Shamanism And Our Everyday Lives

Tom Wright

When you practice an awareness of energy on a moment to moment basis, life occurs very differently. Since shamanism is a total practice of energy awareness, as a practitioner, when you practice on a consistent basis, which would mean every day in your everyday life, what occurs differently for you? What you are aware of, and how you feel. Take for instance, walking in your house from room to room. With a total energy awareness that includes your mind, and your literal body space, you are more in tune with your surroundings. When in tune, little things like hitting the side of your hand on the corner of the trim that you "used to do all the time" no longer occur. A distinct advantage regarding the reduction of pain in your life, that's for certain! And with an energy practice immersion, other, deeper things occur as well.

One of the deepest experiences that happens on a continual basis when you are immersed within a total awareness of energy lifestyle, or what A Course In Shamanism opens up for you, is that of pure satisfaction. Imagine standing in your own home, feet firmly planted, because you are in balance, and you are looking around. What do you see? How have you customarily felt about that you see? In an energy practice devoted to the maintenance of the state of being called awe, your response to what you see occurs as a huge satisfaction beyond anything else you have ever experienced before. When your eyes are tuned in alignment with unconditional love, what you take in with your eyes, your ears, your nose, your skin, and your taste buds, is allowed to be exactly what it is, with nothing added. It's an amazing process going from being judgmental about everything, to being judgmental about nothing. Everything then becomes simply what it is in the now moment, and no extra energy is ever given over to conceptual disturbances that used to drive you crazy.

Case in point is barking dogs. Years ago, when a dog barked, my whole equanimity would be disturbed, and then my mind would go on an on about how bad it was that owners could not control their animals, and that "those people" just didn't care about other people, and how inconsiderate they were. And how I would like to just go over there and let that dog out and show them a thing or two! On, and on, and on, long after the dog had either stopped barking, or I ran back into the house. What a waste of energy that whole process was! And the thing was, that these actions weren't wasting the dog's energy, or the dog's owner's energy, they were instead, wasting mine. Even further, neither the dog nor the owner ever was privy to my upset! And neither the dog nor its owner was ever privy to my thoughts, how I felt, or even to what was going on with me in any way whatsoever. It was only when I fully realized with my mind and my body, what was happening with me, that I was able to completely stop this energy wasting process. And it's not that things don't come up for me now as upsets, they do, but what they do not do, is last for any time at all. Nope! Not going to waste my energy in that way anymore!

And it was only through attaining a thorough balance between body and mind, through the energy work of A Course In Shamanism, that I was able to make the distinction between what was affecting me, and what the source of that upset really was. It wasn't the dog or the owner, that I can tell you right now! Was the dog wrong to bark and disturb me? Were the owners really inconsiderate? Where they wrong? Was it a difficult situation to extricate myself out of, and should I not have been allowed to sit on my own porch in quiet? Er . . .who knows? What I did know was, that for whatever the real answer to any of these details was, if in fact they can ever be "correctly" answered, that neither the questions nor their answers mattered to me at all. That's when I noticed what really mattered to me, and that would be what I was doing in reaction to whatever was happening in the moment, not even what was happening in the moment at all. Because for the barking dog, unless I was going to go over there and let it out, or inform the owners that I just wasn't going to put up with it anymore, then nothing was going to change in my exterior environment. That meant that if I wanted to be at peace, it was my internal environment that I had to change in order to reach that state of bliss.

And that's exactly what quieting down the mind and shutting off the internal dialog, two of the most important practices of shamanism, do. These two actions allow us to reach a place inside of us that is peaceful and awake aware, in a way that has the dog bark, in that exact moment, and then from that moment onwards, nothing else happens relating to the dog and its bark. That's it. Bark. What's next? Oh, look, the sun is dappled through those gorgeous trees and look how incredible those shadows are. I think I'll do some shadow staring today, to practice some more inner silence work. What? What happened to the dog? Truth is, I don't know, and it really doesn't concern me. If I went over to every neighbor's house who had a dog that barked, I'd be walking around all day yelling at people. Well, that sounds like a pretty big energy waste to me! My energy!

And that's the point. When you claim all of your energy for yourself and that's it, you do things like be concerned that you don't waste it on thoughts, actions, or fantasies that have no basis in reality, except that they were generated in your head. And the interesting thing about reaching a state of being this clear as you pass your day within your everyday life, is that in people's conversations with you, you can literally hear what thoughts they were thinking prior to speaking with you, that they and they alone were privy to, but now in their illusionary state believe that you must have somehow been privy to them too, and so they are talking to you out of the middle of a conversation that they are having within their own head.

If you watch closely and listen attentively, you will hear this kind of "unreal" middle of the head conversation all the time. Most people talk to each other so primed with the "next thing to say" that they don't even listen to who is speaking. And it's not like I am immune from this malady either. I have to watch myself all the time, especially when I have something I feel is just so great to say. With the irony being, that when I hold that back, and instead, really listen, then the person who is talking really feels heard, and someone, when they really feel heard, automatically stops their "middle of the head" conversation, and is then open to actually hearing in turn, what you have to say! Pretty neat trick, I might add!

A neat trick that must be practiced in the middle of our everyday lives, or we won't get to practice it at all. What? All that stuff that used to bother me so, was actually, each and every situation, a challenge that I was being invited to rise up above, and practice paying attention to what I was doing in a way that stored more and more energy and personal power? Yep. That would do it. Say thank you to every barking dog then, and appreciate those middle of the head conversations that we are all subject to. And because it's just this "middle of the head" kind of conversation that causes so much miscommunication all over the world to the point of armed conflict, the good news is that true energy work serves to dissipate the unreality of these kinds of interactions. How? By reducing, through the power of sheer awareness, the force of the hook that these conversations have for the practitioner of the way of A Course In Shamanism. And once unhooked, since you are always at least one-half of all the conversations you ever have, you can then begin to dismantle this illusory world we live within, and instead, strive to live in a world of reality. And to live in the most powerful way possible, that of being at peace within the world of reality you create out of what happens within our everyday lives. Our everyday reality, which is the only place you can get a really good steak, for real, by the way!


Michael Harner brought the awareness of the Western World to the benefits of shamanism. His work can be found here: Michael Harner I have always loved his work, because he is a great foundational master, someone whose steadfast participation in the world of the shaman is highly admirable. I am including his link here, because his work speaks to the core of this article, that of everyday life and shamanism.