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About the Author
Sandra Ingerman, MA, is the author of several books including Soul Retrieval, Shamanic Journeying, and Awakening to the Spirit World. She is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist and Professional Mental Health Counselor and teaches workshops internationally on shamanic journeying, healing, and reversing environmental pollution using spiritual methods. She was awarded the 2007 Peace Award from the Global Foundation for Integrative Medicine. Visit her at sandraingerman.com and shamanicteachers.com.
Read an Excerpt
The Shaman's Toolkit
Ancient Tools for Shaping the Life and World You Want to Live In
By Sandra Ingerman
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2013 Sandra Ingerman
All rights reserved.
The Foundation of Our Work
Two principles will guide much of our work. One has to do with how our thoughts and words create the world we live in. The other has to do with what we now know through science about how we can change our thought patterns.
In most spiritual practices there is the teaching of as above, so below; as within, so without. As I wrote in the introduction, what we see in our outer world is merely a reflection of our inner state of consciousness.
In 2007 I was introduced to the work of Emmet Fox, a New Thought minister as well as a teacher, healer, and best-selling author. He lived in the early to mid-1900s, and for twenty years, thousands of people showed up for his weekly services. His sermons were for the most part an amalgamation of what many spiritual traditions teach, but he had a very simple way of explaining spiritual principles, and people loved him for it. Fox taught that when we use the phrase as within, so without, the as within, refers to our thoughts, and the as without refers to the physical manifestation of our thinking. When I teach that everything that exists in our physical world starts in the invisible realms, the as within is the invisible energy that creates the manifestation in our outer world.
This means that a guiding principle in our work is that only by aligning our inner consciousness, our inner conversations, and our inner landscape with the world we want to bring into being will we see change in our lives and on the planet.
Fox created the phrase the mental equivalent. He took an explanation from science and applied it to his spirituality work. Basically he uses the metaphor of how much electricity or power it would take to make a piece of equipment run and translates that into how much energy is needed to manifest what we truly desire in our lives. Most of us can bring on positive thoughts and feelings when we are in a group experience that creates the feelings of love, harmony, and unity. But we need to be able to continue working with thoughts and words that are in alignment and agreement with what we wish to experience in life. Fox said, "It is impossible to think one thing and produce another"—one of my favorite quotes.
The term that I would like to introduce here is the healing the earth quotient, or the amount of energy we can generate as a global community through working with the power of thoughts and words to create a positive shift on the planet. As part of this quotient we'll be looking at how intention, intensity, and duration play a part in bringing about a desired change.
Since the early 1990s I have been writing and teaching about how to transform the energy behind our thoughts to prevent sending out toxicity and poison to ourselves, others, and the planet. I remember when I first started working with this concept myself. It was about 1991 and I was driving down my road headed toward town, thinking about someone I was angry at. As I was driving, I heard a voice ask me: "What was that thought, and where did you just send it?"
I remember being shocked out of my angry state to the realization that I was sending toxicity to someone.
That very day I began my practice of transforming the energy behind my thoughts. I wanted to be sure I was always sending out the energy of love and light to myself, others, and the world. I did not want to feed the negativity in any way. Please understand, this does not mean repressing all problematic feelings. I acknowledge when I am angry, depressed, or frustrated. But then I work to transform the energy behind those feelings. We can have difficult feelings without feeding toxic energy into the world.
I remember how hard it was in the early days not to fall into old thinking habits. I would slip constantly, and I relied heavily on an inner voice to ask me: "What was that thought, and where did you just send its energy?" That inner voice kept me feeling and expressing—just not sending.
I first wrote about this topic in my book Welcome Home, and I continued writing about it in all my books. It all came together, however, in my most recent book, How to Heal Toxic Thoughts. And as I continued the practice in my own life over the years, I found it did not really take much to transform the energy behind my thoughts. It became easier and easier, and now it is just part of my way of being in the world.
If we want to thrive on this planet of ours, we need to change the way we think and talk about life and the planet. We want to be part of the healing, not part of the bombardment of negative energy. Let's begin by observing what we are thinking about throughout the day and the energy and manifestations we are fueling with our thoughts.
What Vision Are We Feeding?
The Bible says, "Without a vision the people will perish." We need to look at the vision we are feeding. What is our vision of the world we want to live in? Are we holding on to the vision that we would like to see for our descendants and ourselves? We need to get that vision and then do the work to manifest it. Later in the book, I will share creation principles. But first we must define our vision and align our thoughts and words to be in agreement with it.
Are we holding on to the vision that we would like to see for our descendants and ourselves?
For example, if we say we want our children to live in a good world, we must align our thoughts with this vision. Thinking that things have gone too far and that there is no way humans will survive the coming times does not support that vision. We must find a way to turn that kind of thinking around. I am not suggesting that you deny what is happening. I am not asking you to go around saying everything is perfect. I'm simply pointing out that if we slip into an attitude of defeat and believe that change isn't possible, then that it is what we will see.
I am asking you to hold on to the vision you feel passionate about and then to find thoughts and words that align with the outcome. You might say to yourself, "Yes, changes need to be made, and we have the tools to brainstorm as a global community to make those changes," or, "I hold a good vision for my children." Neuroscientists inform us that the brain does not know the difference between intention and action. Every time we set an intention, our brain interprets that as an action is taking place. It's a pretty neat trick, and one that serves us well if our intentions are for the good.
Further, we cannot base our happiness on what is happening in the outer world. Watching the faces and looking into the eyes of people in indigenous cultures has always inspired me and taught me much about this very issue. Many of these folks shine a light and joy through their eyes that those of us in Western technological cultures hunger for. These people have nothing in the material world that would define them as wealthy or successful from a Western standard, but they are wealthy within. They have a rich inner life, and they look through spirit eyes. They go beyond their egos and find the place of source and perfection inside themselves.
We can do this too, of course. We can develop an expanded awareness of life and stop looking at it through a narrow lens. We don't have to buy into what society defines as success, joy, happiness, and wealth. We can be wealthy within.
In doing our spiritual work to transform ourselves and the world around us, we must work from the inside out. Too many of us only focus on the outer world. When we only focus on what is happening in the outer world, we start to feel like we are on a roller-coaster ride.
Someone tells you that you look great, and then you feel happy.
Then you get a bill in the mail you were not expecting, and your emotions take a dive.
Then you go to work the next day, you get a promotion, and you feel great.
Then while you are working, someone tells you that you are being arrogant, and you feel terrible.
Then you go home and watch a human-interest story on the news, and you feel warm and loving inside.
Then you watch a story about war or an environmental disaster in some part of the world, and you lose all hope.
This yo-yoing can go on and on unless we come to the realization that our happiness, peace, joy, and wealth lie within. And once we have this realization, we must change our thought process.
How Long Does It Take and How Hard Is It, Really?: The Healing the Earth Quotient
Our task now is to understand how our brain functions and how it can help us to create new thinking patterns.
In the 1960s and 1970s a group of scientists made a breakthrough discovery about how the brain works. Previously, the scientific belief was that brain anatomy was fixed. Then scientists discovered that the brain actually changes its structure as different activities are performed. If certain parts of the brain fail, other parts sometimes take over. This understanding that the brain is more flexible than was previously thought is called neuroplasticity.
The science of neuroplasticity is truly fascinating. It shows, for instance, how people with strokes can be taught to walk and speak again, how the memory can be improved, and how we can work with a variety of physical and psychological issues that many people today are facing.
The science of neuroplasticity affects our work together too. I came across the following metaphor, which was articulated by Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, one of the scientists working with neuroplasticity, in a book by Dr. Norman Doidge titled The Brain that Changes Itself. Our thought patterns create neural pathways in our brain similar to a sled going down a snowy hill. If you keep riding the sled down the same path, deep tracks start to form. Put the sled on the slope, and it will naturally follow the tracks that have already been laid. If you want the sled to go in a different direction, you have to pick up the sled and point it in a new direction, thus creating new tracks for the sled to follow.
Bringing this back to our work, if you keep repeating to yourself that things have gone too far and there is no possibility to create positive changes on the planet, you create a very strong neural pathway. The tracks are now very deep. It will take a great effort to start a new neural pathway, but it can be done. With effort you can replace your old thought patterns with the thought that change is always possible. As you continue to replace the old thought with the new one, a whole new neural pathway opens in the brain—one that supports, rather than undermines, your efforts to be a change maker.
New thoughts * new behaviors * new outcomes * new thoughts.
We use the term train of thought on a regular basis. Take a minute to reflect on what this term means. We must watch the track our thought train is running on and learn to change the track by creating a new one. We have to get our train of thought on the track that leads to what we want to produce. As with all building projects, it takes a lot of energy to break new ground. But the rewards are great. As we continue to shift our way of thinking and create new ways of looking at how we can participate in creating a good future for the world, we keep digging out a new and wonderful road to follow. And in doing so we create new neural pathways in the brain that help to support changes in behavior, which lead us in a different direction. And the cycle continues. New thoughts * new behaviors * new outcomes * new thoughts.
Practice: The River of Life
This first exercise will help you observe what deep pathways you have developed in your brain. And this will show you what changes you need to make to support your higher vision. The metaphor I like to use is the river of life.
When we think about a river, we think of a flow of water that moves in a direction, one that also creates a path that the water continues to follow. The river of life takes us through many adventures. Sometimes the journey is rocky and turbulent, and sometimes we flow through the river with great ease. When we try to move against the flow of the river we experience great stress and exhaustion, which leads to emotional and physical illness. The key to good health is to flow with the river of life and to learn how to respond to changes with a good attitude and a maintained focus on our destination.
1. Take out a piece of paper and draw a river such as the one you see below. You can work with the one in the book if you like, but I think you'll find it interesting to do this exercise from time to time and note how your flow changes as you work with the material in the book.
2. Next note which direction you tend to take by placing arrows in the river. If you feel you are moving against a good flow in life, then mark your arrow going against the flow of the river. If you feel that you are moving in a flow that leads to joy and fulfillment, then mark your arrow as going in the same direction as the river.
3. Now I am going to make a few statements that work against the river of life, and you'll respond by drawing arrows on your river diagram. You can use a pen or different colored pencils or crayons. Use your imagination. And always remember to keep a sense of humor. As you learn how to live life from your highest potential, it is important to learn how to laugh at yourself. We will start with some personal questions so you can see how this works, and then we will go on to larger life questions.
4. Personal Beliefs. Think about the statement, "I will never be successful in anything I do." It goes against the flow of life. If you find that you spend a good amount of energy feeding this belief, mark your arrow in the opposite direction of the flow of the river of life. If you do not spend any energy feeding this belief, place your arrow going along with the river of life.
Now continue drawing arrows that correspond with the following statements:
Nothing good ever happens to me.
I will never find love.
I am not worthy of good things coming my way.
I don't deserve to feel happy.
My health is challenged and always will be.
I have given up on creating a good life for myself.
I've been betrayed by life.
Life is mostly a disappointment and is very hard.
I've been working and praying endlessly to make changes, and nothing seems to work.
I am a victim of my life.
Before we move on, take a moment to notice what direction most of your arrows are moving in. Notice if your energy is moving forward or in reverse.
5. Global Beliefs
The planet is lost. It's too late to make positive changes.
There has always been war, and there will always be war.
I believe that the prophecies of the destruction of the world are coming to pass.
We should be punished for all we have done to the planet.
There is no way to clean up the damage we have created.
Life will not go on.
People don't deserve to live.
There will never be peace.
There will always be people who are starving and poor. This creates balance in the universe.
There are not enough resources to go around.
There will always be inequality in the world.
We don't have the power to create positive changes.
I ask you once again to look at the direction of your arrows. Don't judge, just notice what statements you are giving energy to that move you away from believing in positive shifts.
Please feel free to add other statements or phrases you would like to work on changing.
When we can fully observe without judgment what thoughts we feed throughout the day, we gain insight into what creations we are fueling. We begin to understand what indigenous people would call "the world we are dreaming into being."
6. What we now want to do is learn to replace all of the above thoughts with positive statements. And as we learn to focus on these positive statements, we begin to create new neural pathways in the brain, which create new changes in our behavior that in turn help to lead us to the destination we desire. An old spiritual teaching directs us to focus on the journey and not on the destination. And this is true. In this material I am sharing, however, it is good to focus on both. We can never be sure where our path will lead us. But without any intention or focus whatsoever, we might discover that we drift aimlessly though life.
Here are some examples of positive statements that might replace the negative thoughts about global issues:
We have the power as a global community to create a healthy planet.
Peace is possible on this earth. We can become unified on behalf of all of life.
We are in a time of great change and evolving toward a healthy and balanced way of life. A time of living destructive life patterns is ending.
We are in a process of learning and evolution. We are held in love by the creative forces of the universe during this time.
As I learn to heal my toxic thoughts, the environment will reflect back to me a state of health and well-being.
Life will go on, and there is always hope. All things are possible.
We live in an abundant universe where—as we live in honor and respect for all of life—we will experience plenty for all.
I open to an abundant universe. The earth gives a wealth of nurturance on all levels for all.
We can thrive in changing times.
Excerpted from The Shaman's Toolkit by Sandra Ingerman. Copyright © 2013 Sandra Ingerman. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Foundation of Our Work 1
Chapter 2 Releasing Our Creative Blocks 23
Chapter 3 Creating and Manifesting: Aligning Our Thinking to Create a Positive Future 45
Chapter 4 Blessing and Being Blessed: The Power of Gratefulness 73
Chapter 5 Supporting Our Core Beliefs 87
Chapter 6 Transforming Disappointment and Grief 95
Chapter 7 Shining Our Light into the World: The Power of Global Community 111
Chapter 8 With Peace and Abundance for All: A New World Is Born 139