I sat on the fallen log next to the broken, gouged tree, refusing to believe that this was the sacred space I was to work in over the course of the next few days for my soul quest retreat. It was too ugly, too raw, and too painful to be the right place. I wanted my soul work to be done in a place that was beautiful! Almost angrily I dared the universe to show me a sign that this was “the place” for my retreat work. The universe responded immediately. A very young spotted fawn walked out of the trees and stopped about 15 feet away from me. She looked at me and then made a complete circle around the tree and me before continuing on her way. I resigned myself to the fact that this was where I needed to be for the retreat. Fawn showed up every day while I was there, making her circle, and by the end of my retreat I had clarity about the messages from her and from the broken tree: even in our most difficult times, when we feel ugly and broken beyond compare, we are beautiful and valuable. We are healing. All we need to do is trust in the process and be gentle with ourselves.

I hadn’t heard of shamanism when fawn showed up to me this way back in 2004, but I recognized the magic of the encounter. And today, as a shaman, I know that it was another lesson on how I could tap into my “inner shaman” to help me navigate through life.

Each one of us is a shaman. We all have the capability to access the wisdom, truth and unconditional love of our higher selves, our ancestors, and our spirit helpers to guide our personal decision-making and spirit evolution.

Shamans have learned how to identify and listen to that quiet, but persistent, inner voice. They look for insights and messages from nature, synchronistic events, dreams and even from a song that comes on the radio. They focus on “being and listening” before “doing” and trust in the innate wisdom of their inner shaman.

So, how do you access your inner shaman? Here are some ways to get started:

  1. Learn to be comfortable with silence. Take time to disconnect from the TV, smart phone, iPod, iPad, etc. and just be with the silence. For some people, this can be very unsettling at first! As you get comfortable with silence, you’ll begin to be aware of your mind chatter (we all have this), and, if you listen carefully, you’ll start to hear that quiet knowing deep within you. This is the voice of your inner shaman that pulls from your own wisdom and the wisdom of the spirit world. Ask a question and then wait for the response to come to you. It can show up as a message that pops into your mind, a feeling in your gut, a hunch about something, a physical response in your body, or other ways.
  2. Write. Writing is another way to connect with your inner shaman and a great way to access its wisdom. Write down a question you have about something in your life. Ask that your higher self and guides give you insights on the question. Take a couple deep breaths in and out to clear your mind, and then begin writing the response that pops into your head. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar, and don’t judge or censor what comes up. Just write. Sometimes when I do this the words come so fast I can hardly keep up!
  3. Ask for a sign. Much as I asked for a sign while on a retreat, you can ask your inner shaman for a sign to help you with a situation. Simply state your question or need, and then pay attention to what happens around you. Does a particular song jump out at you? Perhaps your insight is found in the lyrics of that song. Is there a bird or other animal that keeps crossing your path or does something unusual? There could be a message related to the attributes of the animal that are relevant. Does of friend of yours randomly email you something, saying “For some reason this made me think of you.”? There may be some wisdom in the email.
  4. Above all, learn to trust. It is very easy to dismiss the messages or signs you receive from your inner shaman as being nothing more than your imagination. Like learning anything in life, tapping into your inner shaman takes time, practice and trust. At first, you may want to sit with the message you receive for a little while and see how it makes you feel. Even if it’s not the answer you expected or wanted, does it feel right? Is there a truthfulness and honestly to the response? Does it make your heart expand? If the answer is yes to these questions, you most likely have tapped into your inner shaman.

Each of us is on a life journey to learn, grow and expand our spirituality and consciousness. As you practice and become more comfortable with listening to your inner shaman, you’ll find that messages and wisdom flow to you more quickly. As a human being, you have the choice whether or not to act upon what you hear from your inner shaman. Regardless of your decision, you will be evolving!

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