A few weeks ago, I attended my last class in a meditation series where I entered a state of direct connection to source and obtained a pathway for the near future. I drifted off from the guided meditation and hovered in the divine. I was in my body, and not in my body synchronously. After that experience, my perception shifted. I stopped searching for answers in society or from the voices of others. I found more answers within than I have from “outside”. I suppose I realized that society, specifically Westernized culture, has separated itself from the connection and wisdom that comes from participating in and learning from nature. Recently, I have been craving time in the mountains. I needed to clear my head and find solitude, which I knew I could find in the wilderness. After my meditation experience, I have been feeling my way through decisions instead of intellectualizing them. I can research and plan with the best intentions, and I will work very hard to achieve those goals, though they might make me miserable in the end.
As I do with any proposed vacation, I search LivingSocial and Groupon for discounts. I narrowed down my choices to two locations, one in Cana, Virginia and one in Banner Elk, North Carolina. Instead of conducting more research, I let myself sit in the decision. Eventually, and rather spontaneously, I selected the Banner Elk location and quickly booked my trip. I got my things together and left two days later. The drive over to the mountains was meaningful, in and of itself. As I was physically moving from one location to another, through roads and highways, there was an inner movement taking place. I thought about the movement that was happening in my epistemology, in my ability to see things as more complex, in my ability to inquire and participate in my life rather than forcibly control it.
I saw a wine and cheese shop and decided to make a quick detour from my journey. Since I am being more participative and engaging with life, I decided to chat with the woman in the store about her experiences living in the area and what sort of opportunities might be available for me if I moved. It was a wonderfully insightful conversation about Banner Elk, Boone (the small city I had passed through), and Johnson City, Tennessee. She, also, mentioned that there is a large community of Feminist Activists in Asheville, North Carolina. This information was much needed and gave me decisions to contemplate.
As soon as I arrived at the lodge and put some of my luggage in the room, I encountered a woman, with a very cute dog, sitting on her porch. I inquired as to whether I could pet her dog, and she stated that he was very friendly. Indeed, he was very friendly and while I was petting him, the woman and I started talking. The knowledge she obtained over her 64 years of life is exactly what I have been contemplating and precisely what this module is on. She was a preacher with the Unity church and spent a third of her life exploring spirituality and metaphysics. We discussed life, God, and the universe as we each experienced the phenomena. We stood outside talking as the sun set, as the air cooled, as the dog got tired of playing. We talked for two hours before we decided to head to dinner.
As we talked more over our vegetarian pizzas, I thought about the beauty of where my intuition was taking me. The beauty of two minds and the collective consciousness meeting, learning, and growing under the pink sky, amongst the trees and the grass, and under the soaring birds. This yoga of participation would not have happened if I intellectualized and rationalized my decision. The rational decision was to go to Cana, Virginia because it was closer and breakfast was provided. The rational decision would have been to not go because I was spending money that could have been used for something better. But, the intuitive decision was to go where my heart was leading me.
When we got back from dinner, I met a couple who was there for the night and came up to hike Beech Mountain. They were young and silly, we had a few drinks, and laughed the night away. I suppose, ordinarily, there wouldn’t have been anything remarkable about these two people and my interaction with them. Without a yoga of participation, I would not have noticed something I deeply needed to notice. They were in a long-distance relationship and the man traveled from New Jersey to spend a few days with her. He was sacrificing time, energy, and money for the woman he loved. He was willing to uproot his entire life to be near her. I have not seen that kind of commitment or passion, from one person for another in a very long time, and helped to ease the cynical streak I developed over the past few years.
If I had not been in a participatory mindset, I would not have further engaged with these two people and I would not have learned something about this world that I thought was impossible in post-modern times. After the couple and I parted, I thought about what the next day’s activities would be. I decided I wanted to explore Johnson City, so, the next morning I finished the rest of my super cheesy pizza, got dressed, and headed over to Tennessee. It was a fun experience during the drive because I had never been to Tennessee. I took lots of pictures of the mountains, as the leaves changed colors and the chilly wind blew. When I arrived, I was not immediately impressed. The restaurant at the lodge was not open, since November is a slow month, so I decided to stop at Earth Fare to grab a few things. After my quick grocery trip, I spontaneously decided to check out Eastern Tennessee State University to get a feel for what job opportunities might be available.
I had a wonderful encounter with some of the people in the Welcome Center, and walked over to the Business and Information Technology building. I declined to follow the tour for prospective students because I did not feel I needed that much information and I was wearing boots, long pants, and a cashmere sweater in 80-degree weather. Had I engaged in the campus tour, I would have had a much more insightful and accurate picture of the university than I could have gleaned through my own observations.
I made a few quick stops on the way back to the lodge, for some delicious Tennessee BBQ and to see a state park, but when I arrived, I had the opportunity to take in all that I experienced over the past two days. As I thought about the places that I have been happiest in, my experience at Ithaca College, and in the surrounding wine country, came to mind. As I looked out into the mountains, and at the trees in front of me, I saw a chipmunk. I have not seen a chipmunk since I was in Ithaca and I absolutely adore them. I don’t know if that chipmunk was a sign, but I took it as one. A sign that I was in the right place at the right time and the universe would open and provide me with what I needed if I only participated in that creation.
Photo © Brown Dress with White Dots and That Kind of Woman
First year doctoral student in the Transformative Studies program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Katharine graduated with an MBA in Economics in 2016 and a BA in Economics in 2013. Her focus in the program is Feminist Economics and revolve around one question: How do gender binary stereotypes affect the macro- and global economies? Katherine's long-term goal is to use Marxist Feminist ideas to bring about a social and economic revolution that enables greater freedom in economic choices.