3 Questions for a Modern Day Shaman

unicorn meWhile I appreciate and follow the rational wisdom of stoics like Seneca and Aurelius, I have also been fascinated with the role of the Shaman, the healer, the medicine woman (and man) in tribes throughout the world. While throughout history these people have taken on the responsibility for the well-being and emotional balance of their villages, I ask myself, what is the role of a healer in today’s society and do we not all have the potential to heal each other?

A Shaman at The Soho House

My first encounter with a modern day Shaman was in the private screening room of The Soho House in Manhattan. Ridiculously ironic I know, but true just the same. Barnaby Ruhe leads an east and west cost circle collective to Shamandome at Burning Man every year.

From Woo Woo, to Wow, Wow

Just recently, I have been fortunate enough to have benefited greatly from a life energy and power animal healing session with Jennifer , a Life Energy Coach with a Masters in Natural Health based in San Francisco. I met her right here in the world of Word Press. It’s interesting to note that Jennifer is also a brilliant business strategist by day. She brings a great balance to the land of woo woo, which is exactly why I think her work bridges the magic of mysticism into modern day living so well.

As a coach, Jennifer helps people identify and integrate changes into their life through a variety of shamanic practices and techniques and the guidance of helpful spirits.

If you are interested in learning about the details of my experience with Jennifer, please comment below and I will be happy to go into further detail.

For this blog today, I asked Jennifer to answer a few questions.

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MJ: Jennifer, please share some of the really amazing moments you had with the Mayan Shaman in the Yucatan that found you on your trip to Mexico. This, the beginning of your own shamanic journey.

JM: I had never heard of shamanism before my trip to Mexico a few years ago.  That all changed on my third day of vacation.  I decided to walk to the city square, but as usual, got lost.  One of the local residents offered to help me find my way.  We walked and talked, and when we got to the square, he told me that he needed to introduce me to someone.  That someone turned out to be a Mayan Shaman.

There was an electric moment when we saw each other, a knowing that we were meant to meet.

The first thing the Shaman said to me was, “You have a very big heart.” He asked me what I did to make the energy of my heart so big, but before I could answer, he took my hand in his and curled his fingers around mine in such a manner that our fingers made a spiral. He explained to me that this was the symbol of the shaman, and went on to tell me about shamanism and how it heals.

He then said that he was going to perform a shamanic healing on me.  He spent over 4 hours working on me – using stones, chanting, drumming and energy work.  I knew he was the “real deal” when he explained that my energy was blocked due to two traumatic events in my life, and then went on to describe those events to me.

At one point, he took two raw chicken eggs.  He had me shake them and then gently ran them over my body, many times.  He told me they would remove negative energy.  When he finished, he had me shake the eggs again.  They were very heavy and sounded as if they were filled with gravel!

As he continued his healing work on me, I suddenly felt a huge opening in me. A wave of emotions swept over me—anger, joy, guilt, sadness—and I saw a vision of a snake slithering down the side of a pyramid. I felt shattered, but also felt an incredible sense of relief and peacefulness.

By the time he was done with the healing, he was covered in sweat.  He told me that he normally would do this work over several sessions, but his spirit guides had told him I was coming and to do the work all in one night.

He began my shamanic training that first night and continued throughout my trip.  On my last night there, he came with a gift for me: an 800+ year-old stone carving of Itzamna, the Mayan god of creation, writing, and divination.  It had been carved from a million-year-old stalactite from a sacred cave and used in shamanic ceremonies since.  Many people had wanted the carving, but it was not for sale.

When I asked him why he gave the carving to me, he said, “Because you are to become a shaman.”

Since then, I have gone back to Mexico several times for more training with him.  We have traveled to many sacred archaeological sites together, where he has taught me how to increase my energy and power, read the energy of others, and how to heal.

MJ: Can you give an example of how your power animal has helped you discover yourself and grow with more happiness, self-love and power?

JM: My power animal works with me daily, for my personal healing and shamanic work.  He shows up in shamanic journeys, dreams and visions.  When I first became aware of shamanism, my power animal began teaching me shamanic techniques that were validated through training with the Mayan Shaman and others.

He will also bring in other power animals when I am dealing with a situation that would benefit from that animal’s strengths and wisdom.  As I’ve been transitioning to doing shamanic work, my power animal has brought in Snake (transformation), Hawk (vision), Bear (strength), Vulture (purification and rebirth) and Crocodile (power and awareness) to share their life lessons with me.  Years ago, my power animal brought Fawn in to help me through a difficult personal time in a beautiful, gentle way.

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MJ: Why do you think more and more people are interested in Shamanistic healing now?

Shamanic healing has been around since the beginning of humankind.  Society moved away from this type of healing with the advent of modern medicine, which typically has focused on the body part and not the whole person.  I think more and more people are becoming aware of the fact that the body is a complete system that includes mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects.  Shamans focus on all these areas when working with clients.  I also think that modern medicine is becoming more open to including holistic approaches to healing.   In California, one hospital combines modern and shamanic practices for healing.   While it is the first hospital in the country to do this, I would expect to see more integration between different healing approaches in the future.

Intrigued? Learn more about power animals, soul retrievals and energy healing on Jennifer’s blog  and website. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter @SpiritEvol

Learn more about the meaning of your power animal – Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small

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Astonishing Life Advice

chagallWithout great solitude, no serious work is possible. – Pablo Picasso

Solitude is difficult. You withdraw from the world to get a clearer glimpse of who you are, what you are doing, and where life is taking you. Silence is a great friend of the soul; it unveils the riches of solitude. It is very difficult to reach that quality of inner silence. In today’s world, in modern life there is an immense rush to expression. Sometimes the quality of what is expressed is superficial and immensely repetitive.

Recommended Reading: Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Life will pay you exactly what you ask of it. – Tony Robbins

To have an extraordinary life, you have to have an extraordinary psychology. You have to remain in an extraordinary state, conditioning your mind, your body and your focus on giving and asking for more from life. Set new higher standards for yourself, turn your shoulds into musts.

Recommended Reading
Unlimited Power : The New Science Of Personal Achievement

Forgive them even if they’re not sorry.  – Dale Partridge

So you’ve been betrayed, hurt and you are angry. The best part of forgiveness is that you’re in control. They don’t have to be sorry for you to give up the anger. Letting go, forgiving anyway, will set you free.

Recommended Reading:  People Over Profit: Break the System, Live with Purpose, Be More Successful

Living in the future creates the illusion that we are managing our life. –  Tara Brach

So we “keep busy”. Staying occupied is a socially sanctioned way of remaining distant from our pain. So we scramble to fill ourselves – our time, our body, our mind. We might buy something new or lose ourselves in mindless small talk. Anything to help us bury the feelings of vulnerability and deficiency lurking in our psyche.

Recommended Reading Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Let us rise, therefore, to confront the operations of Fortune, and whatever happens, let us have the assurance that it is not so great as rumor advertises it to be. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Nothing in life has meaning, except the meaning you give it.

Recommended Reading Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)

Image: Grand Bouquet de Renoncules, 1968 by Marc Chagall

Pattern Interrupt, Pushing Through and Improving Your Workouts

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Usually habits are really useful. When we are on “auto pilot”  our brains have become so efficient at doing something we can tune out our conscious minds, which can be helpful sometimes, like when brushing our teeth, but not when working out.

More about the upside of habits in this awesome book:The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

The Problem with Mindless Patterns

Habits and patterns can also be a real problem. We can eat mindlessly and therefore overeat. We can tune out important people and not actively listen. We can exercise without paying attention and not get the most out of our workouts.

Russian Twists

I’m focusing on a bit of mid-course correction while making sure I don’t become weary from unconscious behavioral patterns during my morning exercise routine. The minute boredom sets in, I am reminded to “pattern interrupt”. It keeps things fresh – and improves results. So I do something different – I step up my stride, moving faster; add 20 more squats with calf stretches and try new exercises, like today – the Russian Twist (see illustration above) for toner abs.

Chi Walking and Core Movement

I’ve also been practicing engaging my lower abs throughout the day, especially when walking, jogging, running and sprinting. It has taken my routine to the next level.

When you correct your posture, you will be able to tighten your abdomen while you are walking. Leading your stride from your pelvis or what some call “Chi Walking” teaches us how to redirect the workload of propulsion to our core muscles around the pelvis and lower trunk area.

Pushing Through

When you are working out  every single day, it is easy to find yourself in a state of apathy about the mundane routine. Four things that help me push through –

Focusing on my super hero strength.  Yes, that’s me, in my mind, when working out. Lara Croft. Beautiful and brainy, with a fearless quest criss-crossing the globe, in an amazing attempt to save the world. 

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Break it down into small increments. 200 squats in a row my ass. I do 10 sets of 20 deep squats and jog in-between. Before I know it, I’ve completed 200 squats with a tighter tush.

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Feel your body and get to know the slow, soft burn. Get to know what small progress feels like in your muscles. Where there is energy, there is life and growth – Seneca. More philosophy and wisdom here: Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)

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Don’t focus on the time. Cover the clock and speed up the pace, even if it is just a bit quicker.

What are your workout tips? 

Do you have tips to push through to the next level? Something awesome to help make workout routines more fun? I’d love to know what you recommend. Leave a comment below.

 

Happiness is a Skill, The Dangers of Impoverished Thinking and Coconut Muscle Mylk

bikeCall it what you will, bliss, contentment, excitement, enthusiasm, well-being, enchantment — happiness is a skill, a skill that needs to be trained and practiced daily.  My mind and body training includes a daily ritual (beginning around 5:30 am) of gratitude prayer, stoic philosophy studies, meditation practice, workout training (running, hiking, biking, swimming and high intensity interval training) and learning something new every single day.

Self- experiment for the day – to pay very careful, non-judgmental attention to the contents of my consciousness in the present moment. To watch my mind – to bring my soul into harmony with itself, and not let my purpose be out of tune. Seneca wisdom Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics) Why all this mind watching? Because it’s a over-crowded zoo in there.

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Through the Lens of Thought
What lens are you using? The way we see and think about things is the most powerful force that shapes our lives. Any impoverished thoughts that are brought into our perception are like poison for the brain. This would be thinking that is deprived of richness or strength; thoughts that are limited or depleted.  Yeah, these thoughts have to go.   Inspired by the wisdom of  Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

 

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Biking Plantation Run & Coconut Muscle Mylk from COMO Parrot Cay

Rode the sweet four-mile palm-covered path to the fresh coconut plantation on Parrot Cay. Yes they grow their own and serve it up for breakfast daily.

Coconut Muscle Milk

This delicious drink speeds muscle recovery by reducing inflammation and replenishing electrolytes and nutrients with 1 banana, 1/2 cup young coconut water, 3 slices of coconut meat, a teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 cup of almond milk, handful of flax seeds, 3 dates and a few cocoa beans. Blend and replenish.

on lifelong learning

 

Vintage Learning
Now what is more foolish than refusing to learn, simply because one has not been learning for a long time? You should keep learning as long as you are ignorant – even to the end of your life. As long as you live, keep learning how to live.Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Read more stoic wisdom
Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)

One of the most amazing things about this fabulous world wide web is the immense access to free educational resources available to everyone.

I have been taking courses on just about every topic that interests me, including the history of the world at Princeton University on  Coursera,  an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.

I’d love to know if you have any favorite courses or MOOC sites. Feel free to share.

 

Morning Rituals, Mindful Breathing, Spinning and the Slow Carb Breakfast

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The Importance of a Motivating Morning Ritual

When I decided to change my daily habits to create a more fulfilling life, I created my very own morning ritual. The idea was to create a more inspiring way to begin each day and then in turn, create a better life for not only me, but for all of those that I love around me.

I urge anyone trying to improve their lives  to awaken one hour earlier every morning to learn, read, meditate, move and take a moment to think about all that you have  to be grateful for, even the smallest of things. This daily habit has  made a huge impact on my life.

I am currently studying the teachings of the philosopher Seneca, because I believe that without a philosophy to guide my work and life, I will succumb to daily excuses and distractions. I will make the mistake of acting on my moods throughout the day and not on my principles.

Many of us want to place blame and responsibility on external objects because it’s easy to do, but the truth remains that all conflicts start internally, in our minds.”

Taken from this essay @99U written by @PaulJun_ of Motivated Mastery “The Stoic: 9 Principles to Help You Keep Calm in Chaos.”

Read an essay a day  Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)

I’ve been experimenting with breathing techniques to help me stay energized and relax throughout the day. Who knew that the simple act of mindful breathing could actually improve the way I do just about everything –  exercise, work, write and deal with frustrating craziness throughout the day. Evidently proper breathing has profound effects on our health and unbelievably most of us don’t know how to breathe properly. Crazy.

The Power of Vital Breathing

As I was sleep-driving to 7:30 spinning class at Covert Fitness this morning, I tried the four short & fast breaths  that I heard Tony Robbins talk about as part of his Power Hour morning ritual. It’s a simple technique of breathing in and out through the nose rapidly four times with about 10 repeats. Hello and good morning, my brain just woke up! Now, I am not an expert on the topic but there are plenty of tutorials on  breathing techniques .

How can we improve our breathing? Well first by recognizing the bad examples like over-breathing, holding our breath and/or shallow breathing. These breathing patterns are very stressful for the body and lead to a shortage of oxygen and energy. Read How to Breathe Properly

Spinning away the Stress

Let’s get this straight, Spinning is not for everyone, although you may wonder with Soul Cycle and it’s cult-like following now filing an IPO.  I lost my last 10 by Spinning on the weekends and found my self to be a lot less stressed. I join Saturday & Sunday morning classes at Covert Fitness which have also helped me power up my outdoor cycling routine. There is something very motivating about letting the instructor take over your brain for 60 minutes while you zone out and focus on your body doing the hard work. After a few sessions of Spinning (along with my regular daily workout routine) I became even more energized and motivated as I watched my weight melt away.  The calorie burn is intense and there are plenty of residual effects.

Schisandra chinensis & the Slow Carb Breakfast

If you are looking to lose extra weight and eat to sustain your day, then the slow carb diet from The Four Hour Body is a must try. My breakfast begins with two soft scrambled eggs (yolk included) with a few tablespoons of small white beans and fresh spinach or left over vegetables. The white truffle salt that Tim Ferriss recommends helps to spice things up.

The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman

I drink a ton of coffee, but in the morning I also take steep a small glass jar of Traditional Medicinals Detox Tea which contains organic chicory and dandelion root. Side note: my grandmother use to boil dandelions and drink the water which she claimed helped clear her kidneys and liver.

This tea also contains a strange, exotic berry from China and Russia. The berry of Schisandra chinensis owes its name Wu Wei Zi (five flavored berry) to the fact that it is sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent. Schisandra chinensis has been digested to prolong life, retarding the aging process, increasing energy, as a fatigue-fighter, and as a sexual tonic.

I am always looking to learn how to make my morning rituals and work outs even better, so if you have something that you think I should try, please share it in the comments.

navigating life

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Feeling lost? Remember, each moment is an opportunity to change our course and see the world with a new improved outlook and with more purpose, commitment and intention.

My rule.  If I don’t feel it, I don’t do it.

Ponder this –

If you have nothing to stir you up and rouse you into action, nothing will test your resolution but its threats and hostilities; if you recline in unshaken comfort, it is not tranquillity; it is merely a flat calm.

Begin again, do what moves you.

More insight  By Lucius Annaeus Seneca – Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics) (6/30/69)

 

 

crushing it

canon-my-last-weekend-077There are more things in life that are likely to frighten us than there are to actually crush us. We suffer more in imagination than in reality.

For truth has its own definite boundaries but that which arises from uncertainty is delivered over to guesswork and the irresponsible license of a frightened mind.

fearless mind = free mind.

Studying
Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)

a masterpiece

mind

For love of bustle is not industry, it is only the restlessness of a hunted mind.

I like to play this game. I imagine a professional creative director documenting my day. A camera crew filming my every move, following me around, filming this very day and this day signifying what I did with my life.

How would I want that masterpiece to roll? No edits, just raw footage. Would I want my name on the credits?

Read more philosophy from Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)

just enough

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How long shall we go on making demands upon the gods, as if we were still unable to support ourselves?  How small is the amount, which will satisfy nature? A very little will send her away contented.

It is not the natural hunger of our bellies that cost us dear, but our solicitous cravings.

Read

Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)