In a 140 character, 24/7, nano second society, can we still appreciate the wisdom of the wise men and women that have walked before us? That was the question I asked myself on the plane ride home from New Mexico, from my weekend immersion into the wisdom of the Mayan culture.
I had an opportunity to partake in a weekend workshop in northern New Mexico on a sprawling 100 acre compound. The workshop focused on the Council Wheel, a specific form of the American Indian Medicine Wheel. The Council Wheel is an oral tradition that has been handed down to mostly Native American medicine women. It was the women that carried the promise of keeping the culture and wisdom of the Wheel alive. The intrinsic knowledge of the Wheel came from past Chiefs, which addressed the relationship to the earth we share, and our responsibility to the life that emanates from it.
The Council Wheel is a form of crisis management, a problem solving tool that could help a member of a tribe seek clarity to an issue, followed by a recommended course of action. The focus of our weekend workshop was to learn this tool and hopefully apply this ancient wisdom to our frenetic lives.
Over three days, the eight participants, from various walks of life, delved deeper into the Council Wheel's history and learned of its essential characteristics. In a nutshell, the wheel is divided into eight sections, or lenses, each corresponding to the eight compass directions. The belief is that there is a unique perspective, or insight, that comes from each direction and that wisdom would then be clearly applied to the problem at hand.
On our last evening, under a moonlit sky, we convened a Council Wheel formal gathering. Our eight fearless participants, accompanied by our two attentive directors, made our way through the rugged high desert. We walked in silence past gnarly bush, on a narrow meandering path which lead to an authentic tepee nestled amongst Russian olive trees. Crickets offered a cacophony of sound, emphasizing the stillness and the sacredness of the council. We had been all assigned a role and a direction. A question was posed and after great deliberation, we dispensed wise insight around a blazing fire within the warmth of the tepee.
There is much reflection and ceremony that accompanies the Council Wheel, the gift arrives when we examine a problem from all perspectives, not just one or two. What I found was that there was a great commitment we must take to reap the wisdom of the wheel. It left me wondering, are we, as a modern fast paced culture, really committed to anything anymore to take on such a task?
It seems always to boil down to commitment; the same commitment that is needed to excel in anything. There are no quick fixes, no magic pills to make us whole, happy and successful. No matter what culture we explore, we can find wisdom. The trick is to find a practice that resonates with us and commit to it.
Upon awaking on our final morning, I was grateful for the insight into this new way of thinking and glad I now have more tools to add to my trusty toolbox. I was eager to leave the beautiful yet rustic surroundings, the basic cuisine, and most of all, to leave the compost toilet behind. My modern vanities were calling me once again.
After our goodbyes and obligatory hugs, my husband and I hit the road. Vibrating from my newfound wisdom my immediate craving was for a Diet Coke; I'm just a simple girl. We drove though the pedestrian town of Espanola in search of the first fast food joint. We pulled into a Sonic, drove up to the drive-in window where dear husband was so confused by the absence of an actual restaurant, restroom, and completely befuddled by the ordering process and the multitude of offerings, he actually drove out!
OY, Commitment! Have we lost it?
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