“Awakening moments” are those pivotal moments that shape a person’s paradigm and changes the direction of their life. These life changing moments happen every day in the Outback wilderness for staff, students and therapists. While these moments are often small, they have big impacts on the lives of those experiencing them. These awakening moments are the foundation of Outback.
“As a therapist, one of my students was very slow to make progress. I had tried several interventions to get him to open up and start working on the issues that brought him to Outback, but he continued to collude with others and spiral into negativity. Finally, I decided that he needed to see past his negative behaviors and see his own greatness. So I took him aside into a small circle of stones that I had prepared previously known as a Bora ground, or sacred ground. Before we entered into the stone circle I went through an ancient cultural cleansing ceremony by lighting a small branch of sage brush on fire and allowing the smoke to cover his face and body. After we entered and sat on opposite sides of the circle I began to talk about how even though I was the one that asked him to come into this sacred place, it was he that caused this meeting to happen. I told him about the goodness that I saw in him. I listed several times in which I had witnessed his charity, his passion and his vulnerability. As I spoke to him, I offered him a small piece of wood with some symbols burned into it that represented some of the greatness I had been seeing in him. I talked to him about how this small wood token is only special because of the special traits he was showing. During the ceremony the student was very quiet. But as the weeks went on, he began to show remarkable improvement. I asked him one day, “Where is this change coming from?” He referred back to the ceremony that he and I had experienced together. He told me that up until that point he felt worthless and ashamed. After that ceremony he began to realize that he had goodness inside of him and that he wanted others to see it. This simple yet profound ceremony was enough to show him that he was so much more than his poor choices and that even when he can’t see his own greatness, it is still there.”