And Other Topics Related to Authentic Purpose
I belong to more than one circle in which people are there to learn, heal and develop skills to support their ongoing healing through shamanic techniques and indigenous values. Often when someone begins for the first time to feel the healing energy move through them there is a sense of being called to action. They try on the idea of becoming a healer. They make major changes in their lives in order to make more space to connect with spirit, practice the new skills in journeying, pray with tobacco, connect with the elements, engage their spirit guides and power animals and spend time with their new circle of friends. And yet, with a small amount of research and grounded logic it ispainfully obvious that not everyone with healing needs and some basic journeying skills will become a famous shaman or even a regionally known healer. Not everyone is going to find success, notoriety, wealth and glory by learning to journey and quitting their job. Not only is it unlikely that every person in a circle would be called by spirit to become a shaman, it is also a well-established fact that in most indigenous traditions these roles are the result of decades of study, multiple difficult initiations and often tied to family lineages.
I have certainly been that person; pondering whether I’m somehow special because of that urge I feel to delve further into spiritual practices, or because of my initiatory experiences and my dedication to learning more. Could it be that I am being called by spirit to be a healer on a larger scale? It’s an easy trap to fall into. It is a trap because while our ego minds are busy creating an improbable scenario of becoming a central figure in a healing renaissance, we run the risk of missing the immediate needs and the ways in which our personal power, healing energy and presence are in demand. In essence this is the sneakiest form of spiritual bypassing. It simultaneously plays on our egos (inflated sense of self) and on our sense of being less powerful and influential (diminished sense of self) than we actually are. And in the middle of that tension between the inflated sense of self and the diminished sense of self, our authentic self is being stretched and crossed and is often just as unseen as before we started our healing journey. I ask you, is training and putting oneself forward as a healer of any real value if your sacred authentic self languishes nearby and your closest people are starving for your healing energy? We must ask ourselves, is doing healing work meaningful to my purpose in life or do I view it as meaningful because of the meaning that is placed on it in some circles?
And yet, to connect with spirit and feel the healing energy surging through our bodies can’t mean nothing. In fact, it is quite powerful and quite needed in the world today. We must remember that just a few decades ago, people were connected with nature, the elements, a sense of spirit (religious or otherwise), and interconnectedness on a daily basis as part of fulfilling daily basic needs. Something I’ll referto as grace. We have lost much of that natural grace in our lives. We need to carve out specific time and space to make those kinds of connections. Most of us are caught between work, children, social commitments, and running a loop of wake up, get coffee, get in the car, work, shuttle some kids, go to the gym, make dinner, go to bed. Rinse and repeat. It’s no wonder that when we commit some time to focus on our personal healing, we suddenly feel grace again and feel a need to share it widely. But how can we focus our energy so that what we bring forward to share is aligned with our authentic purpose and is most powerfully effective?
I’m awakening to a message that we do need more healers. But not central figures who hold all of the skills, knowledge, visions and the deepest connection to spirit. We need more people who are working with and through spirit to heal themselves and to bring healing energy to their families, friends and communities. A wise “younger” I know shared recently that she is drawn to the words, “practical magic, supernatural and extraordinary”. In these words, there is a place for the authentic self. There is grace in these words. By avoiding the temptation to leave everyone behind and rush to the Amazon to find a teacher we allow ourselves the chance to settle into our own practical magic (so practical that it is magic) – the magic that resides within each of us through our breath, our unique healing gifts and through our love. By poo-pooing the vision of leading healing rituals attended by strangers, we leave room to bring our supernatural gifts, the gifts unique to us (so natural that they are super), to the people closest to us – the people who, by grace, were put in our path. By singing in our unique and strong voice to our communities, our loved ones, we become extraordinary (so extra ordinary).
By rising up from our diminished sense of self (smallness) and dialing back our elevated sense of self (ego) we can step into a greater purpose and be the healers and helpers that are most needed right now. And yes! We can use shamanic journey techniques, ecstatic dance, breathwork, altars, prayers, meditation and many of the practices that we learn in healing circles and from elders who have made sacrifices, have experienced difficult initiations and have undergone decades of training. We honor our teachers’ wisdom and knowledge when we share what we’ve gained from our own healing and when we become a healing force in our communities. We honor the traditions and shamanic practices from around the globe when we extend our gifts to those that are close to us. By connecting more deeply with ourselves, our purpose and our unique and necessary role in healing our families and friends, we walk with grace.
In this way, our small selves can see that we are enough in our efforts. In this way our egoic selves can feel that we do make a difference. In this way we break from the crass concept of spiritual materialism and also break from the commodification of the gifts that were freely given to us to share freely. And sure, perhaps those gifts, when applied to our authentic purpose in a clear way, will make us some money or notoriety. Often when we loosen our grip to a certain outcome, abundance flows. And so let your gifts flow. It is a gift to be simple.