The Nature of Shamanic Meditation
If we put money into a bank to buy a car, take a vacation, secure our old age, that money has an assigned intention. When we gather enough money, we buy the car.
If we put money in an account without knowing how we will use it, it is available for an unknown purpose, a surprise, a mystery.
It is the same with shamanic (or any true) meditation. If we meditate or pray for a healing (whether for ourselves or others), to achieve nirvana or go to heaven, to find a lover or a job, then that is like putting energy into a spiritual bank account, with an assigned purpose. If our desire is deep enough and clear enough to earn us what we want, in due time we receive the gift we have asked for.
But if our meditation is unassigned, it is allowed to become a gathering of power. And like money earning interest, power attracts more power. This is why many shamanic traditions speak of 'not doing' - not using the power. Allowing it to simply gather, until the power itself unlocks a door to Mystery, or Knowledge, or Love, or Beauty, Peace or Truth (according to our own inner inclination).
The secret to any mystical religious path is learning to hold energy, to retain mystery until we are presented with a meeting which satisfies us to our core.
Prayer/meditation does not mean that we must sit in a perfect full lotus, chant om, say rosaries, or direct our breath to the muladhara chakra. Though any of these activities will do. For the Shaman, meditation is 'stalking', hunting energy. We can hunt energy by going on a Vision Quest. But we can also hunt energy while moving our legs, going fishing, changing the babies diapers, or watching the NFL or Oprah. A part of our focus remains reserved from the external event. We are "in the world, but not of it". It is not necessary to do the Sun Dance; though we may choose to. It is not necessary to find a Guru; though we may choose to. It is not necessary to avoid sex or animal flesh, go to India, or whip ourselves while standing on one leg. It is only necessary to enjoy the hunt.
All Ways Are the Way. Yet some 'Ways' manage to gather energy, and teach us to retain it, while others are depleting. Why?
It is simply a trick we learn, a skill. If our parents taught it to us, we are lucky. If our spiritual teachers, friends or lovers taught it to us, we are lucky. If not, it is still there. Still available. Still present, waiting for us. In the air, in the breath, in nature and art, in the aura, the wish, the dream, the prayer. It requires only that we take the time to feel ourselves, our inner nature, our 'energy field' or 'aura', our 'breath of life', no matter what else we may be doing. If we have ever once felt alive, then that one moment is the teacher. Treasure it. Call it back. Not the act, not the place, not the person, but the pulse of life within that moment. It will teach us everything we need.
Hunting power is like the principle of tithing. We give of what we have. If we belong to a church or religious organization, we give a percentage of our prosperity to this larger structure which helps frame our context, our community. Meditation is a 'tithing' of life energy, a choice not to use a percentage of our vitality, our life energy, for external purposes, but to keep and treasure it within. The Indwelling Spirit. The church to which the shaman gives is mystery.
Power is lost in self-indulgence. A repetition of some excuse for not having power. If we continue to say to ourselves 'I would be okay if my mother, my lover, the boss, the Bush administration were different'. Or we keep repeating 'I give more than I get'. Or 'nothing will ever change'. Or 'no one can control me'. Then we deplete our power. We are spiritually bankrupt. The vital pulse, the innocence of curiosity, the luminescence of the inner dance of color and sensation, all lost. At best to be recovered through grief, loss, pain or tragedy.
But if we hunt power, with the same reverence the tribal hunter stalks the deer or the tribal priest stalks the spirits, then power abides within us. And the doors to multiple universes open.
The meetings that occur in mystery, whether with 'guides', 'angels', 'totems', 'fairies', 'devas', occur because we have gathered enough power, enough desire, enough humility, enough love to make them possible. All such meetings are with a larger, more inclusive sense of self. With our 'soul', with our 'group soul' or with the 'divine' (divine: the deva or spirit within). If we meet the Bear, we meet in the cave of our meditating self, but also become one with others in a similar state of reverie. If we meet the Lion, we become one with all those in the pride of the hunt. If we meet the Snake, we become one with the kundalini, the tantric creative power of sexuality. The Dove or Deer, one with love. The Dog, one with trust. The Cat, with sensuality. The Dolphin, one with the rhythmic movement of the breath and the back-and-forth between the worlds.
But what of those who hunt before they have gathered power, who 'buy' before they have the money? Like 'deficit financing' or buying on a credit card, we may find that whatever we have hunted is now hunting us. The payments for the car or vacation entrap us. The meditations of the Bear bring despair. We are the victim of the Lion's Pride which we have called, but not earned.
The 'Way of the Shaman' is to gather before we spend. To savor the feel of life inside. Then, when we do give our power back to life, we call
to the meeting a spirit equal to our own generosity. The 'gold' ('goaled'; purpose) of the inner quest is in the fire and gleam, the feel of life itself. The moment of meeting. The mystery. The simple presence of the life force that all our complex strategies are seeking.