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Questions About Shamanism

{written by : Tony Samara}

Article word count : 6454 -- Article Id : 3042
Article active date : 2010-09-14 -- Article views : 12001

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Article is about :
Tony Samara answers questions about his book Shaman's Wisdom and explains the fundamental principles of the Shamanic teachings he has learnt and shares with the world.

Reincarnation The Neverending Journey
In Reincarnation The Neverending Journey an attempt is made to explore the conundrum of our existence. An existence that spans yesterday, today and even tomorrow. Questions surrounding the existence of the soul and our connections to the physical world, the fundamental mechanisms and the processes by which reincarnation operates through time, are carefully examined. Plausible revelations on memories and karma and their intrinsic connections to our lives today and tomorrow are explored. It is a Neverending Journey.. Your Neverending Journey....

by Pieter Heydenrych

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* Many wonder about the possibility of transfering shamanism wisdom into our modern life. Is it possible to adjust in a way so we could practise it in everyday life and order to base our life on our ancientestors wisdom? What is shamanism all about? What and how can we learn from it?

- Shamanism, as old and mystical as it is, may be re-appropriated and practiced by modern people in their everyday life and may constitute a new way of life based on ancestral wisdoms. Our ancestors understood that freedom is based on fitting into a Cosmos where all is One and where the One carried an expression of all. With the rapid polarisation of the modern world into ego driven desires and conflicts from a self orientated towards itself, we have lost this sense of balance and are in great danger of living in a selfish world which moves away from Life.

Now, more than ever, it is important to create a bond between the deep balance of Nature that is the essence of Life and our daily activities. In the future, this balance will probably become more common in the economy, philosophy, politics and the general thinking of global societies, as more and more people practice spiritual disciplines oriented towards the realization of this harmonious goal. Humanity will be always preferred to death, just like freedom will always be preferred to limitation.

* What is the core of shamanism? What makes it so special? Is shamanism in different cultures arond the globe any different (from Amazon natives to Australian natives)

- What makes Huachuma shamanism so special is that it considers freedom as a gift of Nature and of the Cosmos to mankind. One can fully experience freedom as a gift when one perceives life through the conscious inner Self. Spiritual work is about understanding and going beyond the negative forces that prevent us from saying "yes" to Life. These forces are actually a manifestation of imbalance. The choice is then to live according to the forces of imbalance, creating disharmony inside and around us, or to create a balance in our lives, by living in harmonious relationship with natural and cosmic forces, which is what shamanism is about. This is what our ancestors did and what some people in traditional societies still do today with much less distraction than in the modern world.

* How can shaman"s wisdom help us in modern life? What we can learn from it how can we use this knowledge in our everyday life in the West?

- Huachuma shamanism uses energy postures to help the body to adjust physically, emotionally and spiritually to the cycles of nature. These postures are very similar to those of Tai Chi and Yoga and I believe them to be older. If we look attentively at some of the symbols and drawings on the ruins of very ancient South American temples, as well as in Egypt, we see humans and animals in unusual postures. When regularly practicing these postures we understand their meanings. They are not only useful to help our physical body to become stronger but also to adjust emotionally and spiritually and to develop our inner power in relation to that of Mother Earth. These exercises are particularly advantageous at certain times of the day because energies are different in the morning, in the afternoon and in the night.

Here are two basic exercises that shamans and ancient people have been practicing for thousands of years.

1. Clearing Energy

This very simple exercise helps the body to release energy. It can be practiced at any time when one feels overwhelmed or stressed by external circumstances.

Stand in a relaxed fashion. Take a few deep in and out breaths through the nose. Continue to breathe deeply, in rhythm with the following movement. Visualize the stress and overwhelming energy clearing while shaking the whole body, especially the hands, for a few seconds. Repeat the exercise three or four times, making sure that all of the tension around the face and the jaw completely disappears with the shaking movement. It may help to sigh as you shake.

2. Walking Meditation

One of my favourite exercises suitable for old and young alike is walking. For preservation of health and the prolongation of life, walking in the open air with abundant sunshine is a gift that is one of the surest safeguards against disease. As we absorb the elixirs of life in fresh air the blood becomes cleaner, the mind becomes more pure and forgotten vitality returns to the body, mind and spirit.

Walk comfortably, breathing in and out with total awareness. Synchronise your breathing with the rhythm and pace of your movements. Be aware of all the sounds and elements of nature that surround you. Allow your mind to rest and immerse yourself in the aliveness of Life. Do this for 20 minutes or more at least once a day.

* Why is shamanism characteristic only for so-called primitive nations? Is this justified to call them primitive? What is your opinion on this term »privitive«? How is the word we live in different from the world of primitive natives of the world? Is it about values, relations, beliefs?

- My first intense experience of the Amazon, in this dimension and in another totally extraordinary dimension of consciousness, took place a few days after my arrival. I was in a canoe, which was going down a river. There were many people staring at me and I had many thoughts going through my head. Time appeared to have come to a standstill. It rained a lot. The sounds of nature were everywhere. I was full of fears and doubts.

I thought I was very well prepared for the rainforest. I had spent six months improving my physical fitness at a gymnasium. I had immersed myself in the Spanish language with the help of books and language tapes. I had bought a machete, a hammock and a compass but oh, how the mosquitoes constantly bit me. Our canoe had been a tree a little time before and we did not stop bailing out the water to avoid sinking. Every time we hit a rock or a log I felt it was going to tip over. I began to wonder if this was not the sanest thing to be doing at this time of my early twenties. My westernized mind was full of fearful thoughts: "What if I have to go to hospital? How would I get there? Why are these people so satisfied with their life? Is this the paradise that I envisioned?"

While I was seeking thousands of excuses to leave the Amazon and to return to "civilization", a man at the front of the canoe pushed a tree branch away and was stung by a swarm of vicious bees. My initial reaction was to think "How lucky that it was not me", a feeling accompanied with pity and concern for the man who was suffering. The other people on the canoe laughed and behaved in a way that was incomprehensible to me. I was in a culture very different from all that I had known before.

I asked my fellow travellers: "Why laugh at suffering?” (If they were not all shamans, they lived in a shamanic culture.) They answered my question with another question: "Can true compassion be understood through feelings of fear, negativity and doubt?"

It was explained to me that the energy body of the man mortally stung by the bees was already in fear and pain and that my own fears and doubts brought only more negativity to his energetic body; that true compassion consists in helping the person to free himself from pain.

"By laughing, we helped to pull the fear out from the body of this man who was already in a state of shock and in danger of dying. If all of the passengers in the canoe had reacted as you did, their egocentric thoughts would have fed this negativity and the man would certainly have died", said one of my companions.

I realized that each one in the canoe except me had been present to the situation from a healing point of view rather than from the ego. The laughter contained and was an expression of this healing energy. My cultural programming had been different and from this day, I seriously began to question my beliefs about this culture that the Western world would describe as "primitive".

Slowly, I understood that I had come to the Amazon not "to save the rainforest" – the idea which had motivated me at the beginning – but to save a part of myself I had almost forgotten about: my deepest Being. The ego is very skilful in creating tempting diversions from our true mission on earth. In the "civilized" world, it can be animated by many very creditable goals like that "to save the rainforest". In spite of my great love for nature, a nature that I had studied in detail from my childhood to the University classes, I did not feel really at ease in the forest. To save the rainforest implied to understand it and, in the end, to understand myself.

Our relationship to natural law is the most important aspect of shamanic cultures. For this reason Ayahuasceros see Pachamama (Mother Earth) as a living spiritual guide, who provides balance in all aspects of life. In Western societies, on the other hand, the earth is rarely considered this way because one is conditioned by fear, which in itself is an illusion. We constantly seek outside of ourselves for the means to find harmony inside of our mind, our body and our emotions, little realizing that harmony constitutes the paramount force of each living thing. This sense of connectedness with everything is the primordial state of humankind.

I had spent several years practicing deep meditation but I had never known the type of magical relationship with nature maintained by some people in societies labelled as "primitive". For Ayahuasceros in particular, the rainforest is an intrinsic part of themselves. This perception of reality gives a childlike innocence to most of the shamanic communities I lived with.

Anthropologists have for a long time called into question the concept of "primitiveness" by realising that it may not be so. What can be said about a "civilization" which is unaware of the natural laws? By being satisfied with their existence and freedom, by not needing to harm themselves or compete against others and the world that surrounds them in their search for happiness, indigenous communities express an example completely missing in centres of Western "civilization" such as New York City and London.

* What was your initiation like? Can you tell us more about ayahuasca – this bridge between the two worlds?

- The shamans invited me to take Ayahuasca mixed with different plants, along with other specific foods (i.e. bananas, manioc, etc). My body was transforming itself. I thought I had been purifying it by consuming healthy food and by detoxifying it through fasting. But one day, to my great surprise, I was told that my body was polluted, that it carried the weight of its past, and that the Ayahuasceros could feel it. They started preparing nauseous decoctions of plants that made me vomit for seven days. My entire body became weak.

I was aware however that my vomiting did not operate simply on the physical level: on another level, I was also extracting the negativity of my mind. Through the vomiting, I eliminated diseases from the past. Under the guidance of the shamans, I could look at suffering in a new way and understand that it is caused by imbalance and that this imbalance should not be hidden because it is the key to healing. Healing is a transformation of mind and spirit that leads us to understand how to practice balance in our daily thoughts and deep emotions. The body is regarded here as the temple which contains the spirit.

I reached a stage where I let go of my mental and emotional programming. If at the beginning, I had many doubts about the actions of the indigenous people in the forest, I gradually started to become like them. I was entering into the rhythm of the forest.

The shamans explained to me that all of the information we need is encoded in the depths our Being. Books are useless. It is enough to open oneself to this inner knowledge.

The process of weakening was a process of cleaning the body and also of connecting with the Spirit of the Forest. It was necessary for me to let go of the feeling of separation I had with the essence of life. The mystery of existence is that when one is ready for something, it happens! Ayahuasceros said to me that I was born to become a shaman and that they, with my consent, were going to initiate me.

My process of healing began with the purification of my body and culminated with my initiation, which is a fundamental dimension of shamanism. It does not depend on the quantity of time passed to learn but on releasing all of the points of reference that keep us separated from our essence. It does not lead to a diploma, as at the University, but brings up a process. For me, this process had started in my early childhood with my illness. I subsequently discovered that people who are selected to be shamans in shamanic societies are usually in some way ill or handicapped, like the "wounded healer" of many myths and legends. During my childhood, healing as being linked to spiritual reality had not been considered because this integral approach to physical and mental health had disappeared from "civilized" societies. Instead, a "band aid remedy" to my suffering had been sought through doctors, psychologists, etc.

The shaman can start to work as a healer only when he goes through what is called an experience of death/rebirth, the death of suffering and the rebirth to a new way of seeing things, where the point of reference is not any more the ego but the Cosmos; everything being connected to everything. At the time of my initiation, I was given Ayahuasca and a terrible storm seized the forest and me. I had the greatest fear of my life. All my body disintegrated. I had the feeling I was going to die. I called upon the gods from various religions, in vain. A large snake appeared and started to swallow me. I understood that it represented the pulsation of the energy of the Universe. I was not anymore afraid to die. I had lost sense of my surrounding world. My body had become a part of the Universe. I developed a feeling of unity.

This initiation changed all my perceptions of reality. Released of my past programming, my spirit was able to live the magic and the joy of existence.

When a balance is established between our personality and our soul-spirit, or higher self, a peace and an inner force allow us to experience the essence of things animate around us. The experience also brought me closer to my Amazonian companions and, from then on, I learned a lot about their beliefs of the world.

* Lots of your practical teaching derives from Huachuma shamans, a secret culture of the Andes, why is that? How is shamanism from Amazon forest different from the Huachuma"s?

- As the months passed by, little by little, I was detaching myself from this Amazonian knowledge with its dualistic conception of the world (good/bad, etc). The climate was also very difficult (being extremely humid) so I decided to leave and go to La Paz, in Bolivia. This meant leaving Amazonia and travelling to the Andes Mountains, close to Lake Titicaca.

Once there I started to work in the Quechua and Huachuma shamanic traditions, with people from various origins (Indian, African, Spanish, and Métis). The healing plant most used in the Andes was not Ayahuasca but San Pedro, a cactus which worked more gently. My Amazonian experiences had given me knowledge of many herbal remedies and now I was invited to expand my knowledge.

The lessons of Huachuma shamanism, which you will find in my book "Shaman"s Wisdom", are based on old philosophies that can be recalled to Egypt. Archaeologists have also found objects that prove that the Andean traditional ways of healing go back more than 5000 years.

I remember growing up in Egypt – a land steeped in history and forgotten cultures. I was immersed in traditional Egyptian society and went to the local school full of children and teachers who had grown up absorbing this unique blend of ancient customs and modern lifestyles. I remember moments when visiting the pyramids on school expeditions. We were there of course to learn and understand all about the way of life during the days of the Ancient Egyptian Civilization but my memories are of the ancient artifacts.

There were lavishly adorned statues, linen-wrapped mummies in spectacular sarcophagi, hieroglyphic writings and wondrous jewels and ornaments depicting images of Gods, birds, plants, animals and scenes of daily life. As we were from the local school we were shown a glimpse of the treasures normally only accessible to archeologists.

These deep memories came flooding back when I was in Trujillo, in Northern Peru, as I noticed remarkable resemblances between what I was seeing there and what I was remembering from Egypt. Amazingly similar was the mythology, the pyramid-like structures, the hieroglyphs and the animal representations (such as cats). The innate feeling of the place was indistinguishable from that of my childhood memories.

All this spoke of a deeper connection between the two countries - a connection that was felt by me not only in the images but also in the spiritual aspects. Even in the ways of healing used in Peru today I could feel that the roots originated in Egypt. As I began to scratch the surface I discovered that under the current cover of Catholicism were the ancient pagan rituals simply disguised by Catholic symbolism.

* Can you tell us more about of the Huachuma healing powers? How do they treat diseases?

- Huachuma shamanism is a traditional form of pre-Incan healing still present in the Andes, in isolated villages and areas of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, mixed with various religious influences (especially Catholicism). The daily life of the inhabitants of these areas is full of mystical temples, sacred sites and unusual events (places of power, apparitions, ghosts, UFOs looked upon as spirits, etc). The methods of healing and of spiritual development associated with Huachuma shamanism refer to concrete experiences rather than to a religion, a philosophy or an alternative therapy. They constitute a way of life, a way of healing exploring our four dimensions: body, mind, emotions and spirit.

* Dreams are also very important part of shamanism – what"s the role of dreams in shamanic culture?

- We are blessed to have dreams each night, even if we do not remember them. Dreams are beautiful messages along the path towards knowledge. Let us put the books aside, let us invite the ego (in its desperate drive to intellectualise every experience) to calm down and let us understand the way shamans work with dreams.

In modern societies, the ego has separated us from the world of dreams, thus separating us from an important part of our own reality. It is not so everywhere. In South American communities that have preserved traditional ways of living, dreams are a large part of everyday life. When children begin to speak, they already work with their dreams and that becomes a way of life. People sit in a circle and honour, by relating, their adventures of the night. Whatever the message, it indicates what one should do during the day. If the dream says to leave one"s work, then let us leave it! But if Westerners acted this way, people around them would think that they were insane to take so seriously "a simple dream". Yet, we must live with the wisdom of our dreams.

To foolishly limit our actions to a set of closed parameters prevents the magical and creative world within from touching our lives. Maybe by leaving the work where you feel stifled and bored you have a chance to discover a latent talent or a hidden potential never before considered. If the dream says to fly, let us fly!

When we understand the natural laws of a sacred dream we can fly. Our potential is unlimited. The question "Can you fly like an eagle?" addressed by the anthropologists to the shaman is for him out of place because in non-ordinary reality of course he can fly! Everybody can remember when they were a little child they wanted to jump out of the window or off the balcony and fly. Yet, when we tried we hurt ourselves. But we continued to believe in our dreams because we had more faith in them than in ourselves. In the inside world, there is a feeling of unity and magic telling us that everything is possible. Still aware of and very centred on their force of life, children know this better than adults. They continue to believe in the magic of the world they live in and in the creative life force that drives them in their actions.

Let us take our dreams seriously. If we dream we are flying, let us create a ritual that honours flying, let us dress like a condor, let us go to the mountains and symbolically let us learn how to fly. But if we think that it is impossible, we will not jump because of the fear of falling. To understand our dreams, it is necessary to put aside our ego and our conditioning and to approach the reality of the dream. People who have the courage to jump and to fly really do it in a non-physical dimension.

Let us not flee away! Let us have courage! Let us enter the dream to grasp its unique language. The more we work with dreams, the more we understand their complexity, the more they inform us at various levels of our awareness of their magic and the more they help us to become conscious of the knowledge and wisdom residing within all of us.

* What are the most common obstacles to our personal development and achieving higher state of mind and energy levels?

- The modern world created materialism in all aspects of life – in politics, science, and medicine. This limitation, endorsed by people, has become a reality they face and which constitutes a challenge for them; a will driven collective. It prevents them from understanding the power of the Universe and seeing that the process of life is much more complex than it appears to be. For the shamans, the Western world now lives in the illusion they created, an illusion coming from the fact that they allowed themselves to be limited.

In contrast to this, a state of non-separation intensifies our feelings, reminding us of the primordial state of humankind and the amazing potential inherent in us all.

* What are icaro songs and what is their purpose? How can sound be so powerful? Can you reveal us practical use of the sound on the physical and esoteric level?

- The Western world is full of sights, sounds, noises, colours and information. We are constantly bombarded with distractions of all kinds. In traditional communities sound is generally regarded as a very powerful expression of the essence of things. For me, a song of power (called an icaro) is the energy of an object expressed in sound with the true power becoming present in the intention behind the sound of the song.

From the shamanic perspective, when we start to listen to the cycles of our own body and of Nature we understand that the icaros come directly from Mother Earth, that silence does not exist, that sound is an essential part of the energy present in all life. The movement of energy creates a vibration that we can sometimes hear as a sound but that we may also not hear, because the scale of sounds is beyond our power of listening. Similarly, the incantations (the icaros) are at the same time audible and inaudible sounds for humans. This is why the chanting of a shaman may seem strange for Westerners (at least at the beginning).

Through its sound, an icaro can manifest an aspect of Nature because it has the same deep quality. Facing this unusual concept, that a majestic tree can produce a song, a Westerner could say: "The tree does not make sounds". But if we open our ears beyond the basic level of existence, we hear that not only the tree but also each thing alive sings a song with its Spirit. The shaman listens to these songs and, under appropriate conditions, is able to chant the Spirit of all things alive. This helps him to move points of imbalance in bodies from the basic level towards the harmony that exists in Mother Earth.

The icaro is a vibratory bridge of energy for all beings living on Mother Earth. Some plants have for instance the power to slow down the bleeding of a wound. By singing the icaro of these plants, the shaman uses their power to slow down the bleeding and heal the wound. In Easter Island and in Tahiti, where I spent some time doing spiritual work with Polynesians, I observed that the icaros used by the old ones had been transformed into movements, mainly of the hands. By placing the hands in specific positions, it was possible to reproduce the symbolism of the sound and to procure a change in people"s energy centres. The movement of the hands in Polynesia is related to symbols very similar existing in Egypt and in some parts of South America. The symbol itself only has its full meaning if it is activated by the shaman, just like an icaro does not have power if it is chanted without a pure intention.

The ritual of the icaro is often carried out in sacred places where the air is pure; very high in the mountains, close to waterfalls or special rivers, or in the snow. These places have the power of the air and the wind, two essential elements in the process of letting go and of transformation.

* Shamans of the Huachuma believe in the power of the intention. What is the intention they teach us? What is the difference between power of will and intention? Where do intention come from?

- Most people are driven by their willpower. Generally we do things in our lives because our will, our ego, creates the logic of: "I want this", "I want that", "When I have this... I will be happy; I will not suffer any more". But the will shows us the world in a way separate from how it really is. The "I want" syndrome creates patterns which can form a vicious circle of jealousy, anger and darkness, creating a world of fear, doubt and discomfort, moving us away from the true Self which is connected to Joy, Love and Light.

In this world we see things from a very individual perspective that places a continual state of stress on our body, our breathing and our mind. We do not realize what motivates these "I wants". By having thoughts like "If I do not work I will not be able to pay my rent", "if I do not do enough I will not be rewarded", we forget that the "I" is only an illusion and that this vicious circle will simply never satisfy us.

The emotional and mental fear, rooted in the body and the mind, may seem real to us but it is only an illusion as it is part of the unreal "I". This way of seeing can be found in the fear of becoming old, of remaining alone, of dying. This not only creates an uneasy feeling of separation, but it also profoundly supports the appearance of physical and mental diseases, states of thinness or obesity, asthma or bronchitis, problems of sight, etc.

Contrary to willpower, which brings into play the ego, intention is animated by the heart and our inner being. It is simply an expression of the pure love we have for all things and for all people. Its reference is not the past or future rather a deep presence to the fullness of life itself. When the ego does not have anything to want, there is no more situation of stress. When there is pure intention, the mind, the body and the breath are released. The more this intention relaxes us, the more we are present to the pure joy and happiness which is a part of all Life and which we should not be seeking outside of ourselves. In Huachuma communities, living life with pure intention is a way of behaving which borrows from the rhythms of Nature.

When shamans conduct their healing ceremonies, they place themselves in a space of pure Love, Joy and Happiness and by doing so ensure that their intention is pure. From this space, they offer gifts and offerings to Mother Earth and to all forms of life demonstrating the respect and connection they have with all that surrounds them. Their offering is not a prayer but rather an expression of their intention. In extending our Being into the present dynamics of life we escape the image of reality created by the ego and strengthen our awareness of life rather than yearning for everything. We participate as part of the Universe rather than from a space of desire.

* You also teach a lot about power of food we eat. How can food help us achieving higher state of mind?

- For me, food and the act of eating are fundamental for inner wellbeing and physical health. Food is not only a material substance that nourishes the body, but also a substance containing spiritual and emotional energy. Its energy is a very important source of life. It helps us to create a healthy foundation for our temple (our physical body), allowing inner work and transformation to take place quietly and harmoniously. This is why consuming food that is fresh and full of energy is central in this shamanic practice.

I believe that the way we eat and what we eat mirror our spiritual development. It is never wise to buy canned highly processed food which is so common today on the television, in restaurants, fast food establishments and on our shopping lists. How can this type of food contain the same life force as fresh vegetables and fruits? How can such a way of eating be spiritual? For the traditional populations of the Andes, these attitudes are horrifying and correspond to a slow death; an invitation for the physical body to easily get sick with age.

Food is more than just a physical thing. Healthy food is not only for filling our stomachs because when eating it one communicates on a very deep level with Mother Nature. When we eat with more awareness, we understand that it is useless to refer to other people’s ideas. Not dependent on the idea that food or the things of the external world can really fill us with happiness, one understands that in the natural laws, Happiness and what nourishes us, are an extension of Mother Earth, an extension of ourselves. The knowledge of Nature is acquired by understanding its laws and by being present to it.

I remember that in South America, in certain areas of the Andes, the people living a traditional life always ate food full of life energy. Their faces had a sparkle missing on Westerners of the same age. These people worked in the fields until they were 80 or 90 years old and did not have the symptoms of “old age.” They lived on a simple vegetarian diet, breathing fresh air and showing joy and happiness in their tasks. Disease was rare and people often had many children. Many also lived for up to 120 years.

With all its technologies, its vitamin pills and its artificial medicines, the globalised world does not experience this natural state of wellbeing still found in various parts of the world. Traditional societies are however being slowly touched by external influences. The Western diet is becoming prevalent throughout the world, thus we see the same diseases and lack of vitality, present in the West, now reaching the most isolated villages.

Huachuma shamanism, alongside many other mystical traditions, does not recommend the consumption of meat and eggs. It considers vegetarian food as being the ideal way to have a healthy body. Being very acidic, meat tends to prevent harmonious digestion. For those who eat it, it is very important to eat it in association with many vegetables in order to neutralize its acidity. Generally, members of traditional cultures consume meat in very small quantities and always mixed with vegetables.

* What foods offer optimal energy powers? What food do you recommend?

- I consider that we must include as many “sacred foods” as possible in our diet such as honey, pollen, almonds, pine nuts, dates, grapes, pomegranates, coconuts, sesame seeds, quinoa, milk and carob.

These sacred foods contain many trace minerals that the body needs:

- Milk (cow, goat, sheep, buffalo, etc.) is sacred and is for me one of the foods of the gods. However, it was never conceived to be absorbed in its pure state but in the form of yoghurt, curdled milk or “kefir”, or in the many ways imagined by the ancients. Taken curdled, it has a very spiritual quality and is excellent for children. The milk our ancestors drank and that members of traditional societies still often drink today is very different from the milk bought in supermarkets. Supermarket milk contains very little life force and is full of chemicals, antibiotics and hormones which often cause allergies and reactions to those who consume it.

- Dates and carob provide a rich source of minerals, especially iron and magnesium and possess a healthy sweetness.

- Almonds and pine nuts are excellent for reinforcing the body, especially during times of convalescence and fatigue.

- Pomegranates, grapes and coconuts are good for anaemia and for cleansing and strengthening the blood.

- Honey is an excellent antibiotic and, in small quantities, a powerfully cleansing and healing food.

- Sesame is rich in calcium and iron and particularly alkalising to the body.

- Pollen is a superfood with almost every known nutritive factor present in a dense and easily digestible form.

- Quinoa, especially sprouted quinoa, is an excellent strengthening food, similar to millet.

Most of the sacred foods tend to be too strong for the body if they are consumed in excess.

The process of eating should be quiet and joyful. With each mouthful, one should be fully conscious of the food. To eat is not simply a physical process, rather a whole process of enhancement and development.

* How can we bring more joy and pleasure into our lifes?

- Joy does not come from limitations but from freeing ourselves from our limitations. If our breathing is tainted with negativity, true knowledge cannot reach us because we limit ourselves. Through anger, depression or unhappiness, we become locked up in an illusion created by ourselves and which separates us from the joy and happiness, which are at the deepest part of our Being. We reach Unity by transcending our limitations rather than transforming or destroying them. To go beyond these limitations, we can place ourselves in front of a mirror for a few minutes, observing our position, our lungs, our abdomen, our shoulders, and our self as they appear in the mirror. Are we breathing deeply? Breathing deeply into this moment is the easiest way to honour Life and our essence. By doing so, we start to say "yes" to Life and begin becoming joyful and free in our body.

This state, which connects us with the essence of things, is impossible to acquire if, like most people, we have a pattern of shallow and disjointed breathing. This happens when the physical and energy body have incarnated fear and are separated from Love, from the flow of Life. In this situation, the breath changes its rhythm and is shortened. Our posture and our body energy are also maintained in fear and have an energy that attracts negative situations, even if it is only one reality created through the illusion of our thoughts. This type of shallow breathing pattern unconsciously expresses our separation from the idea that Life is perfect and not limited. Reality cannot then be experienced in its totality.

It is fascinating to see how, while saying "yes" to Life, our health improves, our intelligence receives flashes of illumination, and our heart beat slows down. The deceleration of the cardiac pulsations through breathing helps to oxygenate our blood and to release our muscles and our organs, which extends our life and allows us to appreciate the simple things of the world. It is a source of wellbeing and joyfulness in the spiritual and emotional domains as well as in the depths our Being.

While being attentive to our breathing, we understand that inner transformation has its foundations in the body and that deep, released, complete, natural breathing is a bond with parts of ourselves that are separated from Life and that must find harmonious balance with the power of Mother Earth. This is intelligence. Being angry, full of hate, committing suicide or blaming others for our problems leads nowhere. Not only do we destroy ourselves, but we also provide discomfort and suffering to others. By positively changing the rhythm and the depth of our breathing we can change our appearance and our consciousness. We can transform our anger and anxiety and we can stop damaging our body because we say "yes" to Life.

As with the baby, everything begins with the breath. To breathe consciously in the present reminds us that each moment is an experience of freedom. Freedom is not acquired with a technique but is rather the expression of what we are physically and mentally. Each time we become aware of our breathing, let us place our Self in this moment. Let us release the body. Let us fill it with a deep, complete breath and let go, let go, really let go and let us be simply there, present to each wondrous moment. Deep, slow breathing is a breathing that fully expresses joy and freedom.

Author Bio :
After having sought spiritual training in Mt. Baldy Zen Centre, a renowned Zen Buddhist monastery in California, Tony Samara ventured to the jungles of South America - to the Amazon and to the Andes - where he lived and studied among several communities of traditional Shamans. During these years he was initiated in the sacred healing ways of these ancient peoples. He eventually left South America to teach and share this deep wisdom with the world.

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