Vision Quest Part Tres

trippyvision

Hey all!  This is the last of my journal entries from my recent Vision Quest journey.  Before reading this blog post, I highly recommend that you first read parts Uno and Dos

Okay, well, I killed some of the morning off by making more of my little butterfly cards to give to all of my Vision Quest warriors, I did a few yoga poses, changed into warmer socks and attempted to meditate for a bit, but then the urge to pee came back.  I don’t want to give up on my Vision Quest yet, I truly do not want to, especially since there is only 24 hours to go, but this whole no-water thang has really gotten me for sure.  Maybe this is ego chattering in my mind, but I think that I have a plan here.  I’ll give it my all to finish the Quest, but come tomorrow morning, if I am still having UTI symptoms…I think it’d be best to have a small bite to eat, a SHIT TON OF WATER and then head out.  I really hate to leave before it is over, but I have had many UTIs in my time (I get 2-3 per year) and I know that it is best to get it taken care of ASAP.  I know that people might judge me for leaving early, but all I am really going to miss is the second sweat lodge ceremony and a fire-walk.

 

This is probably all a lesson in learning to take care of myself.  These people have all been wonderful, but I need to know when it is time and if I am still having UTI symptoms come tomorrow morning, then I know that it is time.  I am quite proud of myself for going this far!  I truly think that this no-water thing is what killed me.  Part of why I drink a shit ton of water all the time is to stave off the UTIs.  It’s decided though—no doubt, UTI symptoms tomorrow morning I am out of here.  I’ll talk to Linda and Gent and take off.  Honestly, it’ll be good to work on job hunting when I get back too.

 

It just hit me, I have no health insurance.  I hope to God that there is a Planned Parenthood near Salt Lake City (praying) because they have helped me with UTI symptoms in the past.  As soon as I have a job again I promise that I will give them a fatty donation.  I promise, promise, promise.

 

As much as I talk smack about civilization, I am really missing it right now.  I am very grateful for the sips that I have left of my tea.  I don’t care if I am one of the first back to base camp tomorrow morning and am considered a weakling.  Getting water and treating a UTI are pretty important things if you ask me.

 

Right now, I am grateful for the sunlight keeping me warm, I am grateful to know that this is more than half over, hehe.  I am grateful for a few sips left of tea and my art project to keep me busy.

 

This experience is really making me appreciate a lot: WATER, heavenly WATER, food, the sun, the moon (it has been amazing to have such a clear view of it from where I am sleeping.)  This experience has made me appreciate and miss my tent, hehe.

 

There have been noises throughout the night that definitely have been freaking me out, so I cough a bunch just in case it’s a big animal—hoping that helps. 

 

I am so grateful that everything worked together the way that it did, that I got to and from the Salt Lake City area from St. George safely—twice within the last week.  I am grateful to be relatively close to Salt Lake City so that I can hit up a Planned Parenthood tomorrow.

 

Water, water, more than ANYTHING else in the world, I can’t wait to drink water tomorrow morning.  Hopefully Austin will be able to drive with me tomorrow morning to make sure my car doesn’t get stuck on the janky roads on the way out of here.  I am not going to let anyone talk me out of it, I need to take care of this physical body and that means getting this UTI taken care of STAT!

 

Wednesday 9/6 (my guess is that it’s about 2:00pm)

 

I am so grateful this pen is still working.  I am in a bit of a predicament.  It has now been 48+ hours since I last ate, I tried to do my small walking loop to keep the flies off of me, but I have no more energy, I really would like to lie down on my bed area but it’s too sunny and warm in that location and nothing else looks very promising.  I only have a few sips of tea to last me until morning.  All things considered, I am surprised that I am not as crabby as I could be.  I am so grateful that this is the last night!

 

I don’t think that I will be the first one back to base camp tomorrow morning, that is my prediction.  There is a weird pulse going on in my belly, I haven’t a clue what that is all about.  By the way, I just wanted to mention, I have only seen 4 vehicles go by total in the last almost 48 hours (3 yesterday and 1 today.)  My mind is CHATTERING LIKE CRAZY. 

 

I have no idea what to do with myself, I have no energy to move.  I just finished all of my drawings.  What oh what does a girl do?  With where the sun is now, I am guessing it to be about 5pm.  That means just about 12 hours or so left!  Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee and then a good 8 of the hours should be sleeping, yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!  So I only need to try to entertain myself for about 5 more hours haha.

 

This just came to me!  Since one of my passions is caring for other people, then I truly need to care for myself first and part of that is doing this inner work that I am doing with the Vision Quest and caring for this amazing body that does so much for me.  I will continue on my path of healthy eating, running 5-6 days out of the week, tai chi, and yoga when I get back to civilization.  It’s weird hearing no civilization right now, just a bunch of bugs buzzing around me.  I think that it’s time for another sip of tea.  You know what’s really funny?  I made little stations for myself where I am staying.  I have the station where I sleep, a drawing station, and then a station where I keep my shoes and tea.  I was going to attempt to meditate and then write down what comes up for me, but these flies are so terrible here.  I’ll try for 30 breaths at least, wish me luck!

Love,

Ilona

I am not going to lie, this sunset has no doubt been the longest in my life.  I truly feel like dying I want water so bad, what an awful feeling.  The flies won’t leave me the fuck alone.  Wasp sting, UTI!  Hey, thank goodness I haven’t been preyed upon by any large animals, I must say—gotta look at the positive side whenever possible.  I keep having flashbacks about Portland—how scattered I had gotten there, how scattered that I have felt in general over the last few years…yet here I am, still alive…I suppose there is that.  I have ultimately been blessed in so many ways, it’s unreal.

 

The sun has set, but it is still a bit warm, so I am imagining that tonight will not be as cold as all of the other nights have been, maybe?  These flies are ruthless, but I know that they will be disappearing soon as night falls.  I truly hope that I sleep through the night so that BOOM!  Morning is here.  I am still fantasizing about drinking boat-loads of water.  Come to think of it, I should probably try to go kind of slow with my water intake when I get back so as to not shock my system.  I can’t wait to get into town and contact either a Planned Parenthood in Salt Lake City or that free clinic in St. George that can maybe take in a bum such as me.

 

I definitely feel like being done with this, yo.  I am in pain in more ways than one.  I truly am going to appreciate every bite of food, every sip of water, and every conversation that I have when I get back.  This has taught me a lot FO SHO.

 

Thursday 9/7 (I am guessing with where the moon is, it’s about 3:00am?)

This has been my least favorite night.  I awoke from a dream where I was a receptionist at some lab where they were taking dead bodies into a back room, then in real life I had to pee and then I heard what sounded like multiple coyotes howling.  My stomach is growling like mad and my mouth is super dry and I keep envisioning drinking bottle of water after bottle of water.  FUCK!  The morning cannot come soon enough.

 

Thursday 9/7 (morning sunrise)

How symbolic.  I dreamt that I was peeing normally full force into a toilet, but I couldn’t turn a light on as I was peeing, it was dark (last night I was awaiting sunlight and concerned about my UTI symptoms.)  Yayyyyyyyyyy, the sun is rising and I am going to get my shit together, get back to base camp and let everyone know that I am outta here!!!!!!!!!

 

Friday 9/8

Wow, that was all a strange experience.  I was actually the last person to arrive back to base camp, hehe…I am hardcore.  This whole experience has been such a trip, I truly feel as if all of these people are a part of me.  Everyone here is so incredibly present and in the moment.  It feels really special that just 10 days ago I was helping to sand down all of these teepee poles in which we are all now sitting under for ceremony.  I drank a ton of fluids, informed Linda about my UTI symptoms in which right away she had me take specific herbal teas, drink a ton of cranberry komobucha, and had every single person in the Vision Quest be part of a healing ceremony for me….and the symptoms were gone (100% gone, as if I had taken an antibiotic) the next morning, it was completely UNREAL.

 

During our peyote ceremony, that’s when the real medicine was taken (i.e. more like what I was envisioning for peyote, a ton of hallucinations…)  At one point during ceremony, I closed my eyes and all that I could see was geometric patterns of wolves and spirals, nothing else.

 

9/9/17

Wow.  Tomorrow is officially the last day.  What a crazy ass ride.  In sooooooo many ways this was more difficult for me than a 10-day silent meditation retreat because we HAD to be open with each and every person in the Vision Quest group.  My dream in the beginning of realizing that everyone would know what I’m thinking pretty much came true.  I became intimate/vulnerable with 14 others EVERY DAY, except for the 3 days up on the hill, but even then I felt them with me.  The all-night peyote ceremony with everyone was wild.  We started it out with going around the room each holding each other’s medicine/crystals and blessing them, then we took our medicine and puked our brains out hardcore all while becoming completely open about EVERYTHING.  I told a group of 14 people some deep, dark shit before, during, and after puking my brains out.  I also listened to 14 other people’s deep and dark shit.  Each and every one of us held space and I saw everyone’s bright Spirits despite all of the fucked-up life problems that we were all sharing with each other.

 

I ended up super connecting with Brooke (who is from Sedona and used to live with a Spiritual teacher that I am a big fan of.)  It hit me that Brooke’s profile looks EXACTLY like the doctor that I used to work for, her personality matched too.  It hit me that Brooke is another teacher in my life just as that doctor was—only I learned a shit ton about herbalism, plant medicine, and native ways from Brooke instead of Western Medicine.  Brooke said something really sweet to me too during the ceremony, she goes “when I first met you, I knew.  I thought ‘this girl…she can SEE things.”  Right after she said that we both saw a shooting star in the sky as we were walking back to the teepee together.  We hugged and then each made a wish, hehe.  We stayed up all night.  I tried to sleep in the teepee, but kept seeing crazy-ass geometric patterns every time that I tried closing my eyes.  I also felt as if I was leaving my body and teleporting to other realms and dimensions.  I kept hearing the other Vision Questers talk and it hit me that they were all me and I was all them.  I started having crazy realizations about energy and how connected everything really is and how I chose this path and how all of the Vision Quest people are on the same path.  Haylee, Brooke, and I ended up being the last of the people in the teepee tending to the fire.  Gent was sleeping in the teepee and would pipe in every once in a while to the conversation us three girls were having.

 

rainbowsisMe and my Spirit Sisters outside of teepee ceremony.

 

Eventually I went back to my tent, but could not sleep for the life of me because when I shut my eyes I got lost in the different geometric patterns and I kept feeling as if I was going to leave my body.  Gent called for me to come out of my tent anyhow.  I got out of my tent and I had to face EVERYONE still feeling majorly tripped out.  Josh pulled out a boom box and we all started dancing for a while, but then his stereo went out and right as it went out, his wife and three children pulled up into the parking lot area of our base camp, it was as if it was all planned (the way the music stopped right as they pulled up.) 

 

I initially felt very awkward since I was still tripping and there were children running around me.  His wife and three children came in for our last ceremony which involved breath-work (basically intense meditation.)  It happened to be the ceremony that I went into my most vulnerable place ever.  It felt as if my whole body became the earth and the earth became my body.  I cried, cried, cried and others surrounded me and placed their hands gently around my neck, arms, and sides.  It felt as if I started leaving my body and I felt as if I was being re-birthed.  My eyes were shut, but I could see everyone in the room and everything in the room felt and looked like pure love.  I opened my eyes and Josh’s kids were staring at me wide-eyed with curiosity…one of them was wafting sage onto me with a feather and the other was playing a drum like a true little Medicine Woman.  It hit me that all of those tons of dreams that I had about two little blonde haired boys were THOSE two little boys, they were Josh’s boys.  I burst out crying even more, everything felt so incredibly connected it was truly unreal.  At one point, it felt as if my root chakra had a giant cord attached to the earth.

 

I would write more, but I really have to pee and brush my teeth an my tent is pretty soaked because I had no rain cover :/  Anyhow, his kids were so adorable, they kept wanting to hang out with me after the ceremony, hehe.  Despite being up for almost 36+ hours, I somehow managed to be coherent enough to play with them and converse with everyone.  This whole experience was all about facing so much of your shit because guess what?  You couldn’t run away!  And you couldn’t resort to technology because we had no service.

 

37410085505_cf5daf5bf8_oGent (the Medicine Man) and I helping to build the sweat lodge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vision Quest Part Dos

Tuesday 9/5 (continued from where I left off in Vision Quest, Part Uno)

Despite the mild panic that my mind is going though at the moment, I know that these people are thinking of me: My mom, Gina, Naomi, Devona, Amy, Kyle, Mary, Cori, Ryan, Heather, Liz, Kim, Kris, Kendra, Tom, Brooke, Scott, Gent, Linda, Josh, Haylee, Austin, Alan, Nina, Tanner, Karen, and Kirk.  And with that, I know that I am loved.  I am loved.  I am loved.

 

I don’t quite know yet how to make a living yet out of my passion of inner-work (meditating, journaling, nature, and dream-work), but I can at least work on it on the side like I am doing until I can make a career out of it.  I need to change into shorts, aye yi yi!!!

 

So now this funny, I had intentions to get my hiking boots back on, but there has been a butterfly on the right shoe for a long time now, it opens its wings as if it’s about to take off, then closes, then opens, then closes.  I was gonna attempt to try to scope out a place that is fly-free so that I can maybe try to sit my ass down and draw.  Wish me luck. 

Love,

Me.

 

Tue 9/5 (continued)

My back be hurtin’ yo.  So this is kind of hilarious…it is raining right now, but only in this very section of my Vision Quest spot.  Is this Portland’s cruel joke on me? 

 

When I get back to St. George I am going to try to be less controlling.  I am going to make my main intention be that I’ll be sure to light a candle/incense every day and meditate for 20 minutes, journal for 20 minutes, and read something spiritual.  I understand that I’ll need to go back to the working world for now to save up money and get groceries and what not.  But I will continue to practice my spirituality without a doubt. 

 

I have now seen: butterflies, flies, birds, squirrels, and one chipmunk.  Looks like this rain is passing and I am definitely starting to get wayyyyyyyyy hungry.

 

So far, my day has pretty much gone like this: wake up, pee, brush hair, brush teeth (with no water it made it kinda tough), get dressed, make bed, meditate, yoga, journal, walking meditation, take some sips of my peyote tea, explore my surroundings (including one brief fall off of a tree, haha!)  Then, I napped, meditated, drew, another walking meditation, started to make a rock drawing on my tarp until I felt as if I was going to faint in which I headed to some shade, rested against a tree, and took a few sips of my tea and voila—here I am again.  I have decided to make cards of my butterfly drawings to give to each of the beautiful souls that I have met on this Vision Quest.

 

Mother fucking flies! I talked to them, tried to reason with them, but they don’t give two shits.  What the fuck is the point of these ugly horse flies—they have no purpose except to annoy the fuck out of us.  I just got stung by a wasp too, but at least I know that I am not allergic, eh?

 

These flies are definitely giving me a run for my money.  I have been walking in a loop that I created just to get the flies to leave me alone.  It started thundering and there was a bit of grey cloud rolling in, my ego panicked for a second.  I was like “ahhhhhhhhhhh, toss out your rock art, pick up the tarp and put it over tree branches somewhere, rain is coming!!”  But then my heart (the calmer and quieter voice) said to wait it out because my rock art that spells out “LOVE” on top of my tarp is pretty epic and sure enough, it never rained…only thundered. 

 

I had a little girl-crabby moment at the 26th hour of no food and with flies attacking me.  But once I discovered the art of walking at a specific pace that keeps the flies off of me and didn’t get me too tired, it was quite perfecto!  There is something soooooooooooooo incredibly familiar about this whole thing, as if I have done it before or something.  Hmmmmmmm?

visionquestphoto1Helping to build the sweat lodge with my brothers and sisters at Vision Quest, notice the sunbow that encompasses us?!

Tuesday 9/5 (nightfall)

Well, hello there.  Peyote reminds me of opium.  It’s so interesting, it’s nothing like what I thought it was going to be.  I thought that there was going to be more hallucinations, but in reality, it is truly a heart opener.  I’d love to do this with someone I love, be it a family member, friend, or lover.  It truly is a truth serum, just as Gent mentioned.  Gent, the peyote whisperer.  Hehe, I am a silly one.  In my hours of idle I started to make little butterfly cards with messages for everyone, but I am afraid my pen might run out soon, so I might need to finish them at base camp.

 

I have pretty much forgotten the fact that I haven’t eaten anything in about 30+ hours now.  Definitely feeling the peyote harder tonight (probably due to the whole not eating for 30+ hours thing).  There are a lot of memories coming up for me.  Memories about visiting Mount Shasta with Meghan and going to that delicious pizza parlor, Matt harassing me to go visit him after my Mount Shasta trip (I feel so safe to be far away from him.  Truly.)  Flashbacks to Eugene and then to the lovely people that I sat with at a half-day meditation retreat in Eugene.

 

 I just heard some dude coughing, strange.

 

It’s interesting because I am having all of these memory flashbacks, but I’m not really having any emotions attached with them.  I need to give myself more credit, I have lived a pretty brave and adventurous life.  I am feeling ready to settle down though soon and have a home base.

I feel that I have had a truly blessed life for the most part.  This peyote is extraaaa strong tonight, yowzas!  I’m really realizing the multi-dimensional aspect of my being.  I still have many more lessons to learn here in the 3D realm, but this quote from this song is coming up for me now, it’s that one “The future’s not ours to see, whatever will be will be.”  I need to remember to have fun with playing in the 3D realm, it can be playful if we allow it!  It feels as if it has been dusk for hours and hours! Haha

 

Wednesday 9/6 (AM)

This might sound harsh, but I could kill for some water right about now.  The tea will help a little, but I am fantasizing about downing a whole jug of water.  24 more hours to go, 24 more hours to go.  Right before I awoke, I dreamt that I had to run an errand for my mom.  I went and did that quickly, but it was intense because traffic was a little nutty.  I got back to my mom’s and I was putting eyeliner on, but she needed me to help her and my brother with finding a specific talk show.  I was attempting to text message this teacher guy who I was dating to tell him that I was going to be late for our date.  My text messaging went on the fritz, he got mad and texted back “you deleted my text message!  You know what?  Just forget about this.”  I froze up in place and couldn’t move for a minute.  A bunch of light was pouring down into my physical body and then I woke up.

 

I am noticeably weaker today.  Yesterday, my head was aching from no food, but now it has spread down my whole body, it aches and feels very weak.  I don’t know what I’ll do about those flies today because I am thinking that my body will probably be too weak to do the walking loop that I was doing yesterday to have them leave me alone.  Man, I am not joking about the water thing, I could seriously go for some water right now.  I had a dozen sips of tea, which was glorious, but that’s that I can have until evening besides a sip here or there during the afternoon today.  After I got back from going to the bathroom, I walked back to my sleeping bag and everything started to fade to white.  I am also having the beginning stages of a UTI.  As in, it keeps feeling like I have to pee, but I know that I don’t have pee because I just went and I have barely been drinking any fluids.

 

This is going to be a long day, I feel like my whole body got hit by a truck.  I feel slightly nauseated, thirsty as I have ever been in my life, and having periodic UTI symptoms, aye yi yi.  Spirit, please please please be with me for the next 24 hours, I know that I can get through this.  I think that I am going to be doing a lot of sleeping and resting today.

 

Water, cranberry juice, Nutella on bread/bagel, peanut butter/sun butter on tortilla, fried ice cream, this is everything I am craving right about now!

 (To Be Continued…!)

 

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….) 🙂

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!

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!  ❤

Meditate With Me!

 

Wooh!  Spring is in the air, summer is right around the corner and the collective energy feels exciting. With that excitement, there is a slight undertone of feeling scattered. It feels like everyone is making plans for the future: backpacking trips, camping trips, road trips.  All of these thoughts of making future plans makes it feel difficult to stay focused in the here and now.  This is how the last couple of weeks has felt for me at least. Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed and as if I am being pulled in a million different directions I try to find a spare 10 minutes to sit and meditate, adding this onto my other daily habit of 20 minutes of meditation in the morning.

 

In the spirit of community I thought it would be awesome to record a 10-minute guided meditation.  This meditation is one that I have shared with countless friends and acquaintances when they have asked me if I could instruct them in meditating.  I learned this one from the “Insight” meditation group that I joined in Portland, Oregon back in 2012.  What exactly is “Insight” meditation might you ask? It is derived from one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation called “Vipassana” meditation. Vipassana involves focusing on the deep interconnection between mind and body.  It involves focusing on your breath and anytime your attention wavers, you gently bring yourself back to your breath.

 

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I start out the meditation with having us take a few deep breaths together which helps to ground us into the present moment.  I then ask us to notice three touch-points, noticing your connection to whichever surface they might be on (i.e. your hands resting against your knees or thighs, your bottom on a cushion or a chair.)  We then will bring our attention up to our nostrils and become aware of the cool air coming in and the warm air as we breathe out. Paying attention to the sensation of the in and out breath is the main focus for the rest of the 10 minutes.  Some might not like this type of meditation, but I am hoping that it does help a few. There are an incredible number of different types of meditation and mindfulness techniques, so if one doesn’t work for you, don’t you worry because there are countless others to try.

 

Click on the recording below (best listened to with headphones) and join me for 10 minutes of meditation, I hope this helps you!! 🙂

 

 

 

Revamping before 33!

The road to 33 is looking good!



I have gotten so off track from my initial intentions with what I wanted to do with this blog, but that is going to change!  When I started this blog (gasp) almost five years ago I entitled it “Ilona’s Meditation Challenge” because that’s what it was going to be.  My original plan was to write down what I noticed from starting a daily 20-minute meditation practice and it kind of twisted and turned into something completely different, it became a bit more random.  That’s okay though because from it I have gained a ton of blogging friends and acquaintances.  I would like to steer this blog vehicle though back on track and keep at it.

With my 33rd birthday coming around the corner it has hit me that I truly am not getting any younger here.  So with that, I want to work on sharing a blog post at least once a week about all things MIND, BODY, AND SOUL!  I want to inspire others to be the best versions of themselves, to help remind them that WE CAN CHANGE OUR WAYS and that IT IS NEVER TOO LATE.  The only way that we can make that truly happen though is to have the desire to change, that is the first step.

So in the coming weeks, I will be challenging myself (as my blog page is now accurately named) to post one blog post per week that has everything to do with: meditation, healthy eating, exercise, and anything else that you can think of that helps to heal MIND, BODY, AND SOUL.  I am going to release any guilt that I have held onto about wasting time or any ways in which I have been unconscious.  I want to change within, bring it out into the world and inspire others if they too have this similar goal.

Please join me in these coming weeks.  I plan on sharing what I notice with my two daily meditations (I have now been meditating for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening.) I will be sharing book reviews (I am currently reading When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron.) I will be recording guided meditations for you to listen to and try out. I might even try my hand at making a video or two!

The point is, we are all in this together.  Everything is truly connected and everything we thought we knew is not going to last.  So let’s prepare ourselves now so as not to freak out when the crumbling begins (which it has already started a bit anyhow.). Let’s become more conscious together.  Let’s take a look at our bullshit stories that keep running/ruining our lives and transform them.  Please take my hand and cross this river with me.
Peace!

From my jog this morning:


Amen to that!!!!!

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?!” 😬

Some Notes from the Astral World

Swoosh!  All of a sudden I was up in the sky and not in my bed anymore.  I was comforted in a blanket of light all around me, I was floating and feeling at one with everything.  I realized that somehow, I had been given this opportunity to explore the vastness of the universe while still remembering who I was as a physical body.  I had been given this lucky chance to explore the sky and above.  I realized that I was at one with the stars.  As I started to move about so freely, a loud buzzing similar to the sound of television static overcame my ears and I fell into my body again.  My eyes flipped open and I realized I was lying in my bed.  I closed my eyes again, drifted back to sleep and heard the loud buzzing again.  I was back in the expanse of warm light and stars, but then the buzzing started and I was lying solid in my bed again.

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I grabbed a bottle of water resting next to me on my night stand and chugged down the remainder of it.  I had heard about out-of-body experiences (OBEs) before, in fact I had a few off and on since I was a child, but this one in particular seemed the most lucid.  I got up out of bed and walked on the cold wooden floor toward my bay windows.  I yanked on the curtain cord, dust flew about and streaks of sunlight poured into my large bedroom.  I pulled my notebook off of my black dresser and started writing down the experience that I just had.  I had remembered in one of the lucid dream books that I had checked out from the library years ago, it had mentioned to always write down your dreams when you wake up in the morning, no matter if they are lucid or not.  By writing your dreams down, you have more of a chance to give your subconscious mind opportunities to provide future lucid dreams.

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One month prior I had a different experience with an OBE while I was traveling in Southeast Asia for a month.  It was in a hostel room that I was sharing with Katie, a fellow traveler from the United Kingdom who had tagged along with me and my American friends.  Katie and I were sharing a twin-sized bed, as to make the already thrifty hostel even more of a bargain for us.  I was lying next to the window and Katie was next to the door of the room.  I had been dreaming that I was back in Minnesota visiting family and friends when all of a sudden, as if by a click of a switch, I realized that I was floating above the bed that Katie and I were sleeping on.

As I was floating above the bed, my rational mind was completely lucid, I knew that I resided in Saigon, Vietnam and what my name was.  I knew that my physical body was below me, lying there alongside Katie who was snoring softly with her arm flailed above her head.  I heard the construction work outside of our window, which had been going on since we checked into the hostel two days prior. I saw the white “Zen Plaza” sign on the side of the tall building across from our hostel.  All of a sudden I panicked and a wave of paralysis took over my whole body.  I thought to myself, I don’t want to die in Saigon, Vietnam!  I haven’t lived up to what I have intended!  I can’t die here, this isn’t right.

The view from our first hostel in Phnom PenhThe view from my hostel room in Saigon, Vietnam.

My eyes darted open and I took the deepest breath of my life, as if I was a deep sea diver that had lost her oxygen minutes ago and finally got above water.  My whole body felt so heavy, it hurt to get up.  I looked over to my left, Katie was still snoring and her arm was still resting above her head just as it was when I was viewing it from above.  The construction workers outside were still making noise and the white “Zen Plaza” sign was smack dab in my line of vision as I peered out the hostel’s double windows.

Before that experience in Southeast Asia, the last dream of that kind was in the fall of 2007.  I had rested my eyes as I was lying down reading a book and I drifted off into a dream.  In the first part of my dream, I was running around the cardiology clinic that I worked at in real life.  I was feeling very frazzled as multiple doctors kept asking me to draw blood or to perform electrocardiograms on patients.  I was then in the kitchen of the duplex that I rented at the time and my roommate Rachael was talking with me in the kitchen as she was grabbing food off the bottom shelf of our fridge.  Then something sounded like it snapped in my head and there was a loud buzzing.  I remember the distinct feeling of being very free and comforted by beings whom surrounded me.  They started giving me information about the nature of reality at an alarming rate, they playfully laughed, as in “awwww, she’s just a cute ol’ human being that thinks at a slower vibration than us….”

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Everything started happening incredibly fast, I was traveling through these alternate realities and in between these alternate realities, I was floating in outer space.  I was surrounded by stars and comforting beings, they were palpable and they felt so comforting.  They kept throwing information to me at an alarming rate, telepathically.  It is very difficult to describe in words what had happened to me during this experience as there were no words being communicated—all information was being given to me in what felt like the speed of light, they would think something and in an instant I would feel what they were conveying.  They kept flashing images of my life prior to up to that moment and then they started giving me images of people that I would be meeting in my future.  They kept expressing immense gratitude and love towards me.

When I awoke from this dream, I gasped for air and felt the heavy lump of my body lying in my bed.  I took a few deep breaths and felt stunned, I felt uncomfortable in my body.  My body felt so dense compared to where I just was.  I glanced over at my alarm clock that was resting on my night stand.  I couldn’t believe my eyes, I felt that I was asleep for hours, but I discovered that I had only been asleep for a total of ten minutes.  I felt overwhelmed and went downstairs to be around my roommates, I didn’t tell any of them what happened for fear of being sent to an asylum, but I just knew I wanted to be around people at that moment.  I remember smiling a lot the two days after that experience, I felt in awe and gratitude that I got to experience something so profound.

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

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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 of years and years. 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.”