Keep in mind this is advice to myself, I do not intend to sound as if I know what others are feeling and how they should process.
I’m glad Heather talked about individuation (and Jung, who’s theories I know very little of and am certainly about to butcher). Many posts are about unity and connectedness, but knowing yourself is also important. I think that sweat was an incredible tool for many of us towards the goal of self-actualization. Jung said that to know yourself, you must integrate the ego ( consciousness), the personal unconsciousness, and the collective unconsciousness. As lots of us have said, in the sweat the boundary between self and oneness was thin. The collective and the personal unconsciousness intermingled there, as shown by the various experiences of our peers. Things I hadn’t thought about in a long time came back with fresh emotion, and at many times I felt no boundaries and connected to the life around me. Many of the things we did evoked personal realizations, and many called to us with universal meaning and history.
But what of the third part, the ego? How did and are we incorporating what happened with our conscious selves? It is clear that people are having a hard time bringing the experience back into their day to day lives. The physical and emotional discomfort people felt when they lost connection to the unconscious in the sweat and the complaints of coming back here and not being able to relate to other students or feeling lost perhaps shows some problem with integrating the unconsciousness with the ego. People feel like they don’t know what happened at pine ridge, that others wouldn’t understand even if the experience could be explained, and wonder whether what happened was real. Others have said that what happened doesn’t make sense logically, or that in some ways we were intruding on a culture that is not ours, and thus taking an experience that may not have been up for grabs. But are these all just defense mechanisms avoiding integration of what we felt with what we know, of what was magical with what is possible, of parts of the realized unconsciousness with the ego?
I think it is important not to put this experience on a pedestal, making it remote and potentially inaccessible (Mind you, I am certainly not claiming that any of you have done this, only musing on the dangers of many things I have felt that I believe others have as well.) I think that in allowing pine ridge to be an ineffable and alien experience we may deny ourselves of integrating the beauty and truth that we saw there with our daily lives.
I am not saying that anything that happened over the last week was even remotely normal, in fact to the contrary the entire five days were incredible and odd in every way. But we can’t let the wonder distance us from the experience. Tell your friends about what happened, look at the mountains, and allow yourself to bring your experience home.