I just returned from a life altering journey to North Dakota, where hundreds of indigenous tribes from around the world have come together to protect our Mother Earth and her life giving water. I organized a trip of 29 people, 19 of whom were youth from ages 11 to 15.
This was a trip intended to give the kids an opportunity to offer community service for a noble cause, and experience cultures and living conditions very unlike their own. This was to be an opportunity to make sacrifices for those who have so little, and yet do so much to stay connected with and protect the Earth.
We traveled 12 hours by van from Boulder, Colorado to the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. We then worked hard for two days to help winterize the camp, which supports those who actively stand in protection of the water and the land there. These people are protecting the drinking water for over 18 million people.
While on our trip, we built Ojibwa longhouses called waginogans, as well as Lakota tipis. We picked up trash around the land of the camp, sorted clothing donations, helped in the camp kitchen, and many other service efforts. We also listened to stories of other cultures, and witnessed ceremonies that honored the Earth and Her people.
I experienced a more profound and deep connection to the Great Mother than ever before.
I came to see how much She sacrifices for us every day that we take for granted. I found myself particularly emotional around seeing how difficult it is for us as adults to sacrifice our comforts and habits, and how easily that discomfort and difficulty is passed on to our children.
One cannot sacrifice what one does not fully possess. Thus, we cannot sacrifice our Self if we are not in strong possession of our True Self.
We must be fully conscious of our True Self to be able to place it in full service of others without losing our sense of Self or imposing on or neglecting the Selves of others.
Most of us are riddled with insecurities, hurts, pains, and traumas that cause us to behave in ways that keep us in self-protection, self-survival and/or self-promotion mode.
All of these “self” activities are the actives of the lower self, or ego, and we often do not see how we are in these states of being so frequently. These states perpetuate the suffering and unhappiness that keep us from realizing our full potential. Seeing these things in ourselves is rather humbling. Realizing how little most of us see induces deep grief for me. I frequently found myself looking deeply at my own lack of awareness that was coming to the surface, while also grieving over that lack of awareness in humanity.
My resolve and passion for re-connecting with the the Mother deepened. It is the Mother who shows us what we are not seeing, gently guides us to a new vision, and nourishes us with support to bring forth a new way of life.
I have been working on a program to support a reconnection to feminine wisdom and empowerment. I mentioned in an earlier article that the stages of this program include remembering, reconnecting, reimagining and rebirthing.
While on this trip to North Dakota, I noticed how incredibly happy and joyful many people in the camp were, particularly those who’d been there a long while. What was it that supported this joy, and how could it help us to reconnect with a new perspective and way of life that the Mother is trying to show us?
What I found were 12 keys to happiness that I experienced the Mother offering to all those who are willing to give their attention. These keys beautifully fit into the four stages of my upcoming program to support the embodiment of this joy and realization of our True Self.
I would like to share these keys with you, and will begin this week with the first two stages of the Soul’s evolutionary journey, and offer the last two stages and their keys in next week’s Inner Power Tools.
STAGE 1: REMEMBER YOUR ORIGIN AND WHAT’S IMPORTANT
Before we can come to deeper awareness or divinely aligned action in our lives, we must first remember who we are. This often requires letting go of everything we *think* we are or that life is, becoming present, and stepping into the flow of life.
KEY #1: Let Go / Detach – Everywhere around the camps were people who have chosen to give up everything to support this movement to care for Mother Earth. Paul, a beautiful man from Jamaica was in the camps, having decided to sell all of his belongings and practice non-attachment. He is now dedicating his life to “going where I am needed,” as he put it.
While Paul is likely in his 60s, and perhaps at a stage of life in which this is more possible, I wonder what we can do in our daily lives to let go. Are there things in your life that no longer serve you? Are there toxic situations, attitudes, relationships or habits you could commit to detaching yourself from?
KEY #2: Accept – There was such beauty at every turn with people from all races, religions, tribes, countries and cultures all around us. We listened to a woman sing a beautiful song around the campfire in German, greeted a black man from Louisiana as he dried our dishes, spoke with tribal members from Navajo, Lakota, Comanche and other tribes, and heard many stories from various traditions. We experienced many different personalities and ways of being, and yet all were accepted. We experienced many challenges like a very cold first night there, getting smoked out of a tipi due to our lack of competence around keeping a fire in it while sleeping, having to give up on a project we planned to complete due to the wind, among others.
Yet, even while acceptance wasn’t always easy, happiness was obvious where all people, ways, traditions and experiences were accepted. Love was present everywhere. What has been nagging at you that you struggle to accept? Can you accept what is, finding balance in love for the other without losing yourself?
KEY #3: Be in the Flow – Life in the camp is spontaneous. When meals are ready, people eat. When dancers are ready, ceremonies begin. When inspiration to go to the front lines comes, people mobilize. As the sun rises and warmth comes, people awaken. As the sun sets and the temperature drops, people sleep. There is no set time schedule. I noticed myself struggling a bit with this one.
As I settled into the flow more and more, with no worries about the timing of when we would eat or gather, I noticed a wave of relaxation and peace fall over me. I couldn’t help but wonder what it might be like to be more spontaneous in my life at home. How do you allow life to unfold organically?
STAGE 2: RECONNECT TO WISDOM AND LOVE
Once we have remembered who we are, we can then tune into the wisdom and love that have always been available to us. It is all around us, and within us. Yet we so often struggle to access it, seeking it from outside sources. As we empty and let go, we make room for this wisdom and love.
KEY #4: Nature – Nature is full of wisdom. People in the camp live by Nature and Her magnificence, respecting Her rhythm and power. They were relaxed about what came, whether the weather interrupted a project, the temperature generated discomfort, the birds offered a song, or the water carried away their troubles.
How do you connect with Nature? What do you do to honor Her rhythm and respect Her power? In what ways are you taking care of Her?
KEY #5: Simplicity – For those who’ve been in the camps for a long while, and are planning to stay for the long haul, life is simple, and they are happy. They don’t live by the demands of beeping or buzzing gadgets, requiring charging at every turn and wasting fuel to idle vehicles for hours simply to stay connected to the grid as those newer to the camps did. They don’t create complex situations that require lots of planning or coordination. They simply work together with what is and do the best they can with what they have. They appreciate a nourishing meal, without concern for whether it tastes just right or is the same thing they had the day before. They are grateful for warm clothing, even if mismatched and not all that fashionable by common standards.
What if we all lived more simply, wearing the same things multiple times per week, eating the same foods repeatedly because we know they make us feel strong and healthy, or living with fewer things? How can you simplify your life more, and reconnect with your inner wisdom?
KEY #6: Community, Order and Expression – The joy of community collaboration and connection, along with an honor for order and creative expression was so potent. People gathered to sing in the evenings to end the day. They creatively found ways to support the camp and its needs, setting up organized “stores” for the protectors to come and get what they need at any time, having crews with specialties working in various areas around the camp, and meeting the needs of the community through collaboration. I saw many leaders, freely giving their gifts as they were needed, while others honored the leadership without interference and with full support. I saw those same leaders step down from their leadership role when something else was needed and someone else was the more appropriate leader for that task, graciously moving to a supportive role.
While there was spontaneity in expression and activity, this happened within a certain structure that brought order to what could have been chaos. True community is a place where each can share their gifts, and allow the gifts of others. There is a container to work within, while filling that container with a variety of offers and expressions.
Are you willing to ask for help when you need it? Are you connecting with others to support your joy and expression? Are you willing to share the wisdom that is wanting to work through you, and stand in the unique gifts you have to share? Can you take a step back and allow someone else to take the lead when it is their turn to share? Where or how can you bring more order to your expression, or more free expression to your order?
These first two stages of the Soul’s evolutionary journey are largely about letting go of the past and old patterns, while integrating aspects of the self that have been neglected.
It is about emptying ourselves to make room for Love and Wisdom to flow through us without barriers or judgment. As Love and Wisdom are allowed to flow through us, we can then be in true service of the future and all of Life.
Next week, I will speak of the Mother’s Keys to Happiness as they connect with re-envisioning the future, and rebirthing who we are born to be.
I would love to hear your thoughts on these keys as they relate to your life. How do you experience detachment, acceptance, flow, nature, simplicity and community.