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Ep 139 The Practical Application and Magic of Shamanism with Dr. Karen Lawson

Conversation with Dr. Karen Lawson about the relevance of Shamanism and Shamanic journeys in modern day.

Topics of Discussion:
-Shamanism and its practical application in today’s world
-Practicing Shamanism without crossing the line of cultural appropriation
-Shamanic lifeway supporting environmental wellbeing

Karen Lawson, MD, ABIHM, NBC-HWC, is the founder and CEO of IHWC Productions, a consulting company that works with programs and individuals to advance and expand training in Integrative Health Coaching and Holistic Healthcare.

She served as the founder and Director of Integrative Health Coaching at the University of Minnesota from 2005-2022. She is a physician, board-certified in Integrative and Holistic Medicine; the 2004-2005 Past-President of the American Holistic Medical Association, and a founding Diplomat of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine. Dr. Karen is a founding board member of the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching ( ). A published author and researcher, she speaks nationally to diverse audiences on the power of holistic health care practices and integrative health coaching.

Karen has been a student of shamanism and shamanic healing for over 30 years, with a special interest in the roles of ritual, dance, yoga, and nature for healing and wellbeing. Over the last 20 years, Karen taught the UMN graduate course Foundations of Shamanism, and lead shamanic journeying at Pathways: A Healing Center. She’s had the privilege of leading students in immersive learning experiences on the sacred land at Martell’s Landing since 2014.

Karen is a dancer at heart, has had a 30-year yoga practice, and has completed a 230 hr. yoga teacher training.

Learn more & register for the upcoming shamanic retreat.

Resources mentioned on the episode:

The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner
Shamanic Journeying by Sandra Ingerman

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Ep 139 – Dr. Karen Lawson

[00:00:00] Cynthia: You are listening to the Well Connected Twin Cities podcast. I’m your host, Cynthia Shockley, and I’m here to learn alongside you through meaningful conversations with health and wellness practitioners. This is your time to experience some mindset shifts, learn practical tips, and get excited about what is possible.

[00:00:22] We want you to own the power of choice in your personal well being journey. Let’s discover what’s possible right here in our Twin Cities community.

[00:00:33] In today’s episode, I speak with Karen Lawson about shamanism and its practical application in today’s world. Karen addresses practicing shamanism without crossing that line of cultural appropriation, the science and theory of shamanic journeying, and how the shamanic lifeway supports our environmental well being.

[00:00:55] Learn about an upcoming retreat with Karen and yours truly this May to experience the magic of shamanism and integrate it into your daily life.

[00:01:04] Karen Lawson is the founder and CEO of IHWC Productions, a consulting company that works with programs and individuals to advance and expand training in integrative health coaching and holistic health care.

[00:01:17] She served as the founder and director. Of integrative health coaching at the University of Minnesota from 2005 to 2022. She is a physician, board certified and integrative and holistic medicine. She’s also the 2004 to 2005 past president of the American Holistic Medical Association.

[00:01:37] She’s also a founding diplomat of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine. Dr. Karen is a founding board member of the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching. A published author and researcher, she speaks nationally to diverse audiences on the power of holistic healthcare practices and integrative health coaching.

[00:01:58] Karen’s also been a student of shamanism and shamanic healing for over 30 years with a special interest in the roles of ritual. Dance, yoga, and nature for healing and well being. Over the last 20 years, Karen taught the University of Minnesota graduate course Foundations of Shamanism and led shamanic journeying at Pathways, a healing center.

[00:02:19] She’s had the privilege of leading students in immersive learning experiences on the sacred land at Martel’s Landing since 2014. Karen is a dancer at heart. And she has had a 30 year yoga practice 230 hour yoga teacher training.

[00:02:36] Here we are with Karen Lawson, the one and only, so happy to have you back on the podcast.

[00:02:43] Dr. Karen: Hey Cynthia, nice to be here with you.

[00:02:46] Cynthia: Yes as we were talking about before we hit record, January just flew on by, and so it still very much feels like the start of the new year.

[00:02:56] Dr. Karen: True, it does.

[00:02:58] Cynthia: So I was curious as we, start to make our way into 2024, I know it’s a time for reflection, for reassessing for you, what has been something that you’ve been intentionally trying to bring more of into your life versus maybe something that you’re releasing, letting go of?

[00:03:18] Dr. Karen: I think I’ll take that in flip order because I think if I release and let go, I create some space to call in. I have to say 2023 was a year of a lot of upheaval and challenges. I don’t think just for me, I think astrologically in the world, there’s just been a lot going on and I personally have felt it as well.

[00:03:35] So I was really happy and ready to close the door on 2023 and just let go of some of those things, let them come to completion and really yeah. Come into 2024 with some fresh energy. And I’m really ready. I’ve been involved on a number of projects lately and some of them are wrapping up about the middle of this year.

[00:03:54] So I’m at that place right now that I’m really calling in, what’s the next kind of big project or projects that I want to be working on and how do I draw those to me? So things that get me excited. And so I’m in kind of that. Sprinkling seeds and watering things and seeing what pops up.

[00:04:12] So it’s appropriate that it’s raining on us today,

[00:04:15] Cynthia: right? February showers bring,

[00:04:18] Dr. Karen: yeah, the winter that never happened. Yeah. So it’s, yeah,

[00:04:23] Cynthia: what a strange winter we had or have, I don’t even know. Weather’s relative. I know today I, you have so much expertise and we’ve talked about health coaching and we’ve talked about just integrative health with you, but today we are zeroing in on shamanism.

[00:04:45] And I know when I think of shamanism, you were the first person who introduced it to me. It’s something that felt so far out of reach until I took your course at the University of Minnesota. I would love to hear just in your own words, how would you describe shamanism? What is it?

[00:05:05] Dr. Karen: It’s interesting one shamanism is a, I would say a life way and it’s a, it’s an approach to how we are in the world.

[00:05:13] It’s not a religion. It’s not a particular area of scientific endeavor. It’s not a particular philosophy, it really is an approach to the world and both in my own experience and of the teachers I’ve had over a boy going on close to three decades the language of the fact that the core beliefs of it, or is that.

[00:05:35] Everything has spirit, everything is alive, and everything is connected. And I think those three kind of anchors are a great ways to really think about what we mean when we talk about a shamanic worldview or shamanic, way of being in the world. Even the language is really difficult, I’ll say, different cultures have different words for the very things that we’re talking about.

[00:06:01] There is no direct translation from the word shaman into many different languages. But we have to pick something so that we can communicate with each other. So that’s where we’ll start.

[00:06:10] Cynthia: Yeah. So it’s overarching and I know it’s something that’s a part of. It’s just, it’s so interesting to see what crops up in different parts of the world but have so much similarity.

[00:06:29] Dr. Karen: Huh. It’s a human experience, it’s at some level we are all indigenous people, right? We all came from, we may not be living that way now, but at some point in our ancestors somewhere, we all came from indigenous peoples. And All indigenous cultures came from a shamanic worldview 25, 000 years ago before there were structured religions before there were anything else.

[00:06:56] We were part of our natural environment. We were part of nature. We were connected to things that were bigger than us. We understood that there was a relationship between all things and that all morphed and evolved at different speeds and in different ways at different places around the world.

[00:07:13] And. There’s still shamanic underpinnings to many religions, sometimes well cut. I should say disguised but they’re often there. And it’s look at that. And there are thousands and thousands of years old. Whatever our own particular that we are aware of genetic heritage or family heritage at some level, at a cellular level, we all have access to this.

[00:07:37] Cynthia: I really appreciate that because I know it’s something I actually thought about because I was part of an anti racism group where we were doing some work and I just like the thought came to my mind like is this cultural appropriation like where do I fit into this and so I actually did some digging into specifically like South Korean shamanism and it’s it is really fascinating to see how there is just there’s just so much You Similar, just maybe different labels, maybe different intentions here and there, but it’s like you said, it’s connection with nature, it’s connection with just how we’re all in this big spiritual soup together.

[00:08:23] Dr. Karen: Yeah, very much and I think it’s important to recognize me. People ask me about that cultural appropriation question, all the time. And certainly that’s a problem and it has been done. And it is done. And I think the thing that we have to recognize well, one, If a culture is still alive truly alive and has active practices, it’s very inappropriate for somebody from outside that culture to come in, learn those practices without blessing or instruction and take them out of that culture and use them in other places, but it’s the way that something is done.

[00:08:57] We like, for example Let’s say coming of age rituals. There’s coming of age rituals and every culture. There’s very specific ways that different cultures do it. So I’m not going to go into a culture that’s not mine and take their way of doing it and say, okay, now we’re going to do it that way.

[00:09:13] And that would be cultural appropriation. But saying in general, I want to help us to develop a coming of age ritual. That in and of itself is not cultural appropriation. I think looking at what are the core commonalities around many cultures and not taking the specifics from any, particularly any currently still living culture versus an extinct culture.

[00:09:34] Thank you. Culture but so that means a lot of cultural humility and recognizing because many of us who are very interested in this area have traveled around the world and studied with teachers from many different cultures and then have to figure out what’s okay for us to bring. back to the world that we live in and use here, right?

[00:09:54] And not take away something that belongs somewhere else. A lot of humility is a really important approach to pursuing understanding this deeper.

[00:10:05] Cynthia: And I know you’ve been a student of shamanism for two decades, and so what was your path? How did you stumble upon shamanism?

[00:10:15] Dr. Karen: Yeah, it’s a kind of a funny story, actually. I was at an integrative educational retreat center on the East Coast doing a formalized weekend training in, in integrative medicine. Technique from a physician and a nurse and happened to go to the orientation for that particular institution, even though I had been there before, and I didn’t really need to be at the orientation I knew where things were and how things worked, but I was like, I kept getting this little voice in my head, which I often disregard saying.

[00:10:47] You need to go to this orientation. So I went kicking and screaming and I’m sitting in this orientation listening to all these things that I know about the cafeteria and where I can go to do what kind of exercise and various things. And All at the end, all of the different health care practitioners and providers that were available to students that were there got up briefly to introduce themselves and say what they did and why you might make want to make an appointment with them and the person that was there in residence that summer as a shamanic healer Got up on stage to introduce herself.

[00:11:22] And literally it was like bells and whistles went off. I couldn’t even really hear what she was saying. Cause I was just getting a strapping voice in my head. Like ding. This is why you’re here. I was so puzzled by it. Cause I really, what she described didn’t really sound like anything I thought I was looking for, but I was so intrigued by my strong response to it that I booked and paid for an hour with her time and said, I don’t know why I’m here.

[00:11:48] But I’m supposed to be here for some reason. And for once in my life, I’m following my intuition. And I’m not sure I want one of those kind of healing things that you say you do, but this is who I am and what do you think? And she said let’s do a journey, which you and I might talk about and ask some questions around the professional path that you’re evolving.

[00:12:08] And I was like, okay. So we did this. journey. She did it. I laid there with her. She did this journey and she recorded the whole thing for me and it changed my life. And I left going, what just happened? And what is that? So I spent the next nine months like I bought books. I read books. I, there weren’t many web or podcasts then, but there were some things online that you could find and started exploring and had some experiences that I really couldn’t understand, but that really impacted me hugely.

[00:12:39] And I ended up actually flying to Seattle and saying, I need to pick your brain because I don’t know what’s happening here. And that led to me actually studying with that teacher for 14 years. Because I can deny a lot of things that I read intellectually, but I can’t deny. physical lived experiences that I have.

[00:12:57] I can’t say that didn’t happen. And that’s really what led me to it. And honestly, Cynthia, I really thought this was just about my own personal spiritual path and evolution. I really never thought this would have anything to do with the work that I did in the world with. Healing or with with teaching and it is really come to be an integrated underpinning of everything I do.

[00:13:20] And I can’t really separate them anymore. So I finally stopped fighting that battle. I don’t know, around 1999, 2000 going, I think these things are connected and ended up starting, to teach the class at the university in 2003. And I’ve had the pleasure of, teaching journeying and shamanic approaches and stuff ever since.

[00:13:41] And I thought Sometimes you just have to pay attention when the universe screams at you.

[00:13:47] Cynthia: Oh, my goodness. And, I feel I can resonate with some of that, just something just clicks. And I definitely Did not expect. I was like, Oh, shamanism intro to shamanism foundations. It’s just, we get to camp for four days.

[00:14:04] It sounds great. And it’s, my elective that I get to learn a little more about. And I just remember being so surprised in awe of how grounding it was to learn this like different way of being the different way of connecting with myself, with my intuition and shamanic journeys are a big part of that.

[00:14:28] So I was fascinated to learn about the science behind shamanic journeys. Do you mind sharing how they work and what are some of the scientific background of how that works? Because I think it’s really cool.

[00:14:44] Dr. Karen: Yeah. I don’t know how much of the hard science we can get into, but what I will say is that as human beings, we have access to many different states of consciousness.

[00:14:53] And all of us, no matter whether we think about it that way or not. We have a waking state. We have a dream state. Some of us may have had too much to drink one night. We had a slightly drunken state. You may have tried other altering substances. You may be, you haven’t slept for three days because of something happening.

[00:15:10] We have different states of being in our brain, neurologically. I would say shamanism as an approach is very practical and it evolves where it is from where it is. So if you live in Ecuador or you live in a tropical environment shamans and shamanic practitioners in that area use the resources they have to help people and to get to an altered state so that they can have different access to information.

[00:15:39] And so in a tropical environment, you might use a plant substance to do that. You might use ayahuasca or peyote or, other types of hallucinogens, which are all really popular right now, right? If you live in Siberia, there’s not a lot of green stuff growing.

[00:15:53] So you want to get to an altered state in Siberia, you drummed. You rode the beat of the drum. Other cultures may have used rattles. In Australia they use the didgeridoo, which I never say quite right, but I think that big long instrument that makes the bass noise that you know what I’m talking about.

[00:16:08] So auditory drivers. So we now know from science in the last 30, 40 years, When we study the brain and brain waves, we can differentiate between different types of altered states. A dream state looks different in your brain waves than an altered state that comes from a hallucinogen, and the hallucinogens look different from each other.

[00:16:30] And that looks different from something that came from an audio driver, which looks different from something that comes from sleep deprivation. And the idea is you’re accessing different parts of your brain and your consciousness to access information in a way that you might not normally do it in your everyday life.

[00:16:49] In a shamanic worldview, the perspective is that you’re altering your consciousness so that you can get in contact with information and energies from other realms. Whether that was be from understanding what the animals are thinking or the plants are thinking to what your ancestors are thinking to what an extraterrestrial is thinking.

[00:17:12] It can be for all different ways, but it’s getting out of that routine state of mind that we, most of us live in every day, which is very logical, very rational, particular in the Western world, very linked to the clock. Very structured. In shamanism, there is no linear time. Time is considered non existent.

[00:17:35] Essentially, there in the spirit realm, there isn’t time. And so it’s really fascinating because, the physicists are catching up with the spirituality people and with the shamanic worldview and finding scientific ways to explain things that, that humans have been doing and, Calling one thing or another in the shamanic world for thousands and thousands of years.

[00:17:58] In many ways, the physicists are like playing catch up with the shamanic teachers from 5, 000 years ago. But shamanic practices like shamanic journey, which is. Intentionally using usually an auditory driver a drum, a rattle, something rhythmic to invite you to go from your current state of thinking.

[00:18:22] Out into the spirit world as a way of thinking about it to ask a question or to get something done. It’s not just to go to hang out because, hey, this is really a cool, fun place to be for the most part. It’s a very practical usable kind of tool. And. Doing it with an audio driver of some kind versus a plant substance makes it much more doable in our contemporary world because, I can put that on my phone on my, Apple tunes for 15 minutes.

[00:18:50] It’s got an end point. I can get done. I can move about with my day. If I take a heavy dose of mushrooms, I can’t really predict when it’s going to start and stop and what I’m going to be able to do next. Or having to fast for three days. So it’s just again, a shamanic perspective is eminently practical.

[00:19:07] And learning a tool of shamanic journey is a shamanic journey. Easy, doable, accessible way for contemporary people to use, to induce an altered state to access information that may be outside the realm of the way that they usually access information. Yeah. That was a long drawn out answer, but I hope I got to where you wanted.

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[00:20:17] Cynthia: I think that was something that really fascinated me when I was learning about shamanism this concept of the drumbeat, the rattle and how it helps you access this altered state. And because I have a background in psychology, I was able to just synthesize my own reasoning for everything.

[00:20:38] Cause I wasn’t ready to fully dip my toes in like I’m exploring different realities and talking to spirits. So I was like, not there. And I’m like, okay, so what this, the way I rationalized it because these drum beats, it’s. It’s four to seven beats per second, and it actually does get your brain into a brain wave that is similar to daydreaming.

[00:21:01] It’s when you’re not fully present in like this reality, like actually you’re like thinking you’re creative, imaginative. And so this drumbeat does help you with things like. Visualizing being somewhere else, and so you’re on this journey and you can have a specific intention, plan a specific conversation, and it just feels so much more real, and I found it to be this way to access my subconscious thoughts even, because I can talk to a spirit guide.

[00:21:30] And ask a question that I might deep down know the answer to, but I’m not willing to face it. But then if my spirit guide tells me what I need to hear, it’s Oh, yep that’s true.

[00:21:43] Dr. Karen: And then there is some commonalities in the brainwave patterns with certain dream states. The challenge with the dream states is you have an experience That may be giving you an answer, but for most of us, we don’t know what the question was.

[00:21:56] So you can’t interpret wow, this happened. And you have to try to figure out what the dream means without any context, unless you’re one of those rare and unique people who can lose the dream. And that’s a whole nother broadcast but unless you’re a lucid dreamer, you have this dream experience and you come out of it and there’s a lot of symbolism and there’s stuff, but you don’t.

[00:22:14] Have any guide to how to interpret it. In a journey, you may have that same symbolic stuff that you have to interpret, but you have a very intentional conscious question or intention going in. So you have something to relate the experience to so that you can interpret it. It’s like everything that happens in this is an answer to that question I asked.

[00:22:38] So it is a way I like what you’re saying that it is a way of accessing sometimes our deep inner wisdom, our way of knowing and as a scientist, that was certainly the easiest place for me to go. I’m a biochemist by original training. So I’m an old science geek. I have to say.

[00:22:54] I subsequently sometimes got answers that I know in no part of my being would I ever have imagined that answer.

[00:23:01] Cynthia: And that’s when you, okay, I recently had an experience and I was like, there’s no way that was in my subconscious because I literally could not have. thought of this. I could not, I didn’t understand what was happening.

[00:23:13] I had to research online to figure out what everything was.

[00:23:17] Dr. Karen: Yes, exactly. And so that’s when it starts cracking you open a little bit and you start going, it’s not exactly everything that I can rationally explain. So whether we use the word spirit or consciousness, maybe we’re tapping into some kind of collective consciousness, whatever kind of works for you to be comfortable.

[00:23:35] The reality is, there’s more things than we can imagine, right? And it’s a way to give us access to that. And I have to say, and this may sound a little silly, but I think at some part of my being, I always believed that there was still some kind of magic in the world. But as a rational adult, In this contemporary society, and as a scientist, there wasn’t any place for that, but when I started having experiences that couldn’t be explained by the rational, it allowed me to tap into a type of magic that I New at some level I hungered for and I believed in and I really think and again, I’m talking about

[00:24:15] most contemporary Americans. I really think that things like Star Wars and Harry Potter tap into that hunger we know that there’s something more than we can see and. We long for it. We’re attracted to it. We’re, fascinated by it. I really think that explains a lot about the whole Harry Potter thing.

[00:24:36] I loved it, but I know billions of people did too. And why? And I think it’s because at some level, we all want to believe that there is things that we can’t see, and there is magic that we don’t understand. And I think in this lifetime, shamanic practices and shamanic experiences are the closest that I can come to tapping into that.

[00:24:57] Cynthia: Yeah, I cannot agree more that this is just a way to access something mysterious, something you can’t necessarily you know, and like you said, physicists, they’re Catching up in terms of like just defining, quantum physics. Like it’s starting to like though. Oh, okay like some of these things it’s Time is not relative or it is relative and it’s just it’s so interesting

[00:25:22] Dr. Karen: to see butterfly effect.

[00:25:24] And yeah The healing that happens outside of time and space, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, which is a great resource if people aren’t aware of it, they’ve done studies over a couple of decades looking at non local, I guess that’s what they call it, non local healing, where something here and something on the other side of the world can happen simultaneously in a way that the physics as we know it can’t explain, so it’s outside of linear time and space.

[00:25:53] And they’ve done, really very rigorous scientific studies showing that it happens and we don’t really understand the hows of it, but that it does happen has been really well demonstrated. So that’s pretty exciting. And yeah, then the old. Wise women and men would have said, yeah, we could have told you that a long time ago, right?

[00:26:15] Cynthia: Old news.

[00:26:16] Dr. Karen: Old news, exactly. Our ancestors were like yeah.

[00:26:20] Cynthia: Oh and I appreciate you pointing out that being able to use things like sound because yeah, I just hop onto YouTube and put on like some drum beats and it’s so accessible. So it can be just a 15 minute thing. practice that you do in your day.

[00:26:37] I know I do it. I try to do it about like once every like month or so just to reconnect, reground. If there’s a question I have in mind that I can just have that space to process and ask. And I wonder more on a larger scale. Why would you say that shamanism is relevant in modern day society? And what is the gift that we can take

[00:27:03] Dr. Karen: from that?

[00:27:04] I think the biggest, if you really step back to that 30, 000 foot view is that obviously we are living at a time of environmental crisis, as. Arrogant humans who have taken ourselves outside of nature, outside of the animal kingdom. We’ve done a tremendous amount of things to destroy our environment out of ignorance and disrespect.

[00:27:26] And honestly, I don’t know how many of those things we can fix, but my goal is to at least stop. Doing damage. And I really do think that those higher energies may just decide that the human species were a bad idea to begin with. And mother nature is going to shrug and we’re all going to be gone.

[00:27:43] And it’s going to start the next millennium. And so let’s not do that human thing again. That didn’t go well, right? Failed experiment. Exactly. Mother earth is going to just shrug and go, Oh, let’s get rid of these people. I don’t know if it’ll be the next ice age or the next meltdown or what it’ll be, but, I think as we talk about for anybody that has.

[00:28:01] Concern about, the environment and we were laughing about like the winter that didn’t come. I’m torn every day between whether I enjoy walking my dog and 50 degree weather in February, or I’m terrified by it. What’s happening in our world, right? The, a shamanic worldview. Like I said, everything’s alive and everything’s connected.

[00:28:21] So everything I do has an impact on everything else. It puts me in a place of kind of forcing myself into some respectful responsibility. And I think that if more people had that and really thought about. Energetic exchange and what’s the impact of how I think and how I feel and what I do on not only the people around me, but the animals around me, the plants around me, the earth around me.

[00:28:49] I think we live in a very different world. And I think that disconnection from. Understanding that we were part of the whole, especially over the last one to two hundred years, has been a lot of what has led to a lot of the destruction that we have, and also leads to us continuing doing stupid things like warring with each other and, the absolutely worst parts of human life.

[00:29:14] Behavior. And I, if you really truly believe, as most religions say, that, you are your neighbor, you got to treat your neighbor like you treat yourself, like we are one, we are connected, our cells interact, we have, as you were mentioning scientific studies, we have good studies that show, if you and I are standing six feet apart from each other, the electric waves from our mind and our heart, Physically interact and create a force field between us.

[00:29:38] That’s different than it is without two of us together. And I think that shamanism has a way of bringing that awareness into people’s everyday life and starting to recognize their interconnection with things. And maybe that will lead to us doing less damage to each other in the world around us.

[00:29:58] Cynthia: Yeah. Beautifully said. I am feeling something. There is definitely that sense of magic and I feel seen what are some resources that people might be able to dig into to learn more about shamanism whether it’s reading, learning just anything that you would recommend.

[00:30:19] Dr. Karen: I’m old school in some ways. So I’ll start with a couple of books. I think that the most classic in the field that has really led to this idea of kind of core shamanic principles that goes across different cultures is the way of the shaman by Michael Harner. Michael was the founder of the foundation for shamanic studies.

[00:30:38] 30 some years ago, he was an anthropologist by training and that organization still exists, although Michael is no longer with us. And that is just at shamanism. org is the website for that. One of his longtime mentees. Who branched out on her own and has her own foundation, also has written a number of books and has a great website.

[00:31:00] And that’s Sandra Ingerman, I N G E R M A N, and her website is just sandraingerman. com. She has a book called Shamanic Journey, in which I think, if you’re only going to read one, her book is probably a little more accessible than Michael’s book. And Sandra’s book comes, used to come with a. CD in the back of it and now it comes with a downloadable link to let you get recordings of.

[00:31:27] Shamanic journey drumming that you can listen to on your phone or your computer. So it’s very practical. So it’s a great way for people to dip their toe in the water. There are workshops and trainings and stuff offered, all over the world. My, my big argument is I really believe that.

[00:31:43] Understanding, true understanding of shamanism comes from a lived experience. And if I hadn’t had the lived experience I had, I could have read all the books in the world and it wouldn’t have made a difference for me. So I think people need to find ways to invite opportunity in their life for experiences to happen because in our everyday life, it’s just not there.

[00:32:03] I know you and I are thrilled to be leading a retreat in May and I’ll let you talk about some of the specifics of that. But one of those goals. Of that is to take four days away and out from your everyday life with your phone off and you’re away from your computer and you’re living on the land and you’re connected to nature and you’re opening up the possibility for listening to connections that you don’t always listen to.

[00:32:27] So I’ll let you, Cynthia, share some of the details about the retreat.

[00:32:31] Cynthia: Yes. Oh my gosh. This retreat, it really changed so much for me in terms of how I view myself, my role in this world, in nature, and how I can access some of the wisdom within me, but also around me. And I know when you left University of Minnesota to start your business, a lot of students who are still in the program were like, wait a minute, I still wanted to take that course.

[00:32:59] And so I heard what people were asking for and I reached out knowing I was like, Karen, if I help you with the planning, will you please? Please do this again. And so I’m glad you said yes. And yeah, we’ve got this retreat. It’s called Journey Back Home and it’s happening May 8th to 11th at Martel’s Landing in Somerset, Wisconsin.

[00:33:21] And so it’s going to be camping. Homemade vegan food, I’ll be teaching yoga during the day, and we’ll be having shamanic journeys some people coming in to educate a little more on their own shamanic practices, and Karen’s just so wonderful at holding sacred space and just introducing people to it.

[00:33:44] Shamanism I would say you really strike this balance, Karen, of having this sense of like authority, holding space, but also being playful and curious so that people feel really. Okay about not knowing what’s going on or asking questions so that they can continue to learn and grow.

[00:34:06] So yeah I’m really excited about this and I know we’ll have all the links, information opportunities to learn more in the show notes as well.

[00:34:16] Dr. Karen: Thank you, Cynthia. I’m excited. It’s a gift to be able to be in community with a group of people and do that work. And I will say, after having led, educational sessions and ceremony out at Martel’s landing on and off over the.

[00:34:29] Last decade. It’s a very magical place, and it’s right on the St. Croix. The only kind of events that are done on that land are events that are spiritually aligned with this work. The woman that maintains that property sees herself as a caretaker of that to advance people who want to do this kind of work.

[00:34:47] You’re walking into ground that has been cultivated and tilled for exactly this space. And I. Always have magical experiences myself when I’m out there, whether it’s the animals that show up or what happens on the river or what happens in my dream time, it’s been a place of a lot of magic. I haven’t been out there since COVID.

[00:35:11] So I am looking forward to this opportunity to be out there and to be holding space in such a beautiful place. And may should be a lovely time of year out there.

[00:35:20] Cynthia: Ah, and. I’m really excited for the food. Nancy’s so great at being a caretaker of the land, but also she cooks some delicious vegan food that you’re just like, Oh, cozy, delightful.

[00:35:34] Oh,

[00:35:34] Dr. Karen: Nancy, it’s a labor of love for her. And she not only assembles the stuff with it, but she prays over the food. She. imbues love into the soups and the stews and everything you’re making. So every time I eat there, I just feel so nurtured because I know she has spent the whole day energetically cultivating that, that food in that way.

[00:35:53] So it’s a very loving experience. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:35:57] Cynthia: The good food. And I also appreciate how there’s. There’s scheduled space for processing the retreat even ends on a Saturday intentionally so that you have Sunday to just do whatever you need to process, to integrate, because it is a different experience.

[00:36:15] It’s a different kind of reality. You get to pluck yourself out of your day to day life and you get to learn these new tools, learn these new ways of thinking. And then to integrate it back, I know is a goal through the retreat that you have these tools and these ways of being, and that it’s accessible in your daily life.

[00:36:35] It’s not just you go to this retreat, experience magic, and then you’re done. It’s how do you bring that magic back home?

[00:36:42] Dr. Karen: Cynthia, it’s probably worth saying to just so that they know, really it’s also welcoming to everybody. There’s nobody, regardless of your religious background or orientation or your culture or your lack of culture that is not welcome and that could not learn something.

[00:36:58] And that’s actually been a huge learning for me. I’ve actually had fascinating experiences with people coming from other cultures. That I’ve been like, why are you here? Like I had one woman who was a really the healing woman in her tribe from a tribe in the Dakotas come to my shamanism class.

[00:37:18] And I’m like, you’re a practitioner, you’re a healer. Why are you here? It’s just because our young people are leaving and I need to learn language that helps me communicate to a contemporary population because they don’t want to understand what the grandmas do. And I don’t have language to help them.

[00:37:36] These are people that go off and go to college, and I don’t have any way to talk to them. And I had one young woman that came one year who was, I’d say in her early 20s who was a first generation American. Her parents were Hmong and were immigrants, and her mother was the healer for their entire community and a part of Minneapolis.

[00:37:56] And I’m like, why are you here learning from me, this white girl? And she said, my parents want me to be an American. So they think in order to do that, I need to leave what I understood from their culture behind. So my mother won’t explain to me what she does as a healer in our culture. Matter of fact, I didn’t even want her to learn the language.

[00:38:19] And so she’s, I need to connect with my mother. So I want you to explain to me what she’s doing so I can connect to my mother. So it’s really fascinating and I’ve had conversations with Orthodox Jewish people, with Muslim people I would say the only people that might find this uncomfortable or contraindicated is if for any reason, the religion that you practice forbids you to have any direct communication with a higher power, then you won’t be comfortable.

[00:38:49] Because our whole intention is to have direct communication with higher power. But other than that, everybody’s welcome. We even have dealt with physical disability issues out at Martell’s Inn. I’ve had people out there that have been wheelchair bound. It’s a little challenging, but it can be done. Had people that have come out there post operatively, or they’ve never camped before, and this is their first camping experience.

[00:39:10] We’re willing to be adventurous. If you are and to work, to meet people where they are and help give them as good an experience as possible.

[00:39:18] Cynthia: Yes, exactly. Oh I’m excited. And I also want to make sure to respect your time and want to close out with a final question of, we’ve talked about a lot.

[00:39:32] So what would you say is a takeaway that you hope people leave this conversation with?

[00:39:38] Dr. Karen: It’s that there’s an indigenous part of you in there somewhere and it’s your human right to to access it and see what it might have to offer you.

[00:39:48] Cynthia: Thank you, Karen. You’re welcome. I appreciate you and I look forward to being a support to you on this retreat, being able to hold that space with you.

[00:39:59] I’m just so honored and really looking forward to. Seeing other people come and learn and really start to integrate this way of being in their lives.

[00:40:10] Thank you so much for listening to the Well Connected Twin Cities podcast. Did you learn something new? Did you feel that spark of hope and excitement for what is possible? Because so much is possible. Tell us about it in a review on Apple podcast. Not only would we absolutely love hearing from you, but these reviews help our ratings and help other curious minds like you find this resource.

[00:40:36] We are always better together. Thank you again and see you next time.

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