THE ISLAND OF MY LIFE
An Original Work of Nonfiction
By: David G. Yurth
Copyright All Rights Reserved
Chapter One – Finding the Boundaries
Concept – Creating Safety
Learning to find safety in the process of self-discovery by giving up resistance is a prime objective of the exercise. No one can make you safe but you. No one can hold you back, either. How well this process serves you is entirely up to you. While drawing the first outlines of your map and populating it with features, consider the following concepts.
Changing Your Thinking:
We are constantly bombarded by commercial, institutional, religious and cultural messages telling us that all we have to do to change our lives is change the way we look, take some new kind of pharmaceutical, drive a more expensive car, or in some other way move the deck chairs around on the shore of our island. As Billy Crystal famously said, “It is more important to look good than to feel good, darling.” It has become fashionable for New Age religious groups to tell us that if we want to change everything about the way our lives work, all we have to do is change the way we think.
This is not a new notion. Early in the 20th Century, followers of spiritualist Ernest Holmes, whose writings became the basis for the creation of the Unity Church and Church of Religious Science organizations, created a hugely successful economic enterprise founded on the motto, “Change Your Thinking ~ Change Your Life.” Seventy-five years later, the list of institutions and infomercials spawned by this notion has grown to significant proportions. As with all other modern religious movements, Unity and CORS have now formalized a certificated ministerial course in the form of a Master’s Degree program. The church-owned institutions that offer this degree have acquired accreditation and the doctrines they teach are now formally recognized by tens of thousands of people across the world. The notion that in order to reconnect with Source, you have to have a Master’s Degree, issued by some accredited religious institution, seems paradoxical
After nearly a century of walking along this path, all is not well in the New Age. Practitioners of the “Change Your Thinking” movement have begun to suggest in their national conventions and widely circulated writings that changes in thinking really don’t change who we are, how we feel or the way our lives work [or don’t work]. In fact, changing our thinking doesn’t change anything important about us at all, except perhaps how we think about things. Calls for wholesale changes in the organization’s ‘thinking’ about such things have met with stiff institutional resistance. As with virtually all formally established religious organizations, the organization, the ‘church’ itself, has now become more important than the principles that spawned it or the wellbeing of the people it was created to serve. Today, as with Unity and the Church of Religious Science, organized religions around the world are in the midst of a deeply disturbing identity crisis. Millions are simply not satisfied with it any longer.
The seriousness of this emerging crisis is so threatening that long-time practitioners dissatisfied with the fundamental limitations of the concept and the church’s unwillingness to alter its increasingly monolithic practices, have begun to spin off their own versions of the philosophy. The degree to which this kind of philosophical mutiny threatens the economic stability of the existing order has risen to the point that both Unity and CORS have hired fulltime teams of ‘conflict resolution’ specialists to bring the heretics back into line. Their primary mission is to head off this mutinous behavior and limit the damage. What we need to recognize about this phenomenon is; (1) it typifies a condition found in every institutionalized religious organization, and (2) it is the result of a realization by enlightened practitioners that altering the way we think about ourselves is only part of the answer. On one thing seekers of self-actualization are becoming increasingly agreed – there has to be something better, more powerful, more deeply affecting if we are to fill the void that yawns within us.
The realization that ‘thinking’ by itself does not define, govern or control our behaviors, values, attitudes, circumstances or outcomes during our life experience, is a hard pill for true believers of any religious philosophy to swallow. However, at the beginning of the 21st Century, we know some things about the relationship between thinking and our emotional states. Unless our best science is very mistaken, our attitudes, behaviors, values and circumstances have everything to do with how we were originally architected. The only way the original architecture can be modified to any meaningful degree is by altering both how we think and how we feel. And that, as we all know, is far more difficult than anything else we will ever attempt to do.
Up to certain limits, we can give serious consideration to alternative ways of thinking without much discomfort or threat. This is true because simply thinking about something does not touch us. In the religious traditions that evolved in Europe, and by extension in North America, acceptable doctrines and beliefs are dictated, imposed and enforced from the top down. In our culture, we have become so accustomed to being told what to believe and how to behave that it has only recently become acceptable for people to seek out their own path to sacredness. This extrinsic process, where socially acceptable beliefs and behaviors are imposed on the many by a few, from the top down, is characteristic of the Flatland described by Ken Wilber and Mother Culture, as described by Daniel Quinn.
By contrast, for example, in many of the Native American cultures which existed all over the North American continent for thousands of years, before Europeans invaded their territories, before the pilgrims settled at Plymouth, before the conquest of Mexico and the genocide of the natives of Central and South America by Cortez and his minions, the path to sacredness was discovered individually, one person at a time, as an intrinsic rite of passage. Late in the 20th Century, survivors of some of the Native American cultures have begun sharing their intrinsic spiritual processes with the rest of the world. What we are discovering is that when given the opportunity to strip away the perceptual biases imposed on us by the process of Western enculturation, we are able to reconnect with Source at a core level. This exciting discovery suggests that it is still possible for each of us to personally reconnect with Source if we are willing to do what is necessary to change the way we feel.
This process of reconnecting with Source, personally, and rediscovering our own luminous magnificence, is a life-altering experience. The reason the practices of the Grandfathers are effective is because they touch us deeply, personally, emotionally. The way we come to view ourselves and our place in the Cosmos becomes a direct expression of how we feel, not just about how we think. And herein lies the problem. If we are to become whole, if we are to genuinely heal our woundedness, we have to devise a way to alter how we feel about ourselves. This is not like reading a treatise about the meaning and importance of the Beatitudes. Instead, it is all about allowing ourselves to become the essence of the Beatific ethic sought by all the world’s greatest religious traditions – to be kind without expectation, to love without conditions, to treat all others as we want to be treated ourselves, simply because it is the right thing to do and for no other reason.
In short, I believe the objective of the life experience is for each of us to learn how to become whole, complete, and fully actualized. The Island of Life provides all the possibilities needed for us to arrive at this state of being. There are as many paths to wholeness as there are people. For each of us, some aspects of the path are unique. Where common elements can be found to make the going a little easier, we can take the risks together. But there are parts of this process that require personal focus, courage, and fortitude. For these parts of the process, we can encourage and support each other, but in the end, the only way to get through these more difficult passages is to go through them by ourselves. Johnny Cash said it best when he sang, “You got to walk that lonesome valley. You got to walk it by yourself.”
So, how do we get in touch with the emotional injuries we carry around with us, without causing more damage than we repair? How do we turn off the black holes of woundedness that suck our life force away? How do we liberate, manage and focus our personal power towards re-establishing permanent contact with Source? That is what we are here to discover.
Changing Your Feelings
The process of life plays out according to a simple, elegant, universally consistent set of uniformly applied rules. In a scientific sense, nothing that happens to us, either pleasant or otherwise, is personal. That doesn’t mean our personal experiences are not individually sensed. What it does mean, however, is that when a hurricane blows across our island unbidden and unanticipated, we are not being punished. It is not personal. It is just part of what happens during life. We are part of the system that drives all the self-organizing functions which operate throughout the Cosmos. These self-organizing functions behave according to a clearly defined set of rules and dynamics. Specific events are seldom predictable in terms of their timing, location or magnitude. Even when we think we know everything there is to know about any process or sequence of events, we continually find our ability to predict these things fraught with uncertainties.
Those who subscribe to religious views that interpret the human experience differently may decide to take this opportunity to take a careful, unemotional, deeply penetrating examination of their belief systems. We will visit this topic again during the course of our travels together, but the science of self-organizing criticality makes it clear that there is little or no linear, proportional relationship between what we do in our personal lives and events that occur in our experience that are utterly beyond our control. By this I do not mean to suggest that we are not responsible for the consequences of our choices and deeds – we are. But we are not responsible and cannot, should not be held accountable for events such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, stock market crashes and meteor strikes. These natural events, which have all sorts of interesting analogues in each of our lives, are not punishment inflicted on us by the Gods because we have erred in some way.
What I do not accept, for example, is the notion that we experience disease because we deserve to be sick. The notion that sickness, illness, disease or genetic defects are the karmic result of some sinful behavior is simply outrageous in my way of thinking. It is outrageous because this notion flies in the face of everything we know about cause and effect, in both local/linear and non-local/non-linear respects. I do not buy the notion that New Orleans was wiped out by Hurricane Katrina because God visited judgment on a sinful and disgraced community. I do not buy the notion that we are conceived in sin, born in sin or live our lives as sinful, disgraceful, irredeemable beings. Everything I know about such things tells me that this notion is fundamentally exploitive, manipulative and coercive. And more than this, it is simply not true.
Sometimes things happen in our lives that we simply have no control over. They happen because they happen, and for no other reason. We can’t prevent them because we can’t foresee them. We can’t avoid them because we have no way of knowing they are coming. And when they happen to us and those who are dear to us, the only thing we get to vote about is how we react to what has happened. In point of fact, despite the importuning of all sorts of institutions whose agendas are satisfied by compelling our acquiescence, none of us really controls anything of much significance in the broader scheme of things. Life happens, to us, in us, around us, as us. The only thing we get to control is how we navigate our way through it. We can only do the best we know how, one decision, one step, one act at a time.
Here is the important thing to remember. While we cannot alter the fundamental aspects of our physicality, if we have sufficient personal power, we can exercise absolute control over how we feel and behave. Even if we can’t control external events or circumstances, we can always choose to recognize and act according to what we want and do not want. The old saying is right about this – wisdom is a function of learning to distinguish between the things we can change and the things we cannot. The problem with this folk wisdom, however, is that the way we think about such things is largely defined by the languages we speak and cultures we are enculturated into. If we are going to be clear about discovering who we are and doing what we came here to do, we are compelled to jettison some of the perverse conceptual baggage we have picked up along the way.
Packing Our Bags
Perhaps the heaviest bag we carry with us is the severely crippling notion that we are shameful by nature. This notion is fundamentally disempowering. It condemns us to a life of guilt, fear and remorse even though there is nothing shameful about who or what we are. More importantly, this notion exerts a malignant influence on the way we justify behaving towards ourselves and each other. When we buy into the idea that we are inherently flawed, we also accept the notion that nothing we will ever do [or fail to do] can alter our sinful, shameful nature. As powerless pawns in the game of life, we become content to wait for others to determine what happens to us. We give up our power by default and then complain endlessly when the decisions they make don’t suit us. When they refuse to change their decisions, we attack them in all sorts of direct and indirect ways. In this way, we allow ourselves to become aggrieved victims of those to whom we have given away the power to make essential personal choices. We have no one to blame for this situation but ourselves.
It is precisely this notion that has been employed by the institutions of Western religious cultures to strip us of both the hope that we can reconnect with Source on our own and the responsibility for doing what is required to become personally actualized. So long as we pretend we are powerless, we are also exempt from any personal responsibility for what becomes of us. Instead, especially in the modern context of Mother Culture, we learn to capitulate to the cultural pressures that deprive us of volition. We subscribe to the notion that in order to reconnect with Source it is necessary for someone else to intercede on our behalf because we are powerless to correct our own flawed nature. We are taught that unless we follow one institutional religious path or another, we will never be permitted to reconnect with the eternal Source from which we have evolved. Rather, without intercession by some other person, group, organization or infinitely powerful being, we will be forever consigned to eternal disconnection. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, this state of being separated from Source is called Hell.
In addition, the promise of Western religious cultures is that if we pay certain kinds of tribute to those who promise to intercede on our behalf and follow a set of carefully defined [and sometimes unbelievably detailed] rules of behavior, we will be saved from ourselves. In most religious organizations, fully compliant participants are allowed to view themselves as somehow superior to those heretics and heathens who do not subscribe. The promise is that if we behave in certain ways, including especially the payment of money, the ‘church’ will automatically grant us an entitlement to eventual actualization by guaranteeing our return to divine presence after physical death. This idea is euphemistically referred to as redemption, salvation, or deliverance. To me, this idea is so perverse as to defy rational explanation.
After 10,000 years, it is time to step out of this box. I absolutely, categorically reject the notion that there is anything at all inherently wrong with being or becoming human. I unequivocally reject the notion that any of us needs anyone else’s permission or intercession in order to reconnect with Source. And I am deeply offended by any culture that requires me to capitulate to this sorry notion, regardless of the threat of ostracism or the promise of eventual redemption in some heavenly paradise.
The living of life is a great and grand adventure. We choose to enter into life, we choose the circumstances for each life we experience, and we contract with each other to play an infinite variety of roles with each other while we live in this experience. Life is not a one-shot deal. It goes on forever in one plane of existence or another. It is not a destination. It is a process of evolving and growing to an eventual state of full personal actualization. We are responsible for being here. We are responsible for becoming as fully actualized as we can, each time we play out the game of life together. That is what we came here to do. Nothing more and nothing less.
While it is certainly true that there are certain aspects of life and living that require us to fully engage in relationships with others, there is nothing about the life experience that is intrinsically shameful, requiring anyone’s intercession on our behalf, in order for any of us to become fully actualized. Of this I am absolutely convinced.
Knowing what we know, seeing what millions of us have seen in the context of near-death experiences [for example], on this side of life and on the other side of the Great Divide, it is clear that life is an eternal process. It does not begin at physical birth and end at physical death any more than day really begins and ends with the rising and setting of the sun.
If we are to fulfill our sacred purpose, if we are to become fully actualized, if we are to reconnect with the part of each of us that is beautiful, magnificent and luminous, we will have to exercise every iota of personal power we can muster. To do this, we will have to change both how we think and how we feel so we can change how we treat ourselves and each other. It is hard work. It is the most challenging, demanding and frustrating endeavor any of us will ever attempt.
To become actualized, we have to at least be willing to give up the notion that behaving in certain culturally prescribed ways will buy us an entitlement to redemption. To do this, we have to be willing to take full personal responsibility for deciding what is right and wrong, all by ourselves, on our own. This means, among other things, that our notions about such absolutes as good and bad, right and wrong, and truth and falsehood must give way to a deep personal knowing about these things. In short, when we give up our addiction to the doctrines supplied by Mother Culture, we become responsible for discovering the limits of such things for ourselves. When we step outside the lines of our own deepest connection with what is right, good and true, we have no one but ourselves to blame for the undesirable consequences we create. In short, stepping out of the box means giving up our claim to victimization at the hands of others. “We are mess making machines,” someone once said. Our job in life is learn how to clean up the messes we make and learn from the experience of making them.
The Price of Moral Freedom
When I was a boy, my parents decided to join the Mormon church. I immediately hated the idea. As the oldest of four boys with a military officer for a father, I was given no choice in the matter. He gave me an order and I was expected to jump to it without asking why or how high. Despite the fact that I held out for nearly two years before eventually capitulating, inevitably I was forcibly compelled to submit to dad’s demand that I get baptized.
For ten years I capitulated to the moral, ethical and behavioral preferences he imposed on our little family. When I became 19 years old, I was expected to do what all good Mormon boys do ~ pack my bags and go out into the world for two years as a missionary for the church. For ten years after I finished the missionary process, while I was finishing my university education, starting my own family and beginning my professional career, I struggled to understand why the notions embodied in the religious philosophy of the church was so troublesome to me.
During that decade, I collected and read more than 5,000 books on the subject. I investigated and compared the belief structures of all the world’s great religious traditions. I learned enough Greek and Hebrew and Latin to be able to discriminate between various linguistic translations of the Christian bible. I read the Koran, the Vedas and other religious texts. I read the apocryphal books of the biblical era, including scholarly commentaries prepared by four great Western universities. I collected and read more than 250 different translations of the bible. I attended all kinds of religious services, participated in a wide variety of different kinds of religious rites and rituals. In short, I pursued this quest as if my life depended on it. I sensed, for reasons that have only recently become clear to me, that something was dreadfully wrong with the state of religious practice in the modern era. I was determined to understand it.
During the two years I spent marketing the Mormon notions about God and the purpose of life, I made some important discoveries about myself and the notions I had been assigned to sell to others. By the time I was finished, I had become convinced there was very little that was genuinely sacred about service as a missionary or the practice of religion in general. I discovered, for example, that being religious has little or nothing to do with being spiritual. While I was engaged in this process, I struggled to find authentic sacredness in the experience. Instead, I came away with profound doubts about the existence of a supreme being, the need for intercession by anyone to redeem mankind from his nature, and the legitimacy of anyone’s claim to represent the interests of the Source in this mortal plane.
One night, while I was reading a four-language polyglot bible commentary, around 1:30 in the morning, I experienced what can only be described as an epiphany. In an instant it felt as though the top of my head had been unzipped and my mind connected directly to the Universal Hologram. I instantly understood why organized religions operate as they do. I understood the political and economic agendas they employ to disenfranchise and disempower us. I understood the whole gamut of their social and cultural engineering agendas. It was a monumental, life altering moment.
Most importantly, I saw why religious organizations work so hard to convince us that we are sinful, shameful and disgraceful by nature. It is all about their privileged access to power. I realized in that instant that religious organizations and their leaders have no access to power unless we relinquish it to them. The arbitrary imposition of a judgment that labels us as sinful, shameful and irremediable in the sight of God is the strategy they have perfected to strip us of our entitlement to personal power. Nothing we can do will ever change who and what we are, they tell us. To return to God, we are compelled to allow God’s agents to intercede on our behalf. The promise of redemption, resurrection and eternal glory is the currency they trade in. They exact our servitude and engage in spiritual and economic extortion by keeping us in fear, punishing our guilt and immersing us in shame. In exchange, they dispense promises which cannot be claimed until life for us is ended. As far as I can tell, organized religion is the most successfully orchestrated economic scam of all time.
It works because these practices exploit our deepest fears and most earnest yearnings. Religions pretend that they alone possess the answers to man’s most fundamental questions. By convincing us of the legitimacy of their right to act as God’s agents, and then coercing us to comply with their performance requirements, they hold us hostage to our most profound longing – to be reconnected with Source.
After this experience, my view of my life, my purpose, my reason for being on the planet, changed permanently. It was at the same time the most exciting and terrifying moment of my life. The exhilaration I felt was so exquisite that it has driven me for more than 50 years. The realization that it is up to me to distinguish between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, and good and not-so-good, without relying on anyone else’s arbitrary standards, has become the greatest personal challenge of my life. In that moment, I learned everything I had been seeking to understand for so many years. It was crystal clear, utterly beyond argument and completely rational. I had no other choice but to change the way I was living.
Next morning, I picked up my lesson books and returned them to the local church leader along with a written notice that I wanted my name permanently removed from the church’s membership list. Within just a few hours, I was visited by half a dozen local church authorities, all of whom pleaded with me to reconsider. When I told them I was totally resolute in my decision, they threatened me with eternal damnation and informed me that I was no longer welcome in their neighborhood. When I tried to buy gasoline later that afternoon, the owner of the local gas station refused to sell me any. The same thing happened at the local grocery store. When I returned home several hours later, my father was in my front room, angrily pointing his finger at my wife while he yelled at her. She didn’t have the faintest idea what he was talking about because I had not discussed my experience with her.
The confrontation with my father was difficult, if only because it was the culmination of a lifetime of resistance and resentment between us. He threatened me in all sorts of ways before he left. I found out just before he died that my decision to bail out of the church was the most horrible thing that had ever happened to him. He never figured out why I made the decision and was never able to forgive me for it. As he was dying, I asked him why it was so impossible for him to allow me to live my own life with integrity. “What’s right is right,” he said. “The law is the law and there is no room for personal choice.” He went to his grave believing that my decision to be free had violated some eternal, immutable, non-negotiable law. Perhaps next time around we’ll find a way to work this out.
Since the day I pulled the plug, I have struggled to make sense of the choices I have made during my life. And as luck would have it, within just a few months after I pulled the rip cord and bailed out, while I was still in free-fall, the universe handed me an alternative. What that alternative was and how it affected my life is another story. The important thing I want you to take away is this: there is nothing wrong with you. Nothing at all. You do not need to be saved because you are not lost. You do not need to be redeemed because you are not sinful. You are what you are, as you are, in this life as who you are, because you chose it before you came here. Our task together is to increase your personal power so you can exercise personal choice without fear, shame or guilt by becoming fully actualized and permanently reconnected with Source. We can do this without anyone getting between us and the Source from which we are all spawned.
Visualization [scripted and included in the CD-ROM]
So here we are on the Island of our life. Before we settle in, let’s take a tour. From an altitude of 500 feet we can see all the physical features, including the shapes, locations and other identifying characteristics that make up our island. As an active participant in this survey, it is possible to take stock of all the features we will discover. After we have catalogued them, we will take some time to examine how we feel about them.
The boundaries defining the shape, size and other characteristics of each person’s island are largely determined before the moment we are conceived. Depending on your belief structures, I invite you to entertain the notion that many or all of the pre-defined aspects of our mortal experience are the result of choices, agreements or obligations we entered into before choosing to come here. If your belief system will accommodate this component, then the numbers, nature and variety of features defining the island you are born to will be richer than those described by a purely physical model.
While most of these features found on each of our islands are also commonly found on other islands, the combination of the features defining who we are is absolutely unique to each of us. There is no other island in the universe quite like our own. While some of the features we inherit may be altered in one way or another, most of them cannot be changed in any meaningful way at all. All of them, taken individually and as an entire system, exert a profound primary effect on the nature and quality of our mortal experience.
While we’re observing the topological features visible from our observation platform in the sky, consider the following list as a way of framing your experience. Your list may include features other than these, but we can at least begin with the following common elements:
Conventional/ Physical Features
* Gender * Race * DNA Coding * Culture * Language Systems * Socio-Economic Systems * Geo-Political Systems * Religious Cultures * Geographical Location
Eternal/ Spiritual Factors
* Karma * Past Life Experiences * Near Death Experiences * Life After Life Experiences * Life Between Lives Experiences * Out of Body Experiences * Personal Revelation and Visions * Spirit Guides
Now that we have a starting point, it’s time to take stock of the broader features comprising the island we inhabit. Inhabit is not a precisely correct term here. When we think about inhabiting a space, we automatically assume that the place we inhabit is outside or separate from our sense of self. The languages we have learned to speak define the way we think about such things, so it is difficult to stretch past this arbitrary conceptual limitation. Instead of thinking about our island as an outside, extrinsic, ‘other’ place, I prefer to think about it in terms of actually BEING the island. The island we are examining is not, in point of fact, some place we go to. In reality, it is the totality of who and what we are. It is who/what/where we BE.
The magic trick we have to perform in order for this concept to work for us requires us to be able to remember that while we are playing a game called ‘Touring the Island,’ we are really turning our focus inward. The physical, emotional, spiritual, social, behavioral and intellectual features we are about to survey are all part of who we are, inside and out.
Let’s become observers together. We’ll make notes in a journal later, after we’ve taken the tour. For now, though, just relax and enjoy the ride.
Issue: How to structure this visualization to heighten awareness without limiting imagination or intruding on reader’s unique point of view
Issue: Timing and pacing ~ how to provide pacing support so the reader has enough time to take the survey without the process dragging or putting the reader to sleep.
In your mind’s eye, go to a wide-open space. On this space, you see dozens of enormous, colorful hot air balloons lying on the ground, partially inflated, being readied for a journey into the sunrise. Look around, take stock of what is going on around you, and pick the balloon you would like to ride in. After you have made this choice, walk over to the balloon you have chosen. Make a visual inspection of the entire apparatus, from the top of the envelope to the bottom of the basket, by walking slowing around it.
Notice the pilot. Pay careful attention to how you feel about this person – if you are not completely satisfied that this person will be safe to fly with, walk away and choose another. Once you have found a pilot you can trust, who is suitable to act as your tour guide and ultimate protector during this trip, step into the passenger basket. Take note of the contours of the railing. Notice how it feels under your hands. Notice that the bottom of the basket is solid, safe and strong enough to hold more than a dozen people. The cables that carry it beneath the envelope are very strong and light.
As the pilot pours heat into the balloon, you can hear the roar of the flame. You can feel the heat from it on your face and see the vast expanse of the balloon above you filling out to its full, glorious form. When the envelope is full and you are ready, give the pilot the ‘thumbs up’ signal. It is time to lift off. Reach over to the rail and release the drag lines ~ it is time to let go and allow yourself to float free.
As you gently rise into the air, notice that except for the fact that you can see the ground slipping away beneath you, you have absolutely no sensation of motion at all. Notice, too, that by your intention alone you can steer the balloon anywhere you want it to go over your island. Look out across the landscape as it unfolds beneath you. See what you see. Remember it all, every single detail, as if this may be the only time you will ever get to see it.
As you rise above your own private space, take stock of what you see. Look carefully around you. Focus intensely on this scene. It is essential to recognize and remember everything about it if you are to complete your mortal mission successfully. Take a mental note of each feature you discover. Concentrate. Look closely at everything. Forget nothing. Trust this process. Know that your memory is perfect.
[this guided visualization will require perhaps 20 minutes. Music, sounds of wind, water, balloon heaters, etc. will be laid over the narration, on a CD-ROM included with the book]
Now, it’s time to bring your attention back to the ground. With your internal navigation system in control, direct the balloon back to the launching point. From high above the ground, gradually, gently allow hot air to be vented from the upper surfaces of the balloon’s envelope. Slowly, carefully, with deliberate control, lower your basket until it gently, softly touches the ground.
Take a few deep breaths. Slowly climb out of the basket and stand firmly on the ground. You are home. When you are ready, open your eyes.
Before you do anything else, pick up your journal and pen and record everything you have observed and felt during this journey. Draw a map, if you can, identifying the features you discovered, where they are located on the island, what they look like, and most importantly, how you felt about them while getting in touch with them.
Take as much time as you need to complete this project. For some, this will take only an hour or so – for others, this can take days, sometimes even weeks. However long it takes, make certain you are totally, fully, completely satisfied with the map you have created before you move on to the next part of this exercise. You get to choose how this process works. How it turns out is completely up to you. Do your best, make it as perfect and beautiful as you can, until you are completely satisfied, then move on.
If you need to start over one or more times before you are satisfied, allow yourself to do this. It will take time for you to get used to converting what you observe into words, shapes, images, colors and so on. As you work your way through this process, you will soon discover that your ability to become a keen observer, to recall every detail of your inspections and observations, to record what you discover and convert these memories into vivid, powerful, striking images, words and shapes will improve in direct proportion to your willingness to allow yourself to fully embrace this process.