The essence of truth sits at the edge of every story and the story is what connects us and allows us to help each other to heal and to find peace. My healing tale includes not just healing my physical body, but also the journey of recovering my spirit with the ancient therapeutic use of a shaman practitioner.
My hope was that shaman could help me with the spiritual imbalance I was feeling from the trauma of having melanoma skin cancer and four surgeries on my face. I met a shaman years ago while traveling in Peru and learned that shamanism is the oldest healing spiritual practice dating back 30,000 to 40,000 years. It is a complex phenomenon and the practitioner is considered a messenger between the human world and the spirit worlds. They treat ailments by mending the soul and thus restoring balance on all levels. The shaman enters other realms to obtain solutions and their techniques illustrate that the core shamanic experience is really simple, timeless and universal.
After a trusted doctor and friend referred me to a shaman practitioner in Santa Fe, I anxiously drove there, arriving at the end of a winter’s day, when it was almost dark. A light snow was falling, the air was moist and cold and the sidewalk mushy under my feet. Right as I was about to knock, through a big, wooden, brown adobe door came the most expressive eyes. They were the color of dark blue sapphire; the color of a river hurrying to join the great ocean. And like the ocean they were iridescent, a true blue, with little specks of gold glistening through them. They were full of warmth.
Dark hair with her head held high, she waltzed by me with effortless saunter. Five foot seven, willowy and a face cut right from the pages of a men’s magazine. Something radiated from within that immediately put me at ease.
She had a kind of understated beauty; perhaps it was because she was so disarmingly unaware of her beauty. Her white Irish skin was completely flawless. She was all about simplicity, making things easy, and helping me to relax. Perhaps that is why her skin glowed so, it was her inner beauty that lit her eyes and softened her features. When she smiled and laughed I couldn’t help but smile along too, even if it was just on the inside. To be in her company made me feel like I was outside being warmed by the summer rays.
Acting on the concept that you can’t heal what isn’t there, this beautiful shaman explained that we will journey together to find and bring back the soul parts that are needed to make me whole again. She would also be looking for a guardian spirit who is willing to come and give me power to restore balance and harmony.
I lay down and she started playing a drum, which shifted my awareness and consciousness. At times the sound could be as quiet as a tiptoe or as loud as a roll of distant thunder and the reverberating sound echoed deep within and awoke my inner spirituality giving me back the rhythm of my life. This profoundly personal journey taught me that I am both here and there: both ordinary and divine and to celebrate the meaningful mystery of illness and healing. To celebrate the very existence of me.
After I returned home I witnessed the most incredible metamorphosis-taking place inside of me as I learned to shed the pain, grief, sadness, guilt, fear and anger of cancer that was ravishing my body, mind and spirit.
There is so much less of me now: less ego, less anger, less envy, less desire, less attachment. But there is more of me: more love, more joy, more compassion, more inner peace, and more gratitude. I understand now that spiritual healing doesn’t mean the illness never existed, it means the illness no longer has the power to control my life. I have the ability to endure, with the right attitude, whatever crosses I have to face in my daily life. And to rise above them.