How do I deal with cynicism about shamanism?
I’m often asked how I deal with people who challenge what I do, or don’t believe in it, and the truth is that it doesn’t often faze me.
In fact, a lot of people in my circle, both family and friends, don’t consider themselves remotely spiritual. They support what I do, because they love me, but they don’t actually engage in that work, and I don’t need for them to engage in it. Just as they support where I’m at, I support where they’re at.
For people outside of my circle, I am sometimes met with the old, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it,’ school of thought, but I don’t think this is how life really is. What actually happens in life is ‘When I believe it, I’ll see it.’
When we are ready to step into spiritual healing work, it will work for us. The Spirits are not about hitting us over the heads with a 2×4 and telling us what to do, they gently guide us along a path that best supports our learning.
And here’s the thing that we often miss: That path can look like anything!
A shamanic perspective on judging another’s experience
We’ve all heard that brilliant quote by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “We are all spirits having a human experience.”
If we’re all spirits, then why are we here? The Elders say it’s for our spirits to learn. Nothing more, nothing less.
Each lesson – each life purpose – is going to require a different path to support that learning. Some will engage in deep spiritual work, while others will do something else.
Trying to figure out what someone needs to learn by witnessing the choices they make is an arrogant thing to do. (If it takes a person a whole lifetime to figure out their life’s lesson, you’re not going to figure it out on their behalf in ten minutes.)
Taking those assumptions to the level of judging them is inappropriate and wholly unnecessary. It’s akin to judging someone for deciding to learn geography instead of history.
Those clients who are trying find clarity in their lives will often look to me, and ask me ‘why’, as in ‘why this path’, and all I can do is shrug my shoulders and offer them more tea, because I have no idea why the Spirits would guide them on one path vs. another, but I do trust, 100%, that wherever they are, it is where they’re meant to be. It’s not a platitude – it’s a continuum.
But back to the topic of cynicism about shamanism…
Respect works both ways, my friends. For me, someone who isn’t inclined to jump into spirituality head-first, if they are trusting themselves and following what their heart tells them, is walking a path to be respected. I’m not about to question them, just as I don’t expect them to question me.
Diversity of Thought Creates a Healthy Balance
There’s much to be said about friends who think differently.
S.Kelley Harwell said, “Even in woo-woo circles, shamanism the fringe of the fringe” and, as a shamanic practitioner, I can definitely get caught up in it all.
I’m grateful when my friends or family say, “Kim, calm down,” or roll their eyes at my when I begin to pontificate. We all need this in our lives! It’s not called, ‘challenge,’; it’s called ‘balance.’
These good people remind me that there is a life beyond the Spirit world, a human life, and I’m here to live it, enjoy it, and squeeze every last bit of vibrancy out of it. Sometimes, especially after a lot of intense spiritual work, I just need to get outside and leave the drum behind, and it’s so nice to have friends who don’t want to talk to me about Spirituality all the time.
When the Ego Rises
One last thought on the subject…
There is a key difference between someone respectfully not believing in my work and someone who activity puts it down. Or is there…
I generally react to the latter personally because shamanism is interwoven with my sense of identity, my ego.
When someone says something attacking it, I feel they’ve attacked ME. But have they truly attacked me, is that simply my ego raising its head and preparing to fight for our honour, because that’s what it’s trained to do?
Obviously, it’s the latter, and when I find myself in that process, it’s up to me to get past it, and regain a more stoic perspective.
Just because my ego has a lot to say, doesn’t mean that that person has really done anything wrong to me. So, what, if they don’t believe in the work? That has nothing to do with me. So what, if they’re engaging in mean behaviour? I’m all grown up, and I can see that’s not my issue to worry about. The only thing it really is, is a chance for me to practice putting my ego aside. That is my lesson, and my job is to learn it, practice it, and maybe one day, I’ll be behind me.
So, if someone ever sees fit to denigrate you or practice, thank them in your mind for that lesson, and then forget about them. Move on. You have things to do and things to learn, and good friends will always support you, even if they don’t walk the exact same path as you.