This time, my trip out went somewhat smoothly. Except for sitting at the bus stop on Sunday for 5 hours waiting for the tracker school to pick us up! The usual disorganization I guess... Some of the folks grabbed a taxi to get to the boy scout camp instead of waiting. It wasn't too bad though because I hooked up with Mark Tollefson (met him through the tracker e-mail list) at the bus stop. We decided to be partners via e-mail before we arrived and we hit it off right from the beginning... Thanks for being such a great partner Mark! Who says e-mail isn't useful!
Because of the intensity of the class, they interspersed various hands-on type workshops with the meditations. They started off with workshops and lectures revolving around pipe making and the pipe ceremony. I think this worked out wonderfully because it brought us slowly into the state of mind necessary for the remainder of the week. The pipe making/ceremony lectures lasted mostly for the first two days. Tom also began describing some of grandfather's philosophy to us in some of those lectures. Most of the stuff he described could actually be found in his books. But of course, when he tells the stories, you can get a much better feel for them. For example, after hearing him explain the story of the demon and the "hair" found in Awakening Spirits, I *really* understood the story. Tuesday night, we started off with a pipe ceremony and then we really got into the good stuff on Wednesday. We started off with the sacred silence exercises that many of you are probably familiar with through Tom's book, Awakening Spirits. I found it very difficult to shut off the logical, physical mind as Tom was instructing us to do, but as the week progressed, it got easier and easier. I don't know if I could even recall all of the meditations we did. Most of them went very well (80% or so), the class running at 95% success. Others didn't go very well, class was around 40% on those.
The most successful "hit" for me personally that we did was when I was lead to my partner's medicine area. For those of you who haven't read Awakening Spirits, the medicine area is a place that you create in your mind. It is completely your world, you can do whatever you want, play with the dolphins in your ocean, swim underwater for hours, you name it! You can create mountains, forests, move stuff around, etc... You are all powerful. Tom said if there is something you don't like in your medicine area you can "blow its ass off!" Most importantly, you are to become a kid again, be creative, and learn to have fun again! In one exercise, we were to partner up and lead our partner to our medicine area and vice versa. Well, when Mark lead me to his medicine area during the meditation I simply tried to purify my mind and ended up receiving all kinds of images. Afterwards, when we discussed the journey, just about everything I described was right on! I even got the location of items. (for example field on right, forest on left). At one point during the journey, Tom told the leaders to imagine handing their partner an item. I felt that item move! After the meditation, I had found out that Mark had handed me a mouse! As much as my logical mind wants not to believe all of this, it happened. There is no way to describe how or why because there is no logic to these worlds. As much as I wanted to believe all of this spiritual stuff going in, even after reading all of the books, I simply didn't believe it deep down in my logical mind. My logical mind wouldn't let me believe it! But this exercise really changed me. It opened the doorway to faith. I became a believer! I was giddy like a child the rest of the week after this exercise! I had a number of other less tangible successes throughout the week, but this one absolutely blew my socks off.
Tom took a different attitude during the week than he did during the standard. He was almost, well... approachable! While he was telling the story of the healing (in one of his books, I forget which one), I could swear that he was about to cry. People were hugging him after the class ended. He also rarely got angry while lecturing and he was a great meditation leader, gentle yet firm. One of the more entertaining parts of the class was hearing about other folks successes. Some of them were really funny.
Anyhow, it was just an awesome class. The food was even good. I definitely didn't come out the same person I was going in. My mind was opened up to a whole new world of possibilities. If you believe there is something more to daily life as you know it know, I highly recommend this experience...
Now comes the challenging part... forcing the time into my schedule to practice!