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The Fire That Keeps the Lesson of Learning to “Just Be” From Being Lost

candle-flameI followed my hearts call last year and attended a 2-week shamanic training program. My grandma had left me a little bit of money when she passed away a few years ago and I had been sitting on it, waiting to use it on something that was meaningful that I probably wouldn’t otherwise have spent my money on. When this opportunity presented itself to me I knew it was how I was going to spend it. I left my husband, 3 kids, 2 dogs, 1 cat and my business to learn about ancient medicine and spiritual healing. I had no idea what I was in store for, or that the most important lesson I was to learn was not what I had imagined it would be.

For most of us, it seems as though life is an endless stream of to-dos. The days pass and we find ourselves in a constant state of busyness. I knew my life was busy, but I had NO idea just hard of a time I was going to have learning how to slow down. Our days at the shamanic program consisted of 6 hours of training that took place between 10 am-noon, 4-6 pm and 8-10 pm. 6 hours isn’t a small amount of time, but oh my gosh! Do you also see all of those free hours in between?! Hours in which no one, and I mean no one, needed me! During those free hours I ate delicious organic meals, gathered together and had meandering conversations with wonderful people, took time to myself, read, walked the local rolling hills, slept, or did really whatever my heart called me to do. What I didn’t do however was get into my car, check my email or get on the internet, cook, clean, or attend to any of the things that make up my daily life in what we affectionately came to call “ordinary reality”. It was magical, blissful, peaceful and HARD! Really fucking HARD! At least at first. The first few days I was a mess, torn up over feelings of guilt – how selfish was I to be there and how could I possibly justify this peaceful “extravagance”?! I should be accomplishing more, learning more, getting more done. The amazing people who would become my friends listened patiently, provided insight and advice, but most importantly they let me experience my uncomfortable feelings.

Sometime around day 3 or 4 I got it. I got that the downtime was just as important as the “learning” time. I got that learning how to “just be” was as important as anything else that I would learn while I was there. Once that happened, the beauty of the time I had there really sank in and I cherished each and every moment. Those same friends who had listened, who had been where I was at some other point in their lives then smiled knowingly, not needing to say anything for there was nothing to say.

As the time to head back home neared I knew that the challenge which lay before me was to try to maintain some sense of the peace, quiet, and time to just “be” that I had come know was so essential in life. You can learn all of these great tools and it’s super easy to apply them when you’re in an environment such as the one I was in, but life is lived at home, with family, with soccer, bills, dust, happy times, sad times, excitement, disappointments, and all of the other messy, glorious, frustrating pieces that add up to a fulfilled life. A fulfilled life that is, if you don’t let all those things fill in everything so much that you miss the point of it all.

It’s been almost a year now, and as with anything there are ebbs and flows. Times it seems easier and times it seems harder. I can’t pretend that I maintain it all of the time because I don’t. But, that’s okay. It’s okay because I try. For me, that’s enough and it feels good to know that I can give myself some slack, and then pick up the pieces when they fall and put them back together again.

One of the most valuable tools that I’ve learned through this process is the beauty of ritual. A daily practice of taking time to honor life, the ups and downs, successes and failures, to think about these things, or to think of nothing at all. Ritual is something long forgotten is the US culture. We’ve become so busy and along the way we’ve simply forgotten the power of it. The beauty is that it doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and yet the benefits are hugely rewarding. There are so many different ways to incorporate a small ritual into your daily life, from sitting outside on the grass with your face to the sun for 5 minutes, to drinking a cup of tea quietly by yourself without your phone, a book or something to distract you from yourself. My favorite though is a daily fire ceremony.

The element of fire has been held sacred throughout time and across cultures. Fire ceremonies have been an ancient healing shamanic practice used to cleanse, to honor what has been, to release what no longer serves, and to allow for growth through transformation of all of that.  Fire is light, it is heat, it is what burns inside of each and every life. Traditionally, fire ceremonies are held at certain times of the year and in larger groups. For me, a simple fire ceremony at home each day where I light a candle, take a moment to be grateful for life, to think of what worked for me that day and what didn’t, and to release those things to make room for tomorrow where I can start once again.  A ritual to learn, grow and transform through a little bit of death and rebirth each day has not only been grounding, but also a key in keeping me connected and able to soak in and enjoy this experience of life. It may be small, the flames of a single candle, but through its ability to keep my lessons from being lost, its impact is huge.  Never again will I look at the flicker of a “small” flame and not be grateful to the tremendous power that lies within.




  1. Good for you to allow space away from your family to nurture your spirit.

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