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Shaman's Walk

earth practices for everyone

Coyote teaches native earth practices,
and also intertwines relevant commentaries


My teacher, who's medicine name is Coyote, tells me that real experience only happens in the Silence. So I should remain in the Silence, and most of our walk would be in silence. But at times, he would have to talk in order to teach me. Still, during his talking, I should remain in silent listening, not just to him but to the surrounding nature as well. “This will be a walk and talk,” he said, “but I'm only talking in order to teach.” I was welcome to later on ask questions, but while he spoke it was best for me to remain silently listening and in a walking meditation with the earth.

He also explained that these shamanic earth practices would not be taught in an exact step-by-step manner. As he explained, it is best to first understand the general principles and then one can make the practices more real for oneself, rather than merely follow one particular instruction as in many books. His first teaching was about the importance of real self practice, as in giving it all a try, rather than merely reading about such things in books or accumulating a lot of intellectual information about shamanic or native earth wisdom.

Less talk, more practice

Real experience in nature is rare. Real experience requires patience, silence, openness, and effort as well. This effort is called practice, or even could be called work. Mostly though, this effort or work is to free oneself from conditioned habits of mind, attitude and perception. The effort is subtle; but it has to be with consciousness and intention. You can't get anywhere in these teachings unless you put in the effort and practice. But also, you can't get anywhere if you cannot first be quiet and receptive in nature. All of the practices require this at least. So the first step has to be quietness, both outward and inward.

Many so-called spiritual type people are content with reading more books, hearing the latest channeling, going to more lectures, or sitting around and talking about spiritual things, as though the spiritual path was all about the next new idea. But ask them to practice something and they'll find some excuse, or they'll go on to study and talk about something else.

I'll just tell you, honestly, that you have to make very definite efforts. Otherwise, you really won't get anywhere on the Path. This Way is not a talk. It is a walk. You can talk about things. You can think about these things, yet thinking is just self-talk. But finally you need to walk your talk. And nobody else can do it for you.

Anyone can take a walk. Millions of people walk in magnificent natural places, but how many have a real experience? Mostly they walk and talk, and the talking dominates the walk. Or else they are so concerned with taking the next picture, that they look at every landscape of nature as the next picture to snap; so they seldom take a moment to really see anything or give time to really feel.

Many people walk in natural places and through special places in nature, but most people have a habit of always talking. Or if not talking, they are thinking, which is simply talking to yourself. And what do people usually talk about? They talk about either what happened in the past or about what could be in the future. They talk about everything but the present moment. They talk outside of the moment and outside of the place. I remember once going on a nature walk with a group of very nice people, but they talked all the time. Hardly anyone seemed to really see or hear things. They were mostly aware in their talking, yet little aware of the surrounding environment, and not at all aware of any subtle energies and presences.

Make less talk and more walk. Make your walk a practice to intensely experience and commune with nature, and even to communicate with the spirits of nature – which are all around us.

So in the shaman's walk we mostly we walk in silence, even if with other companions, because we are here in nature to both enjoy and practice. We are not here walking in order to talk. Now there is nothing wrong with going on a walk with someone and talking away, because a nature walk can be a great way to socialize and meet people. But the shaman's walk has a different purpose, so we don't talk too much. Talking about things is not the same as real experience. Talk is only to give your mind a practical understanding of the work you need to do yourself. I can give you the talk, and I may even be able to lead you into some understandings, but I cannot do for you what you must do yourself. I cannot do the walk for you.

If we do talk, it should be talk about the present moment or about the place we are in, or about our present experience. There is no imposed rule on these walks that everyone has to always be quiet, but the general rule of thumb is that any talk should be present-moment talk, rather than talk that is outside of the present moment and place. So if you see something interesting or beautiful, then point it out. Or if you see a cougar waiting to pounce on us from above, then point it out. Please do. If you want to share something about what you see or hear or smell, then say it. If you want to share what you are now experiencing, then say it. This is present moment talk, which is alright.

But if your mind starts thinking about something that happened in the past or yesterday, then just shut up, and in your own mind just let go of this kind of thinking. Save it for some other time. Or if you think of something that could happen in the future, then don't bother me with it, unless you are certain that it is absolutely important in our journey.

In other words, just stay in the present moment. And stay aware both outwardly and inwardly. If you want to share what you sense or feel or experience in this moment, then yes I'm interested. But I'm not interested in what you did some years ago, nor what you think will happen tomorrow or next year. I'm not interested in mental chatter, nor in social chatter.

Yet, on any shaman walk, there might be time for philosophical talk. As long as there are definite times for silent practice, it is ok for there to be some times of philosophy or even silliness and jokes. In fact, on this walk I will sometimes get talking philosophically, but I will be making a special effort to keep this to a minimum, because our main purpose on this walk is for me to teach you the earth practices, and to also give time for you to practice and experience these. And of course, I will have to talk enough about the practices, so that you might get it. So on a teaching walk, the teacher has to talk more than usual. But I too will need to practice intentional silence and keep my talk minimal.

What I'm sharing with you is a real spiritual discipline and it involves self-efforts. We call it work, but it doesn't have to be thought of as work. Think of it as play. It is an applied effort, but it can always be fun. It is a way to explore, so think of it as a wonderful exploration, of yourself and of life around you.

This is what you must take responsibility for. Only you can do these practices or this work. If you don't, then nothing real in this Way will ever happen for you. The moment you take responsibility for doing a practice, or re-orienting yourself to nature in new way, then a whole range of possibilities open up. Basically you need to be committed to a self-transformation, a new way of being, or a new way of relating in the world. Then you need to do what is necessary in this commitment.

Part of what happens along the Medicine Way is inaugurated by the elements of nature or by Great Spirit, or perhaps by a medicine teacher or shaman; yet the most important part must be initiated by you. In fact, your part in this new relationship must come first. You need to make some self-effort at expanding your awareness, increasing your sensitivity, and attuning to the greater elements and spirits of nature.

But what you will have to remember occasionally is that your habits of mind and ego may start to get in the way. So the work is to overcome these habits and not let them hold you back. There may be resistance from the mind and ego. These become challenges. The way through these resistances is not to fight them head on, but to first observe them as they arise and second to keep your persistence in the practice. Eventually, what seems as effort becomes effortless, and what may seem as discipline becomes a joyful play. The resistances begin to dissolve as you begin to enjoy the practices.

So now we'll walk in silence and practice being fully awake in the moment and to all that is around. First become fully aware of the natural ecology and beauty that's all around us. Then later on, we'll start to practice being aware of subtle energies and spirit. Also, be aware of the clarity of your mind as you walk, and if any 'thought scenarios' start going on in your mind, then quickly let it go, in order to return to a mental clarity with minimal thought. Thought scenarios are little conversations or stories that sometimes go on in our mind, and these become distractions from really being present in the here and now. So don't drift off into an inner thought conversation, as so many people do, and if you discover that you've been thought-drifting for awhile, then slap your face. That'll wake you up! On this path of learning you need to be tough at times. Enjoy, but also keep developing self-discipline – which means to gain some mastery over your own mind. Don’t let your habits of thought determine your experience. There is much more possible to experience in these walks, if you can master your own mind and eliminate stupid mental habits. Also, keep your intention strong every step of the way. Your intention is to be free of ordinary cultural habits and other mental habits, and instead to have real and extraordinary experiences in the natural world.

Coyote stopped talking, and I was not about to say anything. We walked in silence and because we had made this agreement, it gave me a sense of freedom to just be aware of the surroundings and to let go of thinking.

Return to the earth

You are not fully present, even if you think you are. You're not fully here. I can see that you are not. You're just part here, but much of your consciousness is still in your head, drifting from thought to thought. People think they are present here on earth, but most people are lost in their head – lost in their thinking. But thinking is not what makes life real, and what you think is not the real. You're only here and your life is only real, when your mind and heart is fully present in this real world of nature.

You think you are here on earth. You probably even think you are already consciously connected with the earth. But you aren't. You're not fully present and you are not fully here on earth. Much of you, that is, much of your consciousness, is floating about like some disincarnated entity. Notice where your consciousness is. Is it in your mind, in your feelings, in your body, or just spaced out and uncentered anywhere?

Where are you? You are in an illusionary world of your mind. You think you are here and awake, but I can see that you are not. So my act of goodwill for you is to help you get here and wake up. Hey, wake up! I can yell at you to be awake, but for you to really awaken and get here will require more on your end of responsibility.

When I was a beginner, my teacher would often say to me, 'you need to get here.' Conscious breath and grounding practices will help you get more here and become in true attunement with the Earth Mother. Then you might truly experience who you truly are. You then know the greater you, the greater self, which is the Earth being. This is the return to the earth, the return to our true nature, to our true self. It is a return to the Mother, but it's not a return to pre-consciousness. What I mean is that we are naturally born from the Mother, and we all have an innate connection to the earth Mother.

This earth connection is at first unconscious. Then we begin to develop a personal consciousness, related to our personal power centre. This is what psychologists call the development of ego. It is part of the natural process of spiritual growth. Yet the average person, no matter what age, is like a teenager still celebrating their personal separation from the mother. Individuality is a wonderful gift of Great Spirit, and in its first stages it demands a kind of rebellion from collective unity.

But the ego, the personal self-knowing and will, must re-unite with the Mother Earth and with the greater circle of life. This return can and ought to be a conscious return, so that the personal consciousness is not completely destroyed but is actually expanded by the return. So, by way of a conscious return to the greater life, a greater sense of our self and understanding of our self is realized, and also our personal will is more in harmony with the collective Nature.

So one of the purposes of these practices is to enter into a larger experience of our being, and to be conscious in life with more intensity, more completeness, and more love. And in order to do this, the the self-ego, which is our usual self identity and sense of who we are, needs to surrender itself into the unity of nature, rather than maintain a self-boundary between nature or struggle against it. In this way, one is returning to unity, but not an unconscious return to unity. The experience is intensely conscious. Consciousness is then more expansive, not diminished.

All of this can be understood intellectually, but more important is the actual experience. It's a whole person experience – involving your feelings, sensitivity and whole body. Spiritual realization is not just a head experience. It is an energy experience, involving the body, the feelings, the breath, and consciousness. In this complete Way, we come into an energetic, vital, and sensitive realization of spirit. We realize the full unity of spirit right here in our earth life, in our bodies, and through our breath. We are not trying to transcend the earth or the body. We are realizing the absolute spirit pervading throughout all life, all earth, and eventually becoming one with the spiritual mind and heart of the earth.

Remember that the earth is who you are. That is what you will finally realize. In a greater sense, the whole infinite universe is who you are, yet it should not be forgotten that we are here to realize our earth nature, which of course is a reflection of the whole universe. Our divine purpose is here on earth. We can reach into the stars. We can gain spiritual inspiration from the whole universe of stars, just as we can open our minds to the creative imagination of the Great Spirit. Yet if we forget the earth, then we are forgetting the purpose for being here. My teacher said that the purpose of this earth life is not to get off the planet, as though this earth were some sort of lower hell, but rather the purpose is for our spirit to awaken and realize itself here on earth.

Our purpose is to fully get here and fully experience the earth, then hopefully give something back to the earth and to life. The purpose for living on this planet is to finally 'get here'. Most people aren't. But we are here to be here. We are living for the purpose of being fully alive. People presume that they are fully alive just because they get up in the morning. But the truth is that very few people are alive in the fullest sense. The average person doesn't even have a clue as to their potential for being alive.

Our potentials for greater awareness, sensitivity, and many natural abilities never have the opportunity to actualize. This is simply because our potentials never get tried. Our general problem is that as children we challenged ourselves and worked at developing abilities, as in speaking, reading, writing, counting, music, sport, etc. But then we get to an age when society says, “Now you are an adult. Go to work. Go to war. Go make babies.”

The great delusion of this society is that children have become adults. That is a great joke. 'So called' adults are merely large children who delude themselves into believing that they know the purpose of life and that they are now capable of fulfilling this purpose. The very people who lead the world – the politicians, the business managers and capitalists – they went to college and people told them they were smart and they got good marks. But what did they learn? Marketing, advertising, and how to manipulate others and the world? Maybe they learned to look good or trendy. They learned some small little bit of the whole picture of what life is about, and now they lead the whole world! Now they have great effect on the whole future of humanity and the planet. The scary thing is that these leaders and influencers of the world are clueless about some of the most important truths in life and about the real purpose of being here. And to make matters even worse, these political leaders and people with economic power aren't even grounded here on earth, in nature. They don't have any real sense of being part of nature and appreciating nature, and therefore their decisions and actions are neglectful of nature and even harmful.

What I'm teaching here is how to return to our natural senses and powers. It's not meant to be supernatural, or like wow this is shamanism; instead, this is the truly natural way of being, which is extraordinary. There's so much human potential in us and undeveloped powers, which the ordinary person is totally clueless about. But this is because no one has even told them what is possible and how to reach there. Traditional native societies passed down natural wisdom teachings to the next generations, so that the knowledge would continue. But in our modern, mega-industrialized world, people tend to drift away from nature and away from their true potentials, and instead they embrace artificial values.

These are natural skills or abilities, but they can only be developed with some practice, with intentional attempts. You wouldn't learn to read or play the guitar without some practice, so you also need some practice to be able to see into a more subtle realms of nature and work with the energies of nature. You even need practice to develop consciousness. We presume that all human beings have consciousness. But this is a grand generalization. There are many possible degrees of consciousness, and there are even different dimensions of consciousness. But nobody teaches us these things in school, where we just learn to accumulate information and be conditioned by the prevailing ideals of an invented artificial world.

At this point we rounded a corner in the trail and a nice stream of sunlight warmed our bodies. In front of us was a sweet clearing with a mixture of pines and shrubs. Coyote said that this was a good place for a short practice. We took off our packs but didn't sit.

Now, just stand and look out. You don't need to stare at anything but just look at a general area of the land over there. It doesn't matter what. Notice how each part of what you see is connected to all the other parts. Even think about how each part of nature, of what you see, is dependent on what's next to it. Coyote paused a minute then continued. Also consider how the trees and the shrubs are dependent on the air around and the soil below. No life can live in solely on its own, without connection.

Now refocus on your own body and feel physically connected to the ground. Feel your feet planted on the ground. Now imagine your energy rooting itself into the ground, into the earth below. And feel how this is. How does it feel being rooted and connected into the earth?

Now open your mouth and open your arms and tilt your head up a bit. Now open up to receive all the good air that is around us, and breathe it in deeply. Realize that you need this air and that you're connected with the air. So now you're connected with the earth and the air.

Now look out once again and see all your relatives. See? These are all your cousins, your relatives of Mother Earth. Finally, let's breathe-with these trees and plants. We're all connected with air spirit, so let's all breathe together. Breathe together as one beautiful family. And breathe together with respect and love. So now, let's continue our walk, while realizing our connectiveness with the ground, the air, the trees and the plants. And consciously breathe together with everything around you. Let's walk.

We walked along the path together in silence, and the silence was very enjoyable. It felt good that I did not have to say anything, nor try to entertain him or impress him with my own words of wisdom. I felt peacefully content in being the student, just open to what the teacher would share with me, yet having no need to say anything in reply. My only sense of responsibility was to practice something. In other words, practice at least something! Practice something in each moment with full intention and consciousness; rather than merely drifting along the path in either a dreamy way or an automatic sub-conscious way. So as we walked I practiced being more completely aware the surroundings and also practiced my earth connection.

After walking awhile in silence, Coyote started teaching. I just listened, but at the same time kept up my awareness and sensation of being connected with earth.


It seems that the more popular religions and spiritual teachings have forgotten the earth and the vital earth connection. Because of this, and because of our modern conditioning, we have become people disconnected from our earth roots. One might even say that we need to heal our conditioned sickness and imbalance. This self-imbalance is, of course, the cause of ecological and social imbalance. So it is important to take self-responsibility for your own imbalance. I don't mean blaming oneself. I mean being responsible for doing something about it, because nobody will or can do it for you.

The earth will be the healer and will balance you, but you must take the necessary steps toward the earth. You must take the time and effort to make the connection, which is to do the earth practice. It is as important as making an effort to eat good food and to keep the body clean. You must do this consciously. But because it wasn't taught, like brushing your teeth or like eating a balanced meal, your tendency will be to dismiss the connecting practice as some sort of mystical thing or some form of a cult practice. But I'm telling you, this is essential. It is not merely one more therapy. It is the very basis of true healing. Don't just be put off by the word 'practice'. It is called a practice to emphasis that you need to practice it. You need to learn it, like you needed to learn how to read and write.

Eventually it doesn't seem like a practice at all. Eventually there is no effort in doing it, because there is no ego struggle against it and no false conditioning having power over your will. Eventually, what I'm saying and what I'm suggesting you practice becomes a natural and spontaneous part of living. It is completely natural! It is coming back to your own true nature, which is the earth nature. The only reason it might seem to involve an intentional effort or possibly even a self-struggle is because of your false conditioning - which lead you astray from the breath of your own nature and from your inherited natural connection with the Earth Mother.

Once you realize about your conditioning, and that you have been lead astray by your culture and religions, then maybe you will be more motivated to come back to the earth. For in essence, all I'm really suggesting is that you release unnecessary suffering, be more conscious of yourself and energies around you, become revitalized, and feel the great love and joy of being at-one with Life-itself.

Isn't that what you want? Isn't that a good way of living? Well, this way is not really difficult at all, and it is not complicated. There is isn't anything complicated or strange or unnatural about the breath, about sensing and feeling, about letting go, about trusting, and about receiving all the goodness that life or earth provides. You simply need to come into the conscious experience of this.

But at present you, like so many people, remain disconnected, out of balance, and lost in your thinking head. You don't know how to be continuously present with the earth or how to maintain your collective energies, or how to release old stuff, or how to consciously receive various energies from the living earth. But once you learn, and you must learn by practice and experience, then you will look back at how you once were and you will see a lost child, you will see yourself as a crawling, struggling child, yet unable to walk.

I'm just helping you grow up, helping you to walk on your own, but I can't do it for you. You have to make the effort. Children make an effort to walk almost naturally, but because of certain habits you acquired from this world you might not naturally make the needed effort. So I'm here to prod you along. Because of your social conditioning, as a teacher I cannot merely help you learn and grow, but I must also help you de-condition yourself.

It would be much easier to help you if all you needed to grow was encouragement and support, like if you were a plant needing water, sun and good soil. But unfortunately this is not enough for you or for most people, because you will resist the very first step of being firmly planted in the soil. You are not merely a plant needing nutrients to grow. You are a plant taught by society to resist the very ground within which you can grow. You are uprooted and first need rooting!

Just study what our cultures and religions have taught, then you'll see the fear and prejudice concerning this return to the earth. Lower is said to be bad. Higher is said to be good. We keep hearing from others, “Rise, go higher, be somebody,” etc. We have this imbalanced prejudice against surrendering back to the earth, against becoming at one once again with the earth mother.

Of course, this tendency has its reasons. It is because life involves both individuality and collectivity. Individuality is related to this ego. The individual ego develops out from the earth nature. It moves out and up from the Mother, like a seedling rising up from below the soil. This is part of life. Yet it is not the whole cycle. Just as autumn balances spring, there needs to be a return to the earth. Surrendering must balance individual growth. Other lives of nature do this instinctively but we humans must do it intentionally and consciously.

Our ego has developed a habit of maintaining itself in the head and feeding off the thinking mind. The ego, or that which people think they are, holds onto its own survival by constantly re-enacting a need to think about itself or to look at itself. It is as though the ego has to constantly look at itself in the mirror of the mind and think about I. I, I, I, me, me, me, and so on. And in doing so, a divided reality is developed – a delusionary division between I and the world. This is what the ego is based on – this separated sense of self, such as I and the world being separated energies. Our social world tends to knock this ego-division apart at times; it like slaps you in the face at times. But our ego tends to hold its separateness together better in the natural world, because we can sort of push nature around easier.

Ego may fancy itself as a great spiritual power, able to ascend into the heavens. Or it may fancy itself as an important persona in the world, wanting to rise above everyone else and proudly stand on top of the mountain, having great power over others and the earth. The ego doesn't like to lower itself or humble itself. It doesn't like to drop down to the earth, for this seems like a death, and in a way it is. The ego resists this death, this death of its separated importance. So it resists a 'return to the earth'. It resists dropping back down to the earth and being content as a natural flower of earth.

So our self-ego resists and avoids real spiritual connection with the earth, because a real spiritual experience of self unity with the earth would mean a dissolving of the separative ego. The ego fears letting go and losing itself, so it holds on to its particular mental and emotional identity. As well, your thoughts also hold on and resist letting go. And also you emotions do the same – they resist giving up, letting go, surrendering. Each emotion wants to keep on. Each desires, each anger, each sense of pride and each dislike, all try to live on, and so each one resists surrender and dissolving. But if we hope to be free in our true self and true power, we cannot let these thoughts and emotions waste our inner power. Thus, we need to make a special effort to let them go and dissolve back to earth.

We then came to an area that looked like it was meant for sitting and relaxing, and it even had a nice little vista but of course not arranged by any person. It was as though Nature herself had made this little area for rest and enjoyment. We sat quietly and drank water. What Coyote had talked about brought up many thoughts and also questions in my mind. I wanted to talk about all this more and also let him know what I thought, but I kept silent and just nodded with an unspoken acknowledgment that I got what he was talking about. I like to talk about social issues and I have a lot of my own ideas and opinions, so it was a discipline of self-control to just listen and be quiet. Nearby I spotted some Grouse looking around for grub.

Being fully present and earthly connected

This will be a practice to help you get fully here – to be fully present in your physical body and fully connected with the earth. You can do this practice with eyes closed or open. To start, close your eyes, but its ok to open your eyes at any time while doing the practice. I'll talk you through it and explain more about it, while you listen and practice. See if you can listen with your intellect to understand what I'm saying, while at the same time practicing the instructions.

Start with relaxation – relaxing your body, your emotions and your mind. Relax but don't mentally drift; instead, use the practice of conscious breathing to remain alert. Relax and breathe consciously. Let your breath be deep and in a peaceful, balanced rhythm. This peaceful, balanced, conscious breathing will be the foundation for most of the earth practices. For in the conscious breath, we can release old energies, accumulate newer fresh energies, and also come into a self-balance. This is what you must practice, in order to enter into the present moment and be fully here in the natural world.

So now, with conscious breath and intention, bring every bit of consciousness possible into being present in your physical body. So this with actual physical sensing. Bring all of your attention and consciousness into physically sensing your body, and maintain this breath. Now you are more physically getting here. Work with this, until it feels comfortable and normal and easy to do.

Now I will give you some guidance in the practice of body sensing, to help you become consciously self-collected and physically present; rather than mentally drifting or spaced out or lost in thinking. The goal in this is to be conscious and physically present. Here is a way to do the practice. Listen to me and do what I say. I will lead you in the practice, but later on you will have to lead yourself.

Start at the top of your head and slowly descend down through your body with conscious sensing. Physically sense as much of your whole body as you can, as your sensing gradually moves down through the body, including all parts. Really get here, with this physical sensing of yourself. And consciously use the breath in this, which helps tremendously.

Finally, sense your physical energy connection with the Earth. Do this by actually sensing the physical energies of your own body in connection with the Earth, and do this with conscious breath. Sense your own energetic connection with the Earth below. It does not matter what part of your body is actually touching the earth, because this is an energy connection. But this has to be a real physical, energetic sensing. It is not merely a mental visualisation or something you imagine. It must be very real and very physical energetically. Otherwise, in a mere visualization, the connection remains just in thought but does not get you to the physical connection.

Remember, an important goal for you to have is to get more here, in your physical body and connected with this physical earth. The mind is, of course, a medium for Spirit Intelligence, so nothing bad about having a powerful mind. But mind needs to be balanced by the physical. And because many people are disconnected from mother earth, they need to make an intentional practice to get connected.

To summarize this whole practice, three parts of this practice should be remembered always. First is physical sensing. You need to sense or feel your body in a very physical way. You need to become physically present in your body and physically sense your body. In other words, bring your full attention into being this physical body, and experience your body energetically.

Second is conscious breath. Your energetic experience of body sensing and being physically present must be empowered by conscious breath. Physical sensing and conscious breath go hand in hand, in order to become fully present here in this physical body.

The third part of the practice, and complementing the other two parts, is our earth connection. This brings you fully present and energetically connected with the earth. In order to really be here on earth, you need this conscious energetic connection. Conscious breath, walking and grounding all work very well together. Remember, keep getting here. Then gradually you will be more here and present. Now let's get back to walking and you can practice this more while you walk.

Mostly for the next hour we were silent, though occasionally Coyote voiced a short reminder of an important element in the practices. So in this time I silently practiced many of the suggestions he had hinted at. I realized it was up to me, and me alone, to be self-responsible and practice. The whole point of his teaching was to make personal practice and have real personal experience. So I worked with the ideas and suggestions he shared. After a good amount of time walking and practicing in silence, Coyote again spoke. I just listened, but at the same time I practiced my grounding and sensing and my conscious breath.

Real experience

You need to first realize that the Native Way, and especially the earth practices, is a real experience of the senses and of the feelings. Thinking and understandings are of course important. Yet, these earth practices involve a real energetic experience, involving the breath and energy. They are not merely a new way of thinking. This is not merely a thinking thing, nor is this merely a visualization practice or vision or psychic perception. There are meditations and special shamanic journey practices which do involve more of visionary journey, rather than earth senses. But these particular earth practices are real energetic experiences, involving breath, feeling, the senses, and real tangible energies. These are not merely thoughts or visions or psychic experiences. It is completely real to the senses and to the feelings. In fact, this practice must involve the sensitivity and the feelings. It must be energetically felt.

So the practice of earth connection is a living experience, involving the rhythmic breath, body sensation, and personal feeling. These three components, with complete and intense awareness as the fourth component, all make up the earth practices. If these four are all present in a continuous flow of the present moment, and if you also open up to the earth energy-flow, then you will naturally enter into the real experience of complete harmony and unity. It is all to do with energy, feeling, awareness and breath. New visions and understandings may, of course, come out of these earth experience, but they will be like branches emerging from the deeper depth of our earth connection.

People are motivated by different goals. One motivation for doing these practices could be for your own healing, balance and well-being. The earth practices will connect you to revitalizing and healing energies and will balance your energies. Some practices help to connect us with earth wisdoms and nature spirits – such as, animal, tree, and crystal beings. Another motivation might be for love and service to the Earth Mother and All Our relations. For as we reconnect with the Earth and deepen our attunement, this helps the whole Earth grow in harmony.

Earth practices involve cleansing, revitalizing, and energy-balancing. They involve being in touch with your own energy, body and feelings, as well as the breath. The breath also connects your own energy field with the greater energy field of the Earth. We are making an energy and feeling connection with the earth. We are becoming in attunement with the vibration of life and more at-one with the earth. We are coming into a magnetic harmony with the planet and coming into the everpresent earth love.

First, our mind and heart must enter into these practices with pure awareness and with a love motivation. Then, conscious breath connects all of this together. Next, bring your awareness into the earth. This connects your mind and energy field with the earth, and it opens a channel of energy flow between you and earth, which then allows love to flow from you to the earth and also from earth into you. Remember, we can receive vital healing energy and love from the earth. Be open to and accept the love and healing that the Earth gives. If you can understand the importance of all this, then you will be more motivated to do the practices.

The earth is our healing, but we have to consciously open to it and consciously release any residue blockages to the free flow of this earth energy. We need to allow ourselves to be healed and balanced by the Earth Mother. Then our feelings, our thoughts and our actions will spontaneously be in harmony with the Earth Mother and the purpose of life. The healing is on all levels of our self. For this earth connection is cleansing and healing to the physical body, to the emotional body, and it brings our mind into attunement with the earth wisdom.

As we rounded a corner along the trail we came into nice little sunny area, where we stopped for a drink but didn't bother sitting. I looked around at the landscape and felt happy to be in it. Coyote said this was a good place to learn a practice.

Breath and connection

There are many practices to do with breath and our earth connection. One should not think that there is just one way or one fixed kind of practice. I want to share with you the understanding of this as well as some practices, so that later on you will find your own ways of doing this. So I might say things in different ways, and the practices will have different variations.

First you bring all attention to your own breath, to the sensations of your physical body, and to the feeling sense of your own sensitive energy body which is like an egg surrounding you. If you cannot be aware of these three simultaneously, then begin with just the breath and then add the physical sensation to awareness and then finally add the energy body. At least be aware of the breath and the containment of your own energy.

We'll call this part of the practice 'self recollection'. It is re-collecting one's own energy in one unity of awareness, and keeping an awareness of the breath will hold this energy contained and continuous. You might say that this phase is a self-containment or a protective individuality. It is steadily building and holding on to your personal power. It is concentrating and increasing your personal inner strength, as well as your sense of self or your self-presence. In this phase you discover the power of breath and the power of self-unity.

Now you can begin to increase this self-power and increase the strength of your energy-field. You do this by connecting down to the earth. On the out-breath you sink down a strand of awareness or light into the earth below, which connects down like a major root. Then on the in-breath you breathe up strength and vitality. You breathe in and up whatever you need, but basically you can breathe up vitality, strength and healing energy. It is also possible to breathe up love, peace, and harmony, which are all healing to the emotional part of ourselves.

So now you have come into the second phase of the practice. First you re-gathered together all of your energies and self-awareness, concentrating all of this rather than the usual tendency to be disbursed and fragmented. Then, you open a connection to the earth below by mentally and emotionally sending down an energy ray of light or a kind of energy root. One might experience this as awareness descending down into the earth or as one's feeling-sense descending downward. And it is easiest to do this on the out-breaths.

On the in-breaths you breathe up the earth energy and nutrition that you need for increasing your vitality, your inner strength and your sense of personal power. Then on the next out-breath you once again descend down into the earth. Using visualization or imagination to help direct your awareness, you might see a shaft or root of light go deep to the center of the earth.

The deeper you go into the earth, with the visualization and the feeling-sense, the greater will be the vital and healing energies collected. So you go down as deep as you can feel and imagine, or go down to the very center of the living earth. Then breathe up and into you this good earth energy. You breathe it up into your belly, where it is accumulated and distributed out to the rest of the energy-body.

This root connecting down into the earth is like an umbilical cord connecting you to the vital energies of the Earth Mother. Our physical umbilical cord has been cut, so that our bodies can be self-reliant. Yet our etheric umbilical cord to the greater Mother earth need not be severed. Yet for most people this connecting cord to the earth Mother has shriveled or in severe cases has been severed. Thus there is the need for a healing or re-establishment of the earth connection.

A true native person would probably never feel the need for such a healing, but for the westernized person this healing is of vital importance. It is not only important for personal vitality, but is most important for a sensitive and emotional earth connection. When this connection is re-established and continuous, then a person naturally acts and lives in a way that is sensitive and harmonious with the earth and all which lives from the earth.

So many problems, in individuals and in the world, stem from an unhealthy uprootedness and disconnection with our common earth Mother. Thus, we must re-root ourselves back to the earth, so that we branch out creatively from a common ground, from one love, from one harmonious rhythm.

Can you see what I mean? Can you see the basic problem and the basic solution? If our energy, our rhythm, our feelings, and our awareness were to come up from the common ground of the earth, then we would once again feel as one people and in one harmony. Then our sensitivity and actions would be cooperative and in harmony with the living earth.

Maybe if people see the necessity of this re-connection, then they might make some self-effort for their own self-healing. And it does take a personal effort and responsibility. People are so used to relying on others for healing and medicine. But this most important kind of healing, which will influence all other kinds of healing, must be a self-initiated healing. Nobody can build someone else's earth-connection.

There are so many types of healing these days, and many are very good. But such things as homeopathy, massage, or crystals cannot really make the necessary connection for you; because this earth connection must involve your own will and decision, your own efforts and commitment. It must involve conscious breath and an undistracted continuous awareness. It must involve personal meditation and personal feeling. It must involve the totality of your being, the totality of your mind, emotions, body and will.

Because of your wrong habits of mind and feeling, because of your disconnection, you will have to do something radical about it. You have to see the need for this effort, this practice, for the need is to transform old habits and establish a new pattern of conscious life. It is as though one must enter a re-training program. But we are not trying to make some new rigid pattern or discipline. Rather, the necessary practices are to free the mind and spirit. They are meant to regain a stronger sense of self-integrity and personal balance, as well as regain our innate connection with the living earth and all the qualities and powers provided by our Mother Earth.

But without 100% commitment and effort in the practice, at least for a definite period of time, you will never get past the mere thinking about it all. For example, you must give the practice at least ten concentrated minutes, or a half hour, or a full hour, or maybe eventually a few full days. Then, you'll have some real experiences and some real transformation will be possible. Otherwise, you'll end up like most people, just thinking and talking about it, but never giving much time and effort to fulfilling the idea or the vision. I'm telling you straight. Whatever practice I tell to you, and whatever I say about the true Native Way, is not merely an idea or a new way of thinking. Positive and visionary thoughts are very important in this Way, but they are not enough. You have to really feel it and experience. What I'm talking about is real, but it has to be real for you, and not just an idea.

We returned to the walk and we both remained silent, in the unspoken agreement that we were quietly working on the earth connection and breath practices. Coyote's own power of silence brought me into silence as well. But I knew it was important to not merely drift in my thoughts, nor fall into a mental doziness or go to sleep. My mind and attention needed to stay alert, even more than normal, and I needed to keep my power of intention strong, my intention to make special effort and practice in these moments. The first key, and one that would help me at all times in these practices, was conscious breath.

As I breathed with the earth, in and out, I felt more and more physically connected with the earth.

After some time in silence, Coyote again resumed his teaching while we walked. I listened while practicing sensing and conscious breath.

Being outwardly present

In our experience, there are two worlds – the outer and the inner. Though of course, these are not fully separated and thus there are plenty of interconnections. Meditations and practices will tend to focus more on one than the other, which is good because we will then develop strength and concentration in each of these worlds. Remember that there is an inner and outer spiritual work. Shamanic work can be done in both. For example, the shaman finds the good and beautiful in the inner world and in the outer world. He collects power and experiences from these worlds. He can also do transformative and healing work in both worlds. You can do this as well. It just takes a bit of knowledge and some applied effort.

But one of the problems people have is no ability to remain collected and conscious in each world for enough time, in order to gain something or accomplish something in that world. Most people uncontrollably flip back and forth from inner to outer, then from outer to inner, so cannot sustain presence in either. Or they will get the inner and outer confused, such as not being able to distinguish what is an outer reality from what is an inner belief.

I will teach you to go fully into the inner world, without being distracted by the outer. But first I must teach you to be fully in the outer world, without being distracted by your inner world. This is an ability you need to develop. It is invaluable. At present you are weak in both worlds, so you need to become strong and collected in one and then in the other. Then after developing strength in each, you will be able to converse and adept in both worlds simultaneously. But first you need to concentrate in one, then in the other. Otherwise you'll remain weak in both.

You must develop your primal natural senses and the natural sensitivity. But you can't do this if your attention is constantly distracted by thinking and by emotional residues. Thus, you need to develop a mental control or attention control. This is bringing attention to the outward purpose at hand or to the outer energies of the world. If the attention can stay in the outer senses or sensitive to outer energies, without habitually returning inward into thought, then you will learn to be more present and here.

I am not denying the importance of inward awareness, inner meditation, or mind journeying. The inner worlds are here for us to explore. Yet the inner journey must be balanced with the outer journey. People tend to think that the 'spiritual path' is a path of the mind or a path of inner meditation. It is this, but not just this. For the outer meditation and the world of the senses is as spiritual as the inner way. The spiritual world is the outer world, not just the inner world. The whole world of nature is a spiritual creation, an art-form of the Great Creator Spirit. Even the creations and technological world of humanity is potentially spiritual, IF it reflects the law of balance, love and harmony.

There is a vast inner world of potentials and visions, and a vast invisible world of spirits and powers. There is an inner world of peace, love and beauty. Yet this inner world is not the complete goal, and it's not any more important or spiritual than the world of outer nature. Both the outer and the inner are flip sides of reality. The inner is the mind of Great Spirit and the outer is the expression of Great Spirit. Respecting both and living fully in both is the Way of balance and truth.

But if we follow a spiritual path which has prejudice against the outer world, the earth and nature, then we will become imbalanced and we will be living in an illusion. If a teaching regards this outer world of the earth nature as less important than some other world, then it will lead into illusion. If a teaching says that this outer world is an illusion, then this teaching is an illusion. All that other worldly stuff is mostly a load of crap.

There are lots of crappy lousy things in this outer world which are not of spiritual nature, but rather of man's false creation. Yet there are also possible bad experiences in the inner world. Not all that comes into one's mind is necessarily from truth or from Great Spirit. So we have to continually discern the good from the rotten, the beauty from the hideous, both in the outer and inner worlds.

We need to find what is fresh and good for us, what is beautiful and enjoyable. This discernment is part of our free choice. The unhealthy and ugly things are what is dying out, like rotting fruit. Don't eat rotting fruit. You don't eat compost. You simply let it rot and transform back to its essence. Then eat what is fresh and good for you. This is the Way.

After awhile we came to an open clearing with mostly grasses and large granite boulders, but interspersed were some beautiful pines and oaks. We could see a stream below, which was beautiful with its gentle sound of water running over the rocks and the greenery draped alongside. I could even hear some birds making calls to one another. We sat on a large boulder to take it all in.

Being present and sensitive

So let's now practice outward meditation, developing your outward attention to the fullest. First, you must emerge out of your mind and back in your senses. You are mostly lost in your own little mind, or lost in your disconnected thoughts. Therefore, you must make an extra effort to let go of your scattered and associative thinking. You come out from your mind and become fully conscious of the outer world, the world of colors, sounds, and real energies.

Part of the practice of outward awareness is the surrendering of thoughts and internal focus; such that all there is is what is around you. This then becomes a great worship of nature, as one surrenders to nature the stuff of ordinary mind and even of one's own little self identity... to just be in the 'what is' of nature.

I suggest you find a tree friend. Sit by the tree facing outward. Keep you eyes and ears open. Breathe with the Mother earth. And breathe with the nature around you. Enter into the present moment which flows continuous and without strain. Relax into the continuing present, and simply be here whenever you are. Just remain awake in the breath and awake in the here and now of the senses or the here and now of the world around you.

Your mind will tend to distract itself with thought. Maybe worries and emotional stresses will emerge. This is your opportunity to let these go. What emerges from the emotions or from your mind is part of residue from the past which can now be released back to the earth. So you take a deep breath from the earth below, then release the thought or emotion on the out-breath. Then you come back to the rhythm and feeling of harmony with the earth. Then come back to the sensing practice of the here and now.

Practically speaking, your first experiences of this will show you how distracted and and un-present your mind is. But if you don't let the conditioned mind take you away from the practice, then everything that happens can be an opportunity for transformation and increasing your shamanic ability.

Whatever arises to distract you from being simply in the present moment (without thought or past emotions), needs to be released. From the release you will gain in spiritual power. So treat all that arises as part of the whole practice, for if you can consciously release those distractions then a healing has taken place. If all that you do is to practice releasing of past residues, then that must be what you needed to work on. In other words, you have to succeed at the first stages before succeeding in the next stages.

Just accept right now that you are a beginner. In fact, always be in the attitude of being a beginner. This attitude will keep you awake and inspired to make extra efforts and practice. With a bit of extra effort and willingness, you will discover success. In time, if you persist and relax in it all, you will be able to sit by a tree or by a stream and just be there, fully present, aware in the breath and in the flow of the moment, without any ego, without any irrelevant thought, without any emotional residues of the past to released and be transformed thought.

Whenever you sit by a flowing stream, breathe with the flow. Enter the flowing stream, while being fully present in the sensory experience. Let the stream help you release the past and be in the present. Simply practice continuous releasing of the past, or continuous releasing of thought. Let all thoughts or worries flow down the stream on each out-breath. Then on each in-breath recollect yourself just in the flow of the present, recollect yourself in the here and now.

Thus in this practice you come into a rhythm of releasing thoughts arising from the past and re-centering yourself in the flow of the present moment... surrendering and being, surrendering and being here. This is the rhythm of existence.

Soon in this practice, when the rhythm becomes perfectly balanced and relaxed, the two apparently opposites become as one flow. Then there is no more sense of releasing or of collecting, for there is only being here and now within the flowing stream of the moment. The ego ceases to reflect upon itself, and there is now only the stream of the continuous present. Try this and you'll understand what I mean. It is truly liberating, and renewing as well.

So to sum up this earth-practice, this is about being fully present and sensitive in the outer world of nature. It's about being fully present in the here and now, which is like a continuously flowing stream of living energy, living breath, and living consciousness. It is absolutely not an imagination or psychic experience.

You may see into the invisible world of nature spirits. In fact, this practice is mandatory as a foundation for such extraordinary insight. But you must begin with the very ordinary reality of nature, as it is simply seen and heard and sensed., The ego doesn't want to be merely ordinary, which is the biggest problem of psychic people. Psychics are the most difficult people to teach these things, because they resist the importance of ordinary and outward experience. They think they are somehow beyond it all and more important than the ordinary world of nature and the senses. Thus, they tend to become lost in their own illusions.

The first step in acquiring a true ability to see the invisible world of spirits and subtle energies is to develop the ability to simply be in the here and now of the outer world, which means being in the ordinary senses. The outer senses help bring us firmly into the here and now. First, truly see the ordinary colors and hear the ordinary sounds of nature. Most people don't, or they only do this in short moments of outer attention. You must first develop a continuity of outer sensory attention. Then the invisible naturally opens up to you, not in a psychic kind of vision but in an outward seeing as real as any ordinary seeing.

Seeing and hearing the nature spirits comes from developing the outer senses. You see and hear them through the outer senses, not through inner psychic vision. If you can become completely and continuously outward in your awareness, turning the mind outward rather than inward, then you will begin to see reality rather than just your psychic imagination of reality. Then you are on the path of learning from the outer world, rather than merely imposing your conditioned beliefs on the outer world.

Be completely and presently outward in awareness, breathing with the outer world, then this outer world will truly open itself to you. Then you can truly learn from the natural divine world. Then you can truly receive what nature offers. Then you can truly see and hear what most people cannot. If you enter completely into the ordinary natural world, and receive from this world, then a very extraordinary experience and wisdom will open up to you. First be willing to be ordinary, then you become extraordinary. First see the ordinary, then the extraordinary will spontaneously be revealed - not just through the psychic imagination but through the actual outer senses.

If I told you all the possibilities of this, you would most likely not believe me. For now you will just have to trust me and make the effort yourself. Go outward. Turn the mind outward. Go into nature, into the flowing stream of the present moment. Breathe into nature. Breathe out from nature. Be fully awake to the outer world, sensing all you can and tingling with sensitivity. Make love with nature around you. Be in the energetic experience of it all. This is the most ordinary thing you can do in this life. Yet it is the most extraordinary experience in life.

We returned to the trail which now bordered the stream, sometimes very near the stream and sometimes meandering above it. One important key I noticed in all the practices was to be fully awake and aware of my surroundings, as fully as possible. And if thoughts arose, I would let them go as soon as I could. It does require a vigil effort to stay in an outward awareness with just perception and sensation, and without tripping off into thoughts.

Just being here, no hurry

There's a difference between seeing a beautiful place and being in a beautiful place. At first thought you might think I'm talking about people who are in a beautiful place but don't see the beauty. This does of course happen a lot. But I'm not talking about being as in just being there. I'm talking about really being here. In other words, you're not just here seeing the beauty, but moreover you're being here in the beauty, as well as of course seeing the beauty. There's nothing negative or silly about seeing beauty. That in itself is very advanced – the ability to see real beauty or see a special place. But then the next step is to not only see beauty but also be in it.

And again, most people can't understand what I mean. The person will say, of course I'm being in it; I'm here at this place, so I must be being here. But I say no, you're not being here in it. You're here at this place but you're just seeing it. You're not being here enough. It's like you're looking at this beautiful place from a distance, from a camera. You're not really here at all. You're just taking a few pictures with your seeing. You're looking at it, but not being here with it. Many people go to beautiful places, but they're more interested in taking pictures than really being in it. These are really silly people, the really clueless ones. But most everyone still cannot really be in a place. They take mental pictures of the place, and then move on.

So the first important step to take is to wake up and see the beauty in front of you. That's a good step. Most people can't even get that far. But then, instead of just taking a few mental pictures of it and moving on, stay here with it all, and really be here. Be here with the beauty. Experience how this is. You have to give it a try, and importantly you have to give it time. You have to give time for the experience to unfold. You have to give enough time to being here, in it and with it. Then, and only then, can the beauty-energy of this place enter into you and feed your soul. So remember that truly being in a place is not the same as just seeing it. But there is no way that anyone can understand what I mean, unless it's practiced, unless it's given a try, and one is able to give it time.

People are too much in a hurry. Hurry to do this or do that. Even hurry to do spiritual practices. But the deeper insights and experiences come only when there is no hurry. One has to feel that time is completely unimportant. The minute that one thinks about the time or how long it's been, that's when really deep experience ends. So the best attitude to have in any spiritual walk or in a sacred place is to relax and be carefree about time. Or in other words, take your time! And don't worry about time. Each moment is sacred, and every moment and step on the journey is sacred. That's the attitude to have. No hurry. No rush. No time crunch. No time agenda. Just love time and that time is given. Then let the time unfold as it will, without forcing time to be in some kind of unimportant schedule or time frame. Finally, give time to everything, and give enough time.

Make this into an intentional practice. First of all remember, as much as you can, to slow down and give time to any sacred activity. Sacred activities, such as meditation, prayers, rituals, or walking through beauty, are not about getting it done quickly so that one can get to the goal quickly or attain something quickly. In a truly sacred activity, it's not the goal that is important, but rather the process. It's all about the walk, not the goal. It's all about what's along this path, not just what's at the end of this path. It's all about the doing of whatever you're doing, more than about the achievement once done.

This is especially important in the nature walks. Slow down and pay more attention to what's here. One of practices that the Elders often give is for you to consciously walk slow, or maybe do something at an intentionally slower speed. This disturbs the person's usual habit of rushing things and of trying to get somewhere as fast as possible. So when you do this, it might feel strange and can even feel irritating at first. But if you persevere in this practice and overcome your resistance to it, you'll enter into a relaxed and easy feeling and a sense that time is nothing to be concerned about. No need to be concerned with time, because you're taking all the time you need to get there, and there's no hurry at all to get there – because it's only the step-by-step journey that matters. Also, when practicing the easy and slow way, you'll stay more wake each moment if you practice conscious breath – being aware of the breath each step of the way. So you might practice this – this intentionally slow walk. Try it and see what happens in it. Give it time. There's no hurry in our walk, and no wasted time. The only wasted time is when we're not awake in each step.

Yet we don't always need to practice walking slow. We can walk at an easy and relaxed pace, at whatever pace feels good, and yet still practice being aware to what's around us in each moment. Each moment and each step is important. If you don't have this attitude, then you'll miss out on very special experiences; you'll miss out on seeing things, but also you'll miss out on the spirits. You have to be really awake in each moment and in each step, in order to see or experience the spirits of nature. Each step of the path has relevance, and at any moment along the way there could be an opportunity – that will be missed unless you're awake and alert at that moment. Life is absolutely full of missed opportunities. And few people even realize this. So along any walk, the average person is missing opportunities right and left.

After awhile we came to a place near the stream where there were a few flat rocks basking in the sun, and there was a special quality of peace in the area. We sat and just listened quietly to the peaceful waters passing over the rocks, and with some occasional songs from the birds.

Surrendering into unity with the present moment

You know, there is so much beauty here, yet we are probably only seeing a fraction of all the beauty that is actually here. This is why we need to wake up.

I'll share with you a great practice to help bring you into the present flowing moment and also connected with our earth nature. This is the practice of simply sitting at the creek and listening. Listen to the sound of the creek, the sound of the waters moving along across the rocks. This is very beautiful. Just listen. You can do this with eyes open or closed. Try both. But for now, close your eyes and just listen to the sound of the flowing water. This is the sound of the present moment – which is always in flow.

Simply listen to the sound of the running stream. Just listen. Nothing else. Just breathe consciously and listen to the sound of the flowing water. Surrender to the water. Surrender all thought, emotion, and self to the flowing waters. Lose yourself in the flowing waters, in the sound. Lose your mind and all of your self in this. Still stay conscious breath. Now you are flowing with real time and truly being here. Once you get in this, you will be truly present and in the real flow.

This is being in the present moment. Just listen to the waters. This is being in the flowing present moment. Breathe in and out with this sound, with these waters. Breathe with this so much that you become this flowing sound. Surrender into this flowing sound; surrendering into the flowing moment.

Finally, surrender your whole self to nature. This is very spiritual. The experience is very deep. You lose yourself in the sound of the water and in the experience of its flow and its beauty. You lose yourself in this. But you don't go unconscious. You merge consciousness and breath with the flowing water; so that all there is is the flowing water. This becomes a portal into losing yourself in Nature Itself. Only fear will hold you back, because you fear death. The self-ego fears its death if it surrenders into nature. So in this fear, your tendency will be to avoid the surrender by coming back to your usual personality thinking. Yet this surrender into nature is a spiritual orgasm; not to be feared. The experience is actually an ecstatic joy of being in unity.

This was a very powerful and effective practice for me, or I should really call it an experience or way of experience. Especially key was the practice of surrender, because the more I surrendered my mind, my thoughts, my feelings, and all myself to the flowing waters, the deeper I came into the flow itself – the continuous flow of the present moment.

After a time, which I had no idea how long it was, we both seemed to spontaneously at the same time get up in silence and begin walking again along the trail. I remained in this experience of unity for quite awhile as we walked. I felt incredibly in Nature, rather than just surrounded by it. Some time passed, then I heard Coyote speak.

Releasing and clearing our thoughts and emotions

One of the difficulties people have in being completely present and just being in the flow of natural time is that they carry a lot of baggage. Most people carry more than you, but you carry enough that it weighs on you and prevents you from being free. I'm talking about emotional and thought baggage. We often have emotional stuff that sticks to us, and we carry this with us everywhere we go. Mentally, we carry around the same thought stuff everywhere we go. Partly, these are emotional and mental habits, which keep repeating in us. Also partly, this stuff could be unresolved emotions or thoughts, which we just can't seem to resolve. Anyways, all of this stuff holds us back from truly being present and in the flow of natural time. Therefore, in order to have a really deep experience of being in the flow of presentness, most people will need to first release and clear the mental and emotional stuff, which keeps appearing and distracts one from being present.

So one of the more important native earth practices is the conscious release of any troubling or turbulent emotions, and also the release or letting go of obsessive thoughts and worries. This is the practice of mental and emotional cleansing – by releasing these energies to the earth. No matter what our emotions and thoughts are, this does not harm the earth if we release them with a sincere wish to be a better and healthier person. Our Earth Mother loves us, and whatever we release unto nature is energetically composted back to its spiritual essence.

We can make this conscious release in any part of nature – in a forest, a desert, or at water. Just let go of the stuff you've been holding on to. Then feel the release and freedom from this. Then thank Mother Earth for absorbing what we release, no matter how negative or disharmonious it is. Let it all go to the loving, transforming nature that is around. Then feel how more purified and free you are, from this conscious act of letting it go. Start doing this now, as a I speak.

Cleansing and purification is an important part of the earth practices, and these practices of cleansing and purification lead to a fullness of relaxed trust. These practices involve the letting go of unnecessary stresses, worries, rambling thoughts and emotional turmoils, which leads to your true spiritual nature. Only then can you relax into your true nature, and your true nature is the ultimate source of your spiritual power.

I've already talked some about conscious breath. On the out-breath you can root down and make a deep connection into the earth. But also on the out-breath you can let go of unneeded, un-useful emotional or physical energies. Let go to the earth all of your negative energies or the energies you don't want. Let go of your tensions, worries, and emotional sufferings. This will not harm the earth. The earth, the soil and the trees can absorb negative or unneeded energies. There will be transformed into positive and revitalizing energies. The earth can compost and transform our organic waste, and the trees can transform our air. Yet this process of transformation is not just physical. It works with emotional energies as well.

Letting go may also involve self-forgiveness. We all make mistakes, but this is almost inevitable on the path of spiritual growth and realization. If you recognize a mistake, then you have already passed the first step of a spiritual growth. The second step is self-forgiveness, and the third step after this is seeing and affirming a better way. Then the final step is manifesting the better way.

One of our biggest problems, as human beings, is our holding on to emotional stress and the residue of anger, worry, fear, irritation and suffering. So much emotional suffering is unnecessary. For a period of time, emotional suffering and stress may be unavoidable and possibly necessary to our human growth. For example, we might be justifiably angry at injustices, or we may grieve over the loss of a friend, or we may feel bad about hurting someone. There are many examples.

We are emotional beings, and it isn't wrong to feel certain reactions to life. So in a stressful circumstance, we naturally react emotionally and a period of suffering may proceed. The native way is not to suppress any emotions. We accept ourselves as we are. We let ourselves feel. We allow ourselves the intensity of emotions, whether it be joy or suffering. But a problem arises when we do not allow these emotions to be released. Part of this problem is when the emotion is not fully expressed. Then it's suppressed and stored in the body or in the energy field. It can remain there for years or for the rest of your life.

Many psychologists know this and there are different therapies invented for the purpose of remembering these emotions, bringing them to consciousness, and releasing them by some form of expression. These can be very successful. Yet there is a much simpler way of releasing these suppressed or internalized emotions. This way does require one to remember them, though the memory may spontaneously emerge.

The simple method of emotional release is to breathe out the emotional stress. There is no thought necessary in this. It is simply breathing out whatever feels to be stressful or unnecessary, and you breath it all out down into the earth. You can also sit or stand next to a tree and release it to the tree. Trees are especially helpful in releasing and clearing any negative or stressed emotions; though we can release our emotional stuff to any plants or even to the land below. We can do this while walking or while sitting. Or lay down and let go of all emotional stresses. You can also make physical contact with a tree, embracing the tree or else having one's back to it, and then releasing to the tree whatever you need to let go of.

You can let go of any emotional pain or troubles. Let go of sadness or grief. Let go of worries or fears. Let go of frustrations and other stresses. Let go of angers and resentments. Just let it go and release it all to mother nature or to the tree. It doesn't hurt the tree. You're not being angry at the tree; you're just releasing the stuff, knowing that the trees and plants can transform any emotional energy back into pure love.

This way of cleansing and release is completely natural. It's like eliminating waste products from the bowels. Yet we have to do this consciously and intentionally. If we held onto our physical waste too long, this wouldn't be good for our health. Yet we tend to hold onto our emotional stuff much longer than we require to process it. We should take some time to experience and learn from any kind of emotion, but we don't have to hold on indefinitely, especially if the emotion is stressing us out or feeling like it needs to be released.

But until you release it through the breath, it might keep continuing on bring unnecessary stress or pain. Affirm to yourself, decide or agree, that you will let go of your held-on emotional residue. I call this a residue because it feels like a sticky substance, and it is a residue of the past.

You might take some time to fully experience the emotion, in order to learn something from it, or you may wish to let it out in some kind of outward expression. Like maybe you need to cry or maybe yell at times. There is nothing spiritually wrong with this. But at some point, we need to just let all go completely, and say to our self, I'm done with this. It's ok. I've experienced it and learned from it, but I can't hold on to it indefinitely. So now I'm done with it and can let it go.

Some people will want to hold on to the emotion, or they will want to continually express it. They might even see the emotion as important to their unique personality. There are many motivations and justifications for holding on to there patterns of reaction. But it is most beneficial to release these stresses and sufferings as soon as possible.

So the practice of emotional release becomes part of the Path. The choice is yours. The ego may want to hold on if the emotion becomes part of the ego-identity. But this holding on will hold you back from proceeding along your soul path and opening up new potentials of yourself. The Way is to not become attached to your emotional reactions nor your emotional sufferings. It is simply not necessary. And it becomes a block to your further spiritual growth.

Yet I should be clear here that I'm not recommending emotional suppression or becoming an unemotional person. As I said before, You first need to accept any of the emotions. Go ahead and intensely feel anger, grief, sadness, as well as love, joy, humor. None of the emotions are bad in themselves. Live through them in the moment of their arising. Otherwise you will become a dry, unfeeling person

Feelings and emotions are part of what human beings are. They are part of true living. Yet it is not beneficial to you to hold on to any emotion past its period of freshness. This is anal retention. Let the emotions be, in their period of arising, but also allow them to be released, so that they don't carry on into the future and block out new possibilities of emotional experience. This willingness to let go of emotions is a process of detachment and surrender. For some people this is difficult and for others it is quite easy.

As we walked I practiced this kind of clearing using breath, while also listening to the teachings. I felt evermore clear and also grateful for the beautiful land all around me. We then came to a crossing in the creek, where we stopped again to enjoy the uniqueness of the surroundings.

Nature is so beautiful. But also, nature gives us an opportunity to let go and just be. And nature also provides an important opportunity for us to let go of our unneeded thoughts and emotions. You have mental and emotional stuff that needs to be let go of. So we will take some time here for you to practice letting go of this stuff, and I'll also practice this because I need to do this as well.

You don't need to do a lot of thinking about what it is you need to let go of. You simply need to be aware of whatever is present right now that you feel can be let go of, or whatever would feel good to be let go of. At certain phases of the clearing practice you might feel that you're clear of stuff, but then if you go deeper into your emotional being, there are often layers under layers to be recognized and released. So once you feel pretty clear from letting stuff go, then feel even deeper into yourself what other energies or disharmonies you can let go of. But if you get to a place of feeling really good and clear, then take some time to enjoy this.

So let's take some time here at this beautiful creek to practice our clearing. You'll like this practice. It's very simple and very healing. You can do this while sitting, standing, walking, or laying down. I like just sitting. So find a place you can relax and sit comfortably. It works best if you sit alone, or you can lay down, but don't just drift or go to sleep. So you go over there a ways, but find a place where you can still hear me guide the practice.

Work consciously with the energies, and release consciously with the breath. Breathe nice and deeply and into the belly, but in a relaxed way, finding in your own self what feels relaxed and good. Breathe in deep the healing energy of Nature, then breathe out deeply what needs to be cleared, and feel it being released. No rush. No hurry, Just take all the time you need for this.

First, begin practicing conscious breath. Breathe deep and in a balanced rhythm. Be aware of your thoughts, your thinking. On the in-breath gather these thoughts together. Then on the out-breath release these thoughts to the waters of nature. Give up all thought and thinking to this flow of water. Let your thoughts go into the water and flow away.

Next, after your thinking mind is clearer, begin to be more aware of your emotional energy, or of what is in your emotional energy field at this time. You can even go deeper into your emotional being, to discover certain emotions that you could let go of. Then, on a conscious in-breath, gather together a certain emotion or emotional energy, and hold it with love. Then, on the out-breath, release this to the waters of nature.

Let any disturbing or unpeaceful emotions go into the water and flow away. Whatever you give away to the water will simply drift away down the stream. Know this and feel this. Release all of your thoughts and emotions to the running water. And see it all be taken away down the stream. All of the waters of nature are healing; the waters absorb and take away our disturbances, our stresses, our pains, and our ongoing thoughts. Let it all go into the waters flowing downstream, which will take all of this away to be transmuted.

The practice is quite simple. Be self-aware of your emotional energies, or of an emotion that you would like to release. Then, on a conscious in-breath, gather this and hold it for a moment in love. Then release it out to Mother Earth on the out-breath. Here, release it to the flowing waters, but you could also release these emotional energies to a meadow, or to trees, or to anywhere in nature.

Breathe out to the earth any feelings of stress or unpleasantness. Breathe out and release any inner suffering. Breathe out and release whatever emotions you are holding onto or whatever emotions are sticking inside you. This will feel like a draining out of old bath water. It will feel as a cleansing of the emotional self. You might imagine a drain-pipe coming out and down from your bowels or from your stomach area. Then allow any old or waste energy to be released to the earth.

Know that the earth is not hurt by this. In fact, it is good for the earth, just as organic waste is good compost for the soil, or just as carbon dioxide from the breath is good for the trees. Keep releasing through the out-breath, releasing the stale energies and residues of the past. These stale energies have become sticky substances within your emotional energy field. They have also become blockages in the body. The breath acts like flowing water, breaking through blockages and carrying away the sticky old substances. Feel more and more cleansed and purified. You will need to continue this practice for as long as it takes, until you feel completely pure and cleansed.

In the beginning it will take at least ten minutes or so. To become fully pure it may take some hours. But as you become more proficient at the practice, the whole process may be completed in only a few minutes. If you do this continuously with attention and conscious breath, the past will gradually be released and you will be forever free of it. Let go of all distress and all that holds you back from fully being present and sensitive to the earth.

This cleansing practice is important for a few reasons. It is purifying to the emotional energy body, and purification is an essential part of true healing. It also purifies your connection to the earth. We each have an energy channel to the earth energy, like a connecting pipe, which can be obstructed by these emotional residues. The old emotional residues also obstruct our natural awareness. Thus, the cleansing practice is important to healing and to making a stronger conscious connection to the earth energies and earth wisdom.

Also, as you release the old and the unnecessary, through the out-breath, you will then be able to receive more of the vital healing earth energy through the in-breath. Make a continuous rhythm of letting go on the out-breath and receiving new vitality on the in-breath. Here you are releasing stale energies and receiving fresh energies. The experience is truly revitalizing. Remember though, that this practice and this experience is energetically felt and the results are immediate. It is not a thinking practice. It is not something you just do in your imagination. You are working with real energies and you will directly feel these energies.

I'll share an example of what we can do when we're at a place with flowing water. You can do this while standing on a bridge or a log crossing the water, or you can get right in the water and do this. First face the water flowing away from you. This water will carry away whatever you give it. You can give it your troubles, worries, agitations, disappointments, or whatever. You can give it mental stuff or emotional stuff, or you can even give it physical pain or problems. And the waters will simply carry this away. But you have to really give it away. You have to really let it go. Then watch the water simply carry it away, and say goodbye to it. This can be quite remarkable.

Next face the other direction. Face the water flowing towards you. Now that you have let go of what needs to be released, you can now face the energy flow coming to you and take in the vitality and the healing that you need. The waters carry vital earth energies and clear loving emotional energies, so receive and take in all that you need. Breathe it in, receive it, and digest it into your being, into your physical and emotional energy body.

So this is an example of a balanced earth energy practice, and I hope you see that both directions are important. Both flows are important, the outgoing and the incoming, and both are important in our healing and wholeness. You can also use your arms and hands in this. Use your arms and hands to give out, then use your arms and hands to take in. You can even add a third part to the practice, after completing those two parts, which is to extend you arms out and slowly turn in a complete circle while giving out all the love and goodness you now have to all the world around you, in gratefulness.

We practiced this in silence and I really appreciated the water as being cleansing. I experienced a definite and tangible inter-connection between the waters and my own energies. Rather than there's me here and the water over there, the experience sometimes seemed as if I'm in the water, and at other times the water is in me, and then at times I felt I was the flowing water.

We got up to have a stretch, but Coyote was not yet done with his teaching.

Cleansing our energies with water

One of the great methods for cleansing our emotional and mental energy field, as used by native peoples and shamans, is with water. And of course there is the sweat bath, which is too much of a subject in itself to discuss on this trip. Sometimes I make a sweat and invite friends and students, but I do this as a purification ritual, not as a kind of party. Also used in purification and cleansing is smudge – usually burning dried sage and sometimes adding a little of cedar to it, and each person either waves it all around oneself with a sacred feather or someone does this for you. This is using the element of fire, which burns away negative and impure energies in one's energy aura.

Right now though, I'll show you how to use water for cleansing. The best way to use water is to immerse fully in it, but with a clear intention to be energetically cleansed by this or even healed by this. So if the intention is present, then immersion in water can be a sacred ritual. Remember that it is sacred to cleanse and purify oneself of old or stale energies, because then the Spirit can live through you and shine more clearly through you.

If total water immersion is not possible or practical at the time, then take a scoop of good running water in both your hands and pour this over your head. This is done three times, with concentrated intention to be cleansed of all stale energies and be healed of all impurities. One can even be more precise in this ritual, whereby the three pourings of water are for the physical body, then for the emotional field, and then for clearing the mind or mental energy field. Now if this is not possible or too impractical at the time, then at least splash the water on your face three times, of course with concentrated intention to make this an effective sacred ritual.

Also, as part of this, or if you don't want to get your head actually wet, dip your hands into the waters, then brush your wet dripping hands over your eyes and above your head, but without actually touching you body, about 3 to 6 inches away from your skin, to water cleanse the energy aura of your head, and then you can also downward brush down the rest of your body, brushing down your whole energy field. Your hands, wet with cleansing water, are brushing away negative or old energies. This is a way to cleanse and clear your emotional and mental energy aura, which surrounds your physical body. So with the element of water your energies can be cleansed and refreshed, and you'll feel wonderfully refreshed and clear in yourself. One could even do this without actual water, by doing the same downward brushing motions on your energy field, yet imagining the cleansing water rather than actually using water.

Now if none of this is possible, like if you are not at any water, then I'll tell you another way to be cleared and cleansed. You can perform a cleansing ritual in your imagination, or using visualization. You can do this sitting, lying down, or even while walking. What you do is imagine or visualise a flowing stream of pure healing water descending down through your body, from above your head, down all through to your feet and toes, and then flowing out from your feet to the earth below. Or you can visualize this as a waterfall flowing from above your head through your whole body, then out of your body to the earth. Let every bit of old stuff and all impurities be cleansed from your physical body. You can even visualize your body becoming evermore clear and pure from the cleansing waters. When you imagine these sacred healing waters, they actually come from Great Spirit.

Then, after you physical body feels clearer and more pure, begin this all again but with your emotional body, or emotional energy. See your whole emotional being getting cleansed and cleared by these healing waters. And feel this, as well as visualizing it. Feel your emotional energies being cleared and purified, even healed. Third, do the same ritual with your mental energy body, clearing your mind of stale thoughts and unhelpful patterns of thinking. So in this way, you can cleanse and clear your physical, emotional, and mental bodies; to feel more fresh, think more clearly, and have a healthier physical body. This is all done with water. But in your visualization, you can also use light. Either white light or a soft blue light is best. So these are some techniques for purification, which is one of the essential aspects of healing, whether it be the physical, emotional, or the mental.

There are four main kinds of healing, and all are essential to good health and well being. One is cleansing and purification of the body, and as I just said, this applies to the physical, emotional, and mental bodies. Another essential kind of healing, or aspect, is strengthening and revitalizing the body. This is as necessary to good health and well-being as is purification and cleansing. The third kind of healing is balancing and harmonizing the body. But remember that all of these kinds of healing are applicable to our emotions and our mind, as well as our physical.

The fourth kind of healing is to do with our spiritual connection, alignment or attunement. This kind of healing brings us into alignment and attunement with our inner natural spirit, or what could be understood as the 'Great Spirit within us'. And from this Great Spirit within us, comes healing. So we need to be connected and attuned with our Spirit within, which is our spiritual essence. Call it the spirit or the soul; it's the same.

Know that we each are a spirit within the Great Spirit. We are the spirit children of Great Spirit and Mother Earth. We are all Great Spirit children and children of our Mother Earth. If only people all knew this, the world would be very different, because people would respect each other and recognize the spirit within each other, and people wouldn't hurt other people, because they would know that we are all the children of Mother Earth and Great Spirit, and with the plants, the trees, the animals, the fishes, and even the mountains and lakes as all our relations. I hope that some day all people will realize this.

Coyote showed me a way to cleanse the aura with running water, which I then did as well. I crouched down on a flat rock and scooped up some water in both hands. I briefly looked at the water and gave thanks to the healing waters of nature. Then I splashed the water onto my face and felt its refreshing and cleansing feeling. I took another scoop and poured right on top of my head and over, as I felt the water brushing away any specks of dirt from the energy aura around my head. I then took a third scoop of water to above my head and showered my whole body and aura, allowing myself to be fully cleansed and refreshed.

We crossed the creek and started back on the trail, which was now staying parallel to the creek yet just above it. Coyote was still in a teaching mode and the topic was healing.

The healing energies of Nature

I want you to know one very important thing. Nature is the real healer! Some Native teachers say that Mother Earth is the healer, while others say that Great Spirit is true healer. But they all mean the same. Great Spirit is the absolute Source of all consciousness and all healing energies, but remember that Great Spirit pervades all of Mother Earth, through the land and through the air. So Great Spirit lives and works through Mother Earth, or we can understand that our Mother Earth is the creative womb for Spirit – the nurturing container and giver of the Great Life Spirit.

Healing comes from all aspects of Mother Earth. It comes from the land, the trees, the plants, the waters, the air, and can even come from animals. So when we walk, sit, or lay down in an untarnished natural area, we can receive healing from any or all parts of the immediate area we are presently in, as well as from the surrounding natural landscape. Consider that natural healing comes from the ground below us, from the air above us, and from the life that surrounds us. Feel the healing energies of Nature completely surround you and embrace you. This itself is so simple, yet so profound an experience. Feel this and breathe it. Breathe in it all and with it all. Let your breath, your mind, your feelings and your body be absorbed in this totality of surrounding healing energies, from all these aspects and parts of Nature, and let it be transformative. Let it all transform your whole energy and experience, and let yourself be at one with it all. This is the transformative healing experience of Nature.

All Native teachers realize that Mother Earth and the natural world carries the healing energies. Physically, these healing energies or healing medicines are found in the plants, the herbs, and the trees. And so the great healers of any culture or community are the native herb healers, the medicine healers. Though let's not forget the healing powers of crystals and other natural gems, so the mineral kingdom also has healing powers. But the idea of 'medicine', in the Native view, has a much larger meaning than just physical substances. Thus, there are also Medicine Healers who work with spirit animals, or with natural-spiritual energies of the Earth, and also shamans who work with spirit guides or who know how to work in the hidden energy dimensions of life.

Shamans and medicine healers use all sorts of techniques, and each person has somewhat their own unique ways. Most often a shaman or medicine healer carries on what they learned from their teacher, but each also learns a lot from personal experience and practice. So in the Native world, or really in any culture or in any religion as well, we might find various medicine healers and shamans, who each use a variety of techniques or have their particular specialties.

Of course, within the Native American sacred traditions, the whole idea of healing is especially important. There is the sweat bath for purification, the medicine wheel for balance, and the vision quest for spiritual inspiration. Elders and their students often have medicine bags with various sacred objects such as special stones, crystals, herbs, flowers and seeds, feathers or other animal parts, which were either given by specially revered elders or else found with the guidance of Spirit. Each of these objects have a sacred natural power, such as a talent-giving gift, a visionary or a healing power. Some objects are used as power objects – giving one a certain kind of power. Of course all powers or power-objects can be used either wisely or foolishly.

Animal spirits are always important in native cultures and many are known to be healing. Animal masks are often used in spirit ceremonies and healing rituals, and each animal spirit has its own special power. Masks used in healing rituals is very shamanistic and powerful, but you got to be careful with masks because they tend to invoke the mask spirit, so you want to make sure that this spirit is actually helpful and healing. Many native cultures use masks, head dress and body decoration in group celebrations, though the exact kinds of masks and decoration are unique for each culture.

And we should not forget music, voice and dance, which are often used in healing. Music can be sacred and healing, as well as simply enjoyed. For healing, the native flute is often used. Native drums are also important in healing, as drums are used in traditional healing rituals and some shamans use a drum in their healing work and spirit-world journeying. Singing and chanting most often go along with drumming rituals and healings. Each native language has their own particular healing chants, which are usually forms of prayer or expressions of gratitude. Dance can also be important in healing ceremonies. In fact, dance itself is healing. So let's all get dancing! The Bear Dance is especially known as a healing dance ceremony, because in certain traditions the animal spirit for healing is the bear. But in fact, many animal spirits are healing since each spirit has its own special quality of character strength. As for which animal spirits are used for what particular strength, this varies a lot over different cultures, so there is no definitive bible on which animal spirits do what. It's best to just go along with the culture or group you're in, or else discover what works on your own, for your own self, which is the way I use.

Native American healing and ceremonies will sometimes use the sacred pipe. For some of the native cultures and for some of the medicine healers, the sacred pipe is very important. It's used for sacred gatherings and group ceremonies, and it's used as a peace pipe for elder meetings. The pipe and the smoke are very often used in prayers and in healing. The medicine man or woman says the prayer, or chants it, or sometimes just thinks it in the heart, and then the rising smoke takes this prayer to Great Spirit. There needs to be a whole lot of sincerity and heart in this prayer. Another great practice to with prayer and connection with Great Spirit is to at night, on a clear night, look out at the stars and deep into space, to communicate with the vast cosmos of Great Spirit.

So, there are many, many healing ways. Nonetheless though, the essential Healer and essential Healing is from Mother Earth and from the earth energies. People too often forget this. They go to workshops and learn from teachers who show them this or that native healing technique. And nothing wrong with learning good medicine stuff, that's for sure. But people tend to forget the very simple truth that Nature is the great healer. Nature is the ultimate medicine, and the greatest healing energies are found in the beautiful places of nature. Add in the sun and the Great Spirit, and it's all here.

The trail began to climb upward, and I spotted some Cranes passing by above us. Soon we came into a beautiful sunny meadow, with some gorgeous trees and nice places to sit. So we stopped for a water break and enjoyed the peaceful presence all around. Teachings on healing continued.

The four kinds of Healing from Mother Earth

When we relax in nature, yet in a conscious way, we then receive healing from nature. This is the healing power of our Mother Earth. You can especially feel this healing power work on you when you sit by a running creek. Like we just did, you just have to sit quietly and listen to the sound of the running water. This itself is healing. The moving waters heal us, as long as they are pure and unpolluted. But we have to do our own part in this healing, which is to be fully relaxed and receptive, yet with full consciousness. In other words, be fully awake and really here, and really listening; and let the sound of the water really heal you. So these waters of nature will be healing, but we have to do our part in it. It has to be a conscious and wakeful meditation even if the eyes are closed, but you have to be open and receptive as well.

Now in talking about healing, I don't mean that healing is only important to us if we're sick. The Native view on healing is that all people need healing, and all the time. We need continuous healing. This is because we need to continuously return to balance with the Earth. Balance is the larger goal of healing in Native teachings. Or another key word for this is harmony – to be in harmony. In Native teachings, healing essentially means to become more Whole, or more at one with the greater Wholeness of life.

Also, healing is not just about the physical body. We of course want a healthy, purified and balanced harmonious physical body. We need this. But we also need a healthy, clear, and harmonious emotional body. Our emotional body is the sum of our emotions, which is also our emotional energy field or emotional aura. It's our emotions, and how we feel about our self, others and the world. And as we all know, our emotional energies can get disturbed and out of balance sometimes. And we sometimes accumulate emotional stuff that is not so useful or healthy. Sometimes we get these energies from others, and sometimes we create them ourselves by what we hold on to and react to. So the emotional body is very often in need of healing, and the first step in this healing is most definitely clearing.

Thirdly, we often need healing and balance in our mental body, which is the sum of our mental energies of thought, ideas, and beliefs. And as we all know, the mind can get pretty scattered, fragmented, and even confused at times. Sometimes even, the mind seems to have way too much stuff going on, and too many thoughts seem to bounce into and off one another, like a crowded party going on in our own head. So we need mental healing, and the best start to this is clearing the mind, clearing the thoughts. But most people don't have a clue how to do this. They think there is nothing possible to do about it, because it's just the way they are. But it is very possible to clear the thoughts and have a clear mind. It's a beautiful experience to have a clear, calm and peaceful mind. Just as it is beautiful to experience peaceful and harmonious feelings.

So healing is more than just physical healing, because having a healthy and well functioning physical body is itself vitally important and necessary. Also remember that the physical, emotional, and mental energies interrelate and effect one another. They are interrelated and interdependent. So if one is not clear and harmonious, then this will effect the other two. Each effects the others. So healing has to involve the whole deal, the whole being.

Next I'm going to tell you about the four kinds of healing. This isn't about different techniques of healing; because of course there are many techniques and ways of healing. But what's important to learn first are the four cornerstones of healing, which is what I mean by kinds of healing. There are four kinds of healing, and each is related to one of the spirit directions in the Native Medicine Wheel. First is cleansing or purification, related to the south. Next is vitalization or life energizing, related to the west. Next is balance and harmony, related to the north. And fourth is spiritual inspiration or vision, related to the east. Though if anyone starts to argue against these relationships on the medicine wheel, I wouldn't bother making an issue about it, because some tribes see these things somewhat differently, and that's ok. In my opinion, whatever makes sense to you and works for you is just as good as any other way. The main thing is that you get an understanding that makes some sense and that it works.

The first kind of healing is clearing or purification, which we've already been talking a lot about and also practicing. This is the letting of old stuff, or disturbing stuff, or letting go of impurities, discord, or other troubles. Much of this healing involves letting go of stuff, and we each have to consciously do this letting go. Yet on the other hand, we also need to allow the Mother Earth to cleanse us or purify us. That is, we need to allow our Healing Mother to cleanse and purify us, and to clear away all energies that keep us from experiencing wonderful health, vitality and balance.

Just as we've done, it's possible to be emotionally and mentally cleared by simply sitting at a running creek, listening to the purifying, clearing waters, if we put in some conscious effort and do it sincerely. Clearing is the same as purification. Clearing and purification go hand in hand. First clear out the old and purify the blocks; and then go on to bring in power. No sense trying to gain power or balance, if you're not yet already clear, or at least as clear as we can be at the time. It's a waste to empower a cluttered or scattered mind, and a waste to empower a closed down heart with frantic or disturbed emotions. So we start with clearing and purification, which is important in any holistic healing.

This healing work of cleansing and clearing is what the Native Sweat is mostly about, which uses sacred fire heated stones to make healing steam as water is splashed over them. In this way, both sacred fire and sacred water are being used for cleansing and purification healing. Native ways most often use water for emotional and mental clearing, because water itself is cleansing. One might go out into the rain to let the water clear one's emotions. Or one could immerse in a natural stream or a lake, to clear off emotional residues and also to gain mental clarity. Even a splash of water on the face whenever we cross a running stream is a good practice. Native healers also use fire and smoke to cleanse, such as using smudge to clear the emotional-mental energy aura. And finally, the sun itself is a great healer, though of course in moderation. Because sunlight can clear away stuff and destroy impurities.

There are medicine shamans who use spiritual light for purification and healing. This spiritual light can be found in inner meditation and in vision journeys. It's the Light that is the cause of physical light. It comes from Great cosmic Spirit-beings and ultimately from Great Spirit. And like I said, this spiritual Light is purifying and healing. We could even call it the healing Light. The practice is to visualize great intense Light above you, then see this Light shine down into and through your energy field and physical body, which then burns away and purifies any impurities or energy problems. Let Light purify you, from mind through body, from head to toe. The Light clears away anything that is not purely good and spiritual, and thus brings healing. This is a great healing practice, and it complements healing with water, which can also be visualized as cleansing your body if physical water isn't available at the time.

Spiritual Light can also be brought into the earth and into humanity, not only to purify but also to awaken our spiritual intuition and to dispel the many false delusions people have. My medicine teacher told me that in many of the traditional indigenous cultures there are certain selected and trained shamans who work in meditation states to channel greater Light into special sacred earth sites. These sacred power sites then act as radiating centers of Light and channel this Light into the minds of humanity. Some global medicine workers were given the task of helping to maintain a natural balance in humanity, which is why certain traditional rituals and ceremonies were brought to native cultures, to help maintain world balance and stability. This secret medicine work has been going on for a very long time, and those involved would be able to mentally communicate with each other across the world. This is what I was told, and that it's still going on. But my teacher said that really anyone can participate in this work with the Light, if they are willing to put in the time and effort. For without any doubt, much of humanity needs a healing purification of their artificial delusions, their greed, and their carelessness about the earth. As well, we can at least work with love, and there are many who make an inner practice or perform prayers to bring greater spiritual love into the world. Our sincere love and gratitude for all of Mother Earth helps to strengthen all of life.

The next necessary kind of healing is energizing or vitalizing. This is also related to empowering. We need energy. We need vitality. We need revitalization. We need a renewal of good, positive energy. And we can get this revitalizing energy from the Earth. It comes from the ground, from the rocks, from the plants and trees. This is known as vital energy, or life energy, or it's also called etheric energy or ki or prana. It's called called mana, meaning the energy-food of life, and this mana is everywhere on Earth, in the plants, in the rocks, in the air and the water.

You breathe in this vital energy, prana or mana, but consciously and with intention, and so you can fill yourself with this vitalizing energy, and you can take in all you need. This is the vital energy of good health, which we need to be healthy and strong. Our physical body of course needs this vital life energy. The strength and immune system of the body depends on it. But also our emotional and mental bodies need it as well, because emotionally we need to be strong and vital, and mentally we need this vital energy to intensify our consciousness and strengthen the power of our mind.

Vital energy, or mana, also comes from the sun as well. Solar mana is very powerful, and the native shamans and priests of olden times learned how accumulate and channel this solar mana, which is one of the purposes of temples and pyramids. Also of course, many medicine teachers, temple priests, and other earth-spiritual people make a daily ritual of homage and gratitude to the sun, to the great sun Spirit. Partly they do this in order to refresh their body and spirit with solar mana, but also partly they do this for the whole community and world by being a human representative of earth who gives gratitude to the great sun Spirit. Giving love and gratitude for what is given reciprocates spiritual energies and keeps the Flow going. The native view is that we are all part of a larger life-energy system, which requires reciprocal flow, and our role in this is to be actively giving in some way rather than just taking. So it's always good to remember gratitude whenever we receive vital energies from the earth or solar energy from the sun.

So going back now to the two kinds of healing, the purifying and the vitalizing, each complements the other and each is related to a phase of our breath. We use the out-breath for purifying or cleansing, and we use the in-breath for vitalizing or energizing. Of course in any of these healing practices, you have to breathe in and out. That's obvious. You can't spend 5 minutes just breathing out, without also breathing in. So in either practice, we still have to work with the whole breath cycle, but either the out-breath or in-breath is emphasized and concentrated upon, depending on which kind of healing we are doing.

Remember that it's best to start with the purifying-cleansing healing before going on to the vitalizing work. We first want a cleansed and purified energy container before filling it up with vital power, because otherwise the incoming vital power tends to get distorted by old stuff that's still in the container. So before filling up with all that fresh natural energy, first clean out the container. Even if you're tired or exhausted, you should first start off with the cleansing, the clearing, the purifying.

In fact, this is an excellent way to get rid of tiredness. Just spend some time breathing it out to get rid of it. Tiredness is a kind of energy; it's tired energy. Most people think of tiredness as simply a lack of energy, and this does make logical sense. But actually, tiredness is itself a kind of energy; it's a tired, stale energy. So, tiredness is a kind of energy-stuff, which we need to let go of in order to feel more energetic. Most people don't think of tiredness in this way, so they try to acquire vital energy, but the tired energy is still going to be draining. Some healers understand tiredness as a sign of energy leakage, so if the leak doesn't get fixed, then it will continue to drain any vital energy gained. Later on I'll explain how to fix energy leakages. But for now, think of tiredness as a sticky stale substance which impedes the flow and accumulation of vital energy. So it's good to first breathe out and release your tiredness, before doing the breathing practices for vitalization.

Practice this now. In your own time and rhythm, whatever feels right, take in one very large deep breath, hold it for just a moment or two while imagining all your stale tired energies. Then breathe all this out in a relieving flow of release. Like, ah, there it goes. You'll feel it happening. You'll feel your tiredness being breathed out and released. Do this at least two more times, or just keep doing it until you definitely feel more clear, cleansed, and rid of the tiredness. You can do this same kind of releasing-clearing practice with any kind of energy or emotion that is stale or in need of being cleared.

Next, when you feel better, after releasing the tired energies or any other stale or stressful energies, then practice the vital healing. Breathe in vital energy from the earth below and also from the plants and trees around you. Without any reserve, take in this good, vitalizing energy. Take it in through your in-breath, with the recognition that you really do need it and you are worthy to receive all you need. Mother Earth loves you and wants you to have all the vitality you need, so take in and receive all you need. Breathe it in, breathe it in deeply, and keep breathing it in, until you feel you have all you need. Don't be shy or timid about it. There is plenty to go around, plenty for everyone. This the good energy of the Earth.

The third necessary kind of healing is balance, or harmony. This is when all the energies and functions of the body are in balanced harmony. It's when everything and every part in us are working cooperatively and harmonious, for the greater purpose of whole health in the whole self. It's when all aspects of us are working correctly and with maximum health. Energy-balancing techniques are numerous, and many healers develop their own particular technique. My teacher used a pendulum, along with hands on balancing. Also, Native rituals involving the Medicine Wheel are very much to do with bringing harmony and balance to one's life, as well as to the land.

But one way that each of us can balance our own self is to simply feel the quality of harmony and balance in our energy field and in our body. And if we can really feel it, then it is happening. Energy always follows thought and feeling. So feel the harmony and balance. Think harmony and feel harmony. Or if this is not so easy at the time, then start with feeling that you are becoming more in harmony or more harmonious with Life. If this does not work as yet, then start with a wish to be harmony or a wish to be in balance. At least start with a wish. Or at least start with a prayer for harmony and balance.

But here is secret to feeling and becoming more harmonious. First open to and feel the harmony that comes from Mother Earth. She is the Great Goddess of harmony. She is the Great Wisdom of harmony, balance and health. So open consciously to Mother Earth, to the Earth Harmony, to the Earth Intelligence of Harmony. Feel the harmony of Mother Earth. And the best way to do this is out in nature, in a beautiful place, where we can feel peace and harmony. Nature has the power to heal us with peace, harmony and balance, because nature has these qualities. So being in nature helps to bring our energy field and our body back into harmony and balance. This itself is amazing, this power of Nature to heal us in this way.

So sit or walk in nature, and feel the harmony and balance that is being given. It's wonderful. But if one is sitting or walking in nature, yet jabbering about this or that, and thus not giving any awareness to this healing power of nature, then there probably won't be any real healing. We have to be at least somewhat present and aware of these healing energy qualities, in order for them to work in oneself. And what helps as well is conscious breath, which is to be aware of one's breath in relation to nature's harmony and balancing energies. It's great to know various harmony-balancing healing techniques, but working with breath and feeling is the most effective way to enter into the healing harmony and to balance our energies.

Practice breathing in harmony with the Earth harmony, so that your breath comes into harmony with the harmonious rhythm of our Earth Mother. Basically, we work with our breath to come into a more beautiful harmony with the Earth. We do this feeling and with breath. We feel the rhythm of Earth harmony, then harmonize our breath with this. Essentially, this is the practice, and from this we come into a finer harmony with the harmony and balancing healing of Mother Earth.

To work further in this, you should practice balancing the in and out breath, so that both are evenly balanced in duration. A good way to do this is while walking and using the counts of your step. First take some deep breaths, to get all ready and relaxed. Then, at some point, begin a conscious in-breath on your right step, and start here with step counting. Your goal in this practice, and it will take a bit of practice at first, is to walk eight steps breathing-in, then eight steps breathing-out, and keep continuing this. If you get into it, into the rhythm of it, it's quite enjoyable, very energizing, and very balancing. Actually you're breathing in and out on seven steps, because the eighth step ends up being a breathing pause between the in and out and in again. Anyway, practicing this will balance your breath and also bring your energy field into natural balance, and also bring you into balance with the Earth harmony and balance.

This healing work also requires two factors to be working together, which is our self and Nature. On the one hand are the harmonizing and balancing energies of Nature. Then on the other hand is our own self and what we are doing. Nature is giving to us her harmony and balancing energies, which is like a sound quality of harmony resonating from Nature. This harmony resonance then resonates in our own body, thus bringing us into harmony and balance. But in order for this to properly work, we need to first make some small effort to bring our self into harmony with Nature.

So this healing work is not merely a passive thing, like laying on a massage table and getting worked on. The healing power of Nature will indeed work on us, but we have to participate in some way and make some kind of effort, which is to consciously harmonize our self with Nature. This means to willingly bring our energy into harmony with Nature, or to harmonize our self with the natural energies around us. When you practice this, you'll understand what I mean. It's not mere thinking; it's a real energy experience. You're bringing your energy field into harmony with Nature, as best as you can at this time, while also being open to Nature harmonizing you. You make your effort, and She'll do her part in it. This is the healing collaboration between you and Nature.

Finally, the fourth kind of healing is spiritual inspiration or vision. This is when the spiritual waters of love and beauty fill our experience, renewing our heart and spirit. Love and beauty enters into our heart, into our being, and we feel uplifted and renewed by this higher kind of energy. In all beautiful and peaceful place of Nature, and especially from sacred natural places, we can be uplifted and healed by the beauty, the love and the peace. This spiritual kind of healing, or inspirational healing, will then transform our mental, emotional and physical bodies. It has very deep positive effects. Most simply, this kind of healing can be understood as the healing gained from an upliftment of heart and mind. It's like being given a 'step up', or gaining a newly expanded consciousness, a new opening into a wider View or next Step.

This upliftment of heart and mind is also known as spiritual Vision. It's when a Greater understanding and experience suddenly opens up, which then is transformative and change-altering in one's life. In the Native teachings, this is a needed spiritual healing from Great Spirit. It is a visionary and inspirational healing, which leads one from an old view to a New View, from a limited view to a more Expanded View, and from a self-centered view to a more All-centered View. This kind of healing can have a great effect on one's life, as it might change one's whole course of action, and it might motivate one to do spiritual practices – in order to better keep a balanced harmony between oneself and Great Spirit and with Mother Earth.

So how does this happen – this spiritual vision, this new inspiration and renewal? Can we do anything to help this happen, or can all we do is to hope and pray? Prayer helps, and in American Native traditions the vision questers pray to Great Spirit for vision, inspiration, renewal, and even for creative artistic ideas. But as well, there are things we can do, rather than just ask and pray, and then remain passive in awaiting a response. First of all, we can go out into nature and meditate, then make a spiritual connection with nature and the land, and open up to new experiences. Anyone can do this, yet few people will make the effort.

But if we want a spiritual vision or a new inspiration in our lives, then we really have to at least get out of our regular routine habits, because nothing new can happen and no new experiences can happen, if we simply remain in our normal routines, with the same old thoughts and same old feelings, etc. You have to get out of it – out of the ordinary routine world, and go into a new unexplored world. You have to make that effort – to enter into a brand new place that is not just the same old thing. So people have to get out of their cozy little habits, with their tvs and cell phones and all the other stuff that absorbs their mind, and trek into the wilderness, the forests, or some kind of natural and unspoiled place; in order to get refreshed and renewed, and to make it possible for a new kind of experience to happen. So the first advice would be to get out and into nature, and then start freeing oneself from the mental and emotional energies that's been collected from the everyday life of routine.

In the Native Way, a person might go on a vision quest, which is to go off into a wilderness or up a mountain, or at least go somewhere into nature all alone, in order to meditate and pray for personal vision. And this doesn't just mean to have some ideas. It's great to have ideas and also visions of the possible future. But the deeper purpose for a vision quest is to have some profound experiences, inner spiritual experiences, like experiencing one's connection with all of nature or having an experience of unity in nature. Or to have a real experience of Great Spirit, so that this isn't just an idea or a belief, but an actual experience. So a vision quest is one way for us to possibly experience a spiritual connection, or to have some spiritual inspiration or vision. Yet in our modern times, an actual vision quest might be quite difficult to organize and accomplish. In fact, in many of the native traditions, a vision quest had to be supervised by a medicine teacher and you had to fast for period of time, and you even needed special permission to enter into certain sacred areas of land. So certainly not all people would be able to accomplish a traditional vision quest. And yet, we all need spiritual experience, healing and vision. So we can't really wait for some medicine man to come along and send us out on a vision quest. We have to just go do it ourselves. We have to each go out into nature and let go, release the past and open up to the future. Open up to experiencing who we really are, down deep. And discovering our spiritual relationship with the natural world. People need to get into a spiritual relationship with the natural world, not only for their own real healing but also for the sake of this world which is getting trashed by all the insensitive, unconnected idiots. So we all need to be out more in nature, to experience these healing and spiritual energies, and also we need to practice some kind of meditation in nature in order to realize our true, natural self.

But now, let me tell you a secret to having an experience of your true self, the true spirit within. The secret is really two activities, letting go and opening up. Letting go of all the conditioned ideas about oneself, while being open to experiencing one's true self emerging from underneath everything else, from the ground of one's being. Our true and authentic self, which is our natural self, is often covered up by the layers of conditioned beliefs and thoughts we have about who we are what is real. These are conditioned into us from a very early age, when as a child we are completely accepting of what parents and others tell us is real and right. So we learn from all those people what is real about ourselves and the world. And usually, they were simply passing down to you what they themselves had learned from their cultural and parental upbringing. And so it goes, the same beliefs and values of a culture passed down from generation to generation, as each child is hypnotized and conditioned by those before. Now of course, some beliefs, ideas and values passed down might be very true and very important. I'm not saying that everything we acquire from our parents and culture is wrong or bad. I'm just saying that it was conditioned into us, kind of like being programmed into our minds at an early vulnerable age. Some of this stuff could be quite true, but a lot of it is simply false and limiting. Yet most people never question these beliefs that were acquired by their conditioning.

So on a larger scale, one problem with humanity in general is that too many people have been conditioned and caught up in artificially invented, non-natural, false beliefs about themselves and what is truly important in life. The cultural and consumer oriented media is also reinforcing many of these false beliefs and values, because this is how our economic system runs. If too many people opted out of the present economic system, opted out of being a mass consumer and keeping their savings in corporate banks, and instead chose the values a natural life, then the consumeristic economic system would start to crumble. Those guys know this, and it scares them. They need us to all to be part of their artificial world with their artificial values.

So, to get back to how this is all related to the vision quest and our own self-discovery; first we have to let go of our culturally conditioned beliefs, about our self and about life. These culturally conditioned beliefs are what hold back our possible new vision of who we are. In fact, many of these cultural and also religious beliefs are falsely prejudiced against earth connection ideas. Many of these conditioned beliefs also hold us back from experiencing who we truly are in our essence. They're like a layer of old crust covering up our real self essence, and which also keeps us from having a real experience of our deeper spiritual essence. So the first step has to be letting go of all this, and this will take some time. There could be many layers. It takes some time to recognize a conditioned belief and then letting it go. You don't have to completely reject every belief you have about yourself, but at least take it down from its pedestal or at least question it. In fact, it is a very big step to question or deeply consider what we presently think is true and right. But if there is no questioning, or if there is no looking deeply and honestly into our self beliefs and values, then there isn't much chance for having a new and transforming vision. How would a spiritual vision ever get through all that thick crust or hard layer of fixed and set beliefs? So there has to be at least a looseness of our beliefs and ideas, and an openness to seeing in a new way. This is the opening door to a new vision. And this new vision is like a ray of truth that suddenly enters through an open window in our mind. Having an open mind to vision and also an open heart to know our innermost truth are the essentials.

Our natural truth being will be revealed and will shine through to the extent that we are clear of the crusty obstacles of our past conditioning. So the overall goal here is to clear out all of the simply-just-accepted ideas about yourself, the conditioned crust of self experience, so that your real true self can be revealed. Eliminate the crust and the barriers, so that you true self essence will shine through, right into conscious experience. This is what can happen when we let go of our conditioned self-beliefs, while also opening up to our true essence of self being revealed.

We resumed our walk, and after quite awhile walking in silence and in practice we came to a larger stream than before, where we found a large flat boulder to sit on for a break. Of course though, in calling this a break, we never just tuned out or drifted into our own little selves. We would relax, but also stay consciously and sensitively aware of the nature all around us. I heard some ducks close by but couldn't actually see them.

Experiencing the healing energies of Nature

The greatest healing energies are found in the beautiful places of nature. But you have to be there. You have to get there and then be there. What I mean is that you can go into nature, yet not really be there. Your body is there, but your mind and heart is somewhere else. Very often the thoughts and the talk are somewhere in the past, in memories, or else the mind is wondering about the future, like what to do when you get back home or what to have for dinner. The goal-oriented mind seems to have a difficult time just being present in the present moment and being aware through the flowing present. Like I've said so many times, first you have to really get here, and then be able to remain here. And here is wherever you are. So when you're in a beautiful place or on a beautiful walk, the biggest step is to not wish or think about being somewhere else or in some other moment but right now. Then you can really be here, wherever you are. This is the first important step in receiving healing from Nature, from Mother Earth.

Now, once here and completely present, being fully awake in mind, heart and body; the next step is relax the mind. In fact, relax the need to think at all. No need to think. Just breathe, be conscious, be relaxed and present. Relax and breathe consciously. This helps a whole lot. The breath itself can be relaxed and unforced; not trying to be in any particular rhythm, but simply relaxed in the joy of just breathing, and breathing in all this beauty and good healing, even at times taking in some nice enjoyable deep breaths. So take in some nice deep breaths, if you feel like it, and let out some deep releasing breaths. This also feels great.

Breathe in all the good, and breathe out all the old stale stuff. Breathe in the renewing energies, and breathe out all the stuff that needs to go. This is all part of the clearing work and the revitalizing healing. But no need to force anything or try too hard. You do this because it feels good and because you know it's good. But keep coming back to the relaxing and just being here. Because this is how you become attuned with the natural world around you. Relax, be here, and harmonize with Nature.

Your particular needed effort in all this is to stay awake, to be conscious of what's going on, and also conscious of your own feelings and thoughts, and perhaps tensions or resistances. Whatever feelings of tensions or resistances, let them go, as this is part of the conscious clearing practice. Breath helps us be more conscious and also more sensitive to our own energies and reactions. The only kind of thought you really need in all this is realizing why you’re sitting here. All other thinking is unneeded and can be part of the clearing practice.

The final effort you need is to harmonize with the Natural energies in front and all around you... making some degree of conscious effort to be in harmony with Nature and with the natural place you’re in. You need to have a conscious willingness to harmonize yourself with the healing energy and healing intelligence of Nature, and what helps in this is decision. You might need to decide: I'm willing to be in harmony, I'm open to it, and I choose to harmonize myself with Nature. This conscious decision or choice is what I mean by willingness. And the little bit you need to do to help make this happen is your effort in it. It's a kind of effort, yet balanced by a kind of allowing.

It's a kind of effort, in that it's like making an adjustment in your energies, as best you can. It's like adjusting your own sound to the harmonious chorus around you. Yet in some sense, it's also like allowing yourself be adjusted or harmonized by the greater harmonies of Nature. So to some degree this might require an effort, but to some degree it's more a matter of allowing. This might involve some letting go, and it might involve some opening up, and it also might involve some trusting and allowing. Then, the healing energies of Nature can absorb into you and harmonize your energy field into natural health.

The final step, then, is to simply sit in the presence of this natural place. To sit in its presence is to sit in its spirit. Then start to receive and absorb the healing energies of this place. Just sit, be, and absorb. Let the sounds of Nature and the beauty of Nature and the presence of Nature, heal you. Let it heal you from head to toe. Remember that Nature itself is the great intelligence of natural health and harmony. So let it heal you all through your whole energy field and through your whole body, and through your mind and heart. Let it all in, and let it all be healing.

Coyote became silent at this point and closed his eyes. He began breathing deeply but in a relaxed way. So I did the same. We just sat, breathing consciously with deep relaxed breaths, while listening to the waters running over the rocks. I worked with what he suggested, being consciously in the healing energies of this place and allowing the healing energies and the harmony to absorb into my energy-being and throughout my whole body. In awhile I opened my eyes yet still remained in the meditation experience, as I also felt the visual beauty being absorbed into me. After some minutes, Coyote spoke again.

To be fully conscious, in one's breath and also in one's senses, is the best way to work with the healing energies of Nature – to bring in these healing energies and to become harmonized and balanced by the natural world. But one doesn't always have to be intensely conscious in nature, in order to gain healing from an area. What I've been telling you is the best way to receive from nature, but you can also benefit from simply resting or even sleeping in a sacred or beautiful or peaceful natural place. This works best, though, if you first make a conscious intention to be receptive of the healing, before you drift into a rest or a sleep. So it's really best to first make some conscious effort and practice, and then, if you feel the need, lay down or sit relaxed, and allow yourself to drift into a trusting rest.

The main advice in this kind of practice is to drift into a deep rest or into a sleep with the feelings of trust, peace and gratitude. These are the feelings you want to have just as you drift into deep rest and into the dream world. Imagine and feel that you are sinking, with trust, into the loving and healing body of Mother Earth, as She wraps you in her warm and tender love. Or in other words, fall into sleep with the feeling of being embraced with healing love. And trust that this restful sleep will bring healing to your whole body, emotions and mind. Then, as you rest or sleep, the healing power of Mother Earth will absorb into your energy field and through your body, and this will all work in a subconscious way. All you need to do is to trust and let it happen.

From this practice of intentionally resting in Nature, you can receive one of the kinds of healing or maybe even all four. During this rest time, you could become cleared of lingering negative energies or emotions, as this clearing would happen subconsciously while you are resting. Or during this time, you could become more vitalized, as the vital-life energy enters into you from the ground below. Or during this time, you could become more harmonized and balanced, in body, emotions and mind. Or during this time, you could be given a spiritual inspiration or an important vision, and then wake up remembering it. Shamans and also vision questers will often receive visions or guidances while dreaming during sleep or in a semi-unconscious dream state.

So, any of these kinds of healing could happen, or maybe more than one. And all while you rest or sleep. Yet as I said, to make this work in the best way, make a definite intention before you drift off, which is to have an aim in mind about what you are doing and what you want to happen. Or this intention could be to decide in what way you'd like to receive or get help from Nature. Or you can set up your intention by clarifying to your subconscious why you are needing to rest and how you hope Nature will be healing to you. The intention could also be voiced as a prayer. Having an intention, an aim, a prayer, or even a hope, and thinking about this before you drift off, will open up the possibility of this healing happening while you rest or sleep. So all this is possible, and it does really work, but as I said, the most effective and direct way of healing from Nature is with a conscious practice, when you're awake to what's happening and working consciously with it. This is best.

Also important for this healing work is that you choose a good healing place to meditate in or to rest in, some place that you feel is safe, comfortable and with the feeling of beauty all around you. Certain places, and even certain spots within certain places, are especially healing. The land at these special places have healing powers and were considered sacred places. In native indigenous communities the elders and medicine teachers passed down the knowledge of where these are, but they were also careful about who actually knows and what rules should apply there. You don't want everyone to know that a particular place has special powers, because you don't want teenagers to simply party there, and you don't want it to become a kind of tourist attraction. Too many people can ruin a special place, unless they walk in quiet deep respect. So it's generally best that these special sacred places are not advertized. Then, the only people who will know about these special sacred places are those who are really awake and sensitive to the earth energies.

So don't wait around for some book to tell you where to go. Find special healing places on your own. Really, they're all over. If you just trust your natural senses and natural feelings, you'll find them. There might even be some good healing places in your own backyard, or you could even make a nice area to lay down for healing rest when you need it. Any place can become more healing if you bring special love and care to it, and if you build it with a peaceful and beautiful quality.

Coyote seemed done with his teaching at this time, but I did have a question. Does pollution effect the Earth's power of healing? I asked.

Coyote got up slowly and stretched. I did the same. “Let's walk.” We crossed the creek and walked silently uphill along the trail for a good five minutes, then Coyote began replying to my question.

Over the past few centuries man has been polluting the Earth with plastics and strange toxic chemicals, as well as destroying many of the forests and other ecosystems, and also loading the atmosphere with too much carbon dioxide from all the coal and oil and gas burning. Then also there's the radioactive waste and leakages from nuclear stuff. And also many of the sacred sites have been bought up by profit seekers and developed. So yes, I suppose we could make a long list of the abuses and extra problems we've created for Earth, and these of course can effect us, not just physically but also psychologically. And the Earth Mother does feel pain from the harms we do to Her. The Elders tell us this.

But the Earth's power of healing still remains pure and strong. This is because the Earth's healing energies come from deep within Her being. These healing energies come from deep within the Earth Spirit.

We can, of course, be effected negatively by pollution and by energies created from abuse to Mother Earth. In fact, all through the history of humanity are examples of Earth abuse, most often related to wars and the greed to have more. So at any time in history there have been places spoiled by war and violence, and unfortunately, the energies of the land are negatively effected by violence, killings and rape. These areas then radiate negative energies which are not healing. The healing Earth energies at these areas has become polluted by man's harmful actions, and the natural energy Flow has been disrupted. Stay away from those places.

But the good news is that even these negatively produced areas can be healed and restored back to natural health. Certain shamans know how to do this with energy transforming techniques, but the simplest and easiest way is to physically clean up the place and restore a natural beauty there. And most important, bring love to the place. Bring some TLC, some tender loving care to the place. Bring true respect and bring gratitude. These are the healing ways we can give back to the natural world, in order to restore her healing powers from the abuse that people previously brought. So yes, in this way we can be healers to Mother Earth, in those places where people hurt her, polluted and disrupted the healing energies. When we give to nature our love and gratitude, this is very powerful and transformative.

So when in need of natural healing energies, first of all get into the good areas, in the truly natural areas, and don't expect much healing coming from congested cities, shopping malls, or from land-mining areas, or from trashed out negative feeling areas. In other words, there are natural areas of beautiful nature for healing, so go there and spend time in those energies. That's the healing choice.

By analogy, we could focus our consciousness on negative things in the world and even get emotionally absorbed in various problems. But if we need some healing, we should re-focus our consciousness on natural beauty or on being grateful for all the Earth gives us. So for healing, we need to remove ourselves from the hustle and bustle energies and from non-natural negative energies, at least for a time, and then enter into loving, beautiful, healing places. This we need for healing renewal, whether we enter into an actual physical place of healing or it's done in consciousness.

It's kind of like there's two layers of reality going on. On the more surface layer of life, there are all sorts of energies going on around the planet and in the psychic sphere. It's like being at a movie, and all sorts of stuff goes on; any of which can effect us if we let it in too deep or get too identified in it. But then, underneath this surface layer or this social layer, there's a deeper layer of energy reality – which is the natural world. So underneath the human or social world, as it were, is the natural world – which we have unfortunately covered up too much with the human layer.

But the natural world is still here! It's just that sometimes we have to uncover it, rediscover it or re-cognize it. This natural world is the manifestation of the Earth Spirit, so we need to spend good quality time in this natural manifestation. But also remember that the Earth Spirit itself is really always here, wherever we are, even though sometimes it's hidden underneath the surface layer of our experience. The Spirit of Earth, the Spirit of Life, and Great Spirit which encompasses and pervades all, never really go away. They just sometimes dis-appear from our experience, because we get too wrapped up in the outer layer stuff of life. But at any moment and in any place, we can tune in and find the Spirit of Nature right within us and hopefully we can also find this in at least a few places near by.

So the healing energies are still alive and well in the natural world. This is why we need to protect and save all those natural places, and not let the money grabbers become land grabbers and take away our sacred places. Because when they buy up our sacred places, they build cheap developments or even worse they blow up the mountain or they dig huge gashes in the land to get coal, gas or minerals. So we have to protect our Earth and natural areas from being further abused and destroyed. Because the money grabbers just don't really care at all about the Earth and sacred places, and neither do they care about people's health.

But the Earth's healing energies are still powerful and flowing in the protected natural areas. This is where the Earth healing is. So it is lost in some places and in many places it has lessened, but there are still many natural places around for healing. The test is if you can find peace there, and love and beauty. If you can feel those special qualities in a place, then you know there is healing. The less a place is tainted by man's disrespect, the more healing energy there will be. Simple as that. If left natural, any place has natural healing energies, though some special places do have more than usual.

We can put up structures or homes or make landscapes in a natural place, and if done with real respect and cooperation with the nature, then those natural healing energies won't disappear. So it is possible to build with nature and work with nature, without disrupting or depleting the natural healing energies and flow. Then we can enjoy nature's healing energies right where we live. Even backyards and little places in the cities can be worked with to enhance and bring forth the healing energies of Earth. So the healing energies are powerfully here in nature, but we have to protect the natural world and also bring back more of nature into cities and other built-up areas. This is not just for beauty, but also for our own psychological well-being, because there's an essential connection between nature and our natural well-being, physically, emotionally and mentally.

We can also help bring love back to the Earth, which is a spiritual action. Bring love, respect and gratitude, and we do this from our heart. It's an invisible action, but it does have positive effects, because when we give our love, respect, and gratitude to the Earth, then this helps bring forth Her powers to love and heal us. The Earth has a lot more to give to us, spiritually and energetically, than has yet been; because until more of humanity give their true respect, love and gratitude to the Earth, She will not unveil all of her powers and beauty. So there's a lot more that the Earth can give to us, in love and in medicine energies, but She's waiting for our respect and recognition and gratitude. Why would a woman unveil herself completely, unless she first felt respected, recognized and loved? But I'm not going to hold my breath and wait for the rest of humanity to wake up and love the Earth. We have to make up for everyone else's slack.

We should do this reciprocative love and gratitude work everywhere we go in nature, because when we give our love, respect, and gratitude to a natural place, then the love and healing energies of that place awaken from sleep and begin to resonate. Spirits and energies become more lively when they are recognized. We say that the spirit of the place comes out from hiding, when we show our respect and recognition. So an important step for us is to walk with recognition of the sacredness, beauty and healing of the natural world, and especially make a love-recognition connection to the particular area we're in.

Well that's enough talk. Let's get back to silence and being more awake to the beauty and power of Nature as we walk. Let's practice love-recognition as we walk. Give to the land and to nature your love and gratitude, and open up your recognition of what's really here.

We walked on silently as the trail stayed parallel to the creek, each of us in our own silent practice and experience of love. The sun was getting low and the day was ending. We saw a sandy area near to the creek below, so we hiked down across some boulders and made humble camp there. We gathered some dry leaves, twigs and small fallen branches to build a little campfire near by the creek. Luckily we had sand to sleep on, but I added further to my comfort by gathering more leaves and putting them inside my light rain tarp, thus making a nice cushiony bed on the sand.

By the campfire we talked some about the day and the landscapes we passed through, and Coyote asked me to describe my experiences of a few practices. He told me to let the experiences absorb into me and also let the understanding be absorbed gradually, but you have to keep up a continued effort to change perspectives and not simply allow the usual patterns of mind and habit to take over. I realized that the day had been very full, with many different shifts of experience occurring in me. We never really ate much during the day, nor in the evening, but I felt fulfilled nonetheless.


The next day was again beautiful; not a cloud in the sky. The morning had a slight chill to it, but the sun was quickly heating up the day. This would be an easy day to feel grateful for nature's beauty and for being out here in it. We left our little camp area, and we left it exactly how it was, without any sign to anyone that we had been there. This was the native way, Coyote said. Don't leave your trash, don't leave any sign of the fire, and don't leave any of your ego laying around.

The trail meandered closed to the creek but then turned into ascending switchbacks; not my favorite thing, but it did get my energy pumped up. Unexpectedly, we suddenly came to a sunny open field but with a number of large evergreens. We entered into the field and Coyote reminded me to be very awake and attentive to the energies of presence in the area.

Balancing self presence with receptivity

Find a place to sit where there is an openness or spaciousness in front of you, though any natural place is alright. Begin to breathe your own presence outward into the space, expanding your consciousness and love into the space. Feel and realize and sense your conscious presence filling the space. This is the practice of presence-expansion. It is an expansion of your personal aura, your personal presence and power.

This practice of expanding your consciousness, your presence, outward into the space around will increase the power of your personal presence. It will exercise the expansion of your magnetic aura. This will be helpful in many life circumstances, where you want to be spiritually strong and protected from negative influences. Protections involving either talismans or psychic walls are never as effective as a strong and expansive aura, or personal presence. This expansive presence is both a psychic power and an energetic feeling. The experience of personal power will always feel expansive.

You can actually do this anywhere. It's not imposing or harmful on others, unless you're expanding negativity. So the practice here is, of course, an expansion of your good energy, your love and your purity of awareness. This is beneficial to the surrounding space. If you have doubts about the quality of your own energy or presence, then first do the purification practice and the Earth balancing practice, both involving conscious breath. So first make sure you feel pure and balanced.

So this kind of practice involves an active-expansion of our consciousness and energy presence. But this should be balanced by receptive-allowing practices. Therefore, next, after giving enough time and practice to the expansion of your conscious presence, you should balance this by reversing the perspective of your experience. Let's practice this now. Listen to what I say and make use of it.

Become humbly receptive to the wide space in front of you, which means you become allowingly open to the very presence of spirit-consciousness of the land or in front of you. You might find it difficult to maintain a continuity of this experience, but the more you practice the easier it gets. So try this now.

Your senses and awareness do not reach outward, but instead they remain receptive to what comes in from the outside, simply allowing and receiving. Don't focus outward, nor focus on anything in particular. You just remain in an open receptive state of mind and in an intensified state of sensitivity.

The mind here is a sensitive instrument, allowing and receiving impressions and energies coming in. The sensitive mind can fine tune itself to only receive certain kinds of impressions or energies, but in this practice the sensitive mind is just open to the conscious presence of the land, to the pure conscious spirit of the land. Then, you can consciously feel and receive the presence of Love from this space. This development of sensitivity is as important as the development of an expansive presence and personal protection. For without sensitivity, one would be cut-off from knowing the feelings and needs of life around. One would be insensitive to others, and one would be ir-responsive to the world around.

Sensitivity is opposite to expansive self-power, yet both are complements. Sensitivity could still be called a power, but it is not an expanding out kind of power. Yet like the practice of expanding self-presence, it too is a developed personal ability, and with this ability you can actually sense and feel energies and other consciousness' from a distance. However, with receptive sensitivity you allow energies to come to you.

For some people, the practice of receptive sensitivity may seem more natural and easier than the expanding-presence practice. But for most people, the opposite is easier. Yet both are equally natural to our humanness. What we are seeking by this is an equal balance of these natural powers or abilities. The final goal, if you need a goal, is for this receptive consciousness to be in relative balance and equilibrium with the active consciousness. So we need to develop this other way of experience, for the sake of right balance, because the ego-centric perspective is already very developed and virtually habitual.

In the right balance, a person has power in both ways. They have power to reach out to the lives and spirits of nature with an active consciousness, studying and making note of certain features about things; or like the power of talking to nature and directing the interaction. But also you need to develop receptive power, by allowing yourself to be the object of consciousness, allowing yourself to be seen and understood, which is like the power of being a listener. It is all about having balance in relationship with nature. So if you are habitually talking, thinking, or active in relationship to the natural world, then your relationship is obviously out of balance! Relax and allow a reversal of the roles.

Work with these two kinds of practice, the expanding presence and the receptive sensitivity practice. Start with the expanding practice, and do this for a time. When you feel you have mastered this as well as you can, then reverse your whole perceptual experience and practice the receptive-sensitivity practice.

I'll work on the same practices at the same time, so I can help you energetically with resonance. I won't give you anymore instruction in this. You just work with what I've told you. You might need to think some in this, about what I've said and about what to do. That's ok, but the practice itself is not a thinking. Rather, it is purely experiential, involving consciousness and energies. Take all the time you need. I can sense when you are done enough with it, so some point I'll say it is enough.

Remember that these are not just practices to help you grow and have new experiences, even though they are certainly transforming. They are also essential in healing the land and the Earth, and in awakening and bringing forth the consciousness, the Love and the Wisdom of the Land. Basically, the natural law is that the spirits only come awake, and only become actually effective, when there is a receptive space for their own active consciousness and when there is a spiritual recognition. Then the potential of natural spirit presence will become actual and effective.

We then spent some time practicing self-presence and receptivity. I found it useful to work with one for a time, then the other, rather than attempt both all at once. Then, after working with each in a concentrated way, and getting better at each, it becomes easier to enter into more of a balance.

After time we moved on, back on the trail. The trail climbed up to the mountain ridge and gave us some wonderful views across the land. There were less trees up here, mostly mesquite which gave off a sweet fragrance. After awhile we stopped and nurtured ourselves with the vista below. The water I sipped on felt like a blessing, as I gratefully swished it in my mouth before consciously swallowing each little gulp. Coyote used his arms to emphasize the vastness of the space around, then launched into more teaching.

Connection and Receptive Space

The shaman first of all focuses outward to a part of Mother Earth. This focus-attention opens the energy path from himself to the other life. It is like making a call to someone. You say Hello there. You set forth your intention to communicate by reaching out your attention, and you keep the line open by not being distracted by unsettled thoughts and uneasy emotions. Extend your consciousness outward and talk to nature. This sets up the communication. You want to say hello and here I am, and tell them that you are here to appreciate and to communicate and to receive what is offered. But then, once this is done, you'll need to stop all of this and just listen, which is the second phase. You'll need to just listen, and just be receptive, and just receive what is given.

So there are two important phases in this, just as there are two phases in conscious breath, the in and the out breath. The first phase, or step, is outer attention and focus. The second phase is receptive sensing and feeling. In the first step, your consciousness moves outward, it extends outward. In the second step, consciousness becomes receptive and allowing.

It's sort of like catching a fish. The shaman first sends out a fishing-line of attention to a particular part of nature. The attention goes out first. But there also has to be sensitivity. Because the fisherman is not trying to smash into the fish; rather, he's trying to make a sensitive connection with the fish then receive it to him. So he has to be patient and be open with sensitivity to what happens. He needs to wait for the fish to come to him, but he is always ready to receive it. With sensitivity he feels when there is an actual connection, and then he begins the next stage of receiving.

So in the first phase, you actively focus your attention and senses upon a particular life or form of nature, and also the spirit energy of that life. To make this energy connection, extend your attention outward and breathe outward toward the tree, the bird, the mountain or stream. Do this with conscious intention and undistracted attention.

Then once you've set up the connecting path, you then enter into the receptive mode and allow the spirit-being energy to enter into your space. Stop talking, stop thinking, and begin listening. Now you must allow the nature spirit into your space, which is the practice of receptive space. Enter into a receptive space – in order to receive the energies, the love, the healing, and any other qualities shared by that life-spirit. Be awake to this, and consciously receive the spirit into your perceptive experience, receiving its presence, its energies, or its qualities. Receptive space is a kind of female attitude of mind. You are allowing nature to reach you and penetrate your space, rather than always reaching out and into nature - which is the male approach. Of course I'm generalizing archetypes to help you understand the difference between the two mental attitudes.

So the complete practice I'm sharing with you involves these two important phases or modes. First become outward in your awareness and fully present in the flow of the moment. This is having outward presence. You need a concentrated yet relaxed mind, whereby awareness does not wander off with thoughts but finds it comfortable and interesting to just be in the here and now of sensory experience. In a way, the breath flows outward into the natural world, and we really begin to be with nature or the world around us. The breath, the awareness and senses have now reached outward into the world.

Now one is ready for the next phase, a receptive phase, whereby the awareness and the breath change direction and now receive from the natural world, rather than reach out to it. This could be called 'receptive space' or 'receptive mind'. It's a different kind experience and way of perception. It's different from our usual way of viewing the world. But realize that this receptive phase carries on from the other phase and it's complementary. In other words, neither phase is meant to be better than the other or to replace the other. Both are important. Yet the receptive phase is very often neglected or unexperienced by the average person. So in our usual way of perceiving there is usually an imbalance, which is why we have to make an extra effort to practice the receptive mode. This practice of receptive seeing is, in a sense, a reverse of our usual kind of seeing which is to look out to things. It's not an outward-looking kind of seeing. Instead of looking out, allow what's there to come in. You have to practice with this enough, to understand what I'm saying.

Our usual way of seeing is to view trees, rocks, birds, etc., as known-objects around us. You walk through a forest and make a mental note that these things are trees, and so now that's it – that's the extent of your experience in the forest. Maybe you even know the names of these trees, and so now you can mentally name them, like pointing at pictures in a tree book and naming each kind. But this way of seeing is not a pure seeing, but rather it's seeing a projection of your own thought about what's there, or you see names of things rather than the things themselves.

For example, people will look around on their walk through a forest and their mind just sees labels, like those are trees and that's a rock. The mind says, 'I know what that is', and so that's the extent of their experience. The whole natural environment is experienced as just an acknowledgment of what the person already thinks is there. So he doesn't really receptively see what's actually around, but instead just projects his own labeling of what's there.

But can you simply see what is there – simply seeing the tree as it is, or see whatever is really there – without your own thinking about what it is? To do this we practice receptive seeing, which is different from labeling or thinking about what's there.

Our usual way of seeing is to look around from the I-centre, from the I-mind, and study the appearance of things. You look at the colors and shape of the tree. You recognize what the colors are and what shape it is. You look at each object around you and describe it or think about it, either to yourself or to another person, or maybe you write poetry about how it looks or about what it means to you. You do all of this from the I-centre, from the perspective of yourself. It is as though you are the centre of the world around you, and what is around is your world of seeing and knowing.

It is quite natural to view the world in this egocentric manner, from your own point of view. But this is not the only way; it is just the usual way. The other way, which is a kind of reversal from the usual way, is so rarely experienced that it is difficult to explain. But you might remember that this other way is a reversal of ordinary seeing and ordinary hearing. So one way is an I-to-outward perspective, while the other way is an outward-to-I perspective – which is what I'm calling receptive space, or call it reverse-perspective. Most people feel uncomfortable in this, because the ego then has to be humble rather than outwardly expansive and arrogant.

With receptive space, you walk through the forest or upon the land in humility and with the feeling that you're walking through a whole area of conscious lives. Like some native peoples will say that they're walking through the land of tree-people or rock-people. So now you're just one little person in a larger forest of tree people or in a whole area of rock-people. Or you might realize experientially that you're walking through an actual spirit being, the natural spirit presence of this place. All of this is what you might experience while in receptive space. Yet to understand this you simply have to experience it; you won't get it by just thinking about it. And at first, like the other practices, you'll probably find that you cannot sustain the practice for very long, which is why you need to practice it more.

We walked on, and I practiced being in this receptive space, which I could truly feel was a different way of seeing and being, and different way of experiencing the natural world around me.

Soon we came to another open field with a scattered mixture of pines and cedars, and here we stopped for awhile to make some more practice.

Being Seen

So instead of actively extending the senses outward, or expanding the consciousness outward, as in our usual perspective of reaching out and grasping the world, the practice of receptive space is to just be receptive in the senses, to be receptive as a sensitive being, and to allow the consciousness of nature to see you. Instead of actively studying the world with an active mind, practice allowing the world to study you. In this way, you actually become sensitive to the consciousness of nature. You will feel like nature is observing you. Or at least realize that nature is sensing you, because without any doubt nature is sensitive.

Nature does in fact sense and observe you, but in your usual mode of perception you're unaware and insensitive to this, because you're reaching out with the mind rather than allowing the 'consciousness of nature' to reach out to you. If you are not in this mental attitude of receiving and allowing, then you'll never experience the spirits outside of your own small ego. So if you want to really experience the livingness and consciousness of nature, you will need to be in a receptive space and allow conscious nature to reach you. If you can remain in this receptive space for at least a few minutes, being receptive to consciousness outside you, then you will have a real experience of the consciousness around you, rather then merely thinking about it or merely believing in it.

Then, from being in this receptive space, a line of communication opens, as you allow nature to observe you and speak to you. It is like an intensified silence in yourself and being extremely sensitive to the energies and consciousness around. It is like intensely listening to the spirits around you. So in allowing the energies of nature to come into your senses, you become more sensitive. In allowing the greater consciousness of nature to know you, you come into a greater field of consciousness, and thus there is an expansion of consciousness. In fact, you enter into a wider field of consciousness by receiving that consciousness.

What is the reverse of seeing? It is being seen. What is the reverse of hearing? It is being heard. Simply, it is allowing yourself to be seen and heard by the natural world around you. Instead of looking out at things in the world around you, you allow yourself to be seen and sensed by the rest of life. If you're walking through a forest of trees, you are the sensed-experience of those trees. Feel what it is to be an experience for the other lives of nature. Allow yourself to be experienced and known. Of course, this will depend on you assuming that the trees and other parts of nature are conscious and sensitive, which is part of the Native understanding. Anyone would understand that they're sensing and experiencing the trees around them. But how about the reverse of this? Can you realize that the trees are sensing and experiencing you?

Begin with one tree, or it could be a certain rock, or maybe a bird, or it could even be the land you walk upon. Then recognize that this part of nature and all of nature is conscious and sensitive. Then consider that you're in someone else's home. You're walking through the home of the trees and the rocks. Even the land knows you're here. So you're being sensitive to the consciousness' all around you. And from this new orientation to life, a lot will be learned and understood.

Notice that this is a reversal of the usual perspective of seeing. The usual way of seeing is to look outward to things and to observe it at some kind of distance. Or like a carpenter might look at the trees and see the possible wood to use. The usual way is to look outward at parts of nature, in order to either describe something or think of how to make practical use of it. But this reversed way of seeing is to treat whatever is seen in nature as a conscious being in itself. For all of nature has consciousness. It's just our present modern culture that conditions us to assume that nature is not conscious. Then once we open up to the possibility that nature has consciousness, we can then try out this practice of being seen. Can you simply allow yourself to be seen and known?

In the receptive space, the world sees you. You're receptive to being seen and recognized. Or sometimes you're just listening to what the land, the trees and the rocks are saying. Instead of reaching outward with awareness, you make awareness completely receptive and just allow the spirits of nature to observe or experience you. When you do this, a new kind of experience will open up and a certain kind of understanding will unfold. You will begin to feel the sensitivity and consciousness of the tree that is in front of you enter into your space. You will begin to hear and know the nature spirits, for their consciousness and wisdom will enter your receptive mind, as you allow this to occur. It is like being in the center of nature spirits, and just listening them speak. It is like feeling their consciousness reach out to you, rather than you reaching out to them. But in order for this to unfold, you must be peacefully aware in the breath.

The simplest way to practice this is to either sit or slowly walk in a nature area, and concentrate your awareness upon the breath. Allow the breath to be calm and relaxed and enter into a harmony with the heart-beat of the Earth Mother. Then become completely present in the outer senses. Then, while keeping the senses open and the breath in a continuous balanced rhythm, just relax into a receptive consciousness, simply allowing the energies and consciousnesses of nature to reach out to you. Allow yourself to be seen, and just listen for and feel what is given. Your mind is not thinking, not talking to itself, not explaining, naming or describing what is present around. Let the lives of nature sense you and possible speak to you. Let them study and describe you. Without any judgment or fear, just listen, feel, and allow them to experience you.

This is also a necessary step in communicating with the lives of nature. If you are always reaching out with an active consciousness, or always describing, or always talking to nature, then the lives of nature won't open up to you. You must be receptive. You can't talk and listen at the same time, so they won't bother to befriend you if you are not willing to simply listen and allow yourself to be seen and known.

You need to become vulnerable, in a sense, before a trust can unfold between you and the spirits of nature, and the receptive space certainly involves trust. It is not wise to do this practice anywhere, because it does involve vulnerability. Before practicing this, you should also feel strong in your own power. It is a shamanic practice, which is not given to weak or psychotic people. So one should be cautious.

But only attempt this when you first feel strong in your own self-presence and when you feel the environment is safe. If fears are brought up from doing the practice, then don't just run away but breathe through the fears and regain your collected sense of self-power and personal presence. In other words, return to the first practice of recollecting your own energy and self-presence. But if you can first build up your collected energy and become completely here in the present moment of the outer world, and if the environment around feels safe, then you can practice this reverse perspective, this receptive space.

It can be a very powerful experience, but your tendency will be to return to the usual form of experience, either because of fear or simply because of habit. Yet to develop this further, you will need to re-continue the practice and make a good effort to maintain the practice for longer and longer periods of time. Eventually it ceases to feel so unusual or strange, as it begins to feel more natural, and you feel more natural in nature.

We walked on some but not far, because Coyote spotted an especially beautiful tree in an area to our left, so we walked off the trail to this tree.

Let's now practice receptive space and spirit interaction. But in this practice we'll make connection with a particular life of nature, and so we'll pick a special tree in this area to experience and interact with. There's a beautiful red cedar over there; it looks like the oldest tree around here, and it feels like it has a lot of character. Remember that when we focus our attention on one particular life of nature, like this tree, and make a special connection with it, the experience will be very powerful, direct and immediate.

Often there is a tendency in people to be abstract about nature or to think about nature spirits in an abstract or generalized way. Having a general or non-particular experience in nature has its value too. This is when we become sensitive to the overall spirit and energies around us, and to do this we sense and feel the whole natural area surrounding us, rather than focus on any particular thing. But this general-overall kind of experience needs to be balanced by experiences of specific-particular parts of the natural world – like a particular tree or rock or bird, or whatever. So it helps a lot to find a very definite and particular living being of nature to experience and interact with.

So as we stand facing this gorgeous, very large red cedar, the first thing we do is to say hello and give to the tree our love attention. Look right at the tree and notice things about it, and especially notice qualities of the tee that you immediately appreciate or find special. The tree knows when we give her this special attention, with this love and appreciation. This is the first step, in which we extend our attention and our love outward to the tree, and it may even feel that you're embracing her with your perception and love. But then there is second phase to this interactive practice, which is a reverse of the outward going attention. Here, in this phase, we enter into a receptive space – we open up our self to receive from the tree and share with us its consciousness, love, healing, and perhaps even its wisdom. The feeling you might have in this is a softening of yourself, and an openness to receive from this particular being who stands now in front of you.

Coyote told me stand there, facing this large cedar, until I really saw the tree as it is, until I really got to know this tree, its size, its look, the texture of its bark and leaves. He told me spend all the time I wanted with this tree, to get to know its personality as well as its appearance. Get to know the spirit, as well as the look and the feel, because both the seen and the unseen are important, he said. So he left me with the tree, while he went off out of sight to some other tree nearby. In this time, I practiced what he had told me.

I started with the outward connection, by approaching the tree with my attention, my observation, and my senses. I also communicated to the tree my sincere feelings of awe for its tremendous beauty and grandeur. And the more I viewed the tree, the more I felt a great wow for how amazingly awesome it really was. Then, I shifted my experience into receptive space – being open to how the tree shared itself to me, and to what it was giving. And in this receiving mode, this receptive space, I allowed the spirit of the tree to interact with me. I felt that I was receiving this tree being into my heart and into my soul, and I felt that I received healing from the tree. I felt that this tree was a special healing tree, a healer, a healer of energies and a healer of love. I put both my hands on the tree, to first give my love to her, and then to receive her vital and balancing energies.

After enough time in this communal interaction, in this intimate meeting, I said goodbye with very sincere feelings of thanks and love-appreciation. I knew that I had to move on in my journey. When I went back to the boulder where we had left our bags, Coyote was softly chanting, and when he looked up at me I knew that he too had a very sweet experience with the tree spirits.

We got, stretched and moved on. The trail was descending but gradually, and more trees filled out experience. Coyote gave out the teachings as we walked, and he occasionally stopped to make emphasis on something or to show how to practice what he was teaching.

Breathing with the Earth

You must learn to breathe consciously. Be aware of your breath at every moment of the earth walk. First you simply observe your breath. Don't try to control it. Just be aware of it. If you can remain aware of the breath, you can develop a concentration and continuity of consciousness.

The average person, who has made no practice of this, has no real continuity of consciousness. Their mind is fragmented. Their attention is scattered and jumping from one thought to another or from one outer attraction to another. So learn to maintain awareness of the breath, while you walk and while you are sensitive to your surroundings. You learn to walk in the breath. Eventually you feel as though your own breath and your own walk is in flow with a greater breath and a greater movement of life.

Remember that your breath is your connection with the surrounding spirit of nature or of earth. If we develop a sensitivity to the spirit of nature surrounding us, while being continuously aware of the breath, then our breath comes into a sensitive rapport and harmony with the surrounding spirit. Then you are breathing with the surrounding spirit of nature, and you begin to come into unity with the greater life. The greater life is nature, is earth. This is your own greater life. You are not really separate from the greater nature of earth. The earth is alive. The earth is breathing alive. The spirit of earth is life. It is breath. But I'm not interested in intellectualizing about this. Breath and the spirit of life are real experiences, which do not require thinking or explanations.

All of the earth practices are very simple and very natural. Begin with the breath, then feel your body connected with the earth. Then your breath begins to harmonize with the earth rhythm, which then brings the whole energy of your body in harmony with the earth energy. You just have to do it, then you'll know what I'm talking about.

Breathe deep into the belly and on the out breath relax into a feeling of harmony. Feel your feet connect with the ground, and keep lowering your consciousness back down to the belly, the legs and the feet. Keep lowering your consciousness until you feel as though you are in the earth, until you are fully inside the energy of the earth. Then your breath will naturally begin to harmonize with the earth rhythm. As the consciousness and feelings are lowered into the earth energy, the breath will naturally come into a harmonious rhythm. It will be relaxed and in balance. Let your breath come into harmony with our Earth Mother's breath, becoming one with this greater rhythm. You feel more connected, relaxed, and in balance.

The Mother's breath is an even, balanced rhythm. It is like a chant or a song, based on eight beats. Work with the drum and find a chant that follows eight beats. Don't worry about the speed or tempo. Just follow what feels most natural. So your in-breath will be eight beats and your out-breath will be eight beats, and so on. This is the balanced Mother's breath. If you practice with the drum and chanting, then you'll get a feel for it.

You never need to force the breath. The balanced rhythm will just come naturally, if you allow it and come into the feeling of it. It is truly coming back to your natural breath, which was your breath when you were one with the earth. The key is to relax into it. You don't create the earth rhythm. It is already beating, and it is already known by your innermost essence. Just know that the balanced breath is already here. The great mother earth is already breathing in this balanced rhythm.

So all you need to do is to feel for it and listen for it and attune to it. And if you do this while aware of the breath, then the breath will naturally come into this perfect rhythm and harmony. Once in this harmony, you'll feel immersed in a great love, for you will be at one in the love of mother earth. It will feel as a transformation of your whole being. It will feel as a great healing. Then you will be breathing from the great love, and you will be in-love, in the energy and rhythm of love. At first this may be a rather quick experience but it is necessary that you first get a taste of it.

Simply enter into the energy field, the love and the balanced breath of the Earth. And just allow yourself to remain in this rhythmic energy, allowing yourself to be breathed by it, allowing yourself to enjoy the immersion in love and healing energy. The love energy is like water and you become like a fish staying immersed in the water and breathing in it. If thinking begins to take you out of this experience, or if fear takes you out, then simply go of those thoughts or fears, and relax once again within the earth energy and let yourself be breathed in its harmonious rhythm. It is a kind of surrendering, a letting go, and an allowing.

Follow the breath. On the in-breath let the energy rise up like spring. Then on the out-breath let the energy sink back down into the earth, like leaves and seeds falling in autumn. Then again follow the in-breath. If you meditate on this rhythm of the breath, and move with it consciously, then you'll understand the true Way, the balance of rising and falling.

Instead of experiencing life from the head, which is the seat of the ego and thinking, you surrender back to the earth, allowing your center of gravity and your center of awareness to sink back down to the earth. 'Let yourself drop'. Let thinking drop. Let worry drop. Let the ego drop.

This is the simplest and most important practice – to make the earth connection and come back in harmony with Earth Spirit Mother. You can learn truths from this breathing practice, but more importantly you become transformed by the practice. Your own energy body, your mind and your feelings, are all balanced and harmonized as you enter the breath and magnetism of the living earth.

Remember that you are not trying to create something, though in a way the practice is creative. Rather, you are entering and surrendering to what is already here, here before you were born, and here when you will die. It is the greater energy field, the greater love, and the greater breath of Mother Earth. Let yourself be nurtured by the living Earth Mother.

Once experienced, you'll probably start thinking about or maybe congratulate yourself on the achievement. But this will take you out of the experience and out of the balanced rhythm. So you have to learn to not interrupt the experience with thought or ego. Just move into it, enter into it, and relax into it. Just learn to simply be in it and in the joy of it. It's like being massaged or like having a warm bath. Just be in the experience and enjoy it.

Next, you can be in the rhythm of this earth energy. Learn to do this while you walk in nature. Come into the rhythmic vital breath of earth. Then you are breathed. Then you are in the earth breath of the Mother. In this way you become in attunement and unity with the very vitality of life, and you feel in unity with the earth Mother or great earth spirit.

In teaching you about conscious breathing, I'll tell you the two basic phases. First you must simply be aware of your own breath, your own vitality, and your own energy field. Learn to be collected in yourself, concentrating your energies with the breath, and developing an ability to not lose or distract your energies. This is the first phase.

The next phase is becoming sensitive and in attunement with the source of this vital energy. This source is within the earth and within the land. Learn to breathe up this energy from the earth, then breathe out harmony and appreciation. Here you are receiving what you need from the earth. Take in all the good vital energy. On the out breath you just appreciate or give thanks.

Use conscious breath to make an energy connection with the earth below, connecting your physical body with the earth mother below. Use conscious breath to move your energy right down into the earth below you. Do this on a conscious out-breath. To help in this, see with your inner eye a stream of light-energy descending down into the earth from your belly power centre. This makes a conscious energy connection between your own power centre (your hara centre around the belly) and the earth below. This beam of light can also be seen as a pillar into the earth, or as the root of your being planting into the earth. However it is seen, your conscious out-breath will make this energy connection.

Once this is worked on enough, so that it is most definitely real in your energy experience, then you can work with conscious in-breath as well, and eventually balance the in and the out breaths. On the in-breath, you bring up from the earth the energies of vitality and love, then allow these energies to circulate through your whole body. All of this is done on just one in-breath and its pause before the out-breath. Specifically, you can focus on one energy at a time; then bring in vital energy from the earth into your hara-belly centre, and bring in love energy from the earth into your heart.

In each conscious breath you will be more and more successful in all of this, and the experience will become more complete. So after succeeding in the out-breath practice, then work on this in-breath practice until this too feels successful and complete. Then, start working on the balance in all of this. Such is the whole practice.

You will begin to feel as a real part of the earth, inseparably connected. If you continue with this, you will naturally and spontaneously come into harmony and oneness with the earth breath, and you will feel as though you are being breathed by the very spirit of earth. It is from this state of unity and harmony that true shamanic experience can occur, for this is coming back to our natural unity with the earth. You enter the rhythm and flow of the earth spirit. Your own breath becomes one with the Earth Mother's breath.

We walked on. Some time later we came to a high summit with a wonderful vista down below and across the land. There was something powerful and rejuvenating in being high up, with the world below. We didn't sit, but we removed our little packs and refreshed ourselves with water. In the next period of time, Coyote gave me short practices to do, which he did as well. So there were periods of instruction alternating with periods of quiet practice.

Connecting into harmony with Mother Earth

Let's work with a range of practices, and you'll start to see some connections. The first step is to re-collect the degree of awareness you already possess. Re-collect your awareness, your feelings and sensitivity in one field of self-energy. Conscious breath will hold this energy field together in a continuous flow and rhythm. This is being collected in your personal power. Essentially, you feel your own collected energy and feeling of self-power. This strengthens your aura of power. You feel like you are within a collected energy field like an egg surrounding you. Practice this now for five minutes or so, in order to develop your inner strength, your self-unity and continuity of awareness.

Now, open up your connection to the Earth Mother, connecting your own breath with the breath and power of the Earth. Sink down into the earth, rooting yourself deep inside the earth, while breathing up the vital earth energy to increase the power of your energy field. Now you have an open and flowing channel or pipe-line into the the earth, the source of vital power.

Next, let go of all distress, negativity, old emotional residue and release the blockages to a free flow of earth energy. This is the stage of cleansing and purification. It is also surrendering the past and releasing all fears in trust to the Earth Mother. As this is done, your energy becomes fresh and clean, and a finer energy from the earth can be received.

Next, concentrate on breathing in the highest quality of vital energy from the Earth. This vital energy comes from the land and from all the nature around. Take in all you need, until you feel much more energized, alive, and feeling good.

Next, enter into the rhythm and harmony of the earth, being at-one with the living earth beat..., so that you can walk in harmony, being at-one with the Mother, though still being a unique and individual expression of the living earth.

Next is the stage of opening up the outer senses and sensitivity to earth energies around you. Begin to really see the outer world, listen to the outer sounds, and sense the different energies of nature. This is becoming fully present and here on earth, in nature. You become fully present with the various lives of nature, sensing the grasses, the trees, the flowers, the land, and the animals and birds. In this way you realize yourself as truly a part of the natural world, conversing and interacting with the many lives and energies surrounding you on this earth walk at this very present moment. This practice is also about becoming fully here in the ongoing present moment or in the flow of the Now. Be Here. Be Now. Be fully present.

Again, be continuously conscious of the breath, the breath which is now an extension of our Mother Earth's breath – a calm, peaceful, rhythmically balanced breath. In this breath, the lives and spirits of nature will recognize you, for you are now a conscious extension of the Great Mother, a walking flower of nature. In this conscious breath you will be able to hear the nature spirits and converse with the trees and the birds. Don't just believe me. Discover it for yourself. If you walk in the Earth Mother's breath, in conscious harmony with the Earth, you sense and become aware of nature to a degree that you have never thought possible.

You will then enter into the real world, free from the distractions and illusions of the conditioned mind You will begin to see and hear like never before. But begin on the simplest level. Just see and hear what is here, what is going on around you. Become fully outward in your attention, not thinking about what is around, but just seeing, hearing, sensing. Open up the senses and just be here right now. The biggest clue is to be present and aware of the natural world around you, but without any thinking. Thinking is usually the reason one cannot do these practices.

Use what I've said as a guidance. This is a good way of using thoughts and the thinking mind. In other words, you can use your mind to remember and think about what I have said and how to accomplish the practices. But then, make sure you actually do some practice! Because we are not here to just think about things or to just intellectualize about it all. So there can be times for you to have some thoughts about all of this, but remember that thoughts and thinking are simply tools for understanding and to get us into the actual practice. So overall, some degree of thinking can help, but we have to keep our thinking-mind in check, because thinking can also derail and prevent us from actually doing the practices. I've seen this happen a lot. I share with people some practices to do, and all they end up doing is thinking about and then later talking about, but they don't actually do it, or maybe they practice it for a minute and then go back to their habit of just thinking about it all.

We kept on walking, as the trail hugged the mountain ridge, with spectacular views across the land below. I kept on working with conscious breath, my connection with the earth, and increasing my awareness of the energies of beauty all around me. Occasionally, we would stop for a minute to relish in all the beauty and goodness. And as we walked, Coyote would give out some more of the native wisdom teachings.

Relax, breathe in, breathe out

Conscious breath is the key to energy and spirit awareness. Conscious breath is also the key to releasing energies and gathering energies.

Breathe in from the Earth below. Receive in gratefulness. Relax down to the Earth as you breathe out. Continue this Receiving energy and Relaxing energy, while sensing-feeling the living rhythm of Mother-Earth. Now just be aware of the greater rhythm below, and allow your own breath and energy to harmonize with the Earth-rhythm; continue until your whole energy-field of mind and feelings has become One with the Earth, until your breath is an extension of the Earth-breath. Now, identify yourself as the Earth-being and just be the living Earth-breath.

Relaxation and concentration are the two most difficult abilities to fully master. They are like opposites, yet they both balance and complement one another in all real practices, in all healing work, and in all personal and group medicine work. Hold out your arms and hands, as if you were ready to receive in your hands a small baby. Now, keep the left hand open with palms facing up, but close the right hand though it doesn't need to be a tight fist. The right fist is your ability to concentrate, that is, concentrate your mind and your energies. Without concentration there cannot be transformation or creative activity. Yet this will depend of relaxation, as well as concentration. Consider what it might mean to have a relaxed concentration or a concentrated relaxation. The balance of these will be the key to everything.

Now, feel the sense of relaxation in the left hand. It involves the feeling of trust and surrender. Remember the Earth Mother. realize that the Great Mother loves you and is here to care for you. While you realize this, take a deep breath, receiving this love from the Great Mother. Then on the out-breath completely relax and let go into this Great Love awaiting you below your feet. Do this again with the breath. Keep deep breathing in the nurturing love from Mother Earth, then relax in a feeling of complete trust as you breathe out. Keep doing this until you feel completely relaxed and in trust. This will bring you to the experience of trust, surrender, and relaxation.

Remember that relaxation is a needed virtue on the physical, emotional, and mental levels of oneself. Practicing relaxation on each of these levels will develop one of the most valuable abilities within your power. Those who can fully relax and trust, in the appropriate circumstances, are halfway to being complete masters and shamans. This means being able to relax in trust within groups, ceremonies, in sacred natural sites, and especially in personal meditations.

Being able to relax in a deeply spiritual way, that is, relax in one's full nature, depends on our trust, our trust of others close by, our trust of nature and life, and trust of our self. This trust is not always instantaneous. But it will grow with time, as we let go of unnecessary fears, guilt, resentment, and the false pride that comes from feeling alienated and separate from Great Spirit or Mother Earth.

The key to relaxation is the out-breath and a pause before breathing in. While the key to concentration is the in-breath and the pause before breathing out. As we master both sides of the breath, a balance of relaxation and concentration is achieved, and both merge into a harmonious unity.

The out-breath is never forced. It is a surrendering and letting go. Yet if you concentrate awareness and intention on this letting go, then full relaxation of the physical, emotional and mental aspects can be achieved very quickly. The concentrated practice of breathing in, from the Earth or from the Great Spirit, will build your personal power and increase your capacity to hold more spiritual energies. Yet this concentration of energy and awareness will also depend on relaxation and trust. If you are tight or tense in the concentration, then the channel to the greater powers is contracted and small. So the more you can relax in the concentration, the more open will be the channel. Remember that you are like a channel and container for the Greater Spirit.

We came to a place on the trail where there the rock jutted out some into the open, with some flat ledges to stand upon looking out. We walked out on the largest ledge, and Coyote said there was a special power there. Suddenly a hawk appeared from behind us and gave us a show of her power and grace.

Free flow, free release

The key to spiritual growth is in the free flow of natural-spiritual energies, and the ability to direct and concentrate these energies. The free flow depends on relaxation and trust. The concentration depends on intention and conscious will. If the will is too tight, then the channel becomes too closed, though in some special circumstances this may be useful. If there is no conscious will and concentration, then the free flow of energies simply pass by, though in some special circumstances this may be valuable to experience.

The mystic allows the Flow to pass by without any grasping. But the shaman or magician also intentionally makes use of the Flow, yet without grasping. So the secret is to learn how to use the Flow but without grasping it, because the Flow then gets disrupted if we grasp at it like taking it in for our own possession. You have to find a balance in all this. What I'm talking about is very subtle.

Here is something to consider. If you put your hands in the flowing stream and keep the hands fully open, the hands will be cleaned but you'll never be able to collect any water for your need. If you fully close your hands in a tight fist, trying to grasp the water, then you'll never collect any water. You can only collect the water for your thirst when you cup your hands and intentionally bring the cupped water to your lips. Thus the hands are not limp, and neither are they tightly-fisted. This is the shamanic balance.

In the practice of breathing in and up from the Earth, you are intentionally bringing up the energy and concentrating it into your own power centre or into your own body. In the beginning as you practice this, it may feel as though you are forcing the energy up. But the true way of achieving this is to relax and simply allow the energy to rise up as you breathe it in. The energy naturally rises, when there is an intentional opening and when there is a conscious will to bring it up through the breath. The will is used, and concentration is used, but there also needs to be an allowing and letting it happen naturally and spontaneously. Again, the key is balance, and only you can know what the right balance is.

One important practice is to bring up the Earth energy and allow it to fill your power centre and your heart centre as well. It is possible to force energy up into the power centre, but it's impossible to force up love energy into the heart. So in this practice you have to allow the Love energy to rise up into the heart. Then, after a slight pause in the breath to feel the fullness of Love in the heart, you release this Love to the whole world or to the Nature around you.

This practice requires relaxation in the emotional body and concentration in awareness. Breathe in all of the Earth vitality and Love that you can possibly contain. Then breathe out all of this in a wonderful flow of Love release and expression. Allow the Love to freely flow out from your personal centre into the world. There is no forcing in this and no need to push it out. The Love is simply allowed to release into the waiting world. Just relax and let it out. You'll feel a wonderful and healing sense of self-release, and you'll realize yourself as one of the sources of Love-expression in the world. The key to this is in the allowing of the release and in the conscious feeling of it occurring through the out-breath.

Another key is that through the in-breath the Earth Powers of vitality and love are being concentrated into oneself, into one's own spiritual centre. Thus the Earth Spirit is accumulated in and renewing the spirit-body. But you don't need to keep holding in the breath. Accumulation and renewing has been accomplished in this particular breath.

Now, the breath and the energies need to be freely released. You won't lose any energy, neither vitality nor love, when you release this to the world. I can't fully explain why. It's just one of the energy laws of spiritual dynamics. In fact, if you try to hold it all inside yourself, without a willingness and allowing of its release, there will be a certain loss.

I can explain it this way. On the in breath the energies are accumulated in your own centre or centres. If you are depleted or weak, then you may need to spend some concentrated time in just accumulating. Just receive and don't yet focus on the out-release and don't worry what happens on the out-breath. Just concentrate on the in-breathing for awhile. But this concentration on just receiving will not take too long, if done with conscious intention. At some point you will naturally feel full, like eating until you feel full, or drinking water until your thirst is quenched. At some point you need to complete the full practice, like completing the full cycle of one great breath. The breath of release completes a kind of energy transformation. It completes an assimilation of the energy accumulated. But this is only an inadequate form of explanation.

What is important is the willingness and feeling of the release. Yet this is not a forced willing. It is a relaxed and allowing willingness. It is a willingness to let the Love be released to the world. It is an allowing of this energy to be released on the out-breath. And instead of the free Earth energy being concentrated in the container of oneself, now this energy is freely released out into the greater space around. It is freed from the container. It is freely shared, and it feels like the Love expands out.

So on the in-breath, energy is being concentrated in oneself, and on the out-breath energies are allowed to expand outward. What is happening here is that you are being a channel between the deep source of Love within the Earth Mother and the many lives or children of the Earth. You are consciously receiving and accumulating divine milk from the Great Mother, then releasing this milk out to all the children, to all our relations, to all the land, to all the plants and trees, to all the animal creatures, and to all of our human family in need of healing and love.

You release this pure Love to all directions, and each direction can go to one of these four families of nature – the mineral, plant, animal, and human beings. Thus you are opening up a spring of Love and Healing Power always available from the Earth Itself, and being a conscious channel for this Power within the Earth to flow freely outward and through the many relations of this living biosphere.

In a sense, you are bringing forth the potential energy into realized or manifested energy. For it is through our awakened consciousness, our intention, and our breath, that what is always available potentially can be realized and shared across the land. In this is a key to the very purpose of human beings, because our possibilities, our choices, our consciousness, and our love-wisdom is potentially unlimited.

We walked on and soon the trail started again to descend. We were now walking through mostly pines and spruce. After awhile we came to an open grassy area with some large sunny boulders for sitting. Here we took a break and shared some seeds and nuts, and of course quenched our thirst as well. The area gave a sweet feeling of peace and contentment. Coyote stood up and opened out his arms. He took in a deep breath and I could hear in his outbreath a feeling of gratefulness. I stood up and did the same. We made conscious breath in this way for a few minutes, then Coyote resumed his teaching.

Opening to our Mother's Love

One of most wonderful earth practices is called the opening to our Mother's Love. Love is the greatest healing energy and the greatest transformative power. No other power is greater, not even sorcery power. The Earth is full of Love, full of Love-Spirit. This is the Great Mother-Love.

The practice is simple but profound. Bring you attention and feelings down to the Earth, inwardly seeing the whole of the Earth below you. Begin to sense and feel the wholeness of this huge body below. Feel the whole planet-body, letting it all into your heart. You could even feel as if you were hugging the whole planet, like hugging a tree except this is much bigger. What is important in the practice is have a sense or feeling for the whole spherical planet. realize this whole great body as an energy-ball of Love. Then feel this wonderful great body of Love come close to your heart. In fact, let the whole body of Love enter your heart, letting it be received by your love. Allow this Spirit of Love to enter into you. The essence of this practice is to consciously receive the Mother's Love from the Earth. Feel your own need for love, and feel the earth as the source of Love. recognize the Earth-Spirit Love and receive this into you. Relax and let yourself be loved by the Mother Earth.

People talk about the Love from the Father God in Heaven. They talk about the Love from the Virgin Mary. They talk about love coming from parents, friends and lovers. But seldom do people speak of the Love from Mother Earth. All the Love we need for our personal healing is right below our feet. It is right inside the earth and permeating the Earth. Love vibrates through the Earth. And we are actually within this vibration and this energy-sphere of Love. We are in it like fish are in the sea. But for the most of our days we do not realize it, or we quickly forget it. Even if we happen to experience this Love emerging from the earth-Spirit, we seem to quickly forget it.

The practice is to open yourself to the earth-Love and consciously feel it, realize it, and receive it into your heart. In fact, let this power of Love fill your whole body and energy-field. Let it fill you like water. immerse yourself in this Love. Dance in it like a dolphin. Allow the love into you. Allow yourself to be loved.

Let this Love, rising from the earth, heal you throughout. Let it cleanse and heal your heart and your whole emotional body. Let yourself be filled with love and let yourself be loved. Breathe the Love into you. Or let the love come into you through the breath. Let it come into you on the Mother's breath. Let the Mother Earth breathe Love into you. Let yourself be filled with the Breath of Love, as it is breathed into you from the Mother Earth. Feel the Mother breathe out this love from Her Heart, and as She is breathing out Love you are breathing the Love in.

The Mother wants to fill you with Healing Love. She wants to love you. She wants you to feel Her Love and receive this Love. She wants you to be healed by Her Love. So go for it. Breathe it all in. Receive all the Love you can possibly contain. Gather all this goodness inside your energy egg, letting your whole personal space be filled up with the goodness and healing of Love, as it is offered to you from the Earth. Take all you want, all you need, all you can. There is plenty to go around. Too bad there are so few who receive it.

Then, after fully receiving and filling up with Love, and truly enjoying and cherishing the feeling of this Love and being loved, you can then begin to breathe out the love you now have. You can now breathe out this very same love into the external world. Breathe the love out from your heart to the whole human family, to the whole animal family, to the whole plant and tree family, and to the whole rock-crystal family. Breathe this love out everywhere! It's like providing needed water to a thirst quenched world. It's like being a water spring of healing energy to people and lives everywhere. If people do not receive this nurturing love from the earth Mother, then perhaps they may receive the needed love from you. The giving, the sharing of the Love Spirit is as important as the receiving.

But first you must receive this love and know the feeling of being loved by our Mother. This involves Recognizing the earth Love and allowing it to enter oneself. You have to allow the Love to love you and to heal you. Allow yourself to be loved, and at the same time let go of the pain of not being loved. Let go of the pain of past hurts. Let go of any past resentments for not being loved. Let go of everything, and simply allow yourself to be loved, to be filled by Love, and to be healed by Love.

Once you have received, once you are filled, once you are healed, then you literally overflow with Love and you become like a flowing spring of Love to the world. Feel this Love flow outward, healing the hearts and spirits of people everywhere. See this Love radiate outward, lighting up the whole world around you. This is the balanced practice of Love Flow. You receive the Love, or breathe in the Love, from the Greater Earth Spirit, from the Mother-Source of Love. Then you personally contain this Love.

So now, you can be a source of Love. Now, you are a sacred spring of the Love Flow. Now, you are a walking centre of Love, a walking lighthouse of the Love-light. You yourself are now a healer. You are now the instrument or the pipe by which Great Spirit Love breathes healing into the world.

Yet you must remember one very important thing about all this. You must share this Love consciously, in the flow of the present moment. The practice of receiving love must be done with conscious intention, and it must be consciously experienced in the breath of the flowing moment. So too, the sharing love must be done with conscious intention. The sharing must be consciously experienced in the breath of the flowing moment. Thus, the Love comes out from your conscious will. Only then is the practice fulfilled. Only then is the sharing, self-transforming, and reverberation effective. Once you experience this, radiating love with conscious will, you will understand something deep about the purpose of life and the meaning of transformation.

The outward sharing of Love, from the sensitive heart-space, is both a feelings and healing energies. Words are not needed in this silent expression of Love, and walls are no boundary. The Love travels instantaneously across the space of our spiritual vision. It can be directed to specific persons or places, or it can be shared generally with the whole world. You can send this Love out with intentional visualization, combined with conscious breath. But of course feeling is also important, because this isn't merely a mental experience.

Love is a very special energy. It is the real force in life which unites us all in one spiritual family. You feel this Love as a family bond. It is a feeling of unity and wholeness. It is related to consciousness and wisdom, which can also travel instantaneously across vast spaces. Love comes from a dimension beyond this physical world and yet it can move through this physical world, if there is agreement to it and if it is allowed to flow freely.

The outward love practice is a form of service-work to the planet and humanity. Love is everywhere, though often hidden, and it exists in a potential state within everyone. But it is certainly not always manifesting, and certainly not always realized and actualized. Thus, Love remains in its potential energy state, and it mostly remains hidden. It mostly remains as a potential experience, yet it is possible that Love can be in our conscious experience every moment.

Our work, once we realize this spiritual fact, is to help this Love become known and to help bring forth its actualization, in the feelings and actions of people everywhere. We are needed in the evolutionary work of awakening Love from its potential state into its realized existence, and we are needed in the work of helping the Love to flow freely throughout the world. We awaken the Love and bring it out, as it were, by Recognizing the truth of Love in ourselves, in the earth and in all people.

Even if the Love is not fully apparent or manifesting, you can bring it forth by Recognizing it as already existing in potential. You can recognize, or see with the inner eye, this Love already existing as a hidden seed in the underground of life. You see it already there in the land and inside the heart of each living being. It is an essential aspect of the spirit in each life and in the spirit of the land and in the whole Earth Spirit.

You can recognize this Love in the inner eye of your heart, because Love resonates with Love and Love knows Itself. In the same way, the spirit-aspects of consciousness and wisdom are recognized in others and in the earth by this law of reflection and resonance. Like recognizes like. You know truth from others when you hear the truth in your own heart resonate with what you hear. Unfortunately, people tend to believe and accept what others say, without the test of inner resonance.

Let me remind you again of an important role of human beings in the greater purpose. We can awaken and consciously bring forth the Love-power, by our recognition of the hidden Love and by our open heart to receive and feel this Love coming forth. We also have a role in the distribution of Love. We recognize and bring forth the Love on the in-breath, and we distribute the Love on the out-breath. The in and out breath represents and maintains the balance of this work.

In the work of distribution, each person is responsible for being a conscious power-place, a walking beacon of light and vibration. In this way, the feeling and vibration of Love moves outward and is distributed throughout the world. It then shines from many places, from many centres of life. The One Love, then, spreads out everywhere in the world. It flows freely all around like water.

Love has certain properties that correspond to energies scientifically found in the physical world, but it is not really a physical energy. It behaves similar to light, in that it can radiate like light, though not blocked by walls. So you can spread this love across the earth, as though you were a great lighthouse or beacon. This must be done, though, with conscious intention. To some extent the Love can flow out from your own space without you being conscious of it or without you intending it to do so. But the effectiveness of this will be very limited. The Love awakening and the love distribution is effective to the degree that it is conscious and intentional.

Love behaves like light, which is its solar property, corresponding to the aspect of fire-light. It also behaves similar to the vibrational properties of crystals and sound resonance. In this sense, Love behaves like sound or vibration. If you resonate with the inner sound of Love, then you becomes an active, conscious vibration of Love.

Experience this by simply vibrating with Love-feeling, or by vibrating as a Love-presence. You become like a vibrating bowl of love, and these vibrations spread out through the space around you. You don't need to force or push the vibration outward. It just naturally reverberates outward into space around. You can imagine yourself as a vibrating bowl. Or imagine yourself as a pebble dropping into the pool of water around you, and feel the gentle vibrating waves of love flow outward from your centre of being. Realize yourself as a centre of Love-vibration and feel this vibration gently effecting the space around you. Feel this Love-vibration help awaken and transform the whole world. In the same way, you can vibrate peace, or joy, or any other quality of your true spirit.

Take time everyday to practice this conscious sharing of your deepest spirit vibration, helping to transform the world with Love, Peace and Joy. Feel the vibration transform the space around you, as you let the vibration of Love expand. In this way, your own aura of Love-spirit expands and is more effective in the world. You will be transforming as well.

Besides the radiating-light and the resonating vibration properties of Love, there is also a flow-feeling of Love. This may feel like water, like a flowing liquid substance. In this sense, you can let the Love flow out and across the land, as a watery kind of feeling, giving to all life the needed Love-feelings for spiritual or creative growth. Life needs these Love feelings for growth and for healing, just as life needs water. So spread forth the love-feelings, as though you were watering the growth of world beauty and harmony.

The fourth property of Love corresponds to the element of air or space. It is the spacial Presence of Love. You can expand the presence of Love by expanding your Love-breath to the whole world. Realize Love as a spacial presence, as a conscious presence permeating space. This is the Spirit-presence of Love. You can make contact with the Love Presence of the whole earth. Then breathe in this Love Presence, like breathing in Love-space or Love-air, filling yourself with the air of Love. Then you become the space of love.

Another way is to recognize the Love-space permeating the whole planet, which is the Love-Spirit of the Earth, and then consciously enter into this Great Love-space, virtually loosing yourself in it. This we call entering into the Great Love-Presence. Then you breathe within this love, within this Greater space or atmosphere of Love. Being in it, you breathe in the Love and you breathe out the Love, thereby helping to distribute the Love-air.

Try both ways. Breathe into you the Greater Love Presence, the Love-air of the earth, containing and concentrating it in your own space, then breathe it back out to the world. In breathing out the Love, you are expanding the very Presence of Love. You are transforming potential energy into actual energy. You are receiving the potential energy of love, then giving out an actualized energy of love. We can do this for the benefit of other people, animals, plants, portions of land, or for the whole world.

We moved on with the walk, and the trail soon leveled out as it hugged the mountainside, and afforded more open views of the land and trees across from us. I practiced what had been said. I opened up my awareness and heart to the love presence coming from the land the nature all around me. I also worked with breath and love -- breathing in, receiving the love, then breathing out, sharing the love. The flow of this practice was at first not so smooth and continuous, but after some minutes of intentionally working with it, the rhythm and flow become more smooth, relaxed and continuous, as it begins to feel very natural and easy to do.

The trail then began to descend again, into an area with scattered trees but plenty of openness. We stopped but did not sit.

Love and Receptive Space

I want to share more about the practice and experience of entering into the Love-Presence of the planet, or what also could be understood as the Love-Spirit of the Earth. We've already practiced one approach in this, which is experienced as an 'entering into the Love'. But we can also enter into the Love with a different approach, which can best be called 'receptive space'. In the experience of this it may seem as though you are 'entering into', but it might also seem as though you are dissolving into the Earth's Love Presence. This is because in receptive space you let go of your own self and your own will, while instead receptively allowing the greater Spirit of Love from Mother Nature to permeate and enfold your whole experience.

So you enter into the Love by allowing the Love to enter into you. Then you simply breathe within this greater Space, or within this greater Love Presence. And by breathing in it and with it, you actually help distribute the Breath of Love all around the whole planet.

The essence of the receptive space orientation is to allow the spacial Presence that seems to be outside of you to enter into you, filling your whole mind-space experience. The experience is as if your own sense of self dissolves and all that is left is the greater Space or greater Love-Presence. It is as if one's personal presence is lost in the greater energy-presence of the surrounding Nature.

In a sense, then, this is a loss of the personal ego. Don't worry though, the ego will return. But when it does return, after this time of allowing, there will be a certain amount of transformation and Earth re-connection. Don't worry about your loss of self, and don't get to thinking about. This is why I'm explaining it right now, so that you can understand it now and then not have to think about it during the practice or the experience. Because any self-thinking will disrupt the receptive-space practice. Basically, you have to trust, which means that you'll need to trustingly give this practice some free space to occur. It's not dangerous, unless you practiced it in negative places, such as a dirty city or near a waste-dump. I mean, you need to be sensible in these practices.

Find some beautiful and inspiring place to practice this – some place you naturally appreciate. Then trust and let go. Allow the space to enter you. Receive the space. Breathe it right in. Let yourself dissolve in it. Breathe within it, through it, and all around it. Then you'll know what I mean when I said that this may seem as if you are entering-into the space, yet it also seems as if the space enters you.

What you'll eventually experience is a complete balance between the active-expansive consciousness and the receptive-allowing consciousness. Eventually, there will be an undivided unity in the whole experience, whereby self-expansion and self-dissolving become the very same experience.

The trail kept descending but gradually, until once again we came to a water crossing, where we sat down and took a break. Like usual, we spent some time in silence and in listening, as we consciously made a quality connection with the unique place here. Each place seemed to have its own unique quality and feeling.

Union with nature

The practice of receptive space can also lead to an experience of union with nature, if practiced to its ultimate completion. Because as you receive and allow the natural world into all of your consciousness, you are allowing your own self to be immersed in the natural world. You are allowing the natural world to be total and complete in your experience, to be all there is. This is how you come into union with a particular natural place. You feel in union with, or at one with, the surrounding nature.

But you can take this practice even further by receiving and allowing All of nature, or all of the Mother Earth, into your consciousness and being. This leads you into mystical union with all of Nature. Receive and allow the natural world into all of your consciousness, into all of your experience; and at the same time you surrender and lose yourself in this surrounding nature. This is the way to mystical union with nature. And we do this practice for its own sake, for the experience itself, without trying to get any self-powers from it. We do it just for love and just for the experience of union.

First close your eyes to get centered and present, in mind and in your senses. Then when ready, open your eyes to do this practice. But at any time you can close your eyes to get re-centered again or to just listen to the sound of the creek and the birds. Eyes closed or eyes open can both be helpful at different times, but what is most essential in this is to always stay aware of the space and environment around you. The goal is to enter into unity with all that's around you, so that there isn't any separation between the experience of your 'self' and what is all around. So there is no point in just going inward or into your own little world. There are countless forms of meditation which lead one to detach from the outer senses and from the outer world, and to go inward into oneself, but in this kind of meditation we are embracing the whole outer world around us, this world of nature, and enter into unity with it all, so that there is no separate experience of you - in contrast with nature all around.

Become empty and receptive in your mind and heart. Then allow the surrounding nature and its presences to come to you. Become so empty and purely receptive, that the healing energies and beauty of nature easily flow and merge through you. Let the thinking mind disappear, so that only the surrounding space of nature remains. As you let go of your outgoing will and thinking mind, your consciousness can merge into nature, until there is only unity, rather than a division between yourself and what's around you. Let all boundaries disappear, and let go into the unity. This experience of natural unity is possible when you are just receptive and surrender into the unity of Nature. Then the fullness of nature's powers and qualities are gradually assimilated into you.

After about a half hour of this silent experience, Coyote calmly said it was time to move on. So we both got and stretched, then continued on the trail in silence. My experience from this practice of union was deeply tangible yet beyond easy description. And I felt that Coyote's own silence indicated that I should remain quiet about it all, rather than try to describe to him or even to myself.

We walked silently, and I tried to maintain my experience of unity with all of nature. I found that if I relaxed into the unity experience, there would be a sense of ease and comfort in it. Yet, even though the very sweetness of this unity had its own power, the competing force from my usual habits of thinking, or of mind wandering, would break apart the unity experience. This is why I could see how a degree of intentional practice is needed to counter-act and retrain the conditioned habits of my usual mind. Also, I found that breath was important, not only to build the power of consciousness, but also in that my breath connected me with the Air all around, the space all around. So, through breath I experienced unity with the surrounding space and all of nature.

By now it was getting pretty late in the day and we figured that sun was only about an hour to set. Coyote said that we both ought to keep our awareness open for a place to make camp and sleep. He also reminded me to make an intention that we will find a good place to rest, or find just the right place to be closer with the beauty. He reminded me that making this kind of intention is one of the shaman secrets. Awareness is the receptive part of a journey, while intention is our active part.

In just a short while, I saw a grassy area off the trail a bit, so we headed over there. Scattered rocks were around, but we found a few places where we could sleep comfortably. So we went about gathering some pieces of dead wood to make a small fire, and here is where we camped for the night. But just around sunset, before it got dark, Coyote led me through a meditation practice while laying down on the grass.

Feeling in unity with Mother Earth.

Lay down and make sure you feel comfortable. In this meditation practice you'll feel a deeper connection and oneness with the earth below you. Close your eyes. Use your awareness to slowly scan your body, from head to toe, and as you scan your body with awareness keep relaxing each part of the body. Any place you feel a tension or something not relaxed, then relax that part. You have the power to relax any part of your body, if you wish. It's important to know how to do this at will. Breath can be used to help in this. Sometimes it can be useful to breathe in light to any part of the body, and then breathe out any tension found in that part. So you go through your whole body doing this, until your completely and deeply relaxed, but keep your awareness awake. I'll give you some time before going on with the next instructions.

… The next part of the practice is just as simple. Just feel the earth below you. Feel the emotional comfort of being held by the earth. And its fine to imagine, see or feel the earth below as being your Earth Mother, the Great Mother, the Mother of all of us. Feel her holding you, and feel her Love. Take some time to feel how this is for you. Next, feel yourself sinking into the earth, or into the Earth Mother. And let yourself sink, like sinking into the arms of the Great Mother. Allow yourself to sink, which feels like letting yourself fall. And if you can really let yourself fall and let everything go that is afraid of this, then you'll feel something very special, and very special kind of freedom. I'll give some time to do this.

… The final experience is to surrender yourself into unity with the earth, until there is nothing but unity. Until there is no difference and no separation. There is nothing left but unity.

Later on when darkness came, and as we were laying down and looking up into the clear night sky, Coyote spoke about the Great Spirit.

The Universe and Great Spirit

What a beautiful clear night. Wow, are we lucky. You can't see all these stars in the cities. It's packed full. This is a good time to realize the vastness of the whole universe. Just imagine. We're laying here looking out from this little planet at the vastness of it all. We're just this little speck here in a vacuum of space, and out there are trillions of stars in a distance that's unimaginable. It's all more surreal than anyone can even imagine, and yet we're looking right into reality. It all seems like a dream out there, but it's the vast reality.

Here's a short practice that I was given once. Look right into that sky of stars up there, and let your mind drift up and out into the vast space. Let your whole awareness soar up and into deep space. And don't worry about coming back. Just let yourself travel into the space. Let's spend some time with this, and I'll be quiet.

In the experience of this, I felt a liberating sense freedom from my body, and I really did feel and think that I was traveling through space in my mind.

Now feel that you are meeting, mentally, with Great Spirit. Reach your mind to Great Spirit, Who is the Great Mind of All. And since Great Spirit is the Great Mind, it must be that Great Spirit hears you and knows you're wanting to meet up. So next realize that Great Spirit is receiving you. This is the general exercise. Work with it in your own way.

In the Native Earth teachings, Great Spirit is neither male nor female, and has no particular form or image. And Great Spirit is not something that is separate or distant from us. Just look out there into the sky; Great Spirit is not just out there in some place a long ways away. Rather, Great Spirit is in and through the whole space of the universe. Great Spirit is out there far away, yet also closer to us, and also right here where we are and even right inside us. Great Spirit is the whole Universe and the earth included. Great Spirit is the Life and Mind and Love essence through everything. Great Spirit is the All-pervading Spirit in all life and through the whole universe. So if one had a similar view of God, then Great Spirit would have the same meaning as God.

Great Spirit is all around, in the earth and in the air. Great Spirit is the original Source of Life, Mind, and Love. Great Spirit is the Power and Intelligence behind all creation, and so all things are possible with Great Spirit. So in the Teachings, Great Spirit can be called upon to help us at any time, as our loving Great Spirit will give us the intelligence and power to do whatever kind of good that we seek to do. So if you have a good purpose and a good intention, then ask for Great Spirit to help, and help will come.


In the morning we headed back along the trail, and in a while we came to a sunny area with a view of a plush meadow below. We found a large flat rock to sit on and enjoy the view.

Energies of the Earth

There are four spirit-energies of the Earth, or four kinds of energy, which pervade the whole planet and can be discovered in any natural area of the earth, though some areas have more or less than others.

The first kind of energy is vital energy, or life energy, which gives us strength and health. You can breathe in this vital earth energy from the land below you, or from mountains, forests, and streams. It's also in the plants and trees. You can also consciously breathe out this vital-life energy to others, to help strengthen their vital and healing energies.

Another kind of earth energy is consciousness, intelligence, and wisdom coming from the land. Consciousness, intelligence and wisdom are all related and regarded as one of the fundamental kinds of earth energy. Consciousness is not thinking. It is the energy of real wakefulness and in this energy of consciousness is the energy of intelligence. Consciousness is actually in the air, but we can only tap into this source through conscious breath and intentionally breathing it in. Consciousness is what spirit is, so we also call this 'filling yourself with spirit', or 'breathing in spirit'. Thus, always take in deep conscious breaths from the good air, the good air in unpolluted nature. The energies of consciousness and intelligence can also be breathed in from the land. Certain places have more consciousness than others, which we can then recognize as sacred places or places with more intense spirit. As well, each place has its own unique kinds of intelligence – its special earth intelligence or wisdom.

Another kind of energy is emotional energy, including love and other qualities that we can feel from the land or from nature. For instance, you might feel peace, joy, excitement, tenderness, or some other emotional quality from the land, and each place is somewhat unique. Emotional energies of the land are like different possible colors of the spectrum, so there are many possible kinds. Of course there are many people who would argue that whatever one feels from a place is simply a projection of the person's own emotional state at the time. This is sometimes true, but if we're sensitive enough we'll notice that certain emotions in us are being evoked by the place, and this is because the place itself, the land itself, is resonating that particular quality of energy, which then resonates those kinds of feelings in us.

I'll talk more about this later, but love is a primary essence of all emotional qualities in the land, though in some places this love has been hurt or disturbed. If there is a love disturbance or love hurt in a place, then it is possible to help heal this by sharing out our love and caring for the place, and there are other shamanic techniques to use as well.

But in places where the love energy is strong and vibrant, we can breathe this love into us, this love from the earth, from the land, and from the sky. Love flows through and all over the earth, which is our Mother's love. Breathe in the Mother's love from the earth, from the land, the hills, the waters, and feel the joy of this love in your heart. This love will essentially heal and nourish our emotional body; just as the vital energy nourishes our physical body, and just as the consciousness energy nourishes our mental body. Other kinds of positive emotional energy can also be discovered and received in an area.

A very special kind of energy is beauty, which inspires and nourishes our spiritual soul. Beauty awakens our intelligence and evokes love in our hearts. Beauty and love are interrelated – both are spiritual kinds of emotional energy evoked from the earth. Beauty and love are not just human feelings in response to the earth; they are real energies of the earth and on the land, which have the power to inspire us and evoke good feelings in us. Also, the recognition and experience of natural beauty brings us into a special love connection with Mother Earth and gives us a deep appreciation for being in nature. Beauty also inspires us to be beautiful in our own being and expressions, and to create beauty in our lives. Beauty inspires us to live and be creative in a beautiful way, and to walk along the Way of Beauty. So Beauty is really a kind of energy in itself, which is partly an emotional energy and partly a fourth kind of energy.

This fourth kind of energy is a creative inspiration energy, or the kind of energy that inspires our creative artistic will or our spiritual will to do something good for the world. We humans sometimes arrogantly think that we alone are the creative artists of earth, and that nature is simply the backdrop or background for our human creative endeavors. But nature actually gives us the essential inspiration to be constructively creative or creative artists, because we all live in and have evolutionarily grown from the vast creativity of nature all around us. And in this energy of all nature is the essential energy of creative will – as each part of nature and each place of nature is a dynamic exploration of creative uniqueness and diversity. So this energy can be consciously gathered and brought into us, which is also possible with the other kinds of earth energies.

So these are the four energies of nature, which we can also acknowledge as four energies in the Medicine Wheel. Some places have more of these energies than others. Man-destroyed areas of nature have very little of these energies, while sacred natural places have more. The shaman and the native attuned earth-walker will search out and recognize these special areas. Then she or he will interact with these areas in such a way that those energies enter into and are digested by the seeker. But this can only happen with conscious breath and intention.

Any of these energies can be experienced and also received into one's being; but only if there is conscious recognition and intentional interaction with these energies. The practice of finding these energies, working with them, and receiving them into one's being, is part of the inner and outer practice of the shaman's walk, which is possible for anyone to do if they are open to experiencing and working with this.

The shaman's practice is to walk about and at times hang out in certain places, in order to experience and receive these energies of vitality, consciousness, creative inspiration, intelligence and various spiritual-emotional energies such as love, peace, joy, and beauty. These are the energies of nature, of the land, and of the spirits of nature as well.

A 'spirit of the land', such as a mountain or valley spirit, or meadow or forest area, or really any area of the land, will have these four main kinds of energy-power, which can be consciously breathed. Special places are all over the earth, which have more of these energies than other places, and these are often called power points, or we might just recognize these as sacred natural places. A true shaman or medicine person of any area will have discovered the local sacred places and power points. But also, it is possible to breathe in and make use of the energy from any place on earth. For example, if you already know of a sacred place or a power point, then you can receive the good energies from this place, even at a distance. You do this with mental focus and conscious breath.

Also, it is possible to store these energies in your energy-body, so that you can use them later on. In other words, the earth energy can be taken in for immediate use, and you will immediately feel the strength of this energy and be able to make use of it, but you can also store the energy for later on. This requires, once again, conscious breath and intention. The basic method, which is easy to remember, is to consciously breathe in the energy of a place, and breathe this energy into a storage place in your energy-body. You can do this in a general way by just visualizing the energy being stored in you for later use.

We took some time to practice sensing and experiencing each of these kinds of energy, sometimes sitting and other times standing, then moved on down the trail and through the meadow, all the while continuing to sense and experience the energies that were close around us and emerging from the land that we walked upon.

After maybe a mile, the trail led us into a much more open area of land, with less trees but nonetheless beautiful, as more rocky areas were exposed and glistened in the light. Walking quietly for a while in this new kind of area, Coyote then said, “We're looking for snake energy.” My immediate thought was, “what?” And I must have actually mumbled this out loud, because Coyote put his finger to his lips, suggesting for me to be quiet and just listen. He walked around some, as though he were searching for a hidden treasure, and I followed him. After walking about in this mysterious search, he started explaining things, but with an intentionally softer voice, as if to not disturb temperamental spirits.

Snake energy

Vital energy is all over. This energy gives us vitality and health. A shaman, or anyone who works consciously with this, can receive and accumulate this vital life energy, for strength and health, both inner and outer.

Snake energy is a special kind of vital energy of the land. For those who are sensitive and awake enough to notice, it has a sort of electrical quality that you can feel in your feet and even in your hands. The basic earth energy has a combination of electrical and magnetic qualities. Snake energy is the electrical quality, while bear energy is the magnetic quality. Some places have more of one, rather than the other, and some places might be more balanced.

When we come to an area of snake energy, we can consciously breathe some of this vital energy into us, to recharge and strengthen our own energy-body. It will feel vitalizing, like your batteries are being charged up. It comes from below you, up through your feet and legs, or up through the base of the spine, and you breathe it up into your power centre, the energy centre of your lower belly.

Electrical-magnetic energies of the earth are all over, yet concentrated more in certain areas. More usually we call this the vital life energy of the earth, which is equivalent to the meaning of qi, chi, or prana. These vital earth energies increase the health and life flow of whatever comes into its influence. Yet the shaman intentionally accumulates these energies through conscious breath, then stores this in his or her personal power centre. The shaman learns to acquire and direct this energy consciously, in order to increase his power and abilities beyond what would be automatically possible. So with consciousness and intention, more is possible.

We gather some of this vital earth energy into our own energy-body, to strengthen and energize our body, mind and heart. We need this vital earth energy for our physical health and for our directed activities. It is also used in mental activities whereby directed concentration is required. In addition, it's the primary energy used in any act of the personal will.

Mainly, we are charging up our electromagnetic body which pervades our physical body. This power can then be used consciously for things we do, or it can also be used automatically by the physical body. We can also acquire this vital earth energy from quality fresh food and from good air and water, and our bodies automatically work with this energy. But if the automatic mechanism of the body is out of order, then one needs to acquire and direct this energy consciously.

We kept walking around in this general area, but stopped at times to make extra effort at being sensitive to the energies and practice breathing them into us, then we would walk on. It almost seemed like we were dowsing the land – energy dowsing with our own sensitivities. I felt more energized from our search. Next, Coyote spoke about consciousness, as we continued our walk further along the trail, while occasionally stopping at certain points.

Consciousness all around

Consciousness is in the land and all over. This is what is usually meant by the word 'spirit' in Native languages. If a Native person walks up a sacred mountain to pray or to have vision or for healing, he or she does not just regard the mountain as an energy or energy vortex. There is this energy, but this is an expression of the spirit which is a consciousness. If we were only say that the earth has a vital energy or ley energy, then would be forgetting that the earth is conscious.

The Native view recognizes consciousness everywhere, not just in humans. Each life within the whole of nature is conscious, at least to some degree. I say this because not all lives of nature are fully awake all of the time, just like human beings are not necessarily fully conscious, even though the potential of consciousness is always present. That potential of consciousness, as well as the potential of love and wisdom, might be called the soul of anything. The soul is actualized to varying degrees. In many cases the spirits of nature are sleeping, which means their consciousness is not awake. The shaman can awaken the spirits. I'll teach you this later on.

So the land is alive with consciousness, as well as etheric or vital energy. This is very important to the Native View. For with consciousness the earth, the land, the rocks and the trees are aware of your presence and can directly communicate with you. In the practice of receptive space, we learn to hold the perspective that the land and the various relations of earth are conscious beings, or spirits conscious of you. The 'spirit of nature' is a consciousness or a conscious mind, similar yet different from you. These spirits, these minds, are more primary and less complicated than the human. They don't think and reason as we do. They have a simple language of communication, rather than a complex one like us. Yet their consciousness can be very powerful and can influence at great distances.

This mind of the spirit is also a kind of memory. Rocks and the land contain memory patterns. Though the memories are contained in crystalline structure, the memory itself is like a mental impression. For example, the land and the rocks will record events and emotional patterns that have occurred upon it or nearby. Thus, ancient memories of our human history are recorded on the land, though if the land is torn apart or excavated, then these memories become destroyed. Certain shamans can hear and see these memories, these stories from the past.

The land will also carry on and reflect back the more recent vibrations and memories. So if there has been love and celebration on the land, then people and future generations will feel these vibrations. If there is a history of violence and suffering on the land, people can feel this and it will have a painful effect on those who visit or live there. There are ways to heal these painful memories, which I'll explain later. So we can learn from and work with the memory patterns of a place.

Fundamentally, the Native Way is be present and in communion with the conscious spirits of the land. The shaman practices receptive space and thus becomes sensitive to this consciousness of nature. He or she listens, and thus hears the sound and vibration of nature wisdom. For example, the mountain spirit may guide the seeker along the way of wisdom. The seeker can also accumulate a greater consciousness from the radiating consciousness of the land. This idea may seem strange to the western man, that he could increase or expand his consciousness from the land. Yet the shaman recognizes that the land, the rocks and the trees are all full of consciousness, which is a kind of power or energy in itself, that can be acquired from these earth spirits.

In essence, there is only one Great Consciousness, which is the consciousness or mind of Great Spirit, and of which the Mother Earth consciousness is a part. Our own human consciousness is a part of the Earth consciousness which is part of the Universal consciousness.

So consciousness exists all around us, permeating all of space. One does not really expand one's own consciousness, but rather one opens up to and enters into a greater field of consciousness or mind wisdom. This is the true meaning of expansion. Consciousness is not really yours, in separation from the greater consciousness of earth and the universe. You, as a consciousness, is just a part of the greater, existing within the greater Mind.

So the Way is to open up your little mind to the greater mind surrounding you. Then you become that which you have opened up to. Our ordinary language makes it difficult to explain this, without appearing contradictory, so you just have to find the way to experience what I'm saying. In one sense, you enter into the greater consciousness of Earth, and you do this by dissolving any separation between your mind and the mind of Earth.

Yet you can also regard consciousness as a kind of food or energy-substance, which you can receive and accumulate. For example, a shaman may seek out and gather spirit power from the land or certain sacred places. He can gather a vital energy from the land, but he can also gather a greater consciousness from the land. So in this sense, consciousness does expand from this acquisition. This can be done intentionally, but it is also done automatically by everyone to a limited degree. People who live in certain areas automatically and generally have a greater consciousness than those who live in some other areas, because of the quality and degree of spirit consciousness on the land.

Remember that the Native Wisdom recognizes the very source of consciousness to be within the land and in the lives on this land, and there is a distribution of consciousness across the land, whereby some areas have more spirit consciousness than others. If you consider this, you will learn much.

The easiest and most practical way to understand the shamanic view of consciousness is that we are all part of one greater consciousness or mind, and different areas of land contain different parts of the one Earth Consciousness. These various parts of the one greater consciousness are thought of as spirit-powers. They are like accumulations of light, which is probably the best analogy. The shaman enters into this light and allows himself to be filled with the light. In this way, he accumulates more light from the land, or spirit, and thus he becomes more conscious, mind-full and wise.

The light, which is consciousness, may even speak to him, or you might say that he shares in the wisdom mind of the land. So the earth spirit light increases his own spirit light. He is then more awake in the greater light or consciousness of the planet. The secret is immerse oneself in this light of consciousness within the land, actually breathing it in and allowing it to radiate throughout one's energy field and mind.

Consciousness is, then, shared by the land, or by the spirit, and it is accumulated by the seeker. Yet the land loses nothing of its light by sharing it, just as one does not lose wakefulness by waking up someone else. Consciousness is not a limited kind of energy, so it is not lost when shared.

The area we were now in was quite open, rather than foresty, and there were various sizes of hills made of granite rock, though shrubs and small trees still grew up through the rocky mounds. We picked out the largest one in view to climb up and sit. We were not really that high up, but high enough to see 360° all around, and the place did have a very definite feeling of power and presence.

Wisdom qualities

Being more conscious is also related to spiritual awakening, and this is related to wisdom. So by increasing consciousness in nature, our wisdom increases. Wisdom is not about learning facts from books or classes; most essentially, wisdom is the natural result of being more conscious in nature and of what nature is sharing with us and giving to us.

It is possible to allow into your mind and being the wisdom-intelligence and wisdom-qualities of different parts of nature. These are the intelligences of nature. Nature itself is intelligent. Mother Earth has intelligence, which is the intelligence of life and ecology. In fact, from nature is where we get our human intelligence – from our Mother's Intelligence.

Yet as well, we can increase our own intelligence by interacting and resonating with the particular intelligences of any area. These are the spirit-intelligences of Earth. They are found through mountains, lakes, streams, valleys, forests, caves, and any kind of place in nature. The spirit intelligences are 'through' these places, because each of these spirits live through particular places. They are the energy aura of a place; which we can sense, feel, or sometimes mentally see. Each of these spirits of a place hold a certain kind of intelligence, or wisdom; which we can learn from, if we are awake and receptive to this. This is how the shaman of nature increases his or her intelligence and wisdom; it is from interacting with and learning from these intelligences of nature.

Every place on earth has particular earth wisdom qualities. These can also be understood as energies or as spirits with unique qualities of intelligence, which are possible for us to sense and assimilate into our own being. So we can study and learn from the intelligent quality of a place, and also receive from this quality, if we can recognize it.

This quality is recognized more by your intelligence, than by your emotions. Yet you can still feel it. For example, there are many good spirit qualities of a tree, such as rootedness, strength, health and vitality, integrity, contentment and beauty. These are its wisdom-intelligence qualities, but you can also feel these qualities, so its not just a mental understanding. There are many possible qualities that you might experience in nature, if you have an open mind to these qualities.

The many lives of nature are our natural relations. They are our very ancient ancestors, so their spirit, their qualities and abilities, are potentials within our own human nature. So discover in your own experience the qualities of nature. You might discover great assertive power in the raging sea. You might find a wonderful sense of peace in a calm lake. You might find a power or quality of self-integrity in the solidness of a mountain. You might find innocence and grace in a deer, or playfulness in the squirrel, or a sense of freedom in a hawk. Whenever you recognize any of these wisdom qualities in nature, or in any part of nature, it's then possible to resonate with that quality and breathe it in, then assimilate it into your own being.

We climbed down and walked on. Coyote interspersed silence with teachings, and occasionally we stopped to especially sense and feel the energy quality of an area.

Emotional and love qualities

Also in nature and in the particular areas of land are emotional energies. Different kinds of emotional energies would be called emotional qualities. These are experienced and known through our feelings, rather than through our physical senses or with physical-scientific instruments. Such qualities might be love, peace, harmony, inspiration, joy, grandeur, intrigue, or some other emotional or aesthetic feeling. These are the qualities of nature which we feel emotionally, and which affect us emotionally. So you have to open up emotionally, or open up with feeling, in order to experience and know these qualities in nature.

Emotional energies have to be felt. So feel the quality of the place. Feel what the place feels like to you. Like for instance, the place might have a peaceful and serene feeling, or it might have an exciting feeling, or maybe it has some kind of love feeling. Then, from this energy quality of the land, you can receive that quality by way of its radiance and resonance, and you will find that the quality is being nurtured in your own being, if you are awake to it. Each place will have a few emotional qualities, but not all. Recognize and work with just one quality at a time; otherwise your attention will get scattered.

So, each particular place will have its own unique qualities, but in order to consciously and intentionally gain from those energy qualities, you need to first sense and feel them. You need to sense, feel, recognize, resonate and interact with each place. First you need to be aware of a quality or feel it. Sensing and feeling are different, but both are important. Vital energies are usually sensed, while emotional energies need to be felt. You can sense energies with your hands, but also with any part of your body. Sensing is sort of like touching someone but at a distance. Yet you feel energies with your feelings. Feeling is like feeling what another feels; it's sort of like empathy. There's a feeling in any area of nature, which you can only know by feeling it. To really learn about this and understand it, you just have to do it and experience it first hand.

Beauty can be also included as an emotional quality, since we experience beauty through our subjective feelings. Yet beauty is also perceived, not just felt. So, beauty is not just an emotional quality, like for instance love or peace, because we see beauty in the actual physical appearance of a place, and perceptual properties of beauty can even be physically described. Beauty inspires and uplifts us emotionally and spiritually, and evokes joy in us. So, beauty is a special essence of nature, and every place in nature has some unique quality of beauty, unless upset or degraded by man.

Love is also a special quality in nature, and it is everywhere. Love is the essential emotional quality found in nature. Love might also be experienced as joy, peace, unity, or some other spiritual quality. The land carries love and its related qualities, which then resonates in the heart of the seeker. The shaman is able to feel and receive this love coming from nature, from the land, and from the whole of Mother Earth. This love energy is healing to our emotional body, to the emotional part of yourself. Practice breathing this love into your heart, and allow it to flow like water through you. Then your heart will naturally feel at peace and sing with joy.

This power of love is throughout the land, flowing through all of nature. Love is a flow of energy which connects and unifies us with the earth. People who do not experience the Earth love tend to feel disconnected with the earth, and thus might abuse the earth and the land. But once you experience this love, you will naturally want to protect and help the land.

Yet in so many places, the energy of love has become blocked and hurt by the disrespectful actions of man. A sensitive person will feel this pain of the land. Some spirits of the land will even become angry in reaction to what has occurred or to what man is presently doing. This anger can be quite negative in its effects, though this negativity can be very subtle. The pain of the land also has negative effects on people, even if they are insensitive to it. In fact, many of the problems of social conflict, in various places, are at least partly caused by anger or pain on the land, which is a pattern repeating itself and being reinforced in a vicious karmic circle again and again. These problems will continue to influence the emotions of people, until they are healed or dealt with in a renewed positive manner.

So the land on which we live and work can be positive or negative. It can flow freely with natural love, which is its original quality, or it may repeat the memories and pain of abuse. Virgin land and protected sacred land will naturally radiate love and healing to those present upon it and to those nearby. These manifest as ley lines of love, as well as consciousness, originating and flowing out from the naturally maintained power places. These flow lines can also be blocked or abused.

The shaman will go to the power places of love and he will will walk along the flow lines of love, to recharge or heal his emotional body, to empower the love within. Or he may go to the hurt places to help heal and restore the love flow of the land. Techniques vary for how to achieve this healing work on the land. The first step for healing is to clear away any debris or pollution, the things that block the energy flow, and to facilitate the release or clearing of any pain or resentment held in the memory of the land. The healer then begins to re-establish trust in the spirit of the place. He might bring certain sacred offerings, make certain prayers, and perform some kind of ritual; all for the purposes of respect and making connection.

The path began to climb once again and rounded around a mountain in front of us. Soon we were back in a more forested area and in a while we came to water crossing with a small but beautiful waterfall, which stood inside a naturally curved niche, almost like a grotto. After splashing our faces with water and giving our aura a quick cleansing, we sat on a nearby boulder that was partially under a large willow.

The Spirit Presence of each Place

Each place in nature has its own spirit, which includes a particular nature consciousness, presence and wisdom. This is usually called the spirit of the place. For example, if you are alone in a place, with your full presence and receptivity, you will suddenly realize that you are not alone at all. The natural spirit of the place, which is in the rocks, the land, the trees, and in the water around you, will then be in communication with you.

So wherever we go and wherever we spend some time in nature, it's important to be aware of the spirit there and to also make some kind of connection with this spirit. This connection is fourfold, involving our senses of the physical, but also making a connection in feeling, in mind, and in spirit. The goal of this awareness and connection is a real interaction – a real experience of the spirit and the energies, and also something that we can receive from what the spirit shares in that place.

Important in all of this is your interaction. It's not so much a physical interaction, as it is a mental and emotional interaction. Through this interaction of consciousness, heart, and feeling, we are making a Real connection with the spirit of this particular place we are in. And if we are aware of this, and also intentional in this, and present in this, and also in the feeling of appreciation and gratitude, then the spirit of this place awakens up more and will also share more of its energy and intelligence with us. Here then begins a real connection and interaction. From this, something very profound will open up in your experience, and special energies will be received.

You can also give to nature and the spirits of a place by your recognition of what is present, because recognition is a form of interacting energy and appreciation. So you can receive and give, all at the same time. In each of these special places, you can gain strength and vitality, consciousness and intelligence, love and emotional upliftment. This then increases and strengthens your own being and your own energy aura. It increases your own vitality, consciousness, intelligence and love. And this is all received from Nature, from our own Mother Earth.

But most people miss these moments and opportunities, usually because they are too busy talking with their friends or simply talking with their own self. Or, the person might get right up to this point of communication and real interaction, but the person misses out on what is possible because of drifting away in mind or fearing the experience because it seems too unusual.

The shaman, though, has a definite intention to not miss out on these energies and possible experiences. Of course though you don't have to be a 'shaman', nor call yourself a 'shaman' to interact with the spirits and intelligences of nature. It's really the 'natural way', but man and culture have lost this vision, and they've lost any sense that this is even possible. Yet all that is basically needed is an ability and also a willingness to sit or walk in special places of nature, but with silence and receptivity, and with an open mind and heart.

Open your natural senses, open your feelings, open your mind, and listen. Then hear what is present and see what is present in this beauty of nature. In this way, the spirits, the energies, and the intelligences of nature will be revealed to you. Remember, this is not just a physical appearance or physical experience, because the experience is also emotional and mental, and also of course, intuitive and spiritual.

Coyote went silent, and I knew this was a time for actual practice. I quieted my thinking and began feeling the spirit presence of the place we were in. Without any doubt, there was a definite spirit presence here, which felt to be loving and healing, and in the beauty I felt to be in the presence of a healing goddess. But neither of us spoke about our experiences. Coyote had previously explained to me that he himself had to speak about experiences in order to teach things, but that I should not talk about my immediate experiences because such talk tends to deplete the energy and experience gained. It was only later on, that he would ask me about my experiences in particular places.

Coyote got up and started walking quietly further down the trail, and I followed. As we walked, he occasionally stopped to teach something.

The greater spirits of nature

Many shamans and medicine teachers also communicate with the greater animal and plant spirits. Each individual plant or animal spirit is part of a greater spirit, which is the spirit of that kind. For example, each redwood tree is part of the greater redwood tree spirit, each sage bush is part of the greater sage spirit, each deer is part of the greater deer spirit. So when we meet up with a particular animal or plant or tree, we can also communicate with the greater spirit that encompasses and embraces this particular individual of nature or this particular spirit. There are also greater spirits of the elements. As for example, we could make a little camp fire and this would have its own particular spirit, and yet this little fire is part of the greater spirit of fire. A little running creek will have its own spirit, but this will also be part of the greater spirit of running water. And a particular mountain spirit or a spirit of the place will be part of a greater spirit of the land.

The first steps towards communication and working with these greater spirits is to recognize and connect with the particular spirit of nature you are perceiving, or of what's in front of you, like a single tree or plant or animal. This might be good enough at the time. This might be all you want to do. But it is possible to also 'see through' this particular spirit to the greater spirit encompassing it, the spirit of its kind, and then communicate with this greater spirit of nature. It is possible to 'see through' the particular into its shared spirit essence, and thus connect with the greater spirit of this kind. Each particular animal or plant can be a portal to its greater spirit, and this greater spirit can even speak through the particular.

All of these greater spirits, or we might call them 'larger spirits', are the great intelligences of nature. Each one is the greater intelligence for that kind of plant or animal, or of that element or area of land. Each individual plant or animal is then naturally patterned by and guided by its greater spirit intelligence. So if we can communicate with one of these greater spirits, and also work cooperatively with that spirit, then this has a lot of power. If we can get these greater spirits on our side, as allies, then this part of nature begins to cooperate and work with us. Though, the key in this is to first offer our cooperation with them. First seek to be in harmony and in cooperation with this greater spirit and its needs; then the greater spirit will start to be cooperative with you and your needs. This is how the medicine shamans make friends with these nature spirits and work with them.

Also, each of these greater spirit intelligences hold a kind of archetypal wisdom that the shaman or medicine student can learn from. Each plant kind and each animal kind, and even each kind of element or earth place, has its own unique intelligence, natural know-how and special unique powers. So from each kind of animal or each kind of plant, we can learn unique things, unique understandings, unique abilities and powers.

These understandings, these wisdoms and abilities, are actually parts of who we can be as human beings. In fact, the whole animal and plant kingdom, and all kinds in it, can reveal to us our many human potentials, which we can discover and assimilate from the natural world. This is attitude of self-discovery through the natural world, and the opening of our hidden natural potentials and abilities, should be part of our earth walk. But since this requires a good degree of sacred reverence in nature, as well as meditation and self-reflection, most people don't bother. They’re too busy watching tv or burying their heads into their little devices.

Also, you really have to give full attention and reflection to just one kind of spirit at a time, and not just be abstract about it. Give some quiet meditative or outdoor time to focusing on just one animal or plant kind. Tune into this spirit and to what unique intelligences and abilities it has. Then reflect upon this as part of your own self-potential or potential abilities.

So to understand and come into psychic relationship with these greater animal and plant intelligences, is really what all people could be doing. This is really just a part of the earth walk, for any human being. So really, this is isn't just about shamans and medicine teachers. They're just trying to show us all the way, the way of the earth walk, and the way to be a full human being in harmony with the rest of nature. So whenever you can, learn from the greater spirits of nature – the spirits of a kind; for these are the great intelligences of nature.

But remember that each of these are real spirits. I'm not just making metaphors. These spirit intelligences are real; as real as you and me. And they have power. They also have a kind of personality – a kind of temperament and ego. So they can be sensitive and can even get angry or even feisty at times. People have to learn to respect these spirits, and also make friends with them; otherwise, there could be a backlash.

We have to learn respect; this is foremost in all native wisdoms. If there is insufficient respect, then there is no chance to make any real connection and communication. Second, these spirits love to be recognized. They are waiting to be recognized. Thirdly, any greater animal or plant spirit can be our friend and ally, or a spirit teacher and guide, if only we first hold out our hand in friendship and with an intention to be in harmony. Then, once we have made friends and have made a sincere relationship, this spirit becomes our friend and ally and can even be a teacher and guide in what we do. Then wherever we are, we can call upon this spirit and its special powers and intelligences to help us.

These greater spirits of the natural world can be invoked and brought-in to be of help, which has been part of most native traditions all over the earth. Traditional native societies would usually have a few shamans or medicine leaders, who had been taught how to invoke the spirits of the place and the greater spirits of nature, and to enlist their help in times of need or perhaps regularly at seasonal times.

The focus for these invocations would be mostly towards local spirits of the place, but also towards the greater spirits of certain animals or plants or elements most relevant to that community. These might be invocations to the spirits of the land or of the water, or to weather spirits, or to locally important animal spirits or plant spirits, which the people need in order to survive and thrive. For maybe this community needs to fish, so they need help from the fish spirit, or maybe they need to harvest corn, so they need help from the corn spirit and from the rain spirit, or maybe they need to hunt deer, so they would ask the great deer spirit to sacrifice a few deer in exchange for some kind of offering or celebration. Thus, this need for prayerful invocation and communication with the local nature spirits became part of their cultural tradition, as it was first introduced perhaps many generations before by a great shaman or medicine teacher of that community.

These invocations usually consist of certain prayers and chants, which calls the spirits forth and asks for their help and cooperation. Each culture and place will have their own unique prayers and chants, in their own language. And I'll tell you why this works. It works because the particular prayer or chant was first made by a very enlightened and powerful shaman. This prayer or chant was first of all spontaneous, from the sincere heart and mind of this shaman, which then awakened the attention of the spirits of this place, and those spirits became friends with this shaman, man or woman. A deep connection and rapport was made, and so the spirits helped. So from then on, there was a prayer or chant to connect with these spirits, and this prayer was in that language and had that particular sound.

Each place and each indigenous people therefore have their own language of chants and prayers, and they carry on this in their traditions. The key to why this works is sound and pattern. The spirits of each particular place hear these unique sound patterns, and they recognize it, they remember it. They understand its meaning and intent, because they have heard it over so many years. So if people make the same chants in that place, the spirits of that place will understand those chants by the particular sound patterns, and they'll respond with help to the call in need. So if there is also good-hearted intent and sincerity in the prayer, as well as the same chant, they will respond positively and with help. They feel the people's sincerity of heart, so they respond compassionately with help. This is why traditional prayers and chants work. But of course, the prayers or invocation of the originator would have been just spontaneous at first; so don't be shy about making your own special connection and unique invocations of the spirit powers.

The trail had been gradually heading up, but then suddenly it seemed to end and all I could see was a very steep deer trail off to the right and up the mountain. Where do we go now? I asked. Coyote simply replied, 'Up!' And without hesitation he began hiking up the narrow trail and through some sage bushes, and of course I followed.

The trail ascended steeply and I could feel it my legs. But I remembered to keep my energy strong by consciously breathing in the vital energies of the land underneath my feet. By doing this, I became energized and also more alert. I even began to feel an extra strength in my legs, as if my persevering intention to go up and forward turned into strength in my legs. So with conscious breath and intention, this steep path upward became ever more easy.

We passed around some high shrub brush and suddenly I saw a small cave, as if it had been carved into the mountain rock. Coyote pointed at it silently, then started climbing over up an even more narrow little path. I followed, but really it was a matter of getting up there anyway you could, so we were both scrambling over small boulders and sometimes with all fours. When we finally got into the cave and looked out, I realized that we had come up pretty high, and I had a feeling of accomplishing something worth the effort. 'Time to relax and enjoy the view,' Coyote said. I was glad to sit and rest and have some water. The view was of course fantastic, but also there was an unusual pinnacle shaped mountain not too far away and in front of us.

Receiving earth powers and qualities

This strange and wonderful mountain in front of us is an important one. I suppose we should call it a pinnacle or a tower, because it juts straight up. In Native language we might call this a standing spirit, or maybe even a warrior spirit because of its power and dignity. Notice how it stands there with incredible dignity, with its pinnacle shape pointing up towards the sky, towards Great Sky Spirit. It reaches up to Sky Spirit and brings down the Sky Power. The native local people have a special animal name for this, but it's a secret and so is this cave. People come here for vision quests and guidance, but it's only known by a few of the medicine teachers and they don't want the average Joe to know about it.

I want to show you a special practice which has to do with spirit power and presence. Bring all of your attention to the mountain and begin to feel how powerful it is. Feel how it rises up with power and dignity. It has dignity and majesty, but also beauty and even a peacefulness. These are some of the qualities I can feel from this mountain. But no sense in me telling you what I feel. You need to have your own feeling, rather than try to mimic mine. You need to have your own experience. And to do this, you have to first just be here and enjoy here, and give lots of patience for an experience to actually happen.

To have a deep and real experience in nature, one cannot be in a rush. Like the average person is in a rush to do this or get that or go to the next place. People are so often impatient in nature and cannot really relax and just be where they are in the moment; instead, they want to take a picture or write down that they were here, then rush on to the next scene, the next stop on the planned agenda. With that kind of attitude, there can be no deep experience, because no time was given to allow the energies and presence of nature to absorb into one's being.

So we'll just settle here, relax and simply be, but without going to sleep or mentally drifting into thought conversations or chatter. It's a time to be very quiet inside and out, and just listen and observe, yet with your utmost intensity of awareness. We need to increase our consciousness and awakeness, as well as increase our sensing and sensitivity to what's here. And just be open and receptive, without any preconceptions and without any planned agenda.

Understand that this mountain has spirit. Can you see or feel the spirit? Give some time to being open to this, and then you will. The spirit like a presence of the mountain, or its beingness. Every part of the land has its own special presence, with spiritual quality and energy. This is the spirit of the mountain, or the spirit of this place, and this spirit has its own special qualities and energies. Every place has a spirit, or sometimes many spirits, and each has its own unique combination of energy qualities. These spirits can be found in mountains, forests, valleys, streams, lakes, and deserts. Earth spirits and energies are all over, everywhere.

The earth shaman knows how to connect with earth spirits and energies, then absorb these energy qualities into his being. This is how one gains powers from the earth spirits and the land. But one cannot acquire any earth powers without having the right attitude and understanding. Right attitude and understanding are both needed. Three attitudes necessary. The first is respect. And as I speak, you can be entering into these essential attitudes.

First have a sincere respect for the land, the earth, and every part of nature. This means you understand that nature is alive with spirit, with presence and beingness; which is a very different attitude from feeling that you are the most important or center stage. You understand that the human being is in a relation with nature; not that the human being is dominant and superior. Respect has no feeling or attitude that you are better or more important. True respect in nature has dissolved human arrogance. In respect also, one sees each place in nature as a being in itself and having value in itself. So if you're thinking about how to use nature, then you have not yet entered the attitude of respect.

The next step, the next attitude to come into and experience is appreciation. Appreciate the beauty, the majesty, the peacefulness, or perhaps the love that this place in nature gives. In each place there is something to appreciate, some kind of beauty or special quality. This is an aesthetic appreciation, though it could be a feeling as well as perceptual. This experience of appreciation is very related to love and enjoyment, because when we feel love and enjoyment from a place, we are in appreciation.

The next step or attitude to come into is gratitude. Again, as I speak, you can be entering into this. For after being in a state of appreciation, the next step of gratitude seems easy to enter. In fact, respect rolls into appreciation, and appreciation rolls into gratitude. Gratitude is felt in the heart, and it involves a deep feeling of intimate connected relationship, and a love for what nature is sharing, and really being thankful for this beauty, this presence, and whatever sacred quality one feels here. Gratefulness can also be expanded to include all of nature, all of the earth.

So always remember these essential attitudes and complete them, because it's too easy to drift away from real deepening experience and into ordinary patterns of egotism, mental chatter, the next plan in one's itinerary, or agenda, or an attitude of 'so what' (like, let's get a good picture of this and go on to something else).

Now I'll give you one of the shaman's secrets. Once you have entered into the three essential attitudes and are in such an experience with the natural beauty in front of you and around you, it is now possible to communicate with the spirit of this mountain, or wherever you are. What we are intended to do is to make a deep connection with the spirit presence and communicate but in a nonverbal way. The communication is more in feeling, though sometimes a mountain spirit or other spirit will give us a special gift of wisdom. Sometimes the spirit presence just radiates love and also its own appreciation for being recognized.

In fact, recognition is a real key in all of this, because the spirit will begin to radiate and come into a relationship with us, once we first recognize it. So our recognition of the spirit is first necessary. Then once the spirit knows we are recognizing it, the spirit comes more alive and is open to communicating and sharing with us. It's kind of like, “Oh, you see me! You are sensing me and feeling my presence, and appreciating who I am and the power I have.” It's like the spirit suddenly brightens up with happiness that it is being recognized, and it will now come out of its hiding, to more reveal itself and the powers and qualities it has.

So now, after there is respect, appreciation, gratitude and also recognition, it is now possible to more deeply feel the mountain and its presence, feeling and experiencing the energy quality and power of this mountain. But to do this, you need to be very quiet inside, and very receptive and open.

First of all though, you need to be in an attitude of relaxed, unhurried, patience; not just seeing something special, then quickly moving on to the next thing. You cannot be in an attitude of 'ok, now what next should I take a picture of'. It cannot be a quick tour of a sacred site to take a picture, then move on to the next page of the agenda. The right attitude of patience and receptiveness is the opposite of this.

So let's take some time to be here and some time to really experience and feel this mountain – and what it is offering to us, the energy quality of its being. So we will just sit here and observe the mountain. Just observe, keeping your attention and mind on the mountain, and nothing else. No thoughts, no agendas, and no running away in one's mind from this. Just stay completely in the seeing and in the experience of this mountain, and letting nothing else distract attention from this.

Breathe consciously. Then begin to breathe with this mountain and its energy, while also being completely receptive. Take three conscious breaths: on your in-breath being receptive, and on the out-breath giving your love and gratitude. Do this three times, which sets the pattern of connection. Then, just be receptive and open to the energy and qualities that this spirit is giving and radiating out. Open your heart, as well as your mind.

Open your being to absorb this energy, this power and the quality it has. Breathe in and absorb the quality into your being, and be grateful in this. Then, discover another quality and absorb this. The essence of this practice is to continually recognize and feel one or more qualities from the mountain, or from wherever you are in nature; then allow this quality to absorb into your being. Let the quality come into your heart and into your whole being. In this way, the shaman absorbs these energies, these qualities, into his being.

You don't actually have to know the quality of a place, in order to receive that energy quality. In other words, the quality of energy might be just known in your feelings, without the thinking mind knowing what it is or what to call it. Some energies are like this; you know the energy has a certain unique quality to it, but you don't know what it is. So no worry; you don't have to actually know the quality. You just need to feel it or experience it. Just feel the energy, feel the quality, without putting any name to it or describing that quality. You will still receive the energy, if you experience it and allow it to absorb into your being.

There will still be a recognition of the energy, but you won't be defining what it is. It just is what it is. It's sort of like eating a kind of ice cream that you've never had and you don't know what flavor it is. You don't know the name of that flavor, but you can still taste what it is, and you can recognize its unique quality or taste, from other kinds. So like this, with these energy-qualities, you should be able to feel or 'taste' the uniqueness of a particular energy-quality, its specialness. This is the special quality of beauty that is present. Each special place in nature will have its own special energy-quality of beauty. This could be called the emotional quality of the place, but it could also be recognized as the beauty quality of the place.

This energy, or this energy of beauty, can be absorbed into one's being. It can be absorbed, assimilated, and digested. Let it absorb into you, by being open and receptive. But being open and receptive is not quite enough. You have to actually breathe it in, take it in, absorb it into you. Swallow it into you. Though first, before swallowing it all; savor it all, bask in it, soak in it. And even before this, chew on it, reflect on it, look at it all in greater detail and consideration. So there is a lot one can do in the presence of a natural place of beauty. Perceive it all, feel it all, reflect on it all, open to it all, and finally absorb it all into your being.

Allow this energy, this beauty, this power, to be absorbed into you. This is finalized with gratefulness. Gratefulness is the key to absorbing the beauty energies of nature, which are also the powers of nature. The energies of nature, the qualities, the powers, the presence, the beauty, are all just different ways of understanding the same energy-power of a place, which we can then absorb and accumulate into our own being.

But gratefulness is the key, because in gratefulness the energies are absorbed. Breath is also important. Breathe in the energy with gratefulness. On the out breath, in gratefulness, we surrender our ego to the magnificence of beauty. Then we breathe in, with gratefulness, the beauty given to us in this special place. Profound experiences and transformations occur when we breathe out and let go in gratefulness, and breathe in with grateful acceptance of the energy present. But don't make this complicated. Just try what I'm saying when the time is right, when your feelings of love and gratefulness are strong.

This feeds our soul to grow and expand. It feeds our whole being, the physical, emotional and mental aspects of our self. For these special places and special experiences will give us earthy vital energies, positive and loving emotional energies, and also mental clarity and consciousness energies. In essence, one is receiving from the spirit presence of that place, as well as from the earth energies there. Though both are really the same, for these are the energies from the spirit of the place. Remember as well that all energies from the land or the earth are the energies and qualities of our sacred Earth Mother. And for the shaman of earth, She is our source of spiritual powers. So once again, this is another reason to be grateful.

People tend to associate shamans with powers. This is true, and I've met a few powerful shamans. Next, people associate shamans with special wisdom about the land, the plants, and the energies. And this is true as well. But the most advanced and mature shamans have as much love as they have power and wisdom. They love the land, the earth, the plants, the trees, the waters, the animals, and they love all of life. They love all people too, but they do not passively accept people's ego and greed and other bullshit. So they can sometimes be rude and confrontive to people who are not respectful of our Mother Earth. But as in relation to the great Mother and the land, they are absolutely in love and grateful.

Having real spiritual experiences of our Mother Earth is central to the shamanistic aim. A real spiritual experience in nature is when your mind is blown away by the energy or beauty, and when you surrender all of your ego to just be here in it. You enter into a very special feeling of peace and silence in being here. You enter into a state of subjective silence and peace in being, and all there is the Beloved all around you. You breathe in rhythm with the earth, and your heart feels to beat in harmony with the Mother's heartbeat. You feel in love with the nature around you, in peace and in harmony.

Expand your consciousness and feelings to include all of earth, to be in harmony with all of nature, with all of Mother Earth. This is a way to have a holistic experience of all of Mother Earth. This particular place of beauty leads you to a spiritual experience of absolute love for Mother Earth, and in natural rapport with the Mother.

You can also feel the spirit presence of this particular place, or sense the energies. But if one surrenders into the silence, then one is in the presence. This will make no sense at all to someone who has not yet experienced the silence. The best advice I would give to anyone is to relax in a special place and have no feeling of hurry. So that you can just be here in wakefulness and in gratefulness, and just breathing with the place. Surrender all of yourself to this place and to just being here. And especially let go of all thought. This can be helped by your breath. So if needed, let your thoughts be released to the earth through your out-breath. Now, if you are open to being in the silence, simply drop into it, like letting go of everything and dropping into emptiness. Surrender your self to the presence of nature at this particular place. Let go, surrender, and drop into the silence. When you have dropped into this state of experience, you are now in the spirit presence of this place.

Next was a time for further practice. Coyote never taught about anything without also giving more practice time for deeper experiencing. I was still digesting what he had said, so it I didn't get into the actual practice right away. This was alright. He had said a number of times that it's fine and natural to think about the basics of a practice and get some understanding of it, before going on to actually doing it with more intensity and without having to think about what to do or why. Eventually, my thoughts subsided as I entered into the experience, without any internal mental dialogue, and by trusting more and more. One of the main keys I found helpful in this was to make and maintain a tangible energy connection with the spirit presence and to establish a real relationship.

Shaman's Power

This is the real shaman's way of gaining power. It's the real meaning of power. The shaman, or the earth walker, knows how to acquire powers from the natural world, but these powers are not powers of ego. They are not powers to dominate or manipulate others. Rather, these are spiritual, sacred powers, powers of love and wisdom, and powers of creative will to make good in the world. These powers are spiritual qualities of being. Like it might be the power of love, or the power to love, or the power of having goodwill. Or a power to be more in harmony with life or in better relations with the natural world.

It could be a power to heal others, or to be healing in all aspects of life. It's not a power just for the person; rather, it's acquiring powers to be a more spiritual and loving person, and a nature-connected person, and a person able to help and heal others. Some of the medicine walkers acquire and develop healing powers, or also knowledge of healing plants and healing methods. But remember that healing can be on many levels, not just the physical; so one could also be a healer of the emotions or of the mind or even of the soul. Or an actual healer of the earth – able to heal the damage or disharmonies caused by stupid or greedy people. This is what real power is about. And the shaman earth walker knows that such powers can be gained from the earth and its nature spirits, by way of being in deep connection and attunement with nature, which also brings one into more harmony and unity with the natural world.

So, real power is more about love, or the power of love, than it is about being a dictator over people. It is more about having a powerful good-will, a powerful heart of love, and a powerful wisdom about how to live in harmony with all our relations. And it is a power to create more beauty on earth, and in our relations, and in our own being. It is having the abilities to give love, healing, and true wisdom teachings to others. This is the power of an earth shaman: the power or ability to help Great Spirit positively transform and heal the world. So now, in this understanding of power, the power is not really so much for oneself, but instead it is so we can help others and the world, and especially bridge the unfortunate gap between human life and the rest of Nature.

The day was coming to an end, so Coyote decided that we should spend the night in this cave. I was happy to hear this because by now my body felt quite tired, though in a good way, like when the muscles are tired from intense exercise or sports. However, Coyote didn't want to make a fire, because he said the cave was too sacred for the mundane. So no cooking and no hanging out enjoying a campfire. But there was a near-to full moon coming up from the horizon, which was beautiful to watch and it also provided us some moonlight in the hours after sunset. This gave us enough light in the cave to work with some sacred stones and objects which he brought in his homemade medicine pouch.

We ate some nuts and snacks, then Coyote said that we should go out of the cave to clean up, because he wanted to make a sacred ritual of prayer. We needed to wash up, to purify our energies. He explained that this is important to do before making a sacred ritual or inner journey, because an uncleaned energy aura might attract lesser spirits. Also, the more pure one is in mind and emotion, the clearer we are to communicate with and listen to greater spiritual guidance.

So we took some water to clean up with, then walked along a deer trail that hugged the mountain and led towards an area of bushy shrubs. It is good to clean up not too near a sacred place, which is part of respect but it also just makes good sense. Coyote went off somewhere to do his special business and to clean himself. I used some water sparingly to splash on my face and over my head. Then I sat and reflected on the day, while I waited for him. When he came back, he had more to say about personal power.

Use your power for the Good

There is a battle of light and darkness in the world. Some people are at work destroying the Earth. Some of these people are just plain selfish and possessed by the deceptive spirit of power, while others are just plain stupid and neglectful of the obvious need to make sure the earth is unharmed for future generations. The native teachings have all said that we have to consider the generations to come, and not just take whatever we can just because we can. Well, whether people are intentional or not, in their rape of the planet, is not the issue. Personal power is being used to destroy the natural good and beauty. And this isn't going to change by merely praying to the Lord or by performing a Sun Dance or a Ghost Dance. We have to get out and organize ourselves to fight back and protect our planet.

The people of good heart and wider vision must become warriors. We have to develop our personal power and our group power, in order to defeat the powers of deception and manipulation. We cannot let these idiots continue to pollute and rape the earth. They're idiots and they don't have any sense of decency. Just remember the idiots who almost killed every single buffalo, and the corrupt government that allowed this. So we need to empower ourselves. We need to stand up with our own personal power, and then stand up with a collective power.

Stand up and say I am powerful. I have the Power of Great Spirit. I have the Power of Love. And the Great Spirit Power flows through me. I have the power to express harmony and love. If we have the Power of Love within us, then the powers of illusion and deception will be destroyed! So it's great to be a spiritual person and someone close to the earth, but be warrior as well! Stand up with others for the truth and for love. Stand up for peace and justice. There are many good people on Earth, who want to help protect the Earth and also protect people's rights. All of the true native peoples want this – to protect our Earth Mother from abuse and to protect people from abuse.

Of course, everyone is really a native – a native of this planet. But people just don't get it. They don't realize that this whole earth is our home and we're all native earth people. And they don't realize their responsibility to the Earth. Instead, they either neglect the whole question of responsibility, or else they try to get as much as they can from the planet and from other people. We have to be honest about all this. You might meet people who seem perfectly nice and caring, but in reality they're out to get everything they possibly can and without any real regard for the planet or for future generations.

So there are many good people, with love and good will; but there are also many people without real love and without good will. So, all the people of love and goodwill need to come together in unity and to combine their powers, in order to protect the Earth and to protect human rights and justice. We all have to stand up together, in unity and in power. We have to stand up to those who don't have the goodwill, who don't have the love, and who don't have the holistic understanding of life. We have to unite in our power and form a great circle of connected hands. Then, we have to say NO to those who act without love and without goodwill towards the Earth and to all our relations. We have to say, No more. You cannot do this anymore. No more can you abuse our precious Earth and screw up the whole future of life. You cannot abuse other people for your own greed, like the Spanish conquerors and other Europeans did to the American Natives. And we must stand up and say No to war and to violence and to the injustices imposed by the materially powerful on the materially weak. We must unite and say No to those people. Then more good people will gather with us, because more and more people will realize that we are right and that we are on the side of love and justice.

Those at Wounded Knee stood up and said No. They said, we've all had enough of your abuse and injustice. So we'll stand up here and fight if necessary. And you might kill us, but at least we have shown you are bravery to stand up for the right. So the FBI came in and they did kill some of us. But we didn't back down. The world watched, and we were proud of how we stood up. No more stereotype of a dumb and passive Indian. People now thought of us as brave and tough, like we once thought of ourselves before the white man came in and made us domesticated. As long as we remained passive and domesticated like a pet animal, they left us alone. But as soon as some of us tried to assert some power and make decisions for ourselves and take back land that was stolen from us, the authorities had to rush in to whip that dog for not being obedient and passively domesticated. The same thing with the Blacks. Eventually they had to stand up and say, No more. No more unfairness and abuse. We're not taking it anymore. We're not going to the back of the bus and we're not going to say yes masta. No more of that crap. No more stepping on us. No more treating us like a piece of whatever.

The people of earth, the earth people, the people who feel with the earth and love the earth, we are all loving people and caring people. But we also have to be tough warriors at times, because unfortunately there are still those with great money and material power who are greedy for even more, and they can be ruthless in how they treat people. You might be in a coffee shop or in a restaurant and they'll be smiling and all nice, but then the next day at the office they'll be stabbing people in the back and wrecking one more beautiful place in nature, all for the sake of greed.

Maybe I'm ranting on a bit, but there is a power relationship still going on between those who presently have an abundance of wealth and political power, and those who don't. And even though there isn't slavery in America or in Europe, there is a subtle kind of servitude to those with ownership and in power. And some of those people and businesses in power are using and abusing most of us, and also abusing and raping our mother earth, just so they can acquire more or make more money. So we need to use our power and stand up to all that; rather than simply lay down and take all that abuse. For if we don't stand up with our own power, then these power-greedy people will stand up on us and step all over us. So the people who do care about the planet, and about everyone here, need to unify into a larger social power; otherwise the power-elites will keep on making us their little servants.

We need to join in with all the other people of love and goodwill, then we can all rebuild this world to be in harmony with nature and with all our relations. The first step to take is to join together, in mind and heart, with all those of good heart and good will who share the spiritual vision of Earth. We can do this inwardly, in our minds and hearts; for this itself has a great power of influence. But also join together outwardly, physically and in action. Joining together and working together in these two ways will make great positive changes in the world. The final word here is to build your spiritual power, then use it for Good. Use your power and use all your abilities in the world. Use your power to bring goodness into your life and to bring harmony and justice into the world.

Coyote had been fierce in what he said, but instead of anger I would say that he showed passionate caring. I could see the warrior in him, but at the same time he also spoke with a feeling of love and caring.

We returned to the cave and relaxed quietly for awhile, enjoying the sunset twilight time. Then when darkness had fully arrived, we started the prayer ceremony. There was just enough moonlight to see, but also our eyes adjusted in the darkness.

Four Directions of the Medicine Wheel

As we faced outward towards the moon and the darkened vista, Coyote made a small medicine wheel of stones on the ground in front of us, and a few animal tokens were also placed around in the little circle. In the center he placed a special crystal. Then, he took out a smudge stick and lit it, and the strong sage aroma of smoke quickly filled my senses. First he smudged me – by blowing the smoke towards me and waving a feather to purify my aura with the sacred smoke. I took a decent breath of the smoke, held it for a moment with gratitude, then breathed it out while visualizing my mental and emotional aura being completely cleansed, while also consciously letting go of everything in the trust of Great Spirit. This was how he taught me. Then, he handed the smudge to me and I did the same for him. He then took the smudge and blew smoke into the little medicine wheel, then waved the smoke four times clockwise around the wheel, while softly chanting a prayer in a language unknown to me. He again handed the smudge to me and told me to do the same, while making a silent prayer of whatever emerged from my heart as important.

Next, Coyote led us through the four directions of the wheel, meaning that we spent time with each direction, each cornerstone, giving some prayers and thanks to each of the four spirits, the four great energies of the one Whole Spirit. We started with the south, though Coyote mentioned that one could begin at any of the directions, depending on the kind of purpose intended.

Here in the South we ask for a complete cleansing purification of our physical body and its energy field. We also ask for the life energy, the vital energy of earth, to vitalize and strengthen our body, but also relax us and allow us to rest when we need it. We ask for physical strength, vitality and health from the Spirit of South.

Turning clockwise around the wheel, here in the West we ask for a complete cleansing purification of our emotional energy field. We also ask for the love energy, the finest form of our earth's emotional energy, to bring us joy and peace, and may we come into evermore harmony with Mother Earth and all our relations. We ask for emotional peace, harmony and love from the Spirit of West.

Here in the North, we ask for a complete cleansing purification of our mind, our mental world. We also ask for spiritual wisdom and all of the understanding we need to work cooperatively with the wholeness of life, and may we learn from the great spirits of nature and from inner spiritual teachers and from our wisdom elders. We ask for mental clarity, insight and wisdom from the Spirit of North.

Here in the East, we ask for a complete cleansing purification of our soul body. We also ask for spiritual inspiration and vision, to know what we can do to bring greater good into the world. We ask that our will and our power be increased, in order to serve our planet, all our relations, and the greater purposes of life. We ask for spiritual inspiration and power from the Spirit of East.

We ask Great Spirit to send love and wisdom and healing to all people and all lives.

We'll go around the wheel again and this time we'll focus on the four elements of life. The Native view is that holistic health and becoming a complete human being involves a balance of all the four elements in oneself, which is also related to a balance of our physical, emotional, mental, and will energies.

So first we acknowledge the Spirit of South, which is also the Spirit of the earth element. The earth element strengthens us and gives us physical health. We live more healthy with nutritious organic food, which gives us essential micro-minerals, but one can also acquire vital minerals by breathing them in from the earth below us.

Next, we give our respects to the Spirit of West, which is also the Spirit of the water element. The water element harmonizes our emotions and makes one feel in the flow of life. Also, water gives us an ability to merge and blend with others.

Next, we give our respects to the Spirit of North, which is also the Spirit of the air element. The air element clears our mind and allows one to see more expansively and openly. Also, air gives us an ability to understand others and to see from their perspective.

Next, we give our respects to the Spirit of East, which is also the Spirit of the fire element. The fire element kindles a flame deep within us to be creative and to serve the needs of our planet. Also, fire inspires and strengthens our will to fearlessly take on new challenges and to accomplish great things.

So all of these elements, all of these four great spirit powers, can be balanced in oneself. The secret to this is to first give respect to each of these powers and then to work with them in our lives. Find each of them in yourself – in your own soul potential, in your own potential of being all you can be.

We'll go around the Wheel one more time, this time especially asking for blessings and harmony for all lives on earth. We'll again start in the South. We give our love and respect to all of the most physical parts of earth, the mountains and rocks, the oceans, rivers and lakes, and also to the atmosphere, and we include all of the mineral and mountain spirits. To all of these we send out our love and good thoughts, and our thanks.

Moving over to the West, we give our love and respect to all of the plant life on earth, the grasses and flowers, the trees and fruits, the vegetables and herbs, and the ocean plants, and we include all of the tree and plant spirits. To all of these we send out our love and good thoughts, and our thanks.

Moving on to the North, we give our love and respect to all of the animal lives on earth, the big animals and the small ones, the land walkers and the water swimmers, the hidden ones in our soils and the flying ones in the air, and we include all of the animal spirits. To all of these we send out our love and good thoughts, and our thanks.

Then moving on to the East, we give our love and respect to all of the good people of earth, to our elders and to our children, to the women and to the men, to our ancestors and to those wisdom teachers who are now spirit-guides, and we include all of the spirit souls of our world and beyond. To all of these we send out our love and good thoughts, and our thanks. And we especially ask for help and guidance from the invisible spirit-guides.

Coyote then made a fourth round through the medicine wheel, but this time making special prayers he had learned from his native teachers. When actually doing the medicine wheel prayers we spent quiet time meditating on each spirit direction and its power, so this all went on longer than just the time to say it. Afterwards I even reviewed some of it all in my mind, before laying down to sleep. Luckily, the temperature didn't dip too much and there wasn't a wind that night.


In the morning we splashed a bit of water onto our faces, then headed out back down the mountain. We found the trail of the day before and backtracked on it, until we found a different path leading up towards another ridge. Soon we were winding along another ridge path with a open vista to one side.

Powers of protection and self-integrity

There are powers you can acquire especially for your own self. These are powers we each need personally. For example, we each need our own personal power to be healthy, happy, joyful, in peace, and creative in some way. We need personal-power to develop our own unique abilities. Developing our own self-abilities is our own responsibility, and we need power to do this, which we can also acquire from nature and from earth spirits.

Also, we each need our own self-power to stay awake to our surroundings and not run into things or other people. This is the power of being externally aware, with the fullness of our senses. A lot of people have not even developed this very much, so they inadvertently run into things and to people, both physically and energetically, and they are not aware of what is coming their way. Whereas the shaman, or any person with outer senses fully aware, will very often know what is coming their way or sense what is around the corner along the path of life, so he or she can then avoid problems and also move in the best direction at each moment.

Another very important kind of personal power is self-protective power – to protect oneself from any harmful or manipulating energies coming from other people or one's surroundings. We need this power of self-protection, because there are stupid and selfish and manipulative people in the world, and we should not let their energies in us or effect us. I'm not talking about bad sorcerers; I'm mostly just talking about ignorant, low minded, manipulative people, and in most instances they are not even aware of how they are interacting in the world. Their negative energy behavior has simply become their unconscious habit. So you need some power to protect yourself from being effected by these energies that could steer you in a wrong direction or even harm you.

Most people are truly good in heart, and you can find the good heart in them. But do not trust everyone. There are some bad snakes walking around, and they will bite you if you are too open, or they'll lead you astray in some way. Mostly live in trust, yet have a good degree of caution as well. Having caution is itself a power, but we also need protective power.

One kind of protective power is known as the medicine shield. The protective shield should be one of our medicine tools. You can receive a protective shield in a vision journey or in a meditation, or you can intuitively imagine a shiny shield of protection, which you can place all around you or else just put it between you and whoever you feel has a suspicious or darker energy. This shield could look just like a shield, or it could be any kind protective object. Sometimes a psychic protective shield carries the protective power of a certain animal power – an animal spirit that we feel especially akin with, or one that we feel is our animal ally, or we might carry the protective shield as given to us by an animal guide in one of our vision journeys.

Most simply though, in a time of inward meditation, just ask Great Spirit or Great Mother for a protective shield and see what is offered, then receive this in gratefulness. Or if an animal power appears in your meditation or in your vision journey, then grateful accept it. Then be sure to actually use it! Because if you don't use it, you might lose it.

A more advanced kind of shield is a filtering shield, which filters out negative energies yet allows in positive and good energies. The filtering shield is like sun filtering sunglasses that filter out harmful and annoying UV rays, yet you can still see the world clearly through it. The filtering shield is the best kind of personal shield to walk around with in regular life, because it automatically and routinely shields you from all negative energies, so you don't have to worry about these at all; yet your filtering shield is not blocking out all kinds of energies, since it allows in all positive, good, and loving energies. But if the environment around seems especially negative or suspicious, use your strong shield of total protection.

Another method of shielding is to simply ignore those people and those energies that you'd rather not interact with. You can still be respectful and polite to them. Give them some kind of acknowledgment, otherwise they might get offended and reactive by the obviousness of your ignoring them. So you do this in a subtle way, by just not giving any real attention or energy to them and somehow avoid interaction, especially any direct confrontations. Another way of understanding this is for you to fade into invisibility as much as you can, and refrain from entering their little world.

We stopped and sat down on some boulders just off the trail and underneath a small, young growing pine. Here we practiced the protective shield. Two hawks were circling the area to our left, searching for some little movement on the ground below. I noticed a little squirrel not too far away, probably unaware of the predators above. Coyote led me through some more practice with building my shield. Then, he had more to teach about protection.

Building your auric egg of protection

Sensitivity, openness and receptivity are important spiritual attitudes. Our life would be rather sad and cold, if we were never sensitive and open to others, or to new spaces. Yet many people fear sensitivity because they fear being harmed by the energies of others. Other people avoid exercising their expansive power because because they fear hurting others. But if we develop a balance of both abilities, then there is a protection from harm to oneself and harm to others. For then you are sensitive in how you expand your own energies, and you have enough expansive power to quickly dismiss any negative energies.

Some people may feel too vulnerable in the practice of receptive space and sensitivity. Two things can be said about this. First, do not open yourself in the receptive space unless you already feel strong in yourself. Second, do not practice receptive space, unless there is already a natural sense of appreciation about the space around you, rather than a natural sense of danger or negative energies. For example, do not open yourself in unsafe environments. Of course though, you will already need at least some degree of sensitivity to be cautious in this way about the space around you. No matter where we are and who we meet, we still need well developed, sensitive senses.

So there are times when we sense and feel safe, or in the presence of love and beauty. These are times in which we may want to open up more in our sensitivity and in our heart. But there will be other times when we are uncertain and cautious. These are the times to be conscious of your auric egg and use this as a protection. So, before opening up in uncertain situations, or before letting down your boundaries with people you don't know too well, protect yourself in your own 'auric egg'. This is an energy field that you must develop around yourself, which will become your 'space of self-integrity' and self-protection. Because if your energy aura is strong, then nothing negative from outside can penetrate through this energy strength.

Everyone has an energy aura, which is their emotional-mental energy field that extends beyond the physical body. But in most cases, this aura is weak or small, and usually unconscious. But it is possible to strengthen and expand one's auric field, and to make this into a protective 'auric egg'. The idea of it being an 'egg' is not literally important, for this just refers to the general shape of the aura, but in calling it an egg does remind us that we can make our auric boundary into a protective shell, which can repel all negative or unwanted energies, and not allow them into our innermost space – into our feelings and self-integrity.

Here is how you can build and strengthen the auric egg of your emotional and energy presence, or personal power, which is also your greatest protection against any negative energies. First, consciously breathe in strengthening energy from the earth. With each in-breath, breathe this strengthening earth energy up into your whole being.

Then with each out-breath, feel this energy expand all around you, to fill up and strengthen the energy egg surrounding you. You don't want to unconsciously breathe out the energy, nor allow it to simply dissipate into space. Rather, you must consciously breathe out the energy (accumulated from the earth) into your developing auric egg – which becomes your container of these energies. So with conscious breath you build energy and strength into your auric egg, and contain these energies. Your energy aura can also be strengthened and expanded by consciously expanding your self-presence, which is your energy presence. But again, use conscious breath in this practice.

So, when you come into a new place or meet up with a stranger, and if you want to be sensitive to their energies, you may want to first apply this practice by meeting their auric energy at the boundary of your auric egg. Your auric egg boundary is wherever you feel it to be, but usually it is between two and four feet. In a particular space, in a city, or in room of people, we can maintain our protective auric egg, in order to protect from negative or distracting energies.

Having a strong auric egg will protect you against all outside negative energies. Yet remember that most negative energies are not consciously intended by people; instead, most negative energies simply radiate out unconsciously from negative minded people or from their lower emotions, so that their energies of distraught, depression, anger, etc, are simply radiating out to everyone around them. So we are protecting ourselves from not just bad people or bad intentions; rather, we need protection from the everyday people and friends around us, because we don't want to become unconsciously influenced by their unintentionally low emotional energies.

You are developing this container of strong earth energy, which is your auric egg, and which then acts as a protective field. The strength of your energy field acts as a protector, because any unwanted energies simply bounce off of your strong energy field. They bounce off of your auric egg boundary.

So if you have already developed a strong and conscious auric egg, or have a strong energy of self-integrity, then you can practice receptive space without any worries about negative energies coming into your inner being; because the energies coming to you, from being in receptive space, will have to first pass through the boundaries of your auric egg, and at this boundary those energies are tested. Those incoming energies are automatically tested at the boundary of your auric egg, so that only the good and healthy and beautiful energies are allowed to pass through. All other energies are repelled and bounced off from your energy egg. So all incoming energies are tested for their value and goodness, before being allowed to enter through your energy aura and into your deeper sacred space. Another way to understand the auric egg is that the energies contained in it will burn up any lower negative energies, while allowing higher and beautiful energies to pass through.

You now have a choice. You can insure self-protection by always remaining in your auric egg. This will protect you from negative or unwanted energies. But you would not want to become isolated or shut off from all sensitivity to every person or place. So in some instances you will want to have strong boundaries and insure your self-protection. But in some other circumstances, you may want to be openly receptive and not closed off.

The auric egg allows you to either: protectively close off, or allow in. This is because the outside energies meet at the sensitive boundaries of your aura, so at this point they can be assessed for their value, then either repelled or allowed in. Your sensitivity ability meets the outside energy, but at a safe distance.

But even if we maintain a strong protective auric egg, we will still want to allow in the love and beauty energies, when we feel safe enough to be sensitively receptive and emotionally open. It is important to be consciously able to have self-protection at most times, yet also be able to allow in the good energies and bring down self-boundaries with those persons and in those places we want to feel a closer connection with.

The auric egg does not eliminate our sensitivity to energies and to others. Rather, because of having a strong auric field, our natural sensitivity meets first at a safe distance with any energy. So being sensitive, in this way, is very different from being someone who is easily hurt by negative energies or threats coming from others. The person who is vulnerable and open to attacks, threats, and unwanted emotional energies, is a sensitive person but without enough self-protective power, which means they have a weak aura of protection. We want to be a sensitive person, but also have a strong self-integrity and self-aura, that is not simply vulnerable or naively open to all kinds of outside energies. So we need to meet others and receive who they are, but at a safe distance.

Meeting another person or energy at a distance means that this energy is tested at the boundary of your own energy aura, before it is either allowed in closer to the heart of your sacred personal space, and if the energy lacks in beauty or in love, then it can bounce off your energy field. If you simply allowed all outside energies to enter in, without first testing it, then you are vulnerable to lower emotional energies, negative thoughts, etc. I'm not trying to instill paranoia. I'm not suggesting that there are all these bad people out there trying to get you. All I'm saying is that the shaman applies certain useful techniques for insuring his own protection, while still maintaining an ability to be sensitive and caring. In an obviously beautiful place out in nature, or in the presence of a lover or friends, then there is no need for auric protection.

There is nothing weak about being sensitive to others. In fact, it may be a sign of great strength and faith. But if you allow yourself to be vulnerable to any negative energies of people who you do not really know, then you are being rather stupid. Being sensitive to and feeling positive and loving energies is the kind of vulnerability that increases the joy of life. But there is no good reason to allow negative energies into your deeper vulnerable space.

If you practice being sensitive at the boundary of your emotional aura, then you are both receptively sensitive and actively powerful. This is a good balance. Then, you are being emotionally sensitive, but not emotionally vulnerable. You sense energies, but not deeply in yourself, because they are sensed at arms length. It is like stopping the in-coming energies with an arms length, and saying, “Hold it right there.” If you are a positive energy then I may let you come closer and be felt in my more sensitive sacred place. If you are not positive, then I acknowledge you but do not let you come any closer.

The inner you, your deeper sensitivity, is then detached or distanced from whatever happens at the boundaries of your emotional egg, though there will still be a sensitivity, or more like a sensing. The boundary of the aura operates like a sensing scanner, as well as like an energy shield. You'll feel what this is. You'll feel how it works. If someone throws an emotional dagger or bomb at you, then you'll know the difference between catching it at a distance and catching right in the belly. Catching things in the directly in the belly can really hurt, as most people know. Most people allow themselves to be hurt because they have no guard.

I had a question, 'But if I'm walking around in social situations, how do I know what's positive or not? Sometimes it's hard to know what is positive or not positive.'

You simply have to know it. You sense it, and the natural senses will instinctively know what is good for you or what is not. The shamanic rule here is to trust your own sensitivity instinct. How else are you going to decide whether or not a person or a place is good for you?

Remember that in the moment, or in a situation, there really isn't much time to think about it. That's why you have to trust your own immediate sense. With protection, no matter what method you use, don't use your thinking mind. Later on you might reflect on the situation or think about the energies brought forth by that person, and that's good, but in the moment – don't think. Instead, trust your natural sense of good and bad, or what you naturally feel is positive or negative. Let your natural senses and feelings know the difference between what is good and bad, or what is god for you and what is not. Think about it later; because in the moment you don't have time to think. It's like aikido or martial arts; protection has to be immediate. So you have to have the power and protections already developed.

Some energies and some thoughts are really positive, while some are really negative. It's not merely a relative thing and it's not merely an illusion. It's not like everything is all good, or that whatever happens is meant to be, or that whatever happens is God's Will. There really are positive and negative energies; just as there really is a difference between healthy natural food and unhealthy artificial food.

Everyone is walking around giving off their particular energies, not only by what they say and do, but also by the energy vibrations of their emotional and mental aura. Most people are unaware of this, and also unintentional in it, but it's happening anyway. Everyone breathes out into their environment. They breathe something out. What they breathe out or radiate out from their presence could be really good, or it might be somewhat toxic. That's just the reality we have to live in.

First and foremost be aware of your own influence or what you are giving out. Then be as conscious as you can about what others are giving out or bringing to you. Then, if you consciously notice a negative energy, or something that is less than positive, you can consciously detract it or at least not accept it. But you have to realize, practically, that you won't always be consciously awake or on top of these things as they are happening. And thus, you need a kind of sub-conscious protective mechanism, which is to develop your shield, your auric egg, and a strong self-power.

I had another question, 'So should we always be protecting ourselves? It seems unrelaxing to always have our guard up.'

I am not suggesting that you close down your heart to all people and places, nor am I suggesting to keep everyone and everything at an emotional arms length. I'm not suggesting to be always worried about the energies of others, or to be fearful or paranoid. But if you are uncertain about someone along your way or about a particular place you are in, you should have some form of protection. Once you have developed a strong personal power and protection, then you won't be fearful, worried or paranoid. Instead, you'll be self-confident. So, developing your protective auric egg will give you greater self-confidence and eliminate unnecessary fear. You can then be confident about your protective power and your self-strength. Nonetheless, we all need to be cautious – in the sense of being awake to the quality of energies as much as possible.

But we don't want to walk around everywhere feeling that we need protection. Well yes you need protection in some places or in some situations, but there are places and people in which you're safe, and you should feel safe. In fact, with some people and in some natural places, take the opportunity to be completely open and receptive, and enjoy. This is the practice of receptive space.

So you're right that it wouldn't be very relaxing or enjoyable to always feel that you have to have a protective shield in place; like you always have to walk around holding up a protective shield or keeping everyone at a safe distance. But once you have the developed power, you won't have the same fears and you won't be worried about letting yourself be open in some places or with some people. Once you have developed protective power, or once you have practical ways of being protected, then you can relax and enjoy life more. You'll have developed your energy sensitivity and also be trusting in your natural sense of energies, and you'll also be trusting in your protective powers. So then you can relax and be open in those places and situations where you truly are safe to be open.

Do you see what I'm getting at? You need protections in place, but you don't want to constantly walk around everywhere thinking or feeling that 'you need protection'.

The technique of auric protection is itself partly a receptive space, in that you are receiving the incoming energies, rather than simply bouncing everything away. But then your auric intelligence learns to discern between what's acceptable and what's not, and it lets in only what's good or acceptable. In other words, your aura discerns and filters the incoming energies, but it does this at a protective distance from your inner core of feelings and it doesn't let in the negatives. This is the kind of protective aura we want t develop.

So we don't want to give up on receptivity, nor do we want to be like a brick wall separating ourselves from everything and everything. There are extremely valuable experiences only possible in a completely receptive space, whereby you open up your deepest sensitivity and feel those energies deep inside your own inner space. Being receptive just at arms length cannot fully give you these deeper experiences and cannot fully let into you certain energies of the world needed for shamanic development.

So at some point, then, you have to take the chance and not just keep all energies, people and things at arms length. You have to fully let in certain energies, in order to assimilate them. But, to be smart and at least somewhat cautious, you should practice the sensitive auric egg, catching energies at arms length (or even further out), until you feel certain that the incoming energies are not threatening. Will you ever feel completely certain? I don't know. I think at some point we have to just trust ourselves in our power to sense what's good and filter away what is not, so that we can, at some times, trust others and various situations, if they feel to be trust-worthy.

What you can do is to practice slowly letting down the auric guard, and slowly letting the outside energies come closer, as you continually test them. In this way you let the good energies come ever closer to you, until they are right close. Then, if they still feel good, take the full quantum leap into absolute receptive space. Then, my friend, you will have taken a big step. My task is to show you the possibilities of being human, to show you how to develop what is possible. There is no one right way of being, for all circumstances. That is why there are no easy answers. That's why nobody can tell you exactly what to do in all circumstances.

Coyote said he needed some time alone but that he'd be back soon, so he vanished through some trees and I was left alone to work with building more strength in my auric egg. Especially important was my feeling of power from within and using breath to build my protective egg with this power. Also, I could breathe in more power from the earth to help strengthen my aura as well. Soon Coyote returned and we moved on in our walk. Along the way we spotted some Elk up on a ridge, with their dignified antlers. Coyote continued teaching about protection.

Self integrity and containment of power

For self-protection, have your own self-power strong and collected. If your own power is strong and collected, then you're not vulnerable or passively weak in relation to the energies and ego-power of others. Then you are strong in yourself. But we have to develop this power of our own being, which I call the power of our own self-integrity.

This is the developed self-power to collect together and contain all of our awareness energy, emotional energy, and mental energy into one united power of self-presence. Then you will have a strong and self-collected aura of energy, which does not leak and is not vulnerably weak, and no one can penetrate your collected contained energy, your aura of self-power. People could throw darts at you, they could thrown bad energies and critical energies at you, but none of this can get through to the heart and core of who you are, because your own self-energy is so self-contained and strong. You then walk with your own power. You walk tall, with your own self-integrity.

Our self-protective power is greatest when we have a strong self-integrity. Self-integrity is having one's own power of self-presence. Self-integrity is holding true to one's own knowing, or to one's own intuition; rather than being swayed or too easily convinced by the opinions of others. Self-integrity is being true and unwavering in what one knows is right or the way. Though one should always be open to new ideas and learning from others.

In essence, self-integrity is a power to not simply to be swayed or directed by others. Keep your own awareness sharp and your intuition awake. Keep your canoe moving where you need to go, not letting your canoe drift or be swayed by the currents of others, unless those currents are realized to be wise and good. And keep your self-power contained in your own being, not letting others sap into it.

So to have your own self-contained power and integrity is different from being simply open to whatever and whoever. Think of yourself as a flower. At times, when you feel safe and trusting of the people and energies around you, or when in a natural sacred place, you open yourself, you open your flower, to be touched and kissed by the energies of the natural environment or by those close to you. Being open and trusting and in love is a wonderful feeling and experience. Being open in heart and in feelings and also being open to new energies, is all wonderful and we need this as a human being. We want to maximize this, for sure. Yet some times we need to feel more self-protective and keep our energies self-contained, so at these times we should know how to close our flower petals to be in our own self-contained aura of energy.

In between these two modes of being, openness and protectedness, is discernment. We need our own power of discernment – the ability to know when to open and when to close, when to let in and when to close off. Also of course, we need self-discernment to know what is a more positive way of interacting with others, vs. a negative way or harming way of interaction.

I remember when I first met you, at the tavern playing pool. I saw that you had a good heart, and that you had a lot of courage to walk in all alone and without knowing anyone there. But you stepped right up to the challenge, having some beers and playing pool, as if you were part of the regular crowd. But I could see that you were also vulnerable, because you were really too trusting and too open. And your awareness was too passive and easily scattered. I knew there were some mean snakes in that place, guys who you shouldn't mess with, but you trusted everyone there and even joked around with people. I saw you were a soul with lots of love and courage, but I also saw that you were too open and vulnerable in that place. Though maybe I was wrong; maybe you knew you were protected by the Great Spirit. Even so, you have to protect your energies, and you can't let people mess with your inner core.

So I got to talking with you, and I became your protector, even though you didn't know that. I became your shield. We can learn to do this for other people, if they need it. But you can't always rely on someone else to shield or protect you. You need your own power and you need your own shield. Your shield doesn't have to be used all of the time. I mean, you don't have to go around everywhere shielded yourself from everyone else. That would be a sad way to live, and sort of paranoid about others or about the impure energies of the world. It's good to be open and trusting and easy-going most of the time, but it's also important to have a shield when you need it and to use this shield when you need to.

What I told you that night was that you needed more self-collectedness and containment of your own personal power, instead of being so open to everyone and everything. A shaman must know how to collect power, yet also how to collect together the energies of oneself. This is the practice of self-collection, or of being self-collected – in one's awareness and energies. This means not to let one's energies of awareness be scattered or dissipated or taken away by someone. In this practice of self-collection, you re-gather and collect together all of your self-energies and self-presence. You can do this with conscious breath. Collect all of your energies in the rhythm of conscious breathing, then keep all of your energies contained in this conscious breathing. Do this now, then you'll know what I'm talking about.

This is a good practice to keep returning to, because it brings you back to your own collected self-power and into your own self-balance. Then, once this is strong and you're fully aware of your own energies, then from here you could practice receiving in and absorbing energies from nature or from particular features in nature. Also, from this self-collected state of being, you can breathe more outwardly, expanding outward more your energy presence of love and positive energy. I call this the expansion of our love aura. First though, work on building your self-power by building your own energy aura.

As we were walking I thought about what Coyote was teaching, and I also worked with the practice of self-collectedness and self-integrity. I could feel the power of my own self-integrity and how nothing could penetrate or upset this integrity, as long as I chose to keep it strong and not let my self-energies scatter in a state of passivity to whatever. More and more, I could feel my own self-power increase.

Coyote stopped to wait for me, as I had been walking behind a bit. Then he walked off the trail to a small outcropping that seemed to step off the mountainside, and I followed. We stood there with the cliff dropping below, and Coyote said it was a power spot, a place to feel re-energized.

Protection in love

I’ll tell you one more way to protect yourself from negative or bad energies. Be in a state of love. Sounds like a cliché, all you need is love; but it is true that is a great power. I've experienced two very different kinds of teachers. One was very serious and very concentrated in how he used power, and he used power with great force. He was a good man and a powerful shaman, and I learned a lot from him about concentrating my mind on the goal at hand. He used power like a laser light, and I pitied anyone who sent negativity his way because his shield was so strong that it immediately bounced back any bad energies to the person who sent them, with such a force that it could knock them right on their ass. Well of course, they deserved it, so I didn't feel sorry for them and neither did he.

But then I also experienced a different kind of teacher, who had a different sort of power. He seemed to walk around with a big aura of friendly love. His energy field was so full of love that you could feel his love presence ten feet away. I mean you could tangibly feel it. So his energy was powerful, but it was also full of love; and his love was his protection.

This energy of love can be difficult to describe, but it's like a combination of embracing, caring, and healing. I've met many woman shamans with this love energy as well. Their aura of love seems to expand outward from them, reaching outward towards others with caring and healing energy, and when you get closer to them, within their expanded aura, you feel embraced by love.

So this teacher I had, with the expanded love aura, had his own kind of protection. He had love protection, because his love extended outward, and without any self-needy purpose. He was always breathing out love energy, which made his energy aura expansive with love, and his energy was being shared outward. He was not trying to grab the energies of others.

You see, if you are giving with love, if that is your energy; then nothing negative can come in. The love expanding outward is too powerful. The wave of love is so powerful that any negativity is simply blown away. Also, love dissolves negative energies. Love sort of just melts any hard energies.

So, love is another method of self-protection. No need for a shield at all, if you have expansive love. In fact, the shaman of love is continually dropping his shield. He doesn't need it, because the energy of his love is so powerful, and he knows that love will dissolve anything. So he trusts in the energy of love.

How is this done? Accept everyone around you. Accept them with love. Accept them and embrace them in your love, even if they might be strange or different, even if they might be playing music you don't like, or wearing clothes you don't like, or part of a gang you don't like. Get beyond any separative attitude and treat everyone with love, respect and dignity.

But nonetheless, if someone is harming nature or the earth, be tough and try to teach them a better way. Teach wisdom and truth, and try to eliminate stupidity and unnecessary fears and prejudices. Love can be actively involved with teaching and social transformation. It is not just a passive acceptance of anything or whatever. Some of the friends I admire most are those who have the courage to be outspoken and politically active; as long as they remain in love, rather than just express anger or hatred.

We walked on. Coyote had been walking up ahead. He stopped and looked back at me. He gave me a smile, and I felt recognized as a real person. When I came to where he was standing he looked up the hill, and as my eyes followed I saw a small cave up a ways. It wasn't as hard to get to as the other cave. So we scrambled in zig-zags up the hill and climbed up into the little cave. It was actually big enough for a few people and also big enough to stretch out in. The sun was positioned in such a way that there was sunlight in the front part but shadow in the back part, so there was a nice mix of light and dark, warm and cool.

Similar to the night before, Coyote instructed that we should go out a ways from the cave to make a cleansing, so that we would start our important practice with clearer mind, emotion and body. After our cleansing practices, we returned to the cave and relaxed. He said that he'd now lead me into an inner journey, but that we had to go in steps, so that with each journey step I would become more awake and present and be able to go deeper in the journeys.

Animal journey

This cave is sometimes used for personal vision quests. A personal vision quest must be made by you, all alone, and by your own initiative; though medicine teachers will often send students off on a vision quest. The purpose of a vision quest is to find both general and specific direction in your life, as well as receive useful powers from nature and the spiritual world. The kind of meditation I'll lead you in now can also be useful in a vision quest, but you'll have to make your own vision quest later on.

Right now I'm going to lead you into an inner vision journey. There are different kinds of inner journeys. This will be an animal vision journey, involving animal spirits and guides, which are found in the spiritual-psychic world. The psychic world is invisible to our physical senses, but it interpenetrates the physical world and it also effects our lives. So it's important to develop an awareness of this inner psychic world and understand it.

Also realize that this inner psychic world is inter-personal and objectively real, even though it is invisible and unrecognized by most people. How you personally experience the inner world or see it, and what comes to you personally, may well be different from how someone else experiences it or sees it, but there are real beings, energies, and powers that can have a real effect in many people all at once, so we're not just talking about personally subjective things. But if someone just understands a vision journey in terms of their own personal psyche, then that's fine. In fact, what's most important about the spiritual and psychic world is how these spirits and forces relate to you, so one might as well think of these experiences as personal. For what matters most anyways about an inner journey is that which is personally useful for us. The purpose of these inner journeys and vision quests is for self-understanding and for developing certain powers and abilities in oneself. That's what's most important. So I tend to think of the psychic world as interpersonally objective, as far as what is essentially existing, yet this inner world is only accessable through one's subjective personal experiences. Similar is Great Spirit. I tend to think of Great Spirit as an objective reality, because this is a real power and real intelligence, yet Great Spirit can only really be known through our subjective experiences, or through personal spiritual experience. Anyways, that's enough talk.

Let's begin. In this practice you will close off your outer senses, in order to fully experience the inner journey. You will need to allow yourself to be guided and taken into this journey. But remember that when a spirit helper is revealed to be your guide, the journey is your own self-journey. Most importantly, you will have to trust yourself, trust your mind, trust your feelings, and trust the powers of spirit within you.

So now, begin by relaxing your mind and body, and when you are fully relaxed yet remaining consciously awake, let me know by raising your right hand just a bit. Good. Now go inside yourself, inside your mind, inside your imagination. Leave this outer world and go into your inner world. But stay awake through every moment of this. Be conscious in your breath, but don't force it into any particular rhythm. Just let your breath flow naturally, but stay conscious in it.

Next, imagine a bird flying in the space of your mind. It could be any kind of bird. Whatever you see is what it is. Focus on this bird so that you begin to see it more clearly and in more detail. See it circle around in the sky, watching you, and even waiting for you. This is your bird guide. Yet this guide might change into something else later on in the journey. It might start off as this bird, but then turn into some other animal or spirit guide.

Next let the bird-spirit take you for a ride in the freedom of mind sky. This is an important secret in any of these journeys – letting the spirit take you on a journey, or be taken for a ride. Let your imagination be completely free, and trust in this. So feel what this is like. Feel the experience of being taken for a ride by this spirit bird, your bird spirit guide. This is the bird spirit of your own spirit, able to freely fly in the Great-sky of Spirit-mind.

Next, realize that you too can be a free flying bird spirit. So imagine yourself as a free flying bird. See yourself as a free flying bird, and become this bird, and feel what's like to fly and be so free. Then take your time time to fly about and play about with your bird spirit guide. Take some time to feel the enjoyment of free flying with your spirit guide. You're a free bird in the space of Sky-mind, and you can fly anywhere. Let yourself feel completely free and enjoy this feeling of flying without any constraints.

One of the qualities you can experience from this is inner-freedom. Inner freedom is the capacity to go places within the inner world of Spirit, and along with this is freedom from the physical body. You can be free from the limitations of your physical body, so make this a goal of your meditation. Experience being free of all physical limitations, for in this vast world of Spirit there is nothing to hold you back. You are going beyond the physical. Experience this freedom right now. Experience being free of your physical body and your physical senses. Then you can go very deep into the Spirit Journey and be absolutely free about where you can go.

This ability to be free from the physical body and physical world should not contradict your wish to be more grounded and experienced in the physical world. You want to be an adept in both worlds, powerful in both worlds. You want to be a shaman in both worlds, the physical world and the Spirit world. The true shamans of Mother Earth are adepts in both worlds. They can be absolutely grounded and aware in the physical world. But then, in the next moment, they can be absolutely free of the physical world and completely concentrated in the Spirit world. You too have this capacity – to be either grounded in the physical or detached from the physical. Develop both abilities.

So you need to develop your capacity to be free from the physical, free and detached enough that you're able to journey easily through the inner Spirit world, without being held back by physical sensations or concerns. Just let go of the physical for now, so you can journey freely through the Spirit world, or the inner world. You can come back to the physical later, after these inner journeys.

Now you are ready to make a journey with the bird spirit guide – to see new insights. Let the spirit bird guide the journey and be open to whatever unfolds. The spirit bird might even transform into some other animal spirit. If this happens, let it happen.

Let the spirit-guide take you on a journey, because this is the beginning of trust and of letting your inner wisdom-mind teach and guide you by way of or through the animal guide, or through your inner imaginative vision. This is happening through your own mind and imagination, but the wisdom through the vision is the wisdom from the Greater Wisdom Mind. The vision or image comes through your mind, but it's from a larger Wisdom. So you have to trust it, and let it freely flow and unfold in the freedom of the Sky. Just let your vision unfold, and see what happens. Let the wisdom dream unfold freely. But don't fall asleep and don't just space out. Stay with it, and see where you go. Use what I've said and work with this for awhile on your own. See where you go in this.

I worked with this on my own and was able to inwardly see things more clearly with practice, and I also worked especially to relax into it all and trust what unfolded. After awhile, I heard Coyote speak to me, as if from a great distance. He was asking me to return to my physical senses. So I gave my thanks to where I had been, then returned to my physical senses. Coyote then gave me some quiet time before going on with some teachings.

Balance trust with discernment and direction

Now come back slowly to your outer senses and sit up and just listen to what I say about all of this. Then we'll get back again into this inner visioning with more intensity. Right now I want to tell you about this kind of inner journey practice.

The spirits and powers of nature can first of all be discovered in the outer world. A shaman may go out in the wild to find particular animals, or to see what animals reveal themselves. Or a connection might be made with the plant kingdom; either for practical-life purposes or for spiritual purposes. This particular animal or plant represents and expresses the larger spirit of that animal or plant kind. So, if the shaman meets with the spirit of this particular animal, he is meeting with the greater spirit of all those animal kinds, and the same is true with plants and trees. But you can also meet with any of these nature spirits on an inner vision journey.

First of all, this has to be your own journey. It's not my journey. It's only yours. No one can do it for you. No one can really tell you what to actually experience, an no one can tell you what your experience really means. All I can do for you is to give you some pointers and some ideas about how to begin, and how to generally go about it. You're on your own, and on your own you'll have to deal with whatever comes up.

Second of all, allow whatever spirit-guide emerges into the journey to teach you and empower you. You have to go into this journey with enough trust and allow the journey to unfold as it will, without it having to follow some kind of expectation or pre-intended script. You have to be willing to allow the unexpected, and learn from completely new experiences.

Now for many people, this kind of inner journeying might be frightening – to let go in mind and in imagination, and just trust it all, even if it gets intense and completely unexpected. And many teachers will say to not allow yourself or your mind to be taken for a ride. They say to always stay in self-control. Well, it is true that one should always have a power of self-control and be able to use it at anytime. But in order to truly have a profoundly new and insightful journey, one has to let go of the normal self-controlling ego mind, and instead trust in the journey unfolding as it may.

Though of course, there is some possible danger in this kind of practice, if one has very little self-containment or self-power to begin with, or if the person has not already made a grounding connection to the earth. Remember, this is a shamanic practice; it is not for the weak or for the scarred, or for those who are normally ungrounded with the earth. So once again, we have to remember balance in all of the teachings. So this kind of inward practice – of visioning and allowing inner spirits to guide the journey – this isn't meant for those who are normally spaced out and disconnected from their body and from earth. Which is why the medicine elders only let their students make vision quests when they are proven to be well grounded and able to center themselves at any moment.

I can tell you that many of the shamanic practices have potential dangers. They challenge the person. Therefore, many people will not accept this teaching and will not attempt any such shamanic practice. Many people will not trust and let the vision unfold, because they are not ready to trust and let go. Good! Nobody should attempt any shamanic challenge unless they have enough self-confidence! But if you do have enough confidence and enough faith, and are not afraid, then it is well worth a try to see what will happen, and I guarantee that something insightful will indeed happen – if you get into it all and allow the guidance to come.

So, in the vision journey you allow your mind to be taken for a ride or on a journey. This involves a deep state of non-ordinary consciousness, which is a kind of trance state. Allowing your mind to be taken for a journey by a spirit-guide, bird-guide or animal guide, or perhaps by the Great Spirit, will open up the possibility for acquiring a new understanding of yourself and possibly acquiring a new self-power. But there has to be an allowing, a letting it happen.

There are really two complementing approaches to both the outer vision journey and the inner. In one approach, you're receptive and let things happen. While in the other approach, you use your personal power of will and decision – in order to steer the vision or to reach the best spirits or the best guidance. Now obviously, you will not want to completely steer the vision or the journey, since this would defeat its purpose of teaching you something new and unexpected. So you wouldn't want to 'plan out' your whole vision journey, like following a pre-planned script, because then there wouldn't be any room for inner spirit teachings. Teaching implies something new to learn, so you can't pre-plan something that you don't know yet.

On the other hand, it is useful to somewhat direct the journey or to make decisions within the journey, as long one also practices receptivity and allowing. For example, when we go out on a journey through nature, we should make decisions at times about which way to go, or like we might be searching for a special energy-place and so we make decision to go into a certain direction led by our sense-abilities. A shaman doesn't simply wander around aimlessly, and neither would a shaman do this in the inner world. So in our inward vision quests, one should make use the power of decision, aim, and direction.

Now in the first approach, which is to be receptive and allowing, you wait patiently to see what animals or powers reveal themselves, either outwardly in nature or inwardly through your own natural psyche. You let Nature, or the Great Spirit within you, decide what you need. This is a receptive approach, but in this you should always protect yourself by asking Great Spirit Father or Great Mother Nature to only bring whatever you need for healing, understanding, or personal growth. Ask that only the best is given.

Having a receptive approach is absolutely essential, but we don't want to be open to 'anything'. Rather, we want to be open to the very best, the very best wisdom, the very best love, and the best healing. Everything that comes your way is not necessarily for your good. It is possible that something deceptive or negative might come into your vision or your inner journey. This is not meant to scare you or make you paranoid. Don't go into a vision journey with fear. In fact, fear is our greatest enemy. Or what someone once said, what is to feared is fear itself. Yet nonetheless, you do always need to hold a power of discernment and also caution. Because there are possible negative energies and possible deceptions in any journey. This cannot be absolutely avoided. Though it is possible to protect oneself from these things, and you do this with the power of your discernment, which you then combine with a power of Faith in the beneficence of Great Spirit.

These possibilities of deception are in the outer world, and so we have to also maintain some caution in the inner world or psychic world. Don't be foolishly naive. If a man comes out of a dark alley and tells you to follow him because he knows where the pot of gold is, well someone's got to be real stupid to follow that guy. So even in the psychic world, one has to be careful and use a sense of intuition. I'm simply saying that you should use your natural common sense in any vision questing or spirit journey, whether outward or inward.

If you instinctively feel something negative in your space or in your journey, then either leave and go somewhere else, or gather your power and banish it! Always remember that in your inner journey you can always use your power-of-decision to banish or transform whatever is presenting itself as a problem or disharmony. Or just say goodbye and leave. It's your choice. You have the choice and the power to either move on, or else to transform what's there.

So in the receptive approach, you should always travel with at least some caution and also protect yourself by asking Great Spirit Power and Mother Earth Love to protect you and to give you only the best experiences for personal growth. And also use your own power in any journey, just as you need to use your power in the world.

But even though caution is important, we don't want to be in an attitude of fear nor over-caution. For it is also true that shamans challenge themselves and are not frightened to venture into the wild. They courageously venture into the untamed wilderness of nature, and they also courageously venture into the wild unknowns of the spirit world, and they are not afraid to explore the untamed parts of their own inner nature. They explore the outer and inner worlds, which is what most people avoid out of fear and distrust of nature and themselves.

The shaman is trusting in the Great Spirit and trusting in Nature, but equally important is one's power of discernment and decision. Learning to discern what is good, and choosing the good with your power of decision, is one of the most important shamanic lessons.

Try to find a good balance between choosing the path you wish for while also trusting the path to unfold. The shaman walks this fine line between choosing the power-qualities he feels are good and trusting the Great Spirit of the outer and inner worlds to provide what is needed for personal growth and good in the world. Also remember that the shamanic way is to learn from both the outer and inner world of Nature, and to self-assimilate the many aspects of the Great Whole into oneself – which then is an expansion of one's personal consciousness, love and power. The mystical shaman then gradually contains more of the Whole in his or her self-knowing, which enables him to express more of the Whole for the good of the world.

So, a shaman uses both approaches in the Journey – both a receptive and a deciding approach. For even though a vision quest or spirit journey necessarily involves being receptive and going with the flow of it, it is also useful to apply a deciding-approach to the vision quest or when meeting up with animal-spirits or other spirit-helpers.

In the deciding-approach, you intentionally seek out specific power-spirits of the earth or of the spirit-world. Once in contact with a spirit-power or wisdom-guide, you could ask questions and learn from that wisdom-guide, or you could self-assimilate that kind of spirit quality or power into your own personal power and self-expression. For example, you might realize a need to acquire more bird power, or maybe you know that deer power is needed for a specific need or healing work. Then, you could go out in Nature to find the specific animal spirit, or you could journey inside the spirit-world to meet with that animal spirit. Mostly, this will be in relation to your own self, but one can also seek out spirit help or healing for other people.

The receptive approach is equally important as the deciding approach. For if you neglect to experience the receptive trusting approach, but only use your personal will and decision, then you would probably miss out on new surprises and challenges, because of being so self-focused on the specific aims of your personal mind. This in fact is the problem most people have – they get so self-focused or even self-obsessed on specific self-aims, issues or problems, that they never allow any time to enter into a new learning experience or a new-vision quest, by allowing the inner spiritual world to show them something new or to give a reminder to what might be missing or forgotten in a person's life.

One of the great opportunities in a vision quest or a spirit journey is to allow the wisdom of the inner spiritual world to show and teach, but one has to be receptive and allowing in this, rather than trying to self-control the whole inner quest journey. There has to be some degree of letting the inner wisdom and spirit guidance speak and show, rather than always trying to intentionally direct the whole show, the whole inner experience. If one is never open to inward surprises and the unexpected, and never allowing any inner time for this, then one avoids new inner lessons and experiences.

Yet, on the other hand, if you never used your own power of will and decision in determining your path or your journey, then you would never be exercising and expressing your own personal power, and you'd also become too passive in relation to the expressed powers of others. The shaman is not so naive to believe that all things coming his way are necessarily for his own good or for the good of the Whole. So if your life approach is simply and only to be passive and accepting to whatever comes your way, because you have a belief that all things in the world and all people in the world are for the good, then you are in for some painful lessons. Not all that comes from the shared outer world, nor from the shared psychic world, is good or helpful to you. Also, if you think that everything must be good, then your discerning sense of truth and good is never exercised and never developed.

Use good common sense and intuition in both the outer journey and spirit journey. How will you discern the good? How will you know? You will know in the truth of your heart, because your innermost spirit-wisdom has the power to know. You will know by your natural instinct, your natural sense of what is good and of what is the right path to follow. This sense is natural to you, but you have to still develop it – by practicing it.

Coyote then again led me into an animal vision journey, this time encouraging me to see more clearly what is presenting itself to be recognized, and for me to allow the visioning journey to unfold further. Coyote first led me into the journey, but then I was left in silence on my own.

After my journey, Coyote told me to sit quietly for five minutes and simply go over in my memory what had happened, and let it digest. He said it was helpful to right away begin remembering the journey, from start to end, so that the delicateness of the experiences does not get forgotten. But he said, go over it as though it were now happening, because the best way to understand a vision is to re-experience (in present time) what happened and the feelings in it, as best as possible.

What exactly happened in my journey is best to keep with myself, which is important in any inner journey – to not blab about it to others but instead to keep the experiences to oneself – at least until one has given it some time to digest and assimilate. Otherwise, the powers and the experiences can get dispersed and skewed by how we tell it to others.

Vision interaction and questions

There are two main ways of relating with spirit-guides, animal powers, nature spirits, or visionary images. The first is interactional, which is a very useful and practical approach to the animal powers, spirits or images of a journey. The second way is by self-identification, which I'll explain later. The way of interaction you make a connection with an animal spirit or some other kind of guide, and then you allow the particular spirit-guide to teach you its specific wisdom and power-qualities. The spirit guide could even be a plant or tree spirit, or a mountain or lake spirit. There are many possible helping-spirits. This guide may also offer itself as a protector or helper-ally for your life, even after the vision.

A spirit-guide or animal teacher will have certain qualities or powers, and in your vision journey this spirit guide will come to empower you with its particular quality or power or protection. When this happens, you need to first make a good relationship with this spirit guide teacher, which begins with respect and paying attention. Let the animal spirit be your friend and helper. To have the animal and plant spirits as your friends is a very helpful thing. It's something to be very thankful about. So be in a good attitude of friendship with the spirit helper. Make friends and have respect. Then, work with mind and feelings to understand what is being offered, and when you recognize an important teaching or if you're given an important power-object, then express your gratitude.

Learn from the spirit-helper by first allowing it to speak, teach, or show you certain visions. This spirit animal may teach you something about yourself, something about your own corresponding spirit-quality. Or the spirit may teach you something about what you need to do, in order to be more creative, or in order to protect your integrity in the world. You can learn from this, like you would learn from any teacher. The spirit or animal-helper will be a like a guide and show you a path or a way of being. Then it is up to you, in your self-freedom, to try out that path or not. You might also be given a power or ability, often through a power object, which is to be used by the mind rather than being an actual physical object.

Now to start off in a vision journey, right away it helps to set forth an intention or an idea of what you want from the journey. Beginning an inner journey with a certain conscious intention, wish or question is very helpful in keeping the journey protected and on-path, especially if you are working at this all alone without any teacher guidance.

Foremost and central in any vision journey is to be in an attitude of inquiry, discovery, and receptiveness. Your aim is to be open and receptive enough for a spirit guide helper to come into your journey, in order to teach or help you in some way. So you have to be open to this. Of course, you want to be open to the wisest and most helpful spirits, and not merely be open to anything. So you have to state this in your intention and be clear about this. You're seeking helpful guidance and increased self-actualization; you're not wanting to waste your time on mere nonsense.

But at some point, when you are ready, you will have to trust and let the spirit guide lead you, teach you or show you things. And this requires a receptive listening. But you can, as a balance to this receptivity, actively make intentions or ask questions.

For example, you might say to the spirit world, I wish to have an animal-spirit guide appear and show me a wisdom path or give me a power that is needed in my life.

One could ask the same basic wish for any spirit-guide. It doesn't have to be an animal-spirit. It could be a mountain spirit, or a river spirit, or a tree spirit, or a herb spirit, or an ancestor spirit, or any of the great holy spirits, or you could even make the wish or question to the one Great Spirit.

Or you could start the meditation journey with a self-personal question, like for example, What path shall I follow? Or What should I do next in my life?

Or try this practical question... What self-quality shall I work with and actualize?

Questions and wishes can be very general and open-ended, like

What is the guidance that I now need?

Or, questions can be more specific, about specific things or issues in your life. You could even ask for specific guidance on any kind of social or relationship question. You might even ask for what question to ask!

Thus, each inner vision journey might be somewhat different in its intended purpose, depending on the most important question or need you have at the time. Then, from this starting intention, wish or question, let your vision unfold and see what happens. See what is presented from the inner spirit world, and learn from it all.

Also remember that you can ask a question or ask for a wish at any time during the journey, not just at the beginning. And doing so, will be very helpful. For any question or wish will tend to lead the journey towards that direction or towards that understanding. So it's ok to do this and it's helpful. But also, one can simply allow the vision journey to unfold in whatever way it does, so that you just follow the flow, see what comes up, and hopefully understand it and make use of it. The best way in this interactional approach is to have a balance between being somewhat intentional and being somewhat passive in going with the flow. So there may be times when a question or a wish is useful in steering the journey, but this will have to be balanced with allowing the journey to unfold without trying to consciously or intentionally steer it.

So once again I was led into an inner vision journey. Interestingly, each time it was easier to get into it, and it pretty much seemed that each time I went back inside the psychic world I came in just where I had left off. This time Coyote reminded me to think about what I wanted to know or what guidance I would like, and then phrase this into a question or a wish. So in this journey, I practiced mostly the technique asking questions and making my wish known, and I definitely found that this structured the journey much better and made it all seem more ordered. I was also surprised how the journey responded so immediately to my questions and wishes. Either an answer would come almost immediately, or at least something started unfolding.

I will share, though in a general way, that I received two important gifts. One gift was a 'spirit-quality' from the Animal power I connected with, which later on I worked with – to assimilate into my own self. I actually re-discovered that quality in my own self-potential and brought it into my self knowing and acceptance. The other gift I received was a 'power-object' from the Animal spirit. This was a particular power-object that I could then use in practical life or in dealing with people and world. Power objects are things that might be found in the physical world, yet their meaning is really metaphoric and they have a real psychic power that can be used in the world.

After some time, which I have no idea how long, Coyote sounded a voice that bought me back again to the physical world, and he gave me some time to get back to my senses and also to self-review my journey.

Self-identification and assimilation

Another important way of relating with vision spirits and inner dream objects is through self-identification. In order to actually acquire this power, or to be empowered by this spirit, you must self-identify with this spirit-being, identifying with its recognized quality or power. You identify with the particular spirit-power who has come to you, and feel what it's like to be this. You allow your mind and feelings to become identified with this spirit. And by doing so, you'll be able to self-assimilate this particular spirit or power, assimilating its special quality, ability, or wisdom.

This can be experienced especially with animal spirits, because each kind of animal has a unique set of powers, qualities and abilities. Self-identification with an animal quality or power is called taking on the animal or taking on the power, which is an assimilation of that animal power or that quality into your own self-knowing and self-being. Different plants, minerals and crystals also have unique powers and qualities, which can be assimilated as well, and even great beings like mountains and lakes can be self-assimilated into our being. So this is the practice of self-assimilation – by way of self-identification.

Now for some people, this all may sound spooky, strange or just weird. But really, it is very like the play-acting imagination of children, whereby a child may become absorbed in the play-acting of being a certain animal or some other character. Children are able to enter into an inner visionary world, where they are able to become temporarily absorbed and identified with an animal or something other than their normal personality expression. So this is natural to all native earth children, which is who we all were at some time and who we really are. People just lost touch with this; so now is the time to return to being the spirit-child of trust and love and imagination. This imagination is not some kind of anti-reality psychosis. Rather, it's the way towards self-understanding, self-actualization and creative self-evolution. So let Great Spirit take you on a journey through the inner world of spirit-guides and helpers. This is having trust, and trust is necessary in it all.

But also understand that along the journey there may be challenges and forces that are not so easy to pass by. It's like any physical journey or exploration through new lands, in that one might well encounter natural obstacles and challenges. So the journey is not necessarily easy. There may be difficulties and stuck places in which you have to solve, before moving on further. But with trust in Great Spirit and trust in your own self, you can succeed through any obstacles, any troubled feelings, or any upsetting things. Remember three keys in any journey – love, understand, and move on. Also, if you ever feel really stuck in some place, or if you really feel to be in trouble, or if you feel that something in the vision is a force too challenging for you, then always remember that you have a power in your very core that can suddenly vanish anything at any time. Also, you can use your journey-steering power – by asking a question or a wish. This will re-steer the vision towards answering your question or fulfilling your wish.

Now as well, if you encounter a human-like Spirit-guide, this teacher-guide can be self-assimilated just as much as an animal guide, plant or crystal spirit. A teacher-guide who appears in the journey is very special, especially if you immediately know that this guide is both wise and loving. And if you don't feel that the guide is wise and loving, then just say so-long and move on. No sense in hanging around anyone who isn't loving and wise; it's a waste of your time. But if this guide in your vision is truly felt to be beneficent and helpful, then first listen to what they have to say. Get some guidance. Get some teaching from them. And don't leave without it. Then, when you think you've heard the message, you could go onto the next stage which is to receive being from them. To receive being is different from receiving just knowledge or guidance. Receiving being is to take in and assimilate the being-qualities of the Spirit-guide.

A helpful key is to recognize this in your own potential, or that you too are capable of this. Regard the vision or image of the spirit helper as reflection of yourself, or as a mirror reflection. That is, consider your mind as a mirror of different parts or potentials of your whole Being. A vision of a Teacher or Guide might also be regarded as a reflection of your future self or your greater self-potential. Use the imagination, or the power of envisioning, to see yourself as being this Teacher or Healer – feeling and seeing yourself with all of this good-will, love, wisdom, and spiritual power.

I'll give you some keys in this. First, begin with making a connection with the spirit guide. Listen and follow what is told. Then, a second phase can be to self-identify with the spirit guide. Feel and think of yourself as being this spirit-being and having these qualities and powers. Then thirdly, self-assimilate those qualities or powers you recognize, by realizing all of this inside your own potential.

It's first important to feel a self-identification with a spirit guide or animal power. Thought and visualisation can help as well, but the feeling-of-being is most important. Envision and feel yourself as this being and having this wisdom or this quality of power. You could also see the spirit-being and its quality as a reflection of your own potential. Then see yourself as this being, and also feel what it is like to be this animal or this guide or this great teacher or healer. In this way you take on its wisdom and its power, and you become more of your own potential. Then you really know the wisdom and power by feeling it and being it. Remember that you have the potential to be anything, to have all of the great wisdom and be all of the great powers.

But you need to do some inner work in this change of perspective and assimilation of the potential. You need to see and feel yourself as this being, this quality or power. It may seem rather new or even unusual, but you take it on, like a role or character. Or, you may recognize this as part of yourself. As you recognize the quality-power, and as you feel this self-identification, an assimilation takes place, and you are filled with greater ability and more of its potential quality-powers.

So, as part of self-identification and assimilation, you might realize that what presents itself in your vision is, in some way, a quality or power of who you are, though in potential. It's a potential of who you are that is just now being seen and recognized. You haven't yet understood this quality as your own self-potential, so it comes to you in your vision as something different than you. In other words, this animal or spirit you are seeing has come to interact with you and show you things, until you finally realize that this is your own self-potential or self-power, which has clothed itself in this animal. This could be called a self-reflective way of understanding things or beings in your vision journey.

That potential of yourself, which is as-yet unrecognized, unconscious, dormant and in atrophy, is now appearing in your vision [as this animal or object] in order to be recognised and understood. So with this kind of premise, then whatever or whoever emerges into your vision can be ultimately recognized as a particular potential of your own self. In the deeper essence of who we are, all of the animals and earth elements are already in us; but most of this is unconscious and unexpressed, so in actuality we are usually disconnected from these parts of our deeper essence, until these qualities in us are consciously self-recognized and allowed to express.

So, you might realize that whatever spirit there is in your vision is also a quality and power of your own self. This is a change in perspective – from something being regarded as 'outside of oneself' – to being part of oneself. This recognition won't happen right away, though. Self-recognition takes time, just like any kind of learning. So in a sense, the vision journey is a journey of self-discovery. It's like a process expressed as a journey. And along the journey, or through the vision, there will be spirits and things that present themselves – to be interacted with and understood, and then perhaps self-identified with or self-recognized, and then finally self-assimilated.

Now in saying this – that an animal or spirit in your vision journey could be understood as a potential of yourself, one should not then assume that the whole inner journey is just a reflection of oneself. The images, the things, the events, the animals or whatever comes into consciousness in a personal vision journey can be understood as a potential of your own self. But this doesn't mean that everything in the vision journey is you or that it's all just a subjective reflection of yourself. Much of it probably is, but not necessarily all of it. Because real spiritual and psychic spirits can enter into your vision or into your dreams. We each are not completely isolated psychic beings. There is interaction throughout the whole psychic world.

The shamanistic and traditional wisdom understanding of inner journeys, visions and dreams is that the contents and spirit-beings in these are not merely subjective representations of oneself. So our view here is not simply the same as the western psychological view that all contents of one's visions and dreams are no more than a reflection of oneself, or that everything in any vision is really me. Native wisdom accepts that a large part of any vision or dream is just oneself, but we also believe that spirits and powers outside of oneself can enter into a vision. This has both positive and negative implications in it. On the negative side, it could then be possible for self-bad forces to enter, and thus one needs to practice both protection and discernment. Yet on the positive side, it is possible for greater spirits to enter into our visions and dreams, who have come to help us, to feed us, to heal us, or to empower us in a way that we could not have achieved without their outside help.

So it could be that the spirit-being or spirit-image in your vision-journey is not simply your own reflection. For the spirit image in your vision could be a greater spirit-guide who has come to help you, or what appears could be a lesser spirit of no real importance. Or it could be your inner potential self-reflection that is now appearing in some kind of outer form. You haven't been recognizing your inner potential or powers, and so this self-potential or self-power has come to show itself. Only you can figure out what is true.

So, in a vision journey we can learn from any part of the journey – any spirit or image that appears in it. And everything that appears has some relation to who we are, or perhaps it is a part of who we are. Every spirit presence in the journey is important – to either work out a positive relationship with it and learn from it, or else realize this as a reflection of who you are. And as already said, a potential power is actualized within us if we self-recognize and identify with the particular power or quality of the appearing spirit or image.

Vision-journeys and self-identifications are not just about animal-spirits. Special parts of nature might appear in a vision, such as a powerful mountain, a relaxing valley, an intriguing forest, a vast ocean, a flowing river. It could be anything. Say for example, a beautiful calm lake spontaneously appears in your vision journey. Spend some time seeing this lake as clearly as possible, but also feel the special qualities of this lake, such as beauty and peace.

Next, allow this lake deep into your being, until the lake fills your whole mind and heart, until there is nothing left of you but the calm lake itself. Forget everything about yourself. Forget all thoughts of who you normally are, and simply be the lake. You might even say to yourself, I am this beautiful, calm lake. Let the calm spirit of this lake fill your whole mind and feelings. Meditate on being this lake, and feel that you are this lake, and enjoy the feeling of calm in being this calm lake. This feeling of calm is the spirit-quality or power that takes over your experience, and in doing so, your soul-being is absorbing this spirit-quality. Thus you are accumulating this particular power of nature. You are absorbing it into your being, by allowing yourself to be absorbed in it.

We can learn from any part of nature – animal, plant, crystal, etc. We can receive and assimilate spiritual quality from any part of nature. For example, come in contact with a beautiful flower. Make a feeling relationship with this flower. Feel this flower. Allow this flower into your feeling. Let you mind and feelings be absorbed in this flower. Enter into the flower. Enter into the very being of this flower, which is the spirit of this flower. Enter into who this flower is. Then feel the feeling of this flower. Feel what it is to be this, or how this is. Lose yourself in this flower, so you can fully feel and know the quality of being this flower. Then absorb this quality, this energy, this flower power into your own being. And realize what it is and how it is to be this. You are this flower. You are this blooming flower of life. You are this beauty. Realize this. Feel this.

And so you have a vision, or you are given a vision. But then you must become the vision. To do this, envision yourself as this vision, and assimilate what is given to you as a reflection of your own potential. The vision is about you, or else it is about something you can do. It's always about your potential for being and doing. So, after knowledge or guidance, the becoming is a greater step. Becoming the wisdom and the power is really what you want. Then you can share it from yourself. This is much more profound than merely having guidance or merely channeling guidance.

I was then led into a fourth inner journey, this time working on self-identification and assimilation within the journey, and from this were some very transforming energies and experiences. Coyote gave some simple instructions during the beginning of the journey time, which was to envision myself journeying towards self-understanding, but for the most part I was to be open to vision and guidance, however it came or whatever it was. Then, with whatever or whoever emerged into my vision, I should work at understanding this as a mirror aspect of my own being, or as a vision of some kind of quality or power in my own self. Then keep moving on, through each segment of the journey, towards even deeper self-understanding. So the instructions were fairly simple. It was really up to me to acquire some self-understanding through this.

After this journey, Coyote asked me to describe what happened, starting from the beginning. But it was important that I describe it all as-if it were happening in this moment, and to use present tense in what I said, rather than past tense. Whenever I used a past tense, such as I went or I was, Coyote would immediately stop me and ask me to tell the story as it's happening, sort of like re-living it or re-experiencing it. In this way, he explained, it's possible to gain further understanding about the vision-dream, and also possible to further digest and assimilate it.

So Coyote listened to what I remembered, but he didn't try to interpret everything for me. Instead, he occasionally stopped my description with a question, which was either to clarify something better or asking me how something felt. Only occasionally did he give an interpretation, for he said that each journeyer needs to self-interpret their own journeys, visions, or dreams. He said that this was a mistake of some teachers – to tell the visionary what their vision is about, as if they were the expert on it all. This can also dissipate the vision energy and cause distortions in what actually happened. An inner vision should reveal its own meaning, on its own, and the visionary needs to self-discover this meaning, for the meaning of a vision is also a vision. Better to learn from your own experience and intuition, than just believe what others say.

We took a break from all the intensity and enjoyed some food and water. I felt very connected with myself, with my innerness, but at the same time I felt that I was in two dimensions simultaneously, the inner world and the outer, the psychic world and the physical world. While relaxing, Coyote had some advice for myself and for everyone.

Being open about who you are

The biggest enemy of the average person is their own set of beliefs about who they are. Too often I hear people say things like, “I'm not that kind of person; I don't take walks in nature. I'm a city person. I don't swim in pools of water. I don't like to get my feet wet in streams. I don't bother spending time with trees. I'm not the kind of person who smells flowers. No, that's not me. I don't do that. I'm just not that kind of person.” This is the kind of bullshit that people have in their minds about their own self. How sad this is. And they actually believe it! They actually believe in their own self-made prison.

Anyone who thinks and believes that they are a 'this or that' kind of person is building their own prison of self-belief. Don’t ever typecast yourself. All self-beliefs set limitations on you are. Don't ever set any limitations on who you are. This is foolish. This is why the average person cannot be a shaman. A shaman has no limitations on who they are, no self-limiting beliefs. This is the attitude that anything is possible.

Anything is possible to experience, anything is possible to be, and anything is possible to do. This is the attitude to have. Be free of self-limiting beliefs, and be open to self-possibility and open to having new experiences. If a person is not open to brand new experiences, things never tried or done, then this person is trapped in their own self-created prison of limitation. What a waste! So always stay open to the possible, the possible in the natural world around and the possible in oneself. Have the courage to try new things and even new ways of being. Have the courage to explore.

Coyote then had me go on one more vision journey, but this time he gave me all of the guiding instructions beforehand.

Important Journeys

For this journey I'm just going to tell you right now what to do, and then I'll leave you to do it. This is really several journeys, so I'll try to keep it simple enough that you can remember the basics.

First, imagine yourself walking on a journey, which is a journey to meet your highest spirit teacher. Know that you're going to meet this teacher, or this guide, and really trust in this knowing. Also, use your own power of intention and decision; so as well, make a decision and an intention to meet your highest spirit teacher. Then, set off on your journey, and in your imagination see the special places you journey through. Take your time to see and enjoy these places along the way, as you pass through them; because there is no hurry in this. Maybe you'll journey through a forest, or maybe it's a jungle, or maybe it's a desert, or maybe an area of lakes with beautiful valleys and trees. Each place will be different and no kind of place will be better than any other. Along the way also, you might encounter one or more spirits or animals helpers, and each one will have some kind of wisdom or teaching to offer. This is all good, the places you journey through and the spirit teachers you meet. But you'll have to keep remembering your greater intention in this journey, which is to meet up with your very highest spirit teacher or with one of the greater Holy Ones. So make sure that you don't forget the final goal of this journey, even though you're taking your time getting there. I'm telling you this now, because it's quite easy to get sidetracked and forget the goal you originally set out for.

The next step, when you're ready, is that a large mountain will appear in front of your journey. This will be the mountain of Great Spirit. Or you might call it Spirit Mountain. And on top of this mountain you'll find a great Spirit Teacher, or who could be a very important Spirit Guide for you. Or maybe you'll find Buddha or Christ up there. I don't know who you'll find, but whoever you find will be a great Teacher and Guide for you. So in this phase you'll travel up that mountain, and this part of the journey could have some struggles or some difficulties. Maybe it will, or maybe it won't. Maybe in parts of this you'll have to crawl up that mountain, or maybe you'll dance up there. All these details are different for each person. I'm just telling you the general path and giving you some pointers. But really, it's best to have no particular expectations in mind, so that your journey can unfold with its own unique wisdom.

Next, at some point, you'll reach the top of this mountain, however long it took you and however difficult it was. And now, you'll see this Teacher. Maybe you'll see him sitting somewhere, or maybe he'll be standing, or maybe he'll come to you. Be open to what happens. At this point you just have to trust the Teacher. Let him or her teach you and lead you into what to do next. You won't have any idea what will be taught until you hear it in that moment. So neither you nor I can know what will be taught or what will happen next.

I'll give you some extra advice though. After you're given enough of a teaching or enough guidance, there is one more step you can take. Before you completely give your farewell and thanks to this Teacher, ask for one more thing. Ask but don't demand. Say to the Teacher that you have just one more wish. You want to reach the Spiritual Sun and meet Great Spirit.

Ask it. Here you are with one of the great Teacher Guides of the Spirit World and someone who loves and cares about you, so no harm in asking for an ultimate experience, as well as receiving wisdom guidance. Then see what happens. Maybe you'll reach the Central Sun and meet Great Spirit. Maybe Great Spirit will give you some of the greater Light. And maybe some of the greater Love. And maybe also some Spirit Power.

Then, after all this and however long it takes, next journey into the heart of Mother Earth. Decide that you will journey deep into Mother Earth, deep into the very center and heart of Mother Earth. How you get there is not so important. Maybe you go through a cave or a tunnel, or through some kind of pathway. Each journey is different. What's important is the feeling of going deep into the Earth. Go deep within the Mother Earth. Then enter into Her feelings. Enter into Her love and feelings. Spend some time in this deep inner place. Spend enough time here to have some real experiences of being the Earth, feeling and knowing how this is from being in the center of it, or from being within it. Remember, there is no right or wrong experience in this. Just make the journey into that deeper place, then see and feel what happens from this.

Then, before you return back to the physical world and to your physical sensations, make one more journey, one final journey. This is a journey into the heart of your own inner being. And this journey can be very deep and very important. In this, your consciousness is becoming centered in the very core of your being. So in this journey you go deep into yourself, to reach the deepest core, the deepest center of your being. A helpful and guiding question can simply be, 'Who am I?' Or some other question might feel more right for you, but it can be very helpful to guide this journey with a particular question. A question will help shape the direction of any inner journey and what can be learned. A wish can do the same. So it's good to have a question or a wish.

Try this. Say, I wish to find my truth. Or this could be a question, like what is my truth? Then go to your truth. And be open to knowing your truth. How you see that journey in your inner vision is different for everyone. And what you find in that journey is your own truth. It's what you feel and know is your deepest truth.

Next say, I wish to find my love. Or as a question this could be, what is the love within me? Then go deep inside to find this love, and be open to finding it.

Then thirdly say, I wish to find my power. Then go inside to find your power, and be open to how this is experienced in your inner vision and feeling.

I hope you discover all of this – your truth, your love, and your power.

So now, go into the journey, and I'll just be quiet and leave you to it.

I was then left in silence to make these journeys on my own, with Coyote's basic instructions as my guide, and also using my own powers of intention, decision, question and wish, in order to help guide the journey. Though also I had to balance these journey intentions with being receptive and open to what happens in it and how the journey unfolds.

What did exactly happen in my journey I will not say, because these things are best to remain as secrets. But I will say that I did have some significant teachings and with practical importance. Also, my journey seemed very lucid and I was able to stay with it. Then at some point I just knew intuitively that enough was completed in this journey and it was time to return again to my physical senses. As I slowly regained physical awareness I made a conscious effort to remember the journeys and the more important parts,

Finally I opened my eyes and sat up. The cave was almost pitch dark and there was an intense silence. But soon I realized that I was actually alone in the cave. I figured that Coyote must have stepped out for a while. But more time kept passing and still no sign of him. I went out and looked around, and I even ventured somewhat along the deer trail that we had been on before, but still no sign. So at that point I had to make a decision about what to do next. I decided that I might as well sleep in the cave, and Coyote would return whenever.

I slept remarkably well, even on the hard floor of this cave, but in the morning still no Coyote. I couldn't just wait for him indefinitely, so I went down the hill and got back on the trail. Unfortunately though, I had no idea where I was and I had no map. So I decided to make my best intuition about where to get back towards civilization, and I kept heading in that direction, the direction of my inner sense for how to get back home, somehow and some way.

On the way, I certainly had plenty of practices to work with, so I remained in that intention. I realized that it would truly be a waste of time and a waste of my consciousness to simply worry or wonder about where Coyote disappeared to. For at this point, there was nothing else for me to do but head back to a nice hot shower, a hot delicious meal, and a soft bed. Miraculously, by sunset I made it to a trail head and from there the road was just a ways away. I waited and soon a kind soul gave me a ride back into town.

Appendix: Practices in the Shaman's Walk

Best to record these onto a recorder or cell phone, then play back and pause, etc., as you practice the Walk. After practicing these steps over time, one becomes more familiar and experienced with them and also remembers them. This is just one possible example of how many of these kinds of practices relate and work well together. This a good order for them, but it's not crucial to practice in this particular order. There is no exact definitive way to do any of this, so the best approach is to be experimental and experiential.

Also see the website, Native Earth Wisdom