Need to Find Yourself, But Can’t Afford Bali? Do A Half Day Mini Vision Quest Instead.
I used to think that in order to change or learn something profound you needed to do something DRASTIC or costly: Take a three month sabbatical from work, go to the largest gathering of humans on earth in India, or do a three day water only fast (Oof that one was tough!)
When you undertake your mini-quest, maybe a truth will be revealed or a new crystal clear insight will arrive. You may shed some tears, surprised at the grief you have been holding. Or, maybe your sense of wonder in the world will grow.
Some people go to Spain to walk the Camino on pilgrimage. Others quit their job, leave an old relationship behind, go back to school, move across the country or separate themselves from their “old life” in some other HUGE tangible way.
Life demands so much of us and taking a little breather to seek new possibilities is powerful. If you have a strange yearning to leave the chaos of your existing life temporarily behind, why not answer the call?
I experienced some of those aforementioned adventures, and I learned much along the way. I also learned something else: It can be just as powerful to do something very simple…from right where you are.
Airline tickets and starvation are not required to receive life-shifting wisdom. You can undertake a simple day-long (or half day) mini-vision quest.
A vision quest, according to the dictionary, is, ”the ritual seeking of personal communication with the spirit world through visions that are induced by fasting, prayer, and other measures during a time of isolation.” A mini- quest is an opportunity to step away from the noise of the world and open yourself to divine guidance and aid.
Are you ready to say yes to your quest? Here’s what to do:
Mark the date in your calendar. Life is busy. You always find the time for haircuts, book club and grocery shopping and everything else, so surely you can find just one day (or just one full afternoon!) to do this! Hire the sitters. Bribe your co-workers with kegs of kombucha…do whatever it takes. Bonus: Putting it on the calendar months ahead gives you something to look forward to and the vision quest BEGINs the moment you decide you are taking one- so hold on to your hat!
Pick your spot. Is there a nature preserve nearby? Central Park or Big Sur Beach can work. Even a wild corner of your own backyard can work in a pinch. Choose a place where you won’t be bothered by anybody else and you can tune into nature and yourself. Maybe a friend has some wild land you can use. Put it out there to friends if you can’t think of a perfect spot.
Set an intention. It could be as simple as: “I want to learn.” or “Please give me a new vision for my creativity or my relationship (or whatever you need a new vision for). Alternatively, you could go out seeking an answer to a question you don’t know the answer to. The best questions to ask begin with “How…” For example, “How can I repair my marriage?” “How can I be a better father to my kids?” “How can I share my gifts with the world?”
Write your intention in a journal and bring it along. Writing the intention down anchors it…brings it into this reality. You’ll want your journal along to capture thoughts, insights and happenings. Bring colored pencils along too to sketch and draw if it feels good. Your intention may even change multiple times up until the day you quest. This is OK and perfect.
Decide how long your quest will last. Will it begin at sunrise and end at sunset? What a spectacular beginning and ending! If your spot provides you with a particularly good view of the east and/or west, take that into consideration. Or, like mine was yesterday, it could be from 11 AM to 3:00 PM so you can still get home for the kids after school. There are no rules here – just decide what feels good to you.
Pack your bag. On formal vision quests, the quester brings only a single blanket. It’s up to you. Here’s what I packed: Journal, pens, 2 tangerines, a few chia bars, a small bag of M&M’s, water, a down lap blanket, Wild Unknown Tarot cards, 2 past journals (to review) and a bunch of flowers to make a prayer mandala. Maybe you want to bring your copy of The Book of Beasties to consult. Don’t forget toilet paper! Consider the weather and bring rain gear, a sun hat, and warm layers if you’ll need them. Inspiring books of poetry or another vibe raising spiritual book that makes you feel alive can be a comfort too. Leave your phone on airplane mode. Or, better yet, disconnect altogether.
Ask for divine assistance. As you cross the threshold into your wild natural place, ask whomever you pray to and the nature spirits who dwell there—spirits of the trees, plants, stones, animals and spirits of the place: I am asking for permission to enter this place today in order to seek a new vision, please support me and help me. You can make a small offering of flower petals, tobacco or other gift to show your gratitude.
Choose your special spot. Walk slowly and mindfully to the spot you choose…or let it choose you! Open all of your senses and listen and watch for any signs. Then remain in the space that you choose —perhaps an area of 10 x 10 feet (you can leave if nature calls!). Allow yourself to simply be…curl up on your blanket and let the earth hold you and the sun warm you: write, draw, daydream, sing, rest, meditate. Welcome your feelings. Tears may come. Laugh. Invite each one in like a guest and honor it.
End your quest. When you are ready to leave, thank the land and all of the spirits who came to you to help. Place another offering of tobacco or flowers if you have brought them.
Return home. You may feel energized. You may feel exhausted. It’s good to have a simple nourishing post-quest meal pre-planned so that you don’t have to rush around. If you have quested with a friend (separately but nearby in same wild space) you could take this time to dine together and share what you experienced and discovered. Take it slow and avoid any forays into the news or other major media. Enjoy the peace that may have accumulated. Spend the evening in quiet. Perhaps take a bath to close the day.
Post-quest: integration. Now it’ time to apply what you learned- or to put your insight into action. Take a small step toward your new vision. Outline the creative project that you were inspired to launch. Take these gifts you have received forward into you life and more will come. I encourage you to share what you learned with another. It might inspire them more than you can ever know. Above all, honor yourself.
On my most recent quest, I got some clarity around “what’s next” for me creatively. I have been kicking around a few different ideas and this day brought me a sweet feeling of possibility around the project the both scares me (because I don’t yet know how to do it!) and excites me the most. I was reminded that I am the hero in my own journey and if I want to make more beautiful things I must nourish her. It was just what I needed.
When you undertake your mini-quest, maybe a truth will be revealed or a new crystal clear insight will arrive. You may shed some tears, surprised at the grief you have been holding. Or, maybe your sense of wonder in the world will grow. Warning: even the M&M’s can taste better in the wild and you may find you keep coming back . If it seems like nothing happens…be curious and observe your experience of yourself and the world over the next several days.
Whatever happens, I can promise you that you will be changed by your time in the wild.