Do you have spirit sickness? What would a modern day shaman recommend?
If you were to go to your doctor and complain that you were living an uninspired life and couldn’t seem to get your spark back, what would your doctor do? Ask medical history? Run tests? Offer prescriptions? Western medicine is amazing for its scientific discoveries over the last few hundred years allowing us to outlive many deadly viruses and life-threatening illness. But what happens when our spirit falls ill?
Back in tribal cultures the medicine man or the shaman would ask you some deceptively simple questions. When was the last time you danced? When was the last time you sang? When was the last time you told your story?
How do you know if you’ve caught it?
You might feel uninspired, flat, like you just don’t care about things they way you once did.
You might feel disillusioned, or as if the dreams are gone, and it would take too much energy to even consider creating new ones.
You might feel slightly lost, or without a purpose. You might ask, “What is it all for? Why am I here?”
Or you might feel disheartened like all those things in life that let you down left a mark you can’t heal. Old heartbreaks that festered into closed wounds.
You’ve lost hope.
You might not feel excited about much anymore, or you might not feel like trying to figure out what it would take to get excited about life.
You might have felt sick or exhausted for many years and after so many visits to doctors to check out “what’s wrong” they tell you “it’s all in your head.”
You might feel like giving up, and I’m not just talking about suicide, but that is a major epidemic.
You might believe the negativity that has become commonplace in our culture; complaints and cynicism are de rigueur if you watch news outlets or even the average Facebook feed; add to it the current hate-speak and fear-mongering tactics that are at play in modern politics that are polarizing people into “right and wrong” camps.
You might feel righteous anger a lot. We get applauded for standing up and being angry when we’re “right” and telling others off; and you just might find yourself being “right” more often than you are connecting with other people.
All these things take a toll on our spirits!
Millions each year are diagnosed with clinical depression or generalized anxiety, PTSD, and millions more are on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication for stress related issues; my heart goes out to all of those who have given up on their dreams even while taking the medications.
I’m talking about becoming a living member of the Walking Dead. A zombie of sorts. An Apathetic. Numb. Disconnected from our own spirits.
And while brain chemistry plays a huge role in many of these clinical issues, I think there’s something underlying that the meds aren’t addressing.
I believe we have another crisis, I believe we have an epidemic of spirit sickness.
The old shamans and African tribal medicine men would ask those 3 questions of the sick or ill to find out if spirit sickness was a factor in a physical manifestation.
Do something nice for someone else. When we complete a kind act, we activate a pleasure center part of our brains that responds with a biochemical reaction. There is also a spirit-based reaction, which is why when others see someone doing something kind, their brains experience a similar cascade of positive neurochemicals. Doing requires an action. And it also gets us out of our own heads. This is what “paying it forward” is about. I love social media icon Joel Comm’s campaign: #DoGoodStuff, which was created from this exact concept to do something kind and be a positive influence for others. Joel created a line of tee shirts and encourages the wearers to take pictures of themselves doing good stuff and share them.
Be around people doing nice things for others. There is something energizing and healing about a positive community that is doing or creating something good in the world. When we are around other hearts who have a commitment to service (serving others and making a difference) it can heal our psyche. I love working with Durga Tree and Made By Survivors for that very reason: others committed to creating a real difference.
Find something uplifting. For many people that can be a spiritual community or church that is focused in positive values and goodness. It could be dancing and singing. Read books that stir your soul. Find gratitude in the simple things. Watch movies that inspire. Play with animals. Be around uplifting energetic people. Laugh. Watch kids play. Try to get in touch with your inner kid.
Get out in nature. There is something healing to our souls about watching birds fly, leaves dance in the wind, sunsets, rain, snow, or waves in the ocean. If you’re a gardener, you know the power of placing your hands in the soil. The rhythm of nature is like a balm to our tech-saturated lives. Look at how much kids love playing with rocks and mud. What’s the deal with dirt? Apparently it’s a great deal of fun.
Use your imagination. We often use our imaginations to create possible negative scenarios (worry), so get into the positive part of your mind. Get outside the box you’ve created. Draw, paint, write, create, build, invent, cook, renovate, daydream, imagine. What if our imaginations are directly connected to our spirits? What if that’s one of the fastest ways to heal?
Let it out—whatever ‘it’ is inside of you, that wants expressed. Tell your story. Tell a story. Take those drawings you imagined and put them into reality. Create that thing you imagined. Express yourself. If you have some residual anger inside, find a healthy way to let it go. Forgive. Exercise. Move your body. Breathe. Find your expression, the thing that only you can do. Do it.
Learn about boundaries and stop letting others or things drain you. When the negativity around you becomes too much, stop. When you feel exhausted, overwhelmed, drained, or tired you need to say “no” to something or someone so you can say “yes” to yourself. I know it sounds trite but this little tidbit could save your spirit.
These are only a few of the ways you can connect to your spirit. However you do it, may you dance, may you sing, and may you tell wonderful stories.