Shamanism goes back to the the dawn of man and the creation of the earliest spiritual practices. Certain practices from the beginning remain to this day. A few have been modified for modern humans in a modern world, but largely the practices remain recognizable to shamans of past eras.
Shamanism is a spiritual practice, not a religion. It is therefore possible to incorporate aspects of shamanism into virtually any religion. There are Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Pagan shamans. As you look at the practices of the shaman, it’s easy to see how they could be incorporated into any religion to enrich your spiritual life.
A practice within shamanism that goes back to it’s very beginnings is that of solitude, or of going off alone. This solitude allows the shaman to listen for the inner voice that we all have as well as allowing him or her to listen for any external signs or cues that might otherwise be missed in the hectic day to day life we all live.
Spending time alone in prayer, taking walks or just sitting quietly is something that every religious master has mentioned within his writings. Even in the writings in the bible, it is well documented that Jesus often went off alone to pray. This separation from others often leads to a deeper spiritual life as well as a greater appreciation of what we have left behind. Often, the shaman will also learn that he or she has been hampered by the trappings of their daily life. The clutter in their homes or offices can signal that they are moving in the wrong direction and becoming more worldly and less spiritual. Time spent in solitude allows them to reconnect with their spiritual nature.
Another age old practice that has survived to the modern era is fasting. That is the intentional going without food for a specified period of time. The denying of a part of our physical nature in favor of our spiritual nature is seen as a sacrifice. Sometimes this act of sacrifice is done as a penance for sins, for a unification with our God or for reasons known only to the individual shaman.
A modern twist on this is to make certain that you are healthy enough for a fast by contacting your medical care provider before starting.
Abstinence means to abstain, or deny yourself, something that you normally enjoy. The two most people think of is meat and sex. While these are certainly viable, both ancient and modern shaman consider the role of abstinence and bit differently. Abstinence in this case is from that which blocks you from your spiritual practice or in some way acts as a controlling agent in your life. To that end, many shaman abstain from smoking, drinking, meat, sex or whatever their specific vice might be.
When you deny your physical comfort and especially pleasure for the sake of spiritual growth, it can be especially rewarding. You are controlling the issues instead of allowing the issue to control you.
Shaman have used them from the beginning and will use them for a long time to come, if not forever. Within Christianity, for example, a shaman might say “Christ, have mercy” over and over as a way of calming or grounding himself. It might also be said as a way of moving into prayer or meditation. A way of relaxing the mind and body to move into a more spiritual realm.
Another example, is the well known “Om” repeated over and over is a way of relaxing the body and preparing it for meditation.
It should almost go without saying that prayer or meditation, however you wish to think of it, has been with shaman from the beginning. In this case, the prayer is one of open gratitude or thanks. This is not the type of prayer where you are asking for something or even thanking your God for granting a request. This is the kind of prayer that is simply showing gratitude for your creator being your creator.
While all of these are common to both ancient and modern shaman, there are a few modern inventions that have begun to play a part. The use of the Internet allows disparate groups of Shaman to interact with one another online, share experiences and explore new realms of practice that might otherwise either be unknown.
A final modern shaman use of the internet involves keeping a blog, either public or private, that allows the shaman to keep track of his or her own spiritual progress. Many, of course, still keep a hand-written journal, still, the ability to keep a journal online is often, in modern times, easier for younger or more urban shaman.
There is no right or wrong way to practice shamanism. It’s wholly individual and it is this individuality that attracts many people. Incorporating a few shamanistic practices can enrich your life as well as your faith.