Hiking 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. I 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 aliveness.
"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
"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 itself.
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 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!
VARNUM - For 30 years, Keith Varnum has focused his unique spirit on
helping people explore, enjoy and embrace the adventure of life. From the
wisdom of native tribal cultures and ancient spiritual traditions, Keith
shares his distillation of the underlying principles of all healing and
transformation. After curing himself of blindness, he has applied his
approach to human dynamics in a practical way as a wilderness vision quest
guide, life strategy coach, international seminar leader, author,
acupuncturist, filmmaker, gardener, radio talk show host, owner-chef of
two gourmet natural foods restaurants and vice president of the country's
largest natural food company. When not exploring consciousness in the
canyons of Arizona (see www.SedonaVisionQuest.com),
Keith travels around the world assisting people to open to life's wonders
and surprises in his Dream Workshops (see www.TheDream.com)
Varnum has published two books: "Inner Coach: Outer Power"
and "Living the Dream-It's Time"