Life Skills

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At the end of my first year of training, Dave Lewis again told me to fast for three days and then come see him on the fourth day of my fast. When I went to see him it was early morning and he took me up on a hill about a mile from his house. First thing I thought about were the ticks - you can get quite a severe illness from them. But I figured he knew what he was doing, so I went along with him.

Bear paw didn't live near me, but when I was in my early twenties he came to visit, and said, "I'm getting sickly now and way up in age. I don't have much time left to spend with you, but I do want to put you through this one test because it will carry you through many situations where you will need to exert self-control."

He took me out to a huge anthill near our house in the country - it was about three feet across - and he told me to lie on it. All I had on was a pair of trunks and those big red ants crawled all over me. I wanted to brush them off, but I was afraid I might kill one, so I just lay there and let them crawl. The sun was so hot I had to close my eyes, and they even walked across my eyelids, yet never did one bite me. That was one of my tests, teaching me how to exert self-control. Bear Paw told me, "The Bible says, if someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other cheek. It means that you don't have to resort to force, you don't have to defend yourself when you have faith. If you didn't believe that, there would have been resistance on your part and the ants would have bitten you. This lesson in self-control is to condition you to have acceptance and faith in your own life."

[Bear Heart]
The Wind is My Mother, p. 44-5


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He had already picked out a tree and said, "Wrap your legs around this tree, put your arms around it. You sit there like that, and I'll be back." Then he left, no more instruction than that.

[...] I had no idea when he would be back. Maybe nighttime. Maybe the next day. I wondered if he'd even be able to find me again! Still, I had to sit there wrapped around that tree, and the very first thing that came to me was that people would ask, "Did the tree talk to you?" And I'd say, "No, it barked."

[...] I understood what Dave was trying to teach me without telling me. He was teaching me to work through my own pride, my own ego, my own self-importance. I began to see that, when it comes right down to it, we are nothing until that nothing becomes so dedicated that it is like a vessel through which good things start to move, an instrument for receiving knowledge and sharing it with others who might be in need.

[Bear Heart]
The Wind is My Mother, p. 52-3


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I used to go to the zoo and stare at the tigers. A tiger would look at me and I'd look back at him. I don't know how long I'd stand there, but I was determined not to look away first. I kept looking until the tiger finally looked away. I guess the barrier between us gave me some kind of confidence, but at the same time I felt I was making eye-contact with a hostile animal - he represented that to me. From there I'd go to a lion and do the same thing.

Eventually I gave the tiger commands, not verbally, but in my mind. I would project the thought "Turn away. Turn away right now. Turn." He was very stubborn, but he would eventually turn. I kept doing it until the time it took him to turn away got shorter and shorter. I got training in using the power of my mind like that.

[Bear Heart]
The Wind is My Mother, p. 58


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The environment was our starting point in learning as much as we could from what was around us - the seasons, the things that grow, the animals, the birds, and various other life forms. Then we would begin the long process of trying to learn about that which is within ourselves. We didn't have any textbooks, we didn't have any great psychiatrists who lived years ago and presented theories in this and that. We had to rely on something else, and that was our senses. Rather than through scientific investigation, we sensed those things within and around us.

[Bear Heart]
The Wind is My Mother, p. 65-6


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To teach our young people how to get in touch with nature and their own intuition, out elders used to take them way out in the woods, blindfolded, and have them sit by a particular tree. "You stay here blindfolded until we come after you. Be with this tree, touch it, hug it, lean against it, stand by it. Learn something from it." After half a day or more, they would bring them back to camp, remove the blindfold, and say, "Go find your tree."

After touching a lot of trees, they could find the one they had spent time with. Sometimes they didn't have to touch a lot of trees - those with highly developed intuition could go right to their tree. They seemed to be drawn to it.

That's how we began to connect. It's amazing what you can feel from a tree. It can give us energy. When we take long hikes in wooded areas, we often put our fingertips on the ends of the cedar or the pine needles. Just standing there touching them, you're going to feel energy come to you. Trees are emitting energy all the time. Every needle of the tree, every leaf, is trying to make the atmosphere breathable for us. That's why my people have great respect for trees. The trees are our relatives - we call them 'tall standing brothers.'

[Bear Heart]
The Wind is My Mother, p. 69-70


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