It’s more like a “Reverse Parallel”.
Possibly the most potent lesson to learn right now is the actual purpose of our practices. They’re more profound than we’re generally recognizing… Most people don’t know what Shamanic Ceremony or Yoga truly aim to achieve, and this alone limits the ability to access the complete benefits. Yoga is much more than an exercise, and Shamanic practice is much more than a momentary experience.
Both of these practices are methods to uncover the mystery of our life and help us to better perceive the reality of existence.
That fact alone is powerful! To know that we can better understand the purpose of life, that we can “perceive the not-yet-perceived” and live with a clearer understanding of our essence is exciting and inspiring! Even more exciting is the ability we have to combine these ancient paths to offer expansive practices never before available to humankind!
The best experiences in these realms begin with the biggest questions: “What is happening? Why does this all exist? Who am I?” — Yoga’s approach to answer this begins with a philosophy that challenges the mind to think of life in a new way- that everything is an expression of One single “Self”. It continues through energetic release techniques to cultivate a perceivable experience of “Oneness” that can then be easily comprehended due to the prior focus and contemplation. Shamanic practice works in the opposite direction creating an experience wherein the practitioner perceives life in a way that, like Yoga, also challenges the mind and causes it to contemplate those new found truths to eventually, after time and work, arrive at an integrated realization of the singularity of life.
Both are powerful methods of Self Realization, and they work from opposite directions… Each practice provides what the other works to achieve, so what happens when they are combined?
THE MEDICINE OF THE ELEMENTS
In Shamanic ceremony we use the medicines of the elements to propel our perception deeply into the present moment leaving all else behind and no need or desire to think of the future. It can be a death of our ego – removing the stories of our past and future and becoming acutely aware of life in both the big and small aspects. If we relax enough we can experience life like we never have before and introduce these new perceptions into our lives with permanence.
That is the purpose of vision quests & shamanic journeys – to create experiences that bring you to more accurately perceive your world, your existence and your Self.
This is also the exact purpose of Yoga – to cultivate an experience in which you clearly see your true nature without the filters of a conditioned mind. The name for this experience in Yoga is “Samadhi”, and it can easily be called the same in Shamanic practice as well.
A beautiful, modern marriage of ancient ways
Both methods are tools for achieving the same goal. In Yoga it is called “Self Realization” and in Shamanic practice it is called “Awakening”. The realization and awakening that occur are best defined as changes (evolution) in our perception. It’s not that we gain or become anything, it’s simply that we see more clearly the Reality of Life. Because, after all, life IS actually happening, and although we may not understand much of it right now the availability of deeper awareness is ever present. In fact, it’s our destiny to perceive it!
Consciousness, however you look at it, is always developing and evolving. Observing human consciousness we can see clear evolutionary steps even in the last 30 years, let alone 3000. Consciousness constantly evolves, and we engage directly with that experience if we choose (and indirectly if we are unaware).
It’s not necessary to become more aware, it doesn’t matter either way, but it certainly is an amazing way to spend the years as a human!
It’s really all about the play. Yoga’s richest form, Tantra, is said to be the wisest articulation of life. Beyond any Tantric practice you may have heard of, Tantra is simply the acceptance of everything from the mystical non-physical to the emotional and tangible plane of physicality. Everything is perfect, divine and right; an integral part of the play.
To get to this understanding you must first have the experience of awakening (Samadhi) to your Ultimate Self. Without this experience there is less perception of truth and therefore judgement through the conditioned mind remains. Yoga’s goal is to cultivate this with patience, but when the experience is had the realization of the perfection in everything is clear and easy to integrate holistically.
This Samadhic experience is exactly what happens in the most profound shamanic ritual! Our misconceptions of life fade and the reality of our presence guides our experience into an ecstatic moment of true human beingness. The way of the shaman brings you to this point fast, and it does essentially “blow your mind”! That’s the point of the practice and also the reason eastern paths take the process gradually- to prepare the mind for the profundity of the experience. This difference is where we see the richness of the overlapping.
THE MIDDLE GROUND
Yoga’s method is one of patience. It is masculine in nature being a mind based practice that works with concept to guide you towards the truth of life. The goal is to have an experience, but the practice generally requires years of focus and emotional liberation before releasing into the experience of Samadhi. Conversely, the Shamanic practice is sharp and quick to deliver the same experience, but it is feminine in nature delivering the truth sensationally leaving the mind working to catch up to make sense of the experience. This also takes time.
Yoga provides the concept, the Shamanic method provides the experience.
When we combine these practices we can greatly diminish the time element of each process. The keystone of these methods is the active contemplation of “Oneness/Non-Duality”. Yoga’s gradual process to help liberate the mind from misconceptions may take a while, but when the experience of Samadhi occurs the body and mind can more easily recognize and accept the truth of it and can evolve even in a single moment to an awareness that experiences the beauty and harmony in All.
The Shamanic method begins with the experience and causes the mind to contemplate and make sense of the new perceptions that formed because of the experience. Shamanism creates the moment for you to have the experience without such preparation. This accelerates the mind into a state of perceiving more clearly, but without an understanding of what is being experienced the mind has a difficult task of integrating those new perceptions holistically into life. It’s the reverse parallel to Yoga- it brings you to Samadhi quickly and without preparation. The aim is to awaken to the truth and then, with the new perception, figure out how to integrate the new truths into your life.
Yoga prepares you for the experience; Shamanic ritual brings you to it.
As a teacher and guide I find this combined method amazingly powerful. – Prepare for the Shamanic experience with Yogic philosophy; have a more comprehensive, yet swift, Samadhic experience through Shamanic ceremony; contemplate the experience again with Yogic philosophy; and continue as needed until life outside of ceremony becomes perceived in the same Unified Way as it does during the Samadhic state.
It’s modern magic, an evolution of our world’s ancient wisdom married during our generation. Each practice compliments and fulfills the other. The experience of the Natural Self combined with the articulation and understood knowledge of this truth offer a cycle of potent study of life, love and celebration!
Cover image © Cameron Gray www.parablevisions.com