Is shamanism relevant for modern life?
Shamanism encompasses the belief that for healing to take place, it needs to take into account all parts of the being: the mind, body, and soul.
Around the world, shamans are known as healers with connections with the spiritual world and a deep understanding of how humans can achieve balance and harmony — both individually and on a communal level.
It’s considered one of the oldest practices in the world, but is it still suitable in today’s busy world?
I discussed how shamanism fits in with modern life with the world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê in a phone conversation and will share with you what I learned.
Is shamanism relevant for the modern world?
In short, yes it is.
And here’s why:
Right now, we’re living in an amazing time in the world (pandemic aside).
Technology has vastly improved our quality of life. Everything from communication, health, education, transport, and more have benefitted as a result of it.
But alongside all these improvements, we can’t forget that there are always two sides to a coin.
Yes, most of us now own multiple gadgets in which we can talk to others, entertain ourselves, work from, and more. Our possibilities online are endless.
But for many, technology has also pulled them away from their connection to themselves, others around them, and to nature.
We check our phones more times a day than we stop to check in with ourselves. We’re constantly distracted from our thoughts, let alone from building any sort of relationship within ourselves.
This leads me to a point that Rudá made:
“Shamanism is more relevant than ever. We have walked a long path to evolve from wild creatures into a complex technological civilization. Yet, we’ve paid an expensive price for that. We developed too much of our intellect at the expense of atrophying other aspects of our being.”
And it’s not just technology. It’s the unconscious way many of us live our lives.
We ignore ourselves, the most important parts of us, because we’re so caught up in life. Whether it’s the rat race or trying to get more likes on social media or followers on Twitter, there’s always something drawing us away from being still with ourselves.
A common complaint I’ve heard from friends and family is the feeling of being “stuck”.
They’ve lost their lust for life, they can’t find the energy to be productive, they seem to repeat the same mistakes time and time again.
I know I’ve faced that trap too, and it’s something most of us experience at one time or another.
But here’s the thing:
The world keeps on spinning. Technology will keep on booming. We’ll continue buying into it all.
But maybe having that connection with ourselves sorted out would make navigating these difficulties easier.
As Rudá says:
“Our wild nature was put to sleep while we went domesticated to live in society. We learn so many sciences at school, but we’re not taught to stop and look inside of us. Instead, we have all sorts of distractions being shoved on us, to keep us always distracted. As a consequence, we barely know ourselves. We feel lost, empty and numb.”
Now, shamanism isn’t a quick fix. There will always be those who prefer to slap a band-aid over their problems and keep going, for as long as they can ignore the issue.
But, for those who want to make a real change to their lives, one that doesn’t cost extortionate amounts of money, but does require patience and faith in the process, shamanism could be the key.
After all, we may have advanced in terms of technology since the days of traditional shamanism, but our fundamental core as human beings is still the same.
What our body, mind, and soul needs is still as relevant hundreds of years ago as it is now.
We may have lost that connection within ourselves somewhere along the line, but that doesn’t mean we can’t rebuild it and find a balance between traditional healing and modern approaches.
So now that we’ve covered some of the reasons why shamanism is relevant (and needed) for the modern world, let’s have a look at how it can make a difference:
What are the benefits of shamanism for modern life?
Traditionally, shamans would heal their patients for several ailments.
Using their shamanic connection to the spiritual world and their healing remedies, the shaman would heal people suffering from physical pains, psychological issues like depression or post-traumatic disorder, and even cancer.
The shaman would help the patient heal as a whole, identifying areas where there are energy blocks and parts of the soul that need healing. The aim isn’t to just cure the isolated illness, it’s to heal the body, soul, spirit, and mind.
In addition, the shaman’s role was to promote harmony within the community as well. Restoring balance to individuals, families, and the wider community, they acted as a “mediator”.
So is this still a benefit in today’s society?
Quite simply, yes.
We still suffer from all those ailments listed above and they only seem to be on the rise.
We’ve made phenomenal progress in the world of medicine and there’s no doubt that the treatments available have never been better.
But for some people, conventional methods don’t always work, and quite often that’s because the root cause of the problem hasn’t been healed.
Here, shamanism could help them, as healing needs to take place on a deeper, spiritual level, which wouldn’t otherwise be treated with modern medicine.
And it’s not only us as individuals that can benefit from shamanism, as Rudá explains, but it’s also vital for the environment and our connection to the earth:
“Shamanism is a path back to our nature. By realigning with the intelligence of life which resides in our DNA, we naturally make peace with the nature around us. We’re part of this nature, made of the same material.
“We belong to our planet, and we have a function in this greater system. If we’re misaligned, our actions may have a negative impact on our environment. That’s how our species became a threat to the whole planetary ecosystem.
“We need ecology, but it will only be possible to live in balance with our planet if we find this balance within ourselves. That’s why shamanism is not only relevant but necessary.”
So when we combine those two benefits — a deep, holistic approach to healing both ourselves, our communities, and nature around us, it’s hard to understand why shamanism doesn’t have a larger role in today’s society.
But luckily, we’re in the age of information. Shamanism is now more available to learn, study, and practice than ever before.
So with that in mind, how has shamanism evolved to today’s world?
What does shamanism in the modern world look like?
Now, it’s not uncommon for people to think that shamanic practices can only take place in far, remote parts of the world.
But the truth is, shamanism used to be around in almost every early community.
A spiritual healer who the villagers would go to for their ailments and pains.
Somewhere along the way, most communities moved away from shamanism, due to religious oppression, colonization, and demonization.
Luckily though, shamanic practices continued to be passed down from generation to generation, now giving us access to ancient practices in the modern world.
Some have gone on to study shamanism, even if it’s not ancestral.
So today, finding a shaman doesn’t require a trip to the Amazon or cold Siberia (although you can still go if you want to experience shamanism in a more traditional setting).
Many modern-day shamans offer their help and services to those in need of spiritual healing. If there aren’t any in your local area, thanks to technology, you can still get in touch with a shaman to discuss your issues remotely.
As Rudá explains:
“In the context of modern-day life, Shamanism doesn’t need to be the same set of practices that happen in the Amazonian tribes or the Aboriginal communities. Shamanism is not a set of rituals.
“Some practices are employed by shamans to help them transcend the husk of their intellectual mind and connect with a deeper intelligence, the so-called intelligence of life which resides in our DNA. Yet, shamanism can take different shapes.
“Ybytu is a good example. It’s a breath technique, adapted to our modern world, where we take advantage of the most recent technologies at our disposal (binaural beats, isochronic waves, etc).”
So whilst you might not have the thrill of an authentic experience somewhere exotic, you can still gain the benefits of shamanism and incorporate healing approaches into your lifestyle.
And as Rudá explains, there isn’t one set technique for shamanism. Ybytu, for example, draws upon Rudá’s knowledge and experience of breathwork and shamanism.
Combining the two, he’s created breathwork flows that help with everything from emotions and stress to revitalizing the body and mind.
This is just one way that shamanism has become more accessible.
Whether you’re in a remote village in India healing one on one with a shaman, or in the comfort of your own home, spiritual healing can take place anywhere.
As more of us become aware of the benefits of taking holistic approaches to our lifestyles and health, there’s no reason to doubt that shamanism has a place in the modern world.
The truth is, combining the old with the new, the spiritual understanding of shamanism with the scientific advances in technology only benefits us more.
And there’s no hiding the truth that more and more of us are suffering — whether it’s with physical or mental issues, or simply from feeling “lost”. This is where shamanism can help, as its healing approaches are still as relevant now as they were many moons ago.
If you’re interested in learning more about applying principles of shamanism to modern life, check out Rudá Iandê’s free video training on shamanic breathwork.