Nothing Else

“In here, there was nothing else to do. I could only be.”


What a statement! I could only be.

This past weekend, I witnessed a traditional Native American fasting ceremony. This practice sends a seeker, one who is looking for Spiritual direction, into a secluded space for 24 to 96 hours. For this young man, he spent 24 hours in a sweat lodge without food and water. We were outside the lodge in prayer and support. The journey was his.

Imagine yourself in an 18 foot circular dome with kneeling room only. It is warm and dark. You are alone yet secure with people outside if needed.

When the allotted time was complete, he shared “I had nothing to do in here. I could only be”.

I have witnessed and participated in Christian retreats offering silence and time for deep reflection. Our Himalayan Institute offers similar opportunities. Our yogic practice encourages vairagya, non-attachment. I truly believe that my young friend was given an opportunity for vairagya.

Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, in The Secret of the Yoga Sutra on page 69, states that “He (Patanjali) also advises us to avoid anything that engenders fear and greed, for this becomes the ground for deep-seated inner agitation.”

Question: Given the global and national turmoil over the past two weeks, are you experiencing any agitation?

Over the past weeks, the writings of Richard Rohr have emphasized our need to come to know our true selves. We often speak of knowing ourselves as pure, infinite and Divine. My friend described his first experience of being. The Twelve Step program offers a transformation from loss of control in the unmanageable life of addiction through the character defects that obstruct our sobriety. Is this all not the same journey?

I am coming to know each of these experiences, Native American, Christian and Yoga, as guides toward the same truth. That truth is self.

In this truth, we come to know the truth of our purpose, our relationships, and our sources of peace and love beyond the agitations of family, community and politics. Yet, at the same time we are free to experience these realities: manageable fear and agitation, purposeful pain, and peaceful results of our daily practices of truth.

The young man who shared the above statement also shared a deep sense of connection and belonging. His connection was to those of us physically present to support him, visions of both known and unknown individuals seen in his dreams, and to his Mother Earth.

Well, as he spoke, my soul was fully engaged in a wonderful happy dance.

He experienced in his first year of sobriety what has taken me over a decade to fully appreciate: We are all connected!

We can say:


Adenawaymagen (Ojibway)

Mitakoye asin (Lakota)

We are all related (English)

Regardless of the language, the truth does not change.

The turmoil of life will continue to offer intense pain and fear. Yet, we have each other as the evidence of our Purity, Infinity, and Divinity. Oh, what a relief we are to each other.


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