The shamanic journey is an ancient method for exploring hidden realms beyond the limits of our senses and our ordinary perceptions of time-space. The journey functions as a bridge between our everyday state of awareness and an expanded state that provides access to deeper worlds of consciousness, which hold the wisdom of Nature, of the ancestors and of transcendent spirit beings. Practiced by people for tens of thousands of years, it is based in the understanding that everything has a spirit or consciousness that can be available for communication and relationship.
In the journey, our brain emits waves in the high alpha/theta range and activity shifts more into the right hemisphere. During this process our imagination is heightened as is our intuition, creativity and abilities to problem-solve and synthesize information. This state assists in creating new connections between neurons. In other words, shamanic trance assists the brain in producing new connections. This being said, perhaps it is not so much that shamanism is a part of our ancient way of relating to the world around us, it is what helped us to understand ourselves (self awareness), our relationship with the world, enabled us to remember the past and ponder our future. In other worlds, shamanic trance states contributed in creating us as a species. In addition, there are physiological and psychological benefits that occur when individuals enter trance that have been observed by scientists. Not the least of these includes a better immune response. With continued practice, these beneficial effects also become more sustained even while in ordinary awareness.
To accomplish healing or other duties while in the shamanic state of consciousness, a shaman must develop relationships with helpful, protective spirits as well as with the spirits of nature. These strong, reciprocal bonds allow for a temporary transfer of power while the shaman is needed to assist an individual or her or his community. This “borrowed” power from the spirits moves through the shaman for the task at hand. During this transfer of power, the shaman often merges with a spirit to receive protection from unbeneficial energies.
The shaman is able to merge with a trusted spiritual ally because a relationship based upon reverent participation has been nourished. That entails being willing to engage with the spirit to find out their name, what they like, what they want in return for their help and how the relationship may be healthily maintained. In many ways, the rules that apply in a mutually respectful and beneficial human relationship are also applicable when dealing with the spirits. The one caveat being that since a spirit is, in some ways, stronger and potentially more “wild” than the shaman, a deeper level of respect is paid through offerings and rituals to keep the energy of the spirit more manageable for the shaman’s physical limitations.
When merged, a shaman is transformed into a blended being. The human shaman surrenders the egoic self so that the spiritual ally, who may be an animal, bird, natural force or elemental spirit, can move through the shaman’s body. While transformed in this way, the shaman can be kept safe in situations as diverse as healing a possessed person, working near a battlefield, or dealing with the psychic energies left from a homicide or other potentially dangerous situations.
Since the spirit being is nonphysical, the action of merging allows the ally an opportunity to experience the physical world—to be able to move, sniff, eat, and otherwise relish the delights of the body—as a part of its cooperation with the shaman. It involves a blending of energies, consciousness, and on some occasions an actual change in physical form. The spiritual ally and the shaman each become something morefor a little while. There is a magical quality to this experience that erases perceptions of separateness.
Perhaps that is why shamans believe with complete confidence that we are one with everything. Their journeys and their work with the spirits of nature and their spiritual allies have transformed them. The deep kinship they share with other beings allows them to assume each other’s shape and garner each other’s wisdom. Through journeying and through their spiritual interactions, those that practice shamanism have first-hand experience of that which unites all life. As a result, they come away with a different perspective. The illusionary barriers that separate humans from the natural world and the cosmos fall away so that it becomes possible to relate in the way of our most ancient ancestors. That is, with a sense of humble reverence and with feelings of deep and profound spiritual connectedness with “all our relations.” Interestingly, while this perspective has roots in our collective past, it is also the very experience that can move the evolution of consciousness forward.
Performing shamanic journeys and merging with beneficial beings of power also transforms everyday life. The mental and physiological changes the shaman experiences during the journey state and the profound connections they have while in that state of awareness assists the shaman in attaining a higher-level transformation of consciousness. While everyone may not choose the path of the shaman, developing reverent participatory relationships with spiritual allies, with other human beings and with nature, every person can begin to open up her or his ultimate, transcendent human potential.
You see, all of us are wired to transcend our ordinary experience of being human. Because of our remarkable biology, the power of our feelings, and the eternal nature of our spirits, we are designed to evolve beyond our perceived limitations into fully conscious, loving creator beings. At this time, there is an ever-growing group of people who are engaged in this transformation. Since we are connected through the nonlocal field, we can energetically support one another’s spiritual evolution. Through disciplined practice we can effect transformations in every aspect of our life, and these internal changes make big changes in the world around us. As Sandra Ingerman and her association of teachers repeatedly demonstrate in the Medicine for the Earthwork, we humans are capable of producing concrete, measurable miracles, such as healing polluted water, simply through the action of transforming ourselves.
Physicists now describe a quantum fabric of light that underlies all of creation. Of course, this is not simply the familiar light of the electromagnetic spectrum but what another physicist, Mark Comings, PhD refers to as a primordial, unifying “Sea of Radiance,” in which everything exists. Indeed, Comings suggests that all matter—everything that we understand as physical--is actually a kind of “crystalized” or “condensed” light and consciousness is what directs its form.
For those of you who haven’t yet learned to journey, what follows here is a meditation that you can do to experience yourself as an aspect of that magnificent radiance. This practice produces a healing effect in yourself and throughout your world. It is an opportunity to step into your fullness as a sacred human being who is both divinely physical and divinely radiant! As you become more unshakable in the awareness of your extraordinary nature, you transcend old definitions of yourself and move closer to becoming a new, more powerful human being. There is a free mp3 audio file of this meditation available at www.myspiritwalk.comtitled, “You are the Light of All That Is.” Before you listen to the recording, prepare yourself by reading the meditation through a few times.
Exercise: You Are the Light of All That Is Meditation
1. While comfortably seated, close your eyes and take a few moments to breathe. Allow your breaths to be both quiet and full—somewhat like the breaths of the deep sleep state.
2. As you begin to more fully relax, notice that your breath originates in the center of your chest. Imagine a light there that grows brighter with every breath you take.
3. As this light grows brighter, see it also expanding to fill your entire body—growing ever brighter.
4. Allow your light to expand so that your physical body is completely filled with light.
5. While continuing to breathe notice how your radiant body is connected to the radiant body of the Earth. Your body is held by your light and is always cradled by the Earth.
6. Allow yourself to reach out even further and feel how the Sun’s radiance embraces the Earth as she embraces you in her loving warmth. Allow all your senses to be fully enlivened by this nurturance.
7. You are a divine and magnificent aspect of All That Is. You and everything else are radiant.
8. Invite your beloved power animal to join you and reveal its radiance to you. If any thoughts or feelings arise that limit your light, invite your power animal to help you to release them gently. These limitations fall away effortlessly like leaves blowing in the wind. As this happens, your light blazes brighter so that you are completely transformed into pure light!
9. Now in your full illumination, allow yourself to play together with your radiant power animal. Dance together as two sacred beings of light.
10. Every bit of your being is luminous, beautiful, and dazzling!
11. Allow your power animal to help you to perceive the center of the light of All That Is—the radiant source of All. You are a sacred part of Creation—no more or less important than any other part. Let yourself fully experience that your life is an aspect of that radiance dancing on the Earth. Your beautiful body is pure, crystallized radiance!
12. Your radiance is a healing force, and your Earthly body is a sacred temple infused with that light—shining on all the beings around you. Your soul’s pure, exquisite light renews your body and renews the world around you to its magnificence. Allow yourself to feel harmony. Feel peace. Fill with the love for All That Is.
13. Let yourself fill to overflowing. As you become replete with harmony, peace, and love, more light naturally pours forth from your body in all directions. Like a glorious fountain, endless light enters you from All That Is. At the same time, your radiance pours a luminous nourishment back to all beings. You are being filled and pouring forth simultaneously—in a beautiful circle of energy.
14. When you feel complete with this, give thanks to your power animal and allow yourself to gently move your body.
15. Breathe deeply and begin to slowly return your attention to the room in which you are sitting.
16. Gently bring your full awareness back to ordinary reality. You hold the feelings of your light and gratitude as you take another full, deep, sighing breath.
17. When you feel ready, gently open your eyes—feeling renewed, refreshed, and radiant.
Practice this state of being as often as possible to experience your connectedness through the Fabric of Light. This state of awareness contributes to shifting your perceptions and so your reality. In experiencing your vast, radiant self and how you are inexorably connected to all beings, you will also be renewing not only your own body, but contributing to transforming the environment around you, helping to bring balance and harmony to the life-forms, the soil, the water, and the air of our beautiful planet.
I certainly can’t imagine a better action to take for celebrating the unfolding season of Spring!