In the Pit: Falling into the Belly of the Whale

Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

Close your eyes and relax.  Now take three deep breaths: one for body, one for mind, and one for spirit.  Take one last very deep breath and hold it.  Just when you think you cannot hold the breath any longer, pull in just a bit more air.  Again, when you feel as if you cannot continue holding the breath, pull in just a little more.  When you finally do release your breath, do so very slowly in a long continuous exhale until you have released all that you were holding.  Breathe slowly and deeply as you continue to relax.  Relax all the muscles of your body: your legs, your arms, your shoulders, and your jaw.  Completely relax.

Imagine that you are sinking down into the furniture, and in turn sinking through the floor.  Allow yourself to continue sinking down and down, all the while feeling completely relaxed.   You continue to sink down until you find yourself nestling into a pile of soft cushions in a cavernous room.  The ceiling is very high, and you notice that the room is circular.  Smiling, you remember this place, and you gaze up at the compass markings on the ceiling for a few moments.  You really hadn’t taken the time to study them earlier, but each direction has intricate symbolic images painted nearby.  Examine the images painted to represent each of the four directions.  Is there anything painted in the center of the ceiling?  What do you see?  What images are specifically painted next to the direction that is above your door?  Contemplate on why you have been guided to begin your journey in this particular direction.

Standing up, you still find the favorite comforts of your own world furnishing this place, giving it a safe, welcoming, familiar vibration.  Your garment and your satchel containing your gift and water bottle are ready and waiting for you to recover from your rest.  After sleeping for what seems like a few days, you are energized and ready to begin.  While heading to the door, your nostrils are once again treated to the scent of your favorite breakfast waiting for you.  A small sign next to the plate says again, “To fortify you.”  Eat heartily, savoring the flavors for you do not know for sure when your next hot meal will be.  What nourishes you?

You put on your garment, and once again you turn back to the table to find that the plates have already been cleared.  Looking around, you smile and nod, knowing that it is finally time to go.

Step up to the door.  This is it.  This is finally the beginning of your journey that you have been preparing for.  The hero within whispers ever so gently: “What are you waiting for?”  Smiling, you head out the door to find the sun shining brightly.  The door closes behind you, and you step lightly down the stairs.  What do you see?  What surrounds you?  Is there a path, or must you forge one of your own?

The moment your foot reaches the ground, you feel a sudden cold chill in the air, and a sound, like a small avalanche, reaches your ears.  Turning around, you are astounded to see that the door is retreating into the distance.  The building seems to be being pulled away from you by some invisible force, farther and farther, eventually leaving you in the midst of an empty clearing.  Its disappearance has left you a bit unsettled because it took with it all your familiar treasures; except for what you carry, you truly are alone.  What feelings are going through you right now?  You know that there is no going back the way you came for the door has vanished.  You must delve into the unknown with only your garment of protection and your gift.  Do you still feel ready?

You decide that it is probably best for you to follow the direction you’d seen indicated above the door.  Taking a deep breath, you look forward to try to find your way.  Although it seems to be cluttered with vegetation of some kind, you suddenly notice a very faint path you hadn’t seen at first.  It looks as if it has not been traveled in a very long time.  This seems to be the best place to start.

Stepping onto the path, you notice that the trees and branches seem to part for you to walk forward easily.  You do not find it necessary to grope gingerly to make progress.  In fact, it seems so easy that you begin to take quick strides in the hope of finding something, anything up ahead.  What do you expect to find?  What do you seem to be hurrying toward?  You move forward in this same fashion for a very long time, excited to see what awaits you.  You hear a bird call up ahead; what sound does it make?  Your excitement to see if you can find it causes you to break into a light jog.  Just as soon as you get too comfortable with practically running down a path that seems to open up for you, you realize that you should have been more careful.  Your guard has been let down because it has been too easy.  Before you can fully comprehend what is happening, two branches part and you rush forward only to find yourself falling into a black hole.  The hole is very deep and when you finally hit the bottom, you land in a pile of soft, dry grass; it is fortunate that you are not seriously injured except for a few bruises.  How are you feeling as you sit and examine your body?  Looking up, what goes through your mind?

Standing to test your sore muscles, look around.  After examining your plight, you realize that there is no way for you to climb out.  The edges are very smooth, and there is nothing for you to grip.  How are you feeling now?

You sink once more into the pile of dried grass and think about how easily the journey started.  Paths were opening up for you as if by magic only to lead you to this?  One thing, though, that you consider, is that you would not have fallen in if you’d have been paying attention.  You got caught up in running toward the destination that you really didn’t watch out for the path you were on.

Your first lesson: Avoid focusing on the end product without paying attention to detail along the way.

At the moment, there is nothing you can do to get out.  Yelling has produced nothing more than an echo off the smooth walls and a raspy voice, and so you sit silently on the pile of dried grass.  Curiously, though, you don’t feel fear.  Instead, you are confident that a solution will present itself if you are patient.

All the running through the trees has made you tired, and you decide to take a rest before figuring out what to do.  It’s fortunate that you have your garment with you, as it protects you from the chill in the air.  Lying down on the pile of dried grass, you soon feel as if you could sleep for a very long time.  Staring up at the opening far above you, you find that the moon is out.  Just the sight of the moon comforts you and reminds you of the strength and light it gave you the last time you gazed up at her from the boat.  Breathe deeply and pull in that light once more.  All will be well.  You will find your way out, but sleep is calling first.  One last glimpse of the moon, and you close your eyes.

Lying down on the pile of grass, you soon you begin to feel yourself rising from it.  As you rise, you become more and more aware of your surroundings, and soon you are able to sense the furniture beneath you.  This is the room from which you began this journey not so very long ago.  As you become more and more aware of the room around you, you remember your first lesson, one that will stay with you as you awaken from your rest.

Taking three deep breaths, one for body, one for mind, and one for spirit, you open your eyes to find yourself in a familiar place.

 

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