Shamanic Healing: A Journey of Reconnection

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Souls wander the universe
Lost or stolen
Cut off from loved ones
Split off from love
Gently, carefully
We call them back to us
Searching for them in dark corners
Blowing them to life
With our breath
We welcome
them home
– Ellen Jaffe Bitz

Shamanism is an ancient method of spiritual practice, perhaps tens of thousands of years old.  It has been a foundation spiritual and physical healing as well as a tool for self-awareness and understanding in many tribal cultures around the world.  Today, it is experiencing an awakening in modern cultures as well.  It is understood that in the shaman’s world everything in existence has a spirit and is alive, and that all of life is interconnected through what is called the “web of life’.  It is through cultivating this deep connection with Nature and all things that we learn how to bring harmony and balance into our lives.

In traditional shamanic practice, one enters an altered state – often by using drums or rattles to create a sound field that changes consciousness. This altered state, called a shamanic journey, is used to access help and wisdom from within.  In the journey, the shaman or practitioner encounters helping spirits or guides.  By shifting into this altered state of consciousness, we are able to access guidance and insight that is beyond the physical or mental levels.  We can also reconnect with aspects of ourselves, which we may have been wounded or become lost through our life experiences.  Through this process of reconnection, we can begin to integrate all that we have experienced and open to a sense of wholeness we never thought possible.

By utilizing auditory stimulation such as drumming or rattling techniques, the shaman or practitioner is able to induce a natural altered state of consciousness.  Recent research studies indicate that shamanic journeying practices that include drumming and rattling can help to:

  • Reduce tension, anxiety and stress
  • Create a sense of connection with self and others
  • Release negative feelings, blockages and trauma
  • Produce deeper self-awareness
  • Help experience resonance with natural rhythms of life
  • Access the entire brain supporting retraining and integration
  • Help control chronic pain

Additionally, when we access the journey world, we are able to access deeper parts of ourselves and find our strengths.  Some of the overall benefits of Shamanic Journeying include:

  • Problem solving
  • Deepening of creativity and self-expression
  • Developing a regular spiritual practice
  • Healing of childhood wounds and trauma
  • Developing a sense of personal power, integrity and authenticity
  • Connecting to spiritual guidance and support
  • Developing a personal relationship with Nature and the environment we live in
  • Cultivating a sense of place and purpose in life

From a shamanic viewpoint, everyone dissociates some part of their vital essence or soul from their physical body in order to cope with major experiences of life.  These experiences can include surviving physical and emotional abuse as well as other traumas such as accidents, illness, surgical operations, and loss of loved ones and other important relationships.    This can also occur from less severe experiences that cause repression or avoidance.  Essentially, when a child has not received the support is needs or has suffered in some way, it can shut off that part of itself as it does not have the resources or support to resolve the emotional material.  In many cases a natural reintegration may occur over a period of time such as when someone goes through a grief process due to loss of some kind.  However, in other cases some intervention is necessary.  Often, shamanic healing is the most effective way to bring about reconnection as we invite our “missing” parts to come back home.

Signs of soul loss can include:

•            Physical or psychological trauma and/or PTSD like symptoms
•            Experiencing feelings of dissociation, particularly in otherwise functional people.
•            Feeling disconnected from life or feeling like you can’t connect to things or people
•            Feeling a sense of numbness or disconnection from your own body
•            Feeling a lack of wholeness or that some part of self is missing.
•            Feelings of depression and/or anxiety
•            A feeling of being incomplete or empty inside
•            An inability to move past an issue or certain feelings
•            Low Self-Esteem or feelings of insecurity
•            Feeling stuck or unable to create desired changes in your life
•            Having memories or experiences that have caused you to feel you lost a part of yourself or some part has died
•            Needing to return to a relationship or a situation that is unhealthy even when you know it is unhealthy for you
•            Lost or missing memories, like a part of your history is “missing”
•            Patterns of addiction and co-dependence
•            Having a sense that shamanic healing may be beneficial for you

One of the main practices to treat soul-loss is soul retrieval, during which time the shaman supports the client in reconnecting with their lost parts that are ready to return.   After a shamanic healing session, people typically report such things as, “I feel more alive”, “I feel more positive about life” or “I feel a sense of wholeness.”  Shamanic Journey work can provide a vehicle for continued self-healing and growth.  Working with an Inner Child Journey process allows for clients to become their own loving parents.  By learning to listen, care for and respond to one’s inner children, we create a foundation for a new way of being – one of wholeness.  This type of experience can be very beneficial and supports each person in becoming their own facilitator of healing and personal growth as they begin to find the “shaman” within.

Shamanic practice offers a powerful form of healing and transformation.  It is also a way of life.  Living in conscious awareness of the interconnectedness of all things supports the embodiment of wholeness and authenticity.  It offers a gateway to greater acceptance, respect and honor of the diversity of all life and fosters living in mutuality.  This supports individual well-being and collective well-being.  Shamanic healing supports the awakening of the healing presence which exists in every being.  As each one of us connects with our own inner ‘healer’, we begin to create a shift in ourselves, our relationships and our world.  In the words of the great medicine man, Albert Schweitzer:

“The shaman succeeds for the same reason all the rest of us (doctors) succeed.  Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.  They come to us not knowing this truth.  We are at our best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to go to work.”

Recommended Reading & Resources on Shamanic Healing

Healing The Shadow – Ross Bishop (www.rossbishop.com)
Soul Retrieval – Sandra Ingerman (www.sandraingerman.com)
Shamanic Journeying: A Beginner’s Guide – Sandra Ingerman
Conscious Dreaming – Robert Moss (www.mossdreams.com)
The Way of the Shaman – Michael Harner (www.shamanism.org)
Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life – Tom Cowan (wp.riverdrum.com)
Healing the Luminous Body: The Way of the Shaman DVD – Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D. (www.thefourwinds.com)
Shamanic Meditations CD/Audio – Sandra Ingerman
Shaman’s Portal Resources For All Things Shamanic – (www.shamanportal.org)

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Shamanic Healing includes a variety of tools and techniques. These are some of the techniques I utilize in my practice:

Soul Retrieval

​Inner Child Process Work

Guided Journey Work

Ceremony & Ritual 

Ancestral Healing

Energy Clearing & Extractions

Shadow Work

Crystal & Plant Spirit Medicine

Space & Land Clearing

Power Animal & Spirit Guide Retrieval

To learn more about my work with Shamanic Healing and other Transformational Resources, visit www.bethterrence.com.  Sessions are available in person, by phone or Skype.  Also, visit my Events page for information on Shamanic Healing, Meditation and Bach Flower workshops in Annapolis, MD  and the MD/DC/VA areas.  I am also available to travel to other areas if there is an interest in sponsoring a visit for workshops and/or individual sessions.

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About Beth Terrence

Beth Terrence is a Shaman, Facilitator, Holistic Practitioner, Speaker and Writer. With over seventeen years of experience in field of transformation and holistic health, she is a leader in providing Integrative Transformational Healing Programs For Individuals, Groups & Organization. The focus of Beth's work is to facilitate deep transformational healing, assisting her clients in living a more heart-centered, balanced and joyful life through discovering the healer within. Beth offers online transformational resources through her blog, The Heart of Awakening: Searching for a New Paradigm. She is also an author and facilitator for Heal My Voice, an international organization that helps women to heal, grow and step into greater leadership through writing and sharing their stories. To learn more about sessions, programs, teleseminars and other news, visit http://www.bethterrence.com.

7 responses »

  1. Hi Beth,

    This is a great overview of the aims and practices of shamanism, ancient and modern. My interest in it was born some twenty years ago, and it’s been been both my path and my counselor along the path in so many ways. I think maybe the most positive impact was made by the central tenant that you mentioned – that everything is alive and imbued with consciousness. I suffered so much when I believed that I existed in a primarily dead and barren universe. But those beliefs burned away as these practices led me to awaken to the real vitality, magic and mystery all around – within us, and without.

    • Hi Seth. Thanks for your note. I appreciate your sharing your experiences and the awakening you experienced as your explored. I feel strongly that the major disease of our time, and that which perhaps causes many of our physical and mental diseases, is that of disconnection. So often we seek that connection outside of ourselves and when we go within, we learn that all of what we have been looking for is already there. Thanks for connecting once again. I am happy to be in community with you.

  2. Good article, Beth. I journey far too infrequently. Every time I have, I’ve been amazed at the stories I have encountered as well as many nuances that I am otherwise unaware of in my everyday reality. Those nuances expand the “who,” the “I,” and the “am.”

  3. Pingback: Healing & Recovery: Interview With A Modern Shaman « Holistic DIVA

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  5. Pingback: Discover The Healer Within – Connecting With Sacred Space | The Heart of Awakening

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