Set & Setting

Keys to Navigating Life-as-Ceremony

Tigre, Consciousness Explorer

25 Oct 2017

Imagine you have an intense homework assignment due tomorrow for a night college course. Now, let’s imagine two possible mindsets and settings.

In one scenario you are exhausted, overworked, sleep deprived. Barking dogs ceaselessly carol outside your bedroom window, an obnoxiously bright security light torments you at your cramped desk while you attempt to focus on your homework.

The other scenario has you well rested, alert and calm. You ate a satisfying, yet light meal and your favorite tea is within arms reach at your comfortable desk. The house is quiet, kids are sound asleep and you feel alive.

Which (mind)set and setting would contribute most to your success?

Would you actively choose stress and discomfort to accompany you in a challenging task if you could help it? Might a calm, peaceful mindset aid in your homework productivity and focus? Perhaps a comfortable chair, just-right lighting and supportive food, drink and air would improve your stamina to accomplish your task?

In the 1960s, Timothy Leary coined the phrase “set and setting” when speaking to the importance of proper mindset and physical space when going on a journey with psychedelics.

Half a century later, these two keywords still apply in ceremony work and far beyond the temple doors.

This is why Lola and I seek to share ways to empower your “set” in our healing work; we actually go far beyond mindset to also look at, honor, and optimize how your heart and soul feel.

Whether it be in a one-on-one session, one of our shamanic courses, during a magical playshop, or at an immersive healing retreat, we know the importance of rewiring mental loops… of the potential and vitality that are unleashed when cognition expands to include more than just the mind.

Your “set” is your internal view, beliefs, and state of being. The condition your “set” is in greatly impacts your experiences; both in altered and normal states of consciousness.

We’ve seen firsthand the huge benefits of properly preparing our guests before our Peru retreats… Our stories, training, and groupwork create a safe space for them to navigate the potent and deep physical, soul, and spiritual transformations that will take place both inside and outside of ceremonies.

Helping set this stage for their “set” allows their bodies, hearts, minds, and souls to feel cared for, seen, and receptive during the journey.

And… the importance of mind/heart/soul-set doesn’t just apply to healing work or rituals. We take our “set” everywhere we wander. And, like anything else, it can be beneficial or detrimental to our wellbeing.

andean healing retreat peru 2018 wild playground

If we allow our sets to be scattered with hurry, worry, and fear, they create fantastic demons and tripping hazards. We are then forced to encounter these antagonists during our soul work, medicine journeys, and everyday life until we’ve learned their lessons or have embraced their energies and transmuted them into forces of healing and love.

Leary’s “setting” is no different. Just as we populate our mental living rooms with the beautiful or grotesque furniture, art, fragrances and beings, how we choose to curate our physical settings impacts our awake and dreaming states.

Lola and I have sat in ceremonies on dank sand in pitch black darkness as cockroaches fell gleefully upon fellow journeyers’ heads (or at least that’s how we pictured it). We have also worked with medicines on tropical hardwood planks with thin cushions in dead silence as Grandmother navigated through our DNA and spirit.

Were those experiences valuable? Yes. They helped illuminate ways to curate experiences that feel safer and more loving.

We have appreciated other hard lessons; like spending time with our mentors while they tried to light cold, stale dung chips and start a fire in the rain at 10,000 feet. We’ve felt the wisdom gained through the ripping pain of a mentor accusing us of intellectual theft and betrayal.

These were among the imperfect sets and settings we’ve lived through that helped us understand how we want to create space for learning, growth, and illumination for our tribe.

In two words: beauty heals.

Many of us have experienced life’s hard lessons, both as dished out by our cruel mean brains and as heaped upon us by life’s mysteries. We’ve tried to thrive in less than ideal settings. Sometimes, we can do it, in spite of the challenges.

But, not every lesson and growth opportunity needs to be harsh, cloaked in pain, or physically/psychically miserable.

We have found that when we offer beautiful spaces, soft textures, and clear energies, the healing work we channel can go farther, deeper, and is more effective long-term. Love really IS the answer… And love is not always a taskmaster.

Even when the journey goes dark (which it inevitably will), beautiful, safe loving spaces, just-the-right music and songs, nourishing snacks, and healthy doses of humor and humanity make it possible for our clients not just to tolerate the darkness, but to engage with it, dance with it, learn from it, and ultimately integrate it.

As you explore the myriad realms of life, may you find ways to nurture and cultivate an internal set that empowers you and many settings that protect, inspire, and heal you.

Aho and so it is.

Want to join us in Peru?

This April, we’re leading 15 love warriors into the forests of the Peruvian Amazon. Want in?

1 Comment

  1. mamajuana

    Absolutely love the new site – love you two 

    Reply

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