I signed up for Shaman school thinking it would offer another modality to provide healing for my yoga students and coaching clients. What I found was a completely unexpected journey into the heart of love.
For a full week I floated effortlessly down a river of 15-hour days of training and ceremony. On the fourth night of our training we received the seers rites. These rights help us see the world through the eyes of a shaman. While every aspiring shaman hopes to see chakras spinning or spirit animals prancing around the room, our teacher explained that everyone sees differently. She encouraged us to stay open.
As we sat in a spiral pattern waiting for our rites we listened to a song that I used to hear in yoga class at Big Bend Center in St. Louis. The only distinguishable word of the song is “returning”. The music mixed with the sound of ringing bells that the Peruvian Shamans used to give each one of us blessings in their native Quetchua language. While the bells rang in my ears and my teacher installed the pathways for vision at my heart and third eye, I felt myself sliding into a mild trance. The flames from the candles in the center of the spiral grew into streams of light and surround the lovely faces of my classmates. That was it. No jaguars, no eagles, no spinning chakras. Not much to report, other than a sense of deep wellbeing.
After the ceremony one of my classmates told me that she loved the Peruvian shamans so much and she didn’t even know them. It reminded me of Krishna Das saying that when he was in the presence of his guru, Baba Neem Karoli, not only did the Guru love everyone, but he, Krishna Das loved everyone too.
I didn’t even realize that I had felt this too until the next morning when it was my turn to share about the experience. I took the microphone and instantly felt like a Baptist revivalist taken over by the Holy Spirit. The shamans had cultivated within themselves so much love and light that when I spoke of them I turned into a puddle of tears and then into a beam of light that shined out from the center of my heart in all directions. As I cried my teacher asked me how I could bring this powerful experience home with me.
Without thinking I began leading my classmates through a guided meditation, but it wasn’t me doing it, it was Love doing it. I know it was Love because it wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about anyone or anything in particular. It was just the pure radiant light of love shining through a little crack in my heart that those shamans made with their bells.
It was the most incredible high– like looking into the eyes of your newborn baby and seeing yourself and everyone you have ever known and everyone you have never known and loving them all as much as your own child.
So what do you do after that happens? After we know that the great mystery of life is actually not a mystery at all, but a gift waiting to be received. We can begin to live in a place of true abundance. We can be gentle with ourselves when we forget again. We can see another person’s divinity as they bump into us on the train. We can begin to let go of taking everything personally and step into taking everything lovingly. As Ram Dass says there is nothing to do, there is only to be. When we experience this love we are simply “returning” to the loving essence from which we came.
The essence of this love in the shamanic tradition is called Munay. This is your own basic goodness shining forth and being reflected back to you. To quote one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs, “Once in a while you can get shone the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” You never know how love will show up in your life so keep your eyes and your hearts open. It is right there waiting for you.
Namaste and Munay,