Last night I watched a documentary which was for me, very moving and emotional. It is called Black Fish and is the story of the Orca Whales that are in captivity in the various Sea Worlds dotted throughout the planet, and the deaths that were caused to their trainers by aggression. At the end of the documentary I found myself sitting there with tears streaming down my face. Not just because of the injustice and absolute abuse that humans have thwarted onto these intensely sentient beings, but for the human race as a whole, for we have created our own state of captivity within contemporary culture that has created mental, emotional and physical dis-ease that seems to be growing.
What struck me profoundly is the fact that Orca whales are extraordinarily intelligent with behaviors similar to humans. In fact, a part of their brain has developed beyond the human brain. It is the part of the brain that feels emotion. They are deeply emotional creatures that rely on community and their social pods for well being. We too have a more developed emotional center of the brain beyond most other mammals and what sets us apart is our capacity for a wide range of emotion. Unfortunately however, through civilizing ourselves, we have moved further and further away from understanding our emotions, let alone even acknowledging them. As a culture, we often view negative emotions as a pahthology rather than a very important signal from the brain, messaging us that we have stepped outside of our truth, our nature – who we really are. We have forgotten the importance of that natural world being one of contrast, polarities and opposites – by design.
By believing we are separate from nature and walling off and tuning out Earth and all that is contained within the natural world, we create a state of imprisonment within our psyche that manifests as frustration, anger, violence, sadness, hatred and illness. If we look at nature and the creatures there, where their environment is left untouched by human influence and the creatures themselves are free to follow their inherent divine biology, there is harmony. Yet harmony has all but disappeared from modern cultures as we edge nature out and disconnect from our inherent and downright vital connection to it. If we are going to evolve wholly, healthfully and harmoniously, we absolutely must reintegrate nature back into our lives.
Short of a catastrophe that would force us to survive without modern conveniences, it is doubtful that as a culture we will return to the way of our indigenous ancestors who lived as one with nature. However, we can merge the best of technology with lifestyles that are rooted in nature and revive our instincts and reverence for the land and the fauna and flora we cohabitate with. There is a name for such a lifestyle in the English language. Yet it is a word that is often misunderstood and often has negative connotations attached to it. Because as a society we have done such a brilliant job at moving further away from nature and disconnecting from the wisdom of our ancestry, the term Shamanism or Shaman can carry a variety of meaning. At its core, Shamanism is a lifestyle that is at one with the natural world and a Shaman is quite simply someone who retains (or reconnects through development) the oneness connection to nature and the natural world as a whole. Although a Shaman is often viewed as a healer, and in ancient cultures the Shaman was indeed the person sought out when there was a healing need, which continues today in both indigenous and contemporary societies, there is also a Shaman within us all. When we awaken our inner Shaman and practice a Shamanic lifestyle, we choose to reconnect with the natural world and bridge our modern lifestyle with nature.
In Shamanism, when there is a healing need emotionally, we turn to nature. When there is a healing need physically, we turn to nature. However from a Shamanic point of view, by the time there is a physical healing need, there has been a long-standing emotional healing need that went unattended. Wonderfully, science is finally confirming this ancient knowledge and now we have data and studies that prove the emotional connection to disease. But culturally speaking, we have some catching up to do. This data and these studies are only beginning to emerge into mainstream awareness and the knowledge is minimally disseminated. So here I am, reaching out to remind you that you ARE nature and there is a wilderness within you that is screaming to be unteathered. When you are feeling frustration, stress, pain, sadness, depression and anger, I guarantee it is because you have disconnected from your nature, your cycles, your rhythm, your divinity. The minute you understand this truth, you have the opportunity to step onto a pathway of wisdom that will lead you back to your wholeness, wellness, and well-being. And the minute you do that, you are not only healing yourself, you are healing the Earth as a whole, because it is all connected. When you walk upon your pathway of wisdom you set off a domino effect that quietly inspires those around you to walk their own wisdom pathway, which sets of its own domino effect, and so on and so on.
Here are some tips to get you started with the reconnect:
- Step outside and just breathe, no matter where you might be
- Go for a walk upon the Earth. No sidewalks, just foot on soil or sand (shoes are fine).
- Spend time in the forest, at the beach, the desert, whatever you have near you. The more secluded the area is, the better. Then connect with the elements around you.
- Notice the cycles of nature. Begin to see the parallels between your own cycles.
- Stand barefoot upon the Earth.
- Hug a tree.
- Drum, rattle, clap your hands, sing, chant, dance…connecting with rhythm connects you to nature and remarkably discharges negative emotions.
These are just a few simple suggestions to get you started in awakening your inner Shaman. The pathway of urban Shamanism as a lifestyle is a journey that constantly unfolds and evolves. When you are ready to truly transform your life and let go of the stories that have created obstacles to your forward motion, Shamanism is a beautiful, sacred and safe path when practiced free of ego and fear. Should you decide to dive further make sure to do so with resources and people that are heart centered and operate from love.
My vision is that humans everywhere unleash the wilderness within and break free from the prison walls of over-domestication. We’ve got some programming to undo, but it is possible and Shamanism is a sacred pathway that provides a beautiful bridge between ancient wisdom and modern technology.
~Melinda Beth Rodriguez