Many people today appreciate the beauty of folklore in a multitude of ancestral traditions. Dance, music, songs, and many forms of exquisite art are viewed as the very foundation of human culture itself. Movement and music can often transcend the barriers of language, race, ethnicity and gender, and have a variety of effects on the mood and state of one’s being.
In ancient times however, creative expression had another application that is often forgotten in today’s world. I am referring to the practice of art as a conduit for shamanic healing, one that to this day is still being performed by the indigenous people of the Amazon and the Andes in its full transmission.
Native healers and shamans view the healing process as a journey of awakening into the source of life-giving creative potential. There is even a special collection of songs, dances and crafts geared specifically toward the healing of health conditions. These expressions support the patient in viewing their own organism as an instrument capable of re-patterning their internal stream of life into a healthier alignment. In essence, they are reacquainting themselves with the synergistic involvement of all beings in the cosmic symphony of life. These kinds of ancient art therapies not only involve expressing the repressed energies and problems that underlie a health condition, but most importantly, they weave these forces into their higher and more sublimated form.
The elders of these healing traditions recognized long ago that the communication of Mother Nature comes through all of the sensory receptors of the organism simultaneously, and yet initially is often recognized through just one. It takes some practice to learn how to recognize this subtle frequency in all of them. At first, the predominant experience may be a simple pain in the body, but when applying this method the pain may become more conscious. It may manifest as an image, a smell, a thought or an emotion. As the communication of the organism starts to emerge in a more multifaceted way, it eventually turns into an entire storyline that takes us to our next rite of passage in our journey of transformational growth.
Here is a real life story that demonstrates that process:
Some time ago, during one of the Paititi Institute’s Form and Formless retreats, a middle aged woman volunteered to go through what we refer to as the Shamanic Symptomatic Dance. She complained of severe pains in one of her heels to the point where she could barely step on that leg. Conventional medicine seemed to be powerless in treating her condition.
She started to perform the exercise and form a relationship with the pain, facing it by tapping her leg on the ground. As her creative ingenuity took place, she began to experience herself as a horse tapping its hooves on the ground. It seemed as if the horse was locked up in a cage and was frustrated. She then focused on the feeling of frustration and began to experience the emotion of an upset 4 year old girl. In that moment, the physical pain transformed into an emotional one, and she caught herself kicking the ground with that extremely painful heel in full force – without even cringing.
Suddenly, a very old repressed memory unfolded into her conscious mind – when she was 4 years old, she was very excited to go to a Halloween party dressed up as princess. Despite this wish, her mother dressed her up as a rag doll and she felt very miserable as result. From that point forward, she developed a belief deep inside that she did not deserve to be the gifted, talented, brilliant person she really was. In that moment, she finally gave herself the permission to be that princess (after 40 long years!) and resolved a lifelong inner conflict. The pain in her heel has completely gone away since then, and she has finally received the evolutionary message that her higher self was trying to communicate to her through that bothersome ailment.
The lesson here is that the intuitive wisdom of one’s own organism can be gradually awoken in a way that guides the body to release and channel blocked tensions and dense energies. Not only as uncontrolled explosions, but in a way that harnesses these energies to create lasting happiness and well-being in oneself and others.
Indigenous cultures provide a stunning illustration of how creativity helps to target distorted and stagnant energies. Instead of resisting and fighting them, they are subsequently channeled and transmuted into meaningful articulations that are guided by the sacred melodies of intuition and artistic expression. This practice allows the mystical divine union to take place.
In this way, one’s life is suddenly revealed as a shamanic dance between opposing and yet complementary extremes. Through unwavering commitment, we can maintain a delicate balance of loving virtue and appreciation for every fall and stumble as this spontaneous evolution takes place.
This profound approach to self-expression enables almost immediate transformation of a passive victim into an actively engaged participant. The dis-eased patients become wounded healers first, and once fully regenerated, the divine wisdom carriers of these ancient lineages. Sicknesses and dis-eases in this approach are nothing more than unconscious habitual patterns of behavior that require creative ingenuity to unlock the brilliant potentiality of love hidden in their core.
The elders of these ancient lineages thus view the healing process as the greatest art in the universe – the art of evolutionary healing.
What bothers you? Face the discomforts and tensions in yourself in this creative way – express the raw discomfort first and then artistically guide these energies to their highest expression. It may be about finding a harmonious beat in a chaotic melody or hidden beauty in an ugly painting, the gracefulness in some clumsy behavior or equilibrium in a stressful moment. Once you find the inkling of that hidden potentiality, begin bringing it into the forefront of your attention until the unconscious pattern has completely transformed into a more evolved form. It is still the same energy, but is now in its highest state. The greatest strength has come out of the greatest weakness!
The Paititi Institute is regularly offering workshops and retreats both at their home in Peru as well as around the world.
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Thank you for putting into words what I have been experiencing.I live in UK so any workshops over hear please let me know.
Thank you for this fascinating and inspirational article. As I have a couple of challenging physical ‘problem’ -including chronic pain- that I would love to be rid of I would be very interested in attending one of these workshops. I live in Brisbane, Queensland, on the east coast of Australia and would love to know if workshops are ever held in Australia?
thank you for this.
I am trying this now (I think I may have liver congestion). I got as far as feeling trapped in my relationship which led me to being a child and feeling trapped in a corner with no escape.
I’m not sure where to go with it from there. Not sure exactly what you mean by bringing it to its highest formation…? Sorry. Any help appreciated. I’m so thankful I saw your movie.