In a recent article I described my foray into an acting class that meets once a week. In it I describe how I was so intrigued with my first experience in that class that I knew I had to keep going, even though I have no real desire to pursue that path professionally. Well, okay, confession: I have thought about it but I realized very quickly it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing right now. Over the past several months I’ve seen how what I’ve been learning is transferrable to everyday life, and particularly how useful it is for my teaching and shamanic healing. It’s even helped me with my singing!
The experiences in the class have pushed me into new areas of expression and took me to some personal and spiritual edges. The instructor, Randall England, stresses character development over memorizing lines for a scene. This is method acting, the likes of which are styles used by actors such as Daniel Day-Lewis, Kate Winslet, and Robert De Niro, to name a few. The best way to describe it is that you find that character inside you and allow him to emerge into full presence and expression through you. Your body, mind, and heart become the instrument through which the character plays out. You become the character and the character becomes you. If you immerse yourself to that depth, there’s a thin line between you and what you’ve created, and several actors have reported that they continue to carry a particular character for several weeks past the actual filming.
How does this transfer to my shamanic healing? Well, I recall in my earlier shamanic training one of the teachers commented, “When you’re doing shamanic work you only need 1% of your usual self. That’s in case there’s a fire or other emergency you can pop out of the shamanic trance that is required for this type of work.” My experience is just that: my usual self remains in the background somewhere, but in the altered state of consciousness that is required it is the shamanic being, or you could say the Inner Shaman, that emerges.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not acting like a shaman. It’s more about getting my usual self—my ego—out of the way to allow this other aspect, this spirit being, to step forward and do the work through me and as me. It’s a trance state that Michael Harner called the Shamanic State of Consciousness (SSC), one where I’m still aware of my usual self but allow it to be superseded by this other force. I’ve been doing shamanic healing for many years now and have developed strong relationships with several spirit helpers that are assigned to do the work so it has become increasingly easier to step out of the way and allow the shamanic healer that I am to fully emerge through my personality.
In the acting class, Randall, the teacher, has stressed again and again to, “stop acting” and instead be that whom you are expressing. It’s a different experience to allow the character to inhabit your body and mind and express through you as the instrument, and that is exactly what all my training in shamanism has encouraged. The experiences in the acting class have emphasized this principle even more fully such that when I’m doing any shamanic healing or facilitating a ceremony I AM that shamanic healer. It’s also true that, like professional actors who cannot lose the character they have so deeply immersed their selves in, this felt sense of being a shamanic healer is with me all the time.
It’s entirely possible for each and every one of us to access that healer inside, no matter the particular form it takes. The Inner Healer, whether shamanic or otherwise, is that aspect of you that is consciously in alignment with Spirit. Even a gentle, loving touch to another human being can provide healing. Listening with an open heart and an open mind can be very healing for the person receiving this. Try it out and see what happens.