My experience, and understanding is that our brain can function in various ways. It can process information, work from habit, and it can connect outside of the self or “receive” information.
I believe that when I work as a shaman I consciously choose to connect outside of my self, or receive information in connection with my client. This is how I experience the “altered state of consciousness” that books refer to.
Basically I switch from process to receive.
How to reach the altered state of consciousness
I always found it a little too easy to reach this state, for me the issue was learning to control when!
Like most things in life in needs a lot of practice. I have found working with a specific ritual (my opening of sacred space) prepares me. Then working with breath, drum or chant prompts me to switch into the altered state. This has taken several years of constant practise – and the more I practise the easier it becomes.
If you already have a meditative practice, or a piece of music or chant that helps you deeply relax its good to start with this. A word of warning though- when I was first working with this (can’t quite believe this- but 20 years ago) I used to use a beautiful tape of Native Indian drum music. Each day I meditated to the tape- each day slipping further and further into trance. Unfortunately my tape was very popular in new age shops- and I couldn’t enter a shop if the tape was playing as I had trained my brain to use it as my shaman prompt!
Where do you go, or where does the information come from?
Basically I think there are several possibilities- and depending on the work needed depends how I connect.
Sometimes (and this happens a lot when I read the tarot) Its' as if I simply “know” things (clients often say “It’s as if you read my mind”). I believe the collective unconscious (a term Jung created) is a deep layer of the psyche, and in an altered state of consciousness I can perceive your hopes, fears and emotions. It is not like mindreading- I can’t answer questions- rather I can get a sense of things. I might be able to describe your parents, partner, birth. I get broad emotional brushstrokes which I can then use either as part of my shaman healing, or I can interpret this using the tarot.
Other times its as if I hear a whisper in my head or I may see flashes of images. It is very hard to translate into logic- but I get a “nudge” perhaps told to ask about something, or mention something- which then becomes really important.
I have learnt to trust, to share what comes through in this way, and see if my client recognises its importance.
Soul to soul connection
When I journey for a client Its as if I am (with permission and treading gently) experiencing the word through the landscape of their soul. I usually drum- then enter a visualisation that is well known to me. I walk through a meadow, ask permission of my guide, then approach a tree that represents my client on a soul level.
I may choose to journey up the tree, or deep into the roots- depending on what the reason for the healing is. The line between imagination and shaman is a thin one, and not often clear. I have learnt to trust what I experience – and to share it with an open mind with my client.
Knowing field/holographic universe
There are many words for this- Akashic records being another. Sometimes its as if by switching focus I can get a sense of information flowing through me. This may be what has been, what is, or what could be.
I have experienced this with constellation work, and it is how I connect to "others" in my clients life to bring understanding, reconciliation, forgiveness, or to allow loved ones to say goodbye even if they are departed.
Actually it's not something I particularly enjoy- but it has its place.
Awareness of others
I can't really express this any other way- it is as if there is another layer of reality, so close to ours, which our every day senses can not experience.
Land spirits, elementals, The Gods of the old tales, departed souls, memories of times past. Spirits in all sense of the world.
Our earth is teeming with energies- and my adjusting my awareness I can catch a glimpse of this world. This is most useful if a client has become attached to one of these "others". It allows me to sense the other, and decide how best to help the other to move on.
Which leads me to know my next, and perhaps most important point. Validation.
When I work shaminically I am trusting that my experiences are coming from outside of me, and are intuitively accurate for my client.
I offer my understandings humbly to my client-they are not mine to understand or justify, they belong to my client.
Over time this validation- offering something that seems quite disjointed to me- and having a client understand exactly what I mean has increased my trust in the process. But I always work from a place of trust and offering- believing what I have found about a client as “truth”
Next week I will share a little about why finding this information out is useful- but the basic premise of my shaman work is -
I experience the work in an altered state of awareness- this allows me to understand, or know things, that I would not appreciate in my more everyday way of thinking.
A mouthful I know! But hopefully it mostly makes sense!
I hope this has made a little sense, it is so hard to talk about this altered sense of reality as it simply doesn't fit the words I have.