I attended a four-day retreat, Warrior Monk, before the holidays, with the goal of achieving greater clarity, courage and commitment in following my heart. The workshop "welcomes those in transition and those seeking their next level of authentic growth, healing and spiritual connection," and includes a combination of meditation, poetry reading and writing, chanting, singing and dancing, all designed to encourage mindfulness and intentionality. There were daily opportunities for stretching: physically (a 5-step Tibetan rite sequence), mentally (paradox-embracing and reality-creation exercises, reminding me of the movie What the Bleep), emotionally (consistent focus on identifying, feeling and working with the four basic emotions: joy, anger, fear, sadness) and spiritually (incorporating elements of a variety of spiritual traditions). As with the New Warrior Training Adventure, it was a wonderful opportunity to form strong bonds with great men, and I benefited as much (if not more) from the work other men did as from the work I did ... though as I write this, I realize I'm not as willing to make as much of a distinction between my work and their work -- or indeed, between me and them -- as I was before the retreat.
Among the outcomes from the weekend were the new articulation of a personal mission statement ("I create a world of harmony and love by helping people relate to one another", supplanting, or perhaps augmenting, the mission statement I articulated during NWTA in April 2002: "I follow my heart at all times"), a new shadow mission statement ("I create a world of fragmentation and fear by isolating myself from others"), and a new daily spiritual practice (20 minutes of yoga, 20 minutes of meditation, and an invitation to the energies of the four directions).
In the East (direction of the Lover, Player, Coyote; element of Water): I invite the sacred energies of mature Love and Pleasure; may they flow through me this day.
In the South (direction of the Warrior, Protector, Provider; element of Fire): I invite the sacred energies of healthy Power and Control; may they flow through me this day.
In the West (direction of the King, Queen, Leader; element of Earth): I invite the sacred energies of Order and Virtue; may they flow through me this day.
In the North (direction of the Elder, Sage, Shaman; element of Air): I invite the sacred energies of Wisdom, Joy and Release; may they flow through me this day.
I also adopted a new animal name ("Powerful, Worthy Dragon"), which I find increasingly energizing. Dragons have been appearing synchronistically for me in a variety of forms and media for the past several months, e.g., in "The Artist's Way at Work: Riding the Dragon", which I reread during a recent Artist's Way workshop series, and "Eragon", which I read with my son. When I attended the Best of the Northwest craft show in Sand Point Magnuson Park in November, I went with the sole (soul?) intention of finding an inspiring dragon-related artifact, and bought a dragon figure, crafted by Sally Wilson of Earthwing Pottery, without any clear idea of where to place it or how to use it. We were instructed to bring a "sacred object" to the retreat, so I chose this dragon, and it has since become my [non-fire] "breathing dragon", a meditation companion who reminds me to return to my breath during my daily practice.