The Shamanic Dimension of Mental Health… A Personal Story

????????????????????????????????????????

Shamanism is a natural state for me and it’s within this framework that I carry a passion and purpose to help bring a new perspective to the growing issue of mental health in this country and around the world, particularly in modern societies. There’s a growing “hunger” in many for re-connection to something beyond us. In every sense of the word, there’s a profound Awakening taking place.

A shaman understands that what humankind perceives as “invisible”… that which we cannot see with our eyes or touch with our physical bodies… actually holds the wisdom of the ancestors and the Universe. Tragically our modern, technical, fast-paced society has created a true disconnect with our indigenous roots. As we’ve gained prosperity through technology and material wealth, we’ve sunk into a state of poverty regarding our connection to our roots. The end result has left us trying to navigate our lives in an uncertain world without rudders or tracking systems. No wonder people feel mentally unstable!

What many of us experience in our physical world is but a small fraction of the reality of what really exists but we’ve been systematically trained since birth to  believe on a linear level the world can only be a certain way. Concepts which carry us outside the box and beyond our comfort zones often mess with our sense of order and safety. The belief systems which have been drilled into us all our lives cause us to create our own personal prisons of thought but there’s a deep longing for a missed connection whether we’re conscious of it or not. This is why so many in growing numbers are being drawn to shamanism in general.

There are many experiences in the spiritual and psychic realms that mimic or overlap the current traditional standards of mental health. Our societal challenge is to expand our knowledge and understanding in order to address the needs of everyone at their core and to become aware of a much wider and richer picture.

Although shamanic energy has always deeply resonated with me for as long as I can remember, about 15 years ago I began to have dimensional experiences   which confused, amazed and terrified me. It was outside my realm of personal experience and perspective and it took years to fully comprehend what  happened and why. It takes time to process.

I eventually came to understand it had been part of an initiation into a type of shamanism many are still unfamiliar with. I’ve noticed an increasing amount of information on this beginning to show up on the internet however.  Ahhh… the information highway! It begins as a trickle and eventually becomes a river.

This of course was a process… not an event… and I was led on paths that have intersected with shaman of many types and in many cultures as well as prolific teachers, mentors and other healers who each showed up at the right time and played their own part in giving me critical information, support, understanding and compassion. There are really no words to adequately describe the gratitude I feel towards every one of them.

It was often a very lonely and isolating process peppered with large, stinging doses of judgment from many who couldn’t understand something so far out of their own experiential realm. Curiously, this also included many in my field of work. This is the same kind of deep, emotional pain those who suffer with mental health issues experience. They’re labeled by a flawed system of diagnosis and limited understanding. As difficult as it is to be thrust into an experience they’re already having difficulty understanding and often find frightening, the burden becomes that much more difficult when they’re then ostracized, mistreated and judged by others. This only exacerbates the problem and causes more emotional damage.

This particular story is one I’m willing to share with the intention of helping others understand the possibilities that exist beyond this “reality” most people have come to mistakenly embrace as truth. Also, for all those who have had similar experiences but have been reluctant to talk about them, I want them to know they’re not alone.

Several years ago I began to have a recurring dream. I would be standing and screaming at something I couldn’t see. It wasn’t coming through my mouth but rather my solar plexus (the third chakra)… the region in the middle of our bodies. Instead of a “voice” however, it sounded and felt like the blast of a powerful hurricane obliterating everything in its path. Although I couldn’t see my own image, I was very aware that I was the source of it. It was full of a lot of fear, anger and power.

This went on for a few months…restlessly haunting my sleep every few nights before another layer gradually infused itself onto the situation. I began to have a nagging feeling I was going to have to give my life up for what I believed I would need to do in my life. I wasn’t sure what that even referred to but it began as a quick, passing thought and gradually became a nagging obsession of sorts.

Then one day as I sat doing energy work with a small group of fellow healers, strangely feeling more like an observer than a participant, I heard myself make the comment, “I’m going to have to die for my work here.” I got some understandably strange looks, especially considering it had nothing to do with the conversation at hand but nobody was more caught off guard than I was! I responded with surprise, “I have no idea where that came from!”

That instance would be the beginning of an ominous, growing feeling related to losing my life in some way because of something I was involved in… maybe speaking out regarding some large injustice? I didn’t know… I began to refer to it as a “soul ache” because I had no other words to describe the experience I was having. It was incredibly painful because I didn’t know where to turn for help. I knew it wasn’t a physical or mental issue but much more a spiritual one. It continually grew in proportion and all the while the dream kept repeating itself.

I finally reached my breaking point during a week-long trip to New York City with my family. There I was surrounded by concrete in every direction and feeling a strong need instead to be with the healing, soothing energy of Nature. Central Park didn’t cut it!  In fact, to call it a longing would have been more accurate. The crowded center of a bustling city of that size became almost unbearable. Although the energy in large crowds has never been one of my favorite things, I had been there on numerous occasions in the past and really enjoyed myself but this time was different.

The dreams amped up with a vengeance and left me waking up each morning with a horrific feeling that my energy…. my life essence… was literally… slowly… systematically…. draining out of me, leaving in its place a growing emptiness and a sense of some type of death. I would wake up each morning and sit in my bed rocking back and forth and crying with a deep feeling of desperation and hopelessness I’d never known. The hardest part was hiding it from my family. I didn’t want to spoil a trip they were so excited about and I knew this wasn’t something they could even begin to understand. I knew instinctively it had a shamanic link to it and whatever I did to address it would need to be done with the help of another shamanic healer.

During that trip I also began to notice dimensional shifts as well. I would walk across the street to Starbucks each morning from my hotel and each time I would reach for the door handle, my hand would jam into the glass door instead as I missed my intended target by a few inches on either side… It was as if the dimensions were off somehow and weren’t lining up.

Upon arriving home and in a state of desperation, I immediately called a Lakota-trained shaman, Rebecca Singer, whom I had done some work with in the past and had great respect for. After describing my experiences to her, we made plans for me to drive the 4 1/2 hours to her home for a ceremony. I proactively rented a hotel room for the night because I knew I would be in an altered state when I was done.

Full of anticipation and relief, I laid down on the table in her healing room… an assistant standing at my feet to ground me while another sat in the corner with a drum. Drums and rattles are often used as tools to assist in ceremonies and healing rituals to help break up energy and support the participants in traveling out of their bodies into other dimensions. Rebecca painted me from my jawline down to my armpits with a red ochre paint and then began to chant and shake her rattle as her assistant began beating the drum.

That was the last I remember being aware of anything in that room. I immediately found myself sitting on top of a horse… a pinto to be exact. I couldn’t “see” myself but knew I was a young, Native American male. My face was painted with traditional war paint in red, white and black. I was looking out at what lay before me and screaming… the same scream from my dreams… but this time it was coming from my mouth. I felt the same feelings I’d experienced in my recurring dream… anger… fear… a sense of power. I instinctively knew that I was preparing myself to ride into a battle that would claim my life. I knew I was putting myself in a trance-like state to be able to mentally and emotionally accept the inevitable.

The next thing I remembered, as Rebecca leaned down close to my ear, I heard and FELT her speak… ”Georgia, you are NOT a male warrior in this lifetime. You do NOT have to sacrifice your life. You are a Mother-Bear Warrior and you’re here this time for the children.” In the physics of energy work, speaking from a place of true, correct power can affect profound change. I felt her words resonate through the core of my body to a very deep place. To this day, it’s difficult for me to tell this story without feeling the emotion rise in my throat.

Upon completion of the ceremony, as I opened my eyes I was puzzled to see a wide-eyed look of surprise on the faces of everyone there. The rattle had broken into many pieces and lay scattered all over the floor. I never heard any of it. Rebecca’s only comment was that she and I had ridden into battle together against a very dark being from my past (a past life) and obliterated it. We’d also done it in record time considering this ceremony typically takes about an hour and a half and we were done in 45 minutes. It’s amazing what concerted energy from two warriors can do!

That night I had a powerful dream in which a white wolf showed up with information that was very comforting and validating for me. From that time on, my recurring dream stopped and I felt a healing and freedom from that entire experience there are truly no words to adequately describe. It was finally over.

I know beyond a doubt that there was no other way to deal with this particular situation except through the use of shamanic energy. This was a shamanic experience and sometimes one must fight fire with fire. I also know that without that help I would have died. My sense is that it wouldn’t have manifested in my physical body but more in my psyche and probably would have looked like a comatose state I would have eventually sunk completely into… never to return to consciousness again in this life. There are many ways to die.

I know there are often experiences out there which don’t fit into the standard context of mental health diagnosis. I have come to understand through this and many other experiences, just how little so many people are aware of regarding what exists in a much wider, universal picture. There’s a great deal to be learned and the best place to start is by re-connecting back to the Natural World and our indigenous roots where the ancient wisdom lies. We have forgotten what we once knew.

The world is also not black and white but rather many shades of gray and many people experience spiritual or shamanic “awakenings” which closely mimic psychosis related to schizophrenia and bi-polar. Great harm can be done to a person’s psyche by intervening in the experience with doses of mind-numbing drugs and yet this is the most common current treatment in this type of situation.

Our food sources, the toxins in our environment, many of the commonly prescribed medications and vaccinations… the destruction of our Natural Resources, the hand the literally feeds us… ALL play a critical part in our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health and they’re all connected and affect each other. We have to treat the WHOLE person.

We as individuals and as a collective society need to become aware of the part Big Pharma and conglomerates like Monsanto play in making vast amounts of money at the expense of our health on all levels and even our demise. If not us… then who? It’s an inside job and our leadership lies within our relationship to Spirit and the indigenous wisdom of our Ancestors.

Our societal and professional communities must shift and expand in their perspectives and treatment of mental health issues to be able to see the reality of the boundless possibilities that truly exist.

Get curious… Remember…