AYNI - a Key Insight from My Recent Journey to Peru

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Being on the Shamanic Path has given me the opportunity to experience many adventures and learn a great deal. My recent trip to Lake Titicaca and the Stone Forest definitely ranks up there in terms of the magic and wonder I experienced. As you may have read in my last blog post (Shamanic Journeying for Guidance and Support), I was guided to go to the Stone Forest during a Shamanic Drum Journey I did last year.

I didn’t know exactly why I was told to go there, and it may take me quite a while to integrate the blessings and wisdom from such a powerful journey, but I am incredibly grateful for the way the experience has served to bring me to a deeper level of soul-searching and an even stronger desire to align my life with the spiritual values I hold most dear.

I first awoke to this spiritual path through an incredibly transformative spontaneous healing I experienced in January of 2010 while I was getting a Masters degree in Peace and Justice Studies. (I wrote about it in How I Came to Be a Healer.) I went back to school because I felt disillusioned by the educational system I was a teacher in and wanted a new way to be of service. 

My goal at the time was to gain skills to be able to do work in developing countries. I grew up in a very poor, rural environment in India, which provided me with many blessings but also many hardships. Lack of basic human needs such as medical care and personal security can take a tremendous toll on the heart and psyche. Those early experiences evoked in me a lifelong desire to alleviate suffering and be of service.

One of the classes I took while I was at the School of Peace Studies was Environmental Justice. It was quite disheartening to learn so much about the environmental and human consequences of our modern way of life. The class and the research on consumerism I did for my final paper affirmed a longing in me to live a more simple and sustainable lifestyle.

Given my simple upbringing, my heart has always been drawn to simplicity, but living in the modern Western world, I find that I easily get distracted and/or excited by things and ideas and end up piling too much on my plate. I can get caught in the mad dash of modern life and fill my life with too much stuff and too many things to do. And I can find myself going on automatic instead of being mindful and present to all the beautiful, simple moments of ordinary life.

Being at Lake Titicaca and the Stone Forest reminded me of the incredible beauty of this magnificent Earth we call home. It got me back in touch with my deep love for this planet and my desire to live in a way that honors the precious gift we have been blessed with. I was reminded of the sacred law of AYNI, something I learned about years ago.

Ayni is a Quechua (an indigenous language spoken in the Andes) word that refers to the sacred reciprocity that is the natural way of life. For the Q’ero people of the Andes, this is the most fundamental law. It guides us to live in reciprocity, harmony, and balance with each other, with the Earth, and with the whole cosmos.

Shamanism recognizes that we are all interconnected in a beautiful, sacred web of life/energy. And our actions have consequences for the positive or negative on ourselves, each other, and the whole Universe we are a part of. When we practice ayni, we strive to live in mutual harmony and reciprocity with all beings.

We don’t take anything from the Earth without asking permission and making an offering in exchange. I was taught this by the first Indigenous healer I studied with. He would say, you can’t just go around traipsing wherever you like. You have to ask permission of the spirits of the land. You have to ask them for protection. You have to bring them an offering. Just like you would if you were going to someone’s home. You wouldn’t just barge in rudely and not ask permission or give thanks.

I have been practicing this way for a long time now. It feels beautiful to ask permission of the lands I am visiting, to take little offerings of cornmeal, sage, tobacco, sweets, flowers to give thanks. And in my morning prayers, I give thanks for the spirits of the land where my home is. I thank them for welcoming me there and for their protection.

This trip reawakened in me a longing to integrate the teaching of ayni more deeply into my day to day life. I can do this by slowing down my thinking and living more mindfully. I can pay greater attention to the impact my words and actions have on the world. I can think of how what I do today will impact the next 7 generations.

I can do very simple things to consume and waste less, to send more loving-kindness and gratitude to the Earth, to simplify my life more by being a more conscious and thoughtful consumer, to care for and bless this beautiful planet and all the beings I get to share it with. I can be more intentional about remembering what a sacred gift life on the Earth plane is and take more time to appreciate it.

I feel a greater sense of peace and serenity since I have come back from my trip, and I think that comes from making progress in aligning my life even more closely to my most cherished values. I believe that is one of the blessings of striving to live in ayni. It reminds us we are part of a beautiful, interconnected whole. Simply remembering and honoring that sacred connection brings a sense of peace and well-being to our hearts and souls.

(The photo above is of the paqo (Andean shaman) beginning a ceremony. At the start of all ceremonies, he would give thanks to all the nature elements (Earth, Sun, Moon, Spirits of the Mountains, etc.) and call on them to bless the ceremony.)

No Salt, No Sex - Preparation for Sacred Pilgrimage

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Next week, I will be traveling to central Mexico for my annual pilgrimage to Wirikuta and Cerro Quemado, sacred lands of the Wixáritari (Huichol) people. This is year four for me, and I consider the opportunity to take part in this sacred journey one of the greatest gifts I’ve been blessed with in this lifetime.

Traditionally, Huichol pilgrims would take about 40 days to make the 300 mile trek from their homes to the sacred valley of Wirikuta and then hike Mount Quemado on foot. They would stop at sacred shrines along the way to perform rituals and ceremonies of preparation and purification.

Where there was once only untouched land along much of the route, now there are highways, private property fences, and cities. But the Huichol pilgrims still make this journey, working around the challenges modernization brings.

The purpose of the pilgrimage is both personal renewal/purification as well as the performance of ceremonies and making of offerings aimed to keep harmony and balance in the world. 

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For the Huichol. these sacred sites are honored because this is where the sun rose for the first time and where their ancestors come from. Making the journey and honoring Tatewari (sacred Fire spirit) and Kauyumari (sacred Blue Deer spirit) helps the pilgrims remember where they came from and renew/strengthen their connection to Great Spirit.

I feel incredibly blessed and fortunate to make this sacred pilgrimage each year. Along with my annual journey to Peru in the Fall for participation in traditional Shipibo plant dietas (discussed in this previous post), I consider this annual pilgrimage an absolutely critical part of my ongoing training and growth. 

Though the journey I participate in is much shorter than the traditional Huichol one, the power and blessings are still immense. When I was preparing for my first pilgrimage, I asked one of my teachers to assist me with setting good intentions. He said, “Ask to have really powerful prayers. That’s the whole point of the trip.” 

That was clear enough, so I followed his instruction and began praying and asking for assistance in having really powerful prayers during my pilgrimage. I was left stunned at the power and beauty of the pilgrimage and the incredible power of the prayers said on that journey. 

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It’s impossible to describe in words how healing, inspiring, and empowering the pilgrimage experience is. Taking part in an all-night ceremony under the guidance of a Mara’akame (Huichol shaman) and then hiking up to Mount Quemado for more prayers and ceremony is one of the most amazing experiences I have had. 

I feel transformed and strengthened with each successive journey. And I witness incredibly profound, positive shifts in my life (personal and professional) after each pilgrimage. But such rewards don’t come without a price.

Most spiritual traditions advocate various practices and rituals that require some sort of sacrifice in order to gain spiritual growth and insights. Think of the different fasts various religious traditions encourage/require. Or the solitary journey into the unknown that an indigenous vision quest entails.

For this pilgrimage, the preparation requires a 30-40 day period of refraining from any use of the sacred sexual energy and two weeks of a no salt diet. The purpose of the no sex is to conserve the sacred sexual energy for spiritual purposes and to store up qi for this special pilgrimage. 

The purpose of the two weeks of no salt (one at the beginning of the preparation period and one at the end) is to do a physical cleanse of the body and dissolve any negativity stored inside. Salt acts as a preservative, so by eliminating it, we are able to eliminate the energetic residue collected from past pain, stress, and toxic patterns.

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The most important part of the preparation for me is the saying of prayers and asking for guidance, assistance, and support for my pilgrimage. As part of the prayer process, I make four flechas (prayer arrows) to take with me on the journey. The flechas are made in a meditative, prayerful way, and they carry the intent of the pryers I will say on my pilgrimage journey. (The ones in the photo are from my first pilgrimage.)

So, the preparation period takes some effort in getting oneself ready both physically and spiritually for the powerful journey of pilgrimage. I believe that the more sincere we are in our preparations, the higher are the rewards of the journey. Our commitment and dedication is always rewarded a thousand-fold.

And this applies not only to spiritual practice but everything else in life. The more sincerely and earnestly we commit ourselves to something, the more rewards and blessings we receive. Experiencing this in such a special, sacred journey inspires me to carry this lesson into the rest of my life.

One of the things I most enjoy about my journey is being able to carry your prayers and offering them on your behalf during the beautiful ceremonies I participate in. So, if you would like for me to take your prayers with me, please send me your prayer requests via this Prayer Request form.

When I return, I will be teaching a class on How to Pray Powerfully and Effectively. In that class, I will share more about my pilgrimage and what I learned from my journey. The class will be at 6pm Pacific Time on Monday, April 8th. It’s part of my monthly Shamanism, Spirituality, and Energy Medicines class, and you can get more information and sign up here.

I hope you can join me for the class. If you can’t make it live, you will have access to the recording. I feel so blessed and honored to share this journey with you. Thank you and have a beautiful day.

Reiki and Shamanic Healing Post Car Crash

Reiki After Accident

Reiki and Shamanic Healing have been constant sources of comfort and support for me for several years now. In addition to getting Reiki and Shamanic Healing sessions from fellow practitioners, I have a personal practice of doing healing work on myself. 

It is such an incredible blessing to enjoy the benefits of these healing ways on an ongoing basis and to be able to turn to them in times of need. One time I felt especially grateful for having access to these tools was after the brakes on my car failed back in October of 2014. 

I had taken the Honda Civic I drove at the time to my mechanic earlier in the day. He had worked on the brakes as well as other things. That evening, I was driving to a meeting in Hillcrest and was in a crowded area with lots of traffic and many pedestrians out and about. (University and 6th for those of you familiar with the area.)

Suddenly, I realized my brakes were acting funny. I was needing to push all the way to the floor to get any traction. As you can imagine, my heart started pounding and my mind started racing. I was driving through an intersection and decided I would pull over at the first opportunity.

But the cars in front of me came to a standstill, and I had no idea what to do. Luckily, I was driving slowly and had put distance between me and the car in front of me when I realized my brakes were not functioning right. But if I didn’t act quickly, I would crashed up crashing into it.

I quickly scanned the scene and was terrified I’d crash into something or someone because the streets were full of people. Suddenly, I noticed a big concrete planter on the sidewalk to my right. I steered towards it and drove my car into the concrete block.

I was so thankful the block stayed put and no one was hurt, but tears started pouring down my face as my system registered the shock of the crash. I was shaking and people had stopped on the street in shock as well. I could barely speak but dialed the phone with with shaking hands.

I called AAA, my mechanic, and my brother, all while trying to keep my tears in check. It must have been quite a scene for the people on the street. After a few minutes, I got out of the car to wait for the tow truck to come and explained to the street cop and people who asked that my brakes had failed. 

It was not a scene I would want to repeat. After dropping my car off at the auto shop’s parking lot, getting a ride home, and calling the insurance company, the shock really set in. I collapsed in tears on my bed with my whole body shaking.

After a good bout of release with the tears, I recalled some of my shamanic training. I had learned that when we experience any sort of trauma, a susto (energy of shock/trauma) can get lodged in our bodies. It’s important to clear out the shock/trauma because it can create dis-ease for us, and it can also attract more similar energies.

This is why sometimes people will experience repeated incidents of similar traumas/shocks. Knowing this, I did a shamanic healing and felt some relief. We often need 24 hours after a shock to really clear things, so I knew I would have to do more work the next day. 

When I woke up in the morning, I felt quite out of sorts. That day, I went for a walk and sat  on the earth with my back against my favorite eucalyptus tree. This tree is huge, and I used to pass by it regularly on my walks when I lived in that area. I would always pause to say hello and touch its beautiful trunk. 

This time, I sat underneath it seeking solace, grounding, and healing support. After a few moments, I began doing Reiki on myself. I did Reiki for a while and let myself also soak up the healing energies of the sun shining on my body, the grounding energies of the earth, and the medicine of the eucalyptus tree.

After a bit, I felt myself come back to center. I could breathe easy again. It was an amazing experience that left a lasting impact on me. Later that day, I did schedule healing sessions with a colleague and one of my teachers.

And a couple of days later, I went back to the accident site to clear the area of the trauma as well, so it would not attract other similar incidents/energies. I must have looked quite interesting blowing tobacco smoke into the are, one a concrete planter, and surrounding area, but I’ve gotten used to that. :)

Having access to Reiki and Shamanic Healing practices and wisdom were such a saving grace for me during this time. It’s moments like these when I feel the power and magic of these healing ways that give me the desire and determination to share the magic and beauty of Reiki and Shamanism with as many people as I possibly can.

I feel so blessed to have opportunities to do through teaching classes and share bits of the magic through social media and my writings. Thank you for taking the time to read a bit more about my experience.

If you would like to learn the magic of these healing modalities for yourself, please see the Reiki classes and Shamanism classes pages for more information. And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


With gratitude and blessings,

Parminder

Reiki, I Will Always Love You

Reiki Healing

I first heard of Reiki when I was in my mid-twenties. My favorite physician from my college days and a friend in my local community both told me they had learned Reiki and were practicing it. 

I remember not understanding what it was and being a little confused when they told me about it. And, to be honest, when my local friend told me about how amazing it was, I was more than a little skeptical and thought it was weird and couldn’t possibly heal in the incredible ways she was describing. 

Fast forward a decade, and I had my own out-of-this-world amazing spontaneous and very miraculous healing experience, which I wrote about in an earlier post titled How I Came to Be a Healer. Once I accepted that what I was feeling in my hands might be healing energy, I started to look for a healing modality to study.

Since this whole world of energy and spiritual healing was new to me, I had no idea what my options were. But I was paying attention to the signs the Universe was sending me, and one day, as I was driving, I saw a car to my right that had a Reiki bumper sticker on it.

I remember feeling a spark of excitement and curiosity. I did not remember at the time that I had heard of Reiki before, so I bought a book and searched for Reiki classes to learn about it. 

I took my first class in February 2011 and fell totally, madly, deeply in love! I absolutely loved the simplicity, gentleness, and beauty of the healing energy. It felt AMAZING…so incredibly relaxing, calming, and uplifting.

I then shared it with as many friends as were willing to come over and try something new. It was so much fun! And their feedback about how magical and good it felt was so exciting. I was completely hooked and took more classes and became a Reiki Master Teacher.

I have now been sharing the beauty, power, and magic of Reiki for 8 years. I cannot express what a blessing it is to share this healing goodness with clients during individual healing session, my monthly healing circle, and my annual Reiki classes.

In a subsequent post, I will share a couple of stories of the transformation I have personally experienced as a result of doing Reiki on myself. One story will talk about how Reiki helped me after the brakes on my car failed and I had to drive into a concrete block to get it to stop. In the other, I will share about how Reiki helped me heal a very old childhood wound. 

For now, I want to leave you with this super short and sweet video that I absolutely love! It was taken over a year ago after a Reiki class and shows the natural joy and delight Reiki brings out in us. If you have any interest in learning more about Reiki, you can learn about the benefits of Reiki and the classes I’ll be teaching this year at this link. Big hugs and blessings to you.

Autumn Meditation & Healing Guide

Grounding Tree Meditation

Autumn is associated with the direction of the West on the medicine wheel I work with. This is the season of shedding and letting go of what no longer serves us. It’s the time of the setting sun, of saying goodbye to the old and and making room for new visions and dreams.

Sometimes, it can be difficult for us to release and let go, even of painful patterns and energies. Consciously or subconsciously, we sometimes fear the unknown and find comfort in the familiar, even if the familiar no longer serves us.

I hope the guided visualization below will help you to release energies that don’t serve you and ground yourself to the healing energies of the Earth and of your own essence and spirit. (If you would like to receive a copy of the meditation recording, please feel free to email me, and I’d be happy to send it to you.)

Each season brings an abundance of blessings and some challenges. I have put together The Autumn Healing Guide to assist you in taking maximum advantage of the energies of this season to enhance your well-being. If you would like to receive a copy of it, please email me.

Big hugs and blessings for a beautiful Autumn.