A journalist at the Mail on Sunday, what started as Anna Hunt’s sabbatical to recover from the stresses and strains of modern life, turned into a whole new way of living … but as her new book The Shaman in Stilettos points out, that doesn’t mean she is giving up her city slicker comforts any time soon … Today she tells Spabreaks.com what it’s all about!
If you’d told me in 2003 when I first met Maximo Morales, a Peruvian shaman, that I was going to end up studying with him and bring the ancient healing traditions back to 21st century London as a shaman in my own right, I’d have laughed you out of the water. A 29 year old Cambridge graduate turned celeb interviewer for one of the highest-selling quality newspapers in the country, I was a woman who thought she knew who she was (a stiletto-loving fashionista with a penchant for Green&Black’s and Sauvignon Blanc) and where she was going (a hot-shot journalist soon set to settle down with her eligible city-boy boyfriend.) My interest in the world of alternative therapies began and ended with twice-weekly yoga classes. Shamanism – and the whole healing malarkey – was for hippies. It couldn’t stand up to any intellectual or rational dissection, and was irrelevant to the life in a fast-paced metropolis.
It’s ironic that I now work with professionals just like the old me. Responsibility rich and time poor, my clients are men and women looking for a sustainable inner-peace beneath the mental chatter and emotional overload that are an inevitable by-product of the multi-tasking that define 21st century life – being a career success, a yummy mummy or daddy, a good partner, and the rest.
So what is shamanism and how can it help?
‘Shaman’ was a term originally coined by the Tungus people in Siberia. Today it is a globally-recognised shorthand used to describe a man or woman of power, a healer, who works with energy. When Einstein discovered his breakthrough formula, E=mc2, he confirmed what shamans have known for 40,000 years – that everything with mass or form consists of energy: ie moving light. It follows that if you can move energy, you can alter life itself.
A shaman does just that. S/he can see energy – what the ancient Hindus called the chakras, as anyone who’s been to a yoga class will probably know. And s/he can move energy. The range of techniques employed include, acupressure (acupuncture without needles), visualization (meditation for dummies that doubles up as a great problem solver for those times when you can’t see the wood for the trees), herbs, crystals, sound and plant medicines. Moving energy – an emotional and physical detox, if you will – has profound success in alleviating emotional distress, physical challenges and mental chatter. This, in turn, enables the swift attainment of inner peace.
Shamanism is much misunderstood. Partly this is because during the Middle Ages, the Catholic Inquisition pretty much wiped out the shamanic traditions in Europe. In Peru, however, these traditions have continued uninterrupted for the best part of 40,000 years. Ancient petroglyphs and the archaeological excavation of numerous mummies testify to the importance of shamans and their healing techniques in ancient communities. These traditions have been passed down orally from shaman to his/her chosen apprentice to the modern-day.
As detailed in The Shaman In Stilettos, inevitably the relationship between shaman and his apprentice is intimate, lifelong and provides a kind of quality control that is often lacking in many areas of alternative therapies where practitioners study for a qualification and then that’s it. Despite the distance separating Maximo and me, I see him for at least a month every year to continue my studies and we speak monthly on Skype to discuss client challenges. This commitment is expected of all shamans (most of whom serve the communities into which they were born). This commitment provides a fool-proof self-regulation among bona-fide shamans too.
Need to decompress and slow down? Try these Top Shamanic Tips:
– Take a walk in nature. Observe your mood lift.
– Take seven mindful breaths, really trying to be aware of the inhale and then the exhale.
– Write something long hand – a to-do list, a journal.
The Shaman In Stilettos is published by Penguin, £8.99
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