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Reforming Mental Healthcare with a Shamanic Approach

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

A note first: This reflects personal beliefs held by myself, Nadia, and is based on personal experiences. I believe we can do a lot to help mental health through Shamanic Practice and Ceremony. I view mental health improvement through Ceremony as a happy byproduct of sitting in Ceremony, not the reason we sit in Ceremony. We sit in Ceremony to connect with Self, God, Earth, Beings, and/or the plants.

Ok, here goes. Something I find myself pondering and discussing quite a bit is the nature of our Western Mental Healthcare System. The idea behind this healthcare model is to treat the symptoms of a disease that is unseen and unable to be substantiated or "proven". Therefore all that can be done, medically, is make the symptoms more bearable through medication. If you can't prove someone has depression, you have to base your treatment off their symptoms and provide whatever relief you can for those symptoms. I suppose that makes sense in some way, right? It doesn't, however, offer healing.

It stands to reason then that we don't actually understand the real causes of mental health ailments, or we would go back and address the core issue or reason behind them, wouldn't we? Well, maybe, but my opinion of why we don't shall be saved for a separate conversation. So as a result of this treatment method, the general population has no idea what causes their depression, anxiety or whatever condition plagues them because there’s rarely even a conversation that's had before medications are dispensed.

It’s almost as if no one wants to talk about it 🤔.

The stories I hear about why people come to Plant Medicine all have a common thread - they’re about people having some symptom treated but the true cause remains unresolved. That root cause keeps producing the same symptoms or creates new symptoms over time, leaving a person stuck in some treatment cycle that doesn’t actually work in the long term.

The way that we approach mental health shamanically is simple - you take a look at the big picture and remember that physical, emotional and spiritual are all working together within a person. You work with a person holistically. Shamans don't see Bipolar Disorder, they see a person who is ungrounded and unable to feel their feelings because there is the energy of trauma stored in their body. Shamans don't see Cancer as a death sentence, they see the energetic signature of resentment that has manifested into the physical and can be released. Shamans don't see Dissociative Identity Disorder, they see a person who has been fractured by trauma and forced to create multiple personas in order to survive a traumatic period of their life. The Shamanic approach is not black and white, but it is a game changer when it comes to addressing the ever present mental illnesses of our world.

What does this approach actually look like from a practical standpoint? Using a Shamanic model to address mental health would include the following:

  • Looking at childhood/developmental periods. Does this person have a history of abuse, strict religious upbringing, corporal punishment, a parent that wasn't present or even "just a very controlling mother"? All of these things play a role in the creation of core beliefs - the belief systems that govern our lives from the background. Belief systems impact us our entire life and work to create our reality. We all have a few that are unhealthy and keep us from moving forward in life successfully. Each moment of emotional trauma creates a fracture (soul part) that hides. Thus rendering the remaining aspect of the soul not "whole". (PS. The soul is always whole, but it is hidden from us for the time being).

  • Identifying trauma to be released. When we experience trauma, especially as a child, it is often unprocessed at the time of occurrence and stored in our body to be processed later. If we never allow it to come up for processing, it creates a physical heaviness that we carry around with us. It may also manifest into pain or other chronic conditions. These unreleased/unprocessed things are often attached to those fractured soul pieces.

  • Addressing the physical body. Are there targeted aches and pains? Is there dis-ease, migraines, recurring injuries or other things presenting in the physical? How about the immune and nervous system? All of these pieces are relevant when we talk about healing because they are very much connected to the emotional and spiritual body. You can work with the physical through somatic release, learning how to communicate with the body.

  • Habits. Is this person struggling with an addiction involving food, cannabis, pornography, video games or gambling? Unraveling these addictions, and the emotions that are being avoided through use of the addiction, is a key piece in healing. These addictions are often formed to full the hole that is left my a missing soul piece and/or controlled by that piece..

  • Clearing the energy body. This clearing allows for regeneration as well as prevention of future illness manifesting into the physical. Every thought and trauma leaves an energy signature and every energy signature ends up in the physical body eventually if it is not cleared.

  • Offer support through Plant Medicine. There is a plant out there that can help support us through each facet of our healing process. From soothing our heart space to clearing out mucus, there's a plant available and waiting to help us through it.

  • Learning how to be mindful, grounded and clear yourself energetically. Like it or not, we all have that spiritual gene. We can all be "empaths" if our boundaries suck and we can all be impacted by the emotions and energy of others. We can become ungrounded and stuck in our head, which causes panic, fear looping and disconnection from ourselves. Learning to be mindful, staying grounded and performing basic energy hygiene are foundational for healing.

Through looking at this holistic snapshot of a person, we start understanding where mental health conditions come from and we resolve them indefinitely instead of merely dulling the symptoms.

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