Monday, May 14, 2012

Pitfalls of the Shamanic Lifestyle

It's a nice rainy morning in Washington DC. The sound of traffic, something I almost always find annoying, is much prettier in the rain. It sounds like shhhhhhhhhhh. Sweet sounds from inside the chateau. I'm sure the people driving are not as charmed by the experience. May I stop for a second here to give thanks for living in a place in which owning a car is not necessary? I drive the Zipcar once every other week or so, when I go to the Whole Foods across town. That is more than enough driving for me!

Last week was a very shamanic week. By that I mean I experienced unexplainable weather events, timed perfectly to illustrate something or another that I only half understand. I had violent bodily reactions that didn't seem to correlate with anything viral or bacterial, but rather seemed especially fitting as I closed a professional relationship that was not doing either one of us any good.

If I were a normal person, I would shrug off these experiences, or perhaps not even notice them. But the shamanic lifestyle requires that I pay attention, connect the dots, and do my best to dance in alignment with the movement of the river of life force in which we live, move, and have our being. I wonder if that makes any sense.

Once upon a time I sought out the currents in the river of life force that felt wounded or in need of something. That era in my shamanic career was quite ugly, as these currents were way more powerful than I. Imagine getting swept along, bashing into rocks and tree trunks, helpless as a baby. Yeah, that was me when I was ambitiously trying to heal the land here. How grandiose!

Eventually I figured out it made more sense to dance in alignment with the currents in the river of life force that feel healing, peaceful and happy. In my shamanic dance I no longer try to address what is most cruelly wounded, but rather the situations and landscapes that enhance and celebrate beauty, clarity and harmony. It's a lot more satisfying and life enhancing to sit with the flowers, birdsong and blue sky at the National Botanical Gardens, for instance, than thrash around on a Civil War battlefield, believe me! In my practice this translates into celebrating the beauty, harmony and possibilities for healing that are a part of everyone, rather than focusing on what's "wrong" with any particular client.

It's tricky. Sometimes, just as when navigating any river, I get confused and find myself suddenly in a stagnant pool or realize I'm getting sucked into a toxic eddy. By scanning for the beauty and harmony in my clients, I am sometimes blind to how seriously wounded they are. This looks like a situation in which nothing I do is at all helpful for the client. Sometimes the work is actually harmful for me, not mortally harmful, but not good for me. As I extricated myself from an impossible situation this past week, I thought of the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers at Harpers Ferry, how violent, chaotic and destructive that confluence feels. It's no wonder John Brown started the Civil War there. The energy is very weird - powerful, but not healing in any way, and may I say, no one's fault. Can I blame a confluence of rivers? If not (and I do not) then how can I blame myself or the ex-client? 

Getting back into a more suitable current in the river of life force can be quite a task! But I'm back in the flow of harmony, thank God. Can I just say that being a shaman isn't always a lot of fun? It can be, but there's no guarantee. Sometimes it's heartbreaking or bewildering - or really weird, even for me! Sometimes it's like a roundhouse right coming up from the floor. Ouch!

Ah, but it's all over now.

In a minute I'll set up the massage table, get ready for today's clients. Life is good. Why do I ever complain?


Mary Ellen said...

The shamanic approach appeals to me - much more mindful than my little workaholic bubble.

ellen abbott said...

Maybe they should plant life affirming gardens on those old battlefields.

I don't have clients, not in the way you do, but certain things, if I let myself get sucked in are very toxic. Like politics these days. I'm back to ignoring it which makes me open to other creative pursuits.

Rebecca Clayton said...

I live on a Civil War battlefield. I wonder what you'd make of the energy here. To me it's spooky, but not in a disturbing way, like Antietam or Harper's Ferry. The relics that turn up in our garden are flint tools I'm told are 2000 to 3000 years old.

Reya Mellicker said...

Rebecca I bet your land is further along in the healing process than some of the battlefields. No doubt you bring the best possible energy into that sphere.

And remember you are a lot tougher than I am. You can hang out with bugs! You are mighty.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ellen, yes, yes ... when I figure out I've gotten entangled, then I can extricate myself. While I'm in the spin cycle I'm usually confused.