Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Friday, August 20, 2010

The New Age Adventures of a Triathlete Newbie-in-Waiting

I came dangerously close to not blogging at all today.  (Wow!  We dodged that bullet, hey?)  

The day began at 2:30 a.m., and then again at 4:30, when I finally gave up and left my bed.  I had been invited by a Facebook friend to attend a Shamanic Healing Ceremony at dawn, but had decided not to set the alarm for it--not really thinking of myself as the Shamanic Healing Ceremony type.   But when I was up anyway, I thought, what the heck?  In keeping with my new "curiosity" theme, and having plenty of aspects of my life in need of healing--not the least of which is my continuing propensity to awaken several times a night with visions of, no, not sugarplums, but open water swim race starts "dancing" in my head, and in my nervous system--it seemed like the thing to do at that hour.

And as it turned out, it was actually a pretty cool experience.  For one, I got to be on this beautiful stretch of secluded beach, with the waves pounding in my tired ears, while a deep coral sun appeared through partial fog.  It's been too long since I've seen the sun come up.

For another, I had the privilege of being "smudged" with sage--a ritual to purify and cleanse one of negative influences.  The man leading the ceremony--a real, actual shaman--performed this rite for each of those present, with some variations apparently dictated by the kind of energy projected by each.  In my case, and only mine, he knelt before me in the sand for some time before continuing the smoke blessing.  When I asked him later what prompted him to do that, he took some time in answering that he "felt a sadness" coming from me.  Now, I could think of this as the kind of generic thing a bogus medium says at a seance to "prove" that she/he is in legitimate contact with one's dearly departed.  Who would be getting up pre-dawn and trekking out to a deserted beach with a bunch of strangers if they didn't have "a sadness?"  But in fact, though at best I was suspending disbelief, I did feel something as this man knelt at my feet.  Kind of like he was recognizing me as some kind of high priestess of suffering, at least at the moment.  And I felt as though I were being truly seen.  

Other parts of the observance included lying with our heads toward the fire at the center of a circle drawn in the sand, like spokes of a wheel, and meditating on the surf, the sky, the sand beneath us and the trees around us; using yogic breathing to build positive energy, and to center ourselves between the earth and the sun; being led in gentle self-massage (of a type acceptable in a public area); and offering prayers for our own healing and that of a significant other.  Not so strange as I might have imagined.  All of it, in fact, within the realm of my previous experience with meditation, yoga, and women's rituals as practiced by the midwives I've known.  

A week ago, I would not have imagined that this ceremony would be a stop on along my way to Sunday's triathlon.  This evening, tired as I am, I cannot imagine having missed it.

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