The first Yoga of Shamanism retreat came to fruition with 5 days spent on epic Intika Island in Lake Titicaca at 13,000 feet. We bonded with our indigenous host family who fed us high vibrational treats like wild trout freshly fished from the lake, or quinoa and heirloom potatoes harvested from their garden. We walked the pristine land, untouched by dogs, cars or industry, breathed fresh alpine air, gazed at the endless expanse of the lake and snow-capped mountain covered horizon, meditated together in a fragrant eucalyptus grove, swam in the lake despite 40’ temperatures and practiced what we had seeded during the first retreat.
The journey got me thinking about how I am able to create unique, life-enhancing experiences with incredible people in amazing places again and again.
I've been consciously designing my life for sometime now. While not without the occasional hiccup from which I learn immensely valuable life lessons, I continue to write my own personal legend which takes me across continents, from venturing deep into the Amazon jungle with uncontacted tribes of natives to chanting primordial mantras in the inner sanctums of Vedic temples to basking on beautiful beaches and meditating on mountain tops.
Most importantly, these exotic jaunts are not blips on a screen of otherwise mediocre activity; time passed doing mundane tasks either reflecting on a past adventure or daydreaming about a future one. On the contrary, my life’s pleasure and work are very much married. I am wholeheartedly interested and passionate about my chosen field of study and blessed that what I enjoy to do contributes something of service to the greater good while sustaining me on a material level.
If I can do this, so can you.
We are all instinctively programmed to search for our soul’s true purpose, which we know to be inherently meaningful, beneficial towards and in harmony with those whom our lives intersect with. Now what if we also knew that discovering and having the confidence to pursue our soul’s true purpose is designed to bring us immense pleasure and satisfaction as well as material gain? And that a life lived in this manner is deeply spiritual and connects us to the divine essence of our own being. This may seem like an unattainable goal for many but it is our true inheritance as human beings. Accomplishing less than this actually produces deep unavoidable feelings of disenchantment and a perpetual seeking of and dependency on external, ephemeral pleasures.
This fundamental concept is known in the Veda as the Purusharthas, or the 4 aims of human life: dharma (our life’s purpose), kama (what we derive pleasure from), artha (that which sustains us materially) and moksha (the soul’s understanding of and abidance in its own divine nature.) Only when the first three aims align, is the fourth possible. Actually moksha is the inevitable result of the merging of the first three aims.
During the Yoga of Shamanism retreat, we delved into various perspectives, principles and practices from Vedic and Amazonian Shamanic traditions illustrating how to activate our own inner navigational systems to assume the role of commander of our life-containing vessel, learning to steer the ship we inhabit where we wish to direct it rather than being washed from shore to shore by the whim of the fates.
Some of the themes, techniques and practices we explored included:
• Utilizing the language of Nature as a map to unlocking our own Inner Universe
• Emptying the inner vessel to create space for divine inspiration and manifestation to emerge
• Paying attention to and interpreting (free of personal projection) signs in the natural world and how to use them as guide posts
• Dream interpretation
• Attuning ourselves to synchronicities, life’s language of symbols
• Recognizing and fostering the space between two realms (i.e. between dreaming and waking)
• Refining organoleptic (sense-based) perception
• Using elemental vectors like sound (mantra and icaro), taste (relationship to the plant kingdom) and smell (shamanic aromatherapy) to influence and shift states of consciousness
• Becoming your own talisman
Of course, the legend you generate will be unique to your own dreams, inner affinities and proclivities. We'll be sharing more tools, perspectives and practices on how to activate your inner navigational systems and become the architect of your very own legend, at all our upcoming retreats and eventually online.
The following is a poem I wrote after a supremely blissful day on the island, communing with the elements, the land, its people and deeply nourishing my inner deva. It is the result of inspiration overflowing from a cup emptied to make space for such divine musings to emerge. I hope it is enjoyed and welcome your comments below.
New Moon ~ Horse Year ~ Imbolc Celebration
Aya meditation in the eucalyptus grove on top of the world
Collectively contemplating the pristine perfection
Of Nature’s artistry, both within the body and in the external manifestations
Of leaf, stone, hawk and cloud.
Wild lupine emanates blue-hued crystalline tranquility
Conveying its wisdom in aromatic codes
Translated through the cool freshness of alpine air,
Overlooking the serene reflection of sky In the expanse of Titicaca.
Swimming in the sandhya, the space between earth and ether
That is the sacred lake, Birthplace of the children of the Sun.
Under the glowing woven firmament,
Around a fire bright with eucalyptus tinder,
Arm and arm we dance with our native brothers and sisters
In this Andean paradise.
We remember and rest assured in our Divine provenance.