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Foundation of the Sacred Stream
A Quarterly Newsletter from the Foundation of the Sacred Stream ISSUE 17 | JANUARY 2010
Creating Pathways to wholeness
Journey On It..." 'No Journey' Can Be the Perfect Journey"

By Kristin Nemzer, MFT, CH

The shamanic journey is a method of working in an altered state and is achieved by using sound, such as a repetitive drum beat. It is called "shamanic" because working in an altered state in this way is found in most indigenous cultures. However, it is not limited to shamanism.  The journey can be described as an active form of meditation and is very useful in exploring the psyche and enhancing personal growth. Our purpose in offering this column is to create a forum, where people engaged in a shamanic journey practice may deepen their work with the journey, and their understanding of the journey as a tool for healing. Please feel free to send us a journey for publication to info@sacredstream.org.

The journey for this newsletter is a client case study submitted by Depth Hypnosis Practitioner Kristin Nemzer, MFT. Working with the shamanic journey in this way is part of the innovative methodology of Depth Hypnosis.

Kristin NemzerI have worked with many clients over the last 11 years who have wanted to learn tools that could help them find meaning and solutions to the issues they struggle with in their lives.  One tool I have used for the last ten years in my personal and professional life is the shamanic journey. The following is a case study demonstrating how the journey can be used in working with clients. In this particular case, it was the experience of not being able to journey, at first, which led the client to a deeper understanding of her issues and eventually led to a breakthrough in her healing. The client’s name and many details have been changed in order to maintain confidentiality.

Sherry was lost. She had just found out that her husband of over twenty years was having an affair and before she knew it she was divorced and living alone. She had always assumed that he would be there to support her and she had never had much self confidence. Her children had been her life’s focus but once they grew up and moved away she felt directionless. Sherry felt such a deep void within her that I thought she might benefit from learning the shamanic journey. 

After I taught her the basics of journeying, Sherry was ready for her first journey. She started her journey and all she saw was blackness. She felt like she was moving but she didn’t see anything other than black.  She went through a range of emotions – frustration, fear, sadness, despair. She started to blame herself for not being able to do anything. She expressed that how she felt during the journey was exactly how she has felt since her husband left and she was coming to therapy to get away from that feeling. She was lost.  

As the drumbeat ended and her journey concluded, she sat up and looked at me with embarrassment. She asked, “Have you ever had anyone not be able to journey before? I smiled and asked her, “Did that feel like you didn’t journey?” She said, “I had no journey. I didn’t see anything!” I said, “I guess for you no journey was the perfect journey!” I went on to explain to her that she had been shown her recent experience in her journey. She was shown a feeling of being lost and all of the feelings that arose in her when she had those feelings. Being able to have a compact experience of her current experience in life allowed us to discuss alternatives. We talked about trust, faith, acceptance, openness. She allowed herself to explore the idea that she really had had a valuable journey.

A few weeks after Sherry’s “no journey,” she was taking herself on a weekend trip to a Bed and Breakfast on the coast. She was going to a place she had been before, but she had always gone there with her husband and she was scared to go there alone. As she was driving in the dark in the rain late on Friday night she realized she was lost. Because she was on the coast she had no cell service and she started to panic. She was frustrated with herself, scared for her safety, sad that her husband wasn’t there, and feeling despair that this would be how her life would be forever. At the peak of her emotions she suddenly realized that she was feeling the same way that she had felt in her journey. She was surrounded by blackness and she was lost – just like her journey! She started to smile and she felt her heart open. She realized that if she trusted that she could figure this out, had faith that she was in the right place for her in that moment, accepted that she had to let go of her plans, and opened to new experiences she might be okay. She put on some music and told the universe she was ready for whatever came next. She followed her intuition and listened when it told her to turn. She soon found a different B&B and they had space for her. She felt blessed and fell asleep. When she woke up the next morning and opened the blinds in her room she was faced with the most beautiful ocean view she could have imagined. She had ended up in a far more beautiful spot than the one she had planned to visit and this B&B was not full of memories of her ex. She realized that she was experiencing what her life could be like post-divorce and it did not have to be bad. Just the opposite – it could be full of wonderful surprises.

In learning how to do a shamanic journey for herself Sherry learned how to navigate her own mind and “unseen” experience in order to gain wisdom and healing. Over time she became quite comfortable and confident in her ability to navigate her own life.