It makes my heart sing that shamanic plant medicine, and shamanic plant communication is on the rise. The interest to connect more deeply with nature and the earth, and to look to history to explore what we can learn from our indigenous ancestors is a very good thing. I’ve found these practices fun, interesting and meaningful – they’ve provided me a prism through which I view the events of my life.
This post will do some basic defining of terms and touch on why and how you can benefit from shamanic practice.
What is shamanism, and what is a shaman?
Shamanism is an approach to life, a point of view that has to do with healing. Shamanism is a set of healing practices of ancient indigenous people. A shaman, then, is a practitioner of these practices. The shaman of an indigenous community is a medicine man or woman.
There are hallmarks and common beliefs of shamanic practices around the world, and the commonality is due to the universality of the laws of nature. I’ll focus on the laws of nature in other posts, but just know that there are universal principles of energy and nature (google it to get started!). Here are 2 common beliefs of many shamanic practices and systems share:
- Everything is sacred. Plants, clothing, you, me, our pets, cars and apartments. They all have the potential to contain sacred content. It is all about the point of view that we have about our own lives. IMHO (in my humble opinion) this principle is an invitation to change our point of view of our lives.
- Disease and dysfunction have energetic origins and can be addressed through re-alignment with energy and nature. If we can connect with nature, and understand how it operates and how we operate within it, we can begin to heal from disease, dysfunction and misalignment. This is not to say you will live forever or that it will be easeful, but you can move toward healing.
A related definition:
What and who are indigenous people? Indigenous people are those whose lives are guided primarily by the laws and rhythms of nature. So, the seasons, sunrise and sunset, astrological calendars and the like that draw from nature and the earth determine how life unfolds.
And the big question:
How can these practices help modern people? I love my modern life and science-centric healthcare – I’d be gonzo without it! I love my home and my car and my blog and my MacBook. Love.
Working with flower essences, taking shamanic journeys and connecting energetically with plants and nature remind me of who I am, where I came from, and inform me of how I can be in better alignment with nature.
Nature is an undeniably powerful force.
Shamanic plant medicine, when done without the hierarchy “I am a Shaman” stuff, but is used simply as the collection of practices it is, with the aim of bringing everyday magic into our lives, invites us to live more deeply from our hearts and our energy bodies. We can surf the static and craziness of life a little more easily.
From an evidence-informed perspective, these practices are adjuncts to change – they support us to follow a more healthful life and to live more mindfully and more gently on the earth. They work along with sciences like positive psychology.
We’ll be practicing shamanic journey, and shamanic plant medicine in Costa Rica in February.
There are more than 3 lies being fed to those trying to follow healthy lifestyles that lead to natural healthy weight, but these three are an excellent place to start. These 3 lies point to the truth of feeling better, being healthier, and authentically expressing and doing what you are here to express and do.
Did you know that size does not necessarily correlate with health? In over twenty years of clinical nutrition practice, I have seen many people – women and men, who are technically overweight yet metabolically healthy. Too, I have seen many women and men who are slim yet metabolically imbalanced in mind, body, and spirit. In today’s culture, with a highly refined diet and ever-increasing stress, for many it is harder than ever to lose weight. It’s not impossible, but it just may be aiming at the wrong target.
You and I have a job to do. It’s to stop feeling bad about who we are, and start taking fantastic care of ourselves. It’s to stop believing lies and half-truths designed to make us feel bad and to follow healthy satisfying and balanced eating and physical activity that works to make us the healthiest, happiest version of ourselves that we can be.
Here are 3 big lies that are keeping you heavy, and the truth that will point the way to feeling fantastic:
1.If you can’t lose weight there is something wrong with you.
It’s not you. For years I’ve spoken to women who feel responsible for weight gain and feel like failures because they can’t achieve the weight they were in high school. They are successful in all areas of life – big wage earners (despite economic discrimination) who run families, have healthy relationships, and yet in this one area, unsuccessful.
The toxicity in the food supply, years of metabolic dysfunction, an unhelpful mindset, and the resulting stress is the perfect storm to feeling unwell and defeated. The fact of the matter is that what will make you feel better – no matter the number on the scale – are your daily habits and choices, and your mindset.
2. You have to be ever-perfect at a diet for it to work.
NOT (usually) true!
Deprivation diets don’t work. Starvation or fasting diets, even intermittent fasting, which has some merit, has the dirty little secret of lowering your metabolic rate, sometimes by a lot and for a very long time. There may be a variety of advantages to lowering metabolic rate (it may make you live longer), but please go in with eyes open. If eating less is not something you’d be happy doing evermore, save yourself the time and grief – don’t do it.
The truth of the matter is that small changes, that you are able to practice day after day without feeling deprived, is the only way forward. Most people can’t transform overnight, but I have seen lots of folks do great with a step-by-step path. If you feel the energy of transformation, there are ways of taking advantage of it without it setting the stage of yo-yoing your way to nowhere.
3. It’s all about calories.
So NOT true!
Energy balance (calories in as food and drink minus calories out as activity and metabolism) is important but quality (nutrient density, macro-nutrient balance and quality) matters just as much or more. If you have inflammation in your body – if your joints are achy, if you are bloated (swollen, really) you can do ‘all the right things’ for weight management and not get anywhere. Cooling inflammation with thoughtful choices is critical and independent of calories. Beyond that, how you eat matters as much (even more) than that. Taking your time to chew your food (can you slow down to take 10 chews per bite?), and taking a few moments to breathe and enjoy your food with all five senses can go a long way to improving your digestive wellness and your weight.pinterest
As a high-schooler, I developed bulimia. It was a seemingly easy (or at least doable) solution to an impossible problem; how to eat all those cheeseburgers and cokes and milkshakes that everyone else was eating and still look as slim as the models in the magazines. I could almost do it. But not quite. I tell that full story in Every Bite Is Divine.
For decades now, I have been thinking and writing about how yoga can help us to be more fully aware of who we are. But there is a shadow underfoot. I’m a 55-year-old post-menopausal woman and I feel fantastic and beautiful. I’m an excellent yoga teacher at the top of my game. I don’t, however, fit the beauty ideal of the yoga world. The media world of yoga is getting awfully slim. Sigh.
But that’s not the whole of the yoga world. There are beautiful women and men of every age, of every size, or every color and creed using the gifts of yoga to feel better, look better, live longer and be the fullest expression of who they are today. If that’s you, look around this space. See if there is something here for you. Come be part of the conversation of how we live and love each day in a balanced, happy expression of our unique and blessed place in the wonder of nature and life.
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