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Mining for Meaning

Mining for MeaningbyMama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman

It always comes down to the same necessity:
go deep enough and there is a bedrock of truth, however hard.
-May Sarton

The shamanic assumption from which I operate is that every person has her own significant mission in this lifetime: her own path, her own dreams, his own symbols and sensibilities, her own visions and designs, his own way of learning, her own personalized hard-won lessons. That we each have our own singular life to live. That every one of us must figure out for ourselves the fullest, richest, most effective, ethical and satisfying way in which to do it; and moreover, that each and every one of us possesses the wisdom, the power and the responsibility to make it so.

Easy enough said. But so many folks feel awash, helpless and worse — hopeless — floating from one thing to the next without a plan or sense of meaning. How often people come to me saying “I feel like there must be a deeper purpose to life than just working… I must be here on this planet to do something special, but for the life of me I don’t know what that is…I don’t have a clue… I keep thinking that by this time in my life I should know what my true path is… I am at a loss… What can I do?”

There is only one thing to do and that is to dig deep down into ourselves to find out what makes us tick, what tickles our fancy and what touches our soul. We can only discover our own truth by paying close attention to the promptings of our inner selves and to our honest reactions to the external energies that surround us. It is ultimately up to us whether we succumb to an unexamined life or try to figure out what the hell is going on inside us and around us, and to engage in it, alter, change, and grow with it, so that we might fulfill our greatest destiny and dreams.

We can encourage our inner voice by listening to it. For this we need to concentrate, turn off the static of our hectic daily lives and tune in to the subtlety of spirit speaking on subconscious sound waves. And most important, we need to be open and willing to hear the message. I once consulted my spirit guide, Kanin, by means of a ouji board and asked her if it was she who I hear singing in my ears when a new chant comes to me. She allowed that it was, and then she chastised me. She told me that I needed to do more automatic writing because I was sometimes so hard to get hold of!!

Perhaps it isn’t always clear or conscious, but somewhere deep down inside of us, in the very core of our being, we do know our authentic path. We know what we want and what we need; what feeds us, and what defeats us. We know our life’s purpose. It is just a matter of paying attention. We know what’s right, because it feels right. By listening to our inner voice, we discover our true intentions and direction.

Our lessons, and our understanding of them, are often not immediately available or obvious to us. They come encoded in signs and symbols that seem like a foreign language. But, no matter how difficult, it is up to us to access them — if we dare. If we care to earn our sovereignty and walk our destined path, we must excavate the buried treasure of our own value and infinite worth.

By keeping track of the circumstances and situations of our lives and our own conscious and unconscious responses to them, we can plot our course, chart our progress, project our aspirations, alter our habits, adjust our attitudes, and plan our actions. “The decision to write a journal,” writes Christine Baldwin in Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest, “has been the most important decision I have ever made because it has led to every other important decision I’ve ever made. The existence of the journal provides writers with confidence and courage that we can travel as far as the mind allows, and find our way home through the act of writing.”

The blueprints and maps for our lives can be found in the documentation that we keep. When we record our thoughts, feelings, dreams, coincidences, ideas, inspirations and omens, we have the raw data that we need to figure out what it is that we already know as well as what we still need to learn. I call this practice, “Noting the Process of Noting the Process.” I use the term “practice” advisedly. Practice implies focus, attention, concentration and discipline. But the mental effort and dedication required, is well rewarded by the Self-knowledge that we stand to gain.

The word “practice” also serves to remind us that there is no perfect. Whether we maintain a spiritual practice, a creative practice or a professional practice, we are always in the process of learning, adapting, accommodating, growing and changing. The only end comes when we die. In the meantime, all we have is the means, the very process of living, itself, the path that we follow. We try, we move forward, we trip, we fall behind, we start again and eventually we become, while not perfect, perhaps, perfectly in line with our life’s purpose.

About the author:
Donna Henes is an internationally renowned urban shaman, eco- ceremonialist, spiritual counselor, award-winning author, popular speaker and workshop leader. Mama Donna, as she is affectionately known, is the author of four books and a CD. She is a columnist for UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum. In addition to teaching and lecturing worldwide, she maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice and consultancy where she works with individuals and groups to create personally relevant rituals for all of life's transitions.


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