The Power of Healing Through Shamanic Ritual

“Because it is not an organized religion as such, but rather a spiritual practice, shamanism cuts across all faiths and creeds, reaching deep levels of ancestral memory. As a primal belief system, which precedes established religion, it has its own symbolism and cosmology, inhabited by beings, gods, and totems, who display similar characteristics although they appear in various forms, depending upon their places of origin.”

– John Matthews, The Celtic Shaman

Shamanism has been around for hundreds of thousands of years, and is once again growing in popularity as a way for people to de-stress and reconnect in a world that has pushed nature and meaningful relationships towards the side-lines. The purpose of Shamanism is to heal the four bodies; spiritual, emotional, physical and mental. In my travels across this planet there is not one place I have visited where Shamanism is not practised and revered by many. As part of my training as a Coach and Therapist I have found that there are many elements of traditional Shamanism that have great value in supporting our every day experience of life. One aspect in particular that I often employ in my work with clients is ritual.

“You are what you repeatedly do” – Aristotle

I remember in my early days of training one of the first things I learnt about ritual was how it could be effectively used as a device to break old habits and patterns of behaviour and illicit new and healthier ones. I had a client who persistently got moving violations for not fastening his seatbelt, and he had come to me to break this very expensive habit through hypnosis. The solution was simple. I told him to perform the ritual of leaving his house, getting into his car and fastening his seat belt and repeating the action 21 times, whilst repeating a sentence that I had specifically crafted to suit his new pattern of behaviour. He never forgot to fasten his seatbelt ever again. This is just one example in which hypnosis and ritual can be highly effective in creating meaningful change. It is an incredibly simple process that we can draw upon to great effect.

There is this common yet misguided belief that life is beyond our control, or that we can just magically change the way we think and we will change our lives. One of the simplest and most effective ways to create lasting change in our lives for the better is to create a visceral experience. Simply put – to change what we repeatedly do – that a subtle yet profound emotional shift is quietly acknowledged at the deeper levels of our consciousness. We can make that change at any moment. I often find that today is always the best day to start.

Our life is not shaped by big external events, it is not changed by decisions we make, it is not changed by the opinion of others. Our lives are changed by ritual, the ritual of our daily actions, and if that action is repeated often enough we create a new habit. We learnt to walk and talk – two of the most complex skills for humans to master – when we were incredibly young. These great feats were achieved by repetition driven by a need to belong. That is a very powerful combination to inspire and motivate significant change. The ability to walk and talk assured our belonging to the tribe into which we were born, our family, our social group and our country. This innate need to belong gives added depth to the task of repeating an action. Similarly, ritual brings in a sense of sacred meaning and power. So when we have the desire, and the impetus to create change, there is tremendous value in giving honour to the action by ritualising it. Hence some of the most important moments of our life are marked by ritual to clearly indicate that something profound has happened.

The golden number is 21 days. Once a ritual has been performed and repeated for 21 days consecutively it is certain that change will occur. You can change your health, wellbeing, work performance, relationships and so much more. Recent research from the university of California shows that your brain is led by your actions, if you start by making your daily actions positive then your daily thoughts will be positive. Action creates a vibration in our bodies, and when vibration and thought are combined the change in thinking has greater depth than changing our thinking alone.

A daily ritual is a way of saying I am voting for myself, today in this moment I am going to take good care of myself. Rituals require commitment, engagement, ownership and accountability. There is no half-mast. If you start a ritual and then stop before day 21, don’t be surprised if nothing happens.

There is little benefit for a Coach to support someone who is half hearted. A good Coach will not do it. If however, you are committed to making change and are interested in exploring rituals to do so, then contact me here.

 

 

When change is the only way forward

When we are stuck we need to shake ourselves up. The more we are shaken, the more we must let go of our former selves, our assumptions and limiting beliefs to begin again. Reshaping ourselves can be a truly challenging process. It can be demanding, excruciating, exhausting. It can also be exciting, liberating and rejuvenating. Most importantly it can open the door to a new life, a life more suited to who we really are. Nothing is more fulfilling than living life from the place of our true potential.

How do we begin to create purposeful leadership in the emerging future?

We have entered an Age of Disruption. Mass poverty. Mass migration. Climate chaos. Fundamentalism. Terrorism. Financial oligarchies. The desire for profound personal, social, and global renewal has never been more pressing. The need for purposeful leadership has never been more wanted and needed.

The age of disruption addresses endings and new beginnings as an old civilisation and a ‘me’ mindset recedes into the past. As the yet unknown future starts to emerge, it is clear that resistance and fighting is not enough. What is clear is that the shift requires us to expand our thinking from the head to the heart. It is a future that requires us to tap into a deeper level of our humanity. Who we really are and what do we want to be as a society? Rather than collectively creating results that nobody wants the emerging need is a shift in our awareness from ego – systems to eco – systems, a new approach to living not just as groups and organisations, but also as a global community.

As human beings, we are on a journey of social evolution, of becoming who we really are. The journey to our true selves is open-ended, we may experience it as confusion, depression, breakdowns and disruptions in our lives but the journey can also lead to extraordinary breakthroughs. It is the breakthroughs that give not only a deeper understanding of that which makes us uniquely us, they also contain the potential to strengthen us in all areas of life.

Everywhere we look in life we can see evidence of remarkable individuals and communities that have managed to break through the walls of trauma, tyranny and suffering in order to form a deeper connection with humanity. What makes this possible? When we shift our focus from what takes place in the exterior world to what takes place within, we become aware, transformed. Rwanda is an example of a country that has made staggering and inspiring leaps forward from its past to become the secure and stable country it is today by openly engaging such an approach.

This inner shift to greater awareness of ‘what is’ and sensing into the emerging future possibilities lies at the core of all deep leadership work today. It is a shift that requires us to expand our thinking, to pioneer new principles and personal practices, for any leader it is perhaps the most vitally important undertaking of our time. It is within this process of updating leadership that we find a way to preserve identity and incorporate new useful insights and mental models to survive and thrive.

Purposeful leadership requires us to suspend our judgements of how things should be, how we traditionally believe individuals and organisations should function, redirect our attention, let go of limiting beliefs and ideas inherited from the past and allow the future that wants to emerge to reveal itself to us. Purposeful leadership has a place and value not just for the individual, it can also be of great benefit for businesses, government bodies, education and the various systems which exist within our local communities and cultures.

We cannot change the past and it’s events, however, we can address the effect it has on us today and use that wisdom to create outcomes that benefit the greater good of all.

“The moment we believe we can learn something new, we begin the process of learning something new” – Zita

Lessons from the Iroquois

“In Iroquois society, leaders are encouraged to remember seven generations in the past and consider seven generations in the future when making decisions that affect the people.”

– Wilma Mankiller First Woman Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Where does change begin?

” I would change nothing in my life if it meant not being here now.”

When such words are spoken with integrity that can only come with stating a very personal truth, when there is no falter in speech, no withdrawing or hesitancy, the implication is that we have arrived at a place of peace and acceptance. The suggestion being that we now understand how every trauma we have suffered in our lives has played its role in bringing us to full self-acknowledgment.

A fully acknowledged self is not only achievable but is a rich and rewarding way to experience one’s life. We are able to joyfully accept and harmonise all of who we are in the most productive way. More and more people are achieving it as they understand that being happy is an achievable goal, it may not come in the form of a life hack or a ten point bulletin marketing joust, it’s so much more than that kind of clap happy happy. In truth, it is a more disciplined and concerted effort to reach one’s full potential. It is not a life goal for the lazy or faint of heart, but it is definitely an experience none who come to it ever regret.

And so such profound words resonate when we realise that life has damaged no part of our true nature, and that despite all the apparent suffering and obstacles, we have come to remember who we are, why we are here, and what we are supposed to be doing.

Closing Cycles

One always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist on staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the other stages we have to go through.

Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending chapters – whatever name we give it, what matters is to leave in the past the moments of life that have finished.

Did you lose your job? Has a loving relationship come to an end? Did you leave your parents’ house? Gone to live abroad? Has a long-lasting friendship ended all of a sudden?

You can spend a long time wondering why this has happened.

You can tell yourself you won’t take another step until you find out why certain things that were so important and so solid in your life have turned into dust, just like that.

But such an attitude will be awfully stressing for everyone involved: your parents, your husband or wife, your friends, your children, your sister.

Everyone is finishing chapters, turning over new leaves, getting on with life, and they will all feel bad seeing you at a standstill.

Things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away.

That is why it is so important (however painful it may be!) to destroy souvenirs, move, give lots of things away to orphanages, sell or donate the books you have at home.

Everything in this visible world is a manifestation of the invisible world, of what is going on in our hearts – and getting rid of certain memories also means making some room for other memories to take their place.

Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them.

Nobody plays this life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.

Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your genius to be discovered, your love to be understood.

Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else.

Nothing is more dangerous than not accepting love relationships that are broken off, work that is promised but there is no starting date, decisions that are always put off waiting for the “ideal moment.”

Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: tell yourself that what has passed will never come back.

Remember that there was a time when you could live without that thing or that person – nothing is irreplaceable, a habit is not a need.

This may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult, but it is very important.

Closing cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because that no longer fits your life.

Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust.

Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.

2015: closing cycles

How our past lives in our present.

“You live through that little piece of time that is yours, but that piece of time is not only your life, it is the summing-up of all the other lives that are simultaneous with yours… What you are is an expression of history.”

– Robert Penn Warren, World Enough and Time

You are more than just an individual. You are part of a family, a culture and a time. This history has an enormous influence on how you act and how you relate to the world in which you live. Quite often the way in which you relate to the world and how that is then expressed through your nature is suppressed by the way you have been conditioned to think in order to belong to your family of origin; such conditioned thinking is inherited from the past, as opposed to being true to your intrinsic nature or serving your best interests in the present.

Through his work with thousands of family systems, Bert Hellinger has found what he describes as a natural order of love which is deeply embedded in the family history and memory. There is a conscience unique to each family that in an invisible and unconscious way for its members is passed from one generation to the next, and which conditions the behaviour and mode of survival of each of the individuals of that family. What one generation leaves unresolved is taken on by members of succeeding generations, in an innocent and unconscious effort to re-establish balance. This can often lead us to assume behaviours and challenges which do not belong to us and in fact create more disorder instead of less. We often bring this disorder with us to our couple relationships for example, but many other areas are affected also. Issues for example around work, depression, finances, difficulties with children, and relationships with parents and siblings.

There is very little written about the work of systemic family constellations, for the simple reason that it detracts from the liveliness of the work; there are no absolute truths to be found in its theory without context, as each life situation is different, unique even. With regards to relationships in particular, it is understood that a balance needs to exist between give and take; much like breathing one can only breathe in as much as one can breathe out, the nature of life demands that a balance be sought and sustained between opposing forces. In the following clip from youtube one can see a demonstration of Bert Hellinger working with a couple. The simplicity of the approach is apparent, so too the peaceful resolution to the issue reached. It is a fine example of restoring the balance of give and take, first in the relationship with mother and then in the couple’s relationship. One is reminded of the power of gratitude to resolve seemingly intractable relationship issues.

You can watch the clip here. Gratitude

Our hidden loyalty to our family system can even be expressed through the body in a wide range of illnesses that have at their core a systemic root. Alcoholism, panic attacks and epilepsy all have systemic components to their origin. Life Therapy, through the lens of family constellations, is an honest yet humble way of looking at the systemic causes of repetitive suffering.

As such Life Therapy offers the opportunity for a shift to occur as a new image – perception of the family is revealed that supports a more balanced and healthy family system, a paradox that by coming closer to your family in one sense and recognising your unique place in the overall  system there is suddenly a space and, often for the first time, a sense of liberation that enables you to move beyond the parameters of the family dynamic.

“When the family has been brought into its natural order, the individual can leave it behind him while still feeling the strength of his family supporting him. Only when the connection to his family is acknowledged, and the person’s responsibility seen clearly and then distributed, can the individual feel unburdened and go about his personal affairs without anything from the past weighing him down or holding him back”

– Bert Hellinger 

Inheritance.

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When we’re still young, many of us are determined to be different from our parents. We say we’ll never make our children suffer. But when we grow up we tend to behave just like our parents, and we make others suffer because, like our ancestors, we don’t know how to handle the energies we’ve inherited. We’ve received many positive and negative seeds from our parents and ancestors. They transmitted their habit to us because they didn’t know how to transform it.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

Accept yourself.

Most of the time the things you need will conflict – you will want love and you will also yearn for independence; you will want stability and you will dream of adventure; you will want one person and you will also want the world. Do not resist this, do not apologize for it, do not try to fix it.

Accept your own complexity, your own conflicts and uncertainties. Accept that you are a being, a live, wild thing that keeps on growing and changing. Accept that you are many things, and then love yourself for it. Nurture your many needs. It is not selfish, it is caring.

It is the greatest act of love to accept yourself exactly as you are.

If accepting yourself is holding you back in life then Life Therapy with Zita offers wonderful ways to support you in living your true potential. Make your heart happy today with some heart centred healing.

Burning Man 2015

One of the most powerful art pieces at Burning Man this year: The sculpture of two adults fighting, back to one another… yet the inner child in them both just want to connect and love one another. Age has so many beautiful gifts , but one that I could live without is the pride and resentment we hold onto when we are in conflict with others. The forgiving, open and free spirit of children IS OUR TRUE NATURE ;  And I know I’ll be remembering this next time I ‘m feeling stubborn. ” ~Alexi Panos.