In this workshop, we will explore the perspective shamans (indigenous or aboriginal healers) take on mind, consciousness, health, and illness. We will compare these perspectives to those of European derived conventional medicine. We will discus the dialogical process in which the healer engages the spirit of the illness, ancestral spirits, the person's spirit, the healer's own helper spirits, and the spirits of place and Nature, to gain information and to enroll them in the healing process.
We will review how shamans know when they are communicating with spirits and what Western culture would consider as alternative explanations. We will compare this aboriginal way of gaining knowledge with European-derived cultures- insistence upon external expertise that is codified in categories and algorithms of practice. We will visit the training of the shaman and how mind is developed within traditional cultures to be able to interact with spiritual and spirit realms. Shamanic practice requires an open, flexible mind, attuned to several dimensions, in ongoing dialogue with residents of these dimensions, and aimed at finding help for the client - whether a person, community, or ecosystem.
Many Western mindsets would view this story about mind as preposterous, invalid, or even psychotic, yet shamans quietly go about their work in communities where there reputation and livelihood is based upon sufficient success as to be noticed. We will close by discussing what we can learn from shamanic practice to enrich our own practices.
Lewis Mehl-Madrona graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residencies in family medicine and in psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Coyote Wisdom, and Narrative Medicine.
Other Products by Lewis Mehl-Madrona
1) Aboriginal Models for Integration of Brain, Mind, Spirit, and Body