During the year I lived in Minnesota (well, actually, it was more like 10 months, but let's go ahead and call it a year) I encountered a lot of things I had never encountered before. J and I were sucked into a toxic spiral spun by a group of people who told lies truthfully and believed in their hearts the dishonest things they said. That group adhered to a witch hunt mentality and excelled at shame attacks based on said lies. We had given up our sweet, comfortable lives in Zurich for what turned out to be a hoax and it left a very sour taste in my mouth.
But somehow, through luck and fate, I found the lovely and effervescent, and utterly radiating with positivity, Sarah Seidelmann. Sarah is a board certified physician turned shaman and Martha Beck trained Master Life Coach. She is the author of two magical books, What the Walrus Knows, a guide to spirit animals, or as she calls them, "beastie energies" and Born to Freak: A Salty Primer for Irrepressible Humans.
I didn't know it at the time, but when I found her little card, an ornate elephant emblazoned with the slogan Follow Your Feel Good, sitting on the counter at the salon where we all had our hair cut, I had found the person who would lead me where I knew I needed to go, but didn't know the way: to tenderness and love and away from ever letting that sour taste turn my sweet heart bitter. I took the card home and put it in my medicine cabinet next to my prenatal vitamins to remind me to follow my feel good every day, and I still keep in my closet as a daily reminder.
Out of curiosity, I visited Sarah's website and wound up scheduling a life coaching session with her that very moment. The first time we met, I was reeling from all of the drama we were enduring. Sarah walked me through some shamanic visualization exercises to help me pull back and look at the situation from a place of detachment. "Don't edit your answer," she instructed, "just say what pops into your mind...If this situation were a person, place, or thing, what would it be?"
Immediately I saw a very tall, burning building. A plume of noxious black smoke more than twice the size of the building filled the grey sky. The steel frame was about to snap and fall, crumbling to the ground in a big cloud of debris, noxious smoke and shards of metal. It was terrifying. She asked me where I was, if I could see my body in relation to the burning building, and I could. I was standing right at the sidewalk in front.
I was so incredibly tiny next to that monstrosity.
"And where are you seeing this from?" she asked.
"The window of a plane," I answered.
"Is your body safe?"
"What do you need to do?"
"Get away. Get far, far away."
After experiencing the power of the shamanic visualization exercises, I decided to do a full shamanic healing session and I have since continued to do shamanic healing periodically with Sarah over Skype. The photos above are of us chatting and recapping all that occurred in my most recent session. I can't stress enough what a completely awesome journey it is to go on.
When you begin the call, Sarah will check in with you to see how you're feeling and what you want to work on. Then, you find a quiet place to lie down, maybe in low light and with a blanket to keep you comfortable.
Every step of the way, Sarah tells you what she's doing and what she's going to do next. She usually starts with some drumming and calls her spirit guides. Once the guides have arrived, she walks you through the process of receiving messages from them. Sometimes this includes messages from important people (or animals!) in your life who have crossed over to the other side, and sometimes it includes retrieval of soul parts you have lost or abandoned along the way.
It's at once comforting and surprising to hear the messages and instructions from the spirit guides. It can help you feel more whole, more inspired, more at ease with the beautiful being that you are. I'm a huge fan of talk therapy, but in shamanic healing, I have found something that transcends the logical brain and taps right into my heart. It helped me to learn the simple (but by no means easy) lesson that I don't need to take things personally. It has made me aware of the emotional dance occurring all the time between ourselves and everyone we encounter, and to appreciate that others' actions come from the emotional space that they are inhabiting and are not because of me or my actions. We can explain these concepts with language all day long, but somehow feeling them was much more meaningful for me.
Words to live by: Don't take it personally.
Simple, right? (I'm kidding.)
Sarah's big question, the one that guides all of her work, is "How good are you willing to let it get?" Have you ever asked yourself that? Because the truth of the matter is that we are often our own biggest obstacle to fulfillment and contentment. If you would like to unpack this big, wonderful question, there are many ways to begin:
Firstly, I can't recommend Sarah's books and Apps enough.
If you want to go deeper, try the Introduction to Shamanic Journeying Program, designed to find your core beastie or spirit animal. You might also like The Stoked Life Digital Program, designed to create a life that is lived with enthusiasm and courage.
And if you want to go in all the way, you can work one-on-one with Sarah in life coaching or shamanic healing. It's one of the best investments I've ever made.
So, what about you? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, how good you're willing to let it get?