Shaman

My #1 Piece of Advice to Healers, Coaches, Practitioners and Fellow Seekers...

My #1 Piece of Advice to Healers, Coaches, Practitioners and Fellow Seekers on the Path

Nobody ever told me this.

In my 15+ years practicing Shamanic work, 12 years practicing Reiki and 9 years owning and operating my own business, not one single person ever gave me this piece of advice.

Which I find hilarious, because it's one of the most common pieces of advice that I'm offering to my Spiritual Mentorship clients.

As I continue to work with more and more people in a mentorship capacity (healers, coaches, practitioners, both those who are new to their practice and those who are well-established but wanting to serve more), one glaring commonality keeps coming up:

"I can't ____________________ until/because _______________________."

I can't start taking clients until I make a website.
I can't start offering sessions because I'm not totally clear on my niche yet.
I can't do healing work for other people until I've healed myself.
I can't take clients until I've practiced more and am really good at ______ first.
I can't _________ because I don't have a certification.
I can't quit my job because my healing practice isn't where I want it to be yet.
I can't shift the focus of my work because I'm known for __________.
I can't introduce this new practice I'm really excited about because it means I will lose clients who are used to me serving in a certain way.
I can't ___________ because the market is saturated and a bajillion people do that.

Do any of those sound familiar?

We humans are really, really good at coming up with reasons why we shouldn't do something that will stretch us, challenge us and move us in a direction of growth and expansion. I'm not sure if healer/coach/service-types are more prone to this (or if maybe that's just who I hang out with), but I can't tell you how many people over the years I have heard give all sorts of reasons why they can't offer their work.

Believe me, I do this, too! I have been through all sorts of my own versions of these statements over the years. They still come up, but I've learned to recognize them and move through them with a smile.

How?

Okay, so this #1 piece of advice actually comes in four parts. Here they are:

1. There is no "arrival."

Many of these "I can't" statements are conditional upon some sort of "arrival" or achievement--the idea that we must reach some sort of arbitrary finish line in order to finally offer our work or service.  Here's the kicker: the finish line keeps moving.

The more we know, the more we realize we don't know. (Or maybe that's just me.) We think that getting that certification will finally enable us to do this work, and then once we have it, we think we need another training on top of that, and then  we need to go study this supplementary practice, and then go train with XYZ expert in the field...

Guess what: we are never "done." There is no "arrival." There is no "I am finally qualified because I have all the certifications and know every little thing so now I can officially open my practice and start helping people!!"

Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying, or has stopped growing, themselves.

You don't have to have all the answers to be a good healer/coach/practitioner/whatever. And while there might be some fields where certification or licensure is required by law, for the most part, you probably don't actually need to cross whatever arbitrary finish line you created for yourself in order to serve the people you want to help.

In fact, by waiting to offer your work until you've "arrived," you are making yourself unavailable to the people who need you.

Which leads me to...

2. Just do the thing!

Yup. It's that simple. Just start offering your work. Don't wait until you figure out exactly what you're offering, don't wait until you have a website, don't wait until you quit your corporate job, don't wait until you've healed yourself completely (see #1).

...because the best way for you to figure out what you're offering is to get immediate, direct feedback from doing the work.
...because the best way to make your website is once you already have a clear vision of how you are supporting people.
...because the best driver and inspiration for you to leave your corporate job to do the thing you love is doing the thing you love.
...because we are never done our healing journey. It is possible to be a phenomenal healer and still be on the path ourselves. In fact, it is impossible to be a phenomenal healer and NOT be on the path.

By simply doing the thing, eventually you will...

3. Master your craft.

Mastery comes from practice. There is no shortcut. There is no other way around it. Stop looking for a magic quick fix.

...and enjoy the journey of discovery! What happens when we treat the process and practice as the goal itself, instead of any imagined end result?

  • We allow ourselves to be fully present within the process.
  • We treat ourselves with more compassion, patience and generosity.
  • We treat others with more compassion, patience and generosity.
  • We are able to practice our craft with curiosity and awareness, as opposed to judgement and comparison.
  • We release attachment to outcome and take pressure off ourselves.
  • We usually enjoy ourselves more.
  • We get really freaking good at the thing we are practicing.

When we treat Mastery as a journey of practice, rather than any sort of state of enlightenment, it becomes more accessible to us and to our potential clients. I can guarantee you that anyone would rather work with you, the human who is practicing and mastering their craft all the time, than the all-enlightened-super-perfect-master-on-the-mountaintop. You've got this.

Which leads me to (most important part!!!)...

4. Let your I AM be your Medicine.

In other words, let your most authentic, fully expressed Self be your service. Yes. It's that simple. YOU, yourself, are the best Medicine you could offer.

As long as I'm making guarantees, I guarantee that there is someone out there who needs you, exactly as you are, to support them on their path. Not the version of you who looks cool on Instagram. Not the version of you who seems to have their whole life together. Not the version of you who has finally "arrived." (See #1.)

You, in your I AM, as your fully expressed Self, are ready to offer your Original Medicine to the world. Let that be enough.

Because it is enough.

Because you are enough.

This is one of the biggest challenges I have faced, personally and professionally: the idea that my Self, my I AM, exactly as I AM, is the perfect Medicine for me to offer. That it can really be that simple.

And the more that I have embraced my I AM and allowed my Original Medicine to come through in my work:

  • I trust myself more than I ever though possible.
  • I AM supporting myself and my clients through even bigger life challenges and changes with ease.
  • I have dramatically upleveled my practice and my business to greater degrees of alignment, effectiveness and grace.
  • My work is even more subtle, even more powerful and more enjoyable for me and my clients.
  • I AM experiencing more freedom of choice, time, resources and abundance.
  • I feel more authentically embodied in my life and my practice than ever before.

What would that version of your life be like? What would that version of your practice feel like?

Can you let your Self be enough?

If this advice resonates with you, I would like to offer you an invitation:

Next week, on Monday, August 13, I will open applications for I AM Medicine: the fall iteration of my Spiritual Mentorship work that begins September 4th. There is space in this work for you to explore your own I AM and claim your Original Medicine.

Are you ready to release any sense of "arrival?" Are you ready to just do the thing you have been waiting on? Are you ready to master your craft? Are you ready to let your most authentic Self be enough?

Any good mentor is walking the path with you, and I promise that I AM right here on this journey, too.

Peek Behind the Veil: What happens at I AM Alchemy Retreat?

I just got back from our second four day retreat with my I AM Alchemy 2018 students, and I feel...

...full of energy, enjoyment, grace, and amazing food.

...inspired by my amazing students, by my personal takeaways, and by the body of knowledge itself.

...supported by my wonderful Shaman Sister, Katherine Bird, and by Ruthanne and Heaven and Earth Retreats.

...eager to share the magic with you!

Here's a sneak peek inside what goes on during a magical I AM Alchemy retreat:

Every morning, we began our day with Qi Gong practice lead by guest instructor Katherine Bird. Kat brought us practices from her Medical Qi Gong studies to support the energetic work. During this retreat, part of our focus included working with the Three Essentials (Salt, Mercury and Sulfur) and our personal Planetary Constitution. Here, Kat introduces us to the philosophy behind our movement practice:

We learned how to calculate the personal planetary constitution of everyone in the class, based on the Alchemical doctrine of Planetary Rulership. This includes primary archetypal influences, personal "power hours," and supporting the energies with corresponding metals, herbs, colors, foods and embodiment practices...

I AM Alchemy Retreat Teachings Planetary Correspondence
I AM Alchemy Retreat Planetary Constitution Moon Mars

 

...Then we studied  the necessary correspondences to support our personal Salt, Mercury and Sulfur Level Planetary Forces. I'm a double Moon plus Mars, which explains a lot.

I AM Alchemy Retreat Class Lightworker Portland Alchemist

We played games and found out who among us is competitive (hint: 2/3 of Team Mars, big surprise). We ate incredible food, we did intuitive readings and healing work for each other, we took a stargazing stroll and saw Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mars. We laughed a lot and witnessed each other through our joy and our tears. We examined our personal and professional practices in light of this mystery school and renewed our commitments to Self and Spirit as wayshowers for a New Earth.

I AM Alchemy Retreat Altar Ceremony Oracle Magic Eclipse Vision Quest

We all took an afternoon of solo ritual space to Vision Quest and practice journey work to step into this next initiation phase of our course. Everyone worked some pretty powerful magic and came back with epiphanies, commitments, messages from Guides and new, powerful energies to supercharge the next stage of the journey.

 

I AM Alchemy Retreat Personal Practice Journaling Alchemist Teaching Portland

 

 

The weekend included plenty of time for journaling and personal reflection. In such a beautiful setting, you can't help but breathe a little deeper, tune in to a more subtle awareness and just let yourself simply be.

 

 

I AM Alchemy Retreat Portland Alchemist Magic Spirit Synchronicity

 

 

There were signs and synchronicities everywhere! We received plenty of visits from animal guides, whispers from Spirit, and massive inputs of eclipse energy. Every sign felt like a message from Source, saying "you're on the right track. Enjoy the journey."

 

 

I AM Alchemy Retreat Heaven and Earth Portland Alchemist Training Teaching Magic

 

 

Plus, we got to wake up with this right outside every morning. Check out the view from my bed:

 

 

I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful, nourishing, inspiring retreat experience! This work is so much FUN, and I get to share it with a cohort of passionate, powerful students who are changing their lives and changing the world. It is truly an honor and a joy to dive deeper and deeper into this work. I AM Alchemy is stretching me, pushing me and inspiring me to uplevel my practice and my craft in ways I never imagined. What a journey.

If you're interested in I AM Alchemy 2019, get on the wait list here!

I'll be taking the next few days to rest and integrate! Catch you in August.

The Door of Initiation

How do we interact with our initiatory experiences?

Many times, until we learn to recognize them, we don't recognize our initiatory experiences until well after the fact. We perceive them as struggles, losses, challenges and opportunities, yet it is usually not until after we have passed through the "door" that we realize the true significance of crossing the threshold.

A lot of the people I work with come to me after they have experienced an awakening initiation: they have stepped through some sort of doorway (sometimes consciously, sometimes not) and now find themselves in unfamiliar territory where the world is not the same... and neither are they.

These doorways of initiation and awakening appear in all forms: job opportunities, death of a loved one, relocation, kids growing up, new people appearing in our lives, financial losses or failed careers, or even just waking up in a different reality.

How we interact with our initiatory experiences usually depends on whether or not we're aware that we are currently crossing a life-altering threshold. Sometimes it takes everything we have to choose to step through that doorway, and sometimes it feels as though we are dragged through it, kicking and screaming.

I have found myself in both of these positions: taking a breath to center myself, then deliberately crossing a threshold into a new way of being--sometimes with excitement, sometimes trepidation, usually both--and also, I have cried, howled in pain and clawed tooth and nail to try to get back through certain doors of initiations in the Shadow.

I feel inspired to share these thoughts today because we've all been here. And we will all be here again. Every single one of us has felt the squeeze, the uncertainty, the discomfort and growing pains associated with an initiatory experience. Learning to recognize them makes it easier to approach with purpose and resolve, rather than dread.

What would it feel like if you knew that your current experience was an initiation in disguise? How would you interact with it then?

Journal prompt:

"What door is appearing to me now? How do I feel about stepping through it? How have I interacted with my past initiatory experiences? How can I claim and recognize them in the future?"

Don't overthink it, just write and see what happens!

The Nature of Service, and Free Content for You!

What does it mean to serve?

I sit with this question often, as I wonder about the role my work plays in the world and how I am driven to be "of service." To serve means to provide for, to present someone with something, to attend to, to deliver, to be of use. All of these may be true, and yet they feel very technical to me.

When I ask myself, "how do I serve?" I come up with some variation of this core answer:

I make myself available.

This availability looks very different now than it did many years ago, as I discovered the importance of personal boundaries and maintaining my energetic protection. However, it still means that I'm living my life in such a way as to offer my time, my knowledge, my insights and personal experience for the benefit of others on the path.

Being available in this way usually entails a certain level of vulnerability and transparency for me.

Through making myself available as part of my service, I have told stories and shared publicly about moments in my life when I experienced deep trauma, shame, abuse, fear and heart-wrenching grief. I have told stories that don't make me look good, don't paint me as "qualified" or contribute to my professional image at all. I have shared moments of uncertainty, questioning and times when I have later changed my mind.

...and I am happy to share all of these moments and stories with you as part of my service. I know that, in doing so, I am making myself available to YOU, so that you know that you are not alone in your experience.

It is said that a Shaman's life does not belong to them: it belongs to their Tribe. A Shaman lives their life in service to the health and well-being of their community, and makes themselves available for the benefit of those around them, of all beings on Earth and of the Earth Herself.

As I bring a new vision to the archetype of the Shaman, by doing this work, I reclaim that my life DOES belong to me just as much as it belongs to my community. In doing so, I redefine the nature of service: how can I be just as much of service to others while still being of service to my own Highest and Greatest Good? How can I share my journey with others in order to inspire, uplift and connect us all? How can I serve even more?

All of us who offer our lives and our work in Service may ask ourselves these questions, and continue to discover the answers.

Free Content and Resources for You

One of the ways in which I enjoy making myself available in service is through creating FREE content and resources for you! I have hundreds of hours of free audio, video and plenty of articles available on all sorts of topics. And it's all FREE!

Check out some of the resources:

  • Free Monthly Master Classes on a variety of amazing topics! See below for March's class, and links to past classes.
  • Shaman Sister Sessions Podcast (just made a new website for the podcast! Links to 50+ past episodes and information to sign in to listen to the live recording. Sign up for SSS newsletter to receive the weekly episodes directly in your inbox, as well as calendar updates with upcoming episode topics!)
  • My blog with tons of articles and insight I've gained from my personal and professional journey.
  • Follow me on Social Media: Instagram and Facebook for updates, stories and photos!

My Gift to You: Happy SOULstice!

This Winter SOULstice, I've been thinking about what I would like to give back to YOU, the amazing people in my life who inspire me to continue the work I do.

As work with Soul Contracts comes up big time during this darkest, most contract-ive time of the year, it feels more important now than ever before to clarify and clean up our Soul Agreements before heading into a new year.

So, I would like to invite you to receive a special gift. I am offering five FREE Soul Contract healing sessions to you during December 26-29!

Here are the details:
-These must take place in person at my healing studio in SW Portland. Address provided upon registration.
-Once you register, there are no reschedules.
-First come, first serve! Once these sessions are filled, they are filled.
-Register here to reserve your FREE Soul Contract healing session.

What you can expect from these sessions:
-We will journey into the nature of your Soul Contract to examine any clauses that are no longer serving you.
-If possible, we will erase and rewrite them with a healthy, new agreement.
-We will do energy healing work to help this contract alteration integrate gently into your lived experience.
-I will not be doing this work "for" you. I will be guiding you and holding space for you to claim your full power in stating the nature of your Soul Contract with Spirit.
-There will be an audio recording of this session for you to revisit at any time.

If you would like to claim your FREE Soul Contract Healing session now, register here!

The Medicine of Space

When we create spaciousness for ourselves, we can relax into BEing and presence. We can expand to fully embody all parts of ourselves. We can be as big as we actually are. We can welcome in new energies and remain balanced through dynamic shifts.

I’ve been keeping relatively quiet for the past couple of months as I sit with some very significant changes that are coming up in my life and my work. I won’t go into too much detail now as it is still crystalizing, but suffice it to say that everything (one-on-one work, teaching, programs, etc) is getting an overhaul. The way that I am moving through it with a greater degree of ease and grace than I could otherwise is... spaciousness.

Even so, the overhaul has brought on some anxiety. The inner voices share their doubts:

“Am I committing entrepreneurial suicide by switching up my offerings all the time?”
“What the heck do I think I’m doing?”
“Am I kidding myself?”
“What if this is way too far out for people? What if nobody is ready for this? What if nobody gets it?”
“How can I make all these massive changes without shooting myself in the foot?”

Those are some of the highlights, but you get the idea.

I just returned from a week-long trip to Sedona, AZ, where I experienced a great deal of new energy and catalysts, set some changes in motion and received some profound medicine. One of the highlights was a visit to the Grand Canyon.

I had never been to this particular sacred site before, and as I approached the canyon rim, I felt myself start to tear up. I could feel the energy swelling up out of the exposed layers—ancient and constant in its power. Moved beyond words, I wandered off by myself to stand on a cliff edge and feel the potent waves course through my body. The Grand Canyon is a giant portal, and the amount of raw power and potential held within each grain of sand is palpable.

“This is the kind of healer I want to be. I want to be this spacious, this ancient, this solid, yet mutable.”

As these realizations formed in my mind, I felt myself expand enough to accommodate the Grand Canyon within my energy field.

“I AM this spacious. I AM this ancient. I AM this solid, this mutable.”

No matter the direction my work takes from here, the kind of space I hold for myself and for others is that deep. The kind of container I set for transformation is that wide.

I sat down to write in my journal, tears continuing to blur my vision. I had no idea what I was writing, and only discovered after I read it later that night that I had written a declaration—a prayer to the Grand Canyon herself:

I AM big enough to hold you.

I AM strong enough to serve you.

I AM patient enough to learn from you—the lessons in each stone and grain of sand.

I AM ancient enough to remember you as flat, scorched Earth that gave off the sharp tang scent of new metal, fresh from the fire.

I AM small enough to curl myself into each pore in your cavernous walls… tiny wombs where crystals and magic are born.

I AM quiet enough to hear the stories that have been buried in your layers for aeons rise up as they are freed by matter dissolving into air.

I AM raw enough to feel the currents of wind stirred by Raven’s wing.

I AM humble enough to kneel here, to know that I have died here and to surrender my bones to you to compost into soil.

I AM embodied enough to feel that you are big enough to hold me.

I AM wild enough to want to scream and chant and howl and sing and fill your canyons with my prayers, but subtle enough to know that a whisper will suffice.

I know that there is space for you in my bones, in my cells. I feel my body drinking in your familiar magic. Make me ancient. Help me remember. Support me in crumbling away all the surface layers to reveal the parts of me that were present for the birth of this and other worlds. Instruct me in how I may better serve. Teach me the ways of timeless presence. I fill myself with you. I AM reverence. There is no room here for anything but the Truth. I see my blood on your walls. Let me lie here and dissolve.

This is the kind of spacious timelessness that constitutes the Void. In this reality, no healing work is needed because nothing needs to be “healed.” There is no need to fix, to change, to alter or adjust. There is only BEing and presence.

Within that spaciousness, all things are possible. When I hold the medicine of the Grand Canyon in my body, the doubting voices immediately become silent.

I invite you to examine where you can breathe more spaciousness into your life. In what ways can you allow more BEing and presence?

Many blessings!

Michelle Hawk Shaman Portland Sedona Reiki Master Healer Teacher

Turning Down Clients: A Practice in Devotion and Discernment

IT IS OKAY TO TURN DOWN A CLIENT.

I just turned down a potential client who was interested in working with me because it felt like the wrong fit. When he described the kind of coach he was looking for, I knew that we wouldn't be a good match. I referred him to a colleague of mine who I felt would be a much better fit, but he was reluctant to contact this amazing practitioner because he was very attached to the idea of working with a woman.

In the past, I might have told him that we could work together, happily accepted his money and then struggled through a series of sessions that may not have served either of us. There can be a bit of ego, savior complex and/or scarcity mentality that comes into play when healers/coaches/practitioners are learning that IT IS OKAY TO SAY NO TO WORKING WITH SOMEONE. I have definitely fallen into this category before.

"Sure, I can do that kind of work." "This person really needs help!" "I could use the money." These were some of the arguments with which I would convince myself to take on a client that didn't feel quite right. And, invariably, something would be a bit off in our work together, and I would end up referring them to someone else. Fortunately, I only needed a few of these clients for me to fully learn this lesson.

Turning down a client is a practice in devotion and discernment. By holding the specific vision of the kind of client you want to work with, you attract more of those people to you and get to go that much deeper into the kind of work you love the most. Think of it as refining the agreement you have with Spirit about the way you want to show up in the world. If you're a generalist, you will continue to receive a broad spectrum of clients coming your way. The more you narrow it down and get specific about what you are here to do, the more your potential clients will align with that frequency.

As long as we're on the subject, let me practice being very specific:

My mission is to fully embody and express my Divinity/God Self on every level through my Joy, Love and Purpose, and in doing so, catalyze other people to do the same, thus bringing Spirit to full, grounded actualization on the Earth plane. I work with people who are in the process of awakening to their own Divine nature--those who hear the call to step fully into claiming their power and offering their Sacred Work to the world. I work with Warriors of the Light who are ready to be initiated into the full unfolding of their Soul's Mission. I work with Divine Embodied Beings who, every day, are committed to living fully expressed lives of Joy, Love and Purpose.

...Is that you?

The Door of Awakening

AWAKENING is the door you don’t notice until you’re ready.

It’s the door that’s always been there, unobtrusive, in the wall that you walk past a hundred times a day without ever registering its presence. Maybe you’re too busy. Maybe you’re preoccupied with your job, your family, your finances, your everyday life. But still, the door to your Awakening has always been there, waiting for you.

One day, you walk by the door and notice it for the first time. You’re suddenly startled, because you’ve passed this wall a thousand times and could have sworn there was nothing there! As you gaze in wonder and disbelief at this revelation of a door, the edges start to glow from the blinding light on the other side.

You have a choice. Here on the Earth plane, we all have the same choice. Are you going to open the door and walk through it, or go back to pretending the door was never there?

What if you choose not to open the door? Maybe you go back to your life and forget all about it, but the door still appears in the space between dreaming and wakefulness. Maybe you try to avoid that section of wall, but always find your steps leading you back to pause in front of the door-that-isn’t-there. Maybe you work so hard to numb yourself to its existence that you numb yourself to all things—your feelings, your family, your dreams, the essence of your joy…

But what if you did choose to open the door? What if, blinded by that omnipresent glow, not knowing what would happen, you stepped through anyway?

What if you claimed your AWAKENING?

What might you discover about yourself? What deep soul purpose would reveal itself to you? How might you come into remembering of who you truly are, and activate within you your own, infinite potential and vibrant nature?

There’s only one way to find out.

One Client's Amazing Healing

I love witnessing my clients as they make amazing shifts in all areas of their lives! I checked in with one client today who, before we started working together, was feeling stuck—stuck in an unfulfilling job, stuck with friends and acquaintances with whom she no longer had anything in common, stuck in a place of less-than-optimum health and stuck in a mundane daily routine that zapped her of any drive and energy. She contacted me several months ago after she came across a book on Shamanism, and she described the feeling as though a fire was lit inside of her. She knew that her health, her marriage and her life force energy were all suffering and she needed help to “get unstuck” and reconnect with her joy and sense of purpose.

Even though she was motivated to make some changes in her life, she was very afraid of upsetting the status quo (especially in her work and in her marriage). What if these life changes made her stick out even more at work and she lost her job? What if, by stepping into her personal power, she alienated her husband? What if she lost everything?

A few weeks ago, we completed our three months of working together in my Deep Medicine Path program, and watching her transformation has been absolutely extraordinary. Instead of losing her job, she decided to proactively phase herself out of her unfulfilling line of work at her own, gentle pace. She is in the process of beginning her own life coaching practice so she can inspire and empower others. Instead of losing her marriage and feeling alienated from her husband, their relationship finally has that spark of new life! He has loved witnessing her changes and gladly stepped up in full support of her transformation. Instead of feeling drained and tired all the time, she now has energy to devote to her own health and well-being and her body “hasn’t felt this good in years!”

Hearing “I’m so glad I worked up the courage to say yes and work with you!” from a client is the most amazing feeling. I am so humbled every time someone trusts me to shepherd them through their awakening. It means the world to me that I get to be a mentor and a guide for those stepping into their own power and embodying the radiance of their true selves. In so much gratitude!

SHAMAN

SHAMAN: What's in a "title"?

Last week I enjoyed the opportunity to introduce myself to someone using "anything but the woo-woo words" to describe myself and what I do. I was meeting a family member of someone close to me for the first time, and was forewarned that this family member would be most receptive to meeting me and warming to my character if I did not use "Spiritual language" to describe myself. In short, the phrase, "I'm a Shaman!" was off the table.

Challenge accepted!

When asked, "what do you do?" by this family member, I described the functional, tangible aspects of my work. "I support humans and animals in their journey to natural health and wellness. I work with animal health and behavior, and on the human side, I help people connect with their joy, love and purpose. I mentor people through challenging periods of their lives and help them work their way to the other side feeling more empowered, confident and connected." This person nodded approvingly and the conversation moved on.

Fast forward to today, in continuing with the theme, when someone online asked me, "What do you do as a Shaman?"

Again, I thoroughly enjoyed considering the functional implications of the term. What does a Shaman "do?"

Here is what I wrote back:

"I'm kind of laughing at my internal response to your question, which was "What DON'T I do as a Shaman?" I know that's not how you meant the question, but I try each day to live the idea of "my every breath and action is a practice in devotion to All That Is." So, essentially, I do everything as a Shaman, from washing the dishes and dancing to my healing work and more!

In other senses of the question, I practice the philosophy of "A Shaman devotes herself to the health and well-being of her Tribe." In my case, my Tribe is my global community. I work with humans and animals all over the world (though much of my client base is local) to help them discover and express their greatest joy, their fiercest love and their deepest purpose. I teach empowerment, mentor personal investigation and shepherd people through the underworld as they experience their own dark nights of the soul.

Functionally, I also work with supporting natural health and wellness (for humans and animals), teach Reiki and other healing practices (to humans), translate between species (animal communication) and channel Spirit (usually for humans).

Does that answer your question?"

Being a Shaman means different things to different people. The term gets thrown around a lot, and it's often loaded with some kind of judgment and/or misunderstanding. It took me YEARS before I was able to "put on the mantle" of claiming my medicine and publicly call myself a Shaman.

Now that I've journeyed through the process of fearing the label, unfolding the layers of the label, coming into my own understanding of the label, claiming the label and living the label, I'm finding that the label matters less and less. Shaman isn't what I DO, it's who I AM and how I live each moment of my life.

When my every breath is a prayer for the Highest and Greatest Good of All That Is, when I practice presence and peace in the face of every challenge, when I accompany people into the depths of their darkest fears so that they may feel safe, when I surrender to Spirit and allow the Divine to flow through me in order to let someone feel loved and seen and held--THAT is what I do, with or without the label. Shaman or not.

To be fair, the word "Shaman" fits more easily on a business card. It can be a very loaded "title," but it is also only that--a title. How is someone living their life as a Shaman? How do they practice their devotion? What is their offering? How do they live their service? These are questions I love to ponder for myself and others in the world, whether or not they call themselves Shamans.

I offer my gratitude to all those who continue to inquire and create opportunities for me to ponder my work, my choices and my path! I gladly receive these moments of reflection and growing understanding.

Many blessings and much love from your friendly neighborhood Shaman!

Michelle Hawk

Danger Junkie of the Soul

My current practice: Sharing my process and feelings while I still feel vulnerable.

I avoid conflict. I take complete responsibility for processing my own emotions. I value my alone time enormously. I don’t like to ask for help. I need to know how I feel before I can share it with anyone else.

The total sum of these qualities means that, when any kind of trigger or bubble of fear/anxiety/strong emotion arises, I retreat. I go within myself to fully process the feeling and return to a place where I feel safe and grounded before I even bring my inner turmoil to anyone’s attention, which can be anywhere from 2 minutes to days after the fact.

I don’t think that I am unique in my behavior. Humans make foolish decisions when we’re afraid, and we don’t like to make ourselves more vulnerable while we already feel compromised. For most people, however, I imagine that this takes the form of stuffing down their feelings and never looking at them until they explode. For me, it means that I go quiet until I have thought through it all and can express myself clearly.

I exhibit this behavior pretty much exclusively in relationship. I didn’t realize that this was the case until the last guy I dated expressed some frustration that I wasn’t sharing my feelings in the moment. When I reflected on this with a medicine sister, she replied with astonishment that I am one of the best she knows at doing this in the context of healing work. Immediacy, perfect clarity and ease of expression come to me effortlessly when working with clients and anyone else in my life, but as soon as I have to practice this with a partner, fear wins.

I decided that I would like to cultivate that skill of immediacy and vulnerability in my relationship dynamics. It feels important to practice this valuable tool, even though it scares the crap out of me.

And so, I lovingly devote myself to sharing my crippling fears, my debilitating anxieties, my bursts of terror and my spirals of shame while I am feeling them at the time. I am currently exploring a new relationship with a wonderful man who has very compassionately witnessed my moments of fierce emotion, listened to my feelings and held me in a state of ease and grace as I fumble my way back to equanimity.

I am definitely improving at this skill. The presence and peace with which I am met in these tumultuous moments have allowed me to bring these dark, twisting anxieties to the light to discover that perhaps they are less unlovable than I imagined. I certainly process these feelings much more quickly than I used to, but I suppose that makes sense. Trying to hold your own safe container while simultaneously addressing whatever emotional imp needs soothing in the moment takes some significant energetic juggling.

I love doing the things that scare me. I experienced one moment in particular last week that literally rendered me speechless out of sheer emotion: terror, shame, grief, trauma and despair all coursing through my chest in equal measure. And even though it felt like the most gut-wrenching thing in the world, I collected my breath and forced myself to speak it aloud. I noticed with some detached fascination as I did so that words could hold so much power and potential for healing. Witnessing myself in my terror and pushing through what feels like some form of death, then discovering that I still draw breath on the other side of the experience, is an intoxicating super power. Maybe this is what danger junkies feel when they risk life and limb. Maybe I’m a danger junkie of the heart and soul.

Examining those beliefs that we all have—the ones that shriek “No one would love me if they knew!” fascinates me beyond measure.

What terrors and anxieties hold you fast in their grip? What fears do you clutch so tightly to your chest that they rot away at your heart?

Are you ready to speak them aloud so you can begin to loosen their hold on you?

From one Danger Junkie of the Soul to another, I’ve got you. Let’s do this.