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Recovering Our True Self: A Primary Goal of Shamanic Healing

Recovering Our True Self:
A Primary Goal of Shamanic Healing

One of the primary goals you will find repeated over and over again in shamanic healing, is the recovery of our True Self. What is our True Self?

The full and authentic person with all of their strengths, who is not ‘missing’ anything or any part or aspect that could make them ‘fuller’. The true self is the complete person, with all of their qualities and aspects that are that person’s essential nature. One time, I have heard it put that the True Self might even be considered the ‘blueprint’ of who one really is, if we think of one’s DNA with all the potential that exists in those tiny strands, potentials that unfold as the person grows and develops. Perhaps this might also be called one’s original nature. Not only does this core personhood have strength, has a life of its own, which is why the shaman and shamanic practitioner can actually visit this True Self.

Thus, the True Self can, in a psychological sense, be ‘externalized’, and easily visited during a journey. Our True Self is compassionate to us, as nothing can be closer to ourselves than our basic nature, even if we are an incomplete expression of this! In a way, this shamanic way of understanding who we really are, is a sort of reversal of our well known human desire to ‘live into’ our fullest potential! Much of a shaman's work revolves around strengthening the relationship between a client and their true self, or of helping to recover its fullness. Thus, one can visit and consult with their True Self to gather what it wants to do for us, which is support, empower and heal.

So much of shamanism has to do with the recovery of parts of ourselves that have been split from us, lost along the way, or never nurtured such that they would thrive. This sense of how one’s True Self is so central to shamanism can easily be understood by simply looking at our human experience. For instance, I have never met a person who was not aware of sometimes behaving or 'being different' from how he or she knew that deep down inside, they truly were. We humans are subject to powerful forces that assail our healthy, vital personhood. Bitter cultural and individual experiences along one's life path can stunt and limit – sometimes even entirely – the full expression of that potentially healthy, vital individual.

The shamanic practitioner goes to spirit helpers in animal form or for spirit teachers for empowerment and awareness. Our True Self, in the same manner, can also serve as a powerful helper and assist us perhaps like none other when it comes for us to reach for our full, empowered expression. Therefor our True Self can be met with and consulted during a shamanic journey for particularly relevant guidance regarding who we are, who we have not yet grown into, and how we can reach our own potential.

I know, this sounds like some of contemporary psychological thinking. You are right, it does! So much of shamanism be understood entirely psychologically, particularly when it comes to our essential growth and healing.

So, for instance, it is easy to see how our generally accepted social understandings about life – and about ourselves – so strongly influence the manner in which we come to understand, experience and know our own self. What has our family told us we are? What has our church, our mosque, our temple? What does our nation say we are, or our community? In other words, the 'reality' of our own self - when it is not challenged - becomes something consensual, even though this is in part due to not knowing that things are actually quite different. By this I mean that who we ‘are’ could have (but did not have to!) become something socially agreed upon! Especially when this ‘agreement’ is unrecognized as such.

The way to obtain information in shamanism is often through a shamanic journey. During such a journey, when one finally meets their true self, it can be an extraordinarily powerful event. Much can be brought to our attention about ourselves, literally ‘face to face’. The actual shape, age, and form of one’s True Self varies as widely as can be imagined, for it is as varied as there are individuals on the planet. However, our true self will show itself as what we are like when we are living into our full capability, if we allow ourselves to 'be' ourselves, fully. 

Shamanism challenges the every-day consensus of what is real. There are disempowered men, women and children all over the planet, everywhere. Are we being true to our potential? Are we, through social ‘norms’, guided into becoming less than we truly are?

With respect to who we really are, as in many other ways, shamanism challenges our own understanding of ourselves as well as how others understand us. Shamanism engages our personal return to our own wholeness, by seeking to recover the our lost 'self-parts’. So much of shamanism is specifically focused on gathering and rediscovering of one's whole, True Self.