A Path of Heart
While I write this I am at home providing telehealth for my clients through my Psychotherapy practice. It is a frightening time for so many, everything that was taken for granted has changed in what seems like an instant. It is also a time to pause and determine new priorities, to look at what has needed to change and what truly is the best or highest good for people and society in general. For me, it has been a time for self-evaluation. In many ways, I welcome this opportunity.
This past year I was diagnosed with breast cancer, had surgery and treatment, and I am doing well overall. I am working to stay healthy through this in mind- body-spirit and taking seriously all the recommended precautions to stay safe. At times, as probably most have, I have felt fear, grief, anger. However, looking at the “big picture,” I now see this as a necessary break for the whole world. Noteworthy is the fact that this experience, through which we are living, was predicted by various indigenous cultures. A connection with Earth and Nature is helping me along the way.
I embarked on my experiential journey in Earth Spirituality and the Medicine Wheel teachings in 1994 with a mentor who is an intuitive and an artist. She resided in Connecticut at that time but had lived in many places in the West and the South. I had not understood at that time the impact her teachings would have on my life. At that time, I had been a social worker for about 20 years in various state agencies. I was stressed, depressed and physically exhausted. That year, I had lost my grandmother and I had also lost a significant relationship. I was searching for a deeper meaning for life and my life at that time was very dark.
I started work with my mentor in the fall with medicine walks. Simple enough, a medicine walk is a walk with mindfulness and a deep awareness in the moment. Immediately, I noticed how brilliant the fall leaves appeared to me. Up until then I had not really “seen” them. Over time with various experiences with her teachings, I deeply connected with the Earth and found a peace which I had never experienced. I learned to find medicine objects – feathers, rocks, plants that seemed to give me direction. My mentor directed me to stay away from reading books and to stay out of my head. She encouraged me to feel the lessons the Earth was sharing intuitively.
Looking at the lessons from this point, I placed myself in the mantle of the Earth (Gaia). I experienced Medicine Wheel Ceremonies, Bear Medicine and worked intensively preparing to embark on a quest for a vision in the spring in 1995 in Colorado. The experience was life changing, I opened to realms I had not known existed. I have since experienced 3 more vision quests during the following years in New Mexico and in Connecticut. They have all shaped my life in ways I would never have imagined.
Each Medicine Wheel Ceremony, each Medicine Walk, each Vision Quest has brought me closer to Nature, Earth, Gaia. One can heal on this journey and through this, importantly, one can assist in healing the Earth. For me, these teachings and experiences have become a life-long quest. I continued to learn many profound lessons while residing in New Mexico from 1998 until 2006. The energy in the high desert in New Mexico is electric and intense on many levels. I was re-formed and re-molded in the fiery kiln of the Southwest. I faced many personal challenges and learned to face the shadow within, the part of me that could be self-destructive. I survived having little money, being the last hired and first fired when layoffs happened. I lived alone and missed my family in Connecticut as well. The journey was not an easy one, but it filled my Spirit.
While in New Mexico for one of my social work jobs, I had the great honor of serving Native American populations. The people were grounded and so much a part of the land. Those who I met were respectful and grateful for the services provided. I felt so many commonalities with them. They valued respect and care for their elders, held respect for the land, recognized and honored the cycles of nature, understood that their youth are their future and even included their young people in planning meetings. Most had some type of creative outlet and understood how vital creativity is for one’s life. Even through genocide, substance abuse, poverty and all that goes along with poverty, there is a palpable strength in the people which I admired and for which I have reverence. Their path is truly a Path of Heart.
As previously stated, many indigenous teachings have foretold an awakening on our Earth. Foretold was that this will be a great cleansing, a challenge for all that will lead us to a new age. A new beginning where collaboration, cooperation and the heart will reign. I feel that time is here. The New Earth is birthing. We now have an opportunity to reconnect with the Earth and with each other in a new way, with ONE HEART.
As I write this, we are in early springtime. In spite of the coronavirus or maybe along with it, we can take the time to reconnect with nature. The birds are nesting and singing and the plants and flowers are revealing themselves once again, waking up from their winter sleep. The green is starting to appear on the land. Turn off your phones, turn off the television and reconnect with the Earth. Practice mindfulness and be in the moment. Feel the gentle breezes and warm sun. The Earth is there, waiting for you. If you are still and quiet, you may even hear the breath of Gaia as the sun sets at dusk and you might even feel the beating of her Heart, reaching out to yours. She invites you to take the Path of Heart.
Janice Juliano, MSW, LCSW is the founder and director of the Vision of The Red Barn in Durham. She has 45 years of experience in the field of casework, social work, child welfare and psychotherapy. She is offering experiential learning for developing a deeper connection with the Earth – Medicine Wheel Teachings and Ceremony. She is providing these with reverence for the teachings she has experienced and received. She is the Director of the Art Center for The Red Barn where many classes will be available for creativity to be explored. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: www.theredbarnindurham.com for class listings.