The vision quest is an age-old ritual for connecting with Spirit and our own deepest purpose. It is traditionally a solitary pilgrimage — similar to the retreats undertaken by Jesus and the Buddha — preceded in many cultures by fasting and meditation. The seeker then goes deep into the forest or another natural setting and opens to divine guidance.
The purpose of a vision quest is not to rough it without food or water, but to discover, immersed in nature, that we are citizens of the Earth, at one with all creation. We fast to awaken the body’s self-repair systems and stimulate production of stem cells in the brain and every organ in your body.
However, unless we upgrade our brain first, (see Chapter 4 of One Spirit Medicine) the vision quest will be nothing more than a camping trip. When we detox and then power our brain with superfoods, the quest can be a face-to-face meeting with our destiny, where we discover our ability to co-create with Spirit. A vision quest can change a life forever. It’s impossible to forget the intense awakening to our luminous nature that comes as the hunger pangs subside. This awakening of higher perception — what some call enlightenment or a rebirth experience — lifts the veil between the visible and invisible worlds. With the veil lifted, we instantly become aware of our Oneness with Spirit and all creation.
The vision quest takes a commitment, and will likely cause some physical and emotional discomfort. But it’s a powerful way to initiate transformation, a means of jump-starting our personal evolution.
Tips for a successful vision quest:
Location: Choose a place that is beautiful, safe, and sufficiently secluded so that you will not be interrupted. You may also opt for a campground or large urban park.
Equipment: Take a sleeping bag and tent; notebook/journal and a pen to record dreams and any memories or strong feelings that arise. Do not take a computer or other electronic device (a cellphone for emergencies is OK), or any reading material. Be sure to tell someone exactly where you’ll be.
Setting the space: When you get to your vision quest space, draw a circle about 20 feet in diameter around your tent. This is your spot, and you will stay inside this circle for the next three days, stepping out only to relieve yourself. (Pack plastic garbage bags for waste disposal.)
Fasting: Fasting is a central part of the vision quest. In addition to putting the body into ketosis, it detoxifies the cells and turns on production of stem cells in the brain. You will get hungry, and you might experience mood swings, low energy, and irritability for a day or so. Most of that is caused by your body detoxifying. You can tell when you’ve gone into ketosis because your hunger pangs will go away.
Fasting for three days is perfectly safe for most people in good health. If you have any concerns, are diabetic, taking any medication, or dealing with acute illness, do not fast without first consulting a physician. During your vision quest, listen to your body and follow its guidance. If at any time you feel very sick, or your blood sugar is dropping dangerously, break your fast. (I always keep chocolate and some basic foods like nuts and dried fruit in my vehicle, in case of emergency.)
Water: You should drink at least four liters of water a day, so plan accordingly. If you are in an arid desert climate, you will need more water — closer to six liters a day. The rule is to pee every hour. If you’re not peeing that often, you’re not drinking enough water.
Boredom: You will be bored. Take it as an indication that you are getting close to the state of contemplation you want to be in. Stay with the boredom — it is part of the process. Like hunger, it will pass.
Time: Leave your watch at home. Set your inner clock by the sun and the stars.
Meditation: During the day, you can do the exercise, “I Am My Breath” (found in Chapter 11 of One Spirit Medicine), or “Meditate with Jaguar” (from Chapter 10). In the evening, if you light a fire or a candle, you can do the exercise on burning old roles and identities described in Chapter 9. (If you do light a fire or candle, be sure there is no brush nearby that could ignite. And be sure it is extinguished completely before you leave the area.)
Prayer: Give thanks for the beauty around you, for every breath you take, for the creatures around you, even for your hunger pangs. Practice praying with your heart and not with your head.
Ending the vision quest: Plan to end your vision quest before nightfall on the third day. Be sure to pick up all trash, and carry it out with you. Make sure you leave the place as you found it — or cleaner. Leave no trace.