Access Memories”?  I’m starting to feel a bit nauseated, yikes.  I really want to drink water baddddddd.  Although it’s quite funny, I keep thinking that this next two days will actually fly by.  I guess doing the 10-day silent meditation retreat prepared me.  Kirk said the cutest thing the other day when we sat down to do prayer flags.  He goes, “I tend to babble and make no sense when there are beautiful women around.” Hehe.  Why didn’t I bring a book?!  Dohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  I guess I’ll read over my notebook a bit, heh.

 

Tuesday 9/5 (continued)

I just had the strangest moment while in the midst of doing a walking meditation, I was intuiting to stop in one place and as I looked ahead, there was a superimposed layer on top of everything that looked red..it made it look like a dream-world or like something out of Robocop or something.  I don’t quite know what the fuck to do with myself, but these fucking flies are driving me batty!  I can’t wait to clean my dirty fingernails!  I seem to have forgotten my mini-manicure set.  In the hustle and bustle of reorganizing my backpack to make sure to only bring what is important, I forgot a few minor details.  You know what dawned on me that I have heard recently and it makes all the sense to me now?  It is the quote “Everyone is doing the best that they can with all that they know.”  I truly do believe that.

(To be continued….) 🙂

Reflecting

IMG_6499[1]Recently taken at the beautiful Bryce Canyon National Park just a couple hours from where I now live!

I didn’t intend to write a blog post today.  I actually haven’t been writing a whole lot lately, besides in my journal.  I just had a really intense moment as I hoofed it by foot over to the library this morning (I have been trying to do 1-2 days per week of no driving) and I got inspired.  The moment made me want to write it down as soon as possible before I forgot it.  I thought that this would be the perfect place to share it because I feel like someone out there needs to read it and I haven’t written a post in a while.

 

Lately I have been stressing out about many different things and it has no doubt been manifesting out into my physical reality.  Just lots of tough, dense, life darkness and yet on the other hand, I know that I have had so many blessings as well.  It’s just that, my monkey mind has been on full-swing and I haven’t been sticking with my meditation practice as strongly as I used to….it truly is amazing to see the difference which occurs when I don’t stick with it.  I don’t want to delve into too many of the details of what is going on in my life, but the best way to put it is that I am finally facing a ton of my crap that I can no longer run away from.

 

So, as I am walking to the library, with cars whizzing by me, loud sirens and car alarms going off…my mind was doing it’s wandering.  As it was wandering, it was playing out all of these different scenarios, such as “Ohhhh, maybe if I decide to take that path, that will create happiness and peace in my life, ohhhh maybe I shouldn’t have done that and then I wouldn’t have found myself in this situation, etc. etc. etc…” It was creating straight up novels based upon a future that hasn’t happened yet and the past that is no longer.  As the stories built up, the anxiety in my chest got stronger.

 

I turned the corner to head down the main street that gets me to the library.  Everything went quiet since it’s a residential street and it doesn’t have much traffic usually. All of a sudden, my anxiety dissipated and everything felt just like pure peace.  I looked over to my right and in someone’s house window was a message that simply stated “Enjoy the journey.”  All of my worries, all of my planning just dropped like a giant Jenga tower and again, I just felt the pure peace of the moment.  Not one minute later, I noticed a cemetery to the right of the house that I had never noticed before since I always drive to the library.

 

As I passed by all the tombstones, the wind gently pushed in the direction towards the library causing a chill up and down my spine. I started reading the messages on the tombstones, one in particular was a man that passed away in 2008, he was almost the exact same age as me. Further on, I kept noticing how unique and personal each tombstone was and how there were so many different ages, from a baby that had only lived a week to a man in his late 90s.  I started nearing towards the end and there was a sign that had a message on it, but it was bent and blocked by a big bush, so the only word that was visible on it was bright lettering that stated:

 

“NOW.”

 

It just seemed like a pretty clear message to me, as I was worrying the whole morning and night before. It can all end at any moment, truly, so to stay present with wherever you are is the most important.  I no longer want to dwell on past regrets as there isn’t anything that I can do regarding it, except to accept them as lessons.  I also don’t want to keep projecting a future that is yet to be, as Doris Day sang “whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see.”  While it’s good to do a little bit of planning, it’s also best to adjust to the flow and appreciate what is happening now.  I dunno, just a little musing for this Thursday morning, thanks for reading if ya have thus far.  Peace out!  🙂

New Projects on the Horizon

Hello WordPress buddies!  I haven’t been having much of any words coming to my mind lately for posts, so instead of pushing things out that aren’t honest I have just been waiting patiently.  In the patient waiting, I have been following the flow of what has been coming to me.  I had the blessed opportunity to see the solar eclipse in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming with a couple friends this past week.  It has made it in my list of “Top 5 Most Amazing Life Experiences” without a doubt.  Something woke up within my mind, body, and soul after viewing it…it charged me up in a great way.  The energy is pushing me forwards with working on a project that a friend and I started a few months ago.

Snake River in Grand Teton National Park and a hazy photo of the Teton mountain range.

The project is called Oasis Meditation and it was born in a small coffee shop in Seattle, WA with a friend who is a fellow blogger and meditator.  We met up at the small coffee shop back in early June and both shared our vision of how we would like to serve the outer world with our inner vision.  With our mutual love of meditation and mindfulness, we decided to start up a small shop on a website (it’s still in the works) selling homemade meditation cushions, homemade candles, and essential oils.  We are going to share a portion of the proceeds that we make with organizations that help combat mental health illness in minority and low-income communities.  A portion of the proceeds will also go towards domestic violence support groups and organizations.

 

There has been a mixture of excitement, fear, and peacefulness all wrapped into one with starting this project.  Essentially it is a small business that we are creating and seeing that I went to school for medical assisting and medical assisting only, I don’t know much of anything when it comes to business.  However, I have been studying up a ton about it, there are so many resources now days.  I also believe that the energy is so strong with the vision of how we want to help the outer world, that I have a strong belief that my friend and I can make this project a success.

OM

Illustration by Kyle Field, it is the starting logo for Oasis Meditation! 🙂

I wanted to post about Oasis Meditation because I think it will be something that I will be mentioning a bunch in upcoming posts, so I wanted to keep my lovely followers (thanks so much for supporting this blog) in the know!  I also wanted to mention a couple of the pages that my friend and I have created to get this project up and off the ground.  One of them is an Instagram page where we will share the products that we will be selling (handmade meditation cushions/candles made by us and essential oils from Gail Thackray) and a Patreon page.  Please click on the links below and support where-ever you are able, much appreciation and much love!  🙂

 

Oasis_Meditation on Instagram

Oasis Meditation on Patreon

 

 

–Ilona

Drop Pin Me!

Shortly before biking over to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, 2012.

“So where do you think you want to be dropped?!” My friend Diane asked me as she pulled her hair to the side and took a bite out of her burrito.  I looked through the restaurant’s glass window and watched as rain poured down on yet another stormy day in Portland, Oregon. Diane was referring to a game that she, our friend Tom, and I came up with one sunny afternoon when we were a bit buzzed at a brewery.  It was one of those things where you have a couple beers and you start planning a rock band with your friends, you know….one of those things that you talk about, but never actually walk about.  But it hit me that stormy afternoon as we munched on our burritos that Diane was still very serious about this.

 

“South America or China, although…I am really open to wherever!”  I smiled and answered.  Yes, this would become something real, I decided right then and there. Why the hell not?  What do I have to lose except for some money, but I truly believe the idea that travel is the one thing that you can spend money on in which you will grow richer.  I realized that every travel experience I have ever had made my mind, body, and soul flourish.  This experience would be no different.

 In front of Gulfoss Waterfall in Iceland, a few days before Christmas 2016

Our creation that was just buzzed talk at first has now become a website thanks to Diane and her friend: http://www.droppinme.com.  The rules are that I do not find out where I am going until I get to the airport.  Please stop by and throw down a vote for me on what country you would like me to go to. Each vote is $1 through PayPal, although, if you don’t have PayPal you can pay through “Venmo” to my friend Diane (you’ll see it at the area where you vote on the site.)  The money will go to a charity that I choose in the country in which I will be “dropped.”

The rules are, you can’t send me to a country that I have already been to. For the record, these are the countries that I have visited: Bahamas, Cambodia, Canada, Cayman Islands, Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, Poland, Puerto Rico, Slovakia, Thailand, United States, Vietnam, Virgin Islands. Also, it has to be a country that is safe enough.  My friend Diane is monitoring my votes and will give me a heads up on what kind of weather that I can expect in the country that I’ll be dropped in so that I know what kind of clothing to pack. 

With friends at Phi Phi Leh Island near Phuket, Thailand.

This will be my one last hurrah this year before I start work again in Oregon in January.  I am so excited to be able to have an ultimate adventure of the unknown and to be able to help a good cause while I do it. I am thankful for any and all support.  I appreciate all of my followers on here and hope that you are enjoying your unknown adventures in wherever your journey has taken you too.  Peace out and stay tuned for my next post which will be a continuation from my Vision Quest Journey.
In my dad’s homeland of Budapest Hungary, 2011.

The Power of Writing Things Down

 

“1.) Go to my dad’s homeland of Budapest, Hungary.

2.) Run a 5k.

3.) Live on the West Coast of the United States….”

I sat in awe as I recently read over some of my list in which I had entitled “Things that I want to accomplish before the age of 30.”  A few of the items on the list that I had numbered to 10 didn’t occur, but I smiled to myself as I realized that I was able to check off more than half of them.  We have all heard it before I am sure, so many self-help guides and motivational speakers talk about the power of writing things down and then watching how they manifest, but to actually see that it has happened is a very magical feeling.  Holding that list in my hands was proof that this idea really had come true for me.


To think that at one point I held such anxiety thinking about how many things that I wanted to accomplish in my life and having fear that none of them would happen.  And then I looked over this old list I had written down and it hit me that a lot of that anxiety was a waste because the experiences that I wanted, had happened.  Here was the kicker though…I got some of those experiences that I always wanted, but I found out that I didn’t even necessarily like the specific experience or it didn’t give me the feeling that I thought I was looking for.  The biggest thing that I discovered was that no matter what, they were all just passing experiences.  

 

Most currently I have decided to write down a six month plan as taken from Timothy Ferriss’ “The Four Hour Work Week.”  In it, he suggests writing down six different things that you want to “be, do or have” and then from that list, pick just a few.  I think breaking it down like that makes a goal seem a lot more attainable.  There is also more of a focus, I can get into so many different things at one time that I find it best to just go after a few clearly defined goals.  On mostly a daily basis I have been writing three intentions that I have for either that day or the following day and they can be as simple as “tomorrow I intend to go on a three mile run.”  I find in doing this, that more often than not I accomplish all of those intentions.

 

There is something truly powerful about taking a pen to a piece of paper and writing down what it is that you want to be, do, or have.  It is definitely a forgotten practice in our busy technology-focused world.  I am very grateful to be taking the time to take up this wonderful practice again.  I have taken it a bit further too…every Sunday I have been writing down what I would like to accomplish for the week ahead and on the last day of the month I have been writing down three things that I would like to accomplish for the next month.

Anyhow, hope you can give this wonderful practice a shot and please share with me any of your experiences.

Peace :)! 

 

 

The Magical Power of Touch Points

touchpoint

 

Last winter after I resigned from my job and decided to head overseas for an adventure, I volunteered at a 10-day silent meditation retreat as a transitional activity to ease my mind and to get comfortable with the complete change in my normal routine that would be coming soon.  I had sat at a 10-day silent meditation retreat before as a student and I had volunteered half-time at another one, but I had never volunteered a full course.  I expected the usual hard work in the kitchen where about six to seven of us would start the day at 4:30 in the morning to cook three meals per day for 70-plus students.  While the work could be strenuous, it was fun to chat with my colleagues in the kitchen and have friendly banter. We also had three different times during the day where we were able to sit for a full hour and meditate with the students.

 

Soon enough my work-in-the-kitchen and meditate-on-the-side routine became very comfortable five days into the retreat, but on the sixth day that all came crashing down. The manager of all 40 of the female students took a nasty fall on some ice and all eyes (literally and figuratively) were on me to step in as the female manager as she ended up having to leave the retreat early.  I had no experience at any point ever in my life of being the manager of anything.  The stress of the situation felt very dense as it was the sixth day in and I could tell that many of the students’ mental states were being tested. The main female meditation teacher sent me on three different errands within the first hour of being the manager, mostly to help check in on girls that were having sickness or intense emotional trauma.

 

Just as with most big changes in my life, even ones that from an outsider’s perspective might seem small, my egoic mind started racing.  Not only were the thoughts in my mind racing, but they were crashing into each other like children playing bumper cars for the first time.  Here I thought that I was such a good meditator, but I figured out that this was a real-life situation where I was being tested on how skillful I had become with my mind. On the second day of being female manager, I almost had a sheer panic attack as I had to stand in front of 70 pairs of eyes peering at me as I counted to make sure that every female meditator was in the meditation hall and if they weren’t there I’d have to discuss with the teacher and go to find them.

 

I mentioned to the meditation teacher that second night of being female manager that I have an extreme fear of being in any spotlight, even at a silent meditation retreat.  I told her about how I was on the verge of a panic attack a multitude of times that day.  She had great advice which to this day still sticks with me.  Her advice was that as soon as I felt that panicky feeling come on, to notice my extremities.  She told me to feel where my fingers and toes were at the moment of panic or anxiety; for an example, right now I can sense my fingers tapping against this shiny keyboard and my feet…they are resting on top of each other on this cool pavement below me. It instantly brought me back into my body and out of my head.

 

touchpoint2

I have brought this tool with me throughout all the hustle and bustle of daily life.  I often get anxiety attacks in grocery stores.  Most recently I was at a grocery store on a weeknight around 6:00 and I was standing in line with crowds of people around me.  I had that familiar panicky feeling come on, where I felt as if the floor below me was just about to collapse and the walls were going to come down, but before that full on anxiety attack could hit me, I brought awareness to the extremities and was instantly calmed.  As soon as I sensed my fingers placed on the handle of my shopping cart and my toes were resting in my shoes that were flat on the shiny white floor, I felt soothed.  I am so thankful for learning this technique and highly recommend it if you struggle with anxiety or panic attacks.

Peace out!  🙂

 

–Ilona

Gratitude in Action

“I am so incredibly grateful that you and your car got us from Portland to this trailhead safely,” my friend Mary stated.

And now it was my turn...”I am so incredibly grateful that I have a refrigerator and cupboard stocked full of healthy foods.”

Another steep part of the hike was upon us, we both went back into the solitude of our minds until we reached flat land again.

I am so grateful for the household that I live in,” Mary said.

I am so grateful that I have my health to be able to do this awesome hike,” I said.

My friend Mary and I have been on many hikes throughout the Pacific Northwest together since I started hanging out with her almost three years ago.  A few weeks ago we ventured on a hike and came up with a new way of hiking. Each time we came upon a new incline to hike up, we had to each think of something near and dear to our heart that we were grateful for and then once we reached flat land again, we’d share with each other what we were thinking. We did it in some back lands behind Silver Falls in Silverton, Oregon.  The trail had many inclinations and there were no other souls around.  I felt so light and as if my body was buzzing throughout the hike.

I have always known the power of gratitude as I have seen it work wonders in others’ lives and my own.  Meditation has helped me to further integrate into the wonderful energy of gratitude. By being so completely present in the moment, everything seems like a miracle.  Of course, the monkey mind comes back quite often (dang it, I’m still human!) But for the most part, ever since starting my meditation practice half a decade ago, everything…a spoonful of delicious soup, resting my body on a comfortable bed, or having a meaningful conversation with a dear friend  have all become moments of gold.

A couple different spiritual teachers that I have been listening to lately have inspired me to start a new daily practice, I made up my own term for it, I call it “3 and 3.”  It’s super easy, doesn’t take a lot of time and is incredibly powerful.  I either do it at night or in the morning when I’m having my coffee.  Basically, I list three things in which I am grateful for, but honestly it’s more than just listing them…I actually try to really feel how deep my gratitude is for them.  Then I list three intentions that I have for that day (or if I’m doing this at night, I list three intentions for the next day.) I have found this to be a very powerful practice because more often than not I reach almost all of those intentions that day.

If that seems like a lot of extra activity to your already packed world, maybe just try to do it for the week.  So before the week starts, list three things you intend to get done that week and three things that you are in gratitude of from the last week.  I have found that actually writing them out, with pen and paper really seems to make it happen.  Do whatever works for you yo, I just hope you do give it a shot and see for yourself!

Peace out!

Listen to Your Heart! And Woah! I did a video?!

​​​​Took a hike to one of my favorite waterfalls and decided to try and attempt something that scares the crap outta me: vlogging!  Click and watch a short 2-minute video done by a rookie.  The message is all about following the heart!

Materialistic Mindfulness

AmericanBeauty

After my first 10-day meditation retreat, something within me really snapped and shifted.  All of a sudden I wanted to get rid of a ton of personal belongings.  I still found a few items very meaningful: my journal, coffeemaker and hygienic tools were things that were important to me. However, my shelves upon shelves of dusty DVDs, CDs, books, and random knick-knacks felt heavy. Impulsively, I grabbed a few large garbage bags and just started pulling all of these items that felt heavy to me and gently placed them into the garbage bags.  Without thinking twice, I jetted the collected items over to my local thrift store and dropped them all of without looking behind.  I felt a lightness in my mental and physical state instantly.

Materialism has never been my thing, but especially since starting meditation in 2011, it seems that any fractal of interest in it has dwindled even more.  Almost a year into my 20-minute daily meditation practice, I was inspired to write a piece for Lightworkers World about how I feel in regards to the idea of physical things creating inner happiness. The deeper and deeper that I have gone into the depths of my soul, the further I have gotten from caring about comparing what others’ have to what I have. I have instead thought more and more about how I appreciate the things that I do have and truly taste the blessings that I am given on a daily basis.  The cravings for more lessen as I see how amazing it is that I have a fully stocked kitchen, efficient means of transportation, and ohhhhhh so much more!

ChuckP

When I was visiting my sister on the East Coast over this past winter, I had a couple of Netflix binges and upon doing so came across an incredibly inspiring documentary entitled “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.”  The main two cast members of the documentary Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodermus also have an inspiring website, The Minimalists, which you should definitely check out if you have time.  A lot of what they mentioned in their documentary was exactly the same thoughts that I had been having shortly after my first 10-day meditation retreat.  They touch upon the last few decades of American culture and how it has heavily influenced our consumer mindset.  We have somehow been driven to think that things create happiness, but as the late George Carlin would state “trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all of your body.”

Over the last six years, I have moved about eight times (what can I say, a spiritual awakening can cause a bit of chaos, hehe) and one of the moves was cross-country. With each move, my amount of possessions has lessened and I find myself only holding onto the things that I find necessary.  Not having a whole lot of clothes makes life so much easier to me and the few clothing items that I do have are my absolute favorite, so I get excited to wear them.  Everything that I own, besides some old mementos stored in family and friends’ attics, fits into my vehicle. It feels so freeing to be able to pick up and go to a new place if my heart is calling it, I feel incredibly blessed to be able to do this.

I am excited to see a lot of other people feeling the same way about materialism, how it’s not truly all that it’s cracked up to be.  Advertisements are unfortunately always going to be around as long as money is around, but at least as we get more and more in touch with ourselves and remembering who we truly are, we will be able to get less swayed by those advertisements.  How are you feeling about all the things that surround you right now?  Do you truly need all of it?  Or might you be able to donate some of those extra items that you haven’t touched in ages?

344Everything that I owned in 2011 as I made my way from the Midwest to the West Coast of the U.S.

As always, please comment and share your thoughts with me, I love feedback 🙂

Take care, much peace and love!  ❤