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Vision Quests: An ancient tradition

One of the oldest traditions of Shamanism has been the self-guided training of a Vision Quest

This ritual of self-realisation can provide a modern remedy to our lives of busy-ness and overwhelm.

So what is the purpose of a Vision Quest?

In my experience, the purpose of this quest is to walk into a certain level of discomfort that provides the opportunity to rely solely on your guides and your own inner wisdom. It is an act of surrender.

What happens on a Vision Quest?

Essentially, the quest is about stripping your life of any luxuries so that you can tune into nature as much as possible and face a challenge. This will likely involve isolation so that the comfort and reassurance of others don't become a distraction. Once you have made it to your spot of isolation in nature, what actually happens is...not much. Well, that's how it seems on the outside anyway.

When we prioritise this experience in our lives, we cut out all of the noise of the world and go within. Through our solitude and silence, we begin to shed our attachment to others, to the world, and the pressures to be whoever it is we're trying to be. With no quick-fix distractions or ways to find connection, we are forced back to nature to find our answers. We might have to heavily grieve our experiences, spend time processing our pains, and answer to our levels of exhaustion. Your body will begin to detox, as these quests usually involve heavy food restrictions too. You'll notice that when you can't access those yummy treats that always keep you from facing your own thoughts, the body will quickly start to re-organise its energetics around healing instead of craving. The greatest bliss will come from sitting with yourself, just as you are in that exact moment.

In my experience, once the resistance and grief have been given no other chance but to leave, the entire universe opens up. Nature begins to talk freely of its wisdom and evolutionary codes. The past and future start to make profound sense, just by being truly present. Your guides finally have full access to teach you about their incredible insights, discoveries and inspirations. And you begin to heal your heart and soul in every dimension. This process is a deep renewal and upheaval of everything you've been avoiding and hiding from. When you stop running from yourself and the mind stills, you can get back to sharing love with your entire reality, all at once.

You see, the beauty of such an experience is so simple. When we are truly alone, we can journey deeper into who we are without the reflections and needs of others. To surrender to ourselves and this incarnation, we must walk diligently towards a path that offers surrender. This means feeding our souls and not our egos. This means discovering how strong we are without the comfort of what we think we need. This is the ultimate nervous system challenge, to regulate through the mind's sense of scarcity by returning to simplicity. Witnessing the parts of this simplicity that create a story in the mind will reveal your deepest shadows too. Do your stories of inadequacy send you to the refrigerator every hour? Is it your insecurities that make you want to text your loved ones too often? Are you afraid your body can't cope in adverse environments so you stress about the little things? All of these coping mechanisms are kept alive when we feed ourselves the story over and over again. Remember, that thinking isn't responsible for your pain at all. It's when your thoughts start to control your actions that you run into problems.

Vision Quests don't have to be complex or traditional. We are not Peruvian shamans or medicine people of old. We are modern beings trying to live a holistic life, so start small. For those of you embracing a shamanic life, make a vision quest part of your yearly self-care protocol. Find a place to isolate where you have no distractions and can be as close as possible to nature. Restrict your food down to vegetables, simple protein and plenty of water or herbal tea. Sit in silence with yourself for at least 24 hours and let your guides take care of the rest. Honour your level of discomfort and don't worry about how to looks to anyone else. If you're ready to spend a night deep in the bush without a tent and nothing but water, I salute you! If you want to start with a night in a campervan or glamping tent somewhere remote and basic, then start there. But particularly, identify your biggest attachments and go without for a day or two. It could be your kids, your phone, the need to share, that daily coffee or reel binge, or those daily pats with your animals. Every small sacrifice will teach you who you are without all of the needs, and that's the point.

Here are some checkpoints for a transformative quest:

- Set an intention for your Quest (ie: to learn, to heal, to discover or change)

- Find a remote location where you won't be disturbed or distracted by anyone else

- Make sure you are immersed in nature with plenty natural light and space to take walks or swims

- Provide yourself with 3 small meals or snacks each day and no luxuries. That means no sugar, oils, gluten, dairy, processed foods, juice, caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco. If you have metabolic problems, please work within the parameters of what your body needs.

- Wake with the sun each morning and absorb the red light as much as you can.

- Let your loved ones know where you are and keep your phone on you in case of emergencies but switch it to aeroplane mode so you're not tempted.

- You can pass the time with journaling, reading and anything else wholesome that will help you reflect.

- REST. Whatever that means to you and however it presents.

- Anywhere from 24 hours to a few days is a great place to start.

- Use your time to connect with nature, feel its presence, send love to every leaf and gust of wind and ask for your intention to be heard. Stay aware of the messages coming to find you.

Happy Questing you brave souls!


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