Sequential Sojourn

All posts in the Sequential Sojourn category

Summer Challenge: Derby Hill Bird Observatory

Published August 4, 2014 by Susan Woodward

I really was hoping to see a large variety of birds and hear a splendid chorus today, but it was the thrum of bugsong to the insectual tune of “Lunch is Now Being Served on the Main Path” that made for a rather short walk. It seems that Deep Woods Off is a delicacy at Derby Hill, and every flying insect was happy to find me on the menu.

“I was as much affected by the faint hum of a mosquito making its invisible and unimaginable tour through my apartment at earliest dawn, when I was sitting with door and windows open, as I could be by any trumpet that ever sang of fame” (Thoreau, “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”, Walden).

So, H.D., do you mean that you were affected in a way that the sound of a mosquito is something you cannot ignore, like the blaring sound of a trumpet or bugle at Reveille? Or did it affect you with its melodious hum like a jazz tune? If it’s option number one, then I get you! If it’s the latter, then I would like to introduce you to “Lunch is Now Being Served on the Main Path” and see if you will still be singing the same tune.

These pesky creatures managed to get behind my sun glasses and into my eyes!

Needless to say, I did not stay long at Derby Hill. As pretty as it was, there was hardly a bird in sight, and those who were flying nearby took off when they heard me fighting with the bugs. But at least I managed to get a few pictures before running away!

Derby Hill 1

The paths through the fields and forest were actually quite charming even though those that came to greet me were significantly less so!

Derby Hill 2

I am sure the birds love this sumac…and the picture does not do justice to the beauty of the flowering stems.

Derby Hill 3

Along with the bugs that most likely house themselves in what is left of this tree, Nature does remind me that with life, there must also be death. I accept and respect that…but then I got the hell out of there in an effort to preserve the life I have!

I hiked with MapMyWalk! Distance: 0.81mi, time: 24:29, pace: 30:14min/mi, speed: 1.98mi/h.
http://mapmywalk.com/workout/675660723

As a result of my bug experience, I decided that, at least for this afternoon, I would do my exploring in my car for a bit.

Amish School House

In my travels back to the cabin, I came across an Amish school house. As I looked at what seems to be a one room structure, I wondered how my students would fare in such a place. They already think that spending 55 minutes with me in room E210 is akin to Dante’s sojourn through Hell…can you imagine if they had to spend a whole day with me in one room? They’d go nuts. I have a lot of respect for the teachers of old who taught all subjects to all grade levels all in a single room. I cannot imagine how they did it. And so my respect and utter awe goes out to whoever is in charge of this school. I couldn’t do it!

Fernwood Feed Mill

Quite honestly, I wanted to pop in to see if Ike Godsey was in! For those of you too young to know who Ike Godsey or his wife Corabeth are, then click the pic for a link. Although this feed mill may not be a general store like Ike’s, it certainly did have the nostalgic aura of one. Like my admiration for those one-room schoolhouse teachers, I also admire the pride that came with a Mom-and-Pop business. Sadly, today’s economy does not allow small businessmen to survive, let alone thrive. The quaintness and charm of places visited on television or in literature…like Godsey’s store on Walton Mountain or the Olsen’s Mercantile in Walnut Creek…is not as readily available as it once was. The mercantile was not only a place of business, but a place of social gathering as well. Thoreau, too, enjoyed his visits to the “civilized” realm away from the pond.

“Every day or two I strolled to the village to hear some of the gossip which is incessantly going on there, circulating either from mouth to mouth, or from newspaper to newspaper, and which, taken in homeopathic doses, was really as refreshing in its way as the rustle of leaves and the peeping of frogs” (Thoreau, “The Village”, Walden).

This goes to show that even though Thoreau chose to sequester himself in the woods, he was by no means a hermit. He knew the difference between loneliness and solitude. Over the past couple of years I have come to know and cherish that difference. I guess that is why the words of both Thoreau and Emerson have a profound effect upon me. I hope that I shall be able to convey that to my students as we read from the Transcendentalists.

*Sigh* I know that there are still country general stores out there, but they are few and far between. Their numbers have been greatly reduced by an economy that does little to sustain them.

On the flip side, though, I do have to admit that I love Wegman’s. Hypocritical?  Mehhhh… My apologies to the Godseys and the Olsens.

Hydro Plant

Behind the Feed Mill is the Fernwood, NY Hydro Plant. That’s what the stone sign says! When I’d gone canoeing earlier in the weekend, I’d been warned not to go too far down the pond to the dam. Barbara, the cabin proprietor, had been talking about beavers building dams in the creek. She also talked about how the town was doing something with a dam, so I assumed that her warning pertained to running into a beaver dam. Of course, I did go in that direction out of curiosity and a photo op, but seeing no place where beavers had built anything at all, I’d turned around disappointed. It seems that if I had continued on, though, I would have been treated to Fernwood’s version of white water rafting. I don’t know how well the canoe would have taken it! After having experienced white water rafting in Colorado’s stretch of the Rocky Mountains (and being terrified at being thrown into the middle of the raft when going over a waterfall), I do not think the Fernwood Falls experience would have added to the serenity of my Walden Project. I am glad I turned around, but it does make for a pretty picture from the other side.

And that concluded my sojourn for day three. Once more to the invigorating scent of a shower infusion of peppermint and lavender, and an evening with Harry Dresden. Even in the woods, I still love my murder mysteries!

A Garden of Memories: Freedom to Live

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 pass deep down into the earth and suddenly find yourself in a cavern, nestled comfortably in the bottom of a shallow boat.  There are soft blankets around you, keeping you safe, warm, and relaxed.  The boat is caught by the current of a narrow river, and you find yourself floating along, emerging from the darkness of the cave, and fully surrounded by a protective white light.  The river flows through a lush green forest, and the sky above is a deep blue.  You are able to lie back, looking up at the trees as the boat continues to float through the forest.  As you float along, the tree branches overhead become more intertwined, and the boat enters what seems to be a tunnel through the trees.  Even though the sun is now only filtering through the trees, you still feel relaxed and centered as the boat continues on its course.  The sound of birdsong lulls you into a deeper state of relaxation, and you watch the gentle breeze rippling the leaves above you.

After a while, the boat gently comes to a stop at a sandy bank.  You are now deep in the forest, and the birdsong has begun to dissipate.  The only sound at the moment is the gentle rustling of the breeze.

Sit up and look around.  You have returned to the place where you first found the mirror and saw the face of your inner heroic archetype.  How does it feel to be back here?  Step out of the boat.  There is sand mixed with the soft grass on the bank, and it is pleasurable to stand there in your bare feet.  Explore the small glade in which you find yourself.  One thing you are particularly pleased to see is a very large, very old tree.  The last time you were here, the tree had been destroyed, but here it is, fully restored.   Look around.  Everything is in bloom, and the leaves and grasses are greener than you ever remember them.  How do you feel being here?

In particular, several plants or flowers catch your eye.  Many of those that stand out for you are those that you’d noted while on your journey.  What are they?  What significance might these particular plants hold for you?  Instead of merely writing down which plants you see today, gather a couple of each to take with you.  Near the tree you find a small trowel and some potting containers.  Carefully dig up each plant or flower, being mindful of the roots.  Place each one into its own container and add a bit of earth to protect the delicate roots.  Each of these will be replanted into your own little garden just outside the door of your special place as a reminder of your journey.  What will each plant or flower remind you of?  How does that demonstrate some particular significance from your journey?

Once you have potted all the plants and flowers that you intend to take with you, gently place them in the stern of the boat.  It begins to look like a floating garden, and the mixture of colors and scents is pleasing.  Put the trowel back next to the tree for the next time you visit.  While you are doing that, a slight breeze carries the sound of your name.  Smiling, you recognize the voice as that of your inner heroic archetype.  Stand up with your arms extended fully, and allow the breeze to blow over you.  Your name sounds like music in the air, allowing you to feel as if this is your personal spot in the forest that no one else can experience in the same way.  The zephyr is like an embrace.  How does that make you feel?  What thoughts do you have about being in this place?  You know now that you can return here any time you wish, for it has claimed a part of you.  Any time you wish to contemplate life’s journey, or work out a problem, or simply just to be still, you can get into your boat and come back.

Looking around one last time, turn and head for the boat.  It looks beautiful with all the flowers and plants in it.  Just as you begin to walk towards your boat, a glint of light off to the right of your peripheral vision catches your attention.  It is coming from the hole in the tree.  Again, you hear your name on the breeze.  Go to the tree to see what it is.  Reaching in, you find that something has been left for you.  When you pull it out, you discover that your special mirror has been restored.  Look into it.  Your inner archetype is smiling back at you.  He/she is thanking you for honoring him/her with your journey.  What else does he/she say to you?  What words of wisdom are you left with?  How do you feel as you look into his/her eyes once more?

As you continue to look at the reflection, the image begins to swirl and morph into the reflection that you know best.  The changes that took place on the journey have become a permanent part of you and are evident in your appearance.  Gaze at the image that you present to the world.  How does this make you feel?

The completion of this journey has left you with many possibilities for the future.  Where is it you wish to go next?  What are your plans for future excursions?  What do you intend to do with what you’ve learned from this journey just ended?  How can you encourage others to follow their own paths?  These are questions that will stay with you as you move on to the next stage of your life.  How do you feel about that?

Take the mirror with you as you enter the boat.  Anytime you wish to remember that part of yourself, you need turn no further than your own reflection.  Climb into your boat once more, and pull the warm blankets around you.  Take a long look at your garden that you intend to transplant near the door of your special place.  Its beauty makes you smile before lying down for the ride back.  Snuggle comfortably beneath the blankets and settle yourself.

This time the boat begins to float in the opposite direction, taking you back from whence you came.  Gaze up at the trees, watching the ripples of the breeze fluttering through the leaves.  Soon you hear the birdsong once more.  Emerging from the tunnel of trees into a place where the sky is clearly visible, you notice that it has become night, and the stars are twinkling brightly overhead.  While you are looking up, a shooting star streaks across the sky.  Make a wish.  What is it you wish for?  Keep looking toward the sky until it disappears from view as the boat slips into the cave once more.  Imagine how you plan to arrange your garden with your beautiful, fragrant treasures.  Take in a deep breath and drink in their fragrance once more as you begin to feel yourself rising from the soft blankets in the boat.  You know that you can go to your special room any time you wish as well.  Your journal and your book of symbolism will always be available for you to return to whenever you want to read through them.  You will be able to take your books to sit with them next to your blooming garden and remember the lessons of your journey.

As you continue to 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 the face in the mirror, your beautiful flowers, and your special places in your imagination.  These images 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.

 

Some Will, Some Won’t: Being the Master of Two Worlds

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 pass deep down into the earth and suddenly find yourself awakening in your bed in your very special place.  Stretch cat-line in contentment as you look around your room.  Admire your favorite possessions and embrace the familiarity of being home.  It almost seems as if the long journey was a dream, and yet you know it was not.  Get out of bed and go to each of your special items and remind yourself of why it holds this status for you.  Who or what does each remind you of?  How does the memory of each make you feel?

Everything is so familiar, and yet you can sense of difference in the air.  The difference is not with the place; it is within you.  How have you changed?  Do these changes make you think or feel differently about being home?  How does this make you feel?  You realize that your return has left you with an obligation to share what you have learned with others.  How do you feel about that?

While you are perusing the room, a pleasant, tantalizing scent wafts in the air.  You are suddenly greeted with, “Well, I’m glad to see you’re finally back!”

Turning around, you find the one person with whom you wanted to share your experiences sitting at the table.  A hearty breakfast awaits you, and the table has been set for two.  Who is this person?  Why is he/she the one you with which you most wish to share your tale?  How do you feel upon seeing him/her?  What has he/she prepared for your breakfast in honor of your return?

Greet this person with a big hug before sitting down at the table.  The two of you enjoy the wonderful food, and he/she listens to the tales of your adventures.  How does he/she react?  What does he/she say about what you’ve learned?

“You’ve changed,” he/she observes.  As you continue to talk, it is apparent that he/she approves of the changes in you.  How does this make you feel?  What does he/she remark about the changes?

As you continue with your meal, it is obvious that he/she is becoming more and more wistful with the description of each adventure.  For a moment, you think that he/she is no longer listening and has begun daydreaming.  Question him/her about it.  How does this reaction make you feel?

His/her response surprises you.  He/she tells you that he/she had been contemplating trying something new, but was unsure of whether or not to proceed.  However, after hearing your tale, you have awakened in him/her the courage to take that step forward.  How does this make you feel?  What is it that he/she would like to do?  How has your story impacted him/her?  What can you do to help him/her get started?  You can feel a change taking place in your relationship to this person.  What is it?  How do you feel about this change?

After finishing breakfast, you talk for a bit more before he/she arises to leave.  He/she has many plans to make, and is eager to get started after listening to you.  How do you feel about that?  He/she gives you a big hug and says that he/she will return soon to talk with you more.  Say good-bye and open the door for him/her.  When you do, you discover that there is someone else on the doorstep that was just about to knock.  Who is this person?

Say good-bye to one friend as you welcome your newcomer.  This new person is also a good friend, and you are glad to see him/her.  This person, however, does not seem to be as pleased to see you.  When he/she enters, he/she barely returns your welcoming hug before taking a seat and turning to you with, “So.  You’re back.”  The tone carries something negative, but you can’t quite put your finger on what is wrong.  You’ve been so close in the past and are puzzled by his/her reaction.

“So what did you do while you were off on your vacation?” he/she demands.  Again, the tone sounds condescending and puts you on your guard.  What feelings are going through you?  Why might he/she be acting this way?

Try to remain pleasant with this person who obviously isn’t.  Cheerfully describe your adventures just as you had earlier.  Somehow, though, based on his/her stiff reaction, you begin to feel as if you’d done something wrong by going on the journey at all.  Where is this feeling of guilt coming from?  Why do you even feel guilty at all?  You’ve done nothing wrong, although this person obviously believes you have.  What do you suppose has led him/her to the conclusion that your journey was a bad thing?  How does that make you feel?

As you talk, you hear yourself downplaying certain parts of the adventure.  Why would you censor yourself?  Which parts do you downplay?  Why?  How does it make you feel to know that you cannot share your entire experience with this person because it obviously makes him/her upset?  What has caused this chasm in your once-close relationship?  How do you begin to feel about yourself as you hear how you downplay your experiences?

His/her comments are repetitive, and all he/she seems to say is, “Oh. Uh huh.  How nice for you.”  How does this make you feel?  Why do you suppose he/she is acting like this?

Before long, the conversation becomes too unbearable for you to stand.  It seems that the only way to talk to this person is to change the subject entirely and try to talk about something you have in common.  However, resentment has begun to build in you, and you find your end of the conversation as stiff as his/hers.  How do you feel about this change between you two?  Is there anything that can make things be the way they used to be when you were close?  How do you see the relationship evolving?

As the conversation becomes more uncomfortable, your companion decides that it’s time to leave.  At this point you are filled with conflicting emotions.  This is someone that you care about, and yet his/her reaction to your journey has left you filled with negative emotions.  What are these emotions?

After he/she leaves, the negativity still hangs in the air.  While you know that you’ve done nothing wrong in following your call to adventure, your friend’s reaction has left you feeling as if you should not have gone.   Ask yourself once again if there is something that can be done to heal the relationship.

You decide that the events of the day have left you tired and confused.  You were so happy to share with your first visitor who actually seemed inspired to begin his/her own journey.  Revisit those feelings that reinforce the positive aspects of sharing your experiences.  Knowing that there is nothing you can do at the moment to change the way your second visitor views your journey, keep your focus on the positive.  In your heart, you know that change involves the risk of displeasing those who do not invite change into their own lives.  The change in you has changed the relationship, and the change in the relationship is uncomfortable to the person who wished to maintain the status quo.  Perhaps, with time, he/she will come to accept what has changed in you and the relationship can grow.  If not, are you willing to bear his/her resentment at seeking personal growth?

For the remainder of the day, pour over the extensive notes you took while on your journey.  What observations do you make?  Pay attention to the types of plants and trees and animals you mentioned in your journal.  How were these significant at that point in the journey?  Fortunately, you own a book of symbolism.  It is a rather large volume that sits high upon one of your bookshelves.  Bring it down and begin to look up the significance of everything you wrote in your journal.  Even though you have returned, these symbols have lessons to teach you.  This is an activity that will bring you much pleasure in the future as you begin to analyze your journey and its significance to your personal growth.

The activity calms your mind and alleviates the negativity you’d felt earlier.  You know in your heart that this journey was the best thing for your growth and that no one has the right to negate that growth, no matter who he/she is.  Feeling better, you tidy your place after your visits and prepare a simple supper for yourself.  Now how do you feel about being home?

Relaxed and calm once more, you decide that it is time to go to sleep.  Curl into a comfortable position, and take a deep breath.  Feel yourself drifting away into the darkness.  Soon you begin to feel yourself rising from your very own bed in your special place.  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 think about your two friends.  Send them both positive thoughts and energy and know that your journey was right for your personal growth.  This realization will remain in your memory 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.

Coming Home: Crossing that Return Threshold

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 awakening after a satisfying rest.  Stretch and look upwards.  The crystals are twinkling a morning hello and it fills you with cheer, for you realize that you are almost home.  Anticipation fills you because you are anxious to share what you have experienced and learned in your absence.  Who in particular are you anxious to see again?  With whom is it you most wish to share your experiences?  Pondering the changes that have taken place in you, how do you imagine that you will be received by this person?  By others?  How does this make you feel?

Rise from your soft bed of moss and stretch your limbs as far as you can.  You search for the source of the sound that acted as a lullaby for you the previous night and soon discover that the gentle waterfall spilling into the underground lake is not far off.  Smiling, you remember this place as where you’d found many of the treasures that have helped you in your journey.  You remember wondering how these items happened to be lying in an underground cavern and now the answer comes to you.  They were purposely left by a previous traveler for the next person to find.  Not knowing who the former traveler was, you offer a few words of thanks to this benefactor.  It is certain that he/she did not know who would discover the gifts, but he/she made the choice to be of assistance to the next one to find him/her self in the cavern.  How does it make you feel to realize that someone left these tools with no thought of reward or thanks, but just the inclination to aid another?

Open your satchel and remove any contents that you believe could be of use to another in the future.  Arrange them thoughtfully and resist the urge to leave a note.  Leave them for someone else to use just as you did.  How do you feel knowing that you are providing for future travelers?  How does it make you feel to do this anonymously, without the possibility of any reward or thanks for your actions?

The only things you take with you are your initial gift, your water bottle, your notebook, and your boon.  Your load has been lightened tremendously, and the feelings in your heart reflect that.  You are truly ready to leave this place.  However, you are not quite sure of how to get out. Remembering that the previous passageway you’d taken leads to the deep pit, you know that you must find another way out.  You decide to cleanse yourself in the spray of the waterfall before tackling the business of finding an exit.  The sound of the water falling is soothing and you long to feel it splash over your head.

Enter the water and swim toward the falls.  Surprisingly, it is a very refreshing temperature and not the chill you initially expected.  Play for a bit in the water as you approach the falls.  How do you feel at this moment?  Tread water for a moment and look around you.  What do you see?  Describe the place in detail, remembering so that you may write it down when you emerge from your bath.

Coming closer to the falls, dive down below the surface and come up with the water cascading over you.  There is a large rock just beneath the surface for you to stand upon so that you may experience the full benefits of the falling water.  Let it pulsate against your scalp, invigorating you.  It soothingly pelts against the skin to massage out any remnants of weariness from the return journey.  You can feel your circulation moving freely through your body, creating new vigor and energy for this last portion of the return.  Diving off the rock and into the pooled water, swim around for a few more minutes.  Look up at the wonderful waterfall.  How do you feel?

As you are looking at it, you notice something you hadn’t seen before.   At first you cannot believe your eyes, but looking again, you are certain that it is not a mirage.  On the right-hand side of the waterfall, there appears to be a formation of crystals that looks like a ladder.  Swimming over to the edge, you look up and discover that the ladder leads to where the waterfall emerges into the cavern.  You quickly dress and retrieve your satchel.  Although you must swim back to get to the foot of the ladder, you do not mind so long as you remember to keep your satchel dry by holding it above the water.

Look up.  How high must you climb?  What is going though your mind as you gaze upwards?  How do you feel about climbing the crystal ladder?  Begin your ascent, being sure to gauge your footing along the way.  The crystals form secure hand and footholds in the wall of the cavern, so there is no fear of them dislodging.  How do you feel as you are climbing?  Are you strong enough to gaze behind you as you proceed?  Or might the height frighten you into being frozen to the spot, unable to move?  Decide whether you wish to look behind you at this point or not.  If you do look back, what do you see from this vantage point?  How does it make you feel?

The opening from which the water emerges is only a few more feet away.  Climb carefully and bring yourself atop the ledge.  The water comes from a large creek pouring into a small opening in the side of a hill.  You can see daylight at the end of the short tunnel, and you quickly scramble along the edge of the creek to avoid being caught in the current and pulled over the falls.  Emerge into the sunlight, feeling its warmth on your face upon your exit from the cavern.

Looking around, you are surprised to discover where you are.  Just across the creek is the place from which you exited at the beginning of the journey.  This is the place that had mysteriously disappeared as soon as you crossed the threshold, but here it is, waiting for your return.  How do you feel as you see this familiar place?

Quickly crossing the creek, hurry to the door and enter your special place.  You are home.  Once inside, you see that everything is as you had left it.  The one thing you had missed the most was your comfortable bed.  Lie down upon it, thankful to be home.  Gaze up at the ceiling to see the familiar compass painted there, and smile in the familiarity of home.  As you lie there, you begin to drift off into the most comfortable sleep you’ve had since leaving, even more comfortable than the luxurious bed you’d slept in after your celebration.  Nothing can compare to the comfort of home.

Curl into a comfortable position, and take a deep breath.  Feel yourself drifting away into the darkness.  Soon you begin to feel yourself rising from your very own bed in your special place.  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 think about how wonderful it is to have such a place as home to return to.  This feeling of satisfaction for the completion of a long journey will remain in your memory 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.

Gentle Nudges: Help Along the Way

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 awakening after an unsatisfying rest.

Having tossed and turned in an effort to come up with a solution to the challenge, you find that you are even more confounded than ever once you awaken to see what is waiting for you.  What ever had been placed to challenge you has multiplied in your sleep, and has become even more difficult to overcome.  This is what happens when we delay trying to find a solution to our problems; they continue to grow until we either deal with them, or they overwhelm us entirely, and we give up.

Your challenge is now looming over you, and you begin to feel more insecure than ever.  “Why did I have to go through all the rest of it only to be stopped now?” you wonder.  Look again in your bag and take inventory.  Is there anything that you can use?  What about any knowledge you have gained?  How can that help you now?

Dumping everything from your satchel onto the ground, you begin to sift through aimlessly, barely paying attention to what you are doing.  At the moment you are too distracted by your self-doubt to even think clearly.  What is going through your mind?  What does this situation remind you of?  How many times have you completed a task only to feel a sense of not knowing what to do next?  What feelings are going through you as you think about these other situations?  How did you overcome them in the past?  Or did you?  Did you give up in the past after having come just so far, only to learn that things had changed and become more difficult?  How does that make you feel?

Take stock of your present situation once more.  It seems to be growing with each passing moment, and it looks as if you might never return home.  For just a moment you begin to believe that maybe it’s better that way.  If you don’t follow through, then not much will be expected from you.  Life could be so much easier that way.  Sitting on the ground with your back against a tree, you feel discouraged and want to just go back to the place of the luxurious bed and hot shower.  That was so much better, and so much easier!

As you sit under the tree, something falls and hits you on the head.  Pick it up.  How strange—one would expect a nut to fall from a tree, but not this.  What is it?  Where did it come from?  Looking up, try to see where the object has fallen from.  What do you see in the tree?

A breeze begins to blow through its branches.  At first the only sound is the rustling of the leaves and the swaying of the boughs.  After a few moments, the sound of your name seems to be coming on the wind.  Gently it comes, gradually increasing in volume and clarity until you are able to recognize the voice of your mentor.  He/She begins to speak to you in a soothing and encouraging tone.  Once you know who is speaking, listen to what he/she has to say to you.  What is he/she saying?  What advice is he/she giving you about your self-doubt?  Listen carefully, for he/she knows you well.

Suddenly, the breeze turns to a hasty gust and knocks you off your feet.  This is your mentor’s way of telling you that you need to stop doubting your own abilities and rethink your situation.  By using your creativity, you will find an answer to your problem and move forward.

Looking again at your obstacle, it doesn’t seem to be a large as it had a short time ago.  Did it truly get smaller, or had you been over exaggerating its difficulty?  You feel less intimidated now, and decide to once again go through your items to see what can be used.  The more you examine them with your new-found boost of confidence, the more ways you begin to see how the items can work together to create what you need to succeed.  One of them is your Ultimate Boon and another is the gift you’d received from your mentor so long ago at the beginning of the journey.  How do they work together?  How does their use help to solve your problem?

Suddenly, without warning, a solution pops into your head.  You see in your items a way to use them that hadn’t occurred to you earlier.  Now that you see it, you realize that the solution is so simple.  If you hadn’t been so caught up in self-doubt, you would have been able to see it before.  Quickly assemble the items to make what you need to remove whatever is blocking your path…success!

A breeze begins to blow once more, and on it you can hear your mentor congratulating you.  How does this make you feel?

Once you pass the obstacle, you notice a tunnel up ahead and know that you must enter it in order to return home.  Collect your belongings and place them back in your satchel.  They have served you well, and you shall treasure them all the more now.  Before entering the tunnel, stop alongside a small brook to wash your face and refresh yourself.  The water is cool and clear, and you can see your reflection in it, albeit a bit distorted from the current.  Even in the moving water you are able to notice a difference in your appearance once again.  What is it?  How have you changed this time?  How does this change make you feel?

Bushes of raspberries and strawberries grow along the brook, and you pause long enough to make a meal for yourself.  Small brown trout swim in the brook, and you easily catch a couple to complete your supper.  The tiny fire that you’ve built to roast the fish crackles merrily and makes you feel happy to be on your way once more.  Once you’ve eaten, be sure to carefully douse the fire with water from the brook before leaving.

Now that you have refreshed yourself, you are ready to enter the tunnel that seems to lead into a large cave.  Stepping forward, you move along the tunnel, and magically, torches along the sides begin to light your way.  This is all very familiar to you, and before long you find yourself within the large crystal cavern you’d entered at the earlier part of your journey.  You are certain that this is the way home.  However, you are tired from the day’s work, and feel the need to rest before continuing.  Finding a pile of wonderful soft moss, make a bed for yourself.  Tonight’s rest will be much more satisfying now that you have overcome your self-doubt and conquered your test.

Smiling to yourself, lie down and look up at the ceiling. What color are these crystals?  Why might this be significant?  The twinkling of the light reflecting off the crystals has a hypnotic effect, and you soon begin to become very drowsy.

Curl into a comfortable position, and take a deep breath.  Feel yourself drifting away into the darkness.  Soon you begin to feel yourself rising from your bed of moss in the crystal cavern.  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 think about how you were able to overcome self-doubt with the help of your mentor.   Remember his/her advice, and let the words ring on your memory 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.

 

Homeward Bound: The Return Journey

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 relaxing with a stream of hot water running over your head.  The shower is still running, and all the muscles of your body are completely warm and loose.  Although the body is relaxed, the spirit is energized for the journey home.

Step out of the shower and wrap yourself in a warm, fluffy towel.  Enjoy the feeling of cleanliness in preparation for the return.  The pain of all your struggles is washed away, even though you know the journey home will have its own challenges.  Helpful things that you now posses, which you’d lacked earlier, are your newly gained experience and knowledge, as well as your Ultimate Boon.  While you dress in your freshly laundered clothes, in particular your garment of protection, think about how much different you are than when you first began the journey so long ago.  What have you learned?  How have you changed?  How can these changes be helpful in your return trip?  Be prepared to be tested at some point along the way.  How can your boon help you?

Look at yourself full length in a mirror.  At first, you see yourself as you appear to the rest of the world, but upon closer examination, you notice something more.  Your reflection has looked like your inner archetype for so long, that you don’t see the subtle changes at first glance.  How have you changed physically?  Look carefully at your entire body and note specific differences.  In particular, spend quite a bit of time looking at your face.  There is something new in your expression and in your eyes.  What is it?  Describe the changes.  How do you feel about this?  Take the time to look yourself square in the eye.  Do you like what you see?  Why or why not?

After going through the self-evaluation, it is time to prepare to leave.  Pack up your satchel, being sure to include your Ultimate Boon.  Take a deep breath and look around once more before departing.  How do you feel?

Once you are ready to go, you turn to find your mentor is waiting by the door.  What advice does he/she give?  What seems to be his/her feelings regarding the upcoming journey?  He/she informs you that he/she will not be traveling with you, but if needed, he/she will come to your aid.  How does that make you feel?

After walking you to the door and leading you to your path, your guide disappears.  Face the appropriate direction.  Which way are you headed?  What is significant about this?  Take a deep breath and breathe in the scent of the air.  What smells linger?  What does the smell remind you of?  How does that make you feel?

Begin the trek homeward.  As you walk, pay attention to the countryside.  What do you see?  How is that significant?  Describe what you hear as well.  Is that the song of a lark or the caw of a crow you hear?  How might that be significant?

What is the weather like?  Is there any wind?  If so, is it a gentle breeze, or a strong gust?  What about any precipitation?  If there is any, what is happening?  How is this important?  What does it mean for your journey?

The first three days are uneventful, other than paying attention to your surroundings.  You have been keeping a log of interesting things you have noted as you’ve progressed.  Once you return home, you will revisit all your notes to look for significant patterns.  Nights have found you sleeping out of doors, but you’ve been protected.  There is food in your satchel so that you have not experienced severe hunger.  Everything has been moving along well as you head toward home.

On the fourth day, however, an unexpected challenge arises and may hinder your homeward progress.  What is it?  What stands in your way now?  What tools or knowledge do you possess to help you?  How does this obstacle make you feel?

Using everything in your power to overcome this obstacle, you still struggle.  Unfortunately, with the struggle comes the return of self-doubt.  For a brief time, you begin to doubt that you accomplished anything at all, and that the entire process was a waste of time.  How are you feeling at this moment?

The frustration of not being able to solve the problem has made you grow weary.  Perhaps if you rest for a bit, a solution to the problem will present itself.  Create a bed of leaves for yourself, and take the blanket from your satchel.  Sleep has always been good for the mind, the body, and the soul.  In the morning, perhaps an answer will arrive.  For now, it is time to let it go and try to rest your brain.

Stretch before curling into a comfortable position, then take a deep breath, feeling yourself drifting away into the darkness. Soon you begin to feel yourself rising from your bed in the outdoors. 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 think about the test that faces you. If you allow it to happen, the solution of the test will somehow come to 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.

 

Hesitations: Refusing to Return

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 awakening after a satisfying rest.

You are so comfortable in the wonderfully soft bed that you almost don’t wish to get up.  Stretching cat-like, wallow in the luxury of the pillows and the warmth of the blankets.  The stress of having to move forward has alleviated, and you begin to feel a bit lazy after having traveled so far.  How do you feel as you wake up without the sensation of urgency?  Look around the room.  Describe what you see in great detail.  How does being here make you feel?  Looking toward a small table nearby, you notice that a tray has been placed for you.  A highly polished silver lid makes you curious to lift it to see the breakfast that awaits you.  Step out of bed and lift the cover from the dish.  What has been prepared for you?  Breathe in deeply, appreciating the tantalizing aroma that makes your mouth water.  You are surprised that you are even hungry at all after the feasting of the previous evening, but a familiar rumble begins once the scent reaches your nostrils.  Sit down in the well-padded chair and partake of your breakfast with gusto.

While you are eating, your eye falls upon your wonderful reward that you earned for the completion of your task.  Bask once again in the feelings of success.  What goes through your mind as you look at your reward?  How do you plan to use it?

Another thought creeps into your mind, causing you to pause in contemplation.  What if you had not been successful in this journey?  How might you feel if you had not been able to do what you had set out to?  How might things have turned out differently if you’d failed at this attempt?  Thinking about this possibility, you walk towards your reward and hold it in your hand.  What if this could not have been yours?  Would you feel differently about yourself?  How do you suppose others might have viewed your failure?

Shaking the thoughts off, you turn once more to your breakfast and clear your plate.  Your stomach and your pallet are now satisfied, and so you begin to stretch once more.  This place just feels so comfortable right now, and you wish you could stay here.  One thing you know, though, is that this is not your home.  While it has been a challenge to finally arrive, the quest is now complete.  You’ve done what you’d set out to do, and there is no reason to stay.  Actually, now that you have accomplished this task, you feel a sense of urgency to return home to share the experience with others.

Whom do you intend to tell about your adventures?  What do you hope will come from sharing what you’ve learned?  Who can benefit the most?

Even though you know that you must get ready to leave, it just feels so comfortable here.  The food is delicious, the service is great, and the bed is luxurious.  It’s hard to leave knowing that you have a long journey back.

Turning toward the bed as if to crawl back in to take a nap, you notice that the bed has mysteriously been made and your cleaned garment is laid out for you in preparation for travel.  As much as you’d love to get back into the bed and just relax, you realize that it is important for you to move on.  People are waiting for you back home.

Before leaving, you decide that a hot shower is just what you need to get you motivated.  Turn the water in the shower as hot as you can comfortably stand it, and step beneath the pulsating stream.  Pick up the soap and drink in its fragrance.  What does it smell like?  Why might the scent be significant for your return journey?  What does it remind you of?  Allow the hot water to pour over your head.  Close your eyes and feel it pulsating against your skull.  The sensation is hypnotic and even though your muscles become more relaxed, your spirit becomes more energized for the upcoming journey.  Stand there and let the water just come down over your head.  Breathe deeply and know that you are ready to share what you’ve learned.  Feel yourself drifting away into the darkness behind your closed eyelids. Begin to feel yourself slowly rising from the shower. 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 think about the message that you know you must share with others. The feelings stemming from knowing that you have a gift to share 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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