Isolation, retreat or hermitage are essential tools in a Shaman's arsenal. Without them clarity and visualisation are much more difficult to attain. Distraction is also a key tool, freeing the conscious mind with lesser or more trifling matters, leaving the unconscious to fully unfurl beyond the glare of conscious control. To focus too long, to think to hard, to be too diligent are poisonous in the longer term but taken in small doses can be wildly efficacious. The path must be glimpsed, casually followed; a balance beam but the focus needn't be straight ahead it can be anywhere and everywhere. One must only be aware of the presence of The Path. A portal can, and often should, be approached in a casual manner but always alone (at least until near complete mastery is attained). Wildly but casually, subtly but casually, with extreme focus, reluctance or resignation. The first mile and the last mile can seem interminable, or not. Every portal and every venture inward reveals a lesson, leaves its trace on the surface. Read and look, listen and look, pace the floor and look, do other tasks and look, don't look but at the same time be aware that you are looking. The aim regardless of the Shaman or his or her idiosyncratic ritual is to attain the journey state. To be in and leave a trail that can be easily rediscovered when conditions change and concentration ultimately breaks. It is perilous and precarious. All can be lost but ultimately nothing is as nothing really was. It's just the feeling of loss, its echo. The condition reached within the routine of the lodge, away from the influence of others, immersed in the practices of other Shamen, surrounded by comfortable distraction is qualitative. Gears must be shifted in the correct order, the clutch engaged and disengaged at the right time. The wrong kind of distraction, an unwanted intrusion on managed solitude, a situation can become irretrievable. The question and the answer soluble.