Do it anyways.

When I have a bad experience, I immediately go into solutioning mode. I assess, audit, and try to determine how to avoid similar negativity in the future. Some might call it a commitment to learning and improving, but I know myself well enough to know better. Deep down, it's really about my impulse to control my environment so that I don't get hurt, and that's not really how we learn.

Sure, there are some things within my power to control and I should always be looking to improve, but there are a hell of a lot more things that are not within my power to control or even influence. So how do we surrender to this lack of control while also learning and improving and staying safe from harm? How do we embody serenity when there is so much kinetic, disruptive and potentially harmful potential all around us?

It's a bit of a paradox, isn't it?

The good news is that Shamanism is all about paradox.

The very word "Shaman" means "wounded healer"- not "born a natural healer without any problems" or "I woke up like this", but "wounded healer". In fact, Shamans gain "medicine"- i.e. abilities, powers or strengths- from negative experiences. Some shamans in Central America and Africa seek out venomous snake and spider bites, believing that this "poison" will reconfigure them and make them impervious to such harm in the future. Now, I'm not that adventurous, but the basic concept applies to all kinds of life experiences- and the ultimate ability to transmute pain into new strengths, abilities and insights.

So, when I've had a negative or hurtful experience and after I've exhausted the initial "solutioning" phase, I go back to the shamanic perspective: nothing was ever under control.

And maybe the best approach isn't always to rationally understand the event or build a logical plan to prevent or avoid it moving forward. Maybe- just maybe- the experience is an energetic "toxin" that will transmute, via a process of alchemy, into something better, faster, or stronger. A medicine.

So, then what do we do? Well, the other day I accidentally stumbled upon a really profound summation that resonated with me. Written by Dr. Kent Keith, "The Paradoxical Commandments" outline how to navigate a world that is not linear, doesn't always make sense, and in which we get a little beat up by others along the way:

"People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway."

Kind of sums it up, doesn't it? While we're here to evaluate, understand, learn and improve, we're also here to do. So do things anyways!

If life's experiences have left you a bit dinged up- with emotional, energetic or physical trauma- just know that that's kind of the deal. Sure, we should seek out ways to heal, recover, integrate, and bring all of ourselves fully online, but we shouldn't endeavor to avoid the very experience of life while we're living. After all, a traumatic experience could end up arming you with your superpowers.

It's all just alchemy and transformation. And chaos;)

And, if you want to focus on the things you can control and learn more about a TOTEM Energy Session or the other, heal-y workshops we have coming up this summer, check out these links (below) and/or reach out to me via email anytime:

Shamanic Journey: Soul Part Recollection Workshop. Sometimes, we have to retreat to move forward, go slow to go fast, and take steps to ensure that we're bringing to bear our full capabilities. In shamanism, we refer to this process as "Soul Part Recollection", and we will be tackling this effort as well as intensive Energetic Protection in our upcoming Shamanic Journeying Workshop on May 2nd at TOTEM's Oak Park meditation space.

In this workshop, we're going to undertake an intentional Soul Part Recollection via a group, guided Shamanic Journeying meditation to help attendees gather their whole selves, remove any energetic cords that are draining their energy levels, and clear their aura to ensure they leave feeling like their "old selves" again. Check out our event page here to learn more or register for this small, in-person group workshop:

Spirit-led Acupuncture and Meditation Workshop. Join Dr. Calista Lay, DC, RMT and Owner of Revive Chiropractic Healing Center at TOTEM’s Oak Park space to jump start your energy levels in our Spring Renewal Workshop. This workshop will leverage mindful meditation with spirit-led, professional acupuncture in a peaceful setting with calming aromatherapy and grounding energy. In this Spring Renewal workshop, Dr. Lay will take you through a guided meditation with strategic acupuncture, helping you release stagnant energy from the long winter and a very challenging 2020.

Acupuncture points are considered to stimulate the central nervous system. This, in turn, releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These biochemical changes stimulate the body's natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being.

Check out our event page here to learn more or register for this small, in-person group workshop:

Hang in there and, when in doubt, remember: do it anyways.