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Below us to the west, the terrain slumps and rolls across sparsely inhabited open space. The Pacific Ocean shimmers in afternoon sunlight. Fir and Redwood trees cluster along the steep canyons and creeks. On this high ridge along the California Coast Range, a group of us sits on the earth in the shade of Live Oak trees. We are happy to be together in this wild place.
Someone has found a shed snakeskin, a symbol of transformation. Our Peruvian guide and teacher, Américo Yábar, suggests we hang it in a tree as an offering to the spirits of the land. This is a lesson for me: I would probably have taken the precious skin home with me. After we ceremonially lay the skin over a large branch, he instructs us to find a place to sit and meditate.
Immediately I clamber out and down to some rounded sandstone boulders. I sit comfortably, the vast expanse of land and ocean below me. I close my eyes. Taking deeper and deeper breaths, I notice the gentle breeze caressing my face. I feel the sun-warmed boulder under my legs. I smell the hot summer air carrying hints of the medicinal, native Yerba Santa bush along with the dry odor of invasive wild oats. I slow down. I come into presence.
As awareness expands into the surrounding world, the “me” of my body and mind disappears. Breathing even more deeply, I enter the quiet stillness of meditation: just breath, rising and falling. Heart peaceful. Consciousness expanding. Nowhere to go, nothing to do.
The deeper I go, the more I perceive another dimension surrounding me. In what some call a parallel reality, I notice the energetic presence of many others. I keep breathing deeply, observing. They are also sitting in silence. They are also meditating. I keep breathing. We keep breathing, together.
As my awareness travels out, I touch an endless stream of meditators. My heart opens wider and wider, filling with the beauty of this amazing vision. Some are Buddhist monks, but most look like ordinary people, from every culture and religion across the globe. We share a vast field of consciousness, energy, and awareness. Breathing peacefully, I rest in stillness. I rest in vastness.
When I hear and sense that we are nine billion meditators gathered together, my heart fills to bursting. The palpable power of our coherence keeps me focused. Nowhere to go, nothing to do. Just be together, hearts open.
How long does this last? I have no idea. I am totally outside space/time.
Eventually I hear a call back to the group. Rising, and returning to the other, tangible reality of stones, grasses, shed skins, and people, my mind says “Wait, there aren’t nine billion people in the world yet!! What does it mean?” But I put the mind question aside until later, and carry my bliss state throughout the rest of the day.
Not long before this, I’d had a dream where I was walking among the stars. Brilliant white light sparkled like diamonds shining in the blue-black sky, filling my being with beauty. Ahead of me was the dazzling, dense star path of the Milky Way, like what we see from below. I knew this dream was a portal into a different way of seeing and being in the world. I knew it was a portent that I would “walk the Milky Way path” in my everyday life. Beyond this immediate understanding, I had no idea where the path led or what it meant.
Is my meditation, like this dream, an omen about my path?
Back at home, I hold the question while I wander the garden. Glorious Star Gazer lilies and pungent, juicy red tomatoes surround me. Brilliant blue Western Bluebirds call to their nesting mates from the Oaks. I bend over to harvest two crisp green beans, chewing their sweet freshness as I walk. The fertile earth grounds me.
It also feeds me. Collecting two pink Berkeley Tie Dye and three Black-from-Tula tomatoes, a basket of sweet pungent Basil, and a handful of Thyme, I go to the kitchen. As I look out the window to my garden, I slice the tomatoes sideways, layer Basil and Thyme leaves, add delicious creamy Mozzarella de Bufalo slices, and drizzle Arbequina extra-virgin olive oil over everything. Slicing and toasting our local, award-winning whole-wheat sourdough, I complete the repast. My body sighs with pleasure tasting the sweet and tart, earthy and peppery, and mingling minty, lemony, oily flavors.
Gardening has always grounded my lifelong work for justice and social change—an end to nuclear weapons, an end to war, an end to land and resource theft, an end to inequity and fear. Yet all those efforts were focused on stopping something. Now these experiences—walking the Milky Way, being with 9 billion meditators in a huge field of shared consciousness—tell me it’s possible to move away from the negative—what’s wrong—and towards what it might be possible to create. These experiences are seeds of a possible, light-filled and harmonious future.
The question of meaning, especially when I learn that the world is not projected to have a population of nine billion for another forty years—in 2037—opens a portal. How recreate these feelings of coherence and shared peace? How live in more balance? How draw on this meditation in daily life? How help humanity dream a different world into being?
My Q’ero teachers have such a vision. Their prophesy speaks of the Condor of the South and the Eagle of the North needing to come together in our times—so our hearts and minds reunite and balance. Having lived in harmony for hundreds of years, untainted by Western and colonial influences, this nation intentionally sacrificed their ancient ways of life and cosmology for the good of the whole of humanity. Many other indigenous peoples have brought forth similar prophecies—the Kogi Mamas in Columbia, the Mayan Daykeepers, the Hopi elders—about a time of great change and possibility, the end of a 56,000-year cycle.
All these wisdom keepers call us to be heart-guided people as we navigate the turning over of the world as we know it. They show us, in daily life and ceremony, in bearing and behavior, how to be reciprocal and listen to spirit. They invite us into their expanded fields of consciousness through teaching, vibration, and example. Their visions inspire and give us courage.
But it’s one thing to be inspired by the ancient wisdom keepers. It’s quite another to be gifted your own powerful visions when you are barely managing your own life, your own transformation.
Like Hansel and Gretel dropping breadcrumbs to find their way home, over time I make offerings and listen. I carve out bits of time from my working, single mom life to keep exploring and deepening my understanding of the ways of spirit. I return again and again to the Peruvian Andes to learn.I use tools from my medicine bag to release the density in my life. I seek to recover the agency I lost as a young woman in a violent and hostile man’s world, to shine my light, and to open my heart.
It takes many years, and many more messages from spirit, before I believe I have a calling and find the courage to speak it.
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