79. The Power of Presence

BLOG 79—(present reflections tied to November 2000 journal entries about my healing and novel writing journey)—Despite the growing cold of winter’s approach, I walked daily in the woods along the ocean at Odiorne Point, New Hampshire. I had moved closer to the ocean after my summer of healing on an inland farm, yet continued practicing walking meditations. My walks were inspired by lessons I had learned during my shamanic classes, especially when it came to working with my medicine body and its power.

My first shift of attention in my walk was from having to be good—or having to do the right thing—to coming from a place of power that was just so. This meant shifting my attention, my heart’s eyes, so to speak (if you can imagine this), to different chakra centers (energy centers) of my body. So rather than walk the way we normally do—thinking all the time and leading with our head—I led with my third chakra (between my heart and my bellybutton). I let my full attention come from this place (as if my eyes and heart were taking in the world from here) as I trekked through hard, sometimes icy paths alongside low-lying trees and the ocean.

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As I walked from my third chakra, I embodied the spirit of Jaguar, a power animal that has been associated with this energy center in Peruvian shamanism. As Jaguar, with my total attention in my mid section, I immediately began to feel my perspective of this small forest widen around me. I was no longer constrained by seeing the world from a narrow place of above and below. Instead, my energy and senses expanded to encompass the trees. I felt extremely powerful and alive, and realized how I could be in my power and present, while compassionate and dangerous at the same time.

Throughout my walks, I discovered my spirit body, an element of ourselves that we often lose connection with in the modern world. My spirit body was home, embodied in a manner new to me. As I strolled in this manner, I stepped out onto rocks that jutted out over the ocean and sat down, rocking myself in a state of love. I brought in the image of a small house from across the water, and pulled it into my belly. As I did so, I felt a surge of love, of coming home to my power. Then, when I put my hands on my root chakra, I experienced further love in an almost erotic manner. This continued as I touched my knees, my feet. I was experiencing the act of giving my aliveness to myself. It was truly remarkable!

As I sat near the water’s edge, parents walked by, warning their children not to go too far out on the rocks where I was. One unusual girl, though, was eager to walk out onto the rocks where I sat, and her father, less concerned about the danger, urged her not to interrupt me. Upon hearing him, the girl, who had already approached me, stopped in her tracks. “Forgive me for not acknowledging your presence,” she said to me in the most remarkable manner. Surprised by the demeanor of this girl of no more than ten, I told her that I was fine, and to come by. She came forward, free as a bird, with her father following her.

I remained on the rocks watching as this father and daughter team soon returned back to shore. The girl’s father lent her a hand as she jumped off the rocks onto the earth. She seemed independent enough to move without his help, but she gracefully accepted his hand with a “Thank you, father.”

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The whole scene felt like a special omen. The daughter had been like an angel visiting me, confirming my power, acknowledging my presence and how I could remain in a place of compassion and gratitude no matter how powerful or independent I was. It was as if the little girl had been me in that moment.

Like a spiral that comes back around, the lessons of that experience at the ocean of twenty years ago seems timely today as well. Most recently, my sisters came to visit me in New Mexico so the three of us could share time together after my father’s passing. While our visit was rich and full, I was left feeling emotionally stuck and disconnected from myself after they left (I had returned to the role I had played as a child in my family). As the youngest who drummed to a different beat than they did, I felt invisible, as if my unique gifts didn’t matter.

In reading my account at the ocean of years ago, and the story of the little girl who acknowledged me in my power, I understood the medicine of years ago. I had learned then what it meant to truly be in my spirit body, to expand into myself fully, fearless, powerful. In that instance, I had discovered what it felt like to be home, to be love, to be alive in a true way. The little girl and her father had acknowledged me because I had embodied myself fully. I was no longer invisible.

In listening to the lessons that spiraled their way back into my life recently, I saw that I needed to once again, step back into the medicine body that I am, this light that is me. I had fallen into a role that wasn’t me, and I had become invisible, even to the little girl—to myself—who would have been ignored this time given the space I was in.

But now, when I was able to acknowledge me, and remember, once again, who I was—spirit embodied, home, and powerful—those emotions that made me feel small and invisible had no room to be. I returned to that place that I had been on my walks—that space of no longer having to do the right thing and merely coming from a place of power and love that is just so.

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is about discovering duende, the spirit of the earth that we are that resides inside us. It’s available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. It can be ordered at a local bookstore as well. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

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63. Bowing in Grace

BLOG 63: June, 2000—Jean sat in her favorite chair in the kitchen by the screen of an open window.  She blew her cigarette smoke out past the tiny metal mesh, which temporarily protected her New England farmhouse from a few select mosquitoes of early summer. My new near-80-year-old poet and housemate seemed to love looking out the window, reflecting on her next poem, or maybe her many years married, and raising children, or her husband’s recent death.

As I stepped into the dimly lit kitchen, Jean looked up. She greeted me as I prepared to leave for a weekend of translating for an Ecuadorian Shaman who was visiting up north, in the White Mountain area. I had just arrived at her farmhouse several days earlier, but was now traveling two hours north to translate for an organization called Dream Change.  

When I arrived at the home where I’d work, the Ecuadorian Shaman, Alberto Taxo, sat in a corner of the room, legs crossed. He was a good-looking man with long black hair and graying beard. I greeted him, presented myself as the person who would be translating his Spanish to English. He nodded, smiled.

Later, he would tell me stories about growing up under the tutelage of his shaman father, and a lineage of healers along the Andes and Latin America. He’d tell me about his initiation at age 13, when was sent to the mountains to stay three days in a hole dug into the ground. One of those days, Taxo awoke with a snake coiled on his belly, at which point he described being fearless (since snakes can smell fear and attack). Instead he told the snake how beautiful it was and it uncoiled and slithered away. His journey as a shaman continued until his father’s death, 8194dc6334121ca8cc6c17b407f37edewhich provoked grief and anger and two years of living in the streets and temporarily abandoning his healer’s path.

I loved listening to Taxo’s stories. After all, imagine missing out on your childhood, and, at an early age, being ask to carry forth a 500-year-old prophesy of your indigenous ancestors to prepare for an immense change for the earth and humanity, a “Pachacuti”, that would occur at this time in history. This was Taxo’s reality, combined with political work he did, demanding equal rights for Ecuador’s indigenous people.

Beyond his stories and teachings, what struck me most about Taxo was the manner in which he approached life. As I translated for him during various gatherings and healings, he displayed an immense amount of grace and presence. He seemed to bow to all of life—to the trees, to the animals, to the food he ate, to the people he passed—in a state of gratitude and listening. It was a practice I imagined he had learned early on in life—a practice that seemed a stark contrast to our modern-American “let’s move fast and get somewhere or something (and not listen much)” approach to life.

While Taxo was far from perfect (He seemed to have been seduced by modern Western culture in an unhealthy way), I returned to the farmhouse having learned a state of grace and gratitude that would help me heal my injury and heart.

From that weekend forth, I began to walk in the woods, a hundred feet at a time (or as far as I could go with my pain), and 61f49d5902a99d2693d6e1e6bb5b9546did so by bowing down to every tree, every flowering, breathing element in the forest. As I walked, I breathed the trees and their energy field into my heart, and, with every out breath, I bowed to the trees, greeting and honoring them. In doing this kind of mindfulness meditation, I soon discovered how blocked my heart was—how challenging it was for me to truly receive and feel the beauty around me. I also understood that if I continued this practice, I would feel the origins of my blocks and slowly get “out of my head” and open my heart, bit by bit, to feel.

Back then, Taxo’s example offered me my first important lesson of many that would help me walk again—from 50 feet to three miles by the end of the summer on Jean’s farm. It’s a lesson I’ve come back to, time and time again, in my life (even though I’ve gotten lost, plenty of times, in all the daily running around!).

This place of grace—this bowing down to and honoring life—still sits waiting for me, and all us, at all times. These days, I return to this place of grace in the dark of the night, when I sing an offering to the land, to my recently deceased father, and to those I love; when I bow in gratitude and love to my friend and lover; and when I sit still enough to feel this butterfly of transformative love for myself and all of life that sits fluttering in my heart. 

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is about returning to this state of grace. It’s available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. It can be ordered at a local bookstore as well. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video