Shamanism and Ecstatic States – Part 1 Introduction

Why are we having ceremonies? What is the essence of a ceremony and the ancient practices around it and how to get the most out of it.

In short, ceremonies are empowering methods. Any form of power is connected with your ability to make decisions. Being able to make sound decisions on your own is what gives you the freedom to transform and be what you want to be.

Some say that abundance itself is the ability to do what you need to do when you need to do it.

 

Caroline Myss in her book “Sacred Contracts” said: Choice is your greatest power. It is even a greater power than love because you must first choose to be a loving person.”  

You might say – I know what a ceremony is. It’s a celebration that marks an important moment in life, like a wedding ceremony, graduation ceremony and in some traditions the coming of age ceremony, when someone becomes an adult. And yes, this is what is left out of the traditional ceremonies – a formality that marks a moment of change without any other practical purpose than that.

I don’t know about you but for me each time I experienced a change, it was very challenging and I consumed a lot of energy fighting the change.

And because resisting change is such a common experience, every traditional culture in the world has methods to develop our capacity to adapt to change instead of resisting it. It is probably one of the most important ability that help us evolve and ultimately thrive.

 

History shows us that when it comes to change there are only two options:  either embracing change or become obsolete and disappear like the Neanderthals.

And this is where the most important ability in our evolution made the difference and we survived, while the Neanderthals are just an old story in history books.

The homo sapiens was able to adapt to every possible environment on this planet in a constantly changing world.

 

This is what brings us to the Shamanic Ceremonies, some of them dating from tens of thousands of years.

No matter the tradition, the essence of these ceremonies is the same – to create a safe space (sacred space) where you can practice a new ability to meet a new challenge you have in your life.

It can be the ability to open up to new people that come into your life or starting something that you always wanted but you have this paralyzing fear when it comes to actually doing it.

 

Now you are probably wondering how these ancient techniques going to help me, a person from the 21st century living in a city. Lots of things changed around us in the last few centuries but the most common problems we have did not change because they are happening inside of us.

They are our own fears and habits that govern our lives the same way they did thousands of years ago.

We all have two brains – the primitive animal brain (limbic system) and the advanced rational brain (prefrontal cortex).

We think that our conscious mind is in control and that we make decisions based on facts – we call ourselves Homo Sapiens (the thinking man). But are we really?

Many times we succumb to fear and our primitive brain, in constant alert for basic survival, takes control over the advanced prefrontal brain. This will keep us safe but in a very boring and predictable life without many changes.

 

The ceremony is addressing two challenges that prevent us to make a change – Fear and Habit – these are instincts and impulses that reside in the primitive brain.

This is the brain that the Neanderthals could not control and because of this, they were governed by fear and survival instincts and could not think of anything more than their immediate safety.

 

This is where Homo Sapiens found a way to tame that animal brain and make it listen to our higher mind that could see further in the future. They found a way to control their illogical fears and change their habits to adapt to a constantly changing world.

 

If you have seen the movie Avatar – there is a metaphor that depicts this duality within us and how to connect to the animal brain, so it can serve us.

In the movie, this is done with the bond or the neural connection between the human brain and the brain of the horse or the mountain bird called Banshee.

This process of bonding is the essence of a shamanic ceremony.

 

Our fears and habits reside in the animal brain that has a lower frequency than our rational brain. So in order to access and control that part of the brain, we need to slow down our brain waves and get into a modified state in between awake and dreaming.

In modern terms, we need to slow down our day to day fast vibrating conscious mind called Beta Waves and move to a relaxed state called Alpha Waves and progressively to a state in between awake and dreaming in Theta Waves called Trance, Ecstasy or Hypnotic state depending on the tradition.

Here we can notice what our illogical fears and habitual impulses are doing and choosing a different action path based on our intention.

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