I found myself in the Andean highlands with a small group of pilgrims, getting ready to do huachuma (known in Spanish as San Pedro), a visionary plant medicine that is one of Peru’s master healers. (Haven’t read part 1 yet? Go here)
In June, I went to Peru for a few weeks to do a spiritual retreat in the Andes, for which the current euphemism seems to be “working with plant medicine.”
Today is Rosh Hashana, the beginning of the year according to the Jewish calendar, when a ram’s horn is blown to announce the possibility to begin again.
As we start off a new year — some of us with bigger-than-life dreams and plans — I’m reminded to keep it simple. In my yoga classes and coaching sessions, I often encourage folks to tone down their expectations. Because I think “letting go of expectations or desired outcomes” doesn’t pass the bullsh*t test, I opt to suggest two percent shifts. If you feel two percent less sh*tty after class than before, then you’ve got something to work with.
“The end of a melody is not its goal: but nonetheless, had the melody not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable.” — Friedrich Nietzsche There are all kinds of endings, and my life has been playing a variation of many of these themes for the past few weeks.
Often, life seems to be at a standstill for a long, long time. and then change comes quickly, unexpected. In the summer heat, it’s hard to imagine the turning of the season, but there it is, on a single sheet with a big eye that sees all. This leaf fell for me to find on the day I found out a friend had died. I was in the midst of a two-week training in the Berkshires with a relentless schedule — up before 5:30 daily, the last class of the day ending at 9 each night. We were close to 60 in a room not designed for so many, and though the teachers astounding in their knowledge and care, my energy would shift wildly, my mind and body easily saturated in that compressed time and space.
I am going through a period of not having much to say. Not just poetically, although that too. Politically, I feel like I am in a period of deep observation, not to the point of disengagement, more like I am sitting under a weeping willow in a soft rain, dry and listening to the drops drum down overhead. It’s not the silence in which so many of our voices have been kept insignificant for centuries.