Heavy. Sinking into the yoga mat, the floor, and the Earth below. Every cell in my body was letting go. With the deep pulse of the drum, my awareness shifted into my hands. A tingling sensation, almost vibrational, crawled from my hands to my arms, shoulders and face. I could feel each and every little hair on my skin, moving. What was happening?! I was losing complete control to something I couldn’t begin to wrap my mind around. In that moment, I chose to panic, rather than trust the process. My body tensed and my hands moved to my stomach, as my mind desperately proved to itself that it was still in control. The sensations disappeared. Suddenly, I tasted the ocean. Salty, pure, vast, healing. My tears.
While back home in New England for the month of August, after Corey broke his clavicle, my mother asked me to join her and my Aunt in an “intensive sound healing workshop” led by Peruvian Shaman Pierre Garreaud in Ferry Beach, Maine. The idea of experiencing the world of shamanism, especially after hearing a little bit about it in Sedona, excited me. Plus, the unknown is apparently my specialty — I live in a van and every day is an adventure into the vast unknown. So, of course, I said yes. How powerful could singing and drumming be?, I had thought.
Peruvian Shaman Pierre Garreud (photo courtesy of SoundLightHealer.com)
Without expectations, clearly, I had no idea. The tingling, sinking episode was only a taste of the experience, a ritual known as “DNA Clearing”. Through the use of drums, rattles and singing, negative emotional patterns from our lifetime, as well as passed down from our ancestors, were released. From my understanding, this cutting of our anchors to the past, creates more space in our bodies to give and receive love, ultimately affecting our vitality and well-being.
Following this powerful ritual, we were led on a visualization journey, something I had never before experienced. Towards the end, Pierre asked us to raise a hand if we were having trouble visualizing. My hand shot up. I hadn’t seen a thing. Pierre said, “Imagine you’re at a beach, standing at the shore looking out. A dolphin comes to you. The dolphin is bringing you something. It is a gift. Accept it.” Okay, I can do this, I told myself. In my mind’s eye, I was standing at the beach. A dolphin swam to me, a playful, loving twinkle in its eyes, “What are you giving me?” I asked it. No response. However, I knew it had given me something unseen, like information, or a secret. Whatever it was, I graciously thanked the dolphin and it frolicked out of sight.
From my journal (unedited):
Following the DNA Clearing and visualization exercise, and after a quick lunch with the group, I felt an urge to get to the beach. The past few hours had been a roller coaster of sensation and emotions. I knew the beach would ground me, and ground it did. The instant my naked feet touched the sand, it was as if the earth was kissing me. Comforting warmth, a light, tickling textured touch. The Earth was saying “You’re alright. You’re right here.” Embracing the contours of my feet, sending warmth and drawing me out of my head and into the ground.
The inner child in me took over and I ran for the ocean, tearing off my clothes to my swimsuit below. Under I went without hesitation, the cold water briefly taking my breath away in the most pleasant, exhilarating way. A resetting of my mind, body and spirit.
I swam. Weightless, buoyant and surrounding by goodness. It had been since I raced in a triathlon 5 years ago that I felt this connected to the water. I paused. A moment of clarity… the dolphin had brought me back my unbridled love for the ocean. A little piece of magic, joy, and play. Thank you dolphin. Thank you Pierre. Thank you Mom and Aunt Chris. Thank you ocean. I know you’ve been there all along. I smiled, I was home.
Water is home.
The week was filled with many lessons and realizations. Below are a few of them.
- Shamanism is ancient, powerful and intriguing. According to Pierre, the term shamanism encompasses indigenous wisdom teachings and healing practices, as well as rites of passage or initiations. Shamanism of the Americas actually originated in the Himalayas. Around 30,000 years ago, when a small group of hunter-gatherers crossed the Bering Strait, they brought with them a body of knowledge. Shamanism is the world’s oldest recorded method of expanding consciousness and of entering altered states through the shamanic dynamic journey. The word Shaman comes from the Tungus, Siberian word which means ‘one who knows, one who sees in the dark’, as experienced through the shamanic journey.
- Shamanism has the power to balance the brain’s left and right hemispheres. Today’s society is overrun with left-brain dominance. Analyzing. Judging. Over thinking. To thrive, we must find a balance between this linear left-brain thinking, and the intuitive, creative nature of the right-brain. Shamanism may be one way to find this balance. After my week at Ferry Beach, my vision seemed clearer, colors were vivid and every person that I saw looked beautiful and radiant. My thinking and judging processes had slowed and I was given a deeper experience and appreciation of the now.
- Shamanism connects me to the natural world. When I’m connected to the elements, I am at home, regardless of where I am. Living in a van, this connectedness to the natural world is my lifeline. My oxygen. This connection, for me, comes through listening to drumming and singing, movement like surfing or dancing, and also through stillness. My experience at Ferry Beach was the perfect reminder of my need for the elements.
- Ferry Beach is an amazing oceanside Maine community. When I said “yes” to this experience, I didn’t realize I was dropping in on a group (Integrated Spiritual Pathways)that have been together for over 30 years. I am so thankful for their openness, knowledge and compassion.
The Beautiful Ferry Beach Group