A Shaman’s Work: Becoming Your Own Wounded Healer

In The Way of the Explorer, former Apollo 14 astronaut, Dr. Edgar Mitchell, writes about his epiphany in space when he realized the nature of universal connectedness: “The presence of divinity became almost palpable and I knew that life in the universe was not just an accident based on random processes… The knowledge came to me directly.”

Mitchell’s epiphany was so profound that, upon his return to Earth, he was compelled to leave the world of fact-based science behind. While most of us will probably never travel to the moon in our lifetime, we all have the capacity to develop the awareness that everything in the universe is interconnected and that life is not merely a series of arbitrary occurrences. We can all experience and create magic in our lives and we can do it with our feet firmly planted on the ground.

When we have the intent to explore the interconnection of all life and embark on a journey to discover our own inner space and the world of alternate realities, expanded consciousness is the inevitable result. That heightened awareness, combined with a desire to help others become more balanced and powerful in their lives, aptly describes the field of shamanic coaching – a field predicated on the belief that people have the capacity to change the circumstances of their lives and heal themselves.

I think back to when I was growing up in a Toronto suburb in the 50’s. For anyone with emotional problems, their only option was to see a psychiatrist who would inevitably prescribe a drug. If you were a Catholic woman with marital difficulties, you called your priest, who inevitably told you to stand by your man, no matter what the problem – and that extended to physical abuse.

As a young girl, I saw this scenario played out over and over again in the adults of my world – this yielding to authority, to the so-called experts. And because support groups were still a long way off in the future, for the most part people kept their problems under wraps. It was very much a case of, “Don’t air your dirty laundry in public.” There was also the fear that someone of authority could actually have you locked up, so it was in people’s best interests to appear well adjusted and happy. That was the ethos of the suburbs in the 50’s, but thankfully times have changed.

Most people are familiar with the term “wounded healer,” coined by the late Henri Nouwen. This spiritual writer used the term to describe how important it was for people working in a healing capacity to heal their own issues first. While this aspect of self-accountability was conspicuously absent in the experts who held sway with the adults of my past, it is one of the primary reasons that shamanic coaching is such a powerful agent of change: It is predicated on people being willing to accept responsibility for the circumstances of their lives, and to then transform those circumstances – and that is empowering for people.

A shamanic coach commits to the exploration of their own inner darkness – the place of their unhealed projections and patterns, the place of unhealed pain. The place where they may still be casting blame on someone else for their life circumstances. The places where they are still a victim. In exploring our inner darkness, we discover that it is rich with information about how we can change and grow.

It is a fascinating journey and the more we transcend our own limiting patterns, the greater capacity we have to help empower others to make the leaps in their lives that will bring them more happiness. One essentially becomes the “wounded healer.”

Throughout the years I have studied shamanism, I have had many incredible experiences that I can only describe as magical. Over time, these experiences built upon each other and I saw the foundation of my life resting upon a framework that precluded any separation between mind, body and spirit. For me, that is the essence of shamanic coaching.

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