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don Miguel Ruiz



Musings of an Awakening Spirit

Stories, poetry & general musings of Rebecca Haywood, a modern-day Shaman with a penchant for bringing the divine into the human experience.

Rebecca's Memoir - Chapter 2

I remember the first time I sat and gazed into her eyes in that tiny healing room in San Diego, California.  Like the room, her little body didn’t seem big enough to produce the amount of light radiating from her presence.  I recognized her eyes instantly.  They accompanied my dreams on many a cold night in the previous Vermont Winter:  A mirror reflecting not the young face of my youth, but the sun-worn skin of an old woman with deeply intense eyes.  And each night, the same eyes filled with light becoming beams of light that penetrated and overwhelmed my senses until I startled myself awake, once again.  But this was no sleeping vision.  I was wide awake, sitting across from the teacher I had unknowingly set out to find.  

Being a Shaman, Mother Sarita touched every cry for mystery within me and though at first I couldn’t understand the passionate prayers of her native Spanish language, she welcomed me in as if I were a grandchild returned from a long journey.  “Where have you been mija?”  Her son translated.  “I have been waiting for you!”  She said, chastising me with a loving slap on my knee.  “You have much to learn and we don’t have much time.  I will die at the age of ninety.”  She announced matter-of-factly, as if Death had come and told her himself.  

Little did I know that Sarita had regular conversations with what she called “The Angel of Death” and as it was later shown, had great persuasion over this Death character.  So much so, that she would delay her own death for another ten years.  Yes, I had much to learn from Sarita and though I would have the next ten years to do it, the ever-presence of Death was a constant theme and a great motivator.

One of the first deaths I encountered was absolute surrender.  I had to give myself over, not just to Sarita, but to the great unknown.  I was taking a huge leap off the beaten path that most humans tread and this was both overwhelming and incredibly exciting.

It began before I met Sarita, but it was this leap that led me to her doorstep.  It was the summer of my sophomore year at the University of Vermont.  I had taken a job as a Caretaker for the Green Mountain club.  My post was Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak of Vermont’s Green Mountain range.  I was to spend the summer living solo at Taft Lodge, tucked into the mountainside a half mile below the summit. 

One of my duties was called “Sunset Check” in which I would ascend the peak and ensure that no one was attempting to camp on the fragile alpine tundra.  In fact, I was instructed to send everyone down the mountain before sunset.  So this meant that I had the entire summit and its’ breathtaking views to myself – and I soaked in every moment of it.  

Each night I would sit in silence and meditate with the setting sun.  I hadn’t any prior experience with mediation, so I just did whatever inspired me.  Slowing my breath seemed to relax my body and allowed me to put my attention into my mind which I also tried to relax and breathe the space of silence between each thought.  

At the time, I thought that the intent of meditation was to quiet the mind, so I began to slow my thoughts, allowing each to move across the viewfinder of my mind.  If it was a negative thought, I would tell it to “roll away” and if it was positive, I would say “fly on” and let it go.  Each night I made this practice until the sun’s last glow slipped beyond the horizon.  

Then the second phase of my practice would begin.  In the darkness of night, I would navigate my way down the steep trail, challenging myself to shed my reliance on eyesight.  The more I let go of seeing, the more I saw.  I would actually feel myself expand as my other senses heightened.  In that expansion I began to perceive the world around me as if it were inside of me and the scope of “me” seemed to be widening as well.

It went on this way for a couple of months, my meditations deepening each night.  Then one day as I neared the top, I heard a voice.  It seemed to come both from within me and all around me and its’ power shook me to the core.  All it said was “You must do this now.”  

I knew exactly what it meant—that I must commit myself to a spiritual path—and yet my mind had been struck silent.  My body whirled and struggled to find its’ legs.  I slowly made my way up the last rocky crags of the precipice, not even noticing that for the first time, the summit was completely void of people.  I crumbled into a heap on the warm rock and tears poured out of my eyes, flowing from every emotion within me.  I felt myself free-falling through a great unknown, moving farther and farther from the familiar.  At some point, I found myself again and the mind returned with decisive instructions.  Even though they did not make sense to me and in many ways terrified me, I knew that I must follow them.  

In a sense, I died that day -the first of many deaths to come.  Though I didn’t know it, I was saying goodbye to everything I knew and surrendering myself into the unknown.  But it is within the unknown that we access our pure potential and become completely available to life’s invitations.  Sarita would be one of the greatest invitations of all and each instruction that I received that day on the mountain was a preparation for the force, called Mother Sarita.

Rebecca's Memoir - Chapter 3
Rebecca's Memoir - Chapter 1

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