Guest post by Tina Berger
The abundance of life in places like Death Valley never ceases to amaze me. I love the things that grow in the desert. Sometimes they look like strange and delicate alien creatures growing out of deep cracks in the dry surface. Sometimes they look like coyotes. Sometimes they look like me.
If you had known me at the time of my first Vision Fast, you would have found it a very odd choice. I was running a consulting company that provided services to the biggest oil and gas companies in the world, and I had been working an average of 50-60 hours a week for over five years. My decision to go do this thing was met with lots of questions and quite a few confused looks. I found myself unable to completely answer the question of why I wanted to do a Vision Fast. Really? I—who had been a workaholic for most of the last 10 years and had never taken more than 5 days off in a row—was suddenly taking 2 weeks to go to Death Valley to participate in a modern rite of passage? I would be fasting from food and camping alone for 4 days? Who does this? Who even made this up?
I had learned of Vision Fast ceremonies through the Ecopsychology class I was taking though Naropa University. (Even though I have spent much of my adult life doing corporate work, I have always been drawn to study diverse perspectives on who we are and how we are connected.) I had read about the founders of The School of Lost Borders and had met a couple of the guides in my classes. I knew I would be in good hands, but I really didn’t understand my craving for this experience. What I did know was this:
I needed to change things. And I needed to change them in a big way.
I was not happy with the lack of balance in my life. And that lack had been bothering me for a very long time. A diehard optimist, I kept telling myself that things were about to change…something would open up…the small changes I was making would eventually hit a critical mass, a shift would happen, and I would have the time and space to do more of the things I cared about. But that pattern of thinking had been a part of my mindset for years. I was tired. I felt trapped by what I perceived to be my practical limitations and the weight of my responsibilities. And I was beginning to lose hope. In retrospect, I see that the Vision Fast was my hopeful higher self, my spirit, giving me the permission I needed to turn this train off the rails and see where I ended up. And, oh my god, I am loving this wildass, rail-less trip.
3 years later, I am working a reasonable schedule, doing work I love, dancing more frequently, and doing unexpected, playful things with my family. Having now completed 3 years of training with The School of Lost Borders, some of my most inspiring work now involves guiding others on Vision Fasts. Last month, I worked with a teen recovery program to guide a group of 19 and 20-year olds on a 3-day Vision Fast in Big Bend to mark their completion of the program and their healthy transition into adulthood. I was deeply honored to be a part of their process, to witness and reflect them as they refined their intentions and prepared for their solo time, to see the peace and joy on their faces as they returned after three days spent alone in nature, and to hear their stories of the hawks and the stars and the dreams that came to them. It is always beautiful like this.
I have collected many personal development tools over the years. So far, the Vision Fast is both the most powerful and the most magic of them all. The surprises that people discover when they are left with only themselves and the natural environment for company inspire and fill me with gratitude. In May, I will be co-guiding the Women’s Vision Fast with The School of Lost Borders. As of today, there are still 2 slots available. So if, from some inexplicably excited part of yourself, you feel a tingly feeling of recognition… I encourage you to consider joining us. Click here for more details.
I am also collaborating with Hopeful World to bring you an online class later this year, so sign up here to receive updates.
photo by Praveen Mantena