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The Art Of Smudging – A Shamanic Cleansing Ritual

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Smudging
Photo Credit: Ancient Origins

Nick PolizziGuest Writer

There is something primordial within us that connects smoke with spirituality.

If you grew up religious, you probably witnessed the ritualistic use of smoke in ceremony. For me it was frankincense and myrhh being burned during Sunday mass. For others it might be smouldering incense at their Buddhist Temple, or the spiralling tendrils of bukhoor in a mosque.

In Native American tradition, it’s seen as a bridge to the higher realms, a way to bring in good spirits and dispel the negative or stagnant ones. The most common smoke-purification ritual used by the northern tribes is a technique called smudging. This practice (or some variation of it) is embraced by almost every one of the native cultures we’ve worked with in the western hemisphere. When we see a unique method used by different tribes across multiple continents or land masses, it’s a strong indication that it yields very real physical and/or spiritual benefits.

In this article, I want to show you how best to smudge yourself and also explore some of the wisdom behind this ancestral art.

A Shamanic Cleansing Ritual

Smudging is the ritualistic burning of herbs and plant resins in a shell or clay bowl while prayers of gratitude and wellbeing are said aloud. The smoke is traditionally fanned using the hand or a feather (eagle feathers are treasured for this) and directed over a person or throughout a living space. The purpose is to wash away impurities, sadness, anxieties, dark thoughts and any unwanted energies or emotions that may be clinging to a space or individual.

This is often done before a ceremony or special gathering, after an argument (to literally “clear the air”), when moving into a new home, at the end of the cold season to re-invigorate one’s living space, and on a variety of other occasions. 

There is much subtlety to this practice, and its potency reveals itself in the experience as you work with it. So, before we get started, it’s important to understand the deep symbolism that underlies each of the objects used in a typical smudge. There are centuries of wisdom woven into this process.

First and foremost, the materials involved each symbolize and honour one of the four elements, a central theme in many Native American rites.

  • The shell or clay bowl represents water
  • The herbs and resins represent the earth
  • The feather and wind it creates represent air
  • The flame used to ignite the herbs represents fire
The Herbs

Sometimes only one specific herb is burned, but often a carefully prepared mixture is created. The Cree people of Montana and Saskatchewan call this botanical blend a kinnikinnick, and it can contain up to 30 different plants, chosen for certain outcomes or to treat a specific illness.

The most common herbs used for smudging in North American traditions are white sage, sweet grass, tobacco, and cedar. Not surprisingly, these are also four of the most sacred plants in this part of the world.

“Sweet grass grows high in the Rocky Mountains. A gift from the creator, it is said this grass never dies. It is one of the great smells reminding us of the mountains and open air. Sage is the cleanest smell of the desert. It is also a present from the Creator. Tobacco is another gift. Our thoughts and prayers are carried on its smoke. It carries the two great smells of the mountain and desert. It is a visual representation of our thoughts and prayers being transported.” – John Joseph, Chinook Shaman

A Smudging Practice to Try

A word to the wise: It’s important to hold pure and focused intention while you perform a smudging. Before you begin any purification ritual like this, make sure you’re fully present.

  1. You’ll need: a clay bowl or abalone shell, a few leaves of your dried herb of choice (or a blend), a flame, and an open hand or feather.
  2. Gently separate any stems or buds from the leaves of your dried herbs (only the leaves or blades are used in this process).  Then place the leaves into your smudging vessel – clay bowl or sea shell.
  3. If you are inside, open the windows in the space you are in, creating a flow of air from outside.
  4. Using a match or lighter, ignite the herbs and let them flame for 20 to 30 seconds before sweeping your hand above them to extinguish any fire. (I’ve been taught that using the breath to blow out the fire is not the proper way.)  Tendrils of smoke should be steadily rising from the smouldering herbs now.
  5. It is customary to smudge oneself first before moving on to others and the surrounding space. Using a cupped hand, draw the smoke around you.  Starting from the top, bring the smoke over and around your head, down your torso, all the way to your feet.  Make sure to pay attention to your breathing while doing this.  Slow and relaxed.
  6. Once you are finished with yourself, use your feather or hand to waft the smoke gently into the corners of the room and over any plants or pieces of furniture. My friend Santiago once advised that we need to be present with the smoke and watch carefully how it behaves and flows around specific people and objects. When we are fully aware, we’ll notice that it moves differently as it touches certain things. There is information there.
  7. Once you have finished smudging, tradition tells us that the ashes of the spent herb should be brought outside and returned to the soil.  Call it superstition if you’d like, but many tribes believe that the charred residue carries its own energy and must be given back to the earth.
A Native American Prayer You May Want to Use While Smudging

Creator, Great Mystery
Source of all knowing and comfort,
Cleanse this space of all negativity.
Open our pathways to peace and understanding.
Love and light fills each of us and our sacred space.
Our work here shall be beautiful and meaningful.
Banish all energies that would mean us harm.
Our eternal gratitude.

– The Medicine Wheel Garden, E. Barrie Kavasch

Smudging is a powerful way to clear stagnant energies and bring a renewed sense of wellness into my living and work space. Next week, my wife, son, and I will be creating a special smudge stick from some local sweet grass and sage that grows in our backyard. Another wonderful way to connect with the earth magic that surrounds us!

Stay curious, Nick Polizzi

Recommended Articles by Nick Polizzi
About the Author

Nick Polizzi has spent his career directing and editing feature length documentaries about natural alternatives to conventional medicine. Nick’s current role as director of The Sacred Science documentary and author of “The Sacred Science: An Ancient Healing Path For The Modern World” stems from a calling to honour, preserve, and protect the ancient knowledge and rituals of the indigenous peoples of the world.

For more, visit www.thesacredscience.com.

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Consciousness

We Need To Feel To Heal

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We Need To Feel To Heal
Photo Credit: Truth Theory

Lissa Rankin, MD, Guest Writer

As I’m trapped in my house because the air quality where I live in the Bay Area is incompatible with life, as I’m sheltered in place for six months and gave up all summer travel because I want to be a responsible community member and don’t want to hurt anyone who might be at risk of COVID, I am wrestling with how we live in a world where our president doesn’t believe in climate disasters and some doctors with public influence are denying the danger of COVID. I can only make sense of all this by viewing disaster denialism as a trauma response that deserves our compassion.

Unrelenting natural disasters like the current West Coast wildfires and smoke outs are terrifying. Those of you who don’t live here might not understand how terrifying it feels to not be able to breathe in your front yard. This morning, I got online to see if there’s some place I can escape to, someplace my family and I can breathe. The closest place I can find with a good AQI is Sedona. That’s terrifying. 10% of the population of Oregon has evacuated according to the New York Times this morning because the AQI is 400-500+ in most of the state. Yet only the privileged can evacuate. What about all the people who can’t afford to leave their jobs or their homes and go stay in a hotel somewhere? What about the people who are high risk for COVID and are scared to leave home, even if home means you can’t breathe? What about the animals?

It’s no wonder people would respond to this very real terror by escaping into a utopian narrative that a great awakening is happening and we’re all waking up. I would prefer to believe that a new age is dawning and things are getting better and better too. But that’s not the reality of what’s happening. What’s really happening is that we may be in the midst of a mass species extinction of our own making, and the West Coast of the US may soon be uninhabitable—because of our own denialism and inability to respond to a series of intersecting disasters, most notably climate crisis.

If we are “woke,” we should be engaging in the very practical action steps put forth in the hopeful book, The Future We Choose, by Paris Climate Agreement negotiator Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. If we are woke, we should be rallying together to make a cooperative effort to get this pandemic under control, even if it means sacrificing in the short term some of the personal freedoms we’ve come to feel entitled to. If we are woke, we need radical policy change in almost all of our systems—health care, education, politics, economics, the justice system—which have spiralled into apocalyptic levels of corruption and are causing moral injury for those who still work within these systems they feel helpless to change.

I get that it’s hard to feel the feels that come with back to back disasters. It’s hard for me too. But we need to increase our resilience and tolerance for feeling fear, bewilderment, shame, guilt, helplessness, powerlessness, worthlessness, disorientation, and other painful emotions so we can be “response-able”—able to respond, as Thomas Hubl defines it—in this apocalyptic time. The only way we can do that is by treating our traumas with therapies that actually work. (I’m a fan of Internal Family Systems-IFS—personally.)

Yesterday, when I was expressing my genuine pain of what’s happening here in the West Coast, someone on my Facebook thread shamed me for being “low vibe” and “creating my reality” with my negative thinking. I was so startled by the stark, even cruel lack of empathy in his response. Is he saying my valid fear in the face of a life-threatening disaster is causing the entire West Coast to be un-breathable and if only I pretend it’s not terrifying and think fake happy thoughts, the air will clear around me? It was such a delusional level of spiritual bypassing that I realized that spiritual bypassing is a very valid and understandable trauma response and that he deserves my compassion, even as I set boundaries that protect me from what I consider abusive behavior. Telling someone in the midst of an acutely traumatic situation that they have created their painful reality with their negative thoughts is abusive and should not be tolerated. But if we come to understand it as a trauma response, maybe we can have more sensitivity to those who are responding to real disasters in this

Using IFS language, most of us have parts that felt helpless, powerless, ashamed, terrified, worthless, and not good enough when we were little. Disasters can activate those feelings again, so it makes sense that some people would cope with those hard to feel feelings by covering them up with spiritual bypassing parts. Sure, I’d rather believe that benevolent aliens have penetrated humans on earth as a way to save us from ourselves than believe that humans are actually destroying ourselves and unwilling to do what it takes to save ourselves. But dear ones, if we want to actually wake up, we must stop believing we’re woke and feel the pain that comes with humility, facing our personal and collective shadows, wrestling with painful emotions, and taking firm action to make amends and reverse course. Nobody is coming to save us from the disasters we’ve created with our own greed, denialism, plundering of nature, entitlement, dehumanizing behavior of people of color, land theft of the indigenous people, genocides, and other atrocities us and our ancestors have willingly participated in. I’m sorry if it’s hard to hear that or feel what that evokes. I’m sorry if you misunderstand my willingness to face the stark reality of concurrent disasters as being “unenlightened.” I’m terribly sorry if you’ve been duped into believing it’s more enlightened to deny reality than to feel the pain of it.

This is why I think it’s so crucial we all come together to address collective trauma. I participated in Thomas Hubl’s Collective Trauma Summit and will be listening to all the other speakers when it starts soon. If any of you are interested in joining in as part of collective healing without spiritual bypassing, I would love to have you all among that community with me here.

As for this post, please, let us keep this a non-polarizing space to experience reality—and all its emotions—together, as safely as possible, without insulting each other or shaming anyone, even those who engage in spiritual bypassing because they don’t know how else to handle hard times. What do you need to express today? How are you feeling?

Originally published at lissarankin.com and reproduced here with permission.

The views in this article may not reflect editorial policy of Collective Spark.

Recommended Articles by Lissa Rankin
About the Author

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician on a grass roots mission to heal healthcare, while empowering you to heal yourself. She is the founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and  healthcare providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of the books Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself (2013), The Fear Cure (2014), and The Anatomy of a Calling (2015).

Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and created the online community HealHealthCareNow.com. She is also the author of several other books, a speaker, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

Connect with Lissa on Facebook and Twitter, or visit LissaRankin.com.

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Consciousness

6 Quick And Easy Intuition Exercises To Help You Focus On Your Own Truth

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6 Quick And Easy Intuition Exercises To Help You Focus On Your Own Truth
Photo Credit: https://markmanson.net/

Nikki HarperGuest Writer

We are currently living in a period of great stress and, for many people, tremendous fear. We’re also living in an information age – or perhaps that should be more accurately characterised as a mis-information age. Misinformation is everywhere, from well-meant but untrue social media memes to obfuscation, confusion and downright lies from governments and authority figures.

Lewis Carroll’s White Queen may have prided herself on her ability to believe six impossible things before breakfast, but these days we find ourselves often asked to believe – and act in accordance with – multiple conflicting and rapidly changing statements and instructions on a daily basis. Add in the undercurrent of fear and mistrust, and it’s very easy to lose sight of your own intuitive truth amid all the misinformation.

Next time you find yourself wondering what – or who – to believe, whether on a personal matter or a global crisis, try one of these quick and simple exercises to put you back in touch with your own higher knowledge and intuitive truth.

Three of these exercises work with direct intuition – using nothing but your own higher consciousness to receive direct answers. The other three work with indirect intuition, or symbolic intuition, using a tool of some kind to help you discover and interpret an answer. Some of these exercises require you to have a question in mind before you start; with others you do not ask a question, you simply remain open to whatever you soul most needs to know in that moment. Some of these ideas will work better for you than others, so just experiment with whatever feels right to you.

Ask a Book – Any Book

Bibliomancy is the art of divination via random passages from random books. Here, however, we’re not looking to divine the future, but to strengthen your intuition. Form a question in your mind – anything you need to know an answer to, from the deeply profound to the entirely trivial, it doesn’t matter. Then, wherever you are, pick a random nearby book and open it to a random page. Close your eyes and run your finger up and down the page until you feel you should stop.

Pay close attention to the sentence you have stopped on. What does it tell you about the question you asked? Depending on the book you chose, it may well have no obvious connection whatsoever – most likely you will need to read between the lines, looking for the symbolic meaning behind the written words. If you can’t work with the individual sentence, expand it and use the paragraph instead. There are answers if you look hard enough for them.

Go on a Meditative Journey

This method works with your direct intuition. Sit calmly and quietly and ease yourself into a light meditative state. Then take yourself on a journey, to a place of your choice – you might want to visit a cave, a forest glade, a beach, a city park, a mountain top or wherever else appeals to you in the moment. Take your time on this journey, noticing as much detail as you can. When you arrive at your destination, look for a box, a chest, a bag or a container of some kind which will be waiting for you. Open it and take out a piece of paper from within it. What is written on the paper? This is a message directly from your higher consciousness; read it, absorb it and learn from it.

Doodle Your Answer

Sit quietly and calm your mind. Have a question in mind. Write it down four times, one underneath the other, on a piece of paper. Each time you write it down, ask your higher self for guidance. When you’ve written it the last time, immediately clear your mind and start to doodle on the page for sixty seconds. Don’t consciously try to draw anything or answer your question. Just doodle.

When you’ve finished, look at what you’ve done. How can you interpret these lines and symbols with regard to your question? What answers do they hold for you?

Choose a Card or Image

If you have a deck of tarot cards or oracle cards, this is easy to do. If you don’t have one, you can use random photos or images cut from magazines, although obviously that’s not a spontaneous thing and will need considerable preparation. Anyway, once you have your source of cards or images, shuffle them or mix them up in any way which appeals to you, face down.

Select a card or an image, while holding a question in your mind. The process of selecting one is up to you; you could just pick one at random, or you could choose a specific number and count deal out that many cards, choosing the 8th or the 17th or whatever number matters to you. Alternatively, sort the face down cards or images into two alternate piles; discard one and sort the remaining ones into another two piles; discard one and continue doing this until you have only two cards left – discard one, and the remaining one is your image.

Look at the image or card. If you read tarot or are familiar with the oracle deck, try to put the normal interpretations out of your mind. Look only at the image itself and try to interpret what that has to say in relation to your question.

Listen to Your Stream of Consciousness

This is another way of accessing your direct intuition. Clear your mind and set a timer for five minutes. Then start to write on a blank page. It doesn’t matter what you write; write the first words which come to your head even if those are ‘I don’t know what to write’ and continue from there. It doesn’t matter if you repeat yourself. Don’t censor what you’re writing or even think about it consciously, just write out the thoughts which occur in your mind. At the end of your five minutes, stop. Read what you’ve written and assess how it could possibly relate to what you might need to know right now.

Hide the Answers

Have a question in mind which has no more than three potential answers – for example, something regarding what you should do about a career issue. On three small pieces of paper, write the three answers (for example: bide my time in this job, re-train as X, look for a new job in my current field). Put each piece of paper inside an envelope and seal the envelope. Sometime later that day, pick up the envelopes and shuffle them around. Spend five minutes sitting with them, handling each one but allowing your conscious thoughts to drift wherever they will. At the end of five minutes, choose the envelope you feel most drawn to and reveal the answer.

All of these exercises will help to strengthen your intuition, but the thing which strengthens intuition most of all is when we use it. There’s no point gaining answers or information if you’re then going to ignore it. So, try to act upon the answers or information you received – be brave and just do it. The more you use your intuition in a practical, everyday sense, to guide your decisions, the stronger it will become.

Recommended Article by Nikki Harper
About the Author

Nikki Harper is a spiritualist writer, astrologer, and Wake Up World’s editor.

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Manifest

Research Says Gratitude Can Reverse Aging, Stress And Ill Health

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www.medium.com

Carolanne Wright, Guest Writer

With all the doom and gloom in the world, it seems as though everywhere we turn, there’s one crisis or another. And although it’s crucial to be well-informed and prepared in these modern times, “consuming” a consistent diet of bad news takes a toll on health, happiness and even our rate of aging.

In spite of this, we can apply straightforward action that counteracts the negative effects that we experience. The best part is that it takes only a few minutes a day to radically change our physicalhttps://collective-spark.xyz/?s=gratitude and mental well-being, while at the same time slowing — and possibly reversing — the aging process. The secret? Living a life of gratitude.

Confirmed by science: a grateful heart is good for you

As unlikely as it may sound, when we slow down and take the time to appreciate all the good in our lives — rather than what we are dissatisfied with — a radical change in our physiology occurs. The simple act of gratitude has been scientifically shown to balance our heart rhythms and nervous system, leading to favourable changes in immunity and hormonal equilibrium, as well as increased production of the anti-aging compound DHEA.

Further benefits include a significant reduction in stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression. Considering that the damaging effects of stress contribute to a spectrum of diseases — including, but not limited to cardiovascular disease, cancer, mental illness and a variety of autoimmune disorders — it’s in our best interest to get a handle on this health-destroying syndrome.

The good news is that we can easily tame stress in just a few minutes per day by using simple techniques. A study sponsored by the Institute of HeartMath and the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in California discovered that a new emotional self-management program significantly reduced the stress hormone cortisol while increasing DHEA, resulting in a remarkable reduction of tension and anxiety.

Forty-five healthy participants were involved in the study. Salivary DHEA/DHEAS and cortisol levels were measured and the autonomic nervous system was assessed using a heart rate variability evaluation. A psychological questionnaire was also given. Individuals were evaluated before and four weeks after being trained in the emotional self-management program, which included practices that encourage appreciation and gratitude.

In the study abstract:

“The experimental group experienced significant increases in the positive affect scales of Caring and Vigor and significant decreases in the negative affect scales of Guilt, Hostility, Burnout, Anxiety and Stress Effects, while no significant changes were seen in the comparison group. There was a mean 23% reduction in cortisol and a 100½ increase in DHEA/DHEAS in the experimental group.”

The full report can be found here  [PDF].

Two key techniques were used for the experiment — the “Cut-Thru” and “Heart Lock-In.” To learn the specifics of both practices, see The HeartMath Solution.

How to tame stress, encourage happiness and foster health in minutes a day

If you would like to use a few easy methods that encourage balanced heart rhythms, stress reduction and positivity, this page is a good place to start. Additionally, The Appreciative Heart: The Psychophysiology of Positive Emotions and Optimal Functioning is available as a free e-product download.

Lastly, Sara Childre, president of the Institute of HeartMath, aptly observes:

“Gratitude is a simple and effective practice and the benefits are real and attainable. Many of us know this in our hearts, but now it’s proven by modern science. Gratitude creates a healthier, happier and more fulfilling state of being for anyone who takes a few moments to feel and reflect on it.”

Article Sources
Recommended Articles by Carolanne Wright
About the Author

Carolanne enthusiastically believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, Carolanne has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of organic living, gratefulness and joyful orientation for over 13 years

Through her website Thrive-Living.net she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people from around the world who share a similar vision. Follow Carolanns on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

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Consciousness

Covid-19: An Opportunity For Self-Realisation

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Covid-19: An Opportunity For Self-Realisation
Photo Credit: Pexels

Buddha Maitreya, Guest Writer

Nature has sent us a warning. We have to change our life and our world and now. Our life has ground to a halt by Covid-19, it has been cruel and a tragedy for so many, but for mankind as a whole it could be the moment of learning, to start a new life and build a new world.

The human race has led a material-orientated way of life ever since the start of civilization over twelve thousand years ago and has achieved a highly developed society. Huge amounts of wealth have been accumulated through industry and commerce, but at the same time it has brought with it a crippling defect, a massive imbalance. There is inequality, poverty, social unrest, devastation of the ecosystem and environmental destruction of the planet.

What is happening now is that nature has forced us to stop our present way of life so that the planet can be protected, life on earth can survive and she has presented us a chance to change our life in order to discover a more whole and harmonious way of living.

In practice nature is teaching us to change ourselves from a material orientated ego-centred self to a spiritual, altruistic self to encourage us to fulfil the purpose of life – ‘Know Thyself’ or self-realisation.

Most people are not aware that the ego-self is not our real self, but a false self, a product of the mind, mental concept, and not the true reality of human beings. What is not reality is illusion, our ego-self is illusion. Our true self is the pure reality of our BEING that is life manifested in the human body which is a miracle and wonder of creation – divine.

Up until now human beings have lived on earth with the illusory ego-self and created a materialistic world of endless troubles and suffering. Ego is illusion, false self-identity, illusion is ignorance and this is the true cause of suffering.

Now nature has shut down the whole world providing us time to reflect and an opportunity to transform ourselves.

Our true self is unity with the universe as being LIFE (Oneness) itself. Thus we have all the good of the universe, energy of the universe, glory of the universe, intelligence of the universe and generosity of the universe. We are endowed with the wholeness – universal mind, universal wisdom and universal love. As our True self we can lead a life in ONENESS, a harmonious life of wholeness, balanced, holistic, eco-friendly, a sustainable way of life, an ethically caring, loving spiritual life.

We are not here on this planet to live and die in the world of illusion and suffering, conflict and war but to live in the world of The Truth, the Pure Reality, the glory of LIFE, with wonder and beauty, in the splendour of the universe.

Human beings have lingered in a life of materialism for so long, but now is the time to break it and step forward into a new life in the world of ONENESS and wholeness of LIFE to build a new world.

The Way of Self-Realisation: “Buddhayhana” – The Simple But Direct Way of the Truth

The way to find the truth, or one’s true self, is not achieved by an intellectual approach or philosophical understanding, because the Truth does not exist in an abstract mental field, but is the solid reality that is pure Life itself.

Hence the only way to know the Truth, or to realise one’s true self is “Be”. To be the reality with one’s whole being, that “I am”. To Be is to be Life, the pure reality, the Truth. As we “sit and be”, we are the Truth, we are our true self, which is self-realisation.

The Truth can be called Buddha, hence the meditation “sit and be” is Buddhayhana. Anyone can be Buddha in it, and everyone should be, as it is the purpose of life.

Originally published at Pure Land, and reproduced here with permission.

About the Author

Maitreya (Koji Takeuchi) was born and brought up in Handa, Japan, near Nagoya. During the difficult teens he began a desperate search for truth, turning to meditation with the hope of personal contact with the truth. And so it was that he found himself on a week’s meditation course for lay people at a monastery one summer where he had the experience ‘Enlightenment’ through his total sacrifice and dedication that was to firmly lay down the foundations for his life as a meditation teacher.

In the moment of ‘Enlightenment’, he saw the absolute perfection and beauty intrinsic in all things and all beings, the essence of Life. The clarity and joy of that experience and its profundity gave rise to the strong wish to share this with everyone by helping them to experience it too by means of simple meditation. Maitreya, for the purpose of becoming a meditation master, went on to university to complete an MA degree in Buddhist Theology and lived the life of a Zen monk for a time. But he felt the monastic life was too harsh, rigid and out of date.

Maitreya left Japan to spend a year in Thailand, then went traveling in India and Nepal where he began teaching meditation for a few years. Through the invitation of a friend he came to England. He stayed in various centres and universities around the country, Reading University, Cambridge University and Lancaster University, etc., teaching and lecturing.

It was whilst staying in Teversal in Nottingham he came across a property for sale in North Clifton which became a base from which to teach meditation. Pure Land was born in 1973.

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