I talked at the end of the Immersion about how an Immersion- particularly in the 6-day format- is a rite of passage in many ways. (For those of you who do not know- rites of passage, initiation and so forth were the topic of my Master's Thesis.) Anyway, across cultures rites of passage have several things in common:
1. There is severance with the ordinary world, with the ordinary, mundane, day-to-day existence we call "normal life."
2. In the Vision Quest ceremony, the initiate actually calls out for a vision and states very clearly to themselves and the Universe that they want Higher Knowledge. They ask for it in a formalized, ritualized way.
3. There are trials, tribulations- externally or internally- where the initiate faces their mortality. Where they have a near-death experience or- if it is internal, actually may die to something that is part of the old life.
4. There is a scarification process. Typically the initiate is in some way marked, branded (like as in getting a tattoo or something- to signify to themselves and others that they are no longer who they were. Something significant has occurred and that they are accountable to live the change.
5. There is a return into the community. Part of this return is that they share their vision. The idea was never that the vision was for the seeker alone but it was for the community. One person's work on his or her self is for the benefit of the community in which they live.
So it occurs to me that when we get on a plane and go somewhere for a training, or when the training is in our home town and we arrange our life so that we can participate in it, we enter into an age-old process of initiation.
(1) We, to greater or lessor degrees, sever our ties with the mundane world and enter Immersion World. Many people travelled great distances to be there this last week but even if you just came from across town, this was not an ordinary 6-days. Every morning and Every afternoon we go into the field of initiation. It is like chamber or sometimes we call it a crucible. It is Sacred Space.
(2) We contemplate big ideas, we ask ourselves what we long for, what our vision is and we invoke the help of Grace in seeing ourselves more clearly. We write, we talk, we discuss and we put this questioning into our bodies through our asana. Every time we chant, we are calling out for the Highest Vision of who we are to be brought forward.
(3) And there are trials and tribulations. At least once in a week, on some level, we feel as though we might die. We come face to face with what must die inside of us for us to realize who we most truly are.
(4) And we are changed forever. And whether or not we get a tattoo to commemorate the change, we have tokens, mementos and imprints on our heart that remind us, if we allow them to, that we shifted, we expanded and we stretched in new ways towards our capacity.
(5) And we return to our lives. Changed, inspired and renewed, sobered by the responsibility it is to have a vision of Light in a world full of darkness. We return, humbled by the good fortune it is to have great company when so many are lonely and grateful to have teachings and teachers to guide us when so so many people are lost. And we endeavor, in our unique way, in our individual spheres of influence, to share the light, to create authentic communities, to offer the teachings to those who want them.
And so the Immersion really never ends. We are initiated into a life of service that stands on a commitment to becoming who we really are. What I think I love most about teaching Immersions is that I enter that transformational field every time along with everyone else. These trainings work on me in the same way they work on the participants and every time, I shift, I grow, I assess, I face my shortcomings, I assert my truth and I am forever changed by the process and by the group.
And there is no other thing I would rather be doing with my life.