A Day in a Life: A Time Of Sitting Still

The animal spirits are returning... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The animal spirits are returning…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

We are out of danger. The “Storm of the Century” is heading out to sea. We are not being impacted this time. Last night I dreamed that it would become windy today—it is—but that the storm would turn back toward land and we would bear the full brunt of it tomorrow. I have to look at this dream in the context of reality.

It looks fairly unlikely that the storm will turn back to land, but today’s winds rattle the house every now and then, each gust asking me to ponder what it all means on a deeper level. Rattling inside my own head is the truth of my being here in this country. My ancestors came here, like just about everyone else’s, seeking freedom of some sort. In that seeking of freedom, whether it was sparked by oppression or famine or the desire for adventure and new life, lives an indefatigable energy. It drives us still. I must accept that the energy that came here in my ancestors lives on in me still, and I must accept what it once did if I am to turn it in a new direction and use it for the greater good. If I am to truly live as a balanced spiritual being, I must constantly confront the darkness within myself, ancient or otherwise.

We came into this country like the wind. And like the wind we blew through it, ravaging, destroying and taking, with little regard for the traditions and cultures of centuries, with little regard for the sacred earth and the animals that roamed it. When the buffalo were gone, the Native Americans knew they would have to go inward; they would have to sit and wait for the buffalo to return. They would have to protect and hold the spirit of their people inwardly until it was time for that spirit to reemerge and roam the plains once again. They have waited a long time.

Now the ancient traditions are coming back and we, the invaders who destroyed the buffalo—as well as the other sacred animals of the tribes—all want a part of it. We see the animals returning, the spirit of the land revitalized, and we want it too. How ironic is it that we turn to the learned men and women of the ancient tribes to teach us now, the same people we once found heathen and uneducated, the same people we caused such destruction to. We want to learn the secrets from the shamans: how to connect with spirit, how to do a soul retrieval, how to find our path of heart. They oblige us, but the real secret is in doing what they did. We must hold our own spirits in check and wait. Even as we turn to the shamans, asking them to lead us out of our discomfort, we must sit still within our own discomfort if we are to truly be free.

We have turned outward in all directions seeking the knowledge that we know exists out there somewhere. We’ve turned to the yogis of India, to the Zen masters of Japan, to the Buddhists of Tibet, and yet if we sit still we will discover that we have what we need inside us. If we sit still and wait, just like they do, our own spirit will return and guide us on our journey to the freedom we seek, and have always sought.

Time to sit still... Time to wait... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Time to sit still…
Time to wait…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The ancient shamanic practice of recapitulation asks us to do this, to sit still and bear the tension of what comes to us from our deepest inner selves. That’s really all it is, taking on the process of sitting still and waiting, and then withstanding what comes. It asks us to become the shaman waiting for the return of the buffalo. It asks us to sit under the bodhi tree like the Buddha and withstand the desires of the world outside of us so that we may meet the real spirit inside. It asks us to turn inward and meditate if we are to experience nirvana and enlightenment, the blissful states of non-attachment. We must sit still and work through all that keeps us from attaining these energetic states of consciousness. If we are to truly understand our adventures in non-ordinary reality, we must prepare ourselves to withstand the deeper truths they bring to us. If we are to experience the transpersonal in any real and lasting way—if we want to change the world—we must first change ourselves.

The ancients, the practitioners of sitting still, are trying to teach us that it really is time to sit still, to let the wind blow outside of us without attachment. If it destroys something then we must accept its power, yet we must also accept what we too have destroyed by our own power. We must let the wind enter into us if we are to transform ourselves. In sitting still we let the apocalypse come. We withstand the destruction of all that we think we are, as we take our own shamanic journey to retrieve our own soul. This is what recapitulation is. This is what freedom is.

Recapitulation comes stealthily, creeping up on us like a cat, or it comes like a storm, blowing us over with its ferocity so that we are knocked breathless and bleeding. Either way, it asks us to accept that we have in us the freedom-seeking energy of our ancestors. It asks us to face what we have done in the past. It asks us to face what was done to us as well, just as the ancients did, by turning inward and sitting still. In time, the truth will be revealed. If we are to evolve, our best strategy is to sit still, within our own bodies and minds, and bear the truth of who we are.

Our freedom will come. In sitting still, our own spirits will return just as they are returning to the Native tribes.

Sitting in the wind,

One thought on “A Day in a Life: A Time Of Sitting Still”

  1. There’s a moment sailors call slack tide. When the tide is neither coming in nor going out, but perfectly still. It’s a moment frozen in time. When all is calm and peaceful…

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