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….) 🙂

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!

A Short Story from the Paranormal World


My last post was a bit different than my usual posts.  At this juncture in my life, I truly feel as if time is running out and I want to pump out anything that I feel needs to be heard, even if it’s just a few people that end up resonating with what comes out of me.  I have expressed my extreme fascination with all things New Age/metaphysical  (i.e. Yoga, meditation, lucid dreams, astral projections, OBEs, and more) yet I haven’t talked too much about the many paranormal occurrences that have happened in my life.  I have been afraid to tell many people in fear of sounding as if I have lost my mind.  I am now realizing that I shouldn’t feel ashamed about my different take on things, instead I want to share the experiences and people can take it or leave it!

With that, I wanted to share a story that happened to me about two years ago which is of a paranormal nature.  I have shared this story with countless friends and family members and have gotten more positive feedback than negative, most people informing me that they had chills run up and down their bodies after I shared the story with them.  I have had many occurrences in my life, ever since I was a small child of paranormal phenomena, but I closed myself off to it after getting strange looks whenever I tried to share my stories with others.  In my adult life, I have had my fair share of strange otherworldly occurrences, but again, I haven’t been very open to share them in fear of being labeled crazy.  Well, here it goes…if you are still reading, I hope you enjoy this short story :):

I awoke groggy-headed and confused that early morning as I heard my boyfriend at the time rushing around his apartment in a frantic hurry.  I tapped the screen of my cell phone and was annoyed to discover that it was only 5:00 in the morning on a Saturday.  Few things annoy me in life as much as waking up earlier than 8:00am on a Saturday.
“Hey babe,” my boyfriend Chase alerted me,”sorry if I woke you, I’m putting my apartment key on your key chain, k?” I mustered up a confirmation in a frog-like tone and flipped back onto my side to try and fall back asleep.  As I started drifting asleep, I heard Chase lock up his apartment and jet down the stairs rushing to work.  I finally entered a blissful state of sleep, entering into dream-time only to be awoken by someone gently placing their hands on my chest and pushing down on me.  I started giggling “Chase what are you doing back home already?” I asked aloud and opened my eyes.


The room was piercingly quiet, I looked around and there was no one except me and Chase’s dog Achilles sleeping at the end of the bed alongside my feet, where he had been since Chase left for work.  I tapped my cell phone screen again and saw that it was about 6:30, I had only fallen back to sleep for a little more than an hour.  I called out Chase’s name in the apartment and there was nothing but silence.  I brushed off the strange incident and concluded that it must have been remnants of a dream.  It didn’t take long for me to fall right back into a blissful state of sleep.

I was again awoken by someone pressing their hands on my chest, only this time it was a bit more forceful and I could sense them sitting alongside me on the bed.  This time there was laughter coming from the person pushing on my chest and it felt very playful.  I started laughing too and I knew this time for sure it had to be Chase playing a joke.  I started laughing more and peeled open my eyes expecting to see Chase, but the pressure left my chest as soon as I opened my eyes and there was no one there.

I ripped the blankets off of me and ran to the apartment door, pulling at the knob, the dead bolt was locked so no one could have come in.  I went back to the bedroom to find Achilles lying down at the end of the bed where he had always been, only now with his head twisted to the side wondering if I was up for good to put food in his dog bowl.  At this point I texted Chase about what happened in which he freaked out wondering if someone came into his apartment, but I informed him there was no possible way.  When I tried to tell him that his (newish to him) apartment was possibly haunted, he brushed off my remark as he wasn’t into those types of ideas.


Fast forward to about a month later.  I had gone off to my first ever 10-day meditation retreat and when I came out of it, I turned on my cell phone and received a huge confirmation.  Chase informed me that while I was away, he had befriended a new neighbor in his apartment complex that had been living there for years.  After they shared a drink or two one night, the neighbor had brought up a shocking story about a young man who was struck with a hammer in the apartment complex parking lot just a couple years prior.  The blow from the hammer came from an argument he had gotten into, the young man rushed up to his apartment (now Chase’s apartment) and died in his mom’s arms.  I was incredibly shocked and my mind kept going back to that morning that I had felt someone on my chest.  I texted Chase back “will you consider my story again now?!” 😬

Mission Accomplished: My Experience with a 10-day Meditation Retreat

Vmeditation

This year, my holidays were spent like no other.  I spent my Christmas Eve agreeing to enter “noble silence” for ten days, this included no communicating through cell phone, laptops or any other technological gadgets and no speaking or gesturing to those around me.  No reading or writing was allowed either (my jaw dropped with that one too.)  My New Year’s Eve was spent meditating in a meditation hall with about 100 other people for an hour and a half before our bedtime (lights out were at 9:30pm.)  The only celebration was heard from the neighboring farm lands nearby in which the residents were lighting off fireworks as I laid my worn head to bed.

I had first heard about this 10-day silent meditation retreat from classmates at a local meditation group that I attend in Portland, OR.  When I had heard about their experiences with it, I was fascinated.  One of my classmates compared it to a Native American Medicine Journey, a journey where you go completely within.  I stashed the idea of it away in my brain as something I ought to try sometime, maybe in a couple years when I could accrue that many hours off of work.  My meditation teacher kept discussing it at class as the weeks went by.  I found out that the 10-day silent meditation was free and they also offered it during the holidays so you don’t have to ask for as many days off of work as you might need to otherwise. I signed up in May 2014 to attend a 10-day silent meditation retreat from 12/24/14-1/4/15, that May I remember thinking how I wouldn’t have to worry about it for quite sometime, as it was more than seven months away.  As the months and weeks crept closer though, I started wondering if it was that good of a decision.  Everyone else would be spending the upcoming holidays with family and friends, while I would be falling off the radar.  As the week prior to leaving for the retreat came up, I received this text from my sister, who has attended a few retreats herself, but none longer than three days:  “Sad, it kinda feels like you’ll be crossing over to the other side for ten days.”  When I received that text, I took a deep breath, I really wasn’t sure what I had signed up for.

When I first pulled up into the land that the Northwest Vipassana Center is located on, the whole vibe of the land and the building was incredibly peaceful.  After registering inside and getting the itinerary booklet (see picture below) I made my way from the building to the women’s residential suites.  As I walked along the pebbled path towards what would be my home for the next ten days I saw a couple of deer eating alongside a marsh area with the peak of Mount Rainier in the back round.  I remember feeling elation and getting the sense that the next ten days were going to be very relaxing.

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I made my way back to the building after setting up my bed and meeting Kate, my new roommate whom I found out was also on her first 10-day retreat and had traveled down from Seattle with her best friend from high school.  I sat in the dining area of the building, sipping on hot tea and chatted with a few girls that were sitting near me.  I had found out that two of them had done a 10-day retreat before and the girl sitting across from me, Lacey, was at her first retreat.  Lacey and I interrogated the girls that were veterans of this retreat, asking them what we should expect, what had happened for them last time, and more.  One of the veteran girls seemed a little distraught as she mentioned “I don’t know if I’m ready to go through this work again….” with a far-off look in her eyes.

The last of the meditation-goers were checking in and trickling into the dining area.  We were provided a light dinner and instructed to get anything we needed from our cars afterwards, to make sure all of our technological gadgets were handed in to the staff and to meet at the meditation hall in about a half an hour for the first group meditation.  There was a frantic energy in the air, it seemed that people were gabbing just for the sake of noise because we all knew that the “vow of noble silence” would start after our first group meditation.  I used the time to meet a few more new people and to get acquainted with where everything was on the premises.

The time drew near 8pm, the big moment of our first group meditation and the official end to communication of any kind. We stood outside the meditation hall, awaiting the teachers to enter first.  I met two girls and spoke nervously with them, one had mentioned that she and her boyfriend decided to sign up together for this, the other girl mentioned that a friend in Portland had told her about the retreat.  We seemed to be talking just to talk, just to get the last words out we could, all of us knowing that in less than ten minutes we would have to be mute for a week and a half.  The teachers entered the building and close to forty of us followed them in.  We took off jackets and shoes and were instructed to grab any pillows, blankets or chairs that we would want to use as our meditation tools for the next ten days.  One of the assistant teachers started calling out names, and one by one people were directed to their assigned seats.  I remember a thought crossed my mind in which I felt that I was at Heaven’s gate or something–waiting for my name to be called to enter a whole other world.

We met in the meditation hall three times a day, at 8:00am, 2:30pm and 6:00pm.  Our days consisted of ten hours of focused vipassana meditation, the first three days we focused on the sensation of our breath and the area near where we could feel the breath the most–the area on or near the nostrils.  The middle of the ten days, days four through six we started doing focused meditation called “body scanning” which consisted of placing our awareness on each body part.  With body scanning, we would start at the top of our head and move down piece-by-piece (the forehead, the ears, the nose) just noticing any sensations, be it pain or tingling or anything.  We were instructed not to label anything, but to just be aware of it and notice it’s changing form.  The last three days we were taught of “free form” body scanning which consists of starting at the top of our head down to the bottoms of our feet, scanning up and down in more of a flowing fashion.  If we had troubles with this, we were instructed to go back to body scanning piece-by-piece.  We could also speak with the teachers after the evening group meditation or during lunch break if we were having any particular troubles with the meditating.

There were a couple major moments that stuck with me the most during my 10-day retreat.  On night three and five, I had incredible dreams and also visions as I tried to fall asleep.  On night three, every time I tried to close my eyes to get to sleep, there was a light show going on beneath my eyelids.  There were magnificent colors swirling and dancing, if I didn’t know any better, I might have thought someone had spiked my evening tea with magic mushrooms.  Then, on the fifth night I had what I can only describe as a deeply spiritual experience which I found to be extremely comforting.  On that particular night, I had some troubles initially falling asleep, but I finally did drift off at a relatively early hour–around 10:30 p.m. or so.  I had a very vivid dream (it seemed as real to me as me typing these words out and hearing the hum of the washing machine below my kitchen floor right now feels to me.)  In the dream, I headed to the group meditation hall, walking the pebbled path from my residential suite to the building, everything covered in dew from the damp weather that early morning.  I sat down in my assigned seat, wrapped my blanket around me and was aware of all the other meditators around me.  We all closed our eyes to start our meditation and immediately I got the sensation of no longer having a body, I felt so light and free.  It felt so completely right, as if this was what I have been longing for my whole life.  I then realized that I had dissolved into oneness with all of the other meditators.  I then darted awake in my bed and looked at my clock–it stated “12:30 a.m.”  I then fell asleep again and had this same exact dream three more times, always darting awake as my conscious mind realized the feeling of oneness, I awoke again at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 a.m.

I went into the ten day retreat with expectations that it was going to be easy for me since I have been practicing daily meditation for two and a half years, but it was far from easy.  When I came back to Portland and was asked multiple times about my experience, the best way that I could describe it to people was that it was tormenting, yet transformative.  I didn’t have too much trouble with the no-talking rule as I am an introvert, but I did miss my phone a lot and not being able to write or read was excruciating for me.  The retreat really instilled into me the changing nature of reality: physical pain, emotional pain, food, people, circumstances, ideas, locations–all of this is coming and going continuously.  The retreat got me more comfortable with the idea of impermanence and it also reminded me that we can start over at any moment by focusing on our breath.

I highly recommend these types of retreats for anyone, it is not affiliated with any religious sect and accepts everyone from every back round.  The facilities are run off of donations, but no one is turned away for lack of funds.  The way that I am going to donate and give back is to be of service at future retreats.  One thing that I have mentioned to friends or family members that have expressed interest in this retreat is to realize that when you attend one of these, you are not going for the purpose of rest and relaxation (I had that wrong estimation myself.)  What these types of meditation sits truly do is break down a ton of barriers within you and can create profound healing.  It brings you into acceptance of what is, as the itinerary booklet states, “Vipassana means seeing things as they really are.”

Lucid Dreaming

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“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”

–Edgar Allan Poe

I have had a bit of time off of work, so I have finally gotten to catch up on one of my favorite past times: reading!  I have been holding onto this book, “Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming”, for almost two years since a friend so kindly lent it to me (I’m usually not that bad with borrowing stuff, but what can I say, he’s a nice friend….) I have been into all things metaphysical since I was a young child, lucid dreaming being on the top of my list.  I started jotting my dreams into journals when I was eight years old.  When I was a teenager, I would have piles upon piles of metaphysical books underneath my pillows and to the side of me.  I recently joked to my sister that my mom never had to worry about me sleeping with boys when I was in high school, however she maybe should have been worried that I had the book “Life After Life” by Raymond Moody tucked under the covers with me for the majority of my 17th year on this planet.

I would try to bring up metaphysical subjects with my mom or grandma growing up, but they would usually either leave the room or tell me that I “shouldn’t be thinking that way.”  That was when I started writing in dream journals, regular journals and then finally finding a few others with similar mind sets as me in junior high to discuss all things metaphysical with.  It was great to be able to find these kindred spirits and to not feel as if I had to hold back on discussing things that had bothered me since I was a child.  To be able to ask my friend “what if there was just absolute NOTHINGness, like….not even the color black or white because if it was true NOTHINGness there wouldn’t even be colors…” and to not be looked at as if I was crazy was just great to me.

Now that we are living in this huge technological era, I have discovered there is a plethora of people that think like me and have been questioning the same things.  It’s so wonderful in this blogging community to come across metaphysical subjects so readily and have long drawn out conversations with someone across the world about “why in the hell are we here?”  I feel that in general, the world is opening up to metaphysical lines of thinking.  I feel that five years ago I would have been way to shy to be writing about what I am about to write.  What I really want to do in writing this is to help someone, even if it’s just one person reading this right now, to let them know that they are not alone.

I opened up “Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming” last night, read the first chapter (which included one detailed exercise on becoming aware in the precise moment of wherever you are while reading the book) and fell asleep.  It was a shock to me, but I experienced a lucid dream immediately (I guess I have a knack for it?)  I had quite a few lucid dreams in the last few years, but this one in particular had both the lucidity and the feeling of a very thin veil between dimensions.  I wrote it down right away after I awoke and this is word for word from my journal:

8/15/15

Okay, I am for SURE going to need to get a separate dream journal!  I only JUST started reading this lucid dream book last night and as soon as I fell asleep I already had an experience!  It started with me drifting off to sleep (having random thoughts) and then as clear as day, the song “Black” by Pearl Jam came into my head and then the White Stripes “Hardest Button to Button”, it was really rather goofy.  And then a strong awareness came over me, I realized that I was lying in my bed and that I was in my new studio apartment that I just moved into.  I got the sensation that, especially compared to my old apartment that I just moved from, I was in a space that has very good energy.  I felt wrapped up in a warming loving energetic embrace and realized I was up near the ceiling and saw my body in the bed below.  And then there was what felt like a shift (kind of when your ears pop when you’re rising in an airplane) in frequency and I felt incredibly light and free.  I felt as if I had a gigantic smile on my face, I felt so excited and then I darted across the room to pet my cat.  As I was petting him, I noticed that my arm was transparent and I realized it was just made of light.  I started to get so energetic and fascinated that I could roam free anywhere I wanted, but then a voice softly said as clear as day “we can hear you, but calm down, you’re going to wake people up” and then I darted awake.

So, take that as you will (yes I’m hearing voices, but at least it’s while I am asleep ;)) I just couldn’t stop thinking about it all throughout the next day.  It seemed so incredibly real to me and I know in the past lucid dreams had always been like this, it’s almost as if they feel more real than “real” life.  Now that I have all this time off for the next few weeks I am going to try a few more of the exercises.  As I have paged through the book, I have noticed that a lot of the exercises consist of meditations, so it will be interesting to see how deep I can go doing my regular 20-minute morning meditations along with the meditations in the book.

“I believe in everything until it’s disproved.  So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons.  It all exists,even if it’s in your mind.  Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?”

–John Lennon