Day 7 in Bonaire - oops! It is fun to find one word that captures the essence of a person, of course when you are in a complimentary mood. Mine might be "enthusiastic". I love to live and to experience things, and sometimes I forget what time or day it is when I am thus absorbed. This is not OK scuba diving, and I blew it. Saturday night I spent 6 hours in the decompression chamber thinking about exactly how I had blown it. It was a subtle thing, no obvious stupid mistake like ascending too fast or going too deep. I just went diving every day for 7 days straight, not taking time off. They were shallow dives and quite moderate, but they added up, along with a number of other smaller "risk factors" such as dehydration from my love of tea (and maybe being 50 but acting like I am 25!).
The whole experience reminds me of when I was learning to do shamanic work to heal really icky problems, the kind of icky that can attach itself to the shaman if she isn't really careful. Cavalier is not OK in shamanic work. Sloppiness in any regard is not OK in diving. When I was sitting in the chamber, sucking on that Darth Vader oxygen mask, I recalled that time in shaman school when I tried to pull an "intrusion" out of woman and it stuck to me. I did ask my power animals to help, but I didn't ask them if we should do it, I just initiated the work and I got hit. (The next day my friend Antonio cleaned me up). I learned a lesson that has served me a thousand times over. Now I have a protocol for dealing with big icky things, and I am very careful to stick to it.
When I teach shamanic work, my goal is to help you develop your own protocols for working with your helping spirits. As Grandmother told me in the beginning of The Calico Shaman, preparation is everything. In shamanic training the preparation has many levels. You learn little protocols for each basic activity, like extraction and power animal retrieval. You learn ceremonial protocols for calling in power that will support your work and the clients healing. You gain protection by asking your spirits for garments and tools, and by connecting with them in extraordinary ways. You undergo transformational experiences that change your energetic footprint in non ordinary reality. But most important you learn to work with your helping spirits and teachers to create the protocol that is critical for you to follow for the work you do. Only you can remember to follow it. :-) And if you too are "enthusiastic" you might getting your paw caught in a trap now and then. The spirits will be there for you then too.
When I realized I probably had a form of decompression sickness (DCS) the first thing I did was go to my circle in the lower world and called in the spirits and the healing spiral that we work with in the Sacred Mask workshop. The bright white light in the center glowed through me and the spirits assured me they were protecting me. The steps I took after that were directed by them like clock work. I called the dive doctor hotline. He said to go to the hospital. The Bonaire doctor, a dive specialist, was the first person I saw walking in the door. I asked him for directions to registration, and he asked me what was wrong. I described, and he guided me through the process with complete compassion and attention. Everyone who stayed up all night running the chamber was a saint, incarnate helping spirits. I cry at their compassion and sweetness. What an experience. My dear Matt held the space for me back in Arizona, and then I came back to "home" here on Bonaire to the loving friendship of Kit and Ed, and I have to say that life can't be better.