The Lonely Kingdom of Naught
There is a lot of power that can be derived by being contrary, critical, and well, just downright negative. When nothing is good enough, or clean enough, our discomfort, hopefully, becomes the impetus for others to change and accommodate us. It makes us right, defining us as separate from, and superior to, the flock. People who feel unworthy of love, and believe they must please another to win it, will respond accordingly. For everyone else, this is exhausting behavior to be around.
Children learn the power of the word “no” at about the age of two, when the ego starts to really form. “No, I don’t want to eat spinach,” or “No, I don’t want to go to bed yet.” It is the doorway through which they find their will, and thus define who they are as beings separate from their parents. This becomes particularly pronounced in adolescence, and is healthy in this context. People who suffer from childhood trauma, however, do not automatically step beyond this sophomoric form of “self empowerment.” They would rather anchor in to what they know, and fortify their walls with criticisms of what they don’t. There is never really any true connection here, though, as implicit within this fabricated superiority is a power differential that keeps them forever in isolation. In truth, this is really just a lonely kingdom of naught.
Transitions, Endings and New Beginnings
We start with dreams. We begin a relationship or a new job with a vision of all kinds of possibilities, and we push forward, putting things into place so they can happen. We invest great time and resources, and at times we are asked to overcome great feats. As much as we put our hearts and souls into it, sometimes, however, a dream may end. It just dies on the vine, never coming to full maturity.
When we put all of our eggs in one basket, as one does when really wanting something, and that dream evaporates, how do we pick up and move on: the marriage that has died, that career path that has evaporated, or maybe you are having to pack move towns? After so much time and identity invested, we can lose our sense of self. Who we were dims into a flicker, and we fear we will fade out all together. Transitions are that space between the death of the old, and the birth of the new. In the throws of it one can feel dark and hopeless, and at the doorway of depression. The losses are palpable and can leave a bitter taste in our mouths, especially when the new path is not yet visible. We may even feel let down by God him/herself. Floating in an undefined space, with no direction at all, can be one of the most agonizing, and challenging of times.
Many people with varying trainings, lineages, or "calls from Spirit,” refer to themselves as shamans. It is hard to know who is legitimate and who is not, and what a shaman really is. In Cuzco, Peru, for example, you can find “shamans” all over town selling mystical experiences. Many have access to medicinal plants, but few have training in how to hold space for a client, or even how to speak to the medicinal plants in ceremony. There are others that say no one can call themselves a shaman or be trained as one; it is an honor only bestowed upon one by others.
The actual word “shaman” comes from the Tungusic Evenki language of North Asia. According to anthropological documentation it is the word the Tungus, in particular, used to refer to their medicine person. Spirits inhabited their shamans, affecting others positively, and negatively, and shifting circumstances on the material plane. Some believe that this manifestation of shamanism is the only legitimate form that can claim to use the word “shaman.” Technically, they are correct, as it is a word specific to this one tribe in Siberia. Every other tribe has a different language, and therefore a different word, and each tribe’s practices also vary. While some use use spirits to do their bidding, and others do not, most tribes do have mentors helping young initiates refine their skills.
Articles - April 01, 2018
Are You Still Apologizing For Your Existence?
You decide to wear something a little daring today but in your head you hear “Take it off, you will call attention to yourself, what will people think?” But some other voice inside says “DO IT!” So you do, but all the way to work you prepare for all the apologizing you will have to do today. Or maybe you volunteer to do something at work, or in your social circles, that calls the spotlight to you. That voice inside you starts asking who the heck you think you are, and you scramble to find reasons to justify your actions. Maybe you take a stand on a spiritual or political belief that is different from those among you, or perhaps you are just saying “No!” to something that is not right for you. It can even be the way you raise your children. Why must you always apologize?
The fear of judgement, conflict, not belonging, and of losing love makes us quick to retract our self expression. Many of us were shut down as children, and told not to be so loud or sensitive, for example. We were rewarded instead, for being the children our parents wanted us to be. Fearing a loss of love, or a feeling of ostracization, we begrudgingly complied. We will not ever be able to reach for the stars, however, if we are still trying to please an imaginary counsel of naysayers in our heads. When we express ourselves, people who feel threatened by it will judge us, there is no way around that. It is what people do in fear, they judge and control. The work for us is not in kowtowing to the demands of their low self esteem, however, it is in digging out what our fears of expressing ourselves are, and sorting through our own shame. What is it rooted in?
Articles - March 01, 2018
Following the Shamanic Path, After the Colors Fade
The main principle behind shamanic healing is that our physical and mental/emotional realities are orchestrated by our multidimensional spiritual selves. This self carries all our true capacity, but it also carries the imprints from all of our unresolved wounds, from this lifetime through to the ancient past, in shadow. When our minds do not know how to process hurtful events they become imprinted on our souls, directing the way our lives unfold at the physical. Once our multidimensional selves heal, our bodies and minds can finally express our true capacity.
Shamanic healers can help us shift, grow, and heal by connecting with our multidimensional selves. They are distinct in their capacity to bridge the physical and the spiritual domains, aiding in this evolutionary process. One of the main tenants of shamanic healing is that the client must be put in a trance state to let go of the wounds locked into the fear based mind. Only in trance will the mind let go of its defenses enough to effect change. There are many different kinds of shamans, and many ways to achieve these trance states. Some tribes use drumming, or dancing, while others use breath work. Others, still, use psychotropic plant medicines. While methods vary from tribe to tribe, shamanic healers share in common the idea that our dysfunctional physical reality is a projection of the imbalances in our spiritual selves.
Articles - February 01, 2018
Chasing Rabbits, Dark Holes, and Other Forms of Suffering
Our minds are like dogs running through the fields chasing rabbits. Just as any small animal darting across the field, or up a tree, catches their attention, the unbridled mind pursues every thought that arises, without discrimination. If we think it up, the mind chases it down. There are thoughts we really don’t need to think, however, and some that lead us down dark rabbit holes. One of the most challenging aspects of personal growth is learning which rabbits to chase, and which to let go.
Our thoughts craft the contours of our lives. Since most of our emotions are elicited by our thinking, the thoughts we choose to think strongly affect how we feel. A person may have voices that, for example, although designed to help them avoid further pain, actually cause more. Addictions have a seductive voice that says, “Hey! Come on, follow me, this will make you feel better!” When we let our minds grasp this thought, and engage in it emotionally, we are off and running. Doubt has a voice that says “Oh no, you can’t do that.” There are paranoid voices that keep us in fear, and victim voices that allow us to rage. When we chase after these thoughts, seduced by their call, we find ourselves taken down into dark passageways. More thoughts await us there, thoughts that beat us up for having listened, thoughts that evoke dark emotions that bring on even darker thoughts. Once we engage, we become tangled in an underworld of knotted roots that refuses to let us go. This is our suffering.
Articles - January 01, 2018
Pride and Power
There is much talk about owning our power these days. From spiritual teachings we find our power lies in our authenticity and willingness to surrender our agendas to an intelligence beyond our own. There is also the will of ego, however, based on a need for personal gain and status. While spiritual power requires getting out of our own way, this kind of “power” is driven by pride, and lends itself toward abuse. When someone is spiritual, but has not done their personal work, sometimes the two are confused.
Pride, at its best, is a positive sense of self. We are proud that we are the first one in our family to graduate from college, for example. While good self esteem is essential, pride has an uncanny capacity for over indulgence and abuse. In fact it is considered one of the seven deadly sins. At its worst, pride seductively lures us in to defend our inadequacies, at any price. We may choose to lie, or fight dirty, for example, just to claim a victory. While we have won the argument, at what cost is this to our soul? Feeling dirty, we look for another win, and so it goes.
Events - December 16, 2017
ASC’s Children Program:
Austin Shamanic Center is now offering children the opportunity to embark on a fun, creative, spiritual learning experience. Shamanic teachings, yoga, meditation, art, music and games will be interwoven throughout each event. Our goal is for participants to gain practical tools by building connections with the self, others and the natural world while having fun! At this time, sessions are designed for school-aged children and teens.
Articles - December 01, 2017
Intimacy: Bridges Not Walls
It is often said that what we do on a personal level defines how our lives play out as a culture as well. After all, every culture is a reflection of the individuals within it. If we look at our communities right now, we see many people grappling with hate and fear. Divisiveness and anger are erupting within them, lines are being drawn, walls erected. Even weapons are being drawn. At the root of all this divisiveness is fear.
Fear permeates our personal lives as well. It can cripple emotional intimacy if we let it, much like it is undermining our country’s ability to unite. In our personal lives we usually seek out relationships that we can be “ourselves” in. We begin this process from behind a friendly facade we have constructed. It is an amalgam of the parts of ourselves we think are socially acceptable, and the fear based coping mechanisms we have developed to ensure we will not be hurt again. While this persona is safe, it is also lonely, as it negates our vulnerabilities.
Articles - November 01, 2017
Loving Your Monster
Many of us have a part of ourselves that lurks in the shadows, grumbling and rattling its chains, looking for a way out. It can be a nasty, jealous beast, perhaps even rageful at times. We don’t want this to be part of us, however, as it makes us unlovable. So we chain it down in our cellars, and cultivate colorful flowers of positivity in its place, and other personality topiary that makes us look exceptional.
It is important to realize that these monsters we have created ourselves. They are not evil demons that possess our souls, they come from the depths of our psyches. While demons have their realm, these monsters are unacknowledged parts of ourselves that have no outlet for expression. Aspects of our personality that are socially taboo, such as being “too” insecure, sensitive, or emotional, have no place in our culture, so we pack them away. When our sensitivity becomes too much, our emotions run too high, or we feel especially small, these repressed parts burst through to the surface, to our horror.
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