Each Journey is 52 days long and contains 4 parts:
- A thoughtful statement reflecting on the intention for the current Journey, “Why a Journey of…” (day 1)
- A day for declaration, commitment, and dedication (day 2)
- Forty days of contemplation and reflection (days 3-42)
- Ten days to step back, reflect, and rest, with at least one day of writing (days 43-52)
I invite you to join me for one day, a week, a month…whatever you can do. Expanding the consciousness can be in small bites…just keep taking them! I’m here. Join me when and how you can.
Here is a description of each of these:
Why a Journey of…(day “00” of each Journey)
It is important to begin each Journey with an intention. Why are you doing this? What do you expect to examine? What do you hope to gain?
Without an intention, there is no focus. This is a basic concept in goal-setting. When the intention is set at the start, it becomes the measure, the standard, for every interaction: Does this interaction live up to my standard? Does this interaction help or hinder my goal?
Here are some examples:
Declaration, Commitment, and Dedication (day “0” of each Journey)
A declaration is a statement of purpose or a clear communication about an intention. Making a declaration at the beginning of a Journey helps me to clarify why I am actually doing this. It puts a framework into my mind and reminds me of the reasons I have for wanting to expand and extend my consciousness.
But a declaration is more powerful than merely setting up reasons why something is “good”. It’s the difference between wishing or hopeful wanting and making a clear decision to accomplish something.
When a smoker wants to quit smoking, s/he may wish/want it for a very long time before committing and taking action to do it. The process may involve listing all of the reasons that breathing smoke-free air all the time would be a benefit—things like health, energy, no more coughing, etc. But it can take a long time to actually commit to the action.
The declaration sets up the commitment, which sets up the action. Declarations are powerful. The Declaration of Independence begins with the infractions of rights perpetrated by the King of Great Britain—the reasons the colonies severed the political connection with Great Britain– and ends with the actions the new “Free and Independent States” claimed as a sovereign nation.
There are different phases people can go through, different “levels” if you will, people can work with a declaration. It’s a process; after all, the Declaration of Independence arose after years of often bloody disputes with the British Government, and many smokers “quit” several times before finally managing to quit smoking.
Not everyone has a level of commitment to get through 52 days; many people have much more. Only the person making the declaration knows his or her own level of commitment, or knows what action they will actually take to make it happen. But every commitment increases the next level of commitment. So start where you are; let yourself grow into yourself naturally and gently. When I first started (in 1994) it took me over a year (starting, stopping, then starting over) to accomplish my first 40-day contemplation plan. Then it took me at least a year to recuperate and integrate before I could even try again. The next one was easier and I got through 40 days without stopping and having to restart.
I am pretty dedicated to this work, to this activity—I have spent a lot of my life evolving my commitment and my consciousness. When I make a declaration and commitment, I dig deeply and find the most “intense” part of myself that calls to me about why I do this; from that place I make my dedication.
For people not ready to commit strongly, but feel a commitment nonetheless, just go as deeply as you can at this moment, at this time.
For people who are not quite ready to commit, but know there is something they want to learn and a shift they want to make within themselves, they can simply commit to commit. This does not mean to make a commitment to this Journey, to this shift in consciousness, to anything at all now; it means committing as strongly as possible to the fact of a future commitment. The momentum of “wanting to” will carry the consciousness to be able (at some point) to make a commitment. When I have been at this “phase” of not-being-ready to commit, I have written commitments that looks something like this:
I know I am not ready now. I know that this >learning device of whatever kind< is just way too much for me to handle right now, for whatever reason. I feel overwhelmed by it. But I see the value of this, and I know I want to be able to learn what this has to teach me. I want to move in the direction this leads; I want to grow enough that I can approach this without feeling overwhelmed. I commit to myself to continue learning—slowly and gently—in such a way to lead me to my highest learning.
Finally, for people who aren’t even ready to commit to commit, the very first step is being willing to find a way to grow enough to begin to want to make changes. The word “willing” is an amazing word where this is concerned, in my opinion. It does not say “I am going to”; it does not say “I will”; it is even different than “I want to”. This word gently settles the mind into a state of acceptance—for some future use. The mind does not have to do anything now except be willing, and if someone can commit to being willing, then that lays the foundation for committing to committing, which lays the foundation for the commitment itself.
The words for this are straightforward:
“I am willing to…(fill in the blank)”.
The purpose of the dedication is to remove self interest and too much focus on “I”. The purpose of the dedication is to take that energy and intention that you feel/want for yourself and direct it to the good and benefit of all. The words can be simple, “I dedicate any good that comes of this to the benefit of all”.
Here are some examples from this Journey:
Four Rounds (days 1-40 of each Journey)
There are 10 Guiding Thoughts repeated in four rounds, for a total of 40 days.
In the first round, the subject of the Guiding Thought is “I”: I remember my Self and recognize the Love within me, the Love I Am. Simple, straightforward. This is the warm up!
In the second round, the subject of the Guiding Thought is “you”: You remember your Self and recognize the Love within you, the Love you Are. Sometimes, the “you” becomes a directive, a silent, unspoken “you”: Remember your Self and recognize the Love within you, the Love you Are.
There are basically two different ways to utilize the Guiding Thought in this round. You may think about someone saying the guiding thought to you. This person can be a friend or relative, a trusted teacher, an immortal guru, a being of light. Play with this and try different people, or let the Guiding Thought play with you, and see who shows up.
The second way to use the Guiding Thought in this round is to think about you saying the Guiding Thought to someone else. Put yourself in the place of a wise being, a trusted teacher, and give the thought away in love.
You can vary these. Go back and forth between receiving the Guiding Thought from a wise teacher, and giving the Guiding Thought as a wise teacher. See how you feel with each one; see where the Guiding Thought takes you.
In the third round, the subject of the Guiding Thought is “we”: We remember our Self and recognize the Love within us, the Love we Are.
This is the “unifying round”. I am not just I, you are not just you. We are we, together, all One. I cannot be in this by myself or for myself, only with you and for you, equal to myself. This round serves to expand your notion of “you” into this unity.
The fourth round returns to using “I”, the same as the first round. But I guarantee, you won’t experience it the same as the first round, after going through rounds 2 and 3!
Step Back, Relax, and Rest (days 41-52 of each Journey)
John Cassian, a saint in the Orthodox Christian tradition, was a late 14th, early 15th century ascetic monk. In his writings, he relayed a story of John the Evangelist, here paraphrased:
St. John the Evangelist was one day sitting quietly with a partridge in his lap, gently petting the bird. A hunter came up to him, and in an accusatory way asked how St. John, a man of high standing and repute, could be found demeaning himself with such a base amusement.
St. John looked at the hunter and his bow and asked, “You are hunting. Why do you not have your bow strung and pulled?”
The hunter replied, “If I always had my bow pulled, its tension would tire my arm, then I would not have the strength and vigor to deal a forcible blow, when I come upon prey.”
St. John replied, “Just so. This brief relaxation of my mind similarly eliminates constant tension, so that when I am called upon by Spirit to do Its bidding, I can obey.”
A 40 day Journey holds the mind in tension—the tension of being and becoming. The ten-day reprieve between Journeys is like petting a partridge. At the end of a Journey, the mind deflates; it just lets out all of the tension in one deep exhale as you return to attending to “base amusements”, so to speak. This is a time to re-accustom yourself to what life feels like when it’s not on a Journey, when you are not in that mode of constant contemplation, heightened awareness, and always attuned to connections, alignments, and congruencies (or inconsistencies).
During this time, take one day to reflect on your recent Journey, and write whatever comes to you. It’s also okay to take longer than 10 days! Remember, it took me a year to recuperate the first time I finished 40 days!
Here are some examples: