Friday, March 28, 2014

This weeks blog is on Peeling Away Different Layers of Consciousness Leading to Self-Awareness, Peak Experiences or Moments of Transcendence

"Let us remember one thing about the soul. It is like a wild animal; tough, self sufficient, resilient but also exceedingly shy. ... also that if we go crashing through the woods, screaming and yelling for wild animals to come out they will evade us all day and night. We cannot beat the bushes and yell at each other if we expect this precious inwardness to emerge. But if you are willing to go into the woods and sit quietly at the base of a tree, that wild animal will, after a few hours, reveal itself to you. And out of the corner of your eye you will glimpse something of that wild preciousness... " Parker Palmer

Peeling Away Different Layers of Consciousness Leading to Self-Awareness, Peak Experiences or Moments of Transcendence

Solitude or periods of silence are uniquely powerful in wilderness. There is something special about relating one to one with our self and the classical vision quest is always a solo event. It could be that this is the last step to subverting the ego while in wilderness. When we are on our own we can let go. In order to find our Self (higher) we must lose our self (ego,) or as Christ said, "He that loses himself will find himself." It is difficult to let go completely when in the company of others, and no matter how harmonious the group, we still are bound by social interaction and by some need to protect our delicate egos.
For those of us who use wilderness as spiritual practice the process is like peeling away the layers of a proverbial onion to get to its core, with the Self being at the center of the onion. At the beginning of the trail there are all sorts of layers of behavioral garbage and habituated toxicity surrounding the true Self and it takes time to unravel these to reach the center of our being.  Wilderness researchers have said that five days seems to be a minimum in which to do this. If one thinks of it in the context of the great sages, 40 days and 40 nights might be so profound as to forge a connection with the true Self that is sufficient for enlightenment. Solitude alone may have a lot to do with this, and one cannot help but feel certain people of great stature come out of long periods of confinement with a clearer vision of themselves and the problems around them. Naturally one has to be quite far along the spiritual path before undertaking anything as formidable as a 40 day solo. I have found that wilderness rapture is common in all inner-directed journeys after a period of five days. For some it can occur in less and for a few it may not occur with more. If preliminary inner work is done before the trip it frequently occurs after only two days.

The analogy between the layers of an onion and the five energy sheaths described by the Yogi, Patanjali, in ancient yoga texts is an apt one. This will be the subject of next weeks blog.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

This weeks blog is on Primal, Primeval and Primitive Experience and Humility and Subordination of the Ego

“As you simplify your life the laws of the universe will be simpler. Solitude will not be solitude. Poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” Thoreau

1)  Receptivity and Intent 
2)  Fear and Stress 
3)  Sacred Space and Special Environment 
4)  Connection With Metaphors, Archetypes, and Signs 
5)  Primal, Primeval, and Primitive Experiences 
6)  Humility and Subordination of the Ego 
7)  Peeling Away The Levels of Consciousness Leading to Self Awareness, Peak Experiences, or Moments of Transcendence

Primal, Primeval and Primitive Experiences
Primal, primeval and primitive experiences can help us connect with our cellular memory and the inherited intelligence of our DNA. By tapping back into the primitive we can make contact with this long forgotten part of ourselves, and wilderness is the best place to do so. 

The analogy of the African weaver bird fits here. One can bring a weaver bird out of the wild into captivity and away from other weaver birds weaving their intricate nests. Subsequent generations of these birds will continue to know how to weave nests in spite of having no contact with other birds doing so. This is an expression of instinct residing in non-learned behavior. We have similar non-learned intuitions and instincts we can tap into in the wild if given the opportunity. It is not so long ago that we were all rooted in wilderness as hunter-gatherers. This is why spending time with the last surviving hunter gatherers and experiencing and feeling what we once knew and how we survived can be so life transforming. Making fire with two sticks can be a profound spiritual experience taking us back to our origins.
Since Africa is the cradle of man where we all originated, it is no coincidence that this is the most compelling place to tap into such a power. We are open to these intangible benefits by connecting with the primitive force in any wilderness environment, but it is particularly available on the African continent. Our being is imprinted with long forgotten instincts and this may be the reason that many people who travel to this vast continent feel a strong sense of connection and de ja vu.
The ability of the San Bushmen to dance and trance, control fire and leave their bodies to negotiate the spirit work is a testament to this power. It is the purity of the hunter gatherer life style that enables this phenomenon. This birthright can also be ours if we listen to the wisdom of Thoreau's words above.

Bushman healer in deep trance or what is also called the "little death." This particular shaman was in danger of not coming back from the spirit world..
Bushman shaman in trance immersing his head in the flames without later evidence of any burn

Humility and Subordination of the Ego
When the ego dissolves we can come into a greater appreciation of our true selves. For those without sophisticated esoteric techniques such as meditation, breath work and sensory withdrawal, wilderness is an easy way. Wild places "meditate you," whether you are aware of it or not. It makes us humble by bringing forth recognition of how insignificant we are. A feeling of having to control gives way to a feeling of letting things be. If one tries to control and conquer becoming an adversary to wilderness, it usually will show us in no uncertain terms who is boss. Ego is the single most dangerous factor leading to disaster situations in nature. It is pride that comes before the fall, which may turn out to be many thousands of feet. The complications of high altitude sickness, such as pulmonary and cerebral edema (an excess of fluid that can settle in the lungs or the brain) that can be lethal, are more common in a group setting. This is probably due to peer pressure and a reluctance of individuals to let the party know how they are feeling lest they hold everyone back or be perceived as not being able to "take it." In wilderness, discretion is the better part of valor and wisdom should supersede ego. The feminine approach is usually safer in wilderness, an aggressive macho attitude can lead to disaster. Humility and subordination of ego facilitate the inward journey into the transcendent, and it is this journey that is likely to be physically safer as well. Egomaniacal attitudes and machismo cause one to focus on goal-oriented behavior and achieving, which inhibit access to the transcendent and can be fraught with disaster. One only need listen to some of the stories on trail as well as read some of the best selling novels on survival situations, to realize it was often bad judgment and ego that got them there in the first place. Nevertheless, it is a tribute to the human spirit that, even though ego does get people into precarious situations, there are hidden forces that can help them get out again and this too can be transformational.

By tuning into nature we are able to glean crucial information that bubbles up in dreams, from our intuitive side, the "third eye," or from our guardian spirits that can keep us out of trouble. The critical thing is to pay attention to them since they often pop up only to be ignored.

This weeks blog on  Connection With Metaphors, Archetypes, and Signs is the fourth in the series of the How To's of Wilderness Rapture with three more to go before the talk April 12th (see events.)

Kabir talks only about what he has lived through. If you have not lived through something it is not true.

1)  Receptivity and Intent 
2)  Fear and Stress 
3)  Sacred Space and Special Environment 
4)  Connection With Metaphors, Archetypes, and Signs 
5)  Primal, Primeval, and Primitive Experiences 
6)  Humility and Subordination of the Ego 
7)  Peeling Away The Levels of Consciousness Leading to Self Awareness, Peak Experiences, or Moments of Transcendence 

Connection With Metaphors, Archetypes and Signs
If one can be propelled into a profound meditative state just by looking at a flower, how much more so when we are involved in the exquisite beauty of a completely functioning ecosystem. Metaphors, archetypes and "signs" all seem to be more prevalent in wilderness than in any other environment. These signs that arise in wild places seem to be woven into the archetypal journey of the hero/ine. Because of a heightened awareness or altered state of consciousness the meaning of this sign is usually quite clear. It is only when the individual merges with nature that it is likely to appear, or more accurately, that the sign when it does occur will be interpreted as meaningful. It is part of the unconscious and the spirit world and will speak to us in that language. It does not arise cognitively but is a function of a more symbolic and intuitive expression. This sign, be it a metaphor or archetype or something else can offer a solution to one's problems and become a guide to the perplexed seeker of wisdom. Native Americans have a sophisticated understanding of psychodynamics. In order to facilitate the process wilderness was used as the vehicle and fasting, solitude, pain and sometimes mind altering plant substances were added to the medicine of nature. They recognized that it was usually in the outer wilderness that a sign could emerge that would speak to the inner wilderness of the soul.
Frequently the sign takes the form of an animal which brings a message of clarity in awake time or in a dream. These animals have been called "power animals". The power or totem animal is not necessarily a grand animal that you would like to be, such as a mountain lion or an eagle, but rather the animal one needs to emulate. For example a mouse;  if this means one requires more humility. 

The dung beetle a powerful metaphor for shoveling shit and turning it into manure

The attributes and qualities of a power animal can help us along our journey. During and after trips into wilderness we should be especially cognizant of any animals that cross our path and what they might mean to us in terms of their archetypal energy. It is interesting that the power animals in the West are often predators possibly because we attach strength to an animal like a lion or a hawk. In Eastern tradition spirit animals are more often water birds of a more gentle nature.
After being in wilderness for several days one can truly "be in the moment" in a Zen-like sense and metaphors pop up as signs that have profound meaning for problem solving. Something complicated and insurmountable may become extremely simple in the wilderness environment when looked at in the context of metaphor. This can be profound and occur as an "Aha" type of revelation or it could simply be a subtle change in awareness that will alter the way we work in the world.
The Native Americans believe that during the vision quest when one merges and becomes fused with wilderness, a sign, dream or vision will arise that is critical in determining one's journey. This could include connection with an animal, a spirit guide or guides. This clarity may create wilderness rapture or a "peak experience." The signs will present themselves and the psyche will decide whether they are vital and where to fit them into one’s life context. After being in wilderness with correct intention there is often a shift in consciousness which is key to the experience. In this state we are able derive an interpretation from a deeper level. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

  Sacred Space and Special Environment 
"Wilderness holds the answers to questions we do not yet know how to ask." 
David Brower
This weeks blog is on Sacred Space and Special Environment; the third of six in the "How to's of Wilderness Rapture."
 1)  Receptivity and Intent 
2)  Fear and Stress 
3)  Sacred Space and Special Environment 
4)  Connection With Metaphors, Archetypes, and Signs 
5)  Primal, Primeval, and Primitive Experiences 
6)  Humility and Subordination of the Ego 
7)  Peeling Away The Levels of Consciousness Leading to Self Awareness, Peak Experiences, or Moments of Transcendence

Sacred Space and Special Environment
The power of one's initial experience in a novel and exotic place is often startling. These completely new and fresh exposures help us get in touch with the uniqueness of the environment by bringing us into the present moment. They also shake us free from our habituated patterns of behavior. Some of the magic is lost on subsequent visits to these primal areas. Those of us who spend time in wilderness have no doubt that it is more than a restorative environment and fulfills the requirements of a sacred space, possibly more so than any church, synagogue, mosque or temple. The words of a wilderness guide to his group on entering the wild express this clearly: "This is my church, don’t desecrate it!" There are multi-dimensional possibilities here that do not exist in other places. The more pristine the area, the more powerful, hence the value of areas untrammeled by man.
 "Wilderness is an area where earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man; where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."
 The Wilderness Act of North America
The act is true to the archetype of sacred space and recognizes it as such.
Wild places which have polarity offer more opportunity for the imagination to express itself and possibly this is why they engender a greater feeling of the sacred. For instance those with peaks and valleys, dry areas interspersed with lakes, creeks or rivers and wide open spaces mingling intermittently with areas of vegetation and trees. 

South Africa
Santa Barbara County
Not all spaces are sacred and when one comes across a perfectly lovely looking area but feels something is wrong, it is best avoided. Those that are enclosed, often with little light, such as a deep gorge, a cave or a recess in a mountain that look suitable for shelter from the elements may sometimes harbor negative entities from the past who lived there and do not like visitors. I remember a weeks backpacking trip in the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa when we took shelter in a cave that in years past was probably used by Bushmen. I had an unpleasant night and so did another trekker where we felt there were angry energies around us. Neither of us could sleep. The Bushmen suffered terribly when the Bantu migrated down from the north and the whites later pushed northwards from the south. It did not matter that we came with good intentions. These spirits were troubled by our presence. I have had similar experiences around sacred Native American sites in California.

Sacred site Santa Barbara County
Sometimes the areas visited are so sacred they could be called "power" spots. When one comes into these areas, it is well to honor them, if not for their magical healing effect, then for one's own sake in the hope that the gods, spirits or energies of the place are not disturbed. There is little doubt that there are special sites in nature that have a sacredness or numinosity to them. If we are able to visit in a respectful fashion, our trip may be more meaningful and safer as well.
In Peru when trekking over a mountain pass it behooves the traveller to place a stone on a cairn to acknowledge the Apus or the mountain spirits that preside there in the hope of a safe journey. Similarly in Tibet and Nepal when one hikes one is greeted by prayer flags in similar situations and for the same reason. This is not superstitious quaintness but rather a tribute to forces that dwell there, that whether you believe in them or not, hold sway.

I trekked up a sacred mountain in Zimbabwe once with two of my kids and a guide who was surveying the area at the time. I knew the mountain was sacred to the Shona people and although the white farmer who owned the land scoffed at the idea I made suitable tributes to, and asked permission from the ancient ones, that resided there. I urged my companions to do the same. We camped out in a gorge before climbing up early the next day. Being winter it was cold. As we meandered up the trail I noticed that the guide and Paul and Romi had both stepped over a huge python lying on the path. It was as thick as my calf with its head buried in some grass on the left side of the trail and its tail somewhere hidden on the other side. I must have been twelve foot long. None of them had seen it and I called them back to look.  The snake was motionless because of the cold but a few hours later in the day with the sun up the situation could have been different. We eventually arrived at the top and visited a cave where there were some ancient ceramic pots and a few baskets which we left well alone. We also noted what looked like a Native American medicine wheel to the four directions but the poles did not line up with compass directions and there is no such sacred circle that I know of in Southern Africa. When we left the farm I picked up a Shona woman hitch hiking on the road. When I asked what she knew about the mountain she told me that the place was very sacred and only the medicine men and women ventured their. I asked what would happen if someone else went up. She added; “they will see lions and mamba or pythons that guard the place and will run away.”

Native American Medicine Wheel

Thursday, March 6, 2014

This weeks blog is the second in the series of the How To's of Wilderness Rapture and is on the importance of fear and stress on the inner journey into nature or wild places.

The How To’s of Wilderness rapture
1)  Receptivity and Intent (last week's blog.)
2)  Fear and Stress 
3)  Sacred Space and Special Environment 
4)  Connection With Metaphors, Archetypes, and Signs 
5)  Primal, Primeval, and Primitive Experiences 
6)  Humility and Subordination of the Ego 
7)  Peeling Away The Levels of Consciousness Leading to Self Awareness, Peak Experiences, or Moments of Transcendence

Fear and Stress

"It must be a poor life that achieves freedom from fear." Aldo Leopold
Most people fear the unknown, but in fact it is really the known we should fear. Information imposed by past conditioning limits our perspective and holds us in a box of captivity. By going beyond the known, which should be feared, to the unknown, which should be embraced, personal growth is facilitated. It is, however, in this transition from known to unknown where fear and stress occur.
Fear stimulates the autonomic nervous system leading to the classical fight or flight reaction or alternatively can result in freezing or feigning death. This cognitive appraisal of a "threat" varies from individual to individual and depends on each person's appreciation of the event. The evaluation may be appropriate, as when being charged by a lion, or it can be misconceived. In spite of the recognition of danger being incorrect, the autonomic sympathetic nervous system will elicit its usual response and release adrenaline from the adrenal gland resulting in the typical symptoms; dry mouth, dilated pupils, racing pulse, etc.

If we are subjected to unlimited stress, chronic elevation of adrenaline and cortisone levels in the blood stream can cause pathology. This kind of stress, which causes distress or "dis"-ease, can be labeled true stress -- as opposed to eustress. The latter can be a beneficial form of stress leading to a sense of fulfillment once resolution has occurred. One person’s stress may be another person’s eustress.
According to Yoga scriptures, the first or root chakra situated at the coccyx is an energy center responsible for our survival response and fight or flight reaction. Yoga philosophy teaches us that mastery of this primitive chakra is crucial before energy can be channeled upwards into the higher chakras. In the Hero/ine's journey fear must be encountered during both the separation and threshold phases and even during the final stage of incorporation. This will be discussed at a later date.

The San Bushmen Trance dance is a dire rite of passage where the initiate is not only faced with pain but also fear of this "little death" even becoming a true death.
This rendition of Bushman rock art depicts the shaman experiencing a "Kia" state. Vibrational Kundalini like energy rises up the body (called "Num" by the San) and when  Num reaches the crown, Kia occurs (Kung Bushmen terminology. ) The soul then travels out of the crown into the spirit world attached by a silver cord to the body.   If contact with this cord is broken the trance dancer is in danger of losing his life. 
This is transcendence taken to its highest soul level, done altruistically to heal and help the clan.
When nature causes a flight or fight response, we hopefully respond correctly and if we live to tell the tale, there is often a sense of healing. This is different from the chronic low-grade state of emergency that modern day society creates in our autonomic nervous system. A primal first chakra response resulting in a positive outcome usually leads to wholeness and healing. Chronic stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system leads to an excess of adrenaline and cortisone. This can create high blood pressure, raise cholesterol levels and increase atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. It may induce diabetes and decrease immune resistance to diseases.
The army manipulates fear by increasing the complexity of the exercise and the risk factors or level of danger. Fear will increase if there is less time available to complete the task or if there is a withholding of vital information from the soldier.  
Part of Outward Bound and similar organizations' responsibilities is to control this cognitive appraisal of fear in such a way as to extend one's boundaries and abilities without the limitations of past conditioning. Success leads to self-mastery, increase in self-esteem and the recognition of the restrictions we place on ourselves.
Fear as a result of past conditioning relies on memory. The use of successful strategies can lead to a reframing of the old programs that bind and limit us. Overcoming fear and stress in wilderness can be an important catalyst for self-mastery. It can lead to a greater sense of the ego-self, and with the right awareness and intention to higher states of consciousness.
The causes of fear have been labeled in various ways: superstitious and religious, loss to life or limb, organ or function, deep, dark and steep and the unknown. The most critical of all fears, however, is social or the ego. In different studies done in wilderness situations and other areas promoting stress, the social fears were the most prevalent, such as fear of holding the group back or making a fool of oneself. It is in these instances where disastrous situations can arise, e.g. hiking at high altitudes and not admitting or responding to the symptoms of high altitude sickness for fear of being a "loser."This ego driven fear can even prove fatal. 
This may be one of the reasons why the solo journey into wilderness is so powerful. When the individual is alone there is no one except nature to judge. Nature is neutral and also has its own way of humbling the ego and diminishing its significance. If we are on our own there is no reason to protect a fragile ego, and we are more able to slip out of our persona and connect with our higher Self.
The greater the perceived risk, the greater the potential for personal growth and the more lasting the effects of the experience. In other words, especially when it comes to self-mastery, no pain no gain! It is also true, however, that one can have a wilderness peak, rapture or profound transcendent experience without stress or fear being involved.
The "hard skills" type of adventure into wilderness is very much connected with fear and stress which may or may not break through into a connection with the higher Self and wilderness rapture. More likely than not, it will bolster the ego leading to an increase in self-concept, self-esteem, self-mastery and even self-awareness but not necessarily an intimate connection with the true Self of our inner being.
Endurance should not be part of the curriculum unless nature demands it spontaneously and then it can be an added bonus for transformation. Participants like to do things that matter! If a difficult river crossing presents itself and this is the only way of continuing the trek, this is different to doing the same thing as a technical exercise. Whether one is going to “make it” by the end of the day should not be an issue, so that participants can just "be" in the wilderness without having to worry about fending for themselves. With inner directed journeys it should be the responsibility of the leader to take care of the hard skills aspect of the trip and free the group energy for a more life fulfilling experience. It has been said that those with the furthest to go will gain the most and herein lies the essence of what is called "perceived risk." What feels like a life-or-death situation to one person may be a walk in the park to another. The former is likely to be far more impacted by the event than the latter. It follows that anyone can overload on fear and stress and that too much can debilitate the psyche. F.D. Roosevelt was an avid hunter and outdoor’s man until his trip to the Amazon. Apparently after this arduous ordeal he never ventured into wild places again.
My experience in wilderness has been that if one has the right intention, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," even if in the moment of the experience one is not able to see the value of the severe test. The more devastating the experience, the longer it takes to integrate. Something profound is happening at a deep unconscious level that may never be fully appreciated until later when there can be a sense of completion and knowing that this was indeed a valuable, though painful event.
It is usually the least likely candidate who contacts you years later thanking you for what he describes as one of the most profound experiences of his life. Other members of the group may just remember how taxing that individual was at the time and how he had been a detriment to everybody else’s enjoyment. 
Stress, fear and pain carry great power and more primitive cultures have understood this in evolving their rites of passage or initiation ceremonies which are also integral to the Hero/ine's journey. This first chakra "fight or flight" experience is essential for personal growth and if it is bypassed there may be a deficiency in the spectrum of self-mastery. There seem to be two dynamics; the self-mastery that occurs in the hard skills experience that is more outward and masculine, and the more transcendent experience that happens in the realm of soft skills which is more inward and feminine. Severe trials and tribulations can be encountered in a feminine, soft way and be overcome by the psyche at another level, bypassing the ego. The challenge resolved by hard skills that bolsters ego and self-esteem is always the easier one to talk about over a few beers around a campfire. The other, dealt with at a deep level in the psyche is not something we can put on the mantelpiece and boast about but it has a more profound spiritual significance.
Manipulating fear and stress during the teaching of hard skills can lead to increased self-mastery, self-concept, and self-esteem, important first steps on the path to self-actualization and eventually, possibly even Self-realization.  
Magical changes to one's being can occur in the context of fear and stress. This can also occur outside of nature such as; losing a job or a loved one or developing a critical health problem. What one does with the event and our intention and receptivity will determine whether "we turn the shit into manure"... or not.
The use of the "soft skills" will likely create an inner directed experience that puts us in touch with the transcendent where fear and stress may not necessarily participate. Candidates for inner journeys into wilderness may be less far along the path to physical mastery and less accustomed to physical ordeals than those adept in hard skills. Nevertheless, if Nature offers up her challenges of Her own accord, the effects arising out of fear and stress can be life altering.
The power of nature is such that it offers us whatever we need in that present moment. Depending on our receptivity, this can be processed in such a way as to help us on our path of personal development. In the words of The Rolling Stones: "You can't always get what you want. But if you try, you just might find, you get what you need."

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The How To’s of Wilderness Rapture or any Nature Experience where we want transpersonal change

"To achieve is to be externally oriented but to attain deeper effects we need to let go of attachment to accomplish anything. Goal orientation and rapture are mutually exclusive in the present moment. We begin with a goal but once the intention is set we need to let go of the possible outcome. This is the crux between balancing the inner and the outer."            Dave Cumes, Inner Passages Outer Journeys

In the next few weeks I will blog about the following factors that are key to an inner experience in nature - starting with - Receptivity and Intent. 
1)  Receptivity and Intent 
2)  Fear and Stress 
3)  Sacred Space and Special Environment 
4)  Connection With Metaphors, Archetypes, and Signs 
5)  Primal, Primeval, and Primitive Experiences 
6)  Humility and Subordination of the Ego 
7)  Peeling Away The Levels of Consciousness Leading to Self Awareness, Peak Experiences, or Moments of Transcendence

Receptivity and Intent 

Each individual’s search in wilderness will determine the outcome. That which we seek will be that which we receive. Action will follow intention and this will decide the result. If the idea of going into nature is to learn backpacking techniques or how to run rapids more than likely a technical experience will be all that is gained. Alternatively, if we are looking to reach a greater spiritual dimension with ourselves in the cosmos, this also will probably occur.

There have been major figures in the history of wilderness preservation in the United States including Thoreau, Muir and Leopold, who expressed themselves through the medium of
wilderness and with its help became self-actualized and possibly even Self realized.  Sages such as Moses, Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed, as well as other visionaries through the ages also used wilderness for spiritual growth and enlightenment. 
The differences in receptivity and intent among participants probably accounts for the inconsistency of results found amongst the various wilderness studies in the literature. Our own intentions and expectations are critical for any kind of adventure travel whether inner or outer directed. We should consider these well before embarking on any journey especially one with spiritual purpose.
I recall an instance when a pharmaceutical representative came into my office to talk about a new drug. While waiting she was intrigued by my book Inner Passages Outer Journeys (Wilderness, Healing and the Discovery of Self.) She borrowed the book and when she returned was very excited because she was going on a backpack trip into the Sierras and wanted to implement the principles. When I next saw her and asked how it went she expressed extreme disappointment. She had gone with a group of hikers whose expressed intention was to “make” a certain destination by a certain time and the trip had turned into an endurance trial. She arrived with them at the designated hour but with barely enough energy to collapse into her sleeping bag after a quick meal. The subsequent days were a repeat of the first. 
Anyone looking to wilderness or any destination for its transformational affects needs to be very careful of the group’s  intention and the qualities of its leader as well as other factors that will be described as we go along this blog journey. Like minded intention in the party is essential. Many of us these days are taking exotic trips or treks with the intention of self transformation. These may have a bias on shamanism, ecotourism, sacred sites and a variety of other choices. All the principles in this current blog apply just as well to these.
There is a saying, "If you don't know where you are going any road will take you there."  I would qualify this and add "if you don't know who you are going with you may end up on their journey rather than your own."