Get Lost, Bluebird (Part 1)

I had never seen a bluebird outside of internet images and had developed an aversion to one particular “angry bluebird” that had become a meme. When I was given Bluebird as a helping spirit, I was not grateful.

I was staying at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, training in the Master Practitioner Level of Shamanic Reiki. Llyn Roberts, the founder and lead teacher of Shamanic Reiki, had given us an exercise – to find a partner and retrieve a spirit guide for the other. I had paired with a stranger, which was advantageous in avoiding our preconceived notions about each other influencing our choices. I journeyed on her behalf and, when I told her about the woman in the white robes who appeared to me, she seemed disappointed. Maybe that is why she cursed me with bluebird.

The bluebird she described was almost normal, as far as I knew. She told me she saw it sitting on a branch, and that it looked like every bluebird she had ever seen, except the orange did not cover its chest. Instead, it had just a crescent-shaped stripe of orange below its neck. I wrote what she told me in my journal and tried to be appreciative that she had given me a deformed bluebird to work with.

Our next exercise was to go on a shamanic journey and connect with our newly acquired helping spirit. I settled into the blanket-and-bolster “nest” I had created as my journey space and closed my eyes. I imagined the place in nature that is the starting place for my journey work. I invited bluebird to join me. Then – bam – I was gone. My mind whirred with thoughts that came so fast I could not catch any of them. I think I fell asleep, then woke up when the drumbeat changed to the callback rhythm, feeling angry. I had failed to connect with my bluebird.

As others in the group described wondrous experiences with their new guides, I sat seething. I left that morning’s session sure I was no good at this shamanic stuff and contemplated giving up and going home.

For me, the biggest challenge to developing a shamanic practice was my fear of being inadequate. Come back for the next post to read about what happened when I decided to stay and keep practicing.


Why you should learn Shamanic Reiki

Reiki table prepared for Shamanic Reiki session with drum, smudge, shell, candle and feathersI had had fifteen years of Reiki experience already when I discovered Shamanic Reiki. I did not need more Reiki training to continue serving as I had been, but I was drawn to the aspects of shamanism that were incorporated into Shamanic Reiki. My first training weekend experience marked a pivotal point in my work – and my life.

Here are three reasons why:
  1. Shamanic Reiki encourages the development of your own intuition over learning a system. There is a basic structure and well-defined techniques to get you started, but the experiential training invites you to connect with and follow the guidance of helping spirits who you can call on when serving others. There is nothing to memorize and you cannot do the practices incorrectly if you trust your intuition. For me, that meant freedom to leave behind some of what, in Usui Reiki, did not resonate with me and to be more adventurous in a session.
  2. Shamanic journeying is an empowering tool for your personal development as well as helping others. In Shamanic Reiki trainings, journeying is introduced in a way that is immediately accessible for most. Even those who are nervous (as I was) or have felt unsuccessful when trying to learn to journey previously (as I had) almost always have a breakthrough in a training. Once you can access the shamanic realms, there is lots of guidance available to you – guidance for making decisions, moving through loss, visioning, and finding a spiritual direction. I can no longer imagine navigating life without having journeying in my toolbelt.
  3. Shamanic Reiki turns an energy practice into a way of being that feels present and fulfilled daily. With an emphasis on simple but profound practices from a variety of shamanic cultures, Shamanic Reiki invites a deep connection with nature and our fellow humans that shifts the way you interact with them. Within a few months of beginning, I developed a more loving relationship with the land I live on and the creatures that inhabit it, including my family, which has inspired me to offer care and stewardship in new ways.

If you are ready to start your Shamanic Reiki journey, whether as a novice energy healer or a seasoned practitioner looking for new healing tools for yourself and others, visit my training page for upcoming virtual offerings or Shamanic Reiki Worldwide for other training options.

Sitting with Squirrels as a Meditation Practice

If your idea of meditation is sitting comfortably on a cushion in a softly lit, quiet room, with an hour-long recording of Tibetan singing bowls streaming on your tablet while incense smoke curls around you, sitting with squirrels is not the practice for you. If you are ready to be fully present to what is true now, even if what is true is that a squirrel has buried his head in your coat pocket to grab the last peanut, than maybe it is time for your meditation practice to get out into nature.

Grey squirrel standing on back feet looking up at cameraWhen I first started on the Shamanic Reiki path, I could not figure out how I was supposed to be standing next to the Reiki table, paying attention to my client, and simultaneously journeying to connect with helping spirits, the elements, or the client’s higher self. There was too much to keep track of at once, and I was often disappointed that I was not able to be “shamanic” enough in my approach.

The instruction I received for developing those shamanic, two places at once skills?

Get out into nature.

Seriously, going outside and spending time in nature, without an agenda or expectations, was part of our Shamanic Reiki Master Teacher practicum. In Llyn Robert’s book, Shamanic Reiki, she talks about connecting with nature repeatedly. After many years, I believe I understand why.

First, nature heals. Yes, it sounds trite, but fresh air, nature sounds, and a brisk walk can reduce the effects of stress without much in the way of an investment. The natural world is available even in the biggest cities, evident in the plants that sprout in sidewalk cracks and the pigeons that perch on high-rise balconies. All you must do is stop paying attention to where nature is not and open to where nature is showing itself.

Second, being in nature is an opportunity to practice being in two worlds at once. If you have ever taken a long hike, you have most likely experienced moments of being lost in thought while following the trail and managing to avoid tripping over at least some of the roots and rocks in the path. You can, in fact, walk and chew gum or, in this case, daydream at the same time.

Third, Spirit speaks through nature. The stone or feather that catches your eye, the appearance of a frog or a snake at your feet, or a hawk overhead, are signs that nature is communicating. I cannot tell you what the signs mean, but your inner wisdom knows.

Sitting with squirrels

This brings me to sitting with squirrels. Behind my house there is an imaginary line drawn somewhere in the woods, but the squirrels do not care if they are in a tree on my land or the 30 undeveloped acres on the other side of that line. This makes my home an ideal place to release the squirrels I have raised as a state-licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Most of the squirrels spread out into the woods or beyond, but a few have stayed close to raid the bird feeders and beg for peanuts.

These squirrels have become my meditation partners. Every morning I plop down a split log and practice becoming grounded and centered, watching my breath, and being mindful of my senses and thoughts, while having a peanut at the ready for a fast-approaching grey squirrel. The squirrels are a delightful distraction that keeps me alert to their antics while also shifting my consciousness to the detached observation of my response to them.

I have heard it said that shamans stand with one foot in each world. By sitting with squirrels, I am learning the art of being here and also not here, in my morning meditation and in my Shamanic Reiki practice.