An Awakening Story:

16 years ago was a turning point in my life. I had completed my MA in adult education and had worked several years as a frontline crisis counselor. I was a change maker and was getting burned out fast. I was in a relationship which caused me great internal conflict and I wanted to make changes on many levels but was unsure of my direction. As well, I was having anxiety attacks. Finally, I made a decision to go to Vancouver for a break and a change of scenery. Before I left, I spoke with the man I was with about my anxiety. I was quite shaken and he gave me tobacco wrapped in a red cloth and told me to offer it in a natural place (Tobacco is one of the sacred medicines in many First Nation traditions across North America).   He told me I would know the moment. So with tobacco in my pocket I left for Vancouver hoping that I would know the moment.

After three days of walking on the beach by the mountains, being with good friends and writing down my thoughts and feelings, I began to come back to myself. On the third day, my walk along kitsalano beach was met by the most beautiful sight of a Bald Eagle perched on top of the totem pole outside the Marina museum. I was overcome by emotion and I felt an intense gratitude. I knew this was the moment. I reached for the red bundle in my pocket, which I opened and offered to the earth. I sat and was with the Eagle for a long time. It seemed that nobody even noticed that she was there. I didn’t understand what the significance was of this experience but I knew it was sacred and important. I also felt that somehow life had sent me a message. I had been exposed to Native spiritual teachings through my work at a Native Women’s organization in Toronto and was aware that the Eagle was a powerful symbol as a messenger of the Great Spirit. What that meant for me was not clear except that I felt an urgency to discover more about the Eagle and its message. So I began my search about Eagles, beginning with searching in the new age bookstore for any clues.

Just a day before I had my Eagle experience, I had been speaking to my friend whom I was to stay with in Victoria. We had met in Nepal some years before at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. She was living in Joan Halifax’s Buddhist centre in Santa Fe and was in Victoria for Easter. On the phone as we were planning my visit with her she told me she had to go out and prepare for a medicine walk (vision quest) she would be doing for 3 days a few weeks later, which meant spending a day in the woods alone. She invited me along at which I said that I could find something else to do. I was not interested, in fact, I even had some aversion to it. Of course, after my experience, I knew I had no choice in the matter I had to go with her!

So, after a few days in Victoria it was time for us to go on our adventure.

We left early in the morning to drive out to East Sooke Park so we could arrive before sunrise. I was a bit nervous, but excited. Once there we did a small ceremony to clear our energies and to state our intentions out loud. I was very clear of my intention. I stated that I wanted to clarify and understand the message that the Eagle was communicating to me. As I spoke, a golden Eagle flew over our heads. My hair was standing at the back of my neck. Any fears I had of the day dissolved as I felt an incredible feeling of trust, safety and protection from deep within. We completed our ceremony and agreed to meet back at the same place at sunset. So off I went on the trail not knowing what was next but feeling a new found trust and a great sense of adventure. The day was one of learning from the land and the creatures around me. The trail was a great teacher to me, a metaphor for my life and I received many new insights. I began to have a sense of perspective about my life situation as I circled around it from above. Overall it was a magical, transformative and empowering experience teaching me about the importance of my connection to the earth and all of her inhabitants and my place in it. At sunset I met my friend. It was a great meeting and we had a beautiful sharing of the gifts we received from the day and this land.

The next morning I left my friend to head back to Vancouver. I had some time to wait for the bus so I checked my backpack into a locker and went over to a bookstore I knew of. I plunked myself down in the Shamanism section and began reading about Eagles. Then I moved to another book about birth animal totems. I was a bit skeptical but I was curious so I looked up my birth totem which according to that system was the wolf. As I was reading there was a gentleman hovering around which I noticed but was not bothered. Finally he handed me a stone and said “I think this is for you, I knew I was to give it to someone today and it’s you.” I was surprised and curious. He had already walked off so I went after him. When I caught up to him I asked: “Where did you get this rock?” He said: “I found this rock where the East Sooke river meets the Old Wolf river.” My head was spinning East Sooke? Old wolf? I was just reading about the wolf. So I asked him: “Can I talk to you?” We went outside and began a conversation that lasted over 6 hours. I had to tell him my story. The one I am telling you. When I finished, he said to me: “You know you are a teacher?” I was a bit shocked and denied it. I had always thought I might teach meditation in my 60s. (At that time I had been a student of Buddhism for 7 years) But he persisted until I asked: “Well what would I teach?” He said: “There’s the question! You will teach what the people need.” He was flooring me. He waited to tell me his name. He began telling me about his own connection with the First Nations on Vancouver Island. He had been honoured and initiated by a community and given a name. The name he was given was Eagle Heart. I was amazed and filled with gratitude for this unusual experience. I could never have guessed that the meeting of a stranger in a bookstore could lead to such a change in the direction of my life. Eagle Heart planted the seeds for change deep in my consciousness. Within a year, I left my relationship, left my job and began a year long Yoga Teacher Training Program with one of my long time yoga teachers and found work to sustain me while I studied! This began a new chapter in my life.

It wasn’t until several years later that I understood that the Eagle was my awakening story that brought me into direct connection with Source. The seed of Radical Self Nourishment was unknowingly planted deep in my heart through this journey. What followed was a personal process of gradually coming into my power from the inside and a discovery of my authentic voice, unique expression and my purpose. I was able to find a new balance and stability from within and develop a trust in my intuition and innate wisdom. It is my hope that this awakening story stirs your own awakenings and opens the doorway and the pathways for your own transformation and radical self nourishment.

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