The Winding Path

Counselling Services provided by Barb Zacharias

August 2014: Directions

Posted on Aug 17, 2014

As many of you are aware, I have an interest in spirituality as well as psychology and appreciate whenever I can bring those interests together. So this blog will be an opportunity for me to introduce you to some native spirituality that dovetails beautifully with the journey metaphor for counselling and life.

Some time ago, I came across an article on “The Four Directions: A Spiritual Guide to Centering Yourself” by Roy Henry Vickers (Spirit of the North, Summer 2010). In this article, the four directions are the four doors of the sweat lodge experience.

EAST is the direction of the teacher (pray for lessons and for something to teach) and faces the sun—that ball of fire that gives life to the earth, the season is spring, and the element is fire. It is the also the direction to pray for children.

SOUTH is the direction of the healer (pray for healing and wholeness) and for women, the season is summer, and the element is the earth for mother earth provides food for the body and medicines to help us heal.

WEST is the direction of the visionary (being able to see in the dark and with our eyes closed as well as to clearly see the way to journey through this world) and for men, the season is autumn, and the element is water.

NORTH is the direction of the warrior (pray for courage to stand in the strength, truth, and beauty of who I am) and of the elder. The season is winter and the element is wind.

Recently I read another version of the four directions, including three more, in the novel Keeper’n Me by Richard Wagamese (1994/2006, pp. 306-307). The seven directions of life make a circle, the complete journey, the whole human being.

EAST is the place of light where the sun comes from. Learn illumination, the beginnings of knowing.

SOUTH is the place of innocence and trust. Learn to listen to the teachings with an open heart and open ears.

WEST is the look-inside place and of growing. Learn to investigate what you feel.

NORTH is the place of wisdom. Learn to pause, look back along the path you followed and see the lesson. Reflect.

UP & DOWN is the motion of life; the day-by-day things that we get hung up on and forget how far we have travelled. Lessons that come from breathing; power of choice; practice the wisdom we found from travelling the first four directions.

INSIDE is the place of truth. “You gather there with all the travelers who made that journey too, and you are alone no more.”

If you are feeling lost on your own healing journey, combining the natural world of the four elements and compass points may be just what you need to regain that sense of direction you are looking for. Happy travels!

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