Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My Experience at Standing Rock

People have been asking about my experience at Standing Rock.
I could write many details about how I helped keep the Medics and Healers camp clear of clutter because of the overwhelming amount of people and supplies arriving daily. Or how I removed piles of heavy snow that had accumulated in the camp, helped setup large tents for the newly arrived, installed wood stoves, helped finish an emergency shelter and more.
But upon returning home, I have been reflecting on a larger topic: what are the after effects of participating in a large prayer gathering like Standing Rock, where hundreds of Native tribes are gathered for the first time in history, where sacred fires are tended 24/7 and women elders are nurturing the emergence of a new governance for this unprecedented resistance and sovereignty movement.
What happens when you enter the energy of a working hive and surrender to the needs of the collective?
What takes place in one’s system when you keep your attention in the moment, being willing to do what it takes to keep the myriad tasks flowing to serve a camp that’s hosting and feeding thousands of people daily?
What happens when you realize that you are welcomed in an Indigenous-centered environment, mostly populated by privileged white folks, and start embracing the fact that your Native hosts and their ancestors have endured genocide for the past 500 years?
And what happens when one is focused on tending the well-being of a group a midwives, one of whom, a member of the Mohawk Nation, I had the privilege of traveling with from Colorado to North Dakota?
As when entering any powerful ritual environment, one’s Spirit can be deeply touched by the fire (maybe the water in this case!) of the sacred space opened by the sincerity and sheer scale of the prayers.
I remember that during the first night of the blizzard at Standing Rock, I had a dream. I was running on water, totally thrilled to have mastered that skill. In the dream I called a friend, who happens to be a midwife, and told her that her son Kailash should come run with me on water. Upon waking that morning, it dawned on me what an auspicious dream it was while at Standing Rock, where thousands have gathered to protect water.
Mount Kailash, the mountain known as Kailāśa in Tibet, lies near the source of some of the longest rivers in Asia: the Indus River, the Sutlej River (a major tributary of the Indus River), the Brahmaputra River, and the Karnali River (a tributary of the River Ganga). It is considered a sacred place in four religions: Bön, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.
Needless to say that I worked with great joy that day, feeling quite blessed.
I left sooner than expected because I started getting sick, something that rarely happens to me. I went to bed the last night with a fever, headache and upset stomach. I did not want to be a burden on a camp already burdened with sick and wounded people. I drove for two and a half days with shivers and congested lungs. I slept two nights in motels and took four scorching hot baths. I chewed Osha roots the whole drive and kept an open mind.
On the last 50-mile stretch, I started feeling sad. I wasn’t quite sure where my feelings came from, as I should have been happy to be arriving home.
As I laid in bed that evening, I let myself sink into the sadness and was overwhelmed with grief. It was as if I was on my deathbed without having made Peace with my last partner of five years. I decided I couldn’t die in such a state and picked up the phone. I hadn’t been in communication with her for a few weeks. For an hour, we cried the deepest tears that we’ve ever cried together, acknowledging the gift that living and working together for 5 years had been. The healing felt much deeper than our shared experience. It felt as if the imprint of our families’ history was releasing its grip from our lives. It was a remarkable and surprising experience.
The day after returning from Standing Rock, I tried to write about my experience but nothing would come up. I turned on some music and started dancing, again feeling as if I was running on water. My Spirit was soaring.
Dance has always been a big part of my life and I’m again deeply inspired by the power of its medicine. Over the years, I’ve come to understand that I can’t underestimate the healing power of my ecstatic expression on the collective, whether it is being kind, generous, artistic, loving, forgiving, playful or erotic.
More than ever, the World is calling me to release fear and embrace Life. I am getting more comfortable daily with embracing the energies of grief and ecstasy as two sides of the same coin.
So I dance, I pray, I trust and I listen deeply to my intuition.
What does the world need from me right now?
How can I best serve the evolution of humanity?
How can I keep reminding myself that everyone of my actions is influencing the collective?
How can I evolve as a man while the world seems to be disintegrating into absolute madness?
I cry, I dance, I laugh.
And I try to Love every moment that I have left to live.
Mni Wiconi
Water is Life.

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