There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.
– Albert Einstein
As a Taoist monk, much of what I learned from my teachers was passed down from shamanic heritage throughout Asia. Communion with nature, “animal play”, herbalism, energy practices, and purification through fire- these are all rooted in shamanism. The Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, and all other great traditions from the East come from these origins.
Shamanism lives in the world of miracles. Life itself is a miracle. All we need to do is perceive the language of life as the photons pass through our bodies triggering the opening and closing of our DNA strands. This “Cosmic Serpent” as Jeremy Narby writes about, is the universal carrier of all intelligence of which we are a part. Tapping into this, all healing is possible.
So how do we connect with this while living in cities and dealing with cars, jobs, and thousands of people all around us?
Here Are 9 Teachings That Will Help You:
Touch the earth with bare feet – our connection with the earth mother is severed by rubber soled shoes so getting a few minutes barefoot preferably on the grass/bare earth can really help reset our energy fields. I like to take breaks every 25 minutes to get under a tree outside my office and breathe with its roots for a couple of minutes. Do this occasionally throughout your day and you’ll feel restored, connected, and refreshed.
Learn to control time – this is the shaman’s domain and, in our daily lives, we are easily distracted by the tick tock linear time that marches us all around being late for meetings and the kid’s soccer practice. Our ancestors understood that time is relative and our perception of time can be nuanced and manipulated. By controlling your breath, you can calm your mind and slow the flow of time. Tapping into that place of “no time” in the empty moment of stillness is what I call “Drinking from Infinity”. This is where all healing happens and this is where you can tap into any information you desire. Remember that you’re only a breath away from this infinite space/time…always.
Stay moving all day– still water breeds poison and we come from ancestry that moved, climbed, ran, jumped, and swam all the time. Our stagnant lifestyles are putting us in unnatural positions and shutting down the natural flow of energy in our bodies. This brings down our vibratory frequency and severs our connection to the Universal Intelligence. Our minds get dull and we forget who we are and where we came from. A quick solution to this is setting a timer to take a physical break every 25 minutes. I go outside and do some squats, jumping jacks, lunges, pushups, or whatever at least twice an hour to keep my body awake, alive, and vibrant. You’ll find yourself taking far fewer refills of coffee this way…
Make your bedroom a sacred sleep hut– there’s lots of power in darkness and the ancients got lots of it. This helps trigger the release of natural melatonin in our pineal glands as well as growth hormones and all kinds of wonderful detox we need from our busy days. Artificial light disrupts this so an urban monk learns to get the electronics out of the bedroom and shield the walls from electronic pollution that can be disruptive. Think cave. A sacred hut needs to be restorative. Candlelight for the last couple hours of your evening is an amazing practice to help this.
Give thanks with every bite– one key shamanic principal that we’ve lost sight of is the need for utter reverence for everything we ingest. Taking the time to realize that this “food” is actually something that was (hopefully) recently alive and is “giving of itself” to us, is powerful. What are you doing with your life to deserve taking on this energy? How can you pay it forward to all life with your greater service to the natural world and future generations? Giving thanks connects us with this and helps anchor us back to what’s important.
Have something you grow to eat at home – whether it’s a counter top tomato plant or a full-fledged garden outside, connecting with the energy of life is key. The magic of a sprouting seed turning into a stalk of something you nurture and, eventually, bearing a food that you ingest is powerful. This connects us with the miracle itself. Having a hand in the cycle of life keeps us grounded and reverent.
Connect with like-minded people – Sangha or community is huge in Buddhism and so it is in tribal shamanism. Connect with your people and don’t let others distract you into a perverse worldview that pulls you into mindless consumption and conflict. You are on the right path so lock arms with friends and work together to hold the line. You work for Great Mother now =)
Don’t take society so seriously – the modern world is grappling with an epidemic of stress. People are so busy running around buying crap that they don’t need that they don’t stop to realize they’re squandering their life force on senseless junk. Then they complain about not having enough money, time, or energy and they’d have all three if they would stop buying the crap that’s polluting our planet and choking us out in the first place. The wise soul understands this is insane and holds court for the people in his/her life. Let them see how happy and peaceful you are and, then by example, they can learn of a better way. Don’t preach…be.
Control the dream– the media paints a picture of a world filled with conflict wherein we need to give up our liberties and powers to forces that protect us from “them”. Love all life and don’t buy into such petty narratives. Every time you purchase something, you are voting with your money. You are giving power in the form of currency to a company that is either helping make the world a cleaner, safer, healthier place, or to one that’s driving us in the other direction. An urban soul traveler understands his or her role in this and only allocates money to people and companies that deserve it. This way, we vote on the practices we want to see and we work to make the world a better place with every action. Create the world you’d want to live in with today’s actions.
I’ve been teaching students how to tap in, step up, and get ignited in their lives for a couple of decades. My training includes Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and many forms of yoga but my roots are shamanic. I have spent countless hours in the woods connecting with the wind and perceiving the movement of energy all around me.
If you’d like to explore these kinds of strategies written with you in mind, time constraints and all, please check out my new book, “The Urban Monk”.
To finding peace and connection in the modern world!