(păth′fīn′dər, päth′-) n.
One who steps through life's blind spots and consciously evolves into greater awareness, freedom, and passion.
What Is Pathfinding?
Pathfinding means walking each step of your life in conscious freedom. It is the key to the power, spontaneity, and passion that comes from continuously attending to the present moment. To be truly engaged, you must remove distraction. To remove distraction, you must look inward. To look inward, you must create stillness and observe. Then answers to all questions become obvious, accessible, and clear.
The tools of a pathfinder are as ancient as Daoism itself and as cutting edge as quantum computing. The tools of clarity are not complex, but they are often difficult. That is why we say:
“Easy is the hard way.”
This blog is a glimpse into the Pathfinder Process, with which I hope to create an awakening of the truth of how much wisdom you innately possess.
Boundaries Are The Architecture Of Your Destiny
For most of modern human existence, we've been searching for clarity and understanding. One of the most magical moments in life is when you’re ready to break through habitual resistance and begin the amazing journey of transformation. But when you’re in that moment of profound change, it can often feel overwhelming. The words used to describe these feelings, such as terrified, crisis, or out of control can lead to a complete system shutdown.
The nervous system is built to keep you alive, protect you from danger, and deliver you to safety and nourishment. But the journey on your true path often requires stepping into pain or perceived danger in order to truly set yourself free.
This raw stage of being in the unknown is smoother with some guardrails or boundaries. Boundaries are the architecture of your destiny. Like a guardrail on a highway, your boundaries keep you on your path, and should be a reflection of your own values. A boundary holds you in clarity and allows you to have a way of checking in with your environment.
A boundary might be as simple as: “I honor and respect my friendships by responding to friends when they reach out and my friends do the same for me.” Then, if you found yourself noticing a friend wasn’t getting back to you about something, you would know that a boundary was being activated. Take a 15-30 minutes to quiet your mind with meditation. When you have reached stillness, observe the situation. At this point, you can check in with a couple questions:
- Is this person acting like a friend?
- Have I been responding to them like a friend according to my guideline/boundary?
- Do I act or not act?
After the first two questions, you will be able to move to the last and most important question. From here you will either need to check in with the person, move on and let it go, or sit and meditate to gain more clarity. This method is simple to learn but requires consistent practice, as confusion, fear, and expectations arise.
It’s Time To Get Lost In The Woods
Have you ever found yourself in a moment where everything you thought you knew turned out to be totally wrong? Did you know that if you stay open in that moment you can grow exponentially?
In those moments, you can achieve what usually takes months worth of effort, but you have to stay open and willing to be in the present with the feelings of the experience. This extreme moment of change almost always feels like you’re being blindsided, but it’s usually the result of being ready to begin a change that has been coming for a while. It’s a blessing hidden within a leap of faith.
Like all leaps of faith, you have to jump into the unknown.
These times of great change are a kind of course correction that is the result of not paying attention for a while and missing the “signs” that have been showing up. You might miss a sign because you’re avoiding a part of yourself you don’t want to look at. Or you’re distracted by something like work or love. Regardless of the reason, you don’t notice the changes happening within or around you.
If you go for a walk in the woods and you’re not paying attention to the trail markers, you can suddenly find yourself looking around and realize you’ve wandered off the trail. Now you're lost. Maybe you were daydreaming or working out an idea in your head. You were distracted, and even though you try as hard as you can to figure out where you are, nothing works. You realize you are truly lost.
To be truly lost is one of the most powerful ways to experience a real awakening and change in your life. The Dao tells us, “When we are lost, it is easiest to find one’s way.”
That moment of truly accepting that you are not getting home is the moment you step from dreams and fantasies into the present moment of your life.
When you are truly lost, you have reached a place in your journey where trying to find your way back to the life you came from is no longer an option. The light of day is fading. You feel the temperature dropping. Suddenly, it becomes very clear that you are not going back to the way things were. The moment you truly accept that you are not getting home is the moment you step from dreams and fantasies into the present moment of your life.
The most easily registered changes are the dramatic ones. You lose a loved one. You are betrayed. There is an illness or another unexpected event that sends you out of our center and leaves you questioning everything around you. This is the moment to be still and resist the desire to respond. Now is the time to meditate and be with the action of non-action.
What You Resist You Will Never Understand
Being lost usually feels surprising. It’s a riddle. Like most riddles, the meaning is not usually literal and is almost always wrapped in a paradox. The paradox is that you have to stop resisting the situation in order to begin to understand the situation.
Once you reach the point of acceptance, something amazing happens: you begin to see all the wonder around you.
Just like in the woods, once you stop trying to get out, you suddenly realize how amazing it is just to be there. You allow yourself to become part of your surroundings. You awaken your “feral” self, your inner forest creature. This is the root of all shamanic practice. Enter into the unknown, allow yourself be enveloped, and awaken another part of yourself that has access to the wisdom of nature and the universe.
A practical example looks like this:
The Perceived Problem
All I want is to find my way back home from these damn woods.
The woods are here to show you the way home to your life.
The Hidden Question
What is the meaning for me to discover in the confusion of this experience? (Although cliche, this teaching is possibly the most profound and constant lesson I observe in my own practice.)
From ”The Answer” we can discover the root questions:
Who am I right now? Where am I right now? What is home?
If we answer the root questions we will find the primal thread.
From here you can begin to get into the work at hand. In the woods scenario, you would seek shelter, or warmth or food. In life, you would look to understanding, awareness, and goals. To do this, we return to the practices of meditation, stillness, and observation. These skills translate at every level of your life, they generate what we call “clearsight.”
Clearsight© is the vision of your life without obstruction.
Discover the primal thread and find your path. The path will be different than the way you came, because everything you see is different now. Everything has changed, because you have changed.
In the Dao De Jing—a classical Daoist text on nature and life—the first chapter begins:
These first two lines tell us all we need to know to begin our journey. The words you use to discuss the journey of your life is an approximation or a reflection of your actual life. The words you use are another boundary—they guide you, warn you, and inspire you, but they aren’t life. They are the reflection of the trees on a quiet lake in the morning.
Inevitably, you abandon words completely and find your personal Dao that lives within you and all around you. No one can find it for you and no “prescribed” path will do the work for you. The understanding of your our own life and journey through this world will bloom eternally in each moment of awareness.