Posts Tagged ‘Non-ordinary reality’

There are so many ways to connect with and receive guidance from Spirit. A favorite of mine is to go on a medicine walk. While we can receive insights on any walk, a medicine walk is an intentional walk for guidance where we open up to our connection to All That Is for information. The closer to Nature we can get, the better, but urban walks can work as well. The key is to create sacred space beforehand as you would before doing any kind of ceremony or healing work to distinguish it from ordinary reality.

So to begin, set your intention for the question you would like information on, and create sacred space in your usual way. For me this includes greeting and welcoming the directions, my helping spirits, my highest self, and the land where I’m working, and allowing my body / mind / spirit to shift resonance by rattling, drumming, singing / etc. Once sacred space and intention are set, basically everything that happens during the walk can be considered part of the answer to the question that you are asking, as in journeying.

A medicine walk is a way to bring out your own spirit’s wisdom and to connect to Spirit’s wisdom, to be supported by the other compassionate beings around us who are available to offer their perspective, healing, and wisdom. Pay attention to anything unusual in your surroundings, anything that catches your attention and strikes an emotional chord. Pay attention to your body, to memories, to thoughts that wander through. Sink into your heart as you walk and invite Spirit to connect with you. You are loved and supported. Listen. Breathe. Feel yourself shift into sacred space.

Hold what your experience lightly, perhaps asking as something catches your attention, “If that were an answer, what would it be?” Let it unfold in its own time, which won’t necessarily be instantaneous, although sometimes we do experience the grace of immediate revelations, whose meanings may continue to unfold long after we take off our walking shoes.

I recently went for a medicine walk into the Angeles Mountains to gain some clarity around a difficult relationship. After about a mile along the trail, I turned a corner and, even though I’d been seeing the results of fire damage all along, I had to catch my breath at the particularly profound destruction in this one area. I found myself weeping at the sea of charcoal surrounding me, ashes where pine trees used to rise healthy and green. As I stood on the trail trying to compose myself, a hawk flew from a burnt limb on a closeby trees to a burnt limb on another, and I caught my breath again, this time with joy. I love hawks, and actually don’t get to see them often in this area of the mountains.  I stood still and heard the thought, “Wait… wait…” After a few minutes, the hawk’s mate flew over, and the pair rose out of the trees and circled low over my head for several minutes. I found myself crying from sadness and joy all at the same time.

I had my answer about the relationship – it was about sadness and the joy – not one or the other.  It was about ALL OF IT. It’s about holding both at the same time in my heart.

That was a piece of what I was shown on the walk, to give you a sense of how a medicine walk can work.

It’s important to end your walk in some way other than just getting in your car and going home. It’s a ceremony, and effective ceremonies need a beginning, middle, and end, so make sure to offer gratitude to the beings that supported you on your walk. Thank the directions, the land, Spirit, your own highest self, and any other helpers who worked with you. If your habit is to offer corn meal or tobacco, make an offering, or you can sing, offer a prayer, leave a strand of hair, or offer gratitude in whatever form works for you.

Nature is always speaking to us.  We ARE nature. A medicine walk just opens up the portal of communication between ordinary and non-ordinary reality so we can hear more clearly what Nature is saying.


Happy Walking!

Hawk in Burned-Out Tree, © Lynda Skeen

Hawk in Burned-Out Tree, © Lynda Skeen

Hawk and Mountains, © Lynda Skeen

Hawk and Mountains, © Lynda Skeen

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.” Pema Chodron

Hawks Circling Overhead © Lynda Skeen

Hawks Circling Overhead
© Lynda Skeen

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So last November I finally tried a Holotropic Breathwork workshop, which I’d had my eye on for a long time.  Stanislov Grov developed Holotropic Breathwork as an alternate way to access non-ordinary reality and the transpersonal realms, and I’d heard good things about it, so I attended a workshop in Topanga Canyon facilitated by local practitioner Michael Stone. I enjoyed the work so much that I had planned to attend another workshop this month, but I’m actually digesting the material that came up for me last time, so I’m going to wait a beat before going to another session.  I’ve found that too much healing and growth without integration isn’t productive for me, like binge eating, so I try to pace myself.


What came up for me at November’s workshop dovetailed beautifully with the material on shadowwork I’d been working with.  During my session as a “breather” (during the workshop you are both a breather and a sitter, where you support another participant during their breathwork), I was shown that I needed to develop a healthier relationship with chaos.  I was shown that my intense reaction to people who use cell phones during a movie in a movie theatre, for instance, was a pointer to this need to loosen the boundaries of control.  When we find our buttons pushed in a way that’s out of proportion to the circumstances, if we pay attention, we’ll find pointers to areas of growth – if we listen.


So, how to develop a “healthier relationship with chaos”?  What did that mean?  Should I not say anything when someone started texting next to me during a movie?


I was shown that if we don’t allow enough healthy chaos into our lives, it can escalate into more destructive, dangerous ways of getting our attention.  We can’t keep everything in life nice and tidy, and if we try, life has a way of rebelling.  One minute we’ll be exchanging Christmas presents with friends and the next minute we’ll be driving down the freeway in a friend’s Porsche at 102 miles an hour without a license.  (True story.) Developing a healthy relationship with chaos doesn’t mean putting ourselves or others in danger; it means creating a release valve so it doesn’t have to get to that point.


Some healthy ways to allow chaos in can be simple things like dancing formlessly around the house with the music turned up loud, writing stream of consciousness writing with no project in mind, leaving a patch of your backyard intentionally wild, spending time in the wilderness, buying some magic markers and a blank journal and letting ourselves play with colors for no reason other than the joy of it.  It’s about leaving room for creative chaos, moving from our heads and into our hearts, allowing some rough edges and unexplained questions, exploring the edges of our comfort zones.

IMG_3566 journal art

Journal art chaos, © Lynda Skeen


Navajo rug weavers, for instance, leave a mistake in their rugs. “The traditional teaching of the Navajo weaving is that you have to put a mistake in there….It must be done because only the creator is perfect. We’re not perfect, so we don’t make a perfect rug.” (http://www.nativetimes.com/archives/22/1217-navajo-weaver-shares-story-with-authentic-rugs).  Allowing some chaos into our lives is not just about being afraid of being imperfect, but honoring the fact that we are imperfect.  Perfectly and gloriously imperfect.


So now if I start getting pissed off in the movie theatre, I try to take a deep breath before saying anything and pay attention to what’s going on inside since I know this is a trigger point and a portal for growth for me.  I might still decide to say something, but it’s with the understanding that there’s a huge range of possibility between obeying the rules and existential chaos – the Holotropic Breathwork brought up that this was a false choice I had bought into somewhere along the line, that everyone needed to stay in line all the time or the world would fall apart.  It’s not how I thought I lived my life, but it revealed a cause for some underlying stress.


When we start allowing a bit of healthy chaos in, it opens the door for more compassion, more forgiveness, less suffering.  It’s so interesting to pay attention to how we react when we or someone else “colors outside the lines.”  Can we approach it with curiosity and kindness, or do we clamp down and try to squelch evolution from moving forward?  Because life is messy.  Growth is messy.  But allowing ourselves and others some elbow room can make the process a whole lot more pleasant.

IMG_3567 journal art

Journal chaos close-up, © Lynda Skeen


(For more information about Holotropic Breathwork,

see Michael Stone’s website:  www.holotropicbreathworkla.com.) 

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When I moved to Los Angeles, one of the first things I did was to start container gardening in the back yard and driveway of our rental duplex. I also started a worm bin, and promptly fell in love with worms. The red wigglers used for vermicomposting, as it’s called, are a bit different than the earthworms I’d always been fond of, but are of the same general personality type. I looked forward to looking under the bin’s lid every day to see what had changed. To getting to know these gentle, quiet, tireless creatures. And I journeyed to them a lot, getting to know them in both ordinary and non-ordinary reality.

After several years of rough drafts of poems trying to express my relationship with these creatures, the worms themselves asked for a voice. I’ve always loved St. Francis of Assisi’s “Prayer for Peace,” and the Worm Spirit began to use that as a template for communicating.

As this year’s vegetable garden starts winding down, I thought I would share the poem that came through from the Worm Spirit, and encourage you to connect – both in ordinary and non-ordinary reality – with the spirit of the living beings that surround you, no matter how humble they may seem.

May your day be filled with wonder and transformation. And I highly recommend worm composting!


after St. Francis of Assisi’s “Prayer for Peace”


Surrender to our subtle, quiet mysteries,
and let us help you find peace.
Where there are stormy fires of undigested passion,
where there is the new pain of unreleased injury,
we offer you the cool salve of earth and silence.
Where there is doubt and mistrust,
we offer you the imperturbable elegance
of transformation.
When you are stifled by despair,
we offer our rich castings of promise.
For your sadness, we offer the gentle smiles of our curves.
In our darkness, feel the comfort of shadow.

Release all that no longer nourishes you.
Allow yourselves to slough off the old, to grow,
to acknowledge mistakes,
to say, “this isn’t working anymore, this isn’t right,
this isn’t doing anyone any good.”
Together let us explore the silent, mysterious journey,
the non-linear churnings,
the indispensable winding detours.
Let us turn your leftover mustard greens and sweet melon rinds,
your jagged egg shells and ignorance
into new gardens flowering with broccoli and lettuce,
cherry tomatoes, daffodils, and wisdom.
Let us teach you
of time’s unhurried alchemy.

Till your gardens with kindness.
Slip under the earth’s brittle crust with us
and delight in the infinite, hushed shades of our brownness,
and the fertility of decomposition,
as we wrap our long, comfortable bodies around the world,
transforming the world
one moment at a time.

May the cycle of blessings
and the blessings of the cycle
nourish, sustain, and intrigue you.



(“Worms” © Lynda Skeen, with thanks to the publications Abalone Moon and Tiger’s Eye where it was previously published)

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