In previous blogs I've mentioned that I'm a traditionally trained shaman. One of the key concepts in traditional shamanic training is that you're taught a concept - for instance, healing - and then are sent out into the wilderness to find a way to make it work. You have to be able to consistently repeat and demonstrate the effectiveness of the techniques you discover and employ. Only after you can do so are you offered instruction in additional topics.
One of the pieces that is lost in neo-shamanism (which is found in the vast majority of workshops and instruction available today) is that every traditional shaman walks a completely unique path. I'm often approached by people who have taken weekend courses and ask me questions like, "I'm working on the fifth gate of the underworld journey; how did you get beyond the guardian?" I'm always very polite with my response, but I have no freakin' clue what they're talking about. Traditional shamanism isn't a "cookie cutter" approach. Alone in the wilderness, you find your own avenues to uncover the techniques which bring your lessons to life. If it works, we use it. If it doesn't have a concrete, demonstrable and repeatable real world application, we discard it.
The piece that is often overlooked is that a traditional shaman has to be able to repeatedly demonstrate their ability to accurately and effectively apply a technique to the situation at hand.
Which means that the crazy abilities associated with a traditional shaman? The things we tend to refer to as "psychic abilities" in our modern world? They can't be parlor tricks. When a traditional shaman is called upon to guide their tribe through a time of trouble, they are relied upon because they've already repeatedly demonstrated the ability to effective employ techniques that work on a completely different level of reality that we're used to experiencing.
Wanna know a secret?
You can do it too.
In our modern world, we look at "psychic" abilities as something practiced by charlatans and believed in by people who are "less than rooted" in reality. I believe that they are simply a natural part of who we are, much like dreaming. After all, where do our dreams take place? When you feel an emotion from someone, how do you know they're feeling something if they're hiding it? Where is your mind located? It's my belief that these "abilities" are simply overlooked pieces of our birthright as living beings on this planet. (Animals have similar "abilities" but, in the interest of brevity we'll look at that in later materials.)
So... if this is your birthright, would you like to reclaim it and experience the tip of the iceberg?
Would you like to do it now? :)
Briskly rub your hands, palm down on a surface that has friction (the front of your pant legs is perfect) like you're scratching an itch on your palms and the pads of your fingers. Now shake out your hands like you're trying to fling drops of waters off of your fingertips. Stop for a moment and focus your attention on the palms of your hands, the pads of your fingers, and the skin of your fingertips. Think about how they feel, about what they feel and feel like.
Take your hands and raise them until they're at approximately shoulder height and shoulder width, holding your hands so that their palms face each other. Relax; breathe deeply, not a forced breath, but a single comfortable, relaxing breath. Pay attention to the palms of your hands, the pads of your fingers, and the skin your fingertips. Think about how they feel, about what they feel and feel like. For some people the next piece can be very subtle the first couple of times they try this, so you'll want to really pay attention to what you're feeling.
Now, slowly, still paying attention to what you can feel, gradually bring your palms together, stopping when you feel the sensation begin to change.
Most folks feel this new sensation as a weird "presence," much like the resistance you feel when you slowly push two magnets together that are turned so that they repel each other. Some people will experience a sensation of heat along with the resistance that occurs long before you're able to sense actual body heat; others feel a prickly vibration.
This sensation, for lack of a better term, is what we call energy. There is nothing even remotely mystical about it.
This is Step One.
If you've gotten this far, try it with a partner. Begin by having both participants rub their hands on their pants then shake their fingers out. Once again, focus on what the palms of your hands, the pads of your fingers, and your fingertips feel like. Raise both hands and hold them at roughly shoulder level (about four feet apart) with your palms facing each other. Breathe. And then slowly move your palms together, stopping when you can feel the other person's energy. It's okay to walk slowly toward each other if you need to get closer.
With very few exceptions (and there are reasons why the exceptions exist) your partner's energy will feel different than the energy you felt between your own hands.
You can go from person to person, practicing this technique and you'll discover that the feel of energy you encounter with each person is different from the one before. As you slowly begin to mentally catalog similarities and differences, you can begin to see how an understanding of this energy and an ability to read and interpret the different feel from person to person would benefit a traditional shaman. What if a person feels different after they've received bad news? Or before they even realize they're coming down with a cold? After all, once they gain some skill in reading energy, a traditional shaman can tell when, where, and how it's blocked, lagging, or out of balance and employ the appropriate tools and techniques to get that energy flowing again. Many of the "illnesses" that have popped up in recent years are due to this energy being blocked or misrouted. While it's not a substitute for modern medicine, traditional shamanic approaches were relied upon in our collective past because they consistently worked. Without consistent results, the shaman would have never been able to complete their training. Any traditional shaman worth the name will honestly tell you, "Yes, I can help with that," or "No, that's not something I can work with." They can sense it immediately - and, unless they're deceiving you for some reason, you can also feel an immediate shift when they begin to work with you.
One of the secrets that traditional shamans know that has been lost to many of us is that the energy field that you felt in your friend's hand is everywhere. It's in the air around you, the food you eat, the earth you walk upon, even the flow of reality around you and the way you experience it as "time."
Think about it for a moment. Picture yourself in your bathtub, relaxing at the end of a long day. Now imagine that you're standing in the mall. Or walking on the beach. In your parents' home. At a rock concert. Now think about how you feel, how the air, the space around you feels in each location. It's different, isn't it? That too is energy. Imagine if you learned to read that energy. After all you can already sense it. If you could read the energy and instantly knew what it meant, how could you use that in your own life? That thought gives you a tiny glimpse of how a shaman sees the entire world.
The ability to sense and read energy is directly linked to what we call intuition. Have you ever stepped into a new situation that just "felt wrong"? Or one that "felt right"? We pick up on this energy all the time. It's why, when you think about how the different places you've been "feel" to you, why each place feels differently. To know that, you had to experience the energy of that place when you were there. It's not that we have to "unlock" these abilities, but a process of learning to be aware and bringing our own energy back into balance.
That energy, whether you feel it between your hands or in the physical space around you, is at the core of everything we do as human beings. The ability to sense it, interact with it, change it, and shape it, is a natural part of what it means to be human. In a sense, it's our birthright. We've been able to experience energy from childhood; we simply forgot about it along the way.
If for some reason you can't experience this process, don't worry. There are concrete reasons why you can't do so, all of which are normal in our culture and can be addressed over time. If you've been in any situation that has caused you a significant amount of stress (even small amounts of daily stress adds up) or has belittled you, most likely you've had to emotionally guard yourself. (In our culture we even call this process "putting up walls.") These walls do a very good job of keeping unwanted energy out - unfortunately, they work against all energy. They may still be there for a reason; they may be no longer needed but have yet to be brought down. Another reason might simply be a matter of perspective. Many of the issues we face in today's world are because our energy has been misrouted, another issue that is easy to address. While we lack the space to go into those processes here, I am working on a book (tentatively called, Waking Up). It out this entire journey in detail and should be out this summer.