If you mixed the ivory towers of Western Medicine with the back jungle villages of the native shaman and shook them up with Pop Rocks, you’d wind up with something that starts to resemble the way I have sometimes worked one-on-one with patients and clients. At least that’s what other people who hear me talk about my work tell me.
My Work is Shamanic? Say What?
I didn’t know a thing about shamanism back when I was seeing patients in my integrative medicine practice, but people familiar with it told me that the way I practiced medicine was very shamanic. Let me give you an example of how I worked with April, whose story I tell in my new book The Anatomy of a Calling.
April was abused and neglected throughout her childhood, and she grew up feeling unsafe in the world. She had been professionally trained to carry a gun and could knock a dangerous person flat on their back with one twist of an arm in the blink of an eye. As a child, she learned never to turn her back to anyone. When I met her, she had multiple mysterious medical problems, including an undiagnosable hematologic disorder that sapped her blood supply and required weekly infusions at her hospital’s chemotherapy infusion center. She also suffered from a debilitating combo of obsessive-compulsive disorder and PTSD and had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. She came to me because she had tried everything else and her intuition led her to get on a plane and fly from upstate New York to California, in search of solutions no doctor had been able to provide.
After I did two extended sessions with April that included atypical techniques like direct eye gazing, intuitive guidance came to me in the form of an image of this woman cradled in my arms, with her back to my chest – turning her back to me, engaging in some sort of ritual my mind didn’t understand. The whole vision seemed kind of crazy to me, but when I ran it by her, she was on board to try it.
So we did.
Before April arrived, I blessed the space with sage, lit a candle, asked God and the angels to be with me and to protect the sacred space, and did a clearing meditation to get my own ego out of the way so the Divine could use me as a healing channel.
Then I created the nest by laying a yoga mat on the floor and covering it with soft blankets. Leaning back against a wall, I became the container, and with a pillow on my abdomen, I invited April to lean back against my body with her head resting on my chest and her back to my belly.
She raised an eyebrow at me and grudgingly knelt down, hesitating before turning her back to me and assuming the position.
I asked April to close her eyes, put a hematite stone shaped like a heart in her hand, and led her in a grounding meditation that tapped her into the core of Mama Earth and invited the earth energy to fill her body and connect with Divine love. I then turned on music, rang chimes, anointed her forehead with an aromatherapy blend I had mixed especially for her, and lay my hands upon her in various locations – her forehead, the tops of her arms, over her heart, moving between locations as the spirit guided me.
As I held her in my arms, I felt her body begin to lightly twitch. The twitching was followed by something that more closely resembled convulsions. I got scared, not understanding what was happening. I considered calling 911 because it looked like she was having a seizure, but a little voice whispered in my ear that everything was okay, that I should stay the course and trust what was happening. I breathed through it, visualizing all the while that her demons were coursing out of her body and down the redwood roots coming from her body down deep into the core of the earth, where they were vaporized and recycled.
As her body quivered, I kept my hands on her, feeling an electric charge in them that was almost, but not quite, painful. The whole time, I was sending it energetically back to the earth.
Finally, after quite a while, her body was still. I kept my hands on April, running my fingers through her hair, keeping my hand over her heart in silence.
And then I guided her back into her body, turned the music off, rang chimes, and invited her back into the chair, where we processed together what had just happened. She had seen an image of her abusive mother flying out of her belly. She felt exhausted, but free.
After I put April to rest on the bed in my office, April couldn’t get out of bed. She felt like she’d just been run over by a Mack truck. I told her she had just run an energetic marathon and that her response was to be expected. I encouraged her to sleep, rest, get a massage maybe.
I also had side effects after the session. I never get headaches, but my head was killing me. I was intuitively drawn to call a shaman friend of mine to ask if he understood what had just happened. He laughed and said, “Lissa, you’re practicing shamanism without a license. I couldn’t have taught you how to do a more perfect exorcism.” He went on to explain that because I am not skilled at taking on the dense energy the session released from her, I may have inadvertently taken it on myself. He performed an aura clearing on me and granted me what he called the “bands of protection” in order to protect me in the future. My headache instantly went away.
The Next Session
Three days later, we repeated the process, only this time, April’s body was still the whole time as I led her in guided imagery to a fully healed version of herself at a point in the near future. She had the chance to see where she lived, meet her future self, ask her fully healed self any questions and receive a gift from her healed self. Then her healed self hopped on a beam of light with her and entered her body in the present moment. I pronounced her whole, healed and perfect just as she is, and then the session was over.
In April’s Own Words
The day after her second session, April wrote to me and said:
I have come back with a clarity of exactly what I do and don’t want in my life. Like I mean, CLARITY. It’s almost frightening it’s so clear. I do feel changed. I do feel free in a way that I never have. And I’m reaching for what I want without being timid.
A week later, she wrote:
I am doing wonderfully – free and light as a bird, and I don’t at all mind saying so. If I get anymore wide open than I am right now I’ll be inside out, and that’s just fine too. I spent the day with my friend yesterday and told her everything about our work together and how it took it all away, how the weight of everything I carried is gone and the only person that dwells in me now is me. My mother’s threatening and crushing presence is gone. The looming shadows of unknown men are gone. It’s just me! And I love that I have myself back, or possibly even that I have myself for the first time at all, ever. My friend said the difference since she saw me last was more than remarkable. Life is so good.
What Happened Next
That session with April happened five years ago. After our work together, she never had another infusion and her blood count has been normal. Her OCD and PTSD healed. And she has become a champion for others like her with autism spectrum disorders. Because her autism makes her unusually sensitive, she self-soothes with Zentangle art-making, adult coloring books, meditation, playing the guitar and piano, and other calming techniques she is still developing. April now lives in my guest house and is my greatest ally. She was also one of my greatest teachers. The spontaneous remission she experienced as a result of the work we did together opened my eyes and helped me realize that when you combine the wisdom of the shamanic traditions with the advantages of Western medicine, especially the trauma and acute care Western medicine does so well, you have a recipe for real healing.
What happened with April inspired me to start researching “anomalous healing” modalities, including shamanism, faith healing, and energy healing, as part of my research for a future book Sacred Medicine. It also inspired the curriculum we teach doctors and other health care providers at the Whole Health Medicine Institute. Western medical providers who participate in this program are now exposed to various shamanic and energy healing techniques as part of the certification process. The whole story of how I shifted from conventional medicine to training doctors in what we jokingly call “stealth shamanism” is told in my memoir The Anatomy of a Calling, which is about me and my story. But really, it’s about you and YOUR story.
Confirming Your Calling
In the five years since April’s “spontaneous” remission, the rational material world view I learned from my physician father and 12 years of academic medical education has been completely shattered, and that’s a good thing. Since then, I’ve seen a Chinese QiGong master manifest herbs from the Medicine Buddha out of the palms of her hands. I’ve heard a Peruvian shaman tell me that he can heal fractures by going back in time to before the injury happened so he can pick a new timeline. I’ve witnessed an American energy healer who can take someone with chronic pain and make them pain free in about 15 minutes by simply talking to them and asking the right questions to “shift their energy.” Soon, I will interview a Balinese “electric healer,” and I’m planning a trip to go see John of God in Brazil.
The possibilities seem limitless. I find myself ready to shatter even more of my world view, but also excitedly and curiously asking, “What else?” I am humbled and open to the mystery. And each time I rebuild that view with everything I’ve experienced or learned, it only confirms that I’m on the right path, and doing what I’m supposed to be doing, fulfilling my calling.
If you resonate with the words above, I think you will really enjoy my new book The Anatomy Of A Calling. Click the link below to see if it’s for you:
Here’s to fulfilling your calling!