in the Arizona canyonlands one winter, I had a chance encounter
with a timeless creature – a wild stallion. The bronco's
raw, vibrant spirit opened a doorway for me to my own true nature.
Rounding a bend in the dry riverbed, I abruptly came face-to-face
with this enchanted, primal creature as he froze in his tracks
just across the creek. This lead mustang then broke from the
herd and walked toward me. He stopped a few feet from where
I stood. Holding my breath in awe, I stayed very still as he
inspected me, and I him. He was curious and innocent in a very
childlike way, yet majestic, strong and totally sovereign.
Eyes locked, we felt, enjoyed and marveled in each other's being
for an eternal moment. The mighty steed and his pack run free
on Federal land and have never been ridden or domesticated.
It pulsated with the raw and explosive, yet soft, energy that
emanated from his core. Then he tossed his head, snorted and
turned to rejoin his herd. I glowed and quivered in his vibration
for the rest of the day.
That night, the spirit of the stallion came to me in an awake
vision. He spoke to me gently, as a brother – not in words,
but in a direct transmission, in a capsule of complete communication,
heart to heart.
"For a long time you humans have been using techniques
and processes in an effort to free yourselves from limiting
artificial structures and constraints. Your goal is to return
to a more relaxed, happy, natural state. Your various approaches
have been only partially successful. This is because the very
way you have been going about freeing yourself – studied,
linear, and logical – has inhibited and, in the end, prevented
the very goal you seek: to experience a free-flowing, natural
"The only way to recapture the fire you have lost is to
reconnect with it directly. Technical and methodical approaches
can't sever the ancient layers of deadness and fear surrounding
your every breath and movement. Only by touching your original
essence – your core life force, infinite spirit, alchemical
cauldron of life – will you have enough power to burn
your way to freedom and restored vitality.
"Rediscover the fire in your belly, the primal exhilaration
that is life itself. Nurture it as you would a pilot light,
as if it is the very survival of your soul – which, in
fact, it is. Put your attention there and only there. For that
passion will not only heal, it will transform. Because that
is the prime directive. Because that is what your heart longs
to do. Because that is where life itself resides. In this way,
you will begin to live again. You will become what you actually
are – an energy, a vibration, a star!"
The next day I happened upon one of Carlos Castaneda's accounts
of don Juan, a Native American shaman. In this particular story,
don Juan spoke about a man whose "spirit is broken,"
just as a horse is domesticated by "breaking its spirit."
As I read the passage, I recalled the power of my meeting with
the wild stallion. Realization, like the sun piercing through
an early morning fog, dawned on me, "That's it! My spirit
was broken. That's what happened!"
I was emotionally shaken by the words I spontaneously spoke
aloud. I decided to follow the trail of my strong feelings and
find the source of my dramatic reaction. With focused determination,
I closely examined my life in an intuitive meditative journey
until I returned to the very incident in which my spirit had
been broken. I discovered one exact moment when I gave up completely
on myself. That was the day I buried deep within me the excitement
that life is really about. That was the day I gave up on life
The shutdown occurred when I was a vulnerable teenager in my
hometown in western Pennsylvania. I was just beginning my sophomore
year in high school. Even though I played first string in my
freshman year, I was considering not going out for the school
football team this next year. On my Steeltown USA local football
squad, we were trained not only to tackle hard and win, but
also to hit hard enough to deliberately maim the opposing team
players for the length of their high school playing career!
This extremely barbaric approach to winning ran so against the
grain of my natural human connection with other players that
I was willing to buck the system by dropping out of the "program"
and everyone's expectations of me.
Several of my teachers took me aside on the first day of classes.
I was informed in a very explicit, unsubtle way that I wouldn't
pass my courses if I didn't play football for the sake of the
school and the town. I felt I needed the cooperation of the
system to be accepted at a college and escape the narrow, limited
world of my provincial hometown. With the intense pressure and
persuasion, I buckled under and went out for the team.
In order to play football, I had to shut down my connection
to my true self. I resigned myself to "getting with the
program." I decided to follow outside authority, accept
the town's values and "adapt to the real world." My
spirit died that autumn. In fact, I entombed my enthusiasm for
life so well that I hadn't remembered until I did this meditation
that natural exuberance and joy ever existed within me!
The act of consciously returning to the exact moment I shut
the door to my aliveness had the effect of reconnecting me to
the energy of my own eternal spirit. Relinking to the power
of my real self immediately shattered the chains of oppression
from that fateful decision to close down. Resuscitating my natural
vitality had the effect of reopening all the other doors I'd
shut in my life to my original, spontaneous, primal passion.
As the stallion promised, the fire of feeling alive returned
to me – this time forever!