Becoming an Elder
8 weeks ago, to celebrate my 60th birthday, I stepped from this circle into the bush, alone - on a 40 hour Vision Quest.
For 2 nights I went deep into the bush and deep into my own heart. I had with me 10L of water, a notepad and pen, a length of canvas tied between trees, a sleeping bag and mat, a torch and warm clothing. No phone, no watch, no book, no food, no input that could distract me from being with myself.
But I had Mother Earth and all she offered, as space became available for her messages. She held me, allowed me to go deeper into my heart than I felt was possible. In that place, just by opening and feeling, something changed.
The felt sense of my vulnerability was profound, yet in that same place was my inner strength and a deep sense of connectedness with everything around me. It pulsed through me. It was beyond the mind.
Thankyou Haaweatea Bryson of Nature Knows. You held me as nature shared her rhythm with me. My body and soul felt this rhythm. The world looks different now.
My Vision Quest - 31st March 2016
My Journal… as I wrote it….
By Robbie Chapman, Sydney, Australia
Kundalini Yoga Teacher, Healer
Feel the power of the bush.
White gums – all communicating silently with each other.
Spider on my mat! Fear – what if he comes in the night when I can’t see him.
He is so afraid – he plays dead.
My fear, my vulnerability-it’s in nature too. Thankyou spider.
It’s cool quickly. 5pm?
Nothing to do.
Nowhere to go.
Nature is all just getting on with it’s business.
Just going about what it needs to do.
All interacting but not reacting to what’s going on around it.
The caterpillar eating the stem of grass.
The sugar ants doing their stuff.
The blowfly.The sun’s gone. It’s different.
All I want to do is sit still.
My body is buzzing with the aliveness of me and everything around me.
The first part of the night, as it got very dark, the whole bush went dead still.
Black. Clouds. Few stars.
I lay there – waiting for the ‘night noises’, a wallaby, a lizard, a rustle of any description, but
As I lay there in this deepest stillness, darkness and silence I felt into my own stillness, darkness and silence.
It was a paralysingly vulnerable and fearful place, but I knew I had to feel into this and stay in it – for as long as I needed to.
I couldn’t move.
There was nothing to be afraid of from the outside. It was all coming from deep in my heart.
The smell of fear under my arms first thing in the morning.
There’s something about ‘there’s nothing to protect – you can’t make it safe- just open and expose it’.
Coming towards the cairn felt eerie. I found a rock. It needed to be big. As I placed it there and walked away I wept. There was relief to know that someone knew I was OK. Deep long tears, walking slowly, knowing I needed to go back in. There was more.
Along the path, toward the cliff 3 yellow tailed black cockatoos stopped me in my tracks, right in front of me. They took me right into the pure joy and strength in my heart, all in the same place as the vulnerability. They flew off. I walked on and was stopped by a bird with a lot to say. He was in the tree right above me. He called his friends. 7 of them came, right above me, very chatty, talking to me. I think they were telling me they were there all through the night. I just wasn’t aware of them.
On the way back to my camp 5 big black cockatoos flew from where I was over the swamp. I thanked them.
Just being in My Place and then the Question-
How do I be and Elder?
Answer - Just Listen.
See how the bush listens. It hears everything.
It hears the story of the Heart- not advising, not having a better idea, or how to do it differently-just being a place that can listen.
It has no opinions.
For me to be able to listen that deeply I must give my Soul space to be heard - be in Mother Nature, alone, the rest is a distraction.
I love the simplicity of it.
The joy of it.
The heart - sensitive, open, vulnerable, strong, touched, listening, feeling.
I’m part of the stillness now.
My open heart has me in that place.
So much napping and just lying in my place today.
A day of healing, as though I was convalescing.
Not sad. Not happy. Just is.
Beautiful bark from the white gums for my circle – half under the bivvy, half under the stars.
Lots of light cloud around.
The suns nearly gone. It’s just on top of the trees.
Mozzies arrive. I’m covered.
Thankyou currawongs. They’re tough and strong- the first ones I’ve seen, right when I need them.
There’s fear as dusk arrives. I try to be with it-understand it a little.
It’s not to do with nature – it’s in me. It felt good to stretch and open my heart, using the breath.
What do you have to teach me Fear?
How vulnerable I am? It’s OK, we ALL are.
Dusk. It’s a liminal time. That’s what I’m feeling - on the threshold of? Transition? Dropping deeper – feeling deeply into it.
My bark circle includes my thermorest.
It feels warmer tonight – still high cloud. The stars will be off and on.
The temperature drops.
I have to be in it.
It’s OK to be in it.
Please Mother Earth and Father Sky support me through the night.
I know they will.
The caterpillar is still there- not eating now - just still.
Nothing to do. Just be in it.
Feel it and know it’s all OK.
The question for tonight….
Dear Mother Earth and Father Sky
Please show me how to stay in my body all the time. Thankyou.
The answer came in the liminal time…..
I AM HERE FOR YOU.
The waning moon took forever to come up. The night was long. At one stage I felt it would go on forever. Plenty of deep sleep through it though. My sleeping bag just open over me. The night was warmer, gentler and I slept out under the stars as I took the bivvy down - then a strong wind came up. I could smell smoke. The bivvy down was good, no rattling of it in the wind.
I drank a litres of water through the night.
The first glimpse of light and then the glimpse of a beautiful red dawn- the bird chorus, saying ‘good morning’, along with the mozzies- for now I’m letting them be. They don’t bother me.
From this point only I can feel it’s been a healing time, a convalescing time, a time of opening deeper to myself. The child has found a deep connection to the Soul.
The wind has settled now. It showed me how changeable each moment is. Have no expectation of things being a certain way. There’ll be challenging times but the Soul can go through that. “I am here for you”
The earth, nature, the rhythm of life will always support me if I stay connected with it.
With heartfelt gratitude for something so ordinary and yet so magnificent.
Robbie's close friends and family arrived the morning she walked out of the bush, to welcome her, to sit outside around the fire and hear her story. They came to welcome and thank the elder she'd embraced in herself, and the work that is hers to do in the world.
Mum and daughter sharing a cup of tea...