Most the time we think that emotions sweep over us and overwhelm us, and they do. But we also often live in lingering states: a constant state of fear, or of emotional flatness, or anger, or resentment, or grieving, or cynicism. At that point we have crossed over from being overtaken by a wave of emotion and into agreeing to live in a state of emotion. That's when we enter into an agreement to pay the cost.
When I live in the ongoing state of fear or anger or cynicism, I am agreeing to pay a price in energy. The shamanic term for energy is power. In order to live inside the power of fear, I give up another kind of power as payment.
The price of fear is intimacy.
The price of certainty is wonder.
The price of greed is patience, and since beauty relies on patience, the price of greed is beauty.
The price of arrogance is surprise.
The price of cynicism is open-armed love. Since open-armed love includes grieving, because grief is a form of love, the price of cynicism is stifled grief, and since grief is one of the main lubricants on the hinges of the doors to Spirit, the price of cynicism is connection to Spirit.
On it goes.
Shamanic thinking tells us good news: That equation can be reversed by replacing the word "price" with the word "medicine."
The medicine for fear is intimacy.
The medicine for certainty is wonder.
The medicine for greed is patience, and since beauty relies on patience, the medicine for greed is beauty.
The medicine for arrogance is surprise.
The medicine for cynicism is open-armed love, and since open armed love includes proper grieving, prayers that summon tears are medicine for cynicism.
We are in a time period in which more and more people are taking a hard look at the price we pay for the "normal" that has been programmed into us. More and more people are understanding that the price is too high for living a life, as archetypal psychologist James Hillman said, "happily in “the system of rip-off economics [that] promotes its communal senselessness by substituting "more" for "beyond.”
The energies of fear, arrogance, greed and cynicism are programmed into us so deeply that it takes great commitment to let go of them. These old energies rise up with great ferocity when we turn our attention toward authentic spiritual power, and we hear these old energies as voices of self-doubt, embarrassment, self-deprecation, and sometimes outright shame. It's helpful to hear these negative voices as a parasite in you screaming for you NOT to bring the medicine. The medicine is perceived as discomfort by the parasite, who wants you to stay in a state of disempowerment, so it can continue to feed on you.
The surrealist painter Salvador Dali said, "The only difference between me and a madman is that I'm not mad." What he meant (I hope) is that by working honestly with his artistic energies (which is the same work in many ways as working your spiritual power) he learned to trade the negative price for the Medicine.
Another way to say this is, "The difference between a mental breakdown and an opening of the spiritual path is discipline and courage."
Well, that's how I see it.
A note from Jaime Meyer: I am indebted to Jose Luis Stevens for stimulating many of the ideas in this piece.
Jamie shares a prayer with us he hopes we'll find useful:
I have lived smaller than I want to live.
I have listened to those voices that shrink me.
I am ready
to trade the price I have been paying
to stay disempowered and disconnected from Spirit.
I am ready
to trade for the Medicine.
The light grows across the face of the moon.
The sun rises stronger each day from the south.
The ice releases its grip on the shore.
The land awakens and revives.
Bring this medicine to me
So that I may stand strong in this world.
I have something to accomplish in this life
And I am so grateful that you are here always to help me.
Jaime Meyer | Shamanic Practitioner | Author | Teacher
Jamie's popular book Drumming The Soul Awake is an account of his journey to become an urban shamanic healer. His varied background includes earning a Masters Degree in Theology and the Arts and cross cultural studies with a variety of shamanic teachers since 1983.
Jamie continues to study with the Shipibo people of the Upper Amazon in Peru - an extension of his studies with Jose and Lena Stevens of The Power Path School of Shamanism. He completed a two-year Celtic Shamanism training with Tom Cowan. He has also studied with Ailo Gaup, Martin Prechtel, and Sandra Ingerman, among others. He is the president and board of directors of the international Society of Shamanic Practitioners.
He co-founded the first theatre in the world for the Hmong community (a refugee population from Laos and Vietnam) and managed it for ten years, mentoring dozens of writers and scores of actors, and playing to 200,000 Hmong and non-Hmong people in various cities, including in refugee camps in Thailand.
Find out more about Jamie and his teachings here: www.drummingthesoulawake.com.