A teaching story from an elder NorthwestPacific Native to the child about to take the journey into the thick woodslands.
The question: What do I do when I’m lost in the forest, lost in this transition in life? How do I find my way?
David Wagoner’s response:
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
I go back to this poem any time I’m in transition (often) which can be an exciting and unnerving place. I also refer to this poem when I’m feeling stuck, lost, or confused. In all of these circumstances I have the tendency to want to fix it, do more, and busy myself.
Here I’m reminded: STAND STILL. LISTEN. No need to fix. No need to be anyone other than I am, be anywhere other than I am, or try to make a situation other than it is. Instead listen, hear, see, and pay fierce attention to the world.
Listening to something other than ourselves allows us the possibility to receive guidance from the world, to see with greater perspective, opportunities, and creativity. Instead of repeating the same patterns, we make room to grow and follow the right path.
How to stop and listen?
Read first- then try
1) Close your eyes.
2 ) Take a breath. Feel your breath. Is it long, short, expansive, in your chest or your belly, is it sweet? Is there a rhythm? Does it change when you observe it?
3) Can you feel any emotion anywhere in your body? How does it move? How does it feel?
4) If I lost you here- smile…. to pay attention to your inner world- or outer world takes fierce attention and repetitious returns.
5) Open your eyes and gaze softly at the world around you. What do you see, hear, or feel? Stand still.
What is real, is always moving, transforming, and evolving. You must pay attention… listen.