The Shamanic View of Mental Illness
A long time ago, when I first awakened to my intuitive abilities, it kind of blew my mind. I no longer could hold onto the old, limited reality and buy into it. Everything changed. I could see more, know more, hear other people thoughts, and have awareness that went way beyond anything I’d previously understood.
It was not only weird, it literally shook my entire foundation of reality. But there was a “dirty little secret” about how it came about that I tried to hide for years…
I was all at once aware that:
- I’m not separate from anything; I’m connected to everyone and everything around me
- Everything is energy; it’s all responding to my own thoughts and emotions
- Everything is possible; nothing is static
- There is a whole world going on within each of us; I could hear and feel people’s thoughts and know what was going on inside
This was profoundly destabilizing. There were episodes of unthinkable fear and panic. Without spiritual guidance, or any context for what had happened, I thought I must be possessed by the devil.
I can’t describe how scary and dreadful it was to be so alone in my reality. There was no one in my world I could communicate with about this. The more I tried to, the more “trouble” I got into. My parents didn’t know what to do with me because of all my “crazy talk” so they brought me to the doctor and I was admitted to the mental ward.
Yes, I was in a mental hospital!
(WHEW! It’s been a lifetime of holding that in because of the fear and shame I had around it!)
It was decades later (after of course, figuring all of this out and finding amazing spiritual guides and mentors!) before I incorporated this into my life and medical practice in a purposeful and fulfilling way.
Around that time, I received an email from a friend about the way other cultures perceive mental illness.
It shared that shamanistic view of what we label as a disease. The actually see it as a sacred event.
In the shamanic culture, it is understood that great healers must go through a shift in consciousness in order to be able to receive and translate higher perspectives and possibilities. This destabilizing experience is called the “birth of a healer” and is necessary for a person to be able to anchor into higher realms and provide healing insight and energy. It would be impossible for them to remain in the conventional mindset and have the ability to access higher awareness
What happens in mental illness, as we call it, is that two incompatible energies collide. One being the limited world view of “I’m separate and powerless,” and the other being the higher awareness of “I’m infinite and connected with all things.”
We must let go of one before we can embrace the other. In the shamanic culture, a person is given profound support and nurturance through this process. It is seen as a Divine gift and is cherished by all in their society. They are aware that they would be lost without those who could bring through this guidance and insight from a higher realm.
What I had seen as the greatest shame in my life, suddenly became my greatest blessing.
I can’t tell you how many young people I’ve seen as a doctor in the Emergency Room labeled with “bipolar disorder,” “depression,” “psychosis,” and/or “schizophrenia” where I would look in their eyes and immediately see this transformation going on. When I would connect with them and “see” them, their entire system would immediately calm down and re-equilibrate. It was as though finally they were (albeit briefly) in a world where they could be seen.
It was in so many of those moments when I would silently vow to myself to get out of my career in the ER and create a platform where I could really make a difference.
It’s taken many years for me to release the shame and fear I felt around this experience and to know it was a Divine gift. I was mostly alone in that journey. I am so grateful for the insight I now have to celebrate this, shout it from the rooftops, be fully seen as the conduit for healing and awakening that I came here to be and share this with others who may be suffering.
Yay to me for finally dumping the shame that kept me hidden! Even when I stepped out of conventional medicine, I would never in a million years have shared about this mental breakdown! Being hospitalized! This would have been the greatest “discrediting” to everything I’d worked so hard to build!
In our medical world, credibility is of the utmost importance. We build our credentials so we can stand on this “I’ve-got-it-together-so-listen-to-me” platform, which is founded on ego, not Truth. When we look inside at what’s really there, we must release all the self-doubt and inadequacy before we can meet what we’re truly made of. We are all infinite. To embrace our deepest fears and shames is exactly what gives us the ability to stand in the light of the Divine self, and express all of who we truly are.
Then, all of life meets us there to celebrate us, resource us, cherish us, and bring everything that’s needed for us to shine and thrive. I know that as I fully shine my light and honor my truth, all of life can awaken more fully.
Are you also hiding in some way, in fear or shame of who you really are
Do you realize this is exactly the door behind which lies everything you’ve been asking for
Are you ready to be seen and shine?
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