Spirit Leaves: Life at an Empath’s Pace


Red-Feather-wideA flamingo pink sun gently slides beneath the horizon; a hemline of seafoam lazily laps at a beige shoreline; a gentle, crystalline curtain of dewy rain softly cascades over fresh spring grass. Everywhere, the natural world reminds us to remain gradual and Zenlike. The realm of the human is another matter. Everything in our hectic existence encourages and supports a swifter pace. Some folks, though, still march to the proverbial beat of a different drummer. For some of us, moving slowly through life has become second nature.

I grew up largely in the ‘burbs, a loner among rank conformists. It took years for me to discover and accept that my essential nature does not lend itself well to a loud, abrupt, reactive existence. I am an empath, among other things; and as such, I seem to require a deep canyon of time in which to move and dwell. My way is not superior to another’s, just different. For me, each day is more akin to a slow, luxurious river, inching its way past purpled rock walls toward the infinite sea. My movements are flowing, meditative. I remain aware of my breath, my thoughts, my dreams. I don’t blast music: I dwell in a serene, open landscape that allows space for my Guides to speak.

Contemporary culture prizes achievement, goals and success; I, on the other hand, value meditation, dreams and imagination. I view life differently. I do not pressure myself to be “doing something” 24/7. It takes time to synthesize the experiences I do have when more actively engaged with work, and with others. I need enough open mental prairie in which to reflect, ponder and integrate. These activities are just as real to me as hiking, biking and running a marathon.

We hear the familiar incantation, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day!” Slow folks like me, however, seem to have more than enough time in a single day to accomplish impossibly beautiful things. I wish to have my life paced that way, and so it is. Cedric Red Feather used to quip that he planned to lobby for a Tribal Resolution to add an extra hour to the day, which I thought was pretty clever.

In Mandan spiritual culture, there are Corn Priests. Cedric can recall the names of every one of them, because their names are embedded within a song. There are over 30 altogether, and the penultimate one selected by the Spirits is named “Moves Slowly.” This beautiful name does not mean he was pokey or a lollygagger. It means that he would move skillfully from one object in the landscape to the next rather than startle others with impulsive, rash movements. This tactic gave him strategic skill in hunting or in battle. I think this relative and I would have gotten along well.

I try to carry an open, relaxed quality with me as I move through my day. On the roads, I do not rush: I stay very calm and present. I flow with the changing traffic speeds, allowing ample following distance between my car and the next. I free myself from an obsessive attachment to lists. Instead, if I pause for a moment or two, I am usually able to receive clairaudient impressions of all the items I need. At checkout, I allow that extra heartbeat often denied by lunging, aggressive people. Rather than crowd the person ahead of me, I wait patiently until she has gathered all of her belongings: coins, bills, receipt, wallet. Those extra few moments are always appreciated. One woman even “paid forward” my purchase to reward me for waiting without complaint through her selection and purchase of several lottery tickets.

The next time you go out from your home, stop and breathe. Walk as though every step is the first one after recovering the use of your feet. Appreciate the loving energy of the Earth beneath you. Look up at the open dome of sky. Apprehend the lessons in impermanence offered by the clouds. Inhale love, exhale peace. Realize that with slow, abiding attention, every single moment of life can be engaged as precious and enjoyable.

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Janet Michele Red Feather
Janet Michele Red Feather, J.D., M.A., is a ceremonial singer who has learned over 60 traditional songs in Mandan and Lakota and sings in nine different languages. Janet was a full-time defense litigator in California for nearly eight years. Her life changed significantly after she traveled to North Dakota in 1993 to fast and pray for a way of life. A regular columnist for The Edge, she has also appeared in Psychic Guidepost, FATE Magazine and Species Link. Her book, Song of the Wind (2014, Galde Press), dealt with her experiences as an empath, and her journey through Mandan spiritual culture. She is currently a full-time, tenured English faculty member at Normandale Community College, having taught Composition and Literature for a span of 20 years.


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