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.
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.