Transformational Training ~ Developing Your Self II

by Lesley

file000735544549In Transformational Training, Developing Your Self, I talked about challenging my fears in water and with heights, both of which  amounted to the same thing really; my lack of trust in myself – even though I had completed many firewalks and had walked 40 feet of fire, as part of my Instructor training.

The Transformational Leadership course with Peggy Dylan (Sundoor USA) and Simon Treselyan (Starfiire UK) in 1999, required my utmost focus and determination for me to succeed in considering myself an Empowerment Instructor – a job and title which I created; soon after to be recreated by a number of others, some doing similar but different stuff.

On this course, along with twenty-five (ish) others, I was presented with a variety of challenges to rumble my perceptions – on almost everything I thought I knew! Apart from the obvious daily firewalks, glass walks, arrows and boards, we were introduced to the Native American sweatlodge. This was my first Sacred Ceremony and one I’m never likely to forget.

A few years later I met Liz, who pours sweats in Glasgow and in another location close to my home. I instantly connected with her and entrusted my life into her (very capable) hands. I’ve now done so many sweats with her, that I’ve lost count – and I plan to attend another one on the full moon in September of this year.

Sweatlodge ceremonies not only open your pores, but open your heart and mind – if you’re willing.

Willingness is the single, the most important intention you can bring to any ceremony; the desire to learn from the experience itself, will bring so much information to you. It’s this opening up of the self that allows release of old habits, patterns and negativity, while making space for everything new.

All that’s required of you in the sweatlodges, is that you relax. Sounds easy but it’s one of the most difficult things to do when your mind’s in a swirl, begging you to remove yourself from (perceived) danger/ torture and self-inflicted misery. Relaxing into the process enables you to see with clarity, the mud in your mind.

I wanted to learn even more about myself so when I was given a birthday present of an ayahuasca (Sacred Plant) ceremony for my birthday in 2011, I was excited to participate. I later discovered I’d been given another plant combination – but that’s another blog, of a different kind, for another time.

So when the opportunity arose to take part in an ayahuasca sacred ceremony recently, I jumped at the chance!

It was to be completely different, in every way; we set up camp in a small woodland, preparing two fires – one for tea and the other, blessed, lit and tended to by our medicine-woman throughout the entire event. This fire was to be our focus, our connection to source and I must say, a great comfort during the night.

We began the sacred ceremony with a Chanupa, a sacred pipe filled with tobacco for sharing, as we gave thanks to our ancestors and set our intentions for the evening. As the light of day faded, we took the offering of ayahuasca and settled into singing sacred songs and again relaxing into ourselves. It wasn’t long before we were laughing and joking, even remarking that the ancestors would see the funny side of things and would be happy that we were entirely comfortable with each other and in ourselves.

After a while I felt myself withdraw from everything around me. The light was almost gone, only shadows and flickering fire-light were visible – but out the corner of my eye, I saw a man. I didn’t recognise this man at all. He was a strange colour, one I’d never seen before and this seemed to fix my attention. His strong, muscular body glowed some kind of orange. Only now do I think of it as a fire-glow.

He appeared to be holding a pose – mid-step and he was wearing traditional clothing of some sort, but again it was unfamiliar. I closed my eyes, moved my head and opened them again. He was still there. I mentioned to the shaman that there was a man ‘dancing’ just outside of our encampment and I think we talked about who this might be, but I can’t remember exactly.

I took my attention back to the fire and allowed my mind to wander. I felt safe and secure, suddenly also feeling extremely tired. A voice in my head quite loudly said rest. I lay back in my sleeping bag – and promptly fell asleep!

I awoke to a second prayer round with the sacred pipe. I felt quite energised, as if I’d slept for a very long time. I was ready for the next round of ayahuasca too.

The next few hours passed in a blur of conversation, verbally deciphering ‘reasons why’ and (bad) country and western songs. We had plenty of laughter but I was having strange stomach cramps – cramps like I haven’t known for many years, when I suffered endometriosis. For a brief moment I panicked, fearing the return of one of the most excruciating pains I’ve ever experienced. It became so bad at one point, I had to speak about it. Almost as soon as I did, it disappeared. I relaxed again. It briefly returned later but again was soon gone.

The funniest part of the whole thing, was the other participant’s sudden discovery that he could see everything, even though his eyes were shut. Then he turned towards us in almost pitch darkness, asking if his eyes were, in fact, shut. This gave each of us the belly-laugh of the century. It was also total confirmation that altho’ we maybe didn’t feel affected by the ayahuasca, we were!

There had been smooth transitions between worlds; each of us having our own experiences, generated from within. Luckily being trusting and trusted friends, we were able to communicate rather well.

We all had our discomforts too – nausea didn’t affect me at all this time – the gentleness of the ayahuasca and my previous day’s fasting meant I wasn’t overly worried about the purgative effects – well, not until later in the morning when a coffee seemed like a good idea!

The following day floated by ~ my mind didn’t feel at all taxed, but my body was exhausted. I rested and gave myself permission to take time off, from everything. I lay on my sofa, wrapped in a fleecy blanket and watched a movie on a Saturday afternoon. I can’t tell you how long it is since I’ve done that – and I slept for a full twelve hours that night.

I also gave myself time to process what I’d learned about myself the night before;

I learned that, over the years, I had learned to trust myself.

I learned that I trust some people implicitly.

I learned that I am entirely comfortable in my own skin.

I learned too that this journey on earth is primarily to fulfill my role as a nurturing mother.

I understood better my place in the web of my life.

I appreciated my own sense of humour again too – completely surrendering to my (cultivated) sense of the ridiculous.

Even now approaching my fiftieth year, I realise I am not without fear – but I do feel courageous for addressing those out of balance fears and for keeping myself moving forward, learning from every experience I have and applying what I learn.


Taking part in anything which alters perceptions, shifts thinking patterns or changes behaviours, is transformational.

You are likely to learn about you, your environment and your connection (or lack of) to nature.

You are in control of which methods you choose to promote your growth. Choose both ‘shaman’ and process wisely.

Get in touch if you’re ready to begin your journey to becoming fully you – a very confident and vibrant you – the one you want to be, ready to take on the world!

About Lesley

Lesley Rodgers has written 146 posts on this blog.

Personal Development Consultant and Confidence Coach. Lesley is also a committed Human Rights Activist with her heart firmly lodged in 'community' and collaboration.


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