The Well of Light Newsletter March 2015:  

Living a Shamanic Way of Life 12 Steps

Living a Shamanic Way of Life
12 steps


Shamanism is a way of life. It reminds us that everything is alive with energy and that we are all connected to and inseparable from a universal web of life.

-Sandra Ingerman

When we teach Medicine for the Earth: How to Transform Personal and Environmental Toxins we talk about living a Shamanic Way of Life. People have been asking me “What does that mean”? So I am dedicating this month’s Well of Light Newsletter to exploring twelve key elements that I believe support living a shamanic way of life. Like any practice there will be days when you are fully engaged in all of these steps and others when you only manage to spend a few moments connected to this path. In the end, it’s all about love. We must first learn to love and embrace ourselves when we don’t do it perfectly. When we love the eternal spirit that lives within ourselves, we learn to love all life, as we are all deeply and profoundly interconnected with the web of life and the Spirit that lives in all things.

Shamanism is the oldest spiritual healing practice on the planet dating back at least 50,000 years. It is a system of Direct Revelation (all the world religions were originally based on this practice). The word shaman means “one who sees in the dark”. Shamans enter what is called non-ordinary reality, to access information that is not accessible to the linear mind. While it is useful to have a teacher and outside inspiration, the important thing is to become still enough to hear our inner spirit. The basic principle behind this work is that if we want to change the outer world of form and substance, we must first transmute the inner world of toxic thoughts, beliefs and assumptions into the golden light of loving awareness. We live in a time when the solutions to today’s challenges will only be solved by a spiritual awakening on the planet. Without this awakening, future generations (if they survive), will live very challenging lives. Here are some basic practices that can lead us to living in a shamanic way.

Your true home is in the here and the now.

-Thích Nhất Hạnh

lotus-flowers-wallpaper-640x4001. Cultivating Presence: Our contemporary world is one of distraction, denial and disturbance. To live a shamanic life we must learn to focus the mind. Concentration on the breath is a traditional way of transcending our constant preoccupation with the remembered stories of the past and imagined fears of the future. Presence is already here. Mostly we aren’t. We must learn mindfully to put our attention on what is happening moment to moment or we miss our life.

Our intention creates our reality.

-Wayne Dyer

2. Living an Intentional Life: Intention is the key to living in an intuitive and self-revelatory state of awareness. Imagining the kind of world we want to live in and not being distracted by the daily dose of bad news or the myriad disruptions that present themselves moment to moment is essential to living the life you were born to live and manifesting the quality of living that is your longing. Letting your own luminous self shine needs only that you hold the intention to bring your light forth into the world and shine. All manifested dreams start with intention. Create daily reminders of the future you want to live into.


Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it.
Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

-Chief Seattle

996333243. Honoring the Web of Life: Humanity is, for the most part, suffering from a serious case of “Nature Deficit Disorder”. Every part of nature works in collaboration with every other part, except the human species. We must reawaken our relationship with the seasons, elements and cycles of the natural world to rediscover how to live in harmony with her. Shamans call forth their power from the trees, mountains, rivers, sun and moon. They know the spirits of nature are their allies. Indigenous peoples have always known that the role of the human on this planet is as a caretaker of the earth and all life.


The Navajo people have a saying: May you walk in beauty. In saying this, they mean never say anything that will create fear or harm in another. Do not
curse others with your words. Rather, bless them with words
that create beauty in their lives.

-Sandra Ingerman

sunrise-1105058844974. Walking in Beauty: Our perception creates our reality. Most of us have been trained by our culture to focus on what’s wrong rather that basking in the beauty that surrounds us. If we want to transform our suffering, struggling and despair we must attune ourselves to the miracle of just being here.  It’s easy to find fault with our parents and ancestors, but can we celebrate all the things we appreciate about the vision of life on earth that they bequeathed us? Turn off the radio and TV news and open to the radiant joy of each breath. Celebrate the little things each day that bless you and make your heart sing. What you shine your light on will reflect your own divinity.


Some men see things as they are and say, ”Why?” I dream of  things

that never were, and say, ”Why not?”

-George Bernard Shaw

5. Holding a Positive Vision for the Future: Psychology research has clearly shown that at the heart of most depression is not having a compelling vision for the future. It is important to hold a clear image of the life we want to live into, to literally have something to wake up for every day. Setting short and long term goals brings us more directly into contact with life. The future of life on this planet depends on our holding a picture of a positive future for our descendants and ourselves. Take the time to imagine and write down the life you envision today and watch the magic unfold.


Although you appear in earthly form your essence is pure Consciousness.
You are the fearless guardian of Divine Light.


6. Seeing all Beings in Divine Light: Our identification with our ego and story of who we think we are keeps us separate from each other. Our character and personality has very little to do with who we really are, which is the eternal light of spirit. We don’t have to condone the behavior of someone to see them in their Divine nature, surrounded by the light of love. To honor the Spirit that lives in all things it is imperative that we practice seeing others in their Divine light. When people are truly seen, they begin to transform as there is no further need to engage in the dysfunctional ways they learned to try and receive the love and attention they never got.


Webster’s dictionary, defines integrity as a state or condition of being whole, complete, unbroken, unimpaired, sound, in perfect condition.


 7. Being in Integrity: Integrity has nothing to do with right and wrong, good or bad or being morally upright. It is about being true to our nature and honoring our word as our self. It means not leaving things undone and having the strength to engage in courageous conversations when they are needed. The world we live in is the one that comes out of our mouth. Speak the world you want to live into. Being in Integrity means practicing right speaking, thinking and acting based on the values that we hold.

What you appreciate appreciates.

-Lynn Twist

8. Expressing Gratitude and Thanks Giving: It is so easy in our terminally busy lives to take the miracles that surround us for granted. We worry about our future; will I have enough money, time, love; we get caught up in fear, doubt and anxiety; and we rush around missing the life that is disappearing in the wake of our motion. Shamans always begin and end all ceremonies and every day with expressing gratitude for the ancestors, the elements, the directions, all the nature beings and the life they have been given. What we hold in lack increases, just as what we are grateful for grows.


When the inner garden is under cultivation and Spirit is present, harvests are regular events. The fruits? Things like courage, hope, love,

endurance, joy, and lots of peace.

-Gordon MacDonald


japanese_garden_washington_park-1600x12009. Tending Your Inner Garden: A wonderful metaphor for our inner lives is to imagine it as a fertile garden. Whatever we plant there grows. If we sow seeds of fear, anger, separation and suffering our garden will resemble a garbage strewn abandoned inner city lot. But if we sow seeds of love, gratitude, joy, light and possibility we will reap a rich golden harvest of connection, abundance, health and prosperity.  


Three things to remember in any discipline: Practice, Practice and Practice!

  10. Engaging in a Daily Practice: Practice is a discipline. You don’t need to get it right all the time, you just need to do it. To live a shamanic way of life means that you practice every day. You find ways to remind yourself to engage in the rituals, ceremonies and activities of your path. One of the most important ways to keep going when you are distracted or don’t want to (the most important time to engage in practice) is to surround yourself with a community that reminds you of who you are when you forget. You are the Divine, trying to remember your true nature.


It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is
humility that makes men as angels.

-Saint Augustine


11. Practicing Humility: We have an epidemic of loneliness in our culture. One in four people in the US have no one to call in case of an emergency. It is our ego that keeps us separate and is constantly measuring our sense of self worth against the hierarchy of righteous indignation. When we see the numinous beauty in others we experience it in ourselves and thereby elevate the level of love and goodness in the world. A true shaman knows that the work they do is coming through them as spirit. They are merely messengers, a hollow bone or conduit for the Divine to flow through. It’s time to get over ourselves.

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

-Mahatma Gandhi 

12. Being of Service: The happiest people on the planet are those who have learned how to serve. To give ourselves to a path of service is not particularly good or noble, it probably won’t make you a lot of money, but it will make you happy and bring greater meaning into our lives. Being of service teaches us humility and compassion – it dissolves the barriers of separation at the heart of all conflict in the world. A shaman lives in service to the whole of the community in the web of life.


If we would just focus on these 12 steps to living a shamanic way of life we could transform the state of the planet into one of beauty, love, compassion and peace. I invite you to join me in integrating these practices into our daily lives.


With love and gratitude,


The Well of Light Newsletter: February 2015

Stepping into the Light

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

I made the mistake of listening to the news today! It took me the whole morning to recover and shift my focus and awareness on all that I am grateful for and the many possibilities that surround us. The ones you won’t find in mainstream media. I write this newsletter to remind, our readers, and hopefully myself that regardless of our circumstances and the state of the world, we literally are light. Researchers have proven through Quantum Physics what indigenous and shamanic cultures have been saying since the beginning of time. The human Spirit is light and it is a moment-to-moment choice to radiate that light into the world or succumb to the darkness of despair, resignation and apathy. In this column I would like to suggest some ways that we can bring ourselves back into our most brilliant and luminous selves. It is our birthright to shine and given the state of the world, I believe it is our responsibility.

matrix-delusion-blinding-gold-light As we learn to open to the vessel of light and unconditional love we are, we not only bring health, happiness and healing to ourselves, but to the world and people we touch in our daily lives. We don’t have to work to radiate our light, it is who we are, a reflection of our Divine nature. We only have to keep our intention on allowing our authentic inner radiance to reveal itself. Our light is the one thing about us that is eternal. This isn’t just true of a few of us – that light is the fabric of all form – and when we learn to see the light in everyone the myth of separation dissolves – and we recognize our interconnection with all life.

Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.

-Brené Brown 

So if we are light, why is there so much darkness, despair and unhappiness in our world? I believe it has become habitual and even fashionable to focus on and view “what’s wrong” or “not working” in our culture and the world, which obfuscates all the wonder, mystery and magic that surrounds us. This habit of negativity that we are born into, is not our true nature and we can rewire ourselves to reignite the eternal fire within. Recent Breakthroughs in neuroscience and the awareness of neuroplasticity have demonstrated the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. The more we choose to recognize our own light and let it shine, the more we change the way we see the world and can return to our natural luminosity.


HRays of sunshine breaks through the cloudsow can the dark times teach us to discover our light? First we have to recognize that we all have a shadow self which developed very early in our lives in order to protect us from harm and get us through the times we didn’t get the love, attention and nurturing that we needed and deserved. That’s not to blame our parents or anyone else. We are on a planet where people are just waking up and becoming more present. Our caregivers carried the same repressed fears, instincts, impulses, weaknesses, desires, perversions and embarrassing secrets that keep us from living in the fullness of our own beauty and magnificence. What we fail to see is that these shadow areas, when confronted with authentic courage, presence and commitment are where we can reclaim our light. It all begins with bringing those protected areas into the light.


The challenge is that we cannot just do this with our minds. Each of our repressed fears and dark areas has a corresponding physical location and manifestation. Let me give you an example. Recently I realized that one of the things that stops me in my life is the belief that anything bad that happened to me or anyone in my life is my fault. This came from a particular early childhood incident and was reinforced over time as “it is my fault” or “I am to blame”. I discovered this when I woke up one day and found myself thinking, “I’m sorry” for no particular thing at all. As I explored that statement more deeply I felt a deep shame which I realized I had been trying to hide or repress. It wasn’t until I was able to feel this suppressed emotion and the corresponding physical manifestation in my chest and lungs that it began to release. As I brought awareness to by body sensations in my movement practice I could feel the darkness lifting and my chest and heart area filling with an incredible lightness and joy. The conscious movement and physical awareness helped me to release the frozen feeling that I had in my heart, lungs and chest. This is why I am so committed to sharing and providing the 5Rhythms practice to my community. 

Our outer world is a reflection of our own inner state of consciousness.

-Sandra Ingerman 

light1When we focus on the troubles of the world we shape and condition our inner world, but the opposite is also true. If we focus on our light it has the power to transform the world around us. This is a practice. One that is easier to do when we work in conjunction with other light beings. In Buddhism it is called a Sanga. At our Sunday Sweat Your Prayers we call it a Tribe. Regardless of what you call it, when we share our own light it is amplified and supports others in shifting their focus towards their essence, revealing the majesty of their numinous presence. This is how we can transform our outer world. 

Below I have listed some of favorite practices for transforming the darkness and returning to the light of our birthright, to be as Gods and Goddesses in the Garden of Eden. We have the power! 

If you have any comments, stories you would like to share or insights from our monthly newsletter, please feel free to write. May all being every where discover their true nature in the light of love.

Grateful Blessings,



Some Suggested Practices for Retuning to the Light: 

Moving Meditation

Of course I would put this in first position. As Gabrielle Roth often said, the fastest way to still the mind is to move the body. It is in the still mind that we can more easily choose to let our light shine, open our hearts and expand the range of available choices.  It also allows us to release trapped energy in the body into a safe container. 

Right Speech

What comes out of our mouths is what shapes the world we live in. When we practice focusing our conversations on the beauty, joy and abundance that surrounds us on this beautiful planet the world becomes more beautiful. The story of the future is the one that is coming out of our mouths today. 

Right Action

Indigenous people have a saying, may you walk in beauty. What if we focused on bringing beauty to all we say, do and see in the world? A good place to start is to list all the ways we are turning into beautiful and recognizing that we were truly created “in God’s image. 

Stop Listening to the News

I know this is hard. I am a journalist and used to think I had to know all about what’s going on in the world. But, if you need to know something it will come to you. What is important is looking for you. When we focus on the mystery and wonder of the world it changes us and as we change the world around us changes. 

Look for the Divine Light in Everyone

Even the people who we feel have committed unforgivable crimes were born into the light. By seeing them in their Divine essence we heal our own darkness and open the door for them to transform. That doesn’t mean we don’t stand up against injustice and untruth, that is part of being a light in dark times. What we look for shapes what we see. 

Practice Gratitude

When we practice giving thanks our whole world transforms. Keep a gratitude journal and practice recognizing and verbally acknowledging the people and things that bring joy into your life. 

*I learned a new practice to get to sleep recently: Go through the alphabet and think of something that you are grateful for that starts with each letter. I have yet to get through the alphabet and have been waking up more positive and refreshed. 

Set Your Intention

Everything starts with a clear intention. What kind of life do you want to be living? Use anything that seems in opposition to your intent as a doorway to locating and transforming the actions that are contrary to your intention. Intention can move mountains. Be willing to go into the dark to find your light. 

Read and Reflect on Transformational Writing

I am blessed to read a book a week for my show. They are written by some of the most transformed people on the planet. It all started with my interest in finding quotes, poems and writing that could inspire me to overcome my barriers to living in my natural light. I am also fortunate to have a long way to go, so I get to keep reading. 

Take the time to Grieve when it’s Appropriate

It takes an enormous amount of energy to suppress our pain. To really step into our light we must have compassion for the pain of the world. Authentic grieving leads to appropriate action. It wakes us up to new possibilities and creative ways of bringing them into fruition.


The heart that breaks open can

contain the whole universe.

Joanna Macy


The purpose of our lives is to be happy.

– Dalai Lama

It’s a new year and while there is much to be grateful for, there is also a collective fear in the air as wars wage on, ecosystems continue to deteriorate, and inequality grows. If the purpose of life is, as the Dali Lama says, to be happy, we seem to be missing the mark. But, what if happiness had nothing to do with our possessions, outer circumstances or even our challenges? What if it was an inside job? There is increasing scientific and spiritual evidence that we can cultivate joy and happiness by developing presence, perception and practice. There is also indication that joy and happiness are contagious and might very well bring about the shift in direction towards a more life sustaining way of living and being on the earth.

img4As a journalist and researcher I have a tendency to read a lot of scary material about what is happening in the world. My radio show, teaching, consulting and workshops come out of my commitment to make the world a better place – to inform, inspire and support the revolution in consciousness towards a more sane, humane and just world. Recently I realized that I had a belief that with so much pain and suffering in the world it would be arrogant and self-centered for me to be happy. But wait, there’s so much beauty and goodness in the world. Could it be that recognizing and embracing the beauty and joy that surrounds us, pain and suffering could be alleviated? I had fallen into the media trap of focusing only on what isn’t working when there is so much to celebrate and be grateful for in our world.

Our joy and happiness is up to us. Our suffering or well-being is not solely determined by what’s happening in our present circumstances but to a large degree by our relationship with what is happening.
– James Baraz

Christine Price, my Gestalt meditation teacher often used the quote, “pain is inevitable, but suffering is a choice.” But, can we really choose to be happy and joyful? We are bombarded with negativity in our culture. Newspaper editors have a phrase, “if it bleeds, it leads.” Advertisers use our feelings of inadequacy to sell us their products. Our culture encourages self-indulgence and competition over cooperation and reflection in myriad ways. What if our children were raised to put happiness above “winning” and joyfulness was the measure of our success?

img5So what does presence have to do with choice? Most of us spend very little time during our days being present. We are either driven by our past experiences or concerned over our imagined future. These mental states of denial of the now are what constitute the voices in our head, limiting our happiness. We could continue to live as an expression of our egos, or be present, here and now. This is the first step towards choosing happiness and joy in our lives.

The past perpetuates itself through lack of presence. The quality of your consciousness at this moment is what shapes the future.
– Eckhart Tolle

Being present with what is happening moment to moment is a practice. As any meditator knows, the mind is a busy place. It’s like grand central station and there is a new train leaving every minute. The trick is to not get on board! We can choose to stay beside the track and watch the train go by. As the thoughts pass through, we can put our attention on our body sensations, feeling emotions, and focus our awareness on what’s happening in the moment. We can focus our attention on looking for the beauty, love and joy that surrounds us. We can choose to find joy even in the most difficult of times. This is the secret of the sages and why we so often see them smiling, even laughing. It’s not that they don’t see the tragedy, the suffering and the challenges of life. They just don’t dwell in them and instead focus on the beauty, joy and wonder of life itself. Being happy and joyful is something we cultivate by looking for it.

img1Since the beginning of history focusing on the breath has been a way to slow down the chatter and become more mindful, more present. When we slow down and observe what is happening in our mind and body a whole new world of possibility and perception opens up. We come alive and we have the opportunity to make a real choice. It is only from this place that we can choose authentic happiness. Every day when we wake up we can choose life, happiness and joy. We can choose to not deny our humanity and circumstances but to embrace them inside of the joy of just being alive.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
– Viktor E. Frankl

When we choose joy our hearts open, we feel an expanded sense of connection with others and the web of life. We have challenges, but we know we are not our circumstances. We are so much bigger than that! Shamans know the importance of honoring the spirit of the elements and receiving the unseen guidance of the Spirit world and power of nature. Our breath connects us with the spirit of air, our body is the clay that dances with the spirit of the earth, our tears are from the water from which we came and connect us to our compassion and the cycles of life and our passion is the fire that comes from the sun and gives us light and life. Let’s be thankful for the life we have been given and celebrate. We are so much grander when we are joyfully grateful and our life resonates with life itself.

img6It is possible that by stepping fully into the joy of being human we could ignite a fire in the hearts of every person we touch. You know people like this, people you just want to be around because they are over flowing with joy and happiness and it’s contagious. Think of a world gone mad with joy, happiness and celebration. How beautiful life could be if we focused our attention on bringing more joy into the world… I invite you to join me in practicing the cultivation of joy in your life and bringing your happiness out into the world. Let’s have a joy-filled coming out party. Let’s dance and sing to the beauty that surrounds us. Let’s be joyful for the world and the future generations… Know that our joy has the potential to transform the world!

With love and joyful blessings,


We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.
When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

The Buddha


I am currently writing a book that integrates my shamanic practices with three decades of Organizational Development work. Organizational Shamanism (OS) is the practice and application of ancient shamanic techniques to solve contemporary organizational and community challenges. It is a whole systems approach to gathering information that can help us to revitalize and energize the spirit of our organizations and tap into new levels of creativity, intuition and wisdom not available with contemporary perception. OS focuses on transforming inner states of consciousness to bring about outer change, and taps into a creative potential beyond limiting beliefs and assumptions.

I am currently looking for companies that are interested in trying these new approaches to solving organizational issues. If you and your organization or any one you know are open to applying this pioneering work in your company to bring about organizational change please give me a call. Or email 530.277.0937 or



Artist Intuition: From Inner Access 101
In February I will be attending an inspiring adventure into the heart of creativity with Lori Wilson and Kelly Woodruff. I have worked with Lori Wilson, Social worker, author, weekly radio show, host, trainer and intuitive and want to recommend this powerful journey into the heart of creativity and intuition. This program will be held in Sacramento February 27th – March 1. For Flyer and more information click here (PDF).




In Original Mind, neuroscience and learning pioneer Dee Joy Coulter takes us on an odyssey back to our “beginner’s mind,” and into our many undeveloped potentials. Through fascinating research, insights, stories, and engaging practices largely overlooked by other “brain science” books, she challenges us to question the conventional definitions and limitations of our minds, and then to move beyond them into a state of unlimited presence.

What would it feel like to experience the world again like a child-deeply engaged with our senses and filled with wonder and creativity?

Original Mind takes us on an odyssey back to our “beginner’s mind,” and into our many undeveloped potentials. Through fascinating research, insights, stories, and engaging practices largely overlooked by other “brain science” books, neuroscience and learning pioneer Dee Joy Coulter challenges us to question the conventional definitions and limitations of our minds, and then to move beyond them. This delight-driven odyssey explores a vast landscape of untapped dimensions of consciousness, including:

  • How to see again with the fresh wonder of an infant
  • Calming, Enriching, Magnetizing, and Self-Regulating-four keys to character development and emotional resilience
  • How reading profoundly changes our brains, and how to develop the remarkable capacities of the “pre-literate” mind
  • Engaging the body to enrich the art of thinking
  • Boredom, Complexity, Ambiguity, Permeability, and Novelty-five “tolerances” to liberate creativity and joy
  • Protecting-and expanding-our cognitive faculties as we age
  • Blending newfound intuitive skills and “school-learned” abilities to navigate the complex demands of the modern world, and much more




Dee Joy Coulter, EdD, is a nationally recognized neuroscience educator with a master’s degree in special education and a doctorate in neurological studies and holistic education. In addition to 14 years as a special education teacher and program director, she served on the faculty of Naropa University for 20 years. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.


journey into now

I hope you will listen to last week’s interview with author Leonard Jacobson, who teaches us how to become fundamentally present and arisein mastery of the mind and ego, so that we are no longer involuntarily pulled out of Presence. His book the Journey to Now

is one you will want to keep by the bedside. Open up to any page and contemplate the wisdom of this master of presence.  Leonard provides the inspiration, challenge, and direction needed to become a “fully awakened Being.”
With perfect precision, the author guides the reader along a path of awakening which leads to liberation from the pain and limitations of the past into the joyful and unlimited world of Now. This book reveals, in the simplest way, how to still the mind and become fully present and awake in the truth of life. Perhaps the most important aspect of this book is the author’s unique insight into the nature of the mind and ego. He describes in detail how the ego’s resistance to Presence is the primary obstacle to awakening and how we can overcome that resistance in a simple and effective way. Each page of this book reveals a part of the mystery. There are hidden keys to awakening on every page. It is like a road map home.





Leonard Jacobson is deeply committed to helping others break through to the joyous experience of living in the NOW. He teaches how to become fundamentally present and how to arise in mastery of your mind and ego, so that you are no longer involuntarily pulled out of Presence. He has been teaching people how to be present for over 30 years. Leonard has the unique ability to support others in entering directly into the experience of the awakened state.


All elsewhere being World,

how many times have I stood

in the bright shadows of a wood,

no track or trail leading in, out-

as though ground coverrenewed as I went through?

I sometimes own the moments where I stand

alone. Everything else is air

and arbitrary firings of neurons

we call memory if they happened,

fantasy if they didn’t- same pictures.

Call it prayer, then,

the moments where I’m not aware

even of how lovely the moment is-

not liking, not disliking-

not aware there is a moment

until I’m back in the world

and remember it- construct it

in my mind as having been beautiful.


I’m too often bitten by silence.

My mother called it dawdling,

the ex, brooding. My students call it

absent-minded professor.

The kindest students bring me back gently.

But I live most when silence,

shade, and light like this harvest me,

a kind of prayer I’m gathered to,

not the prayer I clutter with will or words.


- Paul Allen