Wild Nature, True Nature

“Our contest is not against flesh and blood; rather, the authorities of the world and the spiritual hosts of wickedness.” – Paul, Ephesians 6:12

Whether it is the daisy, the shark, the porcupine, the thunderstorm, the rainbow or the caterpillar, every being of nature is ‘”of itself so.”  In other words, everything in nature spontaneously expresses itself without apology, artifice or self-consciousness. Nature always remains true to itself; it never turns on itself or denies itself what it yearns for or what is good for it.  Every nature-being serves and contributes to the collective by simply being exactly as it is, and the overarching energy of nature is an ecstatic and celebratory intention to simply create itself further. 
Human beings are also beings of nature. 

But instead of living unencumbered in our authenticity, embodied in our truest expression, joyfully celebrating our individuality and living lives of creative engagement, we have been domesticated by an over-culture of conventionality, binary thinking and moral judgment. From the moment we are born, the spark of our divine singularity goes through a systematic process of eradication as we learn from society, family and the media to adhere to a matrix of rules, social conventions, armchair morality and mistaken beliefs that are not, and never were, our own. 
This mass surrender to the “institutional authority” is not just a sociological phenomenon, but a spiritual crisis. To become domesticated; to relinquish our wildness; and to assimilate to a “mainstream” over-culture requires us to exit our bodies, betray our feelings,  and dismantle our instincts and intuition. We succumb to the pressure of the culture by worshipping a false god; an infectious entity; an evil spirit which the Gnostics termed, “the Demiurge.”

The Demiurge is the false god of the binary – the mainstream and conventional ideas of good/bad, black/white, right/wrong, light/dark. To be locked in the binary is to be enslaved in a world view that is mired in division, isolation, separateness, paranoia, anxiety, fear and falsehood. We are in the Demiurge’s thrall when we place our individual authority into the hands (and the whims) of others, and when we turn away from our fundamental essence. 

We are not, however, without recourse from the clutches of the Demiurge.
Embedded deep inside our bodies and held in every one of our emotions is an evolutionary life-force that contains the seeds of our true nature – this is our wildness. No matter how much our wildness is obscured or buried, this defiant river of life; this unrelenting soul-current flows within us. To reconnect with our wildness is to excavate and to honor our authenticity and our inner truth to such a degree that we become, as a wise Grandmother once described it, “dangerous.”

So, the invitation for you here is to go into nature, and to remember that your exquisite self is of the exact same essence of what you see and experience all around you. There is nothing that you have to do but to own your belonging-ness on this earth and with your wild nature. 

YOU decide what’s true: This is your birthright toward your becoming. 

Healing and spiritual growth on your trip to Maui

Coming to Hawaii is a magnificent and for some, a spiritual adventure.

Many Hawaiian words contain hidden meanings or concealed references that are buried within them; these are called kaona. If you examine the kaona, of the word Hawai’i it is understandable why certain kinds of people are drawn to return again and again to the islands – Ha is the word meaning the breath of life to man, Wai means the water of life to the earth, and ‘I is the Supreme Being. Hawai’i is the homeland which all mankind continues to seek because it is there that Life, Earth, and Spirit conjoin together.

In addition to the the emerald green hills and rainbow valleys, the crystal blue and indigo water, the delectable smells of wild flower perfumes, the misty sea salt sprays, the cleansing rains, the cloud-capped mountains, and the busy click-click-click of palm trees singing their songs through invisible tropical winds, there is a powerful spiritual energy that pervades Maui. The Hawaiians call this force, Mana, or “supernatural power.”

So, if you are visiting Maui you may be called to dive into your own personal healing, development and spiritual growth. If you feel this calling, then listen – because the evolution of your soul is part of the reason why you are here.

If you decide that you want to schedule a session with me, we can address any of the following:

  • physical or energetic healing through bodywork and hands-on healing
  • a deep examination into the most important questions and issues of your life
  • clearing and healing of your chakras
  • learning to break through blocks or “stuckness” that you may feel in your career, relationships, self-esteem, spiritual development or the relationship that you have with your own body
  • learn basic elements of Huna – the shamanic philosophy for living successfully that comes from Polynesia
  • access expanded states of consciousness through the breath
  • learn to practice Ho’oponopono – the deeply healing process of the Hawaiian people
  • receive Reiki and shamanic healing
  • learn to utlilize meditation, visualization or shamanic journeying
  • supportive counseling to improve your relationship with your partner or spouse
  • develop or reclaim healthy masculinity
  • work with an experienced wedding officiant to create a customized ceremony that you will remember forever

If your curious about any of this work, follow that inner-directive because it may just be a prompting of your soul to come more fully home.


Keywords: maui, kihei, wailea, hawaii, paia, wailuku, kaanapali, lahaina, makena, honolulu, ohau, lanai, molokai, makawao, kapalua, kahului, kauai, haiku, wailua, healing, heal, energy, reiki, shaman, shamanism, kahuna, kahuna kupua, aloha, lomilomi, chakra, chakras, bodywork, wedding, officiant, breath, breathwork, aura, massage, massages, huna, mana, pono, masculinity, male, feminine, female, spiritual, spirit, mental, health, holistic, psychology, therapist, psychotherapist, counseling, shamanic, holotropic, growth, couples, lgbt, gay, wisdom, kahuna, usui, karuna, ho’oponopono, wiccan, earth, alakai, manifestation, blockage, healthy, self-esteem, intuition, intuitive, marriage, minister, interfaith, body, mind, wounding, sex, sexual, issues, trauma, chronic, addiction, auto-immune, anxiety, depression, meditation, meditate, love, journey, soul, boundary, boundaries, coach, practitioner, energetic, emotion, emotional, emotions, earth, indigenous, divine, balancing, intimacy, peace, vitality, truth, cleanse, cleansing, shamanic journey, visualization, purpose, stamina, power, libido, stress, ceremony, religious, traditional, denomination, faith, god, embodiment, confidence, shame, client, fitness, motivation, strength, kumu, touch, medicine, dysfunction, channel, channeling, astrology, pranayama, classes, training, retreat, retreats, yoga, yogi, asana, living, project, domenic, savino, crystal, crystals, psychic, metaphysical, buddhism, buddha, oracle, psychic, clairvoyant, andaz, hilton, sheraton, fairmont, four seasons, hyatt, westin

Hula – The Shamanic Portal into Ecstasy

HULA – THE HAWAIIAN SHAMANIC PORTAL INTO ECSTASY – published in Edge Magazine (October 2020)

by Jonathan Hammond

This is your Earth, because the Earth is you. This is not a hyperbolic statement; it is a fundamental tenet of all indigenous spiritual traditions. We are born of the Earth and we will return to her when our life ceases. The bodies that we are cloaked in, and the physical environment that we exist in, are made through and through of the elements of nature. To fully identify yourself as a being of nature is to merge with the mind of the shaman.

Shamanism is a spiritual path that draws from nature’s example to build a template to teach us about ourselves. The natural world is a vast matrix of cooperative effort and interconnection; a paradigm of holism in which all things matter, all things exist together, and everything is interdependent with everything else. As nature demonstrates through its unitive and symbiotic example, separation is an illusion; a cosmic misconception that blinds us to our true identity.

The time of a “separate” world has come to an end, or at the very least, it has greatly outworn its welcome. In today’s world, the illusion of separation has given rise to the devastating effects of greed, hatred, fear, and injustice.

The ancient Hawaiian shamanic traditions teach us that energetic tendrils of connective substance are created and sent out to the world whenever we so much as think a thought or focus our minds on an intention or an object. Nothing is beyond our sphere of influence if we simply turn the light of our awareness toward it. In this way, we are not separate from anything because, as energetic beings in an energetic universe, the power within our own minds bridges the gap between us and everything in existence. Nothing exists outside of awareness, which means that nothing exists outside of us.

Shamans experience reality as One Great Happening; a singular event that expresses itself through each of us in every moment. To see yourself as an individual wave in the ocean that is inextricably connected to the entirety of the ocean, or as a singular aperture through which the universe experiences itself, is to see yourself with the clarity of a shaman’s mind.

During these tumultuous times of pandemic and racial conflict, we are discovering that the personal has no context without consideration of the All. Many people are experiencing an organic change in their habituated pattern of solipsism and separation, even those of us who would have previously considered ourselves “spiritual.”

It seems to me that the concept of “MY” has now left the conversation. Rather, when we consider “MY,” it is only in relation to the collective – we can now no longer escape the reality that we are all in this global predicament together. We are starting to realize that the individual choices that we make can’t not be influenced by everything else that is happening, and our new reality compels us to reconfigure the circumstances of our lives as part of a larger process.

The esteemed Hawaiian culturalist, Dr. Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele, points out that this shift of attention from the individual to the collective is the essence of Hula, the ceremonial and spiritual dance of Hawaii. In the Hula, the dancer merges his or her individual consciousness with the Hawaiian environment to such an extent that the dancer shape-shifts and “becomes” the environment. The release of the separate-self into unity is considered a “sacrifice” that the dancer makes for the sake of honoring and taking part in a larger story.

Through their deep connection with all of nature’s natural cycles, the Hawaiians originally observed this “sacrifice” being modeled for them by the Earth itself.  Each morning, when the sun rises on the islands, its heat is said to induce the Earth’s first breath of the day. The Hawaiians call this ha’ena, or “the breath of the sun.” Ha means “breath” or “life force” and ena translates as an “intensity” often associated with heat. The sun’s hot rays titillate the Earth to expel its breath, a process that modern science calls transpiration – the release of water-laden gases and air into the atmosphere. The Earth’s exhale is called Laka, the planet’s daily “sacrifice” that initiates the energies of all creation. Laka is also the name of the Goddess of the Hula.

Laka, or the breath of the Earth, becomes a rising mist called Ohu that ascends in the sky to a height where it grows denser and thicker as cools. In the afternoon, this heavy mist, named Uhiwai, begins its descent back toward the Earth. It’s not important for you to remember the Hawaiian words here. Rather, what is noteworthy is that these people are so connected to nature, that they have specific words in their language for ascending and descending mists! (The Hawaiian language actually has over two hundred words for “wind,” and eighty of them are just for the winds of Kauai!).

As the Uhiwai mist descends, it is caught by “water-catchers” of all kinds that are called Ohiwai. At the top of the Hawaiian jungle, the leaves and foliage of the trees, as well as huge webs spun by spiders and caterpillars, catch and collect the water of this descending mist, and this vast weaving methodically drips the water and moisture that it has collected back to the Earth. In this way, water gives Mana to the land. (Mana is any source of power that facilitates change and growth.)

These natural cycles have, of course, been happening since the beginning of time. Dr. Kanahele reminds us that “anyone with brains knows that this a process needs to keep going.” Hence, the overarching intention of the Hula is to revere and celebrate these cycles through the sacred dance. Through detailed training and preparation, the dancer learns to align his or her body, mind and spirit to ceremonially experience unity with their island environment.  

The dancer begins by recognizing their space centering themselves inside the “Hawaiian Universe.” Barefoot, they ground themselves on the Earth, while holding an awareness of the celestial spaces above them. They will have adorned their bodies with vegetation and flowers that pull certain energies of the forest toward them. Some of this plant-life is affiliated with the akua or the deities of the islands. They also wear shells to honor the ocean element and the beings that live in the sea; the Hawaiians consider many of them (such as shark, squid, ray, and turtle) to be aumakua, or familial ancestors.   

In Hawaiian cosmology, the present moment is of the upmost importance. In fact, there are no past or future tenses in the Hawaiian language, which means that everything relates only to the now. According to Huna, the shamanic philosophy of Polynesia, experience is accessed only in the present moment and nothing exists outside of it; all time – past, present and future – occurs simultaneously in every moment. The Hula exists inside this infinite space/time continuum.

Symbol, story and nature are conjured through the chanting of sacred texts, passed down for generations, and are invoked through specific choreographic movements that are universal to the dance. In this way, the Hula practitioner connects energetically with the beings throughout history who have come together and worshipped in the same way. Just as Laka, the Earth’s first breath of the new day, connects all of life, the dancer has a direct revelation of unity with all of life. The deity of Hula, (also named Laka), looks on these proceedings with divine grace.

Kuma Hula, or Master Hula teacher Pualani Kanakaole Kanahele, describes this ecstatic experience of unitive consciousness as an entrance into haka ka ao, which can be translated as “the space of light,” or “the portal,” Haka ka ao is a space beyond time in which we transcend our own sense of limitation and experience a direct revelation of limitlessness and non-duality. When we start to identify with the collective, the inevitable response is a yearning to take care of the collective. So, the goal of the Hula is not merely the entrance to haka ka ao; Kanahele also teaches us that the true purpose of the dance is “the honor and privilege to pull you into the portal with us.”

So, I take you to the heart of the South Pacific only to return you back home to wherever you happen to reside. Center yourself inside the One Great Happening and enter the ecstasy of the portal. Start to see the people, the events, and the circumstances of your life as the necessary ingredients that remind you of the deep connection that you have with everything. The things that you yearn for that still elude you, your hopes and dreams that are not yet realized, and the daily difficulties that you may be facing; these all exist to propel you forward toward the realization of a deep belongingness that you may have forgotten.

In the portal, the personal becomes the global and everything becomes our kin; what we heal in ourselves, we heal in all. Shamans teach us that reality creates itself based on how we think about it and what we do in our lives. So, traverse this difficult time on the planet with the full awareness that you possess the ability to contribute to the co-creation of a better world. Any beneficial action that you take, any loving intent that you have, and every prayer that you extend to anything that may be suffering or has had its freedoms diminished, has a direct and substantive influence on all of nature and on all sentient beings.

There is only One Great Happening. The microcosm of each of us is the macrocosm of the all. All things converge at your heart.

Enter the ecstasy of your haka ka ao and claim the immense power within you to contribute (through even a mere thought!) toward the new day that is becoming.

The Shamanic Self

From a cross cultural perspective, Shamanism is rooted in a cosmology that seems to be strikingly similar in all indigenous populations. While these earth-based cultures can be quite diverse in terms of geography, custom, ceremony, and lifestyle, foundational to all of them is their deep reverence of Nature.

Original shamanic peoples hold Nature with a substantive respect, deference and veneration.

The reason why we would want to revere something is because we are inspired by it, because we want to align with it; to be more like it.

There is an inherent and unmistakable perfection in Nature. Nature exemplifies order and design. When we look at it, we see a system that is self-generating, self-healing, holistic, and deeply interconnected. There is an ‘is-ness’ to Nature that Chinese Taoists have called ‘tzu yan’ or ‘of itself so’ – there is nothing to add or leave out, nothing to improve upon or deny. It is a web of life that functions and exists effortlessly. In its spontaneous and unencumbered expression, we behold a majestic and awe-inspiring unity, that it is never contrary to itself.

In Shamanism, we use Nature’s example of un-conflicted wholeness as a template to guides us in our own lives. Nature teaches us how to be.

There is no such thing as an imperfect cloud, a neurotic ocean wave, a self-loathing giraffe, a guilt-ridden tree, a shameful thunder storm, a sexually repressed goat, a bulimic porcupine. As irreverent as these examples are, they show how far humans can disconnect from Nature’s glorious unitive example. Nature can’t be untrue to itself; but humans can, and they do.

Further, even when Nature is violent or unpleasant to us (great white sharks, tsunamis, tarantulas), we still see these things as somehow necessary, inevitable; a vital part of the whole. In this way, even the parts of us that we might not like, aspects of who we are that we wish weren’t there (jealousy, lust, anger etc.), these things, from a shamanic perspective, are vital parts of us – integral to our evolution and our soul’s journey. And, it is in the acceptance, allowance and honoring of our own true nature that we begin to move toward a deep inner congruency.

This is the opposite of spiritual bypass (seeking spiritual solutions for real-world problems) and it is in direct conflict with any religious system that even hints at the idea of ‘judgment’. Shamanism doesn’t deny our bodies, our emotions, our worldly experience, our egos even. Rather, it seeks to integrate it all. We develop (and remember) an inner nature that is as perfect and complete as the outward one that we look at in awe.

We all come into this world with all that we need to be whole. Woven deeply into our very being is a kind of inherent soul fabric that asks only for the permission of it’s free expression. This contains our true Nature, and so often, we have forgotten it or worse, turned our backs to it. There are so many reasons why we do this. Through childhood abuse and neglect, sexual wounding, traumas, bullying, societal or cultural expectations, addictions etc., we learn a kind of fundamental ‘wrongness’ about ourselves and the world. We lose our original innocence and the deep belongingness that is our birthright.

We, as humans, not only have a Nature, but we are Nature through and through – we are made of it’s very building materials – fire, water, earth, air. Each of these elements contains it’s own sentience, an animistic intelligence and quality that exemplify for us the beauty in the unspoiled simplicity of pure being.

And, we are also Spirit. Shamans believe that the spiritual realms are as real as the rain forests and spirit guides are as substantive in their reality as anything in the material world.

Buddhist thought speaks of human incarnation as ‘rare as a drop in the ocean’. In other words, in being born human, we are given the incredible karmic opportunity to possess a body and mind that are capable of connecting with Earth and Spirit, we are given hearts that can coalesce and hold these energies, and a consciousness that allows us to make choices based on their influence and guidance. We are vessels for the natural world to express itself through us.

Traditionally before ceremonial or sacred work, shamans call in the four directions (East, South, West and North) as well as Earth and Sky. Contained in these directions is that which makes up the entire universe – beginnings and endings, life and death, passion and nothingness, the natural world, the animal kingdom, the spiritual realms, the ancestors, the material and the invisible, and on and on.

This non-dualistic framework is the shamanic conception of reality and self – all things indistinguishable from all other things. The quantum sciences have now proven what shamans have known all along, total inter-connectivity of all things at the sub-atomic level.

We exist, therefore, in a vast and infinite field of love and we are made of that love through and through. What else but love itself could have dreamed such perfection into being? This is our true Nature. This unitive vision of ourselves and the cosmos can be difficult for many of us to hold. In the excavation and honoring of our true nature, we are faced with sometimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles, contrary inner forces that are in direct opposition to our greatest good; voices from within that tell us that we simply don’t deserve or will never achieve the kind of self-acceptance that is necessary to love ourselves fully. And without this love of self, ownership of our true nature remains frustratingly illusive.

Every spiritual tradition speaks of the ‘divine spark’ within (Buddha nature, Christ consciousness, etc). Contained in every one of us is that which we need to find our way to our soul’s journey. This ‘inner nature’ is wired into our biology, we can literally feel its knowing-ness by acknowledging and honoring what it is that truly animates us – ‘this feels good, this feels exciting, this feels dangerous, this feels draining’ etc.

We are actually brimming over with spiritual and earthly guidance that tells us where we need to go and what we need to do in order to align with our deepest purpose and heart’s desire. Our bodies and minds are perfect instruments, designed to tune into this guidance. But we are so habituated to not listen. And for good reason. For often, we are being directed to move towards that which we fear the most.

Shamanism is the path of the initiate. Cross-culturally, shamanic peoples ask those on its path to sometimes endure almost unspeakably fearful circumstances – solitary vision quests alone in nature, battling or confrontation of dark forces, even physical illness. In contemporary terms, these initiations may be things like making a major career change, leaving a relationship, moving to new city, or confronting an addiction. These are personal paradigm shifts of the first order. They are seldom comfortable and they can only be traversed with bravery and faith.

There is a wonderful shamanic teaching tale that comes from the Lions in Africa*.

Lions live and hunt in prides, and each member of the pride have specific roles. There are the fierce hunters, the nurturing mothers, the young dependent lions, and the often broken-toothed elders who are no longer fast and agile and can do little more than roar ferociously.

Lions are opportunistic, and when they hunt they are often on the look out for large herds of prey, this increases the lion’s chances for a successful kill. Their hunting strategy is simple – the strong and fast ones move to one side of the herd and wait. The older lions move to the opposite side. The herd is surrounded. At just the right moment, the older lions unleash their one and only skill still left to them at their advanced age – a terrifying roar. The herd panics and runs away from the sound and directly into the clutches of the dangerous hunters.

But over time, the herd of prey have learned a way of adapting that has proven integral to their evolution – when they hear the terrifying roar, they run directly to it. They run towards the roar, towards that which seems most scary, and in this way, they save themselves.

This is the paradox of spiritual law – what seems big is small, what seems strong is weak, and what seems most scary is the direction toward growth and life.

Our chief karma in this lifetime is with ourselves, and a prerequisite to embarking on the hero’s journey, the journey back to our true nature, is a vision of ourselves and our lives that is steeped in the natural flow of our belongingness; the inevitability and certainty that what we seek is already within us, awaiting our affirmation, love and acceptance.

The intelligent forces of the universe want this for us, and they will work wonders on our behalf (spiritual support, synchronicity etc.) when we begin the process of fully aligning with our true nature. In facing our fears, in the confrontation of all the ways that we deny ourselves our true nature, we send an energetic vibration out to the entire world that reverberates to all living beings. In healing ourselves, we heal the world.

The development of the shamanic self, therefore, is a more potent undertaking than just an individual experience. Rather, it follows a call to a larger purpose – the presupposition that we are all an irreplaceable and precious part of the whole. In this way, we reclaim our nature as a deep honoring to all people, animals, rivers, mountains, oceans, forests, stars and galaxies.




*Michael Meade – GOT TO THE ROAR – Huffington Post Oct 19, 2011

Anger and other dark allies

There are five Reiki precepts that are taught in a traditional Reiki I training; five pithy rules that Reiki practitioners are asked to adhere:

Just for today:

– I will do my work honestly

– I will not worry

– I will kind to myself and others

– I will be grateful

– I will not be angry

I’ve always had problems with the last one. 🙂

One of the main reasons I am attracted to Shamanism and Earth-based spirituality is that it is so inclusive of the dark forces. We see these everywhere in nature – tsunamis, thunderstorms, tornados, scorpions, volcanos, great white sharks, cancer, parasites.

Even though these things are unpleasant and even abhorrent to us, we don’t really see them as a kind of problem in of themselves; as things that shouldn’t exist or that shouldn’t be happening. They simply are. They are part of the grand design, the great happening – Nature expressing itself in its myriad of ways.

We humans too have a nature; an inner nature of feeling and emotionality that that if allowed to flow unimpeded mirrors exactly what we see from the larger perspective above.

It is my belief that in general, healing is most often about helping people move more fully into their nature – owning all of themselves – not just the parts of them that are polite, safe, socially acceptable, and unthreatening.

We are all in a constant state of evolution, and if we are coming from the supposition that we are divine beings, than we must look at all the parts of us that we try to hide – jealousy, resentment, anger, annoyance, frustration, lust – from a standpoint of evolution.

They are there, because they serve deep and meaningful purposes.

And if we can SKILLFULLY harness their energy, observe and honor their presence within us, and listen to what they are trying to teach us, they can become not dark forces that we are victim to and have to contend with, but dark allies that can help to light our way.

I recall a story a teacher of mine had told me about his commute to the city from Staten Island. My friend is one of the most wise, realized and kind people I know. But he is also a self-identified witch. And witches aren’t afraid of the dark.

One day, I was talking with him about some annoyance I had just had with some company on the phone. Endless talking to a computer, ridiculous customer service, press this button and that button, overcharges and unethical business practices – We have all been there. I was really mad and worked up, and I had asked him, if I could be more skillful in the face of a situation like this.

He said, squinting his eyes and with a dark grimace on his face, ‘The other day I was on the Staten Island ferry on my commute home from the city. It was so hot, and the ferry was packed. There were children everywhere, smelly people, others playing boom boxes loudly, and a lot of pushing and shoving to squeeze as many people on the boat as possible. As I sat there, trying to make myself small, my knees in my chest, closing my eyes to try to drown out the experience, I had a fantasy: I wanted to kill EVERYONE. I fantasized about how I would do it. Murdering them all. Suffocate that child, strangle that one, and throw that one overboard. Everyone would be terrified by me as I relished in their fear and misery, my hatred in full bloom, one by one destroying them ALL!’.

We both, of course, burst out laughing.

But what he was conveying to me, was something that can be so helpful in the therapeutic process – making friends with what’s happening – even if it’s dark, shameful, or ‘wrong’. In that moment, my friend was getting on his own team. The full expression of his dark thoughts was an act of compassion toward himself. It helped him to not fight against the moment, but rather to really be with what’s there.

Now, I am of course not advocating blind reactive anger, or chronic anger (often the result of deep wounding). But rather, an intelligent presence; a kind acknowledgment that ‘this is happening’. It’s only in this recognition, that we can begin to look at what is underneath; what our darkness is trying to teach us.

In another session with my teacher, I remember expressing real jealousy at another person’s accomplishments. He smiled and said, ‘Oooo, what are you yearning for? What might you need to do for yourself, to not feel that any longer? What direction does it point you toward? This jealousy is there for a reason. How is it helping?’

Again, making friends with what’s happening; getting back on your own side.

Theres a tradition that I love among gurus, shamans, spiritual teachers; those who have done lots of work on themselves – its a tradition of LAUGHING. They seem to always be laughing. And the laughter seems to stem from the fact that to them, NOTHING really is all that scary. Even our darkness.

My work is about teaching people to hold themselves in ALL that they are. In doing so, they can start to remove the subtle ways in which they turn against themselves and the world.

Expanding the Buddhist definition of ‘Right View’ through Spiritual Counseling

One of the fundamental and central philosophies of Buddhism is the Noble Eight-Fold Path – eight steps to enlightenment through wisdom, ethics and meditation. The path has eight aspects that are always listed in a specific order: Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

Like any integrated system, all of these parts work together simultaneously.  And listing them separately, I imagine, helps contextualize and organize them as teaching tools for those who study Buddhism. Quoting Pema Chodrun, ‘Buddhism is really big on lists’. 

The Buddha taught that the foundational groundwork of clear seeing, of Right View, is the first step we take toward Enlightenment.

Right View refers to very specific buddhistic philosophical tenets: the inevitability of death, the truth of karma, the reality of rebirth, the nature of samsaric existence, the impermanence of all things, the absence of a fixed individual self, and the interconnection of all things. Lama Surya Dass, author of AWAKENING THE BUDDHA WITHIN colloquially calls these, when adopted as a belief system, ‘mind changers’.

But Right View, to me, needs to be malleable and individual, not just Buddhist. Each person who comes for spiritual counseling is in a search of their own personal ‘Right View’ – a way of being and an intimate belief system that supports their growth, healing, individuation, and potential.

So often, the ‘view’ that clients have of themselves and the world, is in direct opposition to their greater good; a ‘wrong view’, so to speak. Helping them dismantle this, a spiritual counselor must guide the client into unlearning that which has contributed to this mistaken way of being/seeing and to bring them toward new possibilities.

The counselor, therefore becomes not just a loving presence of unconditional love and support, but a teacher as well. Knowledge is a doorway to choice and possibility and it helps destroy the illusions and ignorances that block people from the discovery of their truest selves.

When counselors are able to provide information and knowledge, it can help the client to transform unhealthy habituated patterns and beliefs.

For instance, the acknowledgement of the truth and validity of a client’s childhood trauma (this actually happened to you!), and explaining what trauma is and what it’s long term effects are, can be tremendously healing.

Other examples might include – teaching loving-kindness meditation to someone who tends to be hyper-vigilant and distrustful of others. Helping a client see that their pattern of attracting abusive relationships may stem from some unfinished business with a parent. Explaining to one conflicted about his sexuality that many indigenous cultures revere those who are thought to be gay, lesbian or transgendered; often referring to them as ‘two-spirited’ and pedestalizing them as spiritual leaders of their communities.

The above are just a few of an infinite number of examples that demonstrate how Right View can be essential to healing.

People are often living lives from a foundational belief system of mis-knowledge that is not supported by contemporary psychology, essential spiritual truths, or the energetic laws of quantum physics. In order to heal, we must traffic in truth, and truth is often obscured.

That which is suggested by the counselor as a course of action, or taught as new information to be integrated, are not absolute edicts or commands to be followed by the client. Rather, they are the material with which the counselee learns to see themselves differently. An invitation to adopt a kinder, more inclusive and supportive outlook; one that is instrumental in helping them to claim their wholeness.


Right view is the reliable touchstone that reminds us to look at the world without delusions or distortions about reality, or ourselves; to see roses where there are roses and thorns where there are thorns. Right view emphasizes the development of wisdom, or prajna, which at its essence means knowing what is, knowing how things work, and knowing oneself and others. 

Shamanism and Nature

Shamanism pre-dates, and underlies all spiritual paths and systems. Unitive contemporary spirituality seeks to find and identify that which is true and resonant for all sentient beings. And, the wisdom of the ancient indigenous cultures does this through the reverence of nature.

The reason why we would want to revere something is because we are inspired by it, because we want to align with it; to be more like it.

There is an inherent and unmistakable perfection in nature. Nature exemplifies order and design. When we look at it, we see a system that is self-generating, self-healing, holistic, and deeply interconnected. There is an ‘is-ness’ to nature that is, as Alan Watts would say ‘of itself so’. There is nothing to add or leave out, nothing to improve upon or deny. It is a web of life that functions and exists effortlessly; the sum of all of its parts.

There is no such thing as an imperfect cloud, a neurotic ocean wave, a self-loathing giraffe, a guilt-ridden tree, a shameful thunder storm. Even when nature is violent or unpleasant to us, we still see it as somehow necessary and inevitable. In Shamanism, we use nature’s example of un-conflicted wholeness as a template in which to guide us in our lives.

This is good medicine.

We are nature. Our bones are earth, our breath is air, our blood is water, and our emotions and metabolism are fire. There is nothing that goes into us or comes out of us that doesnt come from or return to the Earth. We are all the children of Pachamama, the Earth Mother, and she nourishes us every second of our lives.

We, as a species, are in trouble because the Earth is currently under threat. She is not a commodity to be exploited. She is a source of life that deserves our love and gratitude. And, she will never be beaten into submission.

And it is through sacred activism, and the inclusivity of our vision, that we can help to save Her and ourselves.

It is my hope that Nature becomes a mirror for all of us to see and recognize the inherent divinity and holism that is our natural state; our birthright.


Philosopher and author, Alan Watts on Christianity in his scathing lecture ‘Sex and the Church’ – ‘Christianity has institutionalized guilt. As a virtue’. 

I am not a church-y guy. But the other day I found myself transfixed (like a car accident where you can’t look away) with one of those Sunday morning Evangelical shows on cable TV. The pasty and paunchy preacher spouted on about ‘Sin’, ‘Absolution’, ‘God’s Remorse’. ‘God’s Forgiveness’, ‘the Sacrament of Confession’.

Usually this would just make me roll my eyes and change the channel. But this time, I felt ‘triggered’ by what was being said; and particularly bothered by this idea of ‘sin’. I had, of course, heard of sin thousands of times. But I hadn’t ever examined the implications of a belief structure where it is a central concept. After all, many people go to church in earnest looking for ways to heal, and means to help them improve their lives. And, what they are often being taught about is their sinfulness.

While I personally did not suffer religious wounding (other than the pervasive Christian cultural dominance in the collective unconscious of much of the Western world) many of my clients have. And I believe that the idea of ‘sin’, as it is traditionally understood, is not only antithetical to healing, but can lead to continued fragmentation, confusion, and disempowerment.

People who have experienced emotional wounding, neglect, trauma etc. often have a deep sense that there is something inherently wrong, dirty or shameful about them. Negative personal decisions they have made and life experiences that they have attracted because of their negative core beliefs, become a further source of embarrassment and shame.

Healing is best approached from a strength-based perspective – one in which the client is being guiding to their already healed self.

Implied in the concept of ‘sin’ is judgment. And judgment (naming those bad things that we have done or that we are) is not only unhelpful, but potentially extremely damaging.

Judgment contributes to the deep inner conflict between who we actually are (perfect and whole) and who we mistakenly think ourselves to be (broken, unlovable, lost etc).

Furthermore, the notion that only someone with specific credentials and some kind of ‘pipeline’ to God’s mercy (The Confessor) can absolve another from the badness that they are, does nothing but help to support an individual sense of powerlessness.

Those on the healing path need a perspective opposite from sin. No matter what mistaken, improper choices have made, no matter the level of ignorance that has led to those choices, no matter how ‘low’ we have ever been, no matter what the ‘sin’, we were always innocent.

We are always, in any given moment, doing our best.

Aligning with this idea creates acceptance and inclusiveness. It teaches us that the best place to be is exactly where we are. Only then can one begin to work with ourselves in a different way.

Even those who commit atrocities or create great suffering do so out of a kind of fear and ignorance that begs understanding and compassion, not judgment. Taking responsibility for the negativity in one’s life comes not from the ‘forgiveness’ offered by the male (always male), all-knowing great Papa-in-the-sky-God. But rather, from a sense that we can acknowledge our mistakes, see and hold our confusion and pain with love, and reclaim our innocence.

Engaging in ‘sin talk’ opens us to the corruptible; to every aspect that is abhorrent about organized religion. A sin to whom? Who decides what is a sin? A sin in the context of a particular culture or religious structure? A ‘mortal’ sin or just an ‘everyday’ sin? Is it a sin to kill Hitler? Capitol punishment? Alternative sexuality? Stealing when your children are starving? What a women does with her body? It’s all a slippery slope.

The notion of sin leaves no room for the unknowable. It projects a human understanding and logic unto God; and worse, a human sense of justice. And whatever this is depends, of course, on what one’s individual sense of justice is. Carolyn Myss (author of ANATOMY OF THE SPIRIT): ‘If we are just, then God must be ALL just. If we are loving, then God must be ALL loving. If we are moral than God must be ALL moral, but times a hundred! 

Everything is reduced to good/bad, black/white, nice/not nice.

But within our mistakes, foibles, and sufferings (our sins) are jewels of directionality that help to light our way.  They are opportunities to help remind us of what we have forgotten – our inherent divinity.

While Christianity is not my path, I am totally on board with the ‘these things and more you can do’ school of Christianity. This means direct revelation from the Christ, as the Christ. We have the power, because we are the power.

The alternative view is guilt. And guilt, as far as I am concerned, is extremely over-rated.

The truth about curses

Curses, evil spirits, and possession – When people contact me believing that they are victims of these things (or the like), I am often wary about taking them on as clients.

My reticence is not that a prospective client is ‘cursed’, ‘possessed’ or ‘haunted’, but rather that they are operating from a cultural and psychological belief system (and an energy system that is following suit) that makes them ‘curse-ABLE’, ‘possess-ABLE’, and ‘haunt-ABLE’.

When I was working with a shaman is Brazil, he said something that I will always remember regarding the importance of maintaining strong energetic boundaries and protection:

You get to have your body and the three feet around you. That’s yours – Your energy, your aura, your body. The universe can have absolutely everything else.

But that is YOURS to do with as you choose’. 

What the shaman was speaking about is directly related to what tends to happen when one MAKES ONESELF energetically vulnerable to these low-frequency or ‘bad’ energies. There are many reasons why this occurs.

Negative energy and harmful intentions toward others, are of course, very real things.

To see this in action one need only watch two boxers before a fight – in each other’s faces, staring each other down, scowling and sneering. You can observe them trying to hurt the other just with their thoughts.

But it’s also important to note that both fighters seem to have built up psychological and energetic defenses that make them impervious to the other’s ill intentions. They have found a way to seemingly not allow the negativity to permeate their field.

Curses, as I’m discussing in this context, are actually quite similar to the psychic warfare created between the boxers.

It is my hope that the following helps to clarify (and debunk) the nature of ‘curses’ in a way that can empower people to relate to these kinds of energetic disturbances in a workable way.

It should also be noted that I am speaking about energetic and notphysical violations (which could also be considered a kind of ‘curse’).

The use of the word ‘body’ in the above quote from the shaman may imply that he is suggesting that we always have a ‘choice’ in what happens to our physical bodies. This is of course, not the case, nor is it my intention to suggest otherwise.


Implied in the language of ‘curses and evil spirits’ is a kind of victimization and powerlessness – ‘I am weak and vulnerable. This evil thing has been done to me by another. I have no control over it. The world is a very dangerous place. I am haunted’.

This way of thinking often comes from a specific personal belief system in which people choose (or subconsciously want) to see themselves as subject to these energies.

But its origins can also be the result of a cultural context (a nationality, geographic location, or a nuclear family) in which there has been culturally-sanctioned victimization, discrimination, or disenfranchisement.

From the psychological perspective, there is often a great ‘benefit’ for people to see themselves as victims. This allows them to blame others, not take responsibility for their lives, and to continue to live life from their wounds (I’m broken, such and such has been done to me, so I’m allowed to be a mess’).

I have seen a real pattern of attachment to this victim identity; this powerlessness. And it can feel like a real threat to even talk about dismantling it. But this is what most often needs to be the focus of the healing work, not the ‘spookiness’ of the ‘curse’.

Additionally, I have never had anyone come to me asking for curse removal where there wasn’t a history of trauma. I’m not saying that trauma and ‘curse’ always go together, but I personally have never seen it otherwise (more on this to follow). And there are a host of other possible psychological explanations such as mental illness or chronic anxiety and fear.

From the cultural point of view, the quality and nature of curses seem to differ by nationality, location, and religion. For instance, Haitian Voodoo doesn’t seem to exist in Buddhist countries, the only place to supposedly find a legitimate exorcist is at the Vatican, and I’ve never heard of a Hindu needing a de-possession. There is simply no standard, cross-cultural context for any of this.

In many cultures around the world, women are often subordinate to men. And by adopting (or accepting) a paradigm that readily allows for curses to exist, women secretly indoctrinate themselves into the possibilty of more ‘power’ (its the only way they think they can get it) and at the same time mirror their culture’s sense of female weakness and low status. This dynamic can, of course, apply to men too.


From a shamanic perspective, low entities and dark forces absolutely do exist. But they can only attach themselves to a willing host. This means that when energetic boundaries are in some way compromised – when there is a ‘hole’, so to speak, in the aura, something ‘bad’ can then ‘come in’.

The universe abhors a vacuum, and energy finds a way to balance itself (even if its by taking on bad energy). In other words, when we aren’t energetically ‘all there’, we are then open to other energies that ARE NOT OURS. This is what can make one susceptible to a curse or dark force.

There are many ways in which we lose ourselves. For instance, during trauma like physical or sexual abuse, pieces of our vital essence (or soul) can splinter off from us. Or we can consciously or unconsciously send them away (disassociation). These are adaptive reactions that are trying to help protect us from further pain (‘If less of me is here, it hurts less’).

Another possibility that might remove parts of us from our own energy field is if we have sublimated a core need in order to hold someone else’s (a parent’s for example), or in an effort to fit in.

For instance, a child who’s core need is not met, will often adjust by forming a sense of self that pretends that need doesn’t exist, or he will in some way banish it entirely from his field. This then leaves a space for a foreign entity to attach.

Healing requires us to be energetically FULL OF OURSELVES. This means having very clear boundaries and bottom lines, being vigilant about what (and who!) we allow in to our energetic field, and having a personal belief system that is self-loving and nurturing. The idea is, as the shaman said, that ‘you get to have your body and the three feet around you. And you can do with it what you choose’. 

Evil spirits and curses are powerless and cannot hold or attach to a vessel that is filled with love, self, and personal power. It’s impossible. It’s like a mosquito trying to bite an iron bull.

So, its not about changing the ‘curses and evil spirits’, it’s about changing the vessel!

Manifestation through the Chakras

The origin of the Chakras began thousands of years ago, when they were first mentioned in the Vedas – the ancient Hindu texts of knowledge. Today, with the incredible popularity of yoga and wide-spread interest in alternative healing, they have come into the awareness of the contemporary main-stream culture.

But the Chakras are still widely misunderstood. They are seen as mystical, eastern, yogic, esoteric. And though it’s now common in our contemporary parlance to hear things like, ‘I think my chakras aren’t balanced’ or ‘open your heart chakra’, there is still little understanding of what these kinds of phrases mean.

So, it’s my hope that I can help demystify and unpack the chakras in a more practical and accessible way. Because whether you know it or not, your chakras are functioning in your life right now. Moreover, they are your personal doorways to your spiritual growth and physical health.

The seven chakras are energetic disks of energy (chakra in Sanskrit means wheel) and information that are housed along the spine. While they are inside the body, they also connect, assimilate and contribute to the energetic information contained in the human energy field, or aura. This field of personal energy surrounds and pervades the physical body, and it is directly affected by the external environment around us.

In addition, the chakras are located near (and in relationship with) the major glands of the endocrine system. The endocrine system regulates and oversees all the biological processes of the body; this system is also responsible for the physiological response to the energetic information it receives through the chakras.

It is widely believed in holistic and Eastern medicine that all physical dysfunction begins first as energetic and/or emotional imbalance. The chakras are the ‘portals’ through which energetic disturbance moves into the tissues of the body.

The chakras are the ‘organs’ of our energetic anatomy, and the information contained in them makes up all of who we are – our beliefs, habits, emotional life, fears, sexuality, survival instincts, familial connections, relationship to spirit etc.

When the chakras are open, clear and spinning, they are functioning optimally and unconsciously. They work naturally, in much the same way that the lungs, heart, stomach, kidneys, eyes, brain etc. effortlessly carry out their respective functions.

But when there is imbalance or blockage in one or more of the chakras, we can lose vital aspects of ourselves. This contributes to psychological impairment and/or physiological problems that can undermine our growth.


The above diagram shows the seven major chakras and their location in the body. Each chakra contains qualities, attributes and information that I will summarize as follows. Also included in the following are explainations of how a chakra might become compromised.

I will start from the seventh chakra at the crown of the head, and work down the body to the first at the base of the spine.

7TH CHAKRA (crown of the head) – INSPIRATION

This chakra is where we receive inspiration from our ‘higher self’, or from Spirit. It is the seventh chakra that receives guidance from ‘above’ and brings it into our conscious awareness. This guidance is the ‘voice’ that urges us to start a new exercise program, write a book, move to another city, change careers, leave a relationship etc.

The seventh chakra becomes blocked when we don’t listen to inspiration, when are disconnected from a ‘higher power’, or when we have beliefs about ourselves and the world that make the guidance we are being given impossible, inconvenient, or frightening.


This chakra houses our ability to think, visualize, and intuit.

The sixth chakra becomes impaired when we don’t allow ourselves to take in new ideas, when we don’t trust our intuition and intellect. And, when we have beliefs about ourselves and the world that would make it futile to visualize something new for ourselves.


This chakra houses how we communicate and express ourselves. It is also the seat of our personal will.

Fifth chakra dysfunction is caused by a compromised ability to speak and communicate our personal truth. When we have beliefs about ourselves and the world that cause us to limit our expression, or if we lack the will to support our true integrity, this chakra can become impaired.

Also, when there is incongruency between the head and the heart, the fifth chakra (located between these two points) will often be compromised. This almost always manifests as an addiction. Addiction lives in the fifth chakra.


This chakra is the place of love, compassion, empathy and relationship.

A closed or compromised fourth chakra occurs when we ‘close our hearts’. Most often this has to do with fear and control. We fear the free intercourse with the world and ourselves in it. We close the fourth chakra as a way to protect ourselves from hurt, rejection, abandonment, and the inherent instability of life.

3RD CHAKRA (solar plexus) – SENSE OF SELF

This chakra contains our personal power, self esteem, ego, persona; who we think we are in the world.

When we fail to fully individuate, when we have mistaken beliefs about our true and authentic nature, when we lack the esteem for ourselves that leads to personal empowerment and clarity of self, the third chakra will fail to function at optimally.

2ND CHAKRA (two inches below the navel) – SEXUALITY, CREATION AND EMOTION

This chakra is where we feel most deeply. It is the seat of our sexuality and our impulse to create. It is through deep emotion and physical sensation that we make manifest whatever we choose to bring forth into the world. It is also the place where we have the most access to the deep knowing and wisdom of the body (listening to your gut).

Sexual wounding and sexual disconnection, fear of being in one’s body, and stifling feelings can all cause imbalances in the second chakra.


This chakra contains what we need to continue as a species – our most basic survival needs – food, shelter, clothing; and the fight and flight response

Homelessness, un-groundedness, disconnection from family, poverty, and severe trauma can all be causes for imbalance in the first chakra.


It is important to note that the chakras, despite their individual qualities and characteristics, work together as an entire integrated system. And if even one is compromised, it can effect the integrity of the whole.

One of the best ways to illustrate this is by looking at the chakras as a pathway toward the manifestion of a singular goal.

Let’s explore the goal of writing a book and run it through the chakras system:

7TH CHAKRA (crown of the head) – INSPIRATION. You have beeninspired to write a book. You get a message, a feeling, an idea, from Higher Self, from Spirit, that you should write a book.

6TH CHAKRA (center of head) – THINKING AND VISUALIZATION. Youthink about the book. You visualize what it would be about, and what it would look like. Who would read it? How would you organize it? Could you get it published? Is this book worth the energy and time it would take to create it?

5TH CHAKRA (throat) – COMMUNICATION AND WILL. You begin to talkabout the book, and figure out how to find your voice in this book. How would you communicate your ideas? Would the language be formal or colloquial? Do you have the will to commit to the long hours of creating this book? How would you have to organize your life in order to make writing this book a priority?

4TH CHAKRA (center of chest) – LOVE AND RELATIONSHIP. You pour your heart into the book. You give it your love. You develop arelationship with what you are creating and you cultivate relationshipswith others (publishers, literary agents) that will help and support this endeavor.

3RD CHAKRA (solar plexus) – SENSE OF SELF. You identify yourself as a writer. It has become a way in which you think of yourself; a part of your identity. I am a writer.

2ND CHAKRA (two inches below the navel) – SEXUALITY, CREATION AND EMOTION. You feel what it’s like to write the book, and you have all the emotions associated with doing so. You are in the thick of thecreative process. You feel the fatigue of hours in front of the computer, the frustration of accidentally deleted work, the excitement of a chapter that you hadn’t previously planned.

1ST CHAKRA (base of spine/perenium) – SURVIVAL NEEDS, EARTH CONNECTION. You’re book is published and available on amazon.com. You are paid money for your book which provides you with food, clothing and shelter. Your book has entered the world.

As you can see in the example above, it is the negative/limiting beliefs that we hold (I’ll never be a writer, I am not intelligent enough to be a writer, I always fail at everything, I don’t have the will-power to write, I am afraid I will fail, I don’t have a unique voice, I can’t afford to take the time) that keep the chakras from being open, clear pathways for manifestation.

Further, if there is an energetic or physical constriction in the area of a chakra or the chakra itself, we may have less access to the vital contribtion that a certain chakra contributes to the process of manifeastion.