After my profound healing of an incurable autoimmune disease over two years ago, I continued living in the Amazon and traveling around Peru. How is it that I’m still the biggest cynic when it comes to spirituality, despite my own incredible healing?
Healing and finding a spiritual path have become entwined with New Age spirituality, creating a type of hippie culture that may resonate with some, but not everyone.
New Age spirituality is filled with endless catchphrases of manifesting what you want, or telling people to change their life with these 5 easy steps. Two-second cutesy soundbites are all over Facebook and Instagram, spiritual wisdom that is dumbed down to Hallmark quotes for marketing or sensationalist hype.
It’s made me hesitate to write anything about my own healing.
At what point does sharing become bragging? Are you only going to a spiritual retreat to post a selfie of yourself meditating as soon as you are back online, and then counting the likes?
It’s been two years since my healing and I’m still integrating so much of the work I did with the plants. It takes time. I’m reminded on a regular basis that I know nothing, but here are some things I’ve learned so far.
Nature is our friend.
In a shamanic retreat or dieta (a retreat with a medicinal plant of the jungle, taken for healing or growth), the key to healing is immersing in nature and isolating from others.
You become more connected with nature, and there is no escaping yourself. And in finding yourself, you find nature.
Living in nature and learning how indigenous people live offers valuable lessons. They see things differently. Nature is viewed as a living entity.
Nature wants to be seen.
As we disconnect from technology, social media, and our everyday lives, we can connect to something bigger.
Nature can help us.
I know nothing.
A shamanic dieta is meant to break down your ego, your belief systems, your sense of self. My sense of reality shifted, and continues to shift, tremendously.
I am constantly understanding how I know nothing.
And then this new paradigm of nothingness will dissolve and shift into a deeper understanding of myself, and of knowing nothing.
We understand how our conditioning and our beliefs limit us.
Trust your gut.
It seems we often look for the easy way out, for someone else to tell us what to do or how to solve our problems. I know because I’m just as guilty of struggling to trust myself and looking for outside advice and guidance.
The key, of course, is to develop and trust your own intuition. I find that when I don’t trust my own intuition it inevitably comes back and bites me in the ass.
This seems to be a lesson that I need to learn again and again.
And it’s when I don’t trust my intuition that I learn the most. Often when I get myself into challenging situations, I can look back and remember that I had that gut-feeling of knowingness, which I subsequently ignored. So when you get that gut feeling in your stomach, trust it.
Learning to trust myself and my intuition, as opposed to looking to someone else for all the answers, is an evolving process. It’s always easier to look to someone else for a healing or intuitive reading. I have had some profound and meaningful readings and healings, but I realize that ultimately I am only giving my power away.
If you go to an intuitive reader or healer, keep in mind that it takes years to fully develop intuitive abilities and to learn how to use them.
A good intuitive should respect boundaries, give feedback with empathy and only give feedback when it’s asked for. They should be aware of their own personal biases. A good healer doesn’t need to brag, lure people into working with them, or aggressively market themselves.
A huge red flag is one that I have encountered time and time again: when someone tells you that you “need” to work with them, that you “need” to take their class, that only they can help you, that you need to get over your fears of working with them.
I’ve heard these lines a lot.
It’s manipulative and disempowering, and it comes from the ego of the healer. But the real danger is that if you are feeling lost on your path and looking for guidance, it can feel like a positive sign or even a genuine offer of help. Some healers may even have good intentions when they say these things. But when a healer makes you dependent on them, they are stripping you of your personal power.
We are all human and no one is perfect.
It can feel disingenuous when a healer preaches at you at how to live your life and they don’t live by their own words. As a foreigner living in Peru, it can also be easy to get tangled up in money drama, healers charging exorbitant prices, or guilting you into giving money in exchange for being your friend.
Now I just laugh when someone tells me that I need to eat this, I shouldn’t eat that. I exercise too much, I don’t exercise enough. Do this, don’t do that.
So many people are looking for a way to make money as a teacher. I always ask myself, does the offer to help come from love, or is there another incentive?
I don’t always understand everything that is spoken in Spanish, so I have to trust how I feel. Is this person speaking with integrity and honesty? How do they treat people?
Don’t let anyone tell you who you are and what you should do.
Run, don’t walk, when someone tries to take your power from you.
There is a lesson in everything, with every person, in every situation.
With all this being said, I feel very lucky and incredibly grateful for all the people I’ve met and the mentors I’ve found in Peru. The mentors I know are not flashy. They are not out there trying to grab your attention and convince you to learn from them. And they don’t need to aggressively advertise and cheapen their image.
They have both told me, repeatedly, that I need to figure things out on my own. I still learn from them, but there is no textbook or syllabus.
The true inner work has got to be done alone.
I fought this for a long time before it really hit me, the truth of what they were saying and what an amazing gift it is…to be set free. It took another healer telling me how much I needed them before I fully understood and felt how disempowering these words are.
When I felt alone and vulnerable, and when I was betrayed and lied to, this was all part of my learning, and I can only have gratitude. I’m not sick anymore and I can see how every challenge I faced was part of my healing.
I now understand that you don’t know a good teacher until you’ve met a fake one.
You can’t understand light until you’ve experienced darkness.
I ended up learning just as much from all the negative experiences, although it was difficult to see it at the time.
Sometimes the woman selling fruit with a smile is the teaching I need at the moment, other times it’s seeing someone mistreat a person to understand that this is not who I want to emulate.
Laugh. A lot.
Maintaining a sense of humor is underrated.
I surround myself with people who have a wicked sense of humor, who can laugh at themselves, and who remind me to laugh at myself.
Don’t take things too seriously. Don’t take yourself too seriously.