Thursday, April 16, 2009

Decisive Moments

“Living awakened, ultra-aware, purpose driven, choice filled lives...”

“…the difference between merely reacting to something, and actually being present and aware enough each and every moment to choose to have the ability to respond.”

These words are what it means to be a shaman according to the Animá path. One that I have embraced whole heartedly. A path that has brought much depth and self-exploration to my life. Yet a path that means I can’t sweep under the rug the parts of myself that I don’t like. A path that has been the most challenging ~ and rewarding ~ of my life so far.

I started my studies with Animá not quite a year ago. I found Animá through insightful articles by two remarkable women, Kiva and Loba in the journal Sage Woman. They introduced me to their home, the Sweet Medicine River Canyon and Animá, which led me to explore their website, which led me to the Shamanic Path course. I feel it was no accident that I happened upon Animá, many experiences had led me to it, it was time in my life to commit more fully to a shamanic path of study ~ and living.

These studies, and their application, have given me the gift of holding myself accountable for every action I take, each choice I make, how I define who I am, and for the very way I in which I pursue & define my purpose in life. Every moment in life is decisive, and can be a lesson as well, and I’ve chosen some to share that stand out in my life recently that have offered me the greatest insight and “aha” opportunities.

Making each moment decisive means being completely in the present. Worrying about the future, dwelling on the results of past decisions, these take me very far from the present. One part of a recent lesson was on “presence” and I created a list of ways to remember to remain present. Ha! That has been easier said than done! My list is filled with good intentions: I would “breathe” each morning before jumping out of bed; pause before I speak; walk slower; wear shoes that let me actually feel the earth or go barefoot or; and listen to others - really listen, not just wait for my turn to speak in a conversation. The reality? Having a four year-old means usually he comes in and wakes me up before the alarm and I jump up to tend to his needs, rather than asking him to wait while I breathe! Pausing before I speak, this has been fun! I still find myself responding immediately, but have been trying it out when I remember. Slowing down, walking slower, hmmm…when I don’t have a lot to do. Wearing shoes that let me feel the earth? Okay, twice I’ve done this? We won’t even talk about bare feet! Listening, really listening ~ this is actually going well, except when I get excited or find myself not heard, I tend to jump into conversations quicker, responding without thought. So, I have learned that intention is all good, but manifesting takes much more of a commitment. The greatest lesson though? Forgiving myself when I am not perfect.

A very different way of making sure each moment is decisive involves how I perceive myself and my interactions with others. For all of my childhood and much of my adult life I have been intimidated by strong-willed, outgoing, and bullying type personalities (to me they have all felt the same!). I could feel myself physically cringe in their presence, hoping to go unnoticed by either their passion or fury, depending on the moment and the person. I was easily knocked off center, and did much to avoid anyone that might fit that description. Yet I have also been good at hiding this part of myself. I would say most people who know me would not describe me as someone who is intimidated by others. I have come to realize however, that my fear of strong-willed people, actually stems from my own undeveloped sense of personal power. My strength or passion for life has gone unexpressed. I saw myself as powerless, rather than power-full. Learning this about myself means that each time I come across someone who intimidates me means physically grounding myself in the moment, staying centered, stepping back and really seeing who they are, not reacting to them, feeling strong, and not giving over my power to someone else. What a shift it has been. How much more comfortable I am in my own skin. And what a relief to be able to stay centered, and not take on others’ “stuff.” Yet sustaining this new found power-full-ness has been the greater challenge. Discovering it once and applying it, then expecting it to be there unconsciously each time thereafter has not been my reality. EACH time I find myself face to face with someone full of zest or magnetism or meanness means choosing to be centered. Choosing to be present. And choosing to be power-full.

Another decisive moment that I encountered recently weighed much heavier on my heart. A question in my last lesson called me to notice if something contributes or detracts from being present. Can I move toward that which contributes to being present, and move away from that which detracts? For myself I know that worrying about future results, when it's time to make a decision, detracts. Where feeling the present moment, really getting in touch with how a choice feels, contributes. Recently my son has been going through quite a rough spell, and I was faced with parts of myself that up until this point I had pushed down and away. He needed to go to the emergency room in the city, after a visit to the local hospital the day before had been less than successful, but it coincided with the first day of a new session of classes that I teach. I weighed in whether I needed to be there at the hospital or not. I knew he was in the best hands there are, his father is fabulous and nurturing and would be there for him. I felt torn between my creative outlet, my identity even, and my son. I also knew that I have the pattern of taking care of others before myself (and actually in this instance it would have meant letting down 25 or more women who were expecting a class that night). I realized that my fear was that they wouldn't come back, that they would see me as unreliable, and choose not to return. I was also experiencing a tremendous amount of guilt, for not making the "isn’t it obvious?" choice of putting my son first. In making this choice, what I was focusing on ended up taking me very far from the present moment. I had to let go of all of it—fear, guilt, self-judgment—not easy—and really feel at this decisive moment what was right for me. Not for my son, not for my students, but for me. I needed to be VERY present to make that choice. And it worked. I was completely at peace with the choice I made. So for me, worrying about others’ needs, worrying about the future…these take me very far from the present. Conversely, listening to my heart, my feelings…this keeps me present. This contributes to it.

I know there are many other instances that I could write about…but thank you for sharing in these bits and pieces put to paper (or keyboard) so far.

Thank you to Wolf, Kiva, Loba and Rhiannon for all that you have shared with me, all that I have learned from you. The journey is the blessing.

Warmest regards, Indigo.


  1. I totally see myself in what you wrote--being intimidated, putting others first, guilting myself to death. Good for you for finding a way to work through it and make good choices for you and your family. You're inspirational.

  2. I can relate to your struggles, Tracy, and am so grateful to you for writing about them here. I, too, am working through an Anima course (I chose the one on healing but am only just beginning), attempting to be fully present and to slow down my more typical reactions to be more decisive actions instead----worthy goals that it feels good to share in.

  3. Wonderful post Tracy. I read it on the Anima blog. I definitely identify with your struggles. It's the same for me every day. Just knowing that you're not alone makes all the difference in the world doesn't it?