I’m a bit obsessed with teachers right now. I’m using the term loosely. Mike – my writing buddy who greets me daily to write together and share our struggles, is most definitely my teacher. My therapist is my teacher. The famous, high-priced business coach I fired for being a dick (there, I said it), is my teacher. My meditation mentor is certainly my teacher. And my psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy (PAP) guides are my teachers – one transmitting profound lessons that grow me as a person and as a therapist, the other instilling equally profound lessons about who to stay the f*%@# away from (that’s another story, coming soon). Lots of lessons these days from lots of teachers.
This week, I published the first essay in a series on mindfulness meditation. In it, I discuss how the teaching of meditation has gone awry in its Western invocation and begin to lay the groundwork of mindfully meditating in a truly healing and empowering way. I’d love to hear your thoughts about it – perhaps about what I wrote, but definitely about your own experiences with meditation.
One thing's certain: who you choose as a meditation teacher – their skillset and caliber, awareness of student triggers that can interfere, and reverence for each individual’s personal process – makes all the difference in your desire and ability to continue developing this life-altering skill.
And speaking of teachers…
I just returned from California, where my PAP quest continued. So many teachers have accompanied me on this journey – not least of which is the plant medicine itself. Plants, whether you commune with them in the wild or ingest them in a ceremony, have much to share about how to be in the world.
During this particular trip, the medicine was not cast in the starring role. It turns out that substances alone are not the only resource for life-altering epiphanies.
Many of you have come along on my wild psychedelic ride, so of course I want to share what I wrote during a hike on Saturday, pre-journey (yes, like poet-extraordinaire Mary Oliver, I do ‘write’ as I wander, thanks to the Otter transcription app). There are also lessons and reminders in this journey for us all.
So come along with me…
Once my plane landed on Saturday – two days ahead of my inner journey with PAP – I headed straight to my destination (out in the middle of nowhere) and then straight out to the trails. I hadn't hiked in this area before, and I chose an easy walk through rolling, burnt-grass hills and orchards.
Most people would look at this landscape and call it ‘dead’ – a product of too little rain, too much sun, or global warming as a whole. Instead, I find it mysterious. Inviting in its own way, but only if you dare.
Wandering around the paths – where everything begins to look the same to a city girl like me – I started to notice nuances. One tree bent toward the right, another bent toward the left. One blossoming fully, one just beginning to flower.
I saw the mystery in all of this.
I saw a tiny flower making a valiant attempt to grow all by itself, straight from a stone. And I thought “Yes, I've felt that way. I can relate.”