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Greet Your Inner Shaman

Have you ever experienced a moment of profound insight, a realization that changed how you view your own life, a subtle but insistent voice of guidance that led you down an unexpected path? If the answer is yes, then you already have an experience of your inner shaman, says José Stevens.

Stevens, author of Awakening the Inner Shaman and many other books, says that such experiences inevitably lead to a view of life as larger and more mysterious than we usually experience. “The experience of the inner shaman is a deeper knowing beyond the personal self,” Stevens explains. “It can happen spontaneously, in meditation or just by looking at a sunset. In those moments, you step out of the box of your perception and realize that the context in which you’re looking at your life is too small. And when you see more, you discover creative solutions and open doors you didn’t even know you had.”

Our Inner Guidance

Stevens’ first contact with the shamanic worldview came early. He spent his early years with his grandmother, who was born in Chihuahua, Mexico; she was from a wealthy family but had been raised by Indian servants. “They taught her the Indian way, the shamanic way of looking at things,” Stevens relates, “and she passed it to me. But it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I really started to return to the study of shamanism.”

Stevens earned a PhD in psychology, writing about the interface of shamanism and psychotherapy, and then embarked, with his wife, on a ten-year apprenticeship with a Huichol Indian shaman in northern Mexico. His studies led him to believe that this inner guidance is at the heart of all spiritual paths and all great breakthrough discoveries.

“In the modern West, with our emphasis on specialization, we put different areas of study into separate boxes,” Stevens continues. “But in the past, medicine, philosophy, math and religion were blended together. When we experience a profound emotion or sense of transcendence, when the whole world seems to reveal itself in an instant, or when a scientist has a eureka moment and sees the solution to a problem, these are experiences of the inner shaman. It’s non-ordinary reality—a state that is expansive, life altering and unforgettable.”

The Benefits of Being Neutral

Though these breakthrough moments are transformative, the work of really changing the way we see ourselves and the world is gradual, Stevens says. “The more insight and self-awareness we have, the more we can see ourselves neutrally without bashing ourselves,” he explains. “Then we find ourselves being more tolerant, more patient, less judgmental. We continue to observe that most of our suffering is self-created, and when we drop the struggle against life, we take more pleasure in simply living.”

Ultimately, Stevens says, when we learn to be present and neutral, we feel better—less identified with our problems, calmer, less likely to experience depression and anxiety. From this place in neutrality, we begin to find our right relationship with everything around us—work, friends and the wider world.

A Practice for Attuning to Your Inner Shaman

“This is a very simple practice, but it has a profound way of opening you to the world,” Stevens offers. “All you do is this: Take a walk outside, look around you and say hello to whatever meets your eye. If there’s a tree, say hello to the tree. If there’s a squirrel in the tree, say hello to the squirrel. Hello, cloud; hello, sky; I’m glad you’re here. Bugs, butterflies, the breeze, the sunshine—the more you practice, the more you realize the incredible life all around you that you were totally missing before. As you go through the day, being grateful for all these things, it can open you to a much larger sense of life. Everything is alive, and when you say hello, it says hello back. This can bring about a childlike state of joy and wonderment, and open you to inspiration.”

Learn more at The Power Path