Fasting in the Woods

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My friend @technekai and I always go on crazy adventures.

She suggested we go on a “vision quest” in the New Jersey Pine Barrens this year. I did not read the fine print and ended up spending 108 hours in a 10-foot circle surrounded by shrubby oaks, blueberry bushes, and pitch pines with no food and 4 gallons of water.

I logged my experience in 70 journal pages and counting, but I find it challenging to articulate what I did and how I changed.

Here are some reflections:

I don’t want a frappuccino

Our first stop after the ques was a Starbucks in Ocean Township New Jersey.

I looked at the pictures of frappuccinos and thought how delicious it would be to have a crushedwith sugar and – and with caffegone I had done without sugar and caffeine for at least two weeks.

Suddenly I felt this not for me. The frappuccino is not for me. I was offered all these options that look so appealing, but I didn’t want any of them.

The world gives us many options and tries to sell us them. But these options are not for us. We don’t want them.

Seeing with my heart

I would sit in the morning and watch the birds as they drifted down from the top of the pitch pines like leaves on the wind.

In my nonduality practice, I observe without labeling. For example, I watch a bird but do not label it a bird, or watch a leaf without calling it a leaf. I want to label and analyze everything, so this practice is hard.

To shift out of an analytic mode, I look with my heart. I set my intention in my chest and feel out – not look out. To feel with the heart. It to feel it is not to think. What does it feel like to be with a lover, a child, or an old friend?

Listening to nature is relational not analytic.

Mirrors

“Mirror mirror on the wall who’s the fairest one of all.’ said the evil queen in the Snow White fairy tYou cannot escape yourself when

You cannot escape yourself when you are in a 10-foot circle in the woods. All of nature is a mirror and just like in the fairy tale, the mirror does not always show you what you expect.

I had a hand mirror that I used for my twice-a-day tick check. One day I looked in the mirror and found a tick on my upper thigh. I should not have needed a mirror to see the tick – it was in plain sight. But I could only see the tick in the mirror.

If we see with our eyes, tools help reorient us.

What does it mean?

I will not spend my life on a vision quest in the woods. I have a family, a job, an artistic practice, and a community. But I wonder, what is my relationship with nature and with technology? The dichotomy seems bright to me; maybe everything is natural, but not everything is nature.

Right now, I have more questions than answers, but I have an open space inside that I don’t feel compelled to fill with false desires.