Urban Shamanic Lifestyle: Mindfulness

One does not have to be a healer or guide for their community to incorporate a modern urban shamanic spiritual practice into their life. This series of posts details ways we can apply modern shamanic spirituality to our lives right now.

Living in modern society, we have almost constant opportunities for distractions: 24/7 news cycles, on-demand media streaming, non-stop social network updates, etc. It’s very easy to become obsessed with global events. We have dozens of social causes fighting for our attention: human rights, racism, corporate greed, animal cruelty, global warming, war, politics, pollution, violence, crime, genders, free speech…the list can go on and on.

However all of these demands on our attention take away from the time we have to focus on our own lives. We cannot be eternal activists or we will become fatigued and burn ourselves out. Then we are of no value to any cause.

Find time for the moment.

Being mindful is consciously living in the present. It is being aware of the stimulus around you as well as your own thoughts. It means being an observer: of not only your surroundings but also your self.

Here are some suggestions for practicing mindfulness in your daily life:

  • Twice a day, set aside 15 minutes to devote to being mindful. If you are able, set a timer so you don’t have to be distracted with how much time has elapsed.
  • Close your eyes and listen. Don’t think about what you hear, just listen to the sounds.
  • Listen to your thoughts. Don’t analyze them. Don’t make judgments about them. Just listen.
  • Pay attention to other senses. Do you smell anything? Just experience the smell. Don’t think about what it is or where it comes from. Just experience it. Is the wind blowing or the sun shining on your skin? Feel it. Experience it.
  • Pay attention to your breathing. Don’t try to control it. This is not meditation or a breathing exercise. Just be mindful. Breathe naturally but observe it.
  • Open your eyes and look around you. Don’t focus on thinking about what you see. Instead think about the properties of what you see. Color? Motion? Size? Solid or liquid? Notice the small details of the world around you.

You can do this anywhere you will be safe and uninterrupted for 15 minutes. I like to be outdoors in the morning after sunrise and in the evening after sunset. However any place is fine as long as it is safe and you are able to be in the moment for the allotted time.

Reconnecting with the world.

This gives us a time to be grounded, to be part of where we are. We don’t have to give up our social obligations. We can still fight for our favorite causes. Just don’t lose sight that your purpose is to experience the world.

This includes the space around you. The habit of becoming familiar with your own present will allow you to become more comfortable with being in it.

 

 

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Urban Shamanic Lifestyle: Integration

One does not have to be a healer or guide for their community to incorporate a modern urban shamanic spiritual practice into their life. This series of posts details ways we can apply modern shamanic spirituality to our lives right now.

In a paradox of sorts, our modern world is providing more and more methods for us to connect with each other while at the same time leaving more and more people feeling isolated. Western culture is very focused on the self. We elevate individuals to celebrity status. We focus on our individual knowledge, skills and appearance then measure our self-worth by those attributes.

Integration

This will likely be the most difficult lifestyle change for someone living in modern Western society. We are part of a culture that increasingly worships personal identity. We seek to express our individual styles through choices in our clothing, hair color, musical tastes, etc. Recently this has expanded into sexual identities so that we are offended if other people do not adhere to the sets of pronouns we want others to use in reference to us. These are all choices we make to differentiate ourselves. While self-expression is certainly a positive thing, there is a difference between doing what we like because we like it and doing things because we want others to see and react to us.

Shamanism is a spiritual recognition of how connected we are, not separate. Integration means we recognize and accept that we are not different from each other.  Sure, we learn different things and enjoy different things. We love each other in different ways and we communicate in different ways. These are all superficial things. We all have a brain, and a heart and blood and bones. We all eat food, and drink water. We all breathe air. We are all, here in our reality, humans. In the greater sense, we are all spiritual beings that connect us to everything. But let’s start small and work our way up to that.

Integration means spending less time being concerned about how we are different from others, and more time looking beneath the outer shell. Each person is part of the whole. We are all cast members of a huge production. We are here to learn from each other and to enjoy each other.

How do you practice human integration?

  • Every person you meet, the moment you meet them, your first thoughts should be to recognize the common connections. Why are you meeting them? What brings you to the same location? What shared activity or interest has led you to interact? Your initial communications should focus on the these commonalities.
  • Forget the western attitude of “selling yourself”. Don’t concern yourself with how they are perceiving you. You do not control their thoughts. You only control yours. Trying to purposefully influence someone is inherently restrictive.
  • In the self-focused lifestyle, we tend to overshare. We want people to know what we think is important for them to know about us. Instead, wait for others to ask us for what they want to know.
  • When asking others about themselves, be open. For example, “Do you like K-pop?” is a limited question that doesn’t encourage sharing. Instead ask, “What kind of music do you like?” If they mention something you also like, you have another connection. If they mention an artist or style you don’t know, explore that and see if there could be another connection.
  • Do not make negative judgments. You may not be physically attracted to someone but that should not be a negative judgment. It doesn’t mean you are not connected to that person on many other levels.
  • Always focus on those positive connections with everyone. We compartmentalize people based on just about everything we can: physical attributes, style, political beliefs, religious beliefs, social status, gender identity, and so on. Stop. I see people who publicly proclaim things like, “If you are a Trump supporter, I don’t want to talk to you,” or “I avoid people with green hair and facial piercings, they are weird.” If you do that, you are only limiting yourself. Stop dividing yourself from others.
  • Offer to help people. If someone near you drops some things, stop and help them pick it up. In a society, people help each other. If you see someone struggling, stop and give them a hand. If they tell you, “No thanks, I’ve got it” nod, smile and let them continue on their own. Sometimes people need to struggle to accomplish things. But more often, people are just afraid to ask for help in the first place.
  • Remember people based on the connections you have discovered, not the differences you have cataloged.
  • Treat everyone respectfully. Even if they do not treat you with respect. If you retaliate, then you are the one who has devolved.
  • You are not better than anyone else. Everyone has value, including you. See yourself, your core person without all the external trappings, within everyone you meet.
  • Stop looking for ways to stand out, to be different. This doesn’t mean you need to give up your personal identity. Integration is simply about outwardly focusing on common traits, not differences.

These are practical applications for the shamanic spiritual concept of unity. In every case, we are more similar to each other than we are different. Unity is the foundation for a shamanic lifestyle. Recognizing and embracing our connections with everyone will not only liberate us from a huge amount of negativity, but will also reduce our spiritual fragmentation.