Mending Our Spiritual FabricSachi James October 1, 2016
Indigenous Ceremonial Practices for Healing the Root of Mental Health Issues
Many moons ago, Aboriginal and Indigenous cultures lived off the land and were connected to the spirit of all living things. They believed that the foundation of who we are was made up of three deeply connected parts – the mind, body, and spirit – and that all sickness started in the spirit. The rigorous demands of Aboriginal and Indigenous lifestyles necessitated a deep relationship with the Creator and the nourishment of the spirit, through a strong connection to nature, community, and ceremony. These relationships and connections were believed to be an integral part of sustaining the health of the individual, and the community as a whole.
Today we make very little time for self care and spiritual nourishment. Rather than being connected to the seasons, nature, and the Creator, we are driven by time constraints and social expectations. Since we have little time to access deep connections in our current lifestyles, we have begun to suffer from spirit sickness.
Mental, emotional, spiritual, and social hypersensitivity are a reflection of varying degrees of spirit sickness which, in turn, form the basis for many common mental health issues. To understand spirit sickness, we must consider the integrity of our spiritual fabric.
Our spirit body is like an intricately woven tapestry or fabric. Its power and health depends on the quality and strength of its unique woven pattern, and its threads are woven together in a way that mimics a fractal found in nature. A fractal is created by repeating simple patterns or processes over and over again. In both nature fractals and in our spiritual fabric, each thread is woven in a repeating pattern that adds to the physical and energetic integrity of its structure. The quality and intricacy of the repeating woven pattern reflects the power of its ability to function effectively.
Both men and women possess these repeating patterns in the layers of their spiritual body, and this intricate and delicate part of ourselves has several functions. When it is stress- and trauma-free, it creates a healthy boundary between you and intrusive or harmful matter from the outside world, acting like a protective barrier. This barrier allows you to maintain healthy boundaries between what is yours and what is not yours. It also creates a mesh-like chamber that holds our spirit essence inward so that it does not leak out.
When Our Spiritual Fabric is Torn
Because our spirit essence forms the foundation of who we are, it is the key to our connection to all living things, including ourselves. It is the source of all inner joy and peace and it feeds our life force. It forms a platform for our personal growth and ascension, and it is a source of nourishment for our heart. It is our way to the Creator and our sense of wholeness. Hence, the health of our spiritual fabric and inner spirit essence form the foundation of our mental and physical well-being.
When we endure ongoing emotional, physical, and/or spiritual traumas, our spiritual fabric becomes unhealthy because these traumas cause the fabric of our spiritual body to pull and/or stretch. This causes a thinning, so that we are left vulnerable to the environmental noise around us. When a tear or hole develops in the fabric due to ongoing trauma, external matter is able to breach our protective boundary and get in. As the holes become bigger, the energetic fabric itself begins to unravel and the spiritual tapestry of who we are loses its integrity. We are then left without healthy boundaries and we become hypersensitive to the triggers of the outside world.
Imagine for a moment that you went on vacation and left your windows and doors open without screens. Upon returning home, you may be very surprised at what types of things took up residence in your sanctuary. The spirit world reflects the same issue. If our spiritual fabric has holes in it or has begun unravelling, it functions just as ineffectively at keeping stuff out as an open window with no screen. It is certain that unwanted stuff will move in. Our spiritual sanctuary becomes unsafe as we become overstimulated and overpowered by the stuff that is not ours. We then become disconnected from ourselves, lose heart resonance and become spiritually misaligned. Hence, we become hypersensitive spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and socially with the size, and the quantity, of the holes in the walls of our spiritual fabric, reflecting the degree and nature of the hypersensitivity symptoms experienced.
Common symptoms of spiritual hypersensitivity include decreased coping skills, ongoing fatigue, anxiety, depression, emptiness, and feelings of un-groundedness. Emotional hypersensitivity is experienced as over-reactions, despair, and hopelessness. And mental hypersensitivity includes lack of focus, obsessive or intrusive thoughts, paranoia, and lack of tolerance for noise. Social hypersensitivity involves unwarranted fears, inability to set healthy boundaries, and feeling overwhelmed in group settings or public places.
Regardless of the type of hypersensitivity experienced, we lose our connection to Mother Earth, the Creator, and to others. If left unacknowledged for a time, we forget our value and sacredness within our life circle. Feelings of separation, fear, guilt, heart sickness, and physical disease develop. In essence we become a “broken spirit walking.”
Aboriginal and Indigenous healing practices and ceremonies are powerful tools used for repairing our spiritual fabric. One of the first steps in starting your own healing process is to bring your awareness back to yourself through ceremonial practices so you can observe where you begin and where you end. As you become mindful of this, you can start releasing what is not yours and start coming back to yourself.
A Three-Part Ceremony
A combination of plant, smoke, and water medicine used in this ceremony will help you cleanse and realign yourself and reduce symptoms of hypersensitivity.
Smudging – Smudging is a Native American ceremony that clears negative and heavy energies that have built up in and around our personal boundaries. The healing medicine of the smoke and plant work in unison to cleanse, raise your vibration, and bring you back to yourself. Once we find ourselves again, we can be brought back into resonance with the vibration of Mother Earth and the Creator.
The two most effective smudges for people who suffer from hypersensitivity are Palo Santo and smudge made from a mixture of lavender and sage. The mixed smudge removes what is not ours, and the Palo Santo is reparative and gently realigns us spiritually.
Water Medicine – In addition to smudging, water medicine is very cleansing, especially when used in combination with plant medicine. A 20- minute cedar bath releases unwanted energies and body toxins. If allowed to dry without the use of a towel, the cedar medicine will help to re-create boundaries around holes in your spiritual fabric.
When preparing for your cedar bath ceremony, it is important to give a tobacco offering to Mother Earth while you are harvesting to honour her and the plant medicine she is gifting to you. Then give the cedar back to Mother Earth when you are finished, so that the cedar medicine goes back to where it came from. Be sure to wash the cedar thoroughly before using it in your bath.
Breath Work – After you have smudged and taken a cedar bath, Spirit Medicine breath work will assist you with further cleansing, realign you spiritually, and bring you back into heart resonance.
Place one palm on your sacrum at the base of your back between your hips, and one palm on your forehead. Breathe deeply, and as you breathe in, imagine that you are pulling a line up from the centre of your sacrum to the centre of your forehead. As you breathe out, pull the line back down from the centre of your forehead to the centre of your sacrum. Spend at least 10-15 minutes doing spirit medicine breathing. Once you have finished, take note of how you feel and give gratitude to the Creator, the plant, the water, and the smoke medicines and yourself for the healing and wisdom you experienced.
Many of us have forgotten that ritual and ceremony have played an integral role in healing the mind, body, and spirit for many moons, and that Aboriginal and Indigenous ceremonial practices provide a wealth of healing tools that we can access when treating mental health issues. The smudging, bathing, and breath work ceremony is a powerful tool not only for reducing hypersensitivity, but in providing relief for the myriad of symptoms that accompany it. Additionally, the cleansing and realigning of the spiritual body that are experienced during the ceremony offers a harm-free, holistic adjunct to conventional medicine.
It may be wise to more deeply consider how we might bridge the gap between traditional healing and conventional medicine.