There are numerous healing modalities that are lumped under alternative medicine or complimentary medicine,separate from main stream medicine, because they lack scientific evidence in a controlled setting. There is now a movement call integrative medicine which attempts to incorporate these healing modalities if they show any scientific proof of some benefit. Some of these modalities have been practiced for more than 10, 000 years, one would think for the practice to survive that long it must have conferred some benefit to the communities in which it has been practiced to this day. It is possible the benefits prove difficult to measure with scientific method which has its own built-in biases. It is possible that the scientific method is good at measuring certain kind of data, that which has been simplified or unravelled by reductive method; but has difficulty measuring holistic changes people experience. This kind of reasoning is not acceptable to the scientific community , they are looking for hard facts and figures before a practice gets included in mainstream medicine.
Over the weekend I came across people who practice Shamanic Journeying. I had never heard or come across it before. I was impressed that the practice was deeply spiritual. What fascinated me even more was the way the participants come to profound insights to their own questions and problems. It was not through an analytical process but by just ‘being’ and relaxing, allowing the heart and the body with all its senses receive the teachings. I will say more about this later.
Shamanism is the earliest spiritual practice known to humankind, dating back tens of thousands of years. The fact that it survived this long should suggest that the community benefitted from the practice in some way. Sandra Ingerman in her book ” Shamanic Journeying – a Beginners Guide “ writes:
“Shamanism teaches us that everything that exists is alive and has a spirit, and we are joined with the earth and all of life via our spiritual interconnectedness. Just as quantum physics describes a field of energy that connects all of life, shamans also speak of a web of life that connects everything.In modern culture, many of us feel a deep longing to experience our unity with this web of life and to heal our sense of isolation. When we travel to non- ordinary reality on our shamanic journey, we learn how to communicate with the spirit of the trees, plants, animals, insects,birds, fish, reptiles, and rocks, as well as the spirits of the elements of earth, air, water, and fire. We directly experience the web of life.”
Just like the idea of being in the flow of the dao, shamanism also cautions us that because we are part of the nature we needs to reconnect with natures cycles and rhythms. If we get disconnected from the cycles and rhythms of the moon and the seasons it would be like walking against the flow of the river. It is exhausting. With journeying the helping spirits ( which I will explain later) can restore balance and harmony into our lives by reconnecting with natures cycles and by living in unity with the natural world, thus allowing increased sense of well-being.
The shamanic view holds that there is an invisible reality beyond the physical world that is accessible through shamanic journeying. The unseen reality is divided into the lower world, the upper world, and the middle world. In these worlds there are helping spirits that one consults and work with during the journey. There are mainly two types of helping spirits , the power animals or the guardian spirits, and the teachers in human forms.In the shamanic culture , it is believed that when we are born, the spirit of at least one animal volunteers itself to protect and guide us throughout life this is our power animal.
The journey begins with first giving thanks to the spirits and the four directions. The drumming and rattling usually accompany. Then you lay down, take deep breaths and relax. Clarify you intentions about the purpose of the journey. The drumming starts and you imagine going to the under world through a portal, you may decide what that may be. Once you reach the underworld you meet your power guide and ask your question. You maybe in altered state of consciousness .The guide gives you whatever message you need at that time. The drumming changes rhythm and you come back to the present reality. At all time you are in control, you decide what question you want answered, who you want to speak to in the upper or the under world. Sandra Ingerman gives example of shamanic journey healing:
” As with power animals, teachers are a source of healing and wisdom in our lives. For instance, Nancy, one of my students, had a very profound healing through ongoing work with her teacher. She had experienced abuse as a child and suffered from depression, for which she was taking medication. When she began journeying, she met her teacher, who was King James IV of Scotland. Since Nancy was a schoolteacher, she decided to do some research to learn about the life of King james. She found many books about his life, and through her research she discovered that King James had been abused as a child by his father. She learned that he had healed himself and overcome his early traumas, and she realized she could also be healed. Through reading his story and journeying to him, Nancy finally put her past behind her and has been depression free and off antidepressants for years.”
- Awakening to the Spirit World – Sandra Ingerman & Hank Wesselman (booklolly.wordpress.com)
- Welcome Home: Following Your Soul’s Journey Home (whitecranes.wordpress.com)
- Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation (whitecranes.wordpress.com)