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Pathmaps: Urban Vision Quest
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For: Upper School
Pathmaps Points: Intentional Action, Transformative Experiences

This activity is based – very loosely – on a ritual common to many indigenous traditions and often referred to as a Vision Quest. In many indigenous societies, young people undertake some kind of Vision Quest at the end of adolescence as a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. This usually involves leaving the community for a period of time and undergoing extreme physical trials like fasting or dancing or staying awake in order to induce altered states of consciousness and to explore the limits of their bodies.

During this time, the participant is open to receive information from the world around, which usually comes in some kind of metaphorical or symbolic way. The information might not be understood by the participant at the time but still contribute to a profound inner change. The experience can sometimes help answer a question that the participant has about life, or help the person's transition into the next phase of his or her life, or can just open the person's mind to the world beyond the immediate senses.

We are not going to undertake something on this large or deep of a scale. We will do a smaller version, just to give a sense of what a Vision Quest might be in our culture.

- Formulate a question or an idea about something you wonder about, and hold the question in your mind. Do not write it down or tell anyone.

- Choose a time to begin and to end your quest. Be specific. You cannot change these times once you start. It must be a period of at least thirty minutes but can be longer depending on how long you think you can sustain your focus.

- IMPORTANT: Do something – some kind of action - to mark the beginning. This may seem odd, but do it just the same.

- After you do your action, bring your question or idea into your mind and try to hold it there as much as possible during the course of the quest.

- Avoid speaking to others during your quest unless it is absolutely necessary. You might also choose to fast or spend time alone during this time to increase the significance and focus of the experience.

- Spend at least five minutes of your quest sitting quietly, as still as possible, and paying attention to your breathing.

- Once the quest has begun, just be open to information about your question or idea that might come from outside or inside of yourself. Imagine that the information is in disguise, meaning, it can be communicated to you in a dream, a street sign, the actions of a pet, though natural elements like the weather, as a part of a TV show, an overheard conversation, music, something you are reading or is said to you, the way something is positioned or arranged, or any other number of ways. You just have to be paying attention.

- When the time comes for the quest to be over, do the same thing you did at the beginning. This will mark the end of the quest.

- If you feel like you did not get any “information” or answers that is fine. The most important part is that you were open to it.

- Describe your experience in whatever way conveys it best: Text, images, sound, etc.


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