Overcoming addictions the shamanic way

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12 years 11 months ago #38095 by
Before I go into details about how to deal with addictions using shamanic techniques, I would advise any reader who does not have knowledge of shamanism to first read my post on the fundamental principles since such concepts will be mentioned within this article:

From a shamanic perspective, addictions are brought about when we rely too much on the help afforded by certain energies (known as “spirits”) at key stages in our life. We will be drawn to working with a certain spirit because we have a sense that it could provide us with what we need to understand a particular lesson in life. The problem arises when we are dealing with spirits that are more protective than expected – these are the ones that are described as more addictive.

In order to understand why we are bound to these substances, we first need to examine the need that brought about that partnership in the first place. Once we have highlighted this, we can then work on healing that need and then to deal with the removal of the addiction.

The best way I can explain this is by example. When I was in my teens, I was quite socially awkward. While comfortable and expressive around people that I knew, I was shy and introvert in new situations, particularly those that were full of people that I had never met. So when I went to a campus university, all of these fears kicked in. I was in a new place with new people and with a new way of studying. Everything was strange and I felt like a “fish out of water”. A few weeks after being there, I met some people who were smokers (one of whom is still a cherished friend who has also since kicked the habit) and I started to smoke too. In essence, the Force had led me to a situation that I needed in order to help me through the isolation and fear that I was feeling.

Tobacco is one of the most addictive substances know to humanity and that is because its spirit is so overwhelmingly helpful that it is unwilling to allow you to regain your own power. It supports you in your time of need but also makes you dependant on that help and like a muscle that is neglected, your ability to help yourself diminishes over time. The spirit of tobacco is quite persistent, almost as if it is saying “you need my help, you can't cope on your own and if I was to leave you, you would be in a terrible state so I'm going to stay and support you whether you like it or not. It's for your own good!”, like an over-protective mother unwilling to allow her child to grow to maturity and stand on their own two feet.

Other substances work in different ways. Some, like sugar or caffeine or MDMA, stimulate serotonin and endorphins in your own body, providing you with the happiness and comfort that your spirit needs at that time. When the supplies of these lessen, we feel that loss as a potential return to what we were overcoming and so we use more of the substance to regain that support.

In order to truly see the need that we have, we can undertake a Middle World journey to speak to the part of our spirit that deals with that particular issue (if you do not know what the Middle World or shamanic journeying is, please read the post whose link is mentioned at the start of this article). Journey with the intention that you are there to meet with the soul part that is connected with this addiction. Usually this will appear as a younger version of yourself, around the age that you were when you first encountered that need. Sometimes this may go back further than you thought!

When we encounter a trauma of any kind, such as a car accident or an emotional break-up, our spirit tries to deal with that. If we are not strong enough to, the part of our spirit that is in control at that time distances itself from the situation by fragmenting away from our spirit and going to hide in the Middle World for its own protection. Have you ever tried to think about such a traumatic event only to find your memories confused or clouded or even missing? That's because they are with that fragment of soul.

Sometimes these fragments will return naturally. Maybe we have the support of loved ones or the guidance of a healer or even the work that we do on ourselves to resolve our problems. We might even enter into new situations that help us to heal from past traumas. For example, the gift of a new and joyous love may resolve the pain from a previous, harsh break-up. If we have become stronger and more secure within ourselves, the fragments of soul that have fled may be attracted back to us and we are then able to deal with any such recurrent issues if they arise in future.

But there may be times when we do not recover. The danger here is that we have an “energetic hole” within our being, a loss that is sensed and attracts such energies to it. Imagine that you suffer an abusive relationship and your soul fragments as a result. You are less able to deal with this situation because that aspect of soul is missing and so the issue gets worse. Even if you manage to escape, unless you are able to heal you will still have that loss. This inability to deal with abusive relationships is sensed by those who are abusive and they are attracted to this loss within you. So the situation repeats and over time can even get worse, spiralling you into an ever-increasing state of powerlessness.

So when you examine the need that attracted your addiction, you may find that it originated from an earlier situation because the pattern of loss extends back in time and the arrival of the help in the form of the addictive substance is a more recent manifestation of this type of situation. When you are talking with this aspect of yourself in the Middle World, you can find out exactly what that need was and where it came from. However, finding out the source isn't always necessary as it's the energy of this need that is most important and healing any part of the pattern can bring resolution to the whole trend.

Examine this situation through discussion with this aspect of yourself. You may need to do things to prove your willingness to overcome the problem, or to make commitments to yourself to make the changes that you need. Recognising the need is but one aspect of the healing, doing something about it is the next step.

You may be able to persuade this fragment of soul to return to you at that moment in order to help you deal with the situation. However, it may be unwilling to because you may not be strong enough or “power-full” enough to achieve the results that you need. You may need to build yourself up so that you are ready and this means not only your physical strength but your energetic wellbeing too. You might need support in the form of a treatment such as Reiki or Shiatsu (which will balance and invigorate your energetic self), you might want to meditate and reflect on the information you have received about your need, you may even choose to focus on Martial Arts or techniques that improve your general wellbeing and health.

Shamanic work, like a lot of holistic viewpoints, is not reliant on any one aspect of your being but instead promotes the healthy functioning of your whole self and there are many ways in which to achieve this. One of my preferred methods is to support a client into a state of understanding their connection with the Force so that healing can be brought to the whole pattern of need. Recognising our own divine nature (as explored in some of the sections of the Initiate's Programme at TOTJO) can help us to bring forth the compassion and strength that we need to heal.

When you are ready to tackle this need, revisit the fragment of your soul and allow it to return to you. You can then go on to tackle the spirit that you wish to be rid of. Again, this is a Middle World journey but this time with the intention of visiting the spirit of the addictive substance. Speak to it and make it clear that you no longer require its help. Thank it for all that it has helped you with but also be firm in saying farewell to it. Some spirits may take more persuading than others and the more “addictive” the substance, the more effort you will have to make (tobacco, for instance, puts up a very persuasive fight!!). Once you have truly cleared this energetic influence from your being, you will find that all aspects of yourself recognise this – the physical, the emotional and the mental.

So in summary, you will need to identify and resolve the need that attracted the substance in the first place. Build up your energetic strength (and power) in order to deal with the situation. Reclaim your lost fragment of soul. Then journey to the spirit of the substance and thank it before saying goodbye and removing its influence from your life.

This article is intended to outline the basic principles of treating addictions the shamanic way. You may find that your own situation throws up more challenges that are listed here and I would always advise that you seek the support of a competent healer if you need to. As for my own story, I have experienced a few wobbles over the years, mainly when I encountered the same sort of situation that had created my need but by working with these principles, I have been smoke-free for 4 of the last 5 years and with every intention of remaining so! If anyone needs more help on this subject, feel free to post replies below or PM me if you wish to talk in private.

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