Jay Rau is a staff member here who frequently writes about his experiences using many Native American rituals for healing and enlightenment. In this entry he discusses Shamanic Journeying.
I have always had a hard time meditating. I’ve been told to simply clear my mind and think of nothing. To clear my mind and think of nothing is not at all simple for me. My mind is always going. I thought that maybe I was abnormal because I could not stop all my thoughts and think of nothing. The concept of thinking of nothing is totally absurd to me. I’ve found out that I am not alone in this boat of racing thoughts. If you’re in this boat with me then maybe I can help you with a type of meditation called Journeying.
To Journey is to guide yourself or have another person guide you through a meditation. You usually have a set goal or at least a question to ask, but you must be clear on your intention so you can get a clear answer. The first few Journeys may be difficult. You may get off track and your mind might wander a bit. Don’t give up! Keep trying or have an experienced person guide you through your first few Journeys. That is what I had to do.
Types of Journeys
A common first Journey would be to go to a place of your choosing and see what type of animal greets you. Native Americans will call this your Power Animal. You can ask your Power Animal any question that you would like and it will answer you. Other Journeys take you to a beautiful place called your Sacred Garden. You can also visit with your Higher Power or with an experienced guide, meet your Inner Child or do a Soul Retrieval (this may be needed if you have had trauma or a near death experience).
A typical Journey starts with you getting comfortable in your favorite chair, couch or bed. Make sure you will have at least a half hour to an hour without being interrupted, turn down the lights or place a sleeping mask over your eyes. Some sort of relaxing music would be okay, but what works best is a drumming, rattling or native flute playing CD. Sometimes a trickling brook, bird or other pleasant animal sounds are included. After a little experience you may drum yourself on your own drum; this really sets the mood perfectly when you can drum to your own heartbeat (Hank Wesselman has a great drumming CD). Some people prefer silence. You should choose what ever you are more comfortable with and you may have to experiment a little to find what works best for you.
There are many different variations of Journeying depending on the guide or Shaman. Here is a basic layout of a Journey: In your mind’s eye vision yourself walking along a seashore or riverbank. Hear the waves meeting the bank, inhale and identify what you smell, feel the breeze on your face along with the warm sun. Breathe deep and steady. Now to get to another world you may either dive into the water and find an under water cave to swim through or climb through a waterfall or climb up the waterfall (usually into the upper world where your higher power will be) or stay on dry land and climb through a log or tunnel; wherever your imagination takes you. You may enter into a beautiful (Sacred) garden and simple relax there.
If you want to ask a question you may meet your Power Animal, your Inner Child or your Higher Power, whichever the case may be. I’ve met all three and have grown a great deal from each experience. All of my questions get answered (sometimes the answer is another question like great teachers are known to do). When I get upset I go in and ask my Inner Child what the problem is and he tells me. You get honest answers on your Journey. When you are done go back through your cave, log or tunnel and back up the coast out of your meditation.
Remember, this is the quick version; a true journey would be much more detailed.
If you have any questions please contact me and I will be happy to answer them or even guide you myself through your first incredible journey.
Here are some books, CD’s and websites for more information about Journeying.
Ross Bishop: www.rossbishop.com Books: Healing the Shadow, Truth, and Journey to Enlightenment. CD: The Shamanic Journey (Ross introduces you to your Inner Child).
Hank Wesselman, Ph. D.: www.sharedwisdom.com Hank has several books, but I suggest this first: The Journey To The Sacred Garden which is a book with a free CD together.
Sandra Ingerman: www.sandraingerman.com Book: Shamanic Journeying: A Beginners Guide. CD: Soul Retrieval (An exploration of personal tragedy, illness, physical injury or negative emotions of others)