For as many as one hundred thousand years, shamans have moved beyond the edges of ordinary reality.(1 ) Defying any perceived limits or ideas of what is “real”, they have expanded their minds and spirits into transcendent realms. Their shamanic journeys showed us that we are more than our physical existence and that the invisible world can help us to thrive in this plane of existence. Their journeys helped to open up new pathways of human thought and ability. Furthermore, it is likely that their altered consciousness experiences and relationships with transcendent spirits has contributed to our evolution.
During the shamanic state of consciousness the brain produces high alpha and theta waves while the majority of the brain’s functions shift into the right hemisphere. Though best known for its spiritual benefits, this state of consciousness provides many other blessings. When we experience expanded awareness it literally changes our mind. It produces an enhancement of creative thinking and imagination. Both of these are critical skills for tackling new or challenging situations and for being able to innovate unique solutions.
Additionally, the alpha brain state supports the release of accumulated stress and tensions in the physical body. This in turn supports the organism to be more resilient and able to bring a fresh attitude to any task at hand. At the same time, right brain states enhance the ability to learn new information as well as being able to retain what you have learned.
Intuition is also heightened by right brain activity and especially by alpha brain wave states. A Harvard study determined that up to 80% of business innovators considered intuition a critical component to their success. In addition, high alpha wave states also contribute to better rapport between members of a community or team. This enhancement of cooperation was certainly a contributing factor in the advancement of human culture.
Indeed, author Michael Winkelman suggests that the heightened states of awareness that develops through expanding consciousness has had profound effects on our evolution, our psychology and biology. Furthermore, experience has proven that the alteration of consciousness that shamans perform holds tremendous potential for healing and transformation.
I would argue that when these brain states are coupled with the guidance, insight and support we receive in relationship with our tutelary spirits, the enhancements are even more profound. Based upon my own experience, those of powerful tribal shamans and of other profoundly committed shamanic journeyers, I believe our physical nature and the physical reality around us undergoes transformation when we expand our consciousness. More importantly, these changes are driven by our need to continue our evolution.
For millennia, shamans have moved beyond ordinary time and space into the spiritual realms. Over many thousands of generations, these spiritual dimensions have become nearly tangibly physical locations. Indeed, the Upper, Middle and Lower worlds of spirit are part of every shaman’s spiritual landscape. Thanks to all the journeyers who have come before us, they have become reliable sources of inspiration and guidance.
Following in our ancestral shamans’ footsteps, many more people now enter into the realms of spirit than any other time in our evolution. The influx of people entering these states of consciousness is contributing to a collective evolution. Our journeys are changing us even as the reasons we seek the spirits have also shifted. Today we face challenges to our physical reality and planetary survival that our ancestors could not have imagined. Our new problems require new solutions. As a result, our guiding spirits have begun stretching us beyond the map of the well-know spiritual realms into new dimensions of reality.
For instance, many more people are visiting past and future time bands or entering the quantum world of vibration, or are using the portals of their physical bodies to gain wisdom and insight. Still others are entering into realms that were never previously explored or that have no recognizable parameters. These journeyers are able to accomplish this work because they have nurtured dependable relationships with power animals and spiritual teachers who function as reliable guides for new experiences.
This kind of shamanic evolution is also made possible because all human beings are capable of multidimensional experience. Using our imagination as a springboard, we have the potential to reach solutions that lie beyond our perceptual limitations. As Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Since the act of journeying changes us, stretching ourselves into the familiar shamanic realms and through to previously unexplored dimensions, creates new possibilities. As people continue to open to journeying, our collective consciousness evolves. That is, those of us–who choose to stretch our minds and hearts beyond the known world and into the Multiverse–are actually contributing to the evolution of human potential.(2) We are changing the definitions of what it means to be a human being. Our shifts and changes contribute to the whole and this happens because we are not separate from each other.
If you journey or use deep meditation techniques, you may already be experiencing new dimensions of reality. Your teachers and power animals may be taking you beyond the known spiritual landscapes to assist with your healing or to find solutions to particularly difficult problems. Their assistance is critical for your safety, as the process of expanding consciousness must have clear parameters to assure safety for the physical body and psyche of the journeyer. Every consciousness expanding experience must have a beginning in our familiar ordinary reality. The process of expansion into the spiritual realms must follow a path that is clear so that a final return to ordinary consciousness is secure. If the shaman does not return to ordinary reality, then the healing, guidance or insight they received will not be implemented. This can cause the physical body to either suffer or expire and perhaps more tragically, the evolutionary potential of the experience for the collective will be lost. My spirit teacher, Grandma has said on many occasions that, “It isn’t how far your go, but how well that you return for it is here that the magic is made manifest.” And I would add the very act of going and returning actually manifests a magic of its own!
Having the constant and loving guidance of spirits you have come to implicitly trust allows you to transcend previous limitations of thought and being. With their nurturance and support, it is possible to move beyond the map of the known and into wondrous possibilities that we are only just beginning to imagine. Joseph Chilton Pierce has said that we are “hard wired” for transcendence. If this is true, we are on a most marvelous journey together!
© 2012 Evelyn C. Rysdyk
Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path and the soon to be published Spirit Walking a Course in Shamanic Power, Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is. Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives. In joint practice with Allie Knowlton as Spirit Passages, her web site is http://www.spiritpassages.com.
1. The author will be teaching new workshop, “Living as a Multidimensional Human” on January 26th and 27th in Falmouth, Maine. Register at: http://www.spiritpassages.com/calendar.html
2. The author’s next Two-Year Apprenticeship in Advanced Shamanism and Shamanic Healing begins in Spring 2013. More information may be found at: http://www.spiritpassages.com/initiatorytrainingprograms.html.