Shamans, broken teeth, opening and embracing


One of my teachers in the Amazon was describing how we become luminous warriors – those who shine the light of our souls in the world instead of holding back and hiding behind our fears.  First, we must go off the beaten path of the psyche, she instructed.  Oh, so this is why I’m here instead of that trip to Italy I considered booking this summer…

I recently returned from a 2-week adventure in Peru where I studied the energy medicine of the Amazon with six indigenous Shipibo shamans, explored sacred sites in the Cusco-Machu Picchu region, and visited local volunteer service projects.  The trip was an unforgettable journey on many levels- physical, mental and spiritual.  An unlikely fall early during my retreat resulted in a mild concussion, stitches near my eye, and three broken teeth!  Fortunately I was there with a community of healers and I recovered more quickly than imagined considering my injuries and the remote location.  The accident didn’t ruin my trip, but it certainly did slow me down.  It also revealed so much about my inner world as well as my outer experience.


In the jungle, through ceremony and study with shamans we practiced opening our minds and hearts to other dimensions of ourselves and to our soul’s inner voice.  I've always heard that answers to our questions lie within us and during the week I knew this to be true.  When I surrendered to a new awareness, answers and insight flooded in almost directly.  When I was open, relaxed and non-judgmental, I received many gifts- similar to a flower slowly opening up to the sunlight each day to receive its beauty and sustenance. 

I was also reminded what it feels like to be tense and closed off, and the resulting lack of information I would receive in this state.  All of this was felt in my body- not my mind. Even the pain from my injury kept me rooted in my physical body and my thoughts remained more present and simple.  To help us get more into our bodies and out of our heads, we dancedQoya every morning as a group.  Through movement and song it was amazing to watch even the man-ly men in our group open up!


Every New Year’s Day I choose a new word to live by and this year it was embrace.  I love this word because it reminds me to look for the gifts- the people, places, and experiences surrounding me - and take them in with a grateful heart and open arms.   It also leads me through a process of accepting life’s twists and turns and bumps and bruises and what they are here to teach me.  

With a head injury and broken teeth in a foreign country I had no choice but to slow down, embrace, and trust that the entire experience was all a part of my journey.  My tendency is to move quickly and pack a lot of physical activity into my days.  Not this vacation.  With a leisurely, slow pace I was able to take more in, listen, and observe with a new perspective during my trip. I ate a lot of quinoa soup.  And I connected more with my environment and the people in Peru.

It was also interesting to witness how people looked at me as I traveled with 2 black eyes and a bruised face.  Vanity and confidence in my appearance went by the wayside.  I had to dig deep, hold my head high, and know it was still me inside and not look for external validation from others.  It was all a true test of surrender and embrace.

When I returned home from Peru I felt different.  Even my home didn’t look the same to me.  Something had changed and shifted inside me and my outside world also.  I still feel lighter.  My teacher in the Amazon told us that in order to evolve and bring more light into our being we needed to “crack open the coconut” – which is exactly what I did- in the most literal sense. 

I now call it my fall into grace.