Chapter 1. Presence and the Three Pillars
Presence is the central pole of the entire visionary practice. It is what runs through everything. It is the act of being present and of not running away or rushing. Presence is when we can unconditionally, while holding awareness and compassion, be able to be present with what is. I see presence as a place of power and courage. It is a stance that takes us out of dialogue and duality and takes us into a space of observation. It allows a meeting with the heart of any matter. Presence is the land where the visionary hangs out. It is a land free of judgement, advice or overlay. My personal feeling of when I get to this place of being able to be present is like the air conditioning comes on. It feels cool and disentangled but also very kind and loving.
With presence as the central pole, the three pillars sit as a triangle of what I refer to as concepts.
A concept is a central principle or idea. It is where conception happens. You can see how this leads us to an original impulse. We are looking to allow the original powerful impulse to come through in visionary work, so engaging with concepts is a good way to build a means for this to happen.
The Three Pillars
Nature can be likened to essence. It is the inherent qualities or character of anything. Nature is the first pillar of the visionary model. I use the term “innate nature” to suggest that we have an inherent way of being that is akin to nature. Nothing in nature pretends to be anything else (unless it is meant to, as camouflage for survival). The members of the nature world who do change form do so for a specially programmed and consistent reason. Humans, on the other hand, are shape-shifters extraordinaire. We can merge, absorb, project, take on and consume power and identity. We have such a gift, but sadly we have mainly forgotten to set a way to use this gift wisely. Those who do use it often do so—unconsciously—for power-mongering means. This means that our innate nature can be covered up. The skills in shape-shifting are truthfully the tools of the visionary practice. We will be working through becoming more conscious of these skills and releasing what has been taken on or acted out as cover-ups to better reveal our own true or innate natures. This will happen through visiting and immersing ourselves in the concepts.
Knowing is connected with having knowledge or awareness about something. It is a word that is often used when something is known that is hidden to many. One of the skills of the visionary is having this rare knowing. (Although I do believe, personally, it can be developed in anyone given the right circumstances). This is the second pillar.
Trust is a firm belief in reliability or truth. It is the third pillar. The development of discernment to be able to operate from this place of trust is key to the visionary’s ability to operate.
Meeting the Pillars
Where did nature begin? One of my most mind-opening things to do is to remember that I have been here since the beginning of time. If I hadn’t been then I wouldn’t be able to feature as I am now. I own my place at the beginnings of life and the great darkness, light, formation of atoms and everything. Read this Big Bang theory as one of the versions of the beginnings of creation:
The “cosmos” begins expanding in the split of a second and in this time turns “nothing” into something the size of an orange. In three minutes the universe has heated into being—a hot soup of electrons, quarks and other molecules. Then follows a long cooling period and with this cooling down, quarks can turn into protons and neutrons. The universe becomes a very hot fog.
Three hundred thousand years later, electrons will combine with protons and neutrons and form atoms (mostly hydrogen and helium). Light can shine. After a billion years from source, things really cool down and hydrogen and helium gases coalesce to become galaxies. Smaller clumps of gas coalesce to become the first stars. After fifteen billion years of galaxies gathering together, the first stars die and throw heavy elements into space. These eventually form into new stars and planets.
The universe is fifteen to twenty billion years old. The Earth is five to six billion years of age.
How beautiful is all that! Our heritage is a deep foundation of spaciousness, temperature, birthing and discovery. Our history as the elements is a long, passionate, powerful, patient, devoted, alchemical and mysterious affair!
Being Concept Nature
Let’s meet Nature as the first of the three pillars.
See if you can find a special place in nature with a tree, where you can sit regularly through the next months. It might be your garden or a tree on a walk close to you. Attune to where this place is going to be and resolve to dedicatedly visit this place for the duration of working with this book.
Take about twenty minutes or more for this Being Nature task.
Go to your chosen place in nature. Sit with your back to the special tree that you will visit regularly. Take some time to become present. Focus on your breath and simply become mindful to what chatter might be going on inside your head. You don’t need to push it out. Presence is about allowing awareness to arise and comes from a different place to the mind chatter.
Let yourself move into your senses. Touch—feel the air on your skin, touch the ground with your fingers and the surface of the tree, grass and nature around you. Smell—breathe in the scents. Taste—taste the air, lick the grass, tree bark, a flower. Hearing—let your ears take in the sounds. Sight—let your eyes light on everything as if seeing for the first time. Let nature join you through your senses.
In this space, bring yourself to an awareness of being present and in the moment. You are looking to become present with nature both within and without. Now imagine this presence as being able to exist throughout all times. Take yourself to the beginnings of everything. Feel the origins. Feel the today. Allow a conversation to happen, moving with presence with your senses and nature through these two stations of presence.
Bring yourself back. How do you feel about nature now? How do you feel about your own true nature and nature around you? Make some notes on how you found this experience.
When we think about the visionary or someone who sees or has “the sight” we are really connecting with the ability to know and are describing this as a way of truly seeing. This kind of sight goes beyond the way the eyes see and into the inner vision. It is this knowing and this development of inner vision and the ability to see to the heart of something that is the second of the three pillars in the visionary model.
The drum, and other instruments that make repetitive noises and have a wealth of symbolism and meaning attached to them to connect us with the communication realms, can take us out of the everyday chatter and into a place of knowing.
Particular things happen to our brain waves when we listen to the sounds of a drum or rattle: in the trance state of drumming, brain waves move out of the beta range (between 14 and 21 cycles per second), in which we are attentive and focused on everyday external activities, and into the alpha, theta and sometimes delta ranges.
Alpha waves vibrate at 7 to 14 waves per second and happen when we are in a relaxed, internal-focused state of well-being. Theta waves vibrate at four to seven cycles per second and are the threshold of the sleep dream state. Delta waves are one to four cycles per second. They are deep sleep. The brains of fetuses emit delta waves.
Animals and the electromagnetic waves of the Earth operate in the alpha range. Yogis see the alpha state as the rhythm of nature. Coming out of beta state definitely enhances our connection to nature.
Being Concept Knowing
You will need a drum or rattle for this Being Knowing task.
Pick up your drum or rattle. Visualize a bubble of light around you that holds presence. Set the intention that you are only available here to connect with your knowing. Choose a colour to coat the bubble around you that sets the boundary that this is a clear space for you. You can extend a second bubble to go all around your home and the boundaries of the land around your home, small garden, balcony or terrace and set the same intention. Sit and connect with being present again. You will become more familiar with this feeling the more you practise these concepts of being.
Now focus on your knowing. Think of a time when you have known something. Begin to tap your drum or rattle. Try to do this for about fifteen minutes. Connect with your knowing and let all your attention and the attention of the drumbeat flow to hold awareness for this knowing. Ask yourself, “Where does this knowing come from?” Feel the origins and authenticity of your knowing. Let it strengthen and take its place. Observe what happens for you.
NOTE: If you don’t have a drum you can also do this by playing a drumming track instead, but I highly recommend developing your relationship with presence through drumming and having your own drum. Come back and thank your drum or rattle and the space that held you. Take some notes.
Trusting ourselves and developing the ability to discern is the third pillar of the visionary model. Often we learn from not having accurate discernment. Lots of people and situations can be our teachers for this. We will be holding presence for the development of this trust while working with the material in this book.
Being Concept Trust
Go back to your place in nature. Move into a place of presence again. Be in your senses. Take some time to land and be with the Earth and the weather. Feel yourself as a part of this wider system. Now open up to feeling the interconnectedness of everything. Become aware of the different systems within the outer nature operating right now. Feel how they work together and the plan that they are a part of. Feel into your trust for this plan.
Now feel all of the systems going on within you and your body, mind, emotions, passions. Feel your organs and your blood flow, the beating of your heart, your lungs breathing, your eyes and the way your thoughts respond to your eyes working. Feel how you connect with the outer world through your lungs and your sight and thoughts, your sense of smell and your emotions.
Move back again to your awareness of the systems in nature outside of you and the plan everything including you is a part of. Feel into your trust for this plan.
Spend about fifteen minutes in this being with trust. Come out of the task and then make some notes on how you found this and any insight you had.