Talk about wild! Granted I am fortunate enough to go to a university as cool as Naropa which is based in Eastern Buddhist philosophy, but the graduate program I’m in is right up the ally of where we are heading as a global collective- Resilient Leadership: A mergence between Sustainability and Social Justice. What makes me even luckier is I am set with some of the coolest people on Earth in my cohort. It’s 10 of us and not to sound too proud, but we are all pretty phenomenal human beings.
Going on a wilderness solo with these 11 amazing souls along with our professor, a volunteer and two deaf interpreters was a real delight. This is a photo of us right when we got to the 188 acres of private land off the boarder of Wetmore in a private reserve called Stillpoint. Stillpoint was cultivated by a spiritual leader named Gia-fu Feng. He’s no longer on this realm but he truly made the space an authentic healing center that is full of history and abundant with life and an ever still presence of deep peace.
We were up for whatever Mother Nature wanted to deliver. For the majority of the 8 days we were predominantly together and sleeping in tents. We were really off the grid and were required to leave our phones in the cars and away from us. We immersed ourselves in ceremony, nutritious food, meditating, conscious moments, and experienced just being as we indulged in the energy of Mother Nature and this sacred land. We spent time hiking and scoping out our spots for our individual solos. By the 2nd night after going into ceremony, we began to go into silence. This was to prepare us for our actual solo where we would really be in the wilderness alone. Talk about wild! The solo portion is something that only 5% of the world has actually done or would even consider doing. We were to spend 3 days solo amongst bears, mountain lions, deer and other forms of wildlife without the comfort of a tent but rather sleeping with just a tarp. I have never felt so terrified yet connected to Mother Nature in my life as I did during this intimate experience with her intelligent and guiding ways. It was a very personal and revolutionary process for all of us on a spiritual level. We walked in with intent. Most of us with the intent to let something go while choosing to bring something in. We all knew that we were about to walk through a threshold and a part of us would never be the same again.
The first day of the solo was pretty logistical. It consisted of setting up the tarp, hammock and getting the rope right. For a girl like me who’s from Miami and has never gone camping before it was like going from zero to 100. Luckily they showed us how to tie a truckers knot and these technical tools to be prepared for the wilderness.
I’m grateful I had my shamanic drum with me to keep me company while I journeyed and remained receptive to messages and visions.
I’m not going to lie, my first night on the solo, really every night was a bit scary. I knew I was in foreign territory where the land was inhabited by wild animals and nonliving entities.
By the second day/night of our solo, it rained. Water got all inside of my tent and on my sleeping bag, drenched all of my socks, you get the picture? It was tough because we were recommended to fast to go deeper into the full experience of a vision quest. This experience definitely felt like an initiation of some sort as it was extremely difficult.
The rain felt like a test to make us all stronger in a fashion. I felt great humility going through that experience knowing that this is how some homeless people have to live their lives. I began to feel grateful knowing that Mother Nature was there with me and protecting me because God knows, anything could have happened out there.
I heard grunts every single night of my solo but I did not bother to look outside of my tarp to see what that might be nor did I want to. I knew that I moved into foreign land for a few days and it was the wild. I felt grateful for every minute that I was able to stay asleep during the night. It was honestly very intense and I went through every emotion possible.
By the 3rd day on our solo, the sun came out and it was by far one of the best days I’ve had this year! It truly felt like a rebirthing of some sort. I laid out all of my wet things, basically everything, for the sun goddess to dry it all. I let my body soak up the rays as I laid out on my yoga mat and welcomed in my new self as I truly felt reborn after the long initiation night of being rained on.
I found myself playing amongst the butterflies, the spiders, the bees, the moths, the creek, the flowers, the rocks- I simply felt connected! I even got my moon this day which was 12 days earlier than my normal cycle but I embraced it all as I felt so in tuned with Mother Nature. I found that all of a sudden I was moving to her flow. I felt like my soul was basking in its infinite beauty emanating from within and shining bright like light.
I laid and laid and soaked up every ounce of the sun hoping the day would last longer but eventually dusk came and I knew that my last day on the solo would be coming to an end by the morning. The next morning would be the beginning of my 2nd to last day there. When I awoke and said goodbye to my solo spot, I was saddened to leave my new home I got to formally know over the course of the past few days but I also felt excited for the new. The new sense of self I have been gifted after going through my own initiation process guided and accompanied by Mother Nature Herself. I found that on my way back to the group I got lost in the woods for about an hour. Although that was scary for me as I kept feeling like something was watching me, a part of me felt like I was supposed to stay there and like nature did not want me to leave its side.
Luckily two of my classmates were sent to come look for me. When we all got back together, it was so wonderful to see everyone’s face looking so rejuvenated and their energy anew. I instantly felt more bonded to them all knowing that we all just endured and survived through really wild conditions over the past 3 days and we all returned okay.
One student who has been working in wildlife for years and is familiar with wildlife had an encounter with a black bear sticking its nose inside of his tarp. Luckily he was used to bears and can handle things like that. As much as I am dying to see a black bear, and as cool as I thought that was, I do not want to see one while I am alone sleeping in the wild in just a tarp!
In our final days we reconvened with ceremony and sharing of our personal experiences. I think all in all, everyone gained something special and mystical from their experiences. An initiation to say the least and a transformational rebirth through self-revelation to say the most. In my opinion, this experience was priceless and life altering. I now have a more profound and deep respect for sacred lands with ancestral history and nonliving beings.
Since the solo I have been trying to take it easy. I haven’t really had a choice. I believe this experience was so sacred and revered so much truth that only good could have come from this experience. I’ve been doing a lot of yoga, resting, meditating; journaling. I have been needing to stay home and take it easy because all of my bodies are asking for it, for me to be introspective right now. My mental, spiritual, physical and emotional body all feel like they just went through one heck of a ride. Even though in the midst of it, it all seemed so simple and as though not much was happening.
This is a beautiful thing about nature. When we can appreciate Her for what She brings as an entity, She teaches us. She will move through us in ways that we may have never suspected, but hey, it’s Mother Nature after all.
If you get the opportunity to go on a wilderness solo, vision quest, backpacking or anything connecting you to nature in this deep regard, I’d suggest to go for it as open as you can. Connect with Her with an openness that will allow nature to connect with you in unimaginable ways. She will teach you things beyond your wildest imagination.