The mystics of every religion and earth-based spiritual practice have a secret to share with us. And it is this: To enter into a conscious relationship with the unseen worlds and receive their wisdom, one must first make an offering of intent. At the core of that offering is the willingness to release the illusion that your rational mind is all powerful.
To be receptive to the dimension where the gods, goddesses, archetypes and angels reside, you have to let go of control. You have to become psychically porous. This is why mystical practices such as shamanism are referred to as “ecstatic” spiritual techniques. To be “ecstatic” is to stand outside of mundane consciousness and be forever changed, even if subtly, by that alteration of one’s view of reality.
Cross-culturally and throughout dozens of millennia, there have been countless techniques for announcing to the spiritual realms our desire to engage: chanting, praying, fasting, dancing, clapping, shaking, drumming, singing and breath work, among them.
In contemporary shamanic practices (thank you, Sandra Ingerman and Michael Harner for distilling these ways for us), the primary form of preparation for entering into ecstatic states is through “calling in” spiritual power, primarily through drumming and rattling. The steady beat of these instruments slows the electrical activity of the brain, relieving us of intellect-dominated perception. (more…)