Lose Your Mind


Ever wanted to lose your mind? I know, it sounds crazy. Cuckoo. In my family growing up, the phrase would have been “losing your marbles.”

At Soultime, Men’s Retreat last weekend, one part of the ritual that we created with each other was a time to be lost. Not a lot of time. For most it was a couple of minutes with eyes closed in the forest, and guided by another person who didn’t have eyes closed. It was safe. For me, I wanted it to be as long as possible. This symbolic act matched a part of the story we were engaging for the weekend, a story of people not being seen for their gifts, and thus getting lost.

Creating the ritual at Soultime is a choice. It’s never the same, which is part of what gives it life. It usually has four or five parts to it. It typically takes 1-2 hours to prepare, and 2-4 hours to do. It’s a time to not look at time. Just be in the ritual.

I didn’t know why I wanted to get lost last weekend. But it was clear, I really wanted it. It was the thing I most cared about when we were first imaging what might happen. I was hoping “lost” would last for a couple of hours, just that part of it. I felt a bit weird saying it out loud with the others, and in reflecting later. “I just wanted to be lost. I wanted the feeling.” Of course, a part of them was wondering what was up for me in this. I was too.

A few days later one of the key reasons for wanting to get lost became more clear for me. I wanted to lose my mind. I wanted to be in less thoughts. Less rational thinking. Less planning. More feeling. More freedom with time. More “stay here until we are done.” I wanted to give my rational mind, my speed and efficiency mind, a rest. Some time out. For me it meant sitting in the forest seen above.  I had good rain proof pants, a good coat, hat, gloves. It meant feeling the ground and the surroundings around me. The slender tree trunk, three inches in diameter that I would lean against for a moment, feeling it’s strength and anchoring. It meant feeling the moss under me, picking some of it, and smelling it. Feeling it in my fingers. It meant putting my forehead on the ground.

Not seeing evokes a very different presence in life. A paying attention to many other layers of sensation. Paying attention to intuition. Perhaps those are all some form of mind, sure. But they feel like a different part. I have full intent to keep my rational mind — it serves me very well. However, what became clear to me is that the experience of losing mind, getting lost a bit, can be quite a comforting thing. Like remembering an old friend.

Thanks to the Soultime men for the journey together.

Ceremony, Ancestors, and Aspen

Aspen at Willow Heights 2

In the last week I have been able to learn much with two important and good friends. I’ve learned about ceremony, ritual, ancestors, and aspen.

Chronologically, the first friend was with Kinde Nebeker, who hosted a day-long Medicine Walk up Big Cottonwood Canyon in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, seen above. The aspen are budding at this time of year at that elevation, about 8,500 feet. Just as Kinde’s work, that includes rites of passage, is budding into a more full presence. The medicine walk included a deliberateness of threshold crossing, setting an intention, going solo the bulk of the day, returning to share some of what I and the others learned, and to be witnessed. I love how she held space for a deeper letting go.

The second friend was Quanita Roberson, who came to Utah to host QT with me. QT very much connects to the letting go that I experienced with Kinde. There is one point in the process with Quanita when we created ceremony to let go of that which doesn’t serve us. It included fire, burning a symbol of that which we don’t need, and a grief canal, a passage to get to the work of releasing. I love the way that Quanita talked about ceremony and working with the ancestors. “The thing about ritual is that you don’t have to believe it or know how it works for it to work. The act of choosing to participate is enough.” She then added, from one of her teachers, the West African Dagara Elder, Malidoma Some, “The ancestors in the west are the most unemployed ancestors in the world.”

I don’t know how all of that invisible work works. But I have the feeling that we did indeed employ some of them in the last week.