Ten Shamanic Practices for Daily Life
There are certain things in life one wouldn't necessarily think off as 'shamanic' or part of a shamanic practice. That -I guess -originates in the commonly found definition of shamanism.
To pick just one and looking at how Wikipedia for example describes 'shamanism' it is said: "Shamanism is a religious practice that involves a practitioner interacting with what they believe to be a spirit world through altered states of consciousness, such as trance".
“ADVICE OF THE OCEAN (AUTHOR UNKNOWN)
Be Shore of yourself
Come out of your shell
Take time to relax and coast
Avoid pier pressure
Sea life's beauty
Don't get tide down
Shamanism was - and is - globally practiced in very similar ways but it is not a 'religion' per se. Religions have integrated some shamanic aspects in their practices; that doesn't make shamanism a religion. Dogmas and intricate scriptures are present within religions, which shamanism doesn't have. Shamanism uses stories about life in order to convey teachings. Those stories often have different layers of meaning for those present, catering for the natural, different levels of understanding of the audience, The stories very often relate to natural life, something which everyone can relate to and understand. Hence, through story telling, one excludes none and includes everyone within the fold of a story.
One such story I can think off from the West is the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, by Aesop - a Greek storyteller. It has depth of meaning and when reading this story from a mundane point of view, it doesn't make much sense, it's difficult to 'figure out'. It's a children's story as well as one for adults to ponder over if they so wish. None are excluded and in this simple story, the depth of Life is also revealed; just as much as this can be seen in the Native American Stories. The deeper Spiritual Teachings are contained within those 'simple' stories. It takes time and contemplation for the meaning of those Teachings to reveal themselves from within those stories. Stories are also easier to convey from one generation to another than complex theories detached from regular life. In the inclusion of everyone through relating a layered story, there is reverence and respect for Life.
With regards to 'interacting with what they believe to be spirit world', this is no different than the religions. The Indian tradition in my view still holds most of the multi-dimensional ancient teachings in a written form. A lot of the other cultures' old ways of life - written or not - have all but been destroyed over time or are not readily shared outside of their culture. In India, there have been concerted effort over the ages to meticulously preserve highly detailed information. It is only very recently that the depth and some of the breadth of those teachings have been made available to the West through translations from Sanskrit to English by Indian people. In those translations by people of the Indian culture, I can also see this willingness to include everyone in the richness of those teachings.
In Shamanism, as in religions as well, there is a very subtle difference between Shamanism as a shamanic 'practice' - a 'personal effort' to try to transcend 'ordinary' life - and Shamanism as a 'trans-personal' experience - where dualism has been transcended and from where the play of life is easier to see. The former is still occult/subtle/veiled, the latter is more spiritual in nature. The descriptions of transpersonal shamans as well as of the very advanced yogis/saints of the different traditions show a common, deeply spiritual thread, far outpacing occult, dualistic practices, power struggles and beliefs. The spiritual thread I see is a deep connection into Unconditional Love Consciousness.
In every religion there is love, yet love has no religion.~ Rumi
Within the dualistic shamanism, there is still the 'occult'/subtle flair to shamanism, in which the two opposing sides 'fight' for dominance; demons versus gods; bad shamans versus the good shamans; light against dark; heaven and hells, good guys versus bad guys etc. The world is full of those definitions. Even in psychology, there are terms such as lower emotions and higher emotions, dark feelings and feelings of elations; dark thoughts and enlightened thoughts etc. Invariably, one sees oneself in this dualism commonly as the 'good' one, the other as 'deficient or bad' somehow. In this dualistic belief, strong identifications with dark/light and good/bad can happen and there is less of an ability to transcend duality and seeing both as 'is'. There is often a strong belief in angels/higher 'astral' and demons/lower 'astral' and then somehow faith in God gets subtly 'forgotten' as faith drops in the background or is less subtly abhorred. Nothing wrong with any of this, it is just a phase on the path of soul growth and I am just describing some aspects witnessed over the years. There is a very subtle difference between occult and spiritual ways and some groups/schools will call themselves 'spiritual' when all their practices are esoteric/'occult'. Both are valid practices, both are part of the path of learning. The mistaken belief of 'occult' groups is the competitive belief in their own personal power as superior to that of others. There is a 'pre-mature' rejection of something more meaningful as there is a belief that the pinnacle of mundane existence and 'power-over' has been reached. A further maturation process is needed to see the next step.
In trans-personal shamanism for example, as well as in the mystical teachings of all religions, this dualism fades in the background. 'Hollow Bones' can manifest themselves clearly. From my point of view, 'Hollow Bones' surrender to and have faith in the Divine more easily. 'May I be like a Feather on Thy Breath' it was said. This is more difficult when the ego is in the way and trying to interfere. As I saw it described once before, Ego can be an acronym for - 'Edging God Out'. It manifests itself in the most subtle of ways, often unnoticed or unexamined. On the stage of life, the play of 'shadows' is very strong.
A shamanic practitioner just as meditation practitioners will attempt to go beyond the dualism of life; an overtly materialistic person will revel in the dualism of the comedy and tragedy stage of mundane life and will often refuse to inquire into anything that falls into the category 'off-stage' and is out of the spotlight of visible life.
To come back to this "interacting with what they believe to be a spirit world", in Shamanism the spiritual practice is to see the Divine's Presence in everything and everyone. This is just another way to describe God's 'omnipresence', which is the same as what the religions teach. What different in Shamanism is the deep awareness and practical experience of interconnected, enfolded Time-Space. Personally, I find the ancient Indian teachings fascinating as this Time-Space information is still present, be it difficult to understand. The Sanskrit language and cultural descriptions being different are but one difficulty, the other being the contemplation on the depths of their descriptions of 4-dimensional Time-Space.
To come back to another part of the definition of Wikipedia's definition of shamanism, Trance, I was taught Trance Dance during Patricia White Buffalo's course - walking the Shaman's Path. A black eye mask was used to block out the light from the room. Barefoot, we danced as we listened to shamanic music, allowing ourselves to start moving in 'unstructured', spontaneous and unrestrained ways to the music. It's a way to open up as well as to connect. In the movement, there is a loosening up of the body, a moving of the energy in the body. In the quietude of lying down after the trance dance, the energy starts flowing towards the tight spots where 'something' is held onto. The shamanic 'inner journey' unfolds itself within one's own experiences of this flow of awareness and healing happens. The perception of this 'non-ordinary' reality is not linked to 'ordinary' vision as the light is blocked out with the eye mask. In blocking out the 'path of the eyes' by using an eye mask, something else can happen outside 'ordinary' reality.
In the description of 'altered' states of consciousness, there seems to be the suggestion that something 'extra-ordinary' and weird and scary is happening. In the 'ordinary' reality of normal life 'altered' states of consciousness occur spontaneously through our experience of daily cycles.
What is meant with 'altered' within the descriptions of shamanism? Those descriptions of shamanism in themselves are it seems ways to 'separate' the shamans away from 'ordinary/consensual' life.
In 'ordinary' life, one wakes up and is active during the day, only to get tired in the evening and go to sleep at night. In sleep states, different depths of sleep are experienced; 'light sleep', 'dreaming' and 'deep sleep'. This is the same for everyone. As a human being one can't go without sleep for too long before it becomes detrimental to one's (mental) health. Sleep is our natural, inbuilt soothing, nurturing, protective, natural, daily, healing mechanism during which our human system gets 'reset' every day.
Sleeping at night is also an 'altered state' from our daily 'awake' reality. One could say that at night, one is in a trance whilst sleeping and unaware of the 'ordinary, awake reality' at that point. The definition of a 'trance' after all is: 'a half-conscious state characterised by an absence of response to external stimuli, typically as induced by hypnosis or entered by a medium.' Take away the hypnosis and medium - induced by others in other words - and you get the definition of sleep, pure and simple, induced by our own protection system.
Shamans are also called 'Dreamers' as they're able to sustain 'dream state' brain waves during the light/daytime hours. Through drumming and chanting, they can also elicit in others 'other-than-awake' brain waves during healing work, when that is needed for that person's healing. This is all there is to it, it is as 'natural' as it gets and bringing in the 'supernatural' aspects into descriptions is only adding to the 'rejection' of shamanism as something primitive and objectionable. Shamanism is the most ancient, natural healing path humanity has known - as are the soothing/healing daily sleep patterns. In my view, it seems only very natural that shamanism and acupuncture for example were practiced by our earlier ancestors. They were cave dwellers after all and caves are inherently dark. They were just very good at 'seeing in the dark'. The Ancient Path is rejected these days as 'primitive' in favour of man-made, 'artificial' ways of living life. Artificial life - as advanced as it is - has also regressed humanity's understanding of Life. The bias of the 'superiority' of the continuous availability of visible artificial light helped to create a 'separation' not only from the natural cycles of life but also from that inward part of Life which is 'invisible' to the naked eye. To have 'light-on-demand' any time of the day takes away any 'fear of the dark'. One no longer has to face a dark void through shedding artificial continuous light on life. The way out of this 'disconnected' way of living is by making our way back towards a more 'integrated' way of life, not only for our own sakes but for the sake of everyone.
Before describing the 10 daily shamanic practices, I wanted to give an example of my experience of a 'strong shaman'. During an individual healing session, we both just sat each on a chair in a small room in stillness - eyes closed, feet resting on a raised surface. As the healing and Soul Retrieval evolved, I could feel the impact of it and I got to know the healer's depth as she was able to meet me where it had been impossible for other healers and shamanic practitioners to go. The impact of the work was felt and the most amazing 'coincidence' was still to happen. Unbeknown to me, something else was happening to another person in another country at the time this healing was playing out. This person contacted me upon my return home and went on to describe in detail how he'd had a lucid dream in which he was assisting with my healing and what it related to. The description totally matched that which I had seen unfold during my healing session. I remember at the time feeling totally amazed at how different people are 'relating' and 'interconnecting' in spirit through Time-Space. This is but one personal experience of shamanic Time-Space and how life and time-lines/space are not what they seem to be.