I awoke to the sound of Steve beating the drum at daybreak which was the sign to leave basecamp and head out to our circle. Foolishly I hadn’t packed properly the night before I went to sleep so I was frantically trying to pack everything last minute in a rush under the light of my headtorch. I finally packed my pack and had to re-check again to make sure I had everything. I was one of the last to leave basecamp and as I did, I accidentally knocked over a tent peg keeping my tent up. I hurriedly fixed it up but was doubtful that it would last with the rain. The 4 protectors were sitting next to the fire in the Gunya and I nodded to them, acknowledging that I was ready to head off. I only got about 20 metres away and then realised that I needed to tell Steve to fix my tent peg again otherwise I was convinced that my tent would flood. I ran back and did so and felt better for making sure I voiced my concern. I set off feeling nervous and excited as I walked slowly along the dirt track savouring in the final feeling of freedom of walking as I headed towards my site.
I took my time walking the approx. 750m walk from the basecamp up the hill along the path to where my site was located. At this stage it was lightly raining so it didn’t feel too bad taking my time and really seeing all the sites for the first time. I got down to my site and put my bag under the tarp and got my first rock and walked back up to the marker box on the track to place it in signifying the beginning of the quest. Over the 4 days, each morning at first light, we had to place a chosen rock inside a marker box made of sticks which was located on the main track as a way of showing the protectors that we were ok and safe. The protectors walked the track in the morning and afternoon and our marker boxes were also a place where we could leave any notes for questions or concerns or if we needed anything and we could find them here at the next patrol time. After I placed the rock in the box, I savoured the views from up on the ridge and then made the descent back down to my site. My site was probably about a 50m walk down a steep hill from the main path and was hidden by trees and scrub.
As I stood before my site marvelling in the scene of it all, the Box trees that I was habiting underneath, the smaller trees surrounding me, the sound of the birds in the trees near me, I asked the land for permission to be there and if I was ok to quest there. I asked Mother Nature to hold me and softly guide me, allowing me to have this epic experience. As I stood there in marvel at Mother Nature, in silence and simplicity, I asked my Spirit Guides for protection, I asked the Aboriginal Elders for protection and safety and gave thanks for their innate wisdom. Just as I had finished doing this, I felt the presence of 2 warrior Aboriginal men standing on the border of my circle dressed in loincloth holding spears and felt the hairs on my arms and back stand up with their presence. I said a soft thankyou to them and felt held and safe in my space. I then put up a Reiki energy bubble protecting myself from any negative energies or entities that wanted to come and inhabit with me as I knew that me being there would be an opening into another realm and one that I would have to protect myself from.
Shortly after doing this type of ‘opening ceremony’ for myself, it started to rain heavily, so I climbed under my tarp and lay down on top of my swag and this was where I mostly stayed for the first 2 days. It was when I was listening to the rain under the protection of my tarp that I remembered the Ancestor oracle card I had pulled on the morning before coming out to quest. I got the card of the ancient water people who lived on the water. At the time I just interpreted it as that I’d be drinking a lot of water, but I think in fact it meant that it would be raining a lot and I laughed at this realisation.
To be honest, those 4 days both flew by and dragged on for eternity. People ask me what I did exactly, and I can’t even tell you. I just got so lost in my thoughts some days, other days, I got so lost in the beauty of nature around me.
That first day was more of a getting used to everything feeling and the experience was still a novelty. I found 2 big sticks to prop up my tarp so I had a bit of breathing space under there and so that the rain would roll off and not pool and sag. As I was laying on my swag under the safety of the tarp with the rain pelting down, I was looking at the 2 big sticks and decided to name them- Balfazar and Gandalf. Both names just appeared in my consciousness as I looked at them and they both seemed to take on personalities relating to their names. Gandalf was this big, thick, burley stick and seemed to have this wisdom from a very old man, he was the taller stick and seemed to be supporting the tarp structure and keeping me dry and safe, so I looked up to him for help. Balfazar’s energy felt more like a Greek god as he had a prong (like Poseidon’s trident) and I used him to hang my clothes and hat off and he felt very practical and useful.
I drank a few mouthfuls of the water I had been given and found it surprisingly difficult to drink. I found that it tasted like plastic and dreaded my next sip. I decided to write a note to the protectors asking if they could please change the water to the same ones we were drinking at base camp (rainwater which I loved). I carried the 10L bottle back up to the marker box with my note knowing that they would be around in the afternoon to change it over for me. I later found out that that water was the finest reverse-osmosis filtered water… I just didn’t like it.
I drifted in and out of napping listening to the rain as I was cosy and warm in my swag with my fluffy blanket and comfy pillow. It was these short little micro-naps that I had the most lucid dreams and would wake up and not know what reality I was in. I woke up at whatever time (I had no watch for 4 days) and noticed a little spider in the hollow of the box tree starting to weave a web, so I got up and sat in front of it and watched it for what seemed like hours. This little spider all on his own was weaving his web so frantically in front of me and it was one of the most fascinating things I have ever watched. Watching the silk coming out of his abdomen as he moved his little legs back and forth at lightening speed was mesmerising. I would just watch closely and then before long ‘voila’ you had a perfectly crafted geometrically shaped spider’s web! It was amazing! However, the little guy kept going back and destroying the web to do it again! I couldn’t understand why, the web was perfect! Not a blemish seen by my naked eye, yet he did it over and over again! Steve had told us that nature is often a reflection of something within our unconscious that we haven’t seen yet. It was in that moment that the idea of perfectionism dropped in… where in my life had I been overdoing things with this perception that it had to be perfect? I mean, here was this amazing little creature creating a web repeatedly all just to get it perfectly right so he could catch some food more efficiently! Nature really is our greatest teacher and that spider taught me so much about myself that I will forever be grateful to it. Whenever I go through life now thinking things must be perfect, I remember that little spider and think how crazy he was for doing it again and again when it was already perfect the first time.
So, there was lesson #1, just dropped into my lap without me even needing to go search for it, Fuck I love this stuff!
In what seemed like the afternoon (my tummy was rumbling) it stopped raining for a moment, so I took the opportunity to sit outside of my tarp. I squatted on the ground and just watched all the insects going about their business. There were lots of centipedes, ants, spiders & caterpillars just cruising around doing insect stuff. It was fascinating just watching them all as they just walk around and bump into stuff and then go back the other way. I started to think of them like people in a busy city scurrying off to work to go provide for their families. All they were missing was just the briefcase and the phone. After a while of really watching them walk around in circles I started to question the meaning of their existence… why the fuck did they exist if they had no direction or purpose? (Well, my human ignorance thought they had no purpose).
And Boom! In comes lesson #2 from Mother Nature. Ha-Ha Elodie, I could say the same about your existence, what the fuck is the point of it all when all we do is eat, sleep, shit, breed (potentially) and die (like insects ultimately). This got me thinking existential thoughts about the meaning of my life and why I am alive and what my purpose is. After a while of contemplating this, I came up with the conclusion that the whole point of life is just to Be and that in fact, there is no point, but humans like to think that they have purpose so that they have hope and live on. Meh, it was the best I could come up with on my own without bouncing my ideas and theories off anyone else. I felt the rain on my back as it woke me out of my trance thought state which I was probably in for at least an hour- “at least that’s an hour killed, I thought”. Back under the tarp to continue my Being then…
I drifted in and out of sleep to the rain on the tarp and in the afternoon my tummy was grumbly. I placed my hands on my belly and closed my eyes and just talked to my body, I reassured it that we were going to be ok with not eating and that we would be there for each other every step of the way. I imagined myself making it to the last day walking back into base camp and having that first cup of miso soup and the feelings and emotions that that would evoke. My body agreed with me that we would last till then and from that first day on I think I had a better connection than I’d ever had with my body.
It stopped raining again for a moment, so I took the chance to venture out of my tarp again. I sat down on my mat on the ground and for the first time that day the reality of what I was doing sank in. The weight of that reality was HEAVY. It was as if I had been denying to myself the severity of what I was doing. I think I was actually insane. I started crying, hard. The type of crying you do mostly when you’re a kid. Loud sobbing cries and wailing. I didn’t even know what I was crying about but all I knew was that it needed to come out. I sat there on the ground wailing for probably about 30 minutes, snot and tears going everywhere. I cried for myself, I cried for my friends and family, I cried for the whole of humanity. Weighted tears of fear, anger, resentment, rage, jealousy, regret, anxiety, sadness, sorrow & guilt poured out. Shit I didn’t know was inside of me. And boy, did it feel fucking great!
After the tears had subsided a bit and I was looking at the blurry trees, an overwhelming feeling of gratitude suddenly dropped in. Gratitude for everything in my life, everything I have and don’t yet have, everything I am and aren’t yet. I especially felt DEEP gratitude for my Mum, all that she had done for me growing up, sacrificing her needs, desires, and time to give unconditionally to my brother and me. I went back through my timeline from when I was 1 year old to now, like fast forwarding a movie of my life. I was starting to see it from the eyes of an adult version of me, no longer the child in our relationship, I felt like I wasn’t the receiver of said actions, but merely the one who was witnessing them objectively. Being the same age now as my mum when she had me, I could understand, really understand stuff that had happened. Understand it from an adult’s perspective, no longer the victim in the narrative of my story but the one who had experienced it and moved on with her life, and it felt fucking liberating! I then moved onto all my family, my dad, my stepdad, my grandma, my brothers and sisters. Deep gratitude for them, for being a part of our family, for having our wonderful upbringing. I cried and cried even more but they were tears of happiness and joy now, not deep sorrow.
After the tears had petered out, I suddenly had the feeling that I needed to connect on a deeper layer to my ancestors. Intuitively, I sat there grounding and protecting my energy as I called in my grandparents from both sides, both alive and deceased. My grandmothers who are still alive popped in quite quickly and I sent them love and acknowledgement for teaching me their maternal ways. My grandfathers on both sides (both deceased) popped in after some time of me asking to connect to them. It’s funny when I do this as straight away my ego mind thinks ‘you’re crazy and you’re making this up’. But then I just observe the self-judgement and continue with it anyway. I always know it’s working as I get a sudden overwhelming feeling of love drop in and all the hairs on my body stand up and I get shivers and I see white and purple light behind my closed eyes. The grandfathers visited me and just sent love and protection. They were from Hungarian and German heritage, so I felt a very strongly influenced stubborn, masculine, stoic energy drop in and I just laughed and said that I loved them back. I could feel a whole army of ancestors behind the grandmothers and grandfathers and just had that knowing that they were all there supporting, protecting & loving me. Steve did warn us that the veil between worlds would be thin and he was quite right.
My body told me that I needed to move so I did a bit of Yoga on the ground and a few leg strength exercises. I ventured back up to the marker box to collect my bottles of water that had been replaced and the water tasted much better. Then my body told me that I needed a poop so I pooped in the dug-out hole outside of my circle. It really was a loo with a view as it looked down the hill through more bush and trees. The rain then started back up again and by then it was starting to get dark. Just as I got under my tarp, I heard a strange grunting sound and immediately my heart rate shot through the roof. I felt defenceless behind my tarp to whatever creature was outside. I slowly crawled out of the tarp and peered towards the sound of the thing and noticed to my surprise a male deer Buck standing about 15 metres away staring at my direction. He had massive antlers and looked just as shocked to see me as I did of him. We stared at each other for a little bit before he darted off into the bush in the opposite direction.
I crawled back under the tarp with relief that it wasn’t an alien that had come to abduct me. I adjusted the tarp a bit more so I was more sandwiched in so no animals would crawl inside at night. I covered myself with the mozzie net and crawled into my swag and closed my eyes listening to the sounds of the bush at night slightly nervous about what would be out and about. I fell asleep quite quickly and dreamt of scenarios playing out in real life that had different outcomes, kind of like I was in a different reality to that which I had already experienced in real life. I woke up once throughout the night to the sound of the heavy rain and crawled outside for a pee. As I got back in my swag, my back started to really hurt so that kept me up for a while tossing and turning getting comfy until I decided that the pain was just emotional and not in fact, physical and that I would be ok and fell asleep shortly after.
I awoke naturally at first light and was surprised by how well I slept through the night, besides having the lower back pain. I slowly emerged from my tarp cocoon and had a lot of energy despite being over 36 hours of fasting. I picked up my second rock and headed for the marker box up the hill. It was raining a little, so I just took my time slowly walking up the steep hill though the tall grass and shrubs towards my marker box. I got to the marker box and placed my rock inside and sat on a dead log just enjoying a different scenery of bushland. On this hill you could see the high ridge where the 4 other questers were located so I sat staring up towards that direction thinking about all of them and how their first night was in the rain on the high ridge. I sent all the other questers a silent prayer of encouragement and hope and said thanks to the protectors for having our backs. It was so beautiful as I could really feel the strong, loving, protective energy of all the protectors holding that space for us. I sat up there wondering if anyone had pulled out yet. Steve told us that if we were to pull out before the end of the 4 days, we would have to go home that day. Knowing this, this was a huge pull for me to stick it out and do the 4 days as the thought of heading back to base camp on my own and driving home before seeing everyone again made my heart drop. This thought alone was one of the driving forces that made me persevere throughout the 4 days and kept my inner flame going strong.
The sudden downpour of rain struck me out of my reverie, and I trudged down the hill back towards my circle. As I got to my tarp setup, I stopped and looked at it, my home for the next 3 more days. It looked like a squatter’s setup, and I couldn’t believe that I was living inside it. I nestled my way in under the tarp on my swag and propped the tarp up with balfazar and Gandalf so that I could have a view of the hill below me. It rained for the next few hours, or so it seemed as there was so sense of time. I think I drifted in and out of light snoozing which invoked many wild, lucid dreams involving a lot of animals and scenarios playing out. I got up and decided to watch my spidey friend again in the hollow of the box tree and found myself lost in his little world of web spinning and insect catching.
The rain eased off enough for me to go and have my morning poop with a view and have a bit of a stretch and walk around my circle. I sat squatting in the dirt just staring at the ground for ages, lost in thought. I was completely entranced when it started raining again and I just lost my shit. I was so angry! Angry at the rain for being there ruining my experience! All I wanted to do was be out in the open in the sun staring up at the trees and watching the world go by! But instead, I was being confined to my tarp! I cried and yelled and cursed the rain for sending me into this spin and started to really question why the fuck I was out here in the bush in the first place! Had I gone completely mad! What was wrong with me for wanting to do this! And for the first time I started to think that maybe this wasn’t a good idea to have done this. I had serious doubts as to whether this was the way forward for me in life. What the hell was I trying to prove? Who was I proving it to?!?!? No one gave a shit if I did VQ or not! No one had put any pressure on me or expectations to do it! It was all self-inflicted! The only person I was trying to prove myself to was myself! What a bloody joke! It was so comical that I just started laughing out loud to myself, like big belly laughter. Wowwwww! That realisation just dropped in and for the first time I could actually laugh at myself and think “You’re a Doofus Elodie”. After that realisation dropped through, I felt a lot more calm, more peaceful. I had expressed all that pent up emotion and frustration surrounding that I then came into a state of peace and acceptance. It felt good.
Just as I was about to crawl back into my swag for a lie down, I remembered Steve saying “don’t let complacency ruin your experience” so I decided to stay out in the light rain with my raincoat on and sat on my mat just being out in nature. I tried meditating but my head was just swirling with thoughts that I just decided to get swept up in the thought storm. I sat outside for what seemed like an hour just enjoying the sounds of the bush, watching the leaves fly around and the little insects crawl around on the ground bumping into each other and just being themselves. A few more answers to some of the questions I had just dropped in without me even needing to really delve into them. It’s amazing how we have all the answers within us if we’re just willing to stop and listen to the silence. I did a little breathwork on my swag, but it ended up with me falling into a light nap where again I awoke totally discombobulated to my surroundings, day and time.
By this time, it was starting to get to late afternoon, so I got out from under the tarp and did a few Yoga stretches just to get my body moving a bit. I also started to feel the beginnings of dizziness, so I decided to have a ½ glucose tablet just to keep my sugars up. We were also given some rock salt to put in our water, so I ate a few of them and they reminded me of those hard candy rocks you got as kids, so I imagined I was eating those back in the day with my brother.
I started to make my tarp fort-Knox again so no animals would crawl in, and I did a Reiki protection bubble around my circle and tarp so I could sleep peacefully throughout the night. I crawled into my swag and lay down and suddenly, my lower back started to hurt a lot again. It was weird, it only ever started hurting at night and it wasn’t from the swag or mattress as it was super comfy. I think it was just emotional stuff coming to the surface to be felt and released. After a while of tossing and turning I decided to take some Panadol which helped with the pain and fell into a deep sleep to the sound of light rain on the tarp.
I awoke to the sounds of the forest at daybreak and sat up feeling super groggy and lightheaded. Maybe I had too much sleep? I probably went to bed at like 7pm the night before and woke up at about 5am- 10 hours’ sleep- that’s a lot for me. As I got up, I noticed in the hollow of the tree where my spidey friend usually habited, was overtaken by a large bright orange giant ugly alien centipede! I was so sad! I tried looking for spidey but couldn’t see him and just knew that this ugly thing had eaten him. This centipede was the Australian Giant Centipede and was probably about 10cm long! I was worried about it crawling into my swag and biting me, so I tried to move it with a stick. As I did this it flared its upper body up at me and with its 2 big antennae made a funny little hissing noise! I got surprised by this and felt completely grossed out by this thing. Something about it just made my arm hairs stand up and I didn’t know why. It was like this thing triggered an evolutionary protective mechanism within me and I just needed to destroy it. I didn’t want to do this of course so I just told it that it wasn’t welcome here and to please leave by the time I got back from visiting the marker box.
I trudged my way up the hill towards the marker box with my 3rd rock and thankfully it wasn’t raining. This morning’s trip was especially hard as I was feeling the weakness in my body and my belly was so concave that my hip bones were beginning to protrude even more. I had lost most of the feelings of hunger and just felt a sense of emptiness instead. I made it to the top of the hill and dropped my rock in the box and decorated my marker box with free new gum leaves to make it all pretty. I sat up on the dead log, silently puffing from exertion, and watched the sunrise colours peer through the trees and lost myself to thought about the other questers and how their 2nd night was for them. I sent out loving thanks to the protectors and more words of love and encouragement to my fellow questers. After about an hour of sitting up there enjoying the new sights and sounds I made my way back down the hill towards my site.
As I got back to my site, I noticed that the ugly alien centipede was still there in the tree hollow and felt disheartened that I needed to do something about it. I picked up a stick and tried to move it gently, but it reacted and hissed at me. It was sooo gross! I had to move it, so I just poked it even more with the stick saying ‘sorry sorry sorry’ to it repeatedly as it hissed and leered at me and finally it was coiled around the stick enough for me to then throw the stick away into the bush. As I saw it flying through the air I yelled out ‘im so sorry’. I heard a little thud in the grass and knew that it would be ok and would have survived. I immediately felt guilty for forcibly removing this thing all just because I wanted to have peace of mind that it wouldn’t bite me. I then realised how many times humans have just forcibly removed other animals just for their convenience in life and I felt so bad. However, it was the survival of the fittest out here and if I was bigger than this thing to remove it for my sense of mind, then I was going to do that!
I turned the tarp into a home again propping Gandalf and balfazar up to make some height under the tarp. I lay back down on my swag and just listened to the sounds of the bush as I got lost in thought once again. I pulled myself out of thought to do some breathwork which anchored me to the present moment. The rain had eased off finally! So, I decided to take my tarp down and lay out in the sun! Finally, Sun! Wowww! Never thought I’d be so grateful to feel that warmth on my body! I got up and did some light yoga stretches and went for a little walk around my circle. As the day got warmer, I stripped off in the nudey and enjoyed the suns warmth on my naked body as I lay on top of the tarp. I layed there just watching the trees and the clouds and for the first time could orientate myself to the direction I was facing. I watched the sun rise and fall and figured out that I must be facing south. After some time of laying in the sun, the crazies overtook me. I was sooo fed up with being out here! I was over it! I cracked the shits and just lay there naked, curled up the foetal position crying my eyes out. Snot went everywhere as I cried hard, I felt like a little kid. I cried tears of self-pity and self-loathing. For all the ex-boyfriends who didn’t love me and didn’t treat me well, for all the times I let myself be treated poorly by them. I cried hard for my dad leaving me when I was a kid. I cried hard for not having a partner to love me. Just tears of rejection and abandonment flooded through. So much self-pity. It felt amazing to release all that shit. After what seemed like an hour of crying, I suddenly stopped, there was nothing left. I felt the relief of a thousand years and lay there, feeling held and supported and loved from Mother Earth. I felt rested and reassured that I was going to be ok on my own in this world. I had my own back and that’s all that really mattered deep down inside.
I sat up and felt dizzy and delirious. I don’t know if it was the hard crying and release of emotions or the lack of food, but I didn’t feel right. I ate another glucose tablet and ate some salt rocks and felt a bit better afterwards. I decided to take my body really gently today and not move around too much. At that point, hunger pangs hit me hard! I was sooo hungry! All I could think of was big fat chunky steak meat pies with tomato sauce on top. That was the first thing I wanted when I got back out to civilisation! I told my body that it was doing an awesome job and sent some love to it. I also realised that my body didn’t need to poop today which was such a strange sensation.
I had a little snooze in the sun on the tarp and awoke feeling a lot more settled and renewed now that those tears and emotions had left. I lay on my tarp, watching the trees and birds and butterflies. I started singing some chants and songs that I had learned at my Yoga teacher training course. I sung the Gayatri mantra over and over again and found myself lost in the trance. I thought back to my friends and family and wondered if they were thinking about me. Again, I felt a sense of gratitude and love for all the loved ones in my life and how special they are to me. I thought of my friends who I hadn’t seen in a while and vowed to catch up with them again when I got back home. I thought of all the things that I wanted to do when I got back home, all of the things that really mattered in my life- like more camping trips, hikes, having games nights and catching up with people. It brought a newfound sense of excitement for me to go back home feeling reborn again.
It was starting to get into the later afternoon, so I decided to put my clothes back on and set up my tarp for the night. I really enjoyed lovingly setting up the tarp as it was my means of protection and support. After that was all done, I sat out on my yoga mat just watching and listening to the world, feeling more settled than I ever had out there. I fondly think of that late afternoon as I just felt so at peace, so settled in myself. A lot of my questions had been answered and I had more insight into what I needed to change in my life so I could start to live a life that was more in alignment with my Soul’s path. I waited and watched the colours change in the sky and the stars start to appear in the sky. I waited out there until the crickets started chirping and watched the big, beautiful moon rise in the sky. It was the first night that I could see the moon and it was such a welcome site. Finally, when it was completely dark, I decided to turn in for the night, putting up my Reiki protection bubble around my camp and sending love and protection to all of my fellow questers.
I woke up during the night to pee and crawled out of the tarp and was greeted by a whole night sky full of stars! I stood out there just watching and admiring the wonderful planet we live on and how much our lives are just a speck of sand in the grand scheme of the universe. This thought for some reason always makes me feel better as it’s a deep understanding that everything we do doesn’t really matter and that our whole purpose of life is just to Be. I listened to the sounds of the bush and to a little nocturnal creature that was scurrying around near me, probably a possum or bandicoot. I stretched out my sore back for a little while under the stary night sky before crawling back into my cocoon for the rest of the evening dreaming of faraway places and endless possibilities.
I awoke on day 4 with equal feelings of excitement and melancholy that my experience was nearly over. I picked up the prettiest rock that I had found and made the slow but meaningful walk up the hill towards my marker box. I took my time walking that path, noticing all the plants and shrubs on the way and nearly stepped in some fresh kangaroo/wallaby poop. I stopped under the big tree just near the marker box and placed my hand on it, thanking it for its protective energy whilst I caught my breath and settled my racing heartbeat. Its crazy when you don’t eat for 4 days how any sort of little exercise is the hardest thing to do. I finally placed my rock in the marker box and found a beautiful branch of blue gum that had fallen beside it. It’s one of my favourite trees and it almost seemed like a gift from the Universe! I sat there on the dead log just watching the world wake up, I watched the sunrise there for a while just listening to all the birds go about their morning routine. I sent love and encouragement to each quester and thanked the quest protectors for their loving, protective energy that I continued to feel daily. I decorated my marker box with fresh gum branches and sat and looked at the 4 rocks inside the marker box, reflecting of my time over the last 4 days. Each rock resembled a certain day which had its challenges and elations. I thought back to 2 days prior when it had been raining non-stop and thought how grateful I was for having been given 2 beautiful sunny days to finish the quest off with.
After sitting on the log for what seemed like an hour completely lost in thought, I made my way back down the hill slowly, revelling in the path and the last time that I would walk down towards my camp. I dismantled my tarp and folded it up behind a tree and decided to lay out in the morning sun on top of my swag. I used the rope as a clothesline and hung out my damp, dirty clothes that I had been wearing continuously for the whole time. I lay on top of the swag naked, soaking up the sun as a slight breeze tickled the hairs on my body. I lay looking at my body, my strong, resilient body. I looked at my stomach, it was so concave, and my hip bones were protruding more so than usual. I admired everything about my body, the hair that was beginning to grow again from not shaving for a week, the subtle tan from the sun the past day, the overpowering body odour from not showering or wearing deodorant for 4 days. I had a newfound respect for the power and strength of my physical body. It was in that moment that I vowed to never again disrespect, speak badly of or curse my body’s physical shape or ability. It was amazing and strong, and I got to live in it! At the beginning I told my body that we would be going without food for 4 days and we had done it! Such an achievement! By day 4 I was no longer hungry, it was like all feelings of hunger had escaped me and I was happy just being here, in that moment.
I lay there for what seemed like hours, dozing off every now and then, coming to and listening to the birds and watching nature life go by. I lay there listening to the heartbeat in my chest, it was so loud that I could hear it ringing in my ears and was beating so fast. I consciously willed it to slow down through the power of my breath and speaking kind words to it and within seconds it responded to my wishes… we really are connected! Mind and heart! I lay there singing and chanting into the trees, completely entranced in the songs and the words. Somewhere in my brain I had remembered the words to Banjo Paterson’s poem ‘Mulga Bill’s bicycle’ so had a great time saying that out loud to the insects crawling past.
I picked up the little hand mirror that we all had to take with us (in case of tick bites) and looked at my face in the mirror. I had forgotten about the mirror so hadn’t seen my face in 4 days! Wow! I almost didn’t even recognise myself. Looking into my own eyes, there was a harshness there, as if I had seen things that people shouldn’t see and done things that people shouldn’t have to do. I could also see a softness too, softening of the continuous internal chatter of self-criticism and self-doubt and coming into a more settled space of self-compassion and self-acceptance. I could also see my inner strength, courage and resilience mirrored back at me, the emotions that I had released, my story that I had forgiven and moved on from. My Little Soldier can stand down, she doesn’t need to run the show anymore as I was becoming the loving caretaker to her now and will always be there for her (myself)!
Looking into my own eyes I started to see the lines around my eyes, a little visual reminder of my mortality. Looking at the lines I thought back to my fun-loving carefree days of backpacking, traveling, meeting numerous amounts of people and being on the road! I didn’t regret anything! All my traveling and adventures that I had ever done had been with fun and excitement in mind! Ever since I was young, I always had this premonition that I would die young (early 30’s) so I made sure that I made the most of my life by saying Yes to crazy situations, delving deep into my psyche, experiencing the different experiences, traveling, living abroad, being immersed in different cultures and eating the weird food. Looking at all the little lines around my eyes brought back these memories, the experiences and I started to cry tears of happiness and gratitude for my life thus far. Such a whirlwind adventure that I hoped wasn’t over yet.
Looking into my own eyes, I could deeply understand the reason why I chose to do vision quest. It was to prove my worth to myself! I did it to challenge myself that I could be with myself. Now when you really think about this it sounds kinda stupid doesn’t it? Why should I need to sit in the bush for 4 days on my own with no food or distractions just to force myself to be with myself?! I’m always with myself but it’s the daily distractions that prevent me from actually being with myself. So I made another vow- I will always, always, stick to a morning ritual where I can be with myself with no distractions! I sat there for what seemed like an hour, just looking, really looking into my eyes seeing everything that I had been too busy to see previously. Mirror work is SO powerful! I highly recommend it to everyone as a means of checking-in with yourself as your eyes tell the truth always!
I thought about how my actions had been lately, how I was being perceived by others. I had the knowing that I had been too harsh on people, expecting too much from them. My compassion and empathy for others had diminished as my empathy and compassion for myself had. How we treat and see others is a mirror for how we treat and see ourselves and nature had been the ultimate teacher of that. She also mirrors to us what we need to see within ourselves. I had been acting out of a space of ‘spiritual ego’, unknowingly thinking that I was better than others spiritually as I had been delving into the inner work hardcore. I had the feelings that guys I had dated in the last few months weren’t good enough for me as they weren’t as spiritually advanced as I would have liked them to be. It was in this moment that I realised that this realm of spirituality isn’t a race, there’s no end point, ever. Its just a constant journey and discovery of Self. I had been so transfixed on reaching a certain point where my triggers didn’t trigger me anymore. So fixed on ripping out old shitty belief systems that didn’t serve me and replacing them with better ones. My approach to my own journey was so harsh, finite and uncompassionate. I broke down sobbing at the realisation of how hard I had been on myself! It had been 9 months of continuous hard work, questioning everything, my whole being, my own psyche which had left me exhausted and depleted. I vowed to never be that harsh on myself again! No wonder why I was harsh on others and didn’t have much compassion! I then realised deeply that this journey of Self was one that could be soft, tender, and loving. Instead of approaching triggers with anger and resentment, I could approach them with curiosity and love. Staying in gratitude for my ability to have even had the awareness that it was a trigger in the first place, and then gently enquiring about where the trigger stemmed from, feeling the emotions behind the trigger, and having compassion for myself. This was a great lesson for myself and one that I will always remember and think back to.
I thought about how much I wanted a relationship and how I had been unconsciously pushing people away as a form of protection. I was scared of being abandoned again, thought that it was safer to be on my own then allow and accept the love from others in, especially men. I had been a people pleaser for so long and had worked hard at removing those habits. However, in doing this, I kind of swung too far the other way and had been pushing people away. How can I accept love without ‘losing myself’ again to them as what had happened in a previous relationship 3 years prior? I was so scared of that happening again. After that relationship ended, I had completely lost all sense of who I was and saw a psychologist for 12 months, rebuilding my self-worth and self-confidence again as I got lost in his narcissistic behaviour. I reassured myself that I would never lose myself, that I would try to have boundaries moving forward and tend to my needs. I did end up receiving that lesson after vision quest had ended 😊
The sun started to duck behind the trees and I got a bit chilly. I had forgotten where I was as I had been lost in the world of my own mind for the last few hours. I felt like I had gotten a lot of clues, hints and realisations that had answered a lot of my internal questions that I felt slightly relieved and settled. I put my clothes back on and decided to squat in the dirt watching the insects go by their day watching and starting to understand them now. I watched a snail start to eat a bit of fungus growing on a dead log and was amazed by how slow it moved but by how big the chunks were that it was eating! I stood up and gazed up towards the blue sky, the treetops, stretching my sore, tired and lethargic body.
I started to get angry at how slow the day was crawling by. My mind was already starting to think of tomorrow and how early I would wake up, how it would feel to walk back to basecamp and having that first sip of miso soup. Would I cry? Would I guzzle it down? Would I laugh? How will everyone else act and be like? I got frustrated that I was stuck here still and let out some feelings of anger and resentment at my situation. After sitting in my shit for a while I started to hear a Currawong in the distance. The Currawong has always been of special significance to me as I have a whole family of them around my house. As soon as I heard their song, I was reminded of the special significance of being out here on my own and that this experience too shall pass in time. I realised that I would be disappointed in myself for having this reaction so I immediately changed my perspective and came into gratitude for this amazing experience that I was so blessed to have.
As I fell into a more settled space within, I lay out on my swag watching the world go by for the last hour or so of daylight. I put my tarp back up propping it up with the 2 sticks- Gandalph and Balfazar and sat outside on my mat until the night fell. I watched the stars start to pop out into view and heard 2 wallabies eating near my circle. I was in a beautiful state of contentment, peace and serenity and thanked myself for the past 4 days of hard work and inner growth before turning in for the night. I made my cocoon in the tarp and tucked myself in before falling into a blissful night’s sleep for my last night of sleeping out in the bush on my own.
The best day ever!-
I awoke to the sounds of the morning birds and the sound of life emerging. My initial thought was one of excitement that I got to go back to basecamp today and see everyone! But it was quickly replaced by sadness that this experience had come to an end. I slowly packed my back and rolled up my swag savouring this final feeling of solitude, freedom, peace and quiet. I slung on my backpack and walked slowly back up the hill towards my marker box, stopping a few times to catch my breath and slow my racing heart down. Everyday felt harder and harder to do. I stood there looking at my marker box and the 4 rocks representing my strength, resilience and courage and started to cry tears of pure self-love, pride and gratitude. I walked slowly down the hill towards base camp, taking in all the little things, the trees, the birds, the wildlife, listening to the sounds of the bush, feeling completely elated and sad that the experience was over, and I had to go back to normal life. I took my time walking back and travelled slowly and mindfully revelling in everything. I came around the bend to where the Gunya was and saw everyone seated on the ground surrounding the fire. My heart started racing as I got closer and closer and came to greet the 4 protectors. I dropped my pack and fell into Maria’s kind and loving arms and just cried. It felt so good to have human contact again. She felt so warm and loving and so very kind. She felt like a Mother, and I was being nurtured and cared for. I then hugged Steve and cried again, feeling his loving Grandfatherly energy holding and supporting me. I hugged Adrian and Josh and thanked them for their protection and strength. I then sat down next to the others around the fire and looked at them all. They all had dirty faces and some had tear tracks down their cheeks. Their eyes said it all, what they had been through and that they had come out the other side. I gave them all a little smile and got smiles back. An inner acknowledgement and understanding of our strength and experience. They were my tribe.
I was handed my first cup of food in 4 days, a hot cup of freshly brewed miso soup. I watched as the miso swirled around in my cup and smelled the delicious aroma. It brought me back to my memories of living in Japan and my host mother making miso soup for breakfast, such beautiful memories. There was a part of me that wanted to wait to take that first sip, I wanted to stay in that state of no food, I wanted to hold onto this feeling of being in my circle with no food. My body wanted that soup, but my mind didn’t. I played this game for a little bit as I smelt the soup but didn’t drink. I gave thanks for this delicious soup and as I surrendered into the knowing that I couldn’t hold onto this forever, I took that first sip. Wow! It was the best thing I had ever had. I sipped and swallowed, feeling the warmth run down my oesophagus and into my stomach. My tummy rumbled as it backflipped with happiness of finally having something to fill it. I sipped slowly and mindfully enjoying every sip and every moment, eyes closed, completely engrossed.
We got offered seconds and I happily accepted. We started to chat a little as our energy was picking up and then we feasted on watermelon which was amazing! After some time, Steve said that we should all go and find a quiet place and start journaling everything. I went and set up my chair under the tree next to my tent and started writing. It felt really weird to hold a pen and write words and my hand worked very slowly. I started getting words out on paper which were profound to me. After some time, Steve came around and had a chat to us about our experience. It was good to talk to someone about it and Steve is such a compassionate, empathetic listener. I started crying as I let the words flow out and we hugged. He said to me- “you’ve got a big loving heart, but you have to learn to protect it”, I’ll never forget these words and I still think about them often when I haven’t protected my heart. After he left, my stomach started rumbling and I felt queasy. I rushed to the toilet and that miso soup and watermelon shot straight through me. I gingerly went back to my chair and just closed my eyes as I reassured my body it was ok and that this food would be good for it.
Continued in next blog post…..