1) What inspired you to get into this work?
I had been dating someone who struggled with addiction and when things ended I confronted how this relationship mimicked my family dynamic around alcoholism. I took myself off of the dating scene and wanted to examine why I had brought this familiar pattern back into my life.
I had a few very close friends, two of whom were priests, who introduced me to a therapist they trusted. My friends quite cleverly did not tell me about the medicine part! A bit sneaky! After a few therapy sessions, the therapist mentioned that he worked with plant medicines, and asked me if I would be interested. I was absolutely horrified! I had suffered from my own addiction problems, with crystal meth, in the early 1990s, and this sounded like a pathway back into that dark place. However, after talking with my friends and exploring this path with the therapist, I overcame my fear and fully trusted them. The medicine soon became a tool in my development process over a twelve-year period, starting in 2008.
The impact that it had on me as a client, and the conscious community that I found myself involved in afterwards, offered the possibility of a completely different way of living life. When I decided that I might want to offer this work to people, I connected with Paul, who had a training scheduled for the next month! It all happened very fast!
2) What’s one of the most profound lessons you have received from the sacrament?
The medicine helped me to develop deep compassion for myself and for others. It allowed me to be gentler with myself and allowed me to let go of so many things that, I began to realize, in the end, don’t really matter all that much. In one early journey, I got in touch with how deeply I didn’t think I belonged here. I don’t mean suicidal. I mean I just didn’t belong. In this work, I learned to trust and have faith that I belong in this world and that I have a place in this world, and that I have something to contribute.
3) How has this work deepened your relationship with Self/Source?
This work has allowed me to see that I am part of the majesty and the grandeur of life, of the universe, of every living thing. I am made of it, part of it, that we are all part of this miracle of life. I’ve had the profound experience of floating on this orb, teaming with life, in the vast void of space, in this infinite universe, and that we all belong here. That we are all part of ALL of it. Yes we are a piece of it. But we are also ALL of it. We are meant to be here. We are home.
4) What is one of your favorite ways to help people prep for or integrate their ceremonial experiences?
I think having people really slow down is of utmost importance for both preparation and integration. I mean really, really, really slow down. Sometimes I offer this by inviting them into a meditation or having them sit in stillness. But mostly, It is important for ME to slow down as their Minister. Bringing the tempo down. I have to hold the space of presence and just being. Most of us are “do machines”. Our culture demands constant productivity. It really takes something for most of us to intervene in this doingness, this busyness.
Sometimes I intervene in their stories and slow down their pace. I will reflect back to them what I heard by saying “What I hear you saying is this…” Part of this is just holding space for them. Bookmarking. Having us both take note, stop, and just look. “Oh, that is what you are seeing…oh…ok, let’s just sit with that for a minute.”
During integration, I try to find gentle transitions from the tender experience they had in the ceremonial space to where the “rubber meets the road” in their everyday lives. How does this insight you had in your journey get expressed in your life? How does it get manifested in your life? This is more of a coaching role and a counseling role. It is a delicate balance to find structures to bring to their lives that enliven and inspire, without it being just another “to do” on their already too-long list of “to dos”.
At the end of the day, I am helping to bring more sacredness into my member’s lives where they can deeply connect with their true selves. So much of what we do in our everyday lives is not connected to the sacred, so my work is to help them find that out in the world. Part of this deepening is available in the community, to be with others as you work through your process with kindred folks. When you go back out into the real world, that is not typically not what you are walking back into. How can we bring a little bit of our new selves and express it to others in community?
5) What’s your favorite medicine journey track?
Yo Yo Ma’s collaboration with Ennio Marricone. Lady Caliph: Dinner
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