Category: Animals & Pets

The Wake Up badger

Not long ago I engaged in a shamanic journey with the intention of meeting my power animal. I was and still consider myself completely new to the practice of journeying. Although I may have a theoretical understanding through my exposure to the teachings of many Sounds True authors, my direct experience in this area is pretty limited. Since direct experience is what it’s purportedly all about in shamanic journeying, I decided to see for myself what it was like.

I was not disappointed. In the journey I voyaged back in time to a tree house my childhood friends and I had built—an impressive if not altogether hazardous tri-level construction of scrap plywood, crates, and anything we could find to nail together. I traveled to a tunnel beneath the tree house and met a squirrel, who beckoned me to follow him down a long path. At the end of the path a large badger awaited me, nodded, and then I simply followed the squirrel back above ground. End of journey.

Fast forward to Sounds True’s first Wake Up Festival, where I took great advantage of the challenging yet beautiful 18-hole disc golf course. During one round, a particularly good drive fell near a dark hole in the middle of the fairway. As we approached to take the next shot, what should block our way but a large and agitated badger—the first I’d seen in the wild despite years of camping throughout the country. The badger was not going to let us retrieve my disc, which sat just six feet away from it (and only 25 feet from the basket—it was a birdie opportunity!). After some coaxing, the badger finally returned to its lair, allowing us to finish play.

I didn’t see the Wake Up Badger as I called him during later frolf rounds throughout the Festival, but I think someone’s trying to tell me something…

Badger

 

Buzz on, buzz off

While visiting a friend in Denver last summer, I was amazed to see in her front garden hundreds of honey bees dancing in the perfect dusk light. Luckily, I had my awesome new high-tech pro digital SLR camera with me.

“Ha!” I thought, “Finally a chance to use this baby’s rapid-fire, super auto-focus, image-optimizing, mega-sensor, anti-shake, bla-bla BADass-ness!”

Among photographers, the sure sign of an amateur is a behavior called “chimping”—bobbing your head obsessively from viewfinder to LCD screen to see if you got the shot. Well, I was chimpin’ like a National Geographic fanboy (oh wait, I AM a NatGeo fanboy). Anyway, half an hour and about 200 shots later, I did not have the perfect apiary masterwork. I had a camera full of blurry and out-of-frame bugs.

When I visited my friend again the next week, all the bees were gone, except for a few late summer stragglers. And it was gloomy overcast. And all I had in my bag this time was an old film camera—the kind that you have to focus and crank by hand and then apply “percussive maintenance” (i.e., smack hard) just to get the light meter working.

And there were exactly three shots left on the roll.

“Forget it,” I thought, “nature photography is for wussies.”

But the next thing I knew, the ancient Nikon was in my hand.

clickity click click!

Cut to one month later. I’m standing at the drugstore photo counter, and in ye olde-school stack of 4-by-6’s (remember “prints?”), this appeared:

Andrew Young Photography

If you’re not impressed, okay fine. But I was. Not by any proof of my artistic prowess, but by what I learned.

Am I about to wax scholastic about master street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment?” Or reflect on the Tibetan teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s love for miksang, photography as dharma art? Nope, though both luminaries came to mind. What did in fact leave an impression were these thoughts:

1. When I realize that each frame in my camera—or day in my life—is precious, I get MUCH more out of each one.

2. All those restless hours of meditation practice and shoeboxfuls of crappy contact sheets may have led to a mastery that shows up, when it matters, as effortless flow.

3. Between the two poles that I call “intense concentration” and “effortless awareness” lies the vast majority of my life’s geography, and that I might want to enjoy the scenery regardless of the mode I’m in.

4. I am SO done with insect photography. No, really. Bugs are disgusting.

Okay, your turn. Was there a time when your years of practice paid off, effortlessly and unexpectedly? If so, do post a comment, I’d love to hear about it.

Bronwen Stiene: Reiki as a Spiritual Path

Tami Simon speaks with Bronwen Stiene, who teaches the system of Reiki in Asia, North America, and Europe, and cofounded Australia’s International House of Reiki with her husband, Frans. Bronwen is the author of four books, including The Reiki Sourcebook and The Japanese Art of Reiki, and with Sounds True has created the audio program Reiki Meditations for Self-Healing. In this episode, Tami speaks with Bronwen about some of the central myths surrounding the practice of Reiki, the importance of grounding, how Reiki works when used with animals, and what Reiki has to teach us about opening right now to whatever is needed most in our lives. (62 minutes)

Like a Tree

Tami Simon speaks with Jean Shinoda Bolen, an author, Jungian analyst, and clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. In her writing, Jean draws from spiritual, feminist, Jungian, medical, and personal wellsprings of experience. She is the author of Goddesses in Every Woman, The Tao of Psychology, and her latest audio book from Sounds True, Like a Tree. In this heartfelt and inspiring conversation, Tami speaks with Jean about our sacred relationship with trees and the wisdom they have to offer, what it might mean to “circumambulate the self,” and how we can discover our “assignment” in the world. (64 minutes)

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