A first. Jan emailed me her proposed blog for this week, an excerpt from her forthcoming book, The Edge of the Abyss. I say “a first” because generally Jan writes and publishes her blogs before I even know what they’re about. She rarely knows herself until she sits down to type.
As I read her proposal, I cringed protectively. I was concerned that the description of reality she was sharing would be too potentially triggering for those who might read it. It’s incredible writing, with deep value for those who choose to read the book, but I felt it needed to be wrapped in the protective warnings her books offer.
This protective cringing occurred the week before when Jan had published another excerpt from her book—I cringed for the same reason. And once we had discussed my concerns, Jan put a warning on the blog and on our Facebook post regarding the potential for triggers to those who are doing deep work in confronting their own traumatic events. And so perhaps there was a part of Jan that uncharacteristically decided to pass this new blog by me before electing to publish. Her own attachment to her personal experiences at this point is gone, her only concern now is to help people, to show them the way to freedom.
I’m reminded of Taisha Abelar’s cohorts* having to stop her from bringing her two inorganic being friends to an evening lecture at Omega in 1995. They were concerned about the potentially shattering impact that this broader encounter with reality might cause the members of the audience—a visitation from the fourth dimension, a dimension generally hidden behind the veils of the third eye. Taisha merely said, “Oh, really?” She hadn’t even considered the possibility, so used was she to their presence in her own life.
When I expressed my concern to Jan, she immediately agreed. Like Taisha, she simply hadn’t considered this concern, so deeply detached personally she finds herself from the world that once froze her in traumatic ice. Things that once horrified her no longer phase her. She matter-of-factly discusses them and moves on, no triggers.
When Carlos Castaneda advised that we suspend judgment to journey into the true nature of reality, into life beyond judgment, he was taking us deeply into accepting what is, freed from the parameters of what we find acceptable. Only in learning how to suspend judgment will our experiences in the world of true reality have deeper meaning and value. Recapitulation opens the door to fully knowing and accepting what was, however horrific, freeing the self to fully be able to encounter reality without the cushion or necessity of veils. Such was Taisha’s experience; such is Jan’s experience.
Most importantly, however, is that we consciously decide to take the recapitulation journey. As Jan pointed out in her alternative blog this week: When we are ready we will know more fully what we need to know. Perhaps it won’t be this spring or this life, but spring will come, and new life will blossom.
As we discussed Jan’s proposed blog we decided to throw a coin, to let the coin decide. And so we asked infinity whether or not Jan’s first blog should be presented. “NO!” came the response. And so, without attachment, Jan acquiesced and went on to write something else.
The decision to read or not read Jan’s next book is a decision that people will have to make for themselves, in full awareness of the disclosure of the depth of truth to be encountered in its pages. The long awaited book arrives in a few weeks!
* Taisha Abelar and her cohorts Carol Tiggs and Florinda Donner Grau were the apprentices, along with Carlos Castaneda, of don Juan Matus.
What does it mean to do a recapitulation and how do you start? These are some of the questions that people ask. In my experience, recapitulation, when approached from a clinical point of view, isn’t something you do, it’s something that comes to you and takes you on a journey. It’s something that you know you just cannot avoid any longer. It’s your spirit urging you to finally face what has been eating away at your insides your whole life. It’s your fragmented self stating the obvious, that it’s tired of running and hiding, of playing the old games, dodging the truth. The truth hurts, it tells you, but this is hurting more, so let’s stop now, let’s do it differently.
So, how do you start? You answer the call. You say: Okay, I’m ready to find out who I am. I’m ready to find out what it is that won’t let me rest, that won’t let me live and love in a calm and balanced way, totally present, totally accepting of all that comes to me, totally allowing me to be me.
Taisha Abelar, a cohort of Carlos Castaneda, was suspended from a tree during part of her recapitulation, tied up and left to deal with her unconscious and its onslaughts. Later she moved into a tree house in the same tree and lived alone there for months, learning to climb and swing from the branches of this tree that became her home for the duration of her recapitulation. Everything she needed was contained within the container of Self in containment in that tree.
In taking up the process of recapitulation we don’t necessarily need to be tied into a tree. Our psyches have a way of making sure we get what we need, however, some sort of containment is needed. And just how our psyches will work with us will be unique to each of us. Some days we may feel like we are indeed suspended from a tree and other days it may feel as if we are inside a dark cave, another favorite location the Shamans took full advantage of during recapitulation. Containment and learning how to sit with the tension of our inner world is part of the process. As the process naturally unfolds we learn patience, which comes over time, as we practice bearing that tension within containment.
The most important step, as Chuck wrote about in his blog last week, is establishing an adult self to ground us and take the journey with us, an adult self to sit beside the child self, in containment, and explain what is really happening. This is where the first sense of balance is established—inside the self—with a sort of parent self who can plant its feet firmly in reality, set down roots, and outline some rules of engagement. This is the self that knows that some limitations and boundaries are necessary if progress is to be made, like the parent who knows that the kid in you won’t be in a good mood tomorrow if it doesn’t get enough sleep. This is the parent who knows what your life is really like and how you tend to handle things or don’t. This is also the parent who knows how you react when you get scared or triggered.
All of our parts engage in recapitulation, but this parent self has a major role. It lets us know how important it is to set some limits and establish some boundaries to handle the past as it comes flying up to greet us. It knows that it’s going to not only be helpful as we begin our recapitulation, but absolutely necessary. These limits and boundaries will work in many ways, at first in keeping the fragmented self safe while memories come. These limits and boundaries will also be present to let some new ideas and new energy in, in amounts that we can handle. These limits and boundaries extend inward, challenging deeply embedded ideas of the self that must be allowed simultaneous protection and release. These limits and boundaries will challenge us by keeping us safe sometimes and confronting us at others, both supporting and failing us as appropriate, as we go through our recapitulation. These limits and boundaries, as I found out, may at first be well established, firmly entrenched adult patterns of behavior learned from others, from our own parents for instance.
My adult self was pretty much always in control. Firmly established at a young age, she dominated. She was a combination of my own two parents, her responses to life mimicking theirs. I took in, as we are programmed to do, what I saw in my parents. My father, once a free spirit, was dampened by fear and duty later in life. However, he didn’t lose his extraverted desire to be in the world, to get ahead, to always be one step ahead of the next guy until middle age. Before then he was always in a hurry, eager to engage life. Having suffered polio as a young child, his leg never healing properly, he could not run, but that did not stop him from giving the impression that he was always running. What he was running from I never knew, but I somehow understood that you ran from things. And so I took on this characteristic of his and ran too, in more ways than one.
My mother was the opposite of my father. Introverted and withdrawn, she rarely engaged the world. She let him do that while she retreated behind her books, judgments, and intellect. Rational and unsentimental, her boundaries were solid and impenetrable. From observing her, I saw that withdrawing from the world was the way to be, as much as running was. I took on my mother’s protective shell. I watched her retreat from the world, and, although I had no idea why, I knew it was a world of great fear. This was easy to intuit. I became fearful because my parents, in each of their own ways, showed me that the world was a frightening place. I also encountered my own reasons for fear. And so, what my parents taught me about the world proved true and their behaviors, learned at a very young age, served me well for a long time.
In the beginning of my recapitulation, my adult self was much like my parents. Her spirits dampened by fear, she was stern and judgmental. Frightened of everything, she preferred remaining safe in the ways that had always worked. She ran for miles each day, staying attached to an unrelenting code of discipline, running from what she knew not, and then she retreated for the rest of the day, until the next morning when she’d get up and begin again. Day after day, year after year, she used this method to maintain balance, shoring herself up and then shutting herself in.
As the recapitulation progressed, this adult self began to soften, to let things in and let things out in ways that she never would have or could have as her previous self. Holed up within the container of self, she began to see how her own actions had the possibility of negatively affecting her own children. She saw how we inherit not only our genes but everything else from our parents and the world we grow up in. She had to face that what she had inherited did not necessarily belong to her or sit right with her. She also had to face that she was indeed just like her parents.
Thus recapitulation, at this point, entered a new phase of change. With this clarity, the old self began breaking down, along with the rules and regulations placed on the old self by life and circumstance, and a new process of trying on new ideas and a new self began. It literally felt like my clothes didn’t fit anymore, my body didn’t move the same way; my brain reverberated and vibrated constantly as it literally let go of old ideas and attempted to assimilate new concepts of how life works. As new life was experienced outwardly, in the world I lived in, everything changed yet again.
(To be continued next week…)
Still journeying, and always humbly grateful for the opportunity,
We can learn a lot from studying the trees. During her recapitulation, Taisha Abelar, a cohort of Carlos Castaneda’s, lived for a time in a tree. She’d never climbed a tree in her life when she began but by the time six months had passed she’d recapitulated through many dark nights in the tree house she slept in. Over that time she had absorbed so much of tree life that she could communicate with trees directly. She learned to be silent enough to sense their needs, to know their pain, and to communicate with them through feeling. But she also found herself freed of her traumatic past.
“As I was seated on a sturdy limb with my back resting on the tree trunk, my recapitulation took on an altogether different mood,” she writes in The Sorcerers’ Crossing. “I could remember the minutest details of my life experiences without fear of any coarse emotional involvement. I could laugh my head off at things that at one time had been deep traumas for me. I found my obsessions no longer capable of evoking self-pity. I saw everything from a different perspective, not as the urbanite I had always been, but as the carefree and abandoned tree dweller that I had become.”
During the recent early winter storm, I thought a lot about the trees. As I watched them bear the brunt of the snow and the wind, I saw the parallel between learning to become like a tree, withstanding the beauty and fury of nature, and doing a recapitulation.
Trees are rooted, unable to move from their designated spots. Forced to withstand constant exposure they must be strong enough to survive yet weak enough to bend in the breeze. From the heights of the highest branches we can gain a new perspective on life and the world around us. Offering us the opportunity to gain new insights and clarity, they also offer us deep grounding. The deeper the root system, the better the connection to the life force of Mother Earth.
Trees are silent beings, observers of life, pensive and heavy, yet they jostle and sway, tossing lightly and gaily in the wind. They lose branches in storms. They topple over when their time is done and return to the earth from which they once sprang. They know the course of their lives, having lived them many times. Upon their demise, springing up again from their deepest roots or previously dropped seeds, they are ready to take on life anew. Most meaningful to us is that they give us the oxygen we need in order to breathe and live on this planet, thus their lives are more than meaningful, for they support all human life.
We too must learn to become like the trees as we recapitulate. We must learn how to stand our ground, our roots firmly sunk in the nurturing earth while at the same time we withstand the onslaughts of the past. Steady and balanced in two worlds—roots in the earth and branches reaching for the heavens—we too are capable of withstanding the onslaughts of the seasons of our lives. Whether we recapitulate a fine memory, a delightful memory, or a horrific memory too distasteful to speak of, we can learn from the trees how to handle what comes to greet us in recapitulation.
During the recent storm, I noticed the trees in my yard standing silently, accepting the unusually early snowstorm. I saw them bear the weight of the unexpected snow cover. I saw them bowing down under the weight of the heavy attack from outside, their leaves unsuspecting collaborators. I saw them bear the tension, until it was time to let go because they could no longer hold back what had been imposed on them. I heard the breaking of limbs, leafy branches that had no recourse but to snap.
I saw all of this and said to myself: This is like recapitulation. During recapitulation we are not in control, yet we strive to control in the old ways that worked for us. But during recapitulation we are often confronted with things that we just cannot control, things that come at us out of nowhere like this autumn winter. We too have no recourse then but to snap beneath the weight of the onslaught and allow what falls from us to be strewn at our feet. We too, like the trees, can look down and see our branches of self—parts of ourselves that we thought we needed to hold onto—and realize that they now lie at our feet and yet we still stand.
During the storm cleanup we can look back and wonder: Did we really need to hold onto those parts we once thought so dear? Without them we feel lighter, freer, our branches now able to lift higher than before. Freed of the burden of trauma, of the accumulation of old ideas, misconceptions, and old perceptions of the self, we are like the trees, able to experience ourselves in a new way, just as Taisha once did. No longer attached to the past in the same way we find that, having recapitulated, we are totally different beings.
There are sturdy and tall trees, oaks and maples, and yet there are supple and easily swayed trees that survive just as long, that have the ability to spring back to life no matter what occurs. In recapitulation, is it better to be so strong that our branches continually snap and break off until we are limbless? Or is it better to sway in the breeze of our recapitulation, knowing that we are firmly rooted, connected to the life force of all things, certain that new life awaits? At some point in our recapitulations we must all consider how we are going to proceed on our life’s journey. What kind of tree are we going to be?
Indeed we can and should study the trees. In their silence alone they offer so much for our consideration. Just contemplating the fact that we could not survive on this planet without them may be enough of a start. I hold trees in the highest regard and I am thankful for them. With great respect, at each breath I take, I am humbled to share the planet with them.
In my upcoming book, The Recapitulation Diaries, Year One: The Man in the Woods, I describe learning the sweeping recapitulation breath, a Magical Pass. As frightening memories began making themselves known I used it often to clarify those memories as they emerged from the foggy past, as well as to calm the central nervous system. In both instances it was very effective.
In her book The Sorcerers’ Crossing Taisha Abelar writes about learning this recapitulation magical pass as well, first from her mentor Clara and then later from a man she immediately recognized as the master sorcerer. This master sorcerer gave her some valuable advice. When he found her talking to herself while doing the breathing pass, he suggested that she wasn’t breathing properly. She describes this meeting and the suggestion that she breathe like this:
“He inhaled deeply as he gently turned his head to the left. Then he exhaled thoroughly as he smoothly turned his head to the right. Finally, he moved his head from his right shoulder to the left and back to the right again without breathing, then back to the center.”
The master sorcerer also told Taisha: “When exhaling, throw out all the thoughts and feelings you are reviewing. And don’t just turn your head with your neck muscles. Guide it with the invisible energy lines from your midsection. Enticing those lines to come out is one of the accomplishments of recapitulation.”
He went on to explain that “… just below the navel was a key center of power, and that all body movements, including one’s breathing, had to engage this point of energy. He suggested I synchronize the rhythm of my breathing with the turning of my head, so that together they would entice the invisible energy lines from my abdomen to extend outward into infinity.”
Doing the sweeping recapitulation breath is not all that difficult. In every instance of reading about it I found variations, so it was often confusing, but I stuck with what Chuck had originally taught me, taking the liberty to change the way I did it to suit the intent I set with each sitting. Often I sat for only a few minutes, but I was just as likely to sit and do the sweeping breath for as long as an hour or more at a time.
Once one gets the hang of it and lets the thinking mind go, without getting caught in wondering if one is doing it right, it automatically begins doing its magic. Chuck always told me I couldn’t do it wrong, and indeed in reading and hearing all the many ways in which it was and is taught, it seems to me that just setting the intent and actually doing it is enough. As Chuck says, it’s the intent that matters.
So today I leave you with this sweeping breath. Set an intent. Find that key center of power and begin breathing from there. And then see what happens. I found it to be a most magical practice indeed!
Setting intent, finding breath, and sweeping away, I offer you all love and good wishes on your journeys, as I return to the last few days of editing my book.
The Sorcerers’ Crossing is available for purchase through our STORE. Excerpts used in this blog are found on page 132.