Vision Quest

American Indians lived with a foot in two worlds. They were hunters, warriors, farmers and gatherers that knew how to live in the wilderness. And they also depended on the assistance of various forces or beings for their survival. This relationship added so much depth and dimension to their lives. Some individuals developed various gifts or powers as they allowed these forces to work through them.

Indigenous peoples gained access to these forces through ritual practices. These practices developed over time and varied from one cultural group to the next. Native Americans of many tribes have for centuries gone out alone into the mountains to fast with out food or water for days. This experience is referred to by many as the vision quest.

The accounts that I heard of the vision quest fascinated me as an adolescent. Some of the elders among the Kiowa tribe would tell me stories about people who went out to fast in the mountains. And they told me that the spirits would often come to these individuals and offer them some kind of gift. When this happens the person might receive some kind of power that would allow them to facilitate the healing of specific types of conditions. There were many different kinds of powers. Some individuals had gifts that enabled them to bring the rain or change the course of a tornado. Others had a form of protection that prevented them from being wounded or killed in battle.

I sat listening for hours as one of my elderly friends told me stories about the vision quest and I felt so strongly that this is what I needed to do. Before long I began to apprentice with Horace Daukei, the last surviving traditional doctor among the Kiowa Tribe. Horace initially took me out to fast in a remote area of Southwestern Colorado. He intensified the process by having me go through the sweat lodge numerous times during the fast. Many of the native doctors possessed paranormal abilities. Horace would sometimes take various objects such as the end of a feather and physically project it into my body. I felt a very strong force impacting me in the middle of my chest. And sometimes I would go unconscious for a brief instant. Afterwards, I felt this power moving through my body. Traditional doctors among the Kiowa passed their gifts on to their apprentices in this way.

Kiowa elders often told me stories about these healing gifts and how they were passed down from one generation to the next. American Indians often refer to these gifts or powers as “medicine”. There were many individuals within the tribes who carried this medicine. The traditional doctors were very selective. They usually chose their apprentice(s) in the latter part of their life. Some specific powers or healing gifts were carried within families. Certain kinds of power or medicine were passed down through one individual at a time over hundreds of years.

The elders told me on many occasions that you have to go through the vision quest to earn the right to work with this power. And then they went on to say this is the only way you could use this power appropriately.

Some of the native doctors go through the vision quests many times in their lives. Their connection to the source grows stronger and they become much more powerful. And they often receive other kinds of gifts or powers to help themselves and others.

Healers of indigenous cultures throughout the world relied upon the assistance of various beings or powers which were able to facilitate specific aspects of healing that are not otherwise possible. Many distinct beings with their own specific purpose can work through one individual doctor. These individual beings or “helper spirits” as they were referred to by the elders, will then come forward to assist when their own unique gifts or services are required.

Healers among the Native American tribes are referred to as doctors. These doctors possessed many different kinds of healing powers. Native doctors had their own areas of specialization and were known for their ability to assist people with specific conditions. Some specialized in assisting people with neurological disorders, while others may work primarily with respiratory or circulatory conditions. Some of the doctors had a kind of power that enabled them to close open wounds sustained in battle in a matter of minutes.

Most native people went through the vision quest, participated in the sun dance or other rituals in times past. These practices were just a normal part of daily life. But the influences of our modern society have pulled many people away from their traditional culture. Many of these practices are dieing out, and other practices are now completely lost.

People have often asked me why it’s necessary to go without water. Native elders have said that these beings are here to help people. They recognize the sacrifice a person is making and it causes these beings to feel compassion. The spirits then offer their gifts to those who make this sacrifice.

The suffering can be intense at times. You’re hungry and thirsty. Depending on the time of the year, the temperature can range from very hot to extremely cold. Sometimes it’s raining. And the winds are often very strong. That will often kick up all the pollen and dust which can cause your eyes to burn and make it difficult to breathe. And then you sometimes get eaten up in the warmer months when the mosquitoes and chiggers on a feeding frenzy.

I use to have a very vague sense of what I wanted and life often felt very hard. People and the world seemed more intimidating and I didn’t feel I had the strength to make it. All of that has changed. Going through the vision quest brought me into my body. I feel much more solid, like I have steel inside of me and that makes it easier for me to be assertive and deal with the challenges that I encounter in life. I’m much more present in this world. And that’s helped me to embrace life. I’m much clearer about what I want. And I have a lot more power to get things done. It also creates a sense of urgency that compels me to go after what I want. That’s made it much easier for me to do the things that are necessary to get out and reach people. And I continue to develop my work, do intensive training in martial arts with a Chinese Master and I travel around the world and do so much more of what I want to do in my life.

I wanted a companion for so much of my life. I went through a few destructive relationships. But for the most part I just wasn’t able to attract a good match. All the pain and confusion on the inside caused me to put out the wrong signals. It always felt like something was in the way. And I often felt powerless to do anything about it. That part of my life just wasn’t working, which was very painful for me.

I go in and out of altered states when I’m on the mountain. Sometimes I feel these beings working within my body and mind. It often causes me to relive many of the hurtful experiences that I’ve gone through. So many thoughts, feelings and images flood through my awareness. I’m also aware that I’m accessing many thoughts and feelings that had never registered in my conscious awareness at the time of the event. The process can sometimes intensify and begin to feel like a near death experience as all the images and feelings flash rapidly through my awareness. And then I start to see and feel how all these pieces fit together and the way they have shaped my life. This has enabled me to neutralize and digest much of the hurt from the past.

All of those patterns were somehow hardwired in my body and mind. I kept attracting the same kinds of experiences and going through the same emotional reactions. That drove me further into a rut by reinforcing the same patterns.

I’ve gone to the mountain many times now. These beings have helped me to digest the hurts of the past. They then reformatted the old patterns that were hardwired into me. In its place they build entirely new models. And in the process they create a new foundation for me.

It’s so freeing to clear all that baggage. And I feel much lighter after I come down from the mountain. I usually recognize the changes over the coming weeks and months. I don’t feel so anxious or traumatized like I did in the past. The feelings of starvation and of having this terrible void within are gone. It’s really nice to have someone in my life, but it doesn’t matter so much. I don’t need someone to fill the void because I feel much more connected to my source. That gives me a greater sense of wellbeing and I’m really enjoying myself.

I feel very different inside. My life is not perfect, but I’m actually comfortable with myself now and I know I have so much to offer. The changes I’ve gone through have made me more attractive so I’m attracting more of what I want into my life.

Our vision is distorted when we’re caught in the tangle of distorted patterns, the backlog of heavy emotion and drama. Those filters color every facet of life. Clearing up all those distorted patterns, the backlog of heavy emotion and drama has opened my vision, so that I’m more conscious of how I move through life. It also causes people and life to become more transparent.

My senses have opened up and become much more vivid. It’s made it possible for me to sense into people. I can feel their aura and the quality of their energy. I picked up on a lot of their thoughts, emotions and I see the patterns they enact in their lives.

All the processes of the body and mind function better. My mind continues to develop. I’m learning faster, my memory has improved. And then I’m digesting emotions and resolving issues with greater ease. My body feels cleaner and I’m physically stronger. It’s given me a lot more physical energy. Sometimes it’s difficult to sit still, because I have this force inside that wants to move. And I notice that it brings back much of the spark or enthusiasm I experienced for life in my late teens and twenties.

I face so many challenges during the course of a year. I do a lot of work with my own internal processes, but there’s just so much to deal with, and then there’s the wear and tear that goes with travel and not getting enough rest. I start to feel weighed down by the stress at times. And then I feel like I need a vacation.

I look through people’s auras on a daily basis I find that none of us are fully capable of processing all the daily stress of life on our own. Daily stress accumulates in our body and mind. That wears on us and we ossify or shut down as we get older. I go into the process thinking that I had really dealt with certain these issues. But I’m always amazed at the stuff that comes out of me while I’m on the mountain. So much of this stress is digested while I’m on the mountain and I feel that I’ve gone through this massive catharsis and I feel deeply cleansed afterwards.

I’ve had numerous visionary experiences on the mountain. I rarely talk about these experiences. I may share a few things with some of my close friends. Various beings come to me while I’m on the mountain. And at times I feel them come into my body. The power can be very intense. It sometimes causes me to feel like I want to jump out of my skin and my body starts thrashing. Then there are other times when their presence feels very comforting. I feel very safe and comfortable with these beings. I’ve always had good experiences and there’s a trust that has developed in the relationship over time. These same beings come through to assist the people I work with during the healing sessions.

I can see for miles when I’m on top of the mountain. The plain stretches out below in all directions. And there are other mountains off in the distance. I struggle at times with the hunger and thirst. But that passes and I have a feeling of being very much at home. For me, it’s an experience of being connected to something so vast. And there are those moments in the stillness of the night that feel eternal.

I love the feeling right after coming off the mountain. I usually take another four days to rest and allow myself to integrate what’s happened. I sleep very deeply and it feels wonderful. And my dreams are so vivid. I feel so much power running through me and that sometimes causes me to feel as if I’m bouncing off the walls. I have at times eaten like a vacuum cleaner with teeth. The ravenous appetite and agitation occur when my defensive armor dissolves and I begin to experience layers of uncomfortable emotion that have been held within my body-mind. But I’ve learned to still myself and just breathe into the underlying sense of agitation. Consciously working with the process in this way helps me to get more out of it.

One of my friends in Boston has gone through the vision quest a number of times. He initially started out as a client, and we later became friends. We had been working together for about eighteen months before he went on his first vision quest. My friend did really well while he was on the mountain. However, he felt totally overwhelmed for the first month afterwards because the power was so intense. He seemed to be coming unglued for a few weeks because it brought up so many strong emotions.

My friend then had a very serious asthmatic reaction after his second time on the mountain. Both his asthma and cat allergies disappeared sometime later as he continued to do healing sessions and go to the mountain.

I feel the vision quest would be too intense for most people. So I don’t often recommend it. Just going without food and water for four days can be very difficult. Some people can work up to it. You do have to be in very good physical, mental and emotional health.

One of the things that I feel excited about is that I see many clients experiencing many of the same benefits. I’ll experience specific changes after I come off the mountain and then I see people I work with experiencing these same kinds of changes.

The changes I’ve experienced have taken place over time. I’ve been going to the mountain for twice a year for a long time now. Sometimes I’ve doubted the process and I didn’t know if I was getting anywhere. But I was persistent and the effort continues to pay off. The suffering has been hellish at times, but time passes and the rewards are by far worth it.

We can heal and grow in ways far beyond what most of us have ever imagined. I’m always curious and excited about the changes taking place. And I wonder how much more is possible. I never know what’s going to happen ahead of time. It’s always a surprise as I find parts of me that were shut down emerging and developing. I find myself continually developing new resources and capabilities. And every visit to the mountain takes me another step further.