Sequential Sojourn

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Reward for a Job Well Done: the Hero’s Boon

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.

Stretching and looking around, you find yourself just at the gate of your final destination.  You’ve passed three tests to get to this place:  the first in clearing what blocks your progress, the second in solving a puzzle to free yourself, and the third in facing your adversary.   How do you feel after passing these tests?  Reflect once again on how you managed to complete the tasks, and take with you the lessons you learned about how to overcome obstacles.

When you stand up, you notice a pool of clear water nearby.  Go to refresh yourself in the pool with a long drink.  As you scoop the water in your hands, you can see your reflection in the surface.  What you are able to see is your inner hero.  Remembering which archetype you selected for yourself, ask yourself how you have honored this archetype on your journey.  What accomplishments have you reached that meet the goals of this particular archetype?  Spend a few moments looking into his/her eyes in the reflection.  What does he/she look like at this moment?  Describe the expression on his/her face.

After the long journey, you decide to bathe in this pool of crystal clear water.  Disrobe and enter the pool.  You are surprised to discover how comfortable the temperature of the water is.  Swim about as you bathe, cleansing yourself of the weariness of your travels.  Amidst the splashing sounds, you also hear the sound of your inner hero talking to you.  What is he/she saying?  Listen attentively to what you hear.  How do the words make you feel?

Climbing out of the pool, stretch out in the sun to dry.  The sun’s rays warm your skin, and your complexion is glowing after your bath.  This is the cleanest you’ve felt since leaving your special room so long ago.

Reaching for your garment, you notice that there is something different about it.  After the long days on the road, it had been beginning to look a bit shabby and worn.  Now, after passing your tests and cleansing yourself, it has transformed.  What does it look like now?  What do you suppose caused it to change?  Put it on.  How does it feel against your skin?  Look once more at your reflection in the water.  What seems different about your appearance?

On either side of the gate there are fruit trees.  What kind of fruit do you find growing there?  Why might this be significant?  Pick some of the fruit for your breakfast and eat your fill.  You are almost ready to enter the gate.

Gather your belongings.  Your satchel of items seems lighter somehow, even though it still contains the same things.  Look again at your special gift and remember how it had aided you in defeating your adversary.  How does that make you feel?

Approach the gate, for it is time to enter the realm of your dreams.  This is the goal you have been working toward.  How does it feel to finally be at the doorstep of achieving it?  As you come closer, the door opens of its own accord.  Cross into the place that is key to your dreams.  What does it look like?  What do you see there?  Take the time to fully describe what you see and what you are feeling about being here.

While you are looking around, you hear a slight cough off to your right.  Turning to see who is there, you are startled to find your guide waiting for you.  He/She smiles and comes forth in greeting saying that he/she has come to witness your completion of your goal.  How do you feel about seeing him/her?  What does he/she say to you?

It is time for you to perform your final task now that you have arrived.  What is this task?  What must you do in this place that you were willing to travel such a far distance and overcome difficult obstacles?

“This you must do alone, but I am here to bear witness to your success!” your guide tells you.

Your guide leads you to the place where you must do whatever it is that you set out to do.  Success is at hand!  With confidence, you begin your final task, and after much work, it is complete!  How do you feel?  How did you manage to complete your final task?

Your guide embraces you upon completion and leads you along a path that takes you further into the realm of your goals.  Describe what you see.  At one point, he/she leads you toward a very large table, highly polished and laden with gifts for the completion of your journey.  In the center of the table, though, is a raised pedestal.  On this pedestal is something very special; it is your reward for a job well done.  What is this Ultimate Boon awarded to you?  Describe it in detail.  What is it?  What can you use it for?  How can it help you in future journeys?  What are your feelings as you hold the treasure in your hand?  Remember, you have earned it.

Your guide turns to hug you as you accept your gift, and over his/her shoulder, you catch a glimpse of your reflection in a mirror on the wall behind him/her.  Your heroic archetype is looking back at you.  Describe his/her reaction to your Boon.  How does the achievement of this goal honor your inner archetype?

Turning back to the table, you discover that friends and family have arrived to celebrate your success.  Who do you find there?  How do you feel at seeing them?  What role do these people play in your life?  Celebrate with them and begin to connect on a different level now that you’ve completed this quest.  How have you changed?  What might this change mean in your relationship with these people?  How do you feel about that change?

You spend the rest of the day and evening in celebration.  In what ways do you celebrate your victory?

After a long, happy day, your family and friends leave to return home.  You know that soon you, too, must return.  For now, though, you are still basking in the glory of your accomplishment.  Stepping outside, look up at the sky.  A full moon is shining once more, bathing you in its light.  Allow the energy of the moon to fill you in preparation for the return journey ahead.  It, too, will have its perils, but you are more prepared.  And you also have your Boon to carry with you.

Re-enter the room where you will be spending the night.   A large, soft bed awaits you.  It’s been a long time since you actually slept in a bed.  Stretch out in all directions on the bed and feel the luxury of a mattress beneath you.  The pillows are fluffy and soft, cradling your head as you rest it upon them.  Pull the warm blankets over you and breathe in the sweet scent of clean sheets.  Nestle into a comfortable position and feel sleep begin to overtake you.  Take a deep breath and feel 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 tests you have passed and the reward you received for doing so.  The feelings of pride from this experience 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.

Using Your Gifts: A Hero’s Apotheosis

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 feel refreshed and ready to move forward on your journey.   The fire has died down and become a pile of smoldering ash, yet still offering warmth in the chill of the morning.  Sitting up, you see that you are alone.  Your companion has moved on to complete his/her own journey, but has left you a note on your satchel.  Pick it up and read it.  What does the note say?  How do you feel about being left to continue alone?

You also discover that your friend has left some food for you inside your satchel.  Take the time to eat before moving forward.  As you swallow, feel the nutrients feeding your body, preparing you for the last portion of your quest.

According to your map, you are very near your destination.  How do you feel about that?  Think about your goal that you have been striving to reach.  Describe how you plan to finally attain it now that you are so close.  Take inventory of the items in your satchel.  What things have you not had the opportunity to use yet?  How do you plan to make use of them?  What do you suppose they are for?  You also notice that your friend has added some items to your satchel.  What are they?  How can they be used?  Carefully return everything to your bag and prepare to leave.  Be sure to scoop dirt over the embers to make sure that they do not ignite and cause an uncontrollable fire.  Look around to be sure that you have not forgotten anything.

Taking a deep breath, face the direction in which you must move.  Where is the sun in relation to where you are facing?  How does that make you feel?  Allow the sun to shine down on you, bathing you in its warmth before embarking.  Close your eyes and feel the warmth penetrate your skin, energizing you and giving you the strength to move on.  Take one last breath and extend your right foot.  Begin that last long walk toward your goal.  This is what you’ve been working toward.  What feelings go through you now?

Start walking.  Along the way, be sure to pay attention to any animals, birds, or specific plants you notice.  They hold meaning for you and you will remember to contemplate on them later.  How significant is it that they happen to cross your path at this time?

You can see your destination in the distance.  Your heart begins to race in excitement, but there’s also a feeling of tension running through you.  What might you feel tense about?  Stop and look ahead, feeling the blood pumping through your body as your adrenalin increases.  What is it that you see?  Fully describe the scene in as much detail as possible.  Also, describe anything that you are feeling, whether it is physical feelings or emotional.  Prepare yourself to enter the realm of your dreams.

Begin moving forward once more.  Starting out slowly and tentatively at first, but your momentum picks up and your pace increases.  Your heart is pounding because now you are finally so close after coming so far.  Think about all you have experienced on your journey.  Remember your gift, the pit, the door, the cave, the river, the mentor, the adversary, the journey, the house, your friend, crossing the abyss, and the fire.  Everything you have gone through has been in preparation for this moment.  How does that make you feel?  How do you believe each step has prepared you for what is to come?  What is it you expect to face?

As you are moving along, you suddenly find that your path is blocked.  Trying to find a way around the block, you discover that the only way to continue is to somehow get through the blockade.  What is it that is blocking your path?  What tools might you have to deal with this?  Look in your satchel and see what you have in your inventory.  Aha!  You discover something that is just what you need to remove the blockade.  Describe what it is you have.  How are you using it?  What does it do to remove the block in your path?  What happens to whatever is in your way?  What feelings go through you as you see your path become visible once more?

You have passed the first test.

Move beyond the block and continue along on your path.  How does the temperature of the air seem around you?  What do you notice as you go along?  Pay attention to as much detail as you can and remember it all for later.

Your destination is much closer now.  You can hear sounds on the breeze coming from the place you are heading toward.  What do you hear?  How do these sounds make you feel?  What might be making them?  You become even more excited to move quickly onward now and you pick up your pace once again.

All of a sudden you find yourself in some sort of a trap.  What kind of trap is it?  How have you been captured?  Fortunately, you are not injured, but you become frustrated at being stopped once more.  Examine the trap carefully… it is not without an escape; however, it is up to you to figure out how to free yourself.  Again, search your satchel that is still on your back for anything that might help you solve the puzzle of getting free.  What do you have in there that can be of aid?  Ah!  You discover just what you need… and you had no idea what you have used it for when you’d picked it up in the cave!  Work through the secret of the trap until you are able to release yourself.  How did you do it?

What have you learned about yourself after making it through the second test?

By this time you are beginning to become impatient to reach the inner realm.  It has been so long, and you have been through so much.  Keep moving forward.  What do you see at this point?  Has anything changed about the scenery?  What about any sounds that you hear?  You stop and being listening intently.  Something has caught your attention, even though it is very subtle.

A whisper comes on a chilled wind.  “I told you we’d meet again!”  The chill moves down your spine as you recognize the voice of your adversary.  Even though a moment of fear runs through you, you have come too far to allow anyone to stop you now.  That thought gives you the courage that you will need to face your foe.

“I told you that there was nothing here for you.  Why didn’t you believe me?”  Your adversary appears before you after stepping out from behind a tree.  Describe what he/she looks like at this moment.  How do you feel as you come face to face with the one who wishes to stop you from entering the place you’ve worked so hard to get to?

Look your adversary in the eye.  Take stock of everything you notice about him/her.  As you look in his/her eye, you are able to see into his/her soul.  For just a few brief moments you are able to see his/her reason for trying to stop you, but astonishingly enough, their reason has nothing to do with you.  It is his/her own fears and insecurities that have been projected onto you that makes him/her wish to keep you back.  Keep looking into his/her eyes to learn the secret of his/her soul.  What do you see there?

He/She realizes what you are doing and breaks eye contact with a loud, angry curse.  He/She knows that you have seen his/her weakness.  How does that make you feel?  What is your attitude about this person now that you know the truth?

Your attitude only angers your adversary even more, and he/she lashes out at you.  Ducking behind a nearby tree, you frantically reach into your satchel to find something that can help.  When you pull out your hand from the bag, you realize that you are holding the gift that had been given to you at the beginning of the journey.  Now is the time to use it.  How?  How does it work?  What does it do?  How does it help you to overcome your adversary?  Fully describe the battle that wages between the two of you.

You emerge as the victor.  What has become of your adversary?  Describe what has happened to him/her.  How does this make you feel?  How do you feel about your victory?

Triumphant, yet exhausted after your ordeal, you must rest before entering the realm of your destination.  You have wounds to attend to, whether they are physical or emotional.  Take care of yourself first.  After coming this far, you must rest before entering.

Lie down upon a patch of soft grass nearby.  Its scent is sweet and intoxicating, making you more and more sleepy as you breathe deeply.  Look up at the sky to see the stars.  There are several constellations overhead; which ones can you see?  Why are these significant to you?

With the knowledge that you are completely safe in this place, stretch once more before curling into a comfortable position.  Take a deep breath and feel 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 tests you have passed.  The feelings of pride from this experience 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.

Haunted Memories: Atonement with the Past

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 feel refreshed and ready to move forward on your journey.  Looking up, you find your best friend has already risen and is preparing breakfast for you.  It is fortunate that he/she remembered to pack additional food from the house before leaving since the two of you ate your mentor’s gifts the previous evening.  Both of you sit and share a meal, comfortable in the silence between you.

After eating, it is time to begin the trek towards the west to get back on your path.  The sun warms your back as you begin, and the day promises to be a glorious one.  How do you feel as you move on with your friend at your side?  What does the countryside look like?  Take note of the types of plants, animals or birds that you see… they do hold meaning for you.  Keep a list in your notebook to refer to later.

What do you and your friend talk about on the journey?  What is his/her goal that he/she is working toward?  How can you help?  He/She has already helped you in getting across the chasm.  What can you do for him/her?

Finally you reach your path.  On the other side, you can take a look at where you’d come from earlier.  It seems like a long time ago since you’d been standing on the opposite side of the chasm, trying to figure out how to get across.  And now here you are.  How do you feel?

Taking out your map, you consult with it to make sure that you are going in the right direction.  Your friend also takes a map out of his/her pocket.  How wonderful that it seems that you will still be traveling in the same direction!  Smiling, the two of you face the journey and continue.  Describe the path that you are now on.  What can you see in the distance?  How much further is your destination?

After traveling all day, the sky becomes darker and you decide to camp for the night.  You have a rolled up blanket that you’d taken from the raft.  Spreading it on the ground, you make a place to rest near the small fire you and your companion have built.  What do you two talk about?

At some point in the conversation, you mention the gift you’d received from a mystery person back in your special room.  Take it out of your satchel and show it to him/her.  How does he/she react?  Does he/she know what the gift can be used for?  Listen to his/her suggestions.  Look again at the object and try to apply your companion’s ideas to it.

Your companion also begins to speak of his/her own goals and dreams.  Listen intently.  What do your goals have in common?  How do they differ?  Why do you suppose that this person just happened to be the one to arrive to help you in your time of need?

For some reason, as you listen to him/her describe what he/she plans to accomplish, you begin to doubt your own goal.  Compared to his/her goal, yours begins to seem inadequate.  Why?  What makes you feel that you have to compare yourself to others?  What feelings go through you as you continue to listen?

Your friend has become very tired and lies down to go to sleep.  You, however, are not yet sleepy enough and wish to sit up for a while.   Staring into the fire, the dancing of the flames becomes hypnotic, drawing you into a trancelike state.   Your friend’s aspirations play in your head, making you feel insecure.  What has caused you to doubt yourself?  What events in your past have led you to feel insecure in comparison to others?  Watching the fire, you begin to see shapes taking form.  At first you think you are seeing things, but after a few moments, you note that a scene is being played out for you from your memory.  Keep staring into the fire.  What do you see?  It is something from your past…something that happened long ago that now causes you to feel insecure about other people’s successes.   What is happening?  Relive the scene as if it were happening for the very first time.  How do you feel?  Who is involved?  What is taking place?  Pinpoint the event that has led to the insecurity that you feel today.

Now that you have recognized the event, open your journal and write down everything that happened exactly as you remember it.  Do not leave out any details.   Write your feelings as well as your memories.    Write and write until you get it all out.  Once you have captured it all on paper, tear the pages from your journal.  With all the emotion you can muster, crumple the paper in your fist and hold onto it as tightly as you can.  You are about to destroy that memory, and with it, the insecurity you feel.  Wad the paper even tighter in your fist, pouring all the insecure feelings into it.  Tighten the muscles of your hand, your arm, and the upper portion of your body.  Continue tightening all your muscles until your entire body is filled with tension.  Let the tension flow through you and into the wadded paper in your hand.  Pull the muscles tighter until they are quivering.  When you cannot stand the tension any longer, let go.  Completely relax every muscle in your body, including the hand that is holding the crumpled paper.  Allow the paper fall into the fire and watch it burn.  Stare at the flames and see the painful memory go up in smoke.  Let it go.  It cannot bother you any longer.  How do you feel?

Your companion stirs in his/her sleep, but does not awaken.  Look at him/her.  How do you feel now?

Sleepiness begins to come over you as you continue to sit by the fire.  There is a sense of peace that permeates your body after having let go of your insecure feelings.  Relax and allow the peaceful feeling to wash over you.   Lying down on your blanket, yawn and look up at the sky.  What constellation is overhead at this moment?  Why might this be significant for you?

Stretch once more before curling into a comfortable position.  Take a deep breath and feel 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 memory you released and how good it feels to no longer carry that burden.  The peaceful feelings you experience from letting go 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.

A Friend in Need: Companions on Your 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 awakening after a satisfying rest.  You feel refreshed and ready to move forward on your journey.

Opening your satchel, you pour the contents on the ground to take stock of what you have with you.  What items do you have in there?  How can they be helpful on this journey?  You also come across the notebook in which you were listing things that you noticed while floating along on the raft.  Look over your list.  Each thing on it has some sort of significance to you.  For example, if you noticed a bed of luscious red roses and their scent was alluring to you, then it is possible that the roses symbolize a quest for love.  What did you see?    What does each one symbolize?  How does that relate to you and to your journey?  Make notes in your book.

Pick up the gift you’d received in your special room… the one that had come in the beautifully wrapped package.  Examine it closely.  What can it be used for?  How do you intend to use it on this journey?

After carefully taking stock of your items, put them away in your satchel.  Only you will know the proper time and place to make use of them.   For now, it is time to move ahead.  You get up onto your feet and begin moving along the path or you return to your raft.  As you walk or ride, you have become used to paying attention to your surroundings.  What do you see today?  How do you feel as you continue on your way?

By mid-day your travels come to an abrupt halt at the edge of a steep cliff.  If you are still on the raft, you see that the river ends in a long, steep waterfall.  No matter how you arrived at the edge, be sure that you remain far enough away to avoid going over.  The abyss seems to have no bottom, at least from your point of view.  It’s about fifty feet to the other side.  Looking to the left and to the right, you cannot see a bridge anywhere that can take you across.  How do you feel as you seem to come to a dead end?  What thoughts go through your mind as your forward progress seems thwarted?

Taking the map out of your satchel, you look at it to see if there is a way across the chasm.  The narrowest place between the two sides seems to be several miles to the east.  However, your destination lies in a north-westerly route, albeit on the other side of the chasm.  Perhaps if you went west, you could find a way to get across without going that far out of your way.  Then again, the map shows a widening of the chasm in the west.  After deliberating for a while, you decide to go with the map and head east.

Picking up your satchel, you follow the cliff moving in an easterly direction.  You must be careful of your footing so that you do not fall in.  You know that your final destination lies behind you, but you are forced to take this detour.  How do you feel about this?

Walking along, you notice a small house off in the distance.  A fire is burning because there is smoke coming out of the chimney.  You can even smell meat cooking, making your stomach rumble.  Moving at a quick pace, you approach the house.  Before going up to the door, however, take a quick look around to be sure that it is safe.  What does the yard look like?  Describe the house itself.  How do you feel as you stand there in the yard?  Trusting your intuition that everything is ok, walk up the steps to the front door and knock on it.   At first there is no reply, but you see the curtains at the window move a slight bit.  Someone is inside.  Knock again.

A moment later, the door opens, and you are surprised to be greeted by the guide who had taken you along the river.  Smiling broadly, he/she motions for you to come inside.  Stepping across the threshold, you cannot help but take in the aroma of roasting meat.  It smells so good, especially after eating nothing but bread, cheese, and fruit for past few days.

“What brings you here?” your guide asks.  Tell him of your adventures, being sure to mention your parley with your adversary.   He/she nods as he/she listens, and smiles when you mention that you have been using the map to find your way.  Ask him/her about the narrow point on the map between the two sides of the chasm and if there is a way to get across.

“Of course there is a way.  But you cannot do it alone.”

You are thankful that it seems you shall have company for your journey.  It has been a long one so far, and it will be good to have a fellow traveler along.  Your host provides you with a large bowl of hearty stew, piping hot from the Dutch oven over the fire.  Its aroma is tantalizing, and you desire to dig in as fast as you can.  Taking care not to burn yourself, begin feasting on the delicious stew.  As you do, feel the strength surging through your body.  You feel as if you could conquer anything.

“You will want to set out soon so that you can get across before dark,” your mentor says once you have eaten.

“Yes, you are right,” you reply.  “Let us get going.”

“Us?  No, I won’t be accompanying you.”

Now you are confused because you’d thought that he/she would be going with you to help.  After all, he/she had said that you couldn’t get across the chasm alone.  Remind him/her of those words.

“Yes, it’s true that you cannot cross alone, but I never said that I was going with you.”

“But who?”  you ask.

In reply, your guide opens the front door and steps out onto the porch.  You follow him/her outdoors and are surprised by what you see.

At the foot of the steps is your best friend in all the world.  He/She has come here to help you accomplish your goal.  How do you feel as you see your friend standing there?  What is it about this person that makes him/her your best friend?  What other obstacles have you gone through together?

You greet one another in warm hug, and then turn to your guide to thank him/her for the hospitality.  He/She smiles and hands you a sack of food to take along on the journey.  You gladly accept the gift and ask if he/she has any parting advice.  What is his/her reply?

You and your companion pick up the path that heads east, and before long you notice that the other side of the chasm is now only about twenty five feet across.  This is the point where you must cross, but how?  Look at your friend and come up with a plan to get to the other side.  You must work together in order to complete the task.  What ideas do you have?  Do you have any items in your bag that might help you?  What about your companion’s ideas?  Does he/she have anything with him/her that could help you?

Fully describe both the plan and the process you use to get across to the other side.  Only through cooperation will you be able to complete the task.  How will you work together?

After a few hours, your plan is successful.  You are both safely on the other side!  How did you do it?  What tools did you use?  How do you feel about having accomplished this feat?  How do you feel about having your companion with you for this part of your journey?

Once on the other side, you are both exhausted.  You agree that you will rest for a few hours before heading west to pick up the proper trail that leads toward your destination.  Your companion has agreed to accompany you for a time, and you are grateful for the company.

Stretching out your limbs to work out any kinks, you then curl up in a comfortable position.  The night air is cool, but not cold, so it is comfortable for sleeping.  An orange quarter moon hangs in the sky overhead, looking down on you and creating a sense of peace in your heart.  Take a deep breath and feel yourself drifting away into the darkness.  Soon you begin to feel yourself rising from your resting place 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 your best friend and how he/she had come just when you needed him/her most.  The image of his/her face and feelings you had about working with him/her 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.

Parley with the Adversary: Meeting the Temptor

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 curled up, awakening upon a pile of blankets in the center of a moving raft.  Looking up, you find your guide is looking at you, as if to ask if your rest has been adequate.  The last thing you remember was getting on the raft after pointing out which direction your guide should take on the underground river.

Up ahead, you see that the river is exiting from the cave.  At last!  You’ve been led out of the subterranean dimness!  As the raft floats closer to the exit, you feel more and more excited to see the sun once more.  The cave becomes brighter and brighter as you approach, and your eyes are having difficulty in adjusting to the light.  Squinting, you look ahead to try to catch a glimpse of the world beyond the cave.  What are you feeling as you finally leave the darkness?

Look around and take in your new surroundings.  The river seems to flow onward.  Describe the new setting.  Is it a tropical jungle?  A forest?  A flat plain? Where is this river leading you?

You turn to ask a question of your guide and find that he/she has disappeared.  You are left alone on the raft.  At first you begin to panic, but then you remember that your guide has given you a map.  Pull it out of your bag and look at it.  Try to figure out where you are in relation to the red star that marks your goal.  How far do you have yet to travel before arriving?

Look around for landmarks.  What do you see that can give a clue to your whereabouts as they relate to the map?

While you are looking around, you notice that a loaf of bread and some fruit are lying on the blanket.  Your guide has left food for you.  Not knowing how long it will be before your next meal, eat only enough to satisfy your hunger and put the rest into your bag.

Look again at your map.  In order to get to your destination, will you be staying on the raft and traveling by water?  Or will you have to leave the raft to move inland?  Wherever you need to go, be sure to follow directions carefully.  You do not want to get lost.

Following your chosen course, you move along for several hours.  For the most part, they have been uneventful.  Describe the landscape through which you are moving.  What is the path like?  Does the river twist and turn, or is it a straight course?  If you are on land, what is the terrain like?  Pay attention to specific details no matter what course you are on… the details hold meaning for you.  Look at the specific types of plants or trees you may see.  What sounds do you hear?  Is there any animal life?  Birds?  All of these things mean something as part of your journey.

Reaching into your satchel, you withdraw a booklet and a pencil which you’d found when exploring the cave.  They were part of the items left laying around that you’d picked up.  Make a list of all the specific items you see so that you can think about their meaning later.

While you are writing, a slight breeze begins to blow.  It feels cool and refreshing against your cheek.  Close your eyes and let it play with your hair, tossing it in the breeze.  Turn your face upwards toward the sun and allow it to warm you.  Suddenly, out of the breeze you hear a soft whisper.  It is the sound of your name on the wind.  Before this, you’d felt caressed by the breeze, but now there is a chill developing.  The sound of your name comes to you again, bringing with it another chilling zephyr.

Looking around, you try to find the origin of the voice.  Where does it seem to be coming from?  Is it ahead of you, or behind you?  Or is it to the right or left of you?  Does the sound seem to come from above or below?  Try to figure out where the voice is coming from.

When you determine the direction, what do you intend to do?  Do you wish to follow the sound?  Or do you try to ignore it and move forward?  What feelings are going through you as you think about your decision?

Ultimately, because the sound of your name is insistent, you decide to find the origin of the voice.  Turn towards the sound and move in that direction.  As you step closer and closer, notice that the air becomes colder and colder.  The sound becomes louder.  At first it seemed like a beckoning, but now it is more of a command.  Even so, you decide to continue to move toward it.  You have completely abandoned your path in an effort to satisfy your curiosity about finding the owner of that voice.  What does it sound like?  Describe its pitch and intensity.  Does it sound like someone you know?  Or is the voice new to you?

Coming around a bend (either on the terrain or on the raft), you see someone off in the distance.  Describe what you see.   Do you know this person?  Who is it?  If you do not know the person, who do you suppose it might be?  What do you think he/she wants with you?

Come close to the person who has called to you.  The air is very cold now as you stand there face to face.  How are you feeling?  What thoughts are going through your mind as you look quietly at one another?

“Where are you headed?” the person asks.  Tell him/her where you are going.  “Why do you want to go there?  Nothing awaits you in that place!  Why not come with me?”  What goes through your mind at the offer?

You recognize that this person is an adversary and not a guide.  How is it that you know this?  What feelings or thoughts bring you to this conclusion?  Although you realize his/her adversarial status, you do not feel afraid.  He/She merely looks at you quietly.  This is not a confrontation, but a sizing up of the one that must be resisted for you to continue.  Looking into his/her eyes, what do you see there?  The eyes are the window of the soul, and it is often there that you can find a person’s true intent.  What is it you see in your adversary’s eyes?  Is it anger? Jealousy? Resentment?  What resides there that might make this person attempt to keep you from moving toward your goal?

Once you recognize his/her motivation, it makes it easier to resist.  He/She extends his/her hand to you.  What do you do?  This person wants you to follow his/her path instead of your own.  How does that make you feel?  He/She smiles at first, continuing to whisper your name.  He/She backs slowly away but with hand outstretched toward you.  Resist the temptation to go with him/her.  Remember, he/she has questioned your journey and has told you that nothing awaits you there.

Breathe deeply and think about your inner hero.  Will following this person best honor your inner hero?  Although you want to hear advice from that inner voice, nothing comes.  You must make the decision yourself, trusting what is right for you.

You put your hands in your pockets because of the chill in the air.  When you do, you feel something in your right hand pocket.  Taking it out, you notice that it is one of the items you picked up inside the crystal cavern.  What is it?  What can you use it for?  Just seeing this object helps you to find the necessary courage to walk away.

You begin to back away, and your adversary barks out your name.  The friendly smile has vanished and is replaced by a hard, cold expression.  Feeling your courage rise, stand and face your adversary, looking him/her square in the eye.  You will not be tempted, or bullied, or made to feel guilty about following the path that is right for you.  Hold tight to the object in your right hand.  It seems to fill you with courage.  Each person has his/her own path to follow, including your adversary.  Maintaining that eye contact, bow your head slightly to show respect for him/her, but let him/her know by your facial expression that you choose to return to your own path.

In frustration, your adversary turns on his/her heel and stalks away in the other direction.  You, too, turn to go back toward your path.  As you walk away, you hear on the winds, “We shall meet again.”  What are your feelings as you hear these words?

Even though you keep checking over your shoulder, your adversary is not following.  Find your path once more.  Is it the river?  If so, return to your raft.  If you were on the terrain, face the direction of your goal.  In either case, take a deep breath and feel a sense of accomplishment in resisting the temptation to leave your chosen path.  However, you are emotionally drained and physically tired.  Sit for a moment and refresh yourself with the food that you saved from your breakfast.

Confident that you are safe in this place, make a bed for yourself either in the middle of the raft, or along the side of the trail.  In either case, you are comfortable and warm.  You have your garment of protection that will keep you safe as you sleep.  After first stretching full length, curl up into a comfortable position and prepare to nod off.  Take a deep breath and feel yourself drifting away into the darkness.  Soon you begin to feel yourself rising from the soft blankets.  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 your adversary and how you’d managed to resist him/her.  The image of his/her face and feelings you had at meeting him/her 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.

 

The Mentor Appears

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 curled up, awakening upon a pile of soft moss.  It’s very safe and comfortable upon the pile, especially after the physical labor of a few hours before.  Your arms feel a bit stiff as you stretch them out before you, and you remember how vigorously you’d been digging out the dirt in the wall to uncover the hidden door.  Even though your fingers are aching and horribly scraped up, you feel a sense of accomplishment.  These are “battle wounds” that you sustained, and you have come out a survivor.  For that, you should feel proud.

Sitting up, you dip your sore hands into the cool water of the lake beside you.  It soothes the aching a bit.  You splash some of the water on your face to fully refresh you before taking a long drink.  The water in your belly reminds you that you haven’t eaten in quite some time.   Looking down into the water, you see there the reflection of your inner heroic archetype.  He/she is smiling at you, but is also urging you to get up and start moving.  “Let’s move forward,” he/she seems to be saying.

Stand up and look around.  The torches are still burning.  The light reflected off the crystals that adorn the ceiling and walls dances off the surface of the lake.  Ripples created by the falling water make the light shimmer, so that even the cavern walls seem in motion.  How do you feel as you continue to watch the light?

Pick up your satchel and examine the items that you’d found in the cave before you fell asleep.  What do you have?   Unfortunately, none of the items are edible, and so you must go in search of food.  Wrapping your garment warmly about you, begin to walk along the lake’s edge to see where it takes you.  Keep your eyes open for any passages that may veer out of the cavern.

As you walk along, your footsteps make a crunching sound on the gravel of the floor.  You are half tempted to wade in the water as you walk, but common sense tells you that it would probably be best to try to remain dry.  Still, you are feeling adventurous and light-hearted, wanting to play as you move along.   At one point, you even find yourself laughing a bit.  What is it that is making you feel so jovial?  Many others might feel afraid at being in an underground cavern, not knowing where to find an exit…but you do not.  Your optimism truly keeps you moving forward.  And so you walk.  And you walk.  And you continue to walk.

Having kept to the water’s edge, you are certain that you could not have taken any wrong turns.  What you had originally categorized as a lake seems more like a river at this moment.  A current has developed, and the water is moving rather swiftly.  How odd that you hadn’t noticed it earlier.  A good thing about a river, though, is that the water must be moving toward an exit somewhere.  The question is, how far away is that exit?  Your optimism is starting to fade a bit as it feels as if this cave has no end.

Your stomach is really beginning to growl now.  How long has is been since that marvelous breakfast in your room?  It feels like days have gone by.

Coming around a bend, you notice that the river branches off into two tributaries, each one eking off into a separate tunnel.  One goes off toward the left while the other veers only slightly to the right.  It would be easy to remain walking along this bank and continue with the right hand branch, but what if the left branch is the one that will take you where you want to go?  Remember, you still have your quest to fulfill.  Do you remember what it is?  What is the purpose of this journey to begin with?  Where are you trying to get to?   Feeling a bit of frustration at your indecision, you say aloud, “Which way am I supposed to go?”

Your second lesson:  Ask and it shall be given to you.

While you are standing there trying to figure out which leg of the river to follow, you hear a light splashing sound behind you.  Thinking that there might be a fish jumping in the water, you look back.  You don’t see anything at first because you had come from around a bend when you got to this place.  But there is that sound again, and again in a rhythmic pattern.  A few moments later, you are astonished to see someone punting a raft along the river.  Before long, the raft comes alongside the shore right near you.  Who is the person steering the raft?  What does he/she look like?

Stepping onto the shore, the newcomer drags the raft out of the water so that it will not float away.  He/she turns to you with a stern look at first that melts into a genuine grin.  You are so astonished that you haven’t moved from your spot.  He/she greets you with a slap on the shoulder as he/she walks past you to sit down on a large rock.  No words as yet have been spoken, but he/she beckons you to sit down as well.

“Come.  I have something for you,” the mysterious stranger says.  He/she reaches into a bag slung across his/her shoulders and from within he/she brings out a loaf of bread and a block of cheese.  Using a large knife hanging from an ornate belt, he/she cuts off a large wedge of cheese before tearing off the heel of the bread.  Handing them to you, he/she smiles.

Cocking your head to one side, you look sidelong at the stranger, not sure if you should trust him/her or not; however, your hunger gets the best of you.  Nodding to the stranger and accepting the food offered, you begin to eat, slowly at first, but with more vigor as your appetite gives in.   Remembering your manners at last, you mumble your thanks under a deep blush.  You didn’t realize just how hungry you were!

No other words are spoken as you both share in this meal although you look curiously at one another.  What is going through your mind while you look at him/her?  What do you suppose he/she is thinking about you?

Once you have finished eating, you find the courage to ask questions.  “Who are you?  What is your name?”  What is his/her reply?

“How did you come to find me?  What are you doing here?”  Again, pay attention to the response.

One thing you do learn is that this person is your guide.  Reaching into his/her pouch once more, he/she produces a map, which he/she hands to you.  It does not look like any map you’ve ever seen before.  For one thing, none of the markings are familiar.  There aren’t any of the streets or towns that you know from your own world.  Your destination has already been marked with a red star; however, it is not labeled with the name of a place.  It is labeled with the accomplishment of your goal.  In which direction does your destination lie?  What does that mean to you?

In order to continue, your guide tells you that you must decide which of the two branches of the river you must take.  Will it be the one that goes off to the left, or will you stay on the path that only veers slightly to the right?  At least now you have transportation, for your guide has volunteered his/her raft to take you whichever way you want to go.  Which do you decide to take?  Why this one and not the other?

Stepping onto the raft, you remember that it was only when you asked aloud for guidance that your mentor appeared.  Take to heart lesson two.

Your guide points to a soft pile of blankets in the center of the raft and tells you that it is probably best for you to rest right now.  You cannot help but agree, and you lie down among the blankets after first making sure that your satchel is securely wedged among them so as not to roll off the raft.  Sleep comes to you almost instantly as the rhythmic sound of the punting lulls you.  Take a deep breath and feel yourself drifting away into the darkness.  Soon you begin to feel yourself rising from the soft blankets upon this raft.  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 your mentor appeared only after you’d asked for help.  The image of his/her face and feelings you had at meeting him/her 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.

Diligence Pays Off: Accepting the Road of Trials

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 curled up, awakening at the bottom of the pit into which you’d fallen.  Although it is a bit cold and damp, you are not afraid, and the rest has done you good.  You are confident that you will find a way to get out of this place and continue your journey.

You stand up and stretch, bending slightly at the waist to the left and to the right.  Rolling your head slowly in circles, you work the kinks out of your neck from sleeping on the pile of dried grass.  While you are stretching, rain suddenly begins to fall lightly.  Stand still with your arms outstretched and let the rain wash over you.  It is refreshing in spite of the fact that you are in the bottom of a deep pit.  Let it run into your hair while you run your fingers in a circular pattern in your scalp.  Open your mouth wide to accept the refreshment that has been offered to you.  So many others might have viewed the rain falling at this time to be something negative, saying, “Great.  Just what I need right now!” in a sarcastic tone.  Fortunately, you know better… it IS what you need right now.   Allow the blessing of the water to fill you.

It’s time for you to better assess your situation.  Again, you look for handholds so that you might climb up and out, but there are none.  Even though the walls are packed dirt, they are very smooth, and the rain has made them slippery.  Moving around the circumference of the pit, you very carefully run your hands over the walls trying to find any roots that may be sticking out that you may use as rungs.  While you are doing so, your hands come across a depression in the wall that you hadn’t noticed before.  It’s very slight, but enough for you to begin digging with a fingernail.  Small clumps of dirt begin to fall away as the depression seems to formulate into a crack in the wall.  Eagerly, you begin digging away with your fingers at the crack, and before long, the crack begins to reveal the outline of a doorway.  Ignoring the pain in your tortured and bleeding fingers, you continue to pull away the dirt, using some of the rainwater pooled on the ground to help soften and loosen the soil.  After a few hours, you find yourself standing in front of a door that had been concealed by a dirt covering.  Rejoicing loudly, you push with all your might against the door until it finally begins to move ever so slightly.  The adrenalin pumps through you, making you feel stronger than you know you should be after these hours of digging.  At last the door opens when you throw your entire weight against it, and you fall through the opening.

You can’t believe your luck.  A long, dark tunnel proceeds beyond the doorway, and you notice that there are torches already burning brightly to light your way.  Going back to gather your garment and your satchel, you enter the tunnel and begin to make your way along it.

The tunnel winds back and forth, to the right and to the left, and soon it is difficult to figure out which direction you are heading.  So far, there is only one passageway, so at least you know for sure that you haven’t made any wrong turns.  Where did this tunnel come from?  Who might have built it and why?  These questions run through your head as you continue walking along this strange path.  Shadows form on the wall, making you feel as if you are not alone.  Looking back, all you see is your own shadow in the flickering light.

The further you go into the tunnel, the cooler the air becomes.  Fortunately you have your garment to keep you warm.  Put it on and keep walking.

After a short time, you begin to hear the sound of falling water.  Excited, you begin to mover quicker along the passage, but this time you are more wary of your surroundings.  You do not want to fall into another pit!  The floor becomes wetter as you continue, and soon the tunnel opens up into a huge cavern.  Look up.  The ceiling is gleaming from the torchlight reflecting off a huge array of beautiful crystals that protrude from the rock.  What color are they?  What kind of crystals do you suppose they are?

To your left, you see a waterfall coming down from an opening high above, splashing into a beautiful subterranean lake.  Because you’d emptied your water bottle while in the pit, thirst overcomes you, and you move to the water’s edge to take a drink.  After splashing some water to wash your face, you proceed to drink the most delicious, refreshing water you can ever remember.  Fill your bottle with this water.

You sit down on a rock nearby to rest and take in your surroundings.  What else do you see in this cavern?  Describe this place in great detail.  Do you see any discarded items laying around that you might wish to pick up?  Look around to see what you can find.  Place anything you wish to take with you into your satchel.  You are surprised to learn that no matter how large the item you try to place in your satchel, it manages to fit, leaving room for more. What have you found?

Returning again to the water’s edge, you notice a large pile of soft moss, about the size of a bed, growing there.  After the strain of your earlier digging and the long walk through the tunnel, you realize just how exhausted you are.  The moss is so inviting, and when you sit on it, you feel how soft and comfortable it is.  It makes a wonderful bed after sleeping the dry grasses last night.

Wrapping yourself up in your garment, lie down and stretch your body.  Although it may ache a bit from the hard labor you’d done, you know that this is a good type of ache…one that comes from hard work that produces results.  So many others might have resigned themselves to the fate of dying in the pit because they didn’t pay close attention to detail.  They probably would have given up and wasted away, but not you.  You were rewarded for your diligence.  Congratulations.

Smiling, you close your eyes, knowing that after you’ve rested, you will be able to resume your journey.  Take a deep breath and feel yourself drifting away into the darkness.  Soon you begin to feel yourself rising from the soft moss in this beautiful 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 remember how your attention to detail and your hard work paid off.  You are proud of yourself and believe that you can overcome any obstacle along your road of trials.  These images and feelings 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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