Pray it forward
It was a random snowy day in Boulder, Colorado. Bloody Freezing, I think would be an accurate description of temperature.
Jamie and I had been invited by my beautiful friend and Shaman, Becky, to take part in a Lakota sweat lodge happening on a piece of land up in the foothills.
I had no idea what I was in for. I mean, I've been to a sauna before - but this was meant to be a tiny hut on the ground you sweat in for over 2 hours (I never lasted longer than about 10 minutes!) and get to temperatures up to 60 degrees Celsius!
Needless to say, I was a little afraid.
"Don't people die in those things?" I naively asked Becky when she first invited us, upon hearing we'd be in Denver in October.
She laughed out loud, and said, "Sure! if you pay $400 to ‘get in’, there's 400 people there and no medicine man, and it's run by a celebrity!"
I didn't quite know what she meant until after my experience - when I realised these things become a "resume item" for some people in the entrepreneurial / spiritual / business / trendsetting world... where sinceI've heard of people boasting about "how many sweat lodges they've done" like it makes them more #woke somehow.
But regardless of how hipster I am not in this moment, I learned a compelling lesson from the medicine man.
This warrior had piercing black eyes, a thick-set stomach, no shirt, a hairless body with a pony tail that started in a mohawk above his head and descended to the small of his back. I was barefoot in a sweat dress, and finally out of the snow. The medicine man looked me right in the eyes as he welcomed me into the tent, he said "hi, I'm Dave!"
It made me giggle because... y'know, I was expecting something more... native-warrior-ish. Fair enough. I'm a chump. "Nice to meet you, Dave".
Over the following two and something hours, I had an experience that will never leave me. Through song, prayer, an invitation, more prayer, and song, through sweat trickling out of every pore, complete darkness, with flashes of light, and other things you will simply have to experience to believe, I gently sunk deeper into the moment. And learned a powerful lesson.
I learned how to give in a way I had never ever understood before.
Dave (please picture him as a scary-looking warrior with the most gentle heart from now on) began by honouring the women in the circle. Offering insight to the men thee that the women are here to heal the world, and we have to listen to them. I almost began to cry, It was so beautiful to be in a space, where so many men were in such honour of these beautiful women, in this way.
Then, he told a story about his son. About the change he had seen in his son, because of the prayers sent through the lodge every week. he had told his son when he asked for money "I can't give you money, but I can pray for you."
Pray it forward.
This distinction has been with me from that moment, and not left my heart since. It has truly changed my life.
Sometimes, we can't physically be there for someone.
Sometimes, they don't want us to be there.
Sometimes, there is indeed nothing we can do - be it due to resource, distance, time, permission, or physical planes.
In these moments, we can pray it forward. We can use our energy, our gratitude, our intention directed to a cause to make a difference.
I'm not here to tell you how it works, or even that it does. I don't care for that. I know in my heart, it's something I can do for this planet, and for every human that exists upon it, and those that don't even exist yet, and for you too.
I don't believe in the organised religion version of one God. But I do believe that our energy is a superpower. And where we direct our attention, and our energy, things happen. I want to use that to make a difference.
So from now on, alongside the work I do, and the things I can, I'm going to be praying it forward.
It's something you can do, too.
I'm sending you, all the love in the world right now. (I actually mean it!)