Sequential Sojourn

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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.

In the Pit: Falling into the Belly of the Whale

Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Taking Leave: Crossing that First 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 nestling into a pile of soft cushions in a cavernous room.  The ceiling is very high, and you notice that the room is circular.  Painted on the ceiling is an intricate design that resembles a compass.  Getting up, you find the favorite comforts of your own world furnishing this place, and feel once again that safe, welcoming, familiar vibration.  Turn around very slowly and take a good look at your room.  You will find your favorite furniture, and your favorite décor.  Breathing deeply in contentment, a familiar delicious scent wafts to your nostrils.  Surprised, you look to find that a plate of the food you love most is waiting for you.  It is just the right temperature, and there is a beverage alongside it.  A small card placed next to the plate says, “To fortify you”.  Your stomach rumbles slightly, and not wanting your favorite food to either get cold or melt, you sit at the table and eat heartily.  As you fill your stomach, a sense of satisfaction and energy permeate your body.  You feel wonderful, as if you could accomplish anything.

After eating, you decide to get a better look at the gift you received on your last visit.  You go to get the box so that you can bring it to the table.  When you come back, you find that the dirty dishes have disappeared, leaving the table neat and clean even though no one is there with you.  If only the everyday world worked that way!

Open the box and remove what is inside.  Take a good look at it under the light.  What does it do?  What do you suppose it is for?  Holding it in your hands, it feels “right” in them.  It’s true… this is YOUR gift.  How do you plan to use it?  Looking into the box, you notice a small card that you hadn’t seen earlier.  It says, “To aid you”.  Take another good look at your gift.  How can this aid you?

While you are looking at the gift, you suddenly hear a knock.  Startled, you notice that a door has once again appeared in your room, although it is in a different place this time.  There are beautiful intricate designs on the wall around the door that continue up toward the ceiling.  Looking up, you notice that the door is directly below a particular direction on the ceiling’s compass design.  Which direction does the door face?  Why do you suppose the door faces this direction?  What could it mean?

Next to the door, a coat rack has appeared.  Upon the coat rack, you notice that there is a garment hanging.  What does it look like?  What kind of garment is it?  What color is it?  Examining it closely, you find a tag attached which says, “To protect you”.  How can this garment offer protection? From what could it save you?

The knocking has begun again, more insistent than before.  The voice deep inside you questions once more: “Are you ready?”

You know now that the only way to achieve your chosen goal and to heal your heroic archetype within is to go through that door.  The knocking persists.  Your journey awaits.

You have been fortified.  The food and drink has left you feeling energetic and strong.

Knocking again.  Help awaits you in the form of your gift, even if you do not yet know how to use it.

Still more knocking.  You have protection from your garment, and you put it on.  It fits perfectly as if it had been made just for you.  Rest assured; it has.  There is a satchel or backpack hanging beside the garment on the coat rack.  You place your gift inside the bag alongside the filled water bottle you discover in the pack and swing it over your shoulder.  Placing your hand on the doorknob, you turn it slowly and open the door.  The knocking has stopped, and peering outside, no one is there to greet you.  Still, you are not afraid.  You know that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.  How do you feel as you extend your right foot to begin that journey?  What does this journey mean for you?  What will it eventually mean for others because you dared to take the journey?

Stepping out onto the stoop, what do you see around you?  Fully describe your surroundings.  Is there a path or a road?  Or must you forge your own?  Come down the steps as you begin to walk your chosen path.  In which direction does it go?  Where do you hope it will lead?  Who do you hope to meet?  Who are you afraid to run into?  No matter what, you have your garment of protection, and you have your gift.  All will be well.

Knowing this, you decide that there is one last thing you must do before embarking into the unknown.  The one thing you have yet to do is rest up for the journey.  It will be long, and it will not always be easy.  You re-enter the room through the door so that you may rest your body for the trials ahead.  This time the door does not disappear.  You have already crossed its threshold, and you have made your decision to follow through on your quest.  All you need now is some last minute rest.

Lying down upon the cushions, you find yourself feeling comfortably relaxed.  Soon you begin to feel yourself rising from the soft blankets 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 remember your preparations for your upcoming journey.  You are fortified, you will be aided, and you are protected.  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.

 

When Presents Present Themselves: Supernatural Aid

Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

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

Imagine that you are sinking down into the furniture, and in turn sinking through the floor.  Allow yourself to continue sinking down and down, all the while feeling completely relaxed.   You continue to sink down until you find yourself nestling into a pile of soft cushions in a cavernous room.  The ceiling is very high, and you notice that the room is circular.  Surprisingly, you find the favorite comforts of your own world furnishing this place, giving it a safe, welcoming, familiar vibration.  Move around the room and examine these favorites.  What are you most surprised to find there?  Is it a favorite chair?  Your grandmother’s kitchen table?  A favorite painting that hangs in your best friend’s living room?  What items decorate this special place?

Among the articles in the room, you find your mirror which reflects your heroic archetype.  You are pleased that you remembered to bring it with you after leaving the forest, and you gently look to make sure that the previous crack has indeed healed.  Seeing that the mirror is whole, you smile and look at your reflection once more.  The hero is looking back, this time with a smile.  He/She still appears older than the first time you’d seen him/her, but the sadness has disappeared.  How do you feel as the hero smiles at you?

You sense a slight tingling sensation going through you as if the air were suddenly electrified.  It is not at all frightening, but it fills you with a sense of urgency to do something, as if you can’t manage to just sit still.  A staccato drumbeat plays faintly in the distance, but begins to increase in volume as the tingling sensation increases as well.  A sound of laughter, joyous and welcoming, comes from the mirror.  Looking at it, you see the hero not only smiling broadly, but actually laughing.  The sound of the drumbeat increases and the hero calls loudly, “Are you ready?!”  A vibration rises from the handle of the mirror, riding up your arm and permeating your entire body in sync with the beat of the drum.  In shock, you drop the mirror, shattering it to pieces.  The drum beat increases as the hero seems to rise from the place where the glass had been in the mirror.  You watch in fascination without fear as he/she continues to rise and then stands before you.  Still laughing, he/she puts his/her arms about you in a tight hug.  You welcome the embrace. The vibrating sensation increases as you and the hero merge into one.

A large mirror hangs on the wall, and as you look closely at your reflection, you notice that by softening your gaze, you can also see your heroic archetype as well.  He/She has always been a part of you, but you are now absolutely aware of that inner presence.  How does this make you feel?

Once the merging has taken place, the sound of the drum begins to lessen and fade.  The tingling in your body also begins to dissipate, yet the feeling of urgency to do something still remains.   After a few moments, you notice that the drum beat had been replaced by the sound of someone knocking on a door.  You feel a bit disoriented after your experience, yet the knocking continues.  A voice from deep within whispers, “Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before.”   What does this mean to you?  How does that idea make you feel?

Looking around the room, you suddenly notice that a door has appeared where there had been none previously.  You are startled at its sudden appearance, and you hesitate to move toward it, even though the knocking is becoming more insistent.  Again, the voice from deep within whispers, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  What feelings are going through you now?

Gathering your courage, you move toward the door.  As you do so, the knocking stops.  As soon as you hesitate, however, the knocking begins again.  Trusting your inner voice, you again head toward the door, and the knocking ceases once more.  Someone knows you are coming.  Who do you suppose is on the other side of that door?  Who do you hope it is?  Who do you fear it is?

Take a deep breath and grasp the door handle.  Opening it boldly, you find that the stoop is vacant.  In place of a person that you expected to see (because, of course, someone must have been knocking), you find a large, beautifully gift-wrapped package.  You look out into the darkness for a glimpse of the person who was knocking, but there is no one there.  Picking up the package, you discover that there is a tag on the gift.  It has your name on it.  Looking about one last time before closing the door, you carry the gift to the center of the room.  Setting it down on the floor, you sit cross-legged in front of the package to get a better look at it.  Fully describe the package.  How is it decorated?  Are there any ribbons or bows?  What color is the gift-wrap?  How do you feel as you sit and gaze at it?

After looking at it for some time, your curiosity gets the better of you, and you decide that it’s time to open the gift.  Because you sense its importance, you open it slowly, with purpose.  When you finally open the gift, what do you find?  What do you think you are supposed to do with it?  Is it something you already know how to use, or is it something you will have to learn to utilize?  How does this gift make you feel?  Who do you suppose sent it?

It will take you some time to think about the importance of the gift, and so you decide to set it in a special place in this room.  Where is that special place?  The gift will be safe because as you look around you, you notice that the door has disappeared once more, and the room is once again a continuous circle.

Lie back down upon the soft cushions, and think about the events of this visit.  Your inner hero still whispers to you.  What is he/she saying?  While you are listening, you find yourself becoming more and more drowsy. A rest will do you good now that you have decided to follow through with your call.  Curling into a comfortable position, you soon you begin to feel yourself rising from the cushions.  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 the gift in your special place, an image that will stay with you as you awaken from your rest.

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

Regrets Only: Refusing the Call

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 vast cavern, nestled comfortably in the bottom of a shallow boat.  This time, however, you notice that the temperature is much cooler than last time.  Fortunately, you are wrapped in warm blankets.   Pulling them close and snuggling into them, you feel comfortable, safe, and very relaxed.

The boat again begins to drift along with the current of the narrow river, once again enveloped in its white light of safety.  A stronger breeze is blowing once you emerge into the open, and even though the boat begins to rock a bit, know that you are completely safe at all times.  The motion lulls you into a deeper state of relaxation, as if you are in the arms of a loving mother who is gently rocking you.  Even though it is mid-afternoon, the skies are rather grey, and the air is chilled.   You pull the blankets even more closely about you as the boat continues to float along.  The familiar tunnel of trees begins to envelope your boat, and you notice that most of the leaves have already fallen.  The crisp smell in the air tells you that winter seems to be fast approaching.  The wind through the branches carries a mournful sound and the only birdsong today is the cawing of a crow.  You see him perched above the boat as you float by, and he seems to be looking at you.  How does this make you feel?

Floating along, the boat eventually takes shore on the same sandy bank it had on your previous journey; however, the place does not look entirely the same.  Even though it is now nearly winter, more than the season has changed since your last visit.  The very large, very old tree is gone, and in its place is a rotting stump.  Discarded leaves from the surrounding trees swirl like dervishes in the cold wind that blows through the area.  How do the changes make you feel?  What other differences do you note from your last visit?

Stepping out of the boat, you are glad to find that there is a warm coat tucked into the prow.  You slip it on and pull the collar very tightly to your chin to keep out the cold.  As you walk around the old stump, you happen to catch the late daylight reflecting off something that seems to be carelessly tossed inside the hollow.   Even though the stump is filled with decaying leaves, something seems to be sticking out from beneath the partial covering.  Reaching down, you discover that it is the mirror you left behind after your last visit.  Sadly, the mirror’s handle has dulled from being exposed to the elements, and the mirror itself is cracked.  No sound comes from the mirror this time.

When you hold the mirror up to your face, you see a reflection in the cracked glass.  It is the heroic archetype you saw once before, but he/she has aged considerably.  Looking even more closely, you notice that the gleam has gone from his/her eyes, and a slight tear trickles down his/her cheek.  As much as you would rather look away, you find that you are compelled to look at the face in the mirror.  What feelings are going through you at this moment?  A drop of water splashes onto the glass of the mirror, and you realize that a tear has fallen from your own eye.   Slowly, the splashed tear seems to spread across the glass, and the mirrored image swirls.  A faint voice, recognizable as the one from your call to adventure, whispers, “Why?  Why did you forsake me?”

Your own voice trembles as you tell the image that you’d never forgotten him/her; it’s just that there were reasons for not answering the call.  Tell him/her what your reasons were.  Was it self-doubt?  Was it fear?  The busyness of your life? Did someone else have something to do with it?  Be honest with your archetypal hero… he/she is part of you.

While you’ve been talking, the mirrored image has been swirling.  Once you are finished with your explanation, the mirror clears once again, but you notice that the crack has disappeared.  Your tears have healed the mirror.  Looking inside, you see the hero once again, and even though he/she still looks aged, there seems to be a gleam returning to his/her eyes.  Perhaps the call has not been lost forever.  Perhaps it’s not too late to answer.

This time when you get into your boat, you take the mirror with you.  Taking care to lay it gently among the blankets, you climb in, wrap yourself up, and lie down.  As you become comfortable once again in the surrounding white light, what emotions are going through you now?  Be cognizant of your feelings as the boat carries you back to the starting place.  After emerging from the tunnel of trees, you notice that once again, it has become night.  This time, though, there is a huge, full moon hanging in the sky above you.  Its light shines down on you, bathing you in its brilliance.  Imagine that you can breathe in the light of the moon.  How does it make you feel?  How can you change the image in the mirror to become that of the vibrant hero it once was?

The boat slips into the cave, and soon you begin to feel yourself rising from the soft blankets in the boat.  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 the face in the mirror, an image that will stay with you as you awaken from your rest.

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

The Whisper From Within: a Call to Adventure

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 vast cave, nestled comfortably in the bottom of a shallow boat.  There are soft blankets around you, keeping you warm, completely safe, 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.  The river flows through a lush green forest, and the sky above is a deep blue.  A bubble of white light surrounds the boat completely, enveloping it in its safety, and you are able to lie back comfortably, 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, safe, 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 through the trees.

Getting out of the boat, you find yourself near a very large, very old tree.  Inhaling deeply, the scent of the forest is familiar to you, and you feel as if you’ve been here before.  It’s a pleasant feeling, even though you cannot remember precisely when you’d been here.

The breeze picks up slightly, but with it comes a faint new sound.  At first you think you are hearing things, but as the sound comes again, slightly louder, you cannot deny what you hear.  It is the sound of someone calling your name.  It comes again, yet you are not afraid.  It almost seems natural to hear your name being spoken in this place.  Listen to the voice calling you.  Is the pitch of the voice high or low?  What about the tone?  Does it seem imploring?  Demanding?  Beckoning?

You search for the source of the calling, and after walking around the area for a bit, you realize that the sound is coming from within the large, old tree.  Moving around the tree, you see a hole and realize that it is hollow.  The voice echoes from within.  You are not afraid, but mesmerized by the sound, and you step closer to the tree.  Peeking into the hole, you notice something glinting just inside.  Reaching in, you discover a beautiful hand mirror, and suddenly the voice becomes louder and more insistent.  It’s coming from the mirror itself.

You look into the mirror and are surprised at your reflection.  You do not see what you expect, which is the face you’ve come to know since birth.  What you see is something deeper inside, though still recognizable as you; it is the heroic archetype you have selected for yourself.

Gazing into your own eyes, what do you find there?  The mirror image speaks nothing more than your name, yet the expression on his/her face speaks volumes.  Memorize the image in the mirror and gauge your own feelings as you continue to look into your own eyes.  What emotions are going through you right now?  How do you feel as you continue to hear your name repeated?  Within a few minutes, however, the mirror image begins to blur and fade, and when it clears, you are able to see your face as you’ve always seen it.  The only difference is the gleam in your eyes.  Sit at the base of the old tree and reflect upon what has happened.

After a time, you sense that it is time to go.  You climb into your boat once more, and you pull the warm blankets around you.  The white light of safety envelopes the boat once more as it drifts away from the shore.  This time it begins to float in the opposite direction, taking you back from whence you came.  You gaze up at the trees, watching the ripples of the breeze fluttering through the leaves, and 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.  The boat slips into the cave, and soon you begin to feel yourself rising from the soft blankets in the boat.  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 the face in the mirror, an image that will stay with you as you awaken from your rest.

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

A Sequential Sojourn

Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

I am happy to share with you A Sequential Sojourn toward your personal goals and dreams. The quest of the hero permeates not only our culture, but all cultures across time and geographic location. This quest is part of the human condition and can be used as a tool to examine our own lives. We are the heroes of our own life stories; how those stories ultimately play out will be based on our reactions to life’s challenges and the decisions we make.

Through visualization, the guided meditations will take you on a journey through your imagination. While the basics of each meditation are set for you, each person will create his/her own experience through the specifics you will be asked to provide. A notebook or journal is especially helpful for you to record your experiences at the end of each session.

In exploring our own life patterns, it will help us to see that we are all connected through our stories and experiences. We all have goals, trials to face, dragons to slay, and our reward awaits us for a job well done!

Who says that a bird and a fish can't build a home together?  These two are obviously different, yet they manage to share living space. I wonder what THEY talk about! May we who are different also find our commonalities!

The Sequential Sojourn is an effort to draw people of various nations, cultures, ages, and genders together to examine the things that make us similar. So much attention is given to diversity that we seem to be more conscious of how we are different from one another than of how we are alike.

With a bit of tolerance, perhaps finding the hero within can help create positive change in this troubled world.

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