Almost 25 years ago when I started teaching the Medicine Wheel I struggled with the language. I found it difficult to lecture crowds of people who vowed that science was more credible then Indigenous beliefs. Often I was criticized for being New Age because of the vocabulary. It took me almost a decade of learning / healing – to be able to claim the language and convey the sacred knowledge / science that exists through it or behind it. I understood this process as “reasoning.”
The Wheel shows us how important it is to choose a path and walk it....
The Wheel shows us how important it is to choose a path and walk it....
In the beginning I often had monologues where all I did was defend the ancestral ways. When one day, a Mohawk Medicine Man I met in Montreal said to me: “Don’t bother trying to convince anyone. Work on being convinced your self.”
In 1988 I was diagnosed with autonomic neuropathy. The doctors didn’t seem to know much about the disease except that eventually it would affect the functioning of most of my organs. I was 24 years old worried and afraid. The neurologist who first diagnosed me promised it would take decades before I would have to worry about effects of the disease. Unfortunately he was wrong. By the age of 26 years old, autonomic neuropathy had already chronically affected my pancreas, my bowels, my stomach, my kidneys and bladder. For a while, medication worked until early 2000. At this point it was suggested that I open myself up to the idea of “stomas” for the bladder and bowels. It was then that I realized that this disease would eventually kill me.
There’s no doubt that without “reasoning” my life would have turned out completely different and not just because I struggle with illness. Life throws all kinds of events and experiences our way and if we’re not capable “to reason” we often get caught in a roller coaster ride of reactions and emotions; which inevitably reach a point of “break down.” I meet people every day who use the words “melt down, nervous break down, and burn out” as if it’s expected to move through these kind of experiences through the course of our life.
Reasoning through difficult experiences is absolutely necessary for survival.
On the Medicine Wheel the Moon of Reasoning appears near the end of a Moon cycle in the NW quadrant. It’s the 10th Moon. Scientific studies show us that the brain develops gradually starting with basic functions of understanding senses and movement. Spatial orientation and language comes next. Integrating information and reasoning experiences or events in order to be able to make choices appears at the end of the process. The Medicine Wheel supports these discoveries by introducing the Moon of Reasoning at the end of the cycle. The Medicine Wheel also shows us that it’s natural to have an emotional reaction before having logical thought.
Through noted observation I’ve noticed especially in the last decade that it’s becoming more and more difficult for people to reach a point of reason. It seems people are attached to their emotional reactions and have developed a way to continuously be enabled in this kind of process. I was telling some students of mine this week how unbearable it is to sit in a waiting room in a Hospital. As soon as someone shares his or her medical history it seems to trigger a sense of competition amongst other patients.
Who can prove that he or she suffers the most… It may sound illogical; but for some reason when dealing with illness it always summarizes itself to “who has it worst.”
Through our work GP and I have noticed that people who have early broken moons (trauma in early childhood and a lack of resources / parenting) will have more difficulty consciously making sense of things around them especially during times of crisis. If you haven’t for example mastered your first few moons; which are about welcoming, affirmation and drama (mimicking) it will be difficult for you to master the three other quadrants of moons and so on… From a cerebral perspective, our first three moons are about moving and sensing.
How many of us can actually say we’ve figured out how our body moves and senses?
“Don’t climb that tree,” I heard a woman scream to her son this week, “you’ll hurt yourself.”
I remember my mother encouraging us kids to climb trees as children. She believed it was important to understand the world around us through “the body.” Both my parents were dancers and they often told us that “health started with being active.” Unlike today it wasn’t so much about exercising (loosing and maintaining weight or being healthy) as it was about inter-relating with the world around us. I was continuously told to be attentive; alert and creative. Life was about experience and experience came through a physical interaction with our environment.
I didn’t have computers or cell phones as I was growing up. It seems much of my reality was about moving and sensing; which is very different then most children today. It seems many parents over protect and over indulge their children making it difficult for their kids to develop some kind of relationship with their environment. It’s amazing how important it is to experience movement and explore senses because without it our reasoning gets impaired.
Reason is basically about “making sense of the things around us.” In order to apply logic to our lives we need a good foundation or archive of knowledge to back us up. You would think that in the year 2013 you would be abundant in resources. Technology allows us to know everything about anything. Yet, reasoning is about more then just “having access to information.” It’s about “knowing;” which implies “believing” in what we are reading or collecting as facts. There may be too many facts these days that are left unsubstantiated.
How many times have you heard this statement: “You can’t possible believe that….”
I find it ironic that we live in a world where we’ve never had more access to everything and still we’ve never struggled more than now – with depression, suicide, illness and a chronic “dis-ease” towards life.
I’m often asked:
· “How could you have possibly reasoned out your illness?
· How does someone even begin to understand something that is so unfair and so illogical?
· How does someone even begin to ignore illness when it’s so big and always there?
Last week I was in the Hospital getting tested for a possible “pancreas transplant.” For some reason that morning when I left home I brought my journal along with me.
I never do this….
I held it in my hands through the whole process often asking myself: “Why in the world did I bring this thing with me?”
It was in the way. I was finally called for blood tests when suddenly I forgot my journal somewhere between two waiting rooms and the actual blood test station. When I got in the car and noticed I didn’t have my book I actually felt relieved. I interpreted the event as some kind of deboning.
All morning I felt like the journal was in the way and “if only I could get rid of it.”
By two o’clock in the afternoon I received a called from a young lady who had found my journal. She explained to me how she keeps a journal and how valuable her journal is to her. She was incredibly happy to have been able to “save mine.” As it turned out she didn’t live too far away from me and promised I would pick it up. I literally walked around the house mumbling to myself for two days: Grouchy. Suddenly, I had to reason the whole even differently. I had been happy with the idea of letting go and getting rid of something. This new perspective was different.
Before leaving to pick up the journal I decided to wrap up one of the journals G and I keep in reserve. I figured this young woman deserved a gift for her troubles. Plus I felt called to reward this lady’s enthusiasm towards journal keeping. JEWELS (the name I gave the woman) was barely 25 years old and chronically ill. From the moment I arrived to her door to the moment I left she shared a terrible story about her premature birth and 25 years of hospital care. She was completely trapped in the web of disease and what I found sad was how she had been conditioned by the adults in her life to “believe in nothing else but pain and suffering.”
I handed her the gift I brought and said: “Do me a favour and write a story about a World you’d like to live in and describes the characters as if they were your family and friends. Don’t write anything about illness in this journal. In that fantasy world there’s no disease….”
Jewels smiled at me and just as she was about to give me an excuse I interrupted her and said: “Goodby.”
I walked back to the car looking at the world around me pleased that I could identify a Jay from a Cardinal just by the different chirping; I could appreciate the trees, the rain and the people I have in my life. I could reason things through and find my way back to ME rather than constantly reacting to life’s experiences.
Reasoning means rationalizing and as science shows us it begins with sensing and movement. Intuition plays a huge part in the development of reasoning. Unfortunately in our society, we’ve allowed trauma and poor conditioning in early childhood to impair the functioning of our Moon of Reason. The way we feel about people, events / experiences, and life in general often gets in the way of how we understand cause and effect, truth and lies, illusion and reality as well as what is right and wrong. Believe it or not schooling, cultural and religious traditions as well as science these days – are important keys in teaching people how to reason; but the most important “influence” is what seems broken in our Western society: Parenting.
It is so important to teach children to “problem solve.” Reasoning is a skill we develop through childhood and begin to truly exercise around 10 years old. Mastering our Moon of Reason comes with dedication, determination and time. I’ve always pictured the Moon of Reason as twin-sisters because I’ve always understood reasoning as a two-part process: Being able to choose and then, being able to manifest or implement these choices. One twin being “choice” while the other is “action” (feminine and masculine principles).
It’s never too late to dedicate our selves to “reasoning.” Give yourself the task every day to “make choices” and to “implement them in your life.” Practice the skill and slowly develop it. Don’t be afraid to recognize parenting moments in your life. Open yourself up to learning and to healing. There are endless opportunities for us to CHANGE. Reasoning is one step in that process.
Last week I told a student of mine: “Don’t use reasoning to limit yourself; but use it to expand your horizon.”
Her response was: “How do I begin to do that?”
P.S. : I wish I could write the step by step process in a blog entry or even in a book but the fact of the matter is – it’s an experience. G and I give workshops everywhere…. Just invite us to your circles and we’ll be more than happy to guide you.