What is a shamanic healing crisis?
First let’s review the basics. Shamanic healing is concerned with two things:
- Removing energy/power from your body that doesn’t belong there (called ‘intrusions’)
- Restoring to you your own energy/power that was lost, given away or stolen
When a healer restores energy to you, that energy needs to integrate with your body. We refer to this process as grounding.
One would think that the process of grounding good, healthy energy would be sun-shiny positive. I mean really, what could be tough about that, right?
Here’s the rub:
Your body can only hold so much energy at any given time.
Generally, when we’re starting our journey, we carry intrusions. An intrusion can be other’s anger or jealousy that they’ve sent our way, other’s power that we’ve stolen because we were jealous of them, grief or hurt that belongs to our loved ones that we willingly took in a well-meaning but slightly co-dependent way of wanting to help them, or even spiritual attachments.
In other words, intrusions are unwanted energy taking up space.
These intrusions cause blockages, and our ability to fight off more intrusions is reduced. Soon we enter a downward energetic cycle where vulnerability creates harm which creates more vulnerability and so on.
We reverse this cycle by restoring energy to the client. The thing is, as that positive and empowering energy grounds, it displaces the stagnant energy.
It’s like a bright clear crystal falling into a glass of murky water. As the crystal sinks to the bottom, the water spills over the top of the glass.
How do we release stagnant emotions? We feel them. Those issues we have steadfastly kept locked down, deep in our gut or our sacrum, suddenly rise to the surface and demand to be expressed.
As we rage, cry and mourn. We remember, release and resolve.
This process can be easy or difficult depending on our experiences.
It can also be physical. I know that for me, I get tired and feel run down. I feel impatient with everything because my body is desperate for rest.
It’s bloody uncomfortable at times.
Shamanic breakdown, shamanic breakthrough
There is light at the end of the tunnel. Remember that, as crappy as a healing crisis can feel, it’s because good energy is grounding while the unwanted energy is leaving.
When we get to the end of the healing crisis, we feel so much better. Grounded, solid, and with a bit of luck, wiser. We’ve confronted our shadow sides and know ourselves better as a result.
When we release shame, we begin to love ourselves again. That loves forms the foundation of identity and self-esteem.
When we value ourselves, we make better decisions about our lives. We develop and enforce our boundaries. Our patterns shift.
We experience, for the first time since we were children, how it feels to live fully in our power, and we can do that because we’ve released all that gunk that was stuck within us, creating room for healthy, positive change.
When Do Shamanic Healing Crisis Happen?
Logic would dictate that a healing crisis happens after the work – like a soul retrieval – takes place.
But who told you anything was logical in the Spirit World? LOL
Sometimes a healing crisis will happen before you arrive for your session.
Booking a session to do shamanic work signals to the Spirits that you are ready. They will start the healing work often weeks before you actually come in to see me.
The few days before a session can feel intense, as those things that need released either come to the surface or resist coming to the surface (sometimes we are very attached to our unhealthy patterns, and we will subconsciously fight the process of releasing them, even if we know, on an intellectual level, it’s the right thing to do.)
Generally, a healing crisis occurs 7-10 days after the session, but there are no real rules here. If someone is really connected, that energy will ground more quickly so the healing crisis could occur within a day or two.
A healing crisis can last anywhere from a few days (these are my Netflix weekends) or a few weeks. Intense healing work can take months to ground.
Does Everyone Go Through A Healing Crisis?
Absolutely not. Some clients feel nothing but positivity and lightness. I know what you’re thinking “they are the lucky ones!” but not so. If someone is in a really tough place, the Spirits will be gentle on them. This doesn’t mean the healing isn’t working. The releasing still happens as the energy grounds, but it’s slower and gentler.
I did a lot of healing work the year my mum died, and I was lucky that the Spirits didn’t throw me into any profound healing crisis at that time.
I was already in deep mourning, so I likely couldn’t have handled the added intensity of being thrown into my releasing process. These days, if I get healing work done on me and I feel nothing, I am terribly grateful to the Spirits for having mercy on me.
And again, while shamanic healing crisis are common, they are not the rule.
Sometimes, we are so depleted that it feels great to have power restored to us, and it puts us on a high that can last months. And unlike chemical-induced highs, there is no crash at the end. When the dust settles, feel calm, solid and grounded.
Can It be avoided?
Think of a healing crisis as an opportunity to identify what’s coming up for you and what needs to be released. While the feelings associated with a healing crisis can be intense, it’s temporary, and there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
One of the reasons I like to do extraction work on a client before a power restoration session (like a soul or power animal retrieval) is to kickstart and gentle the release of misplaced energy.
Getting back to the water analogy, it’s like pouring out a bit of water before we insert the crystal so it doesn’t overflow as much.
Another way to minimize the healing crisis is to see a reiki practitioner to help that power ground. But be aware, if emotion or pain needs to be released, it needs to be released, and stepping into that healing work is the only thing that will move you along on your journey.
Healing Crisis and Addiction Recovery
The probability of healing crisis is the reason why I don’t do soul retrieval work on anyone who is less than 12 months into their addiction recovery journey.
The healing crisis that can occur after soul retrieval work specifically can be intense. It can be hard to cope with emotions that are coming up when the markers of one’s life are no longer stable.
The client needs to have enough strength within their sobriety to withstand the possible intensity of a healing crisis.
Now that doesn’t mean that someone in addiction recovery can’t benefit greatly from shamanic work.
My favourite healing session to do is a power animal retrieval. They are so poignant yet gentler than a soul retrieval. They are beautifully affirming and never fail to support and reinforce the client in the very best of ways.
Sometimes, knowing how the Spirits see us (beautiful, sacred, insert every good adjective here!) is a positive revelation from which we can draw strength when we feel we may falter.
There is nothing wrong with the ‘let’s do a power animal retrieval and then, three months later, if you’re feeling ready and the Spirits agree, we can do a soul retrieval,” approach.
The Shamanic Healing Crisis Means Healing is Happening
The upside of a healing crisis is that it is a strong signal that you are deep in your healing process. Of course, when a lesson is put in front of us, we have a choice about whether or not will surrender to it, but for those of us who do, the outcome is transformational.