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10 Ways To Gain Indigenous Knowledge

10 Ways To Gain Indigenous Knowledge

Have you ever wondered how to learn from native peoples? How to access opportunities to study ancient healing methods, secrets about life and spiritual growth? Indigenous people hold wisdom that has been passed down for thousands of years. This wisdom has been largely forgotten in Western culture, and includes how to use the body’s own being and energy to become whole, healthy and spiritually aware. Those secrets are still out there, ready to be learned by those who are sincere and make the effort. Having backpacked into remote areas to learn such knowledge, John shares 10 tips for how to access that learning yourself.

1. Put down the book.

Indigenous peoples, in many cases, transmit their wisdom from generation to generation in the form of oral tradition. Even when knowledge is written down, oral tradition contextualizes what is written. If you want to know what they know, you’re going to have to travel to the source and learn in person.

2. Be sincere.

Native peoples can sniff out when Westerners visit them as tourists, as scientists, as ‘drive-by’ spiritual seekers, as journalists, etc. If you’re wanting to learn their tradition in any true sense, you must be sincere and have the right intention to use the knowledge the way it was intended. The sincerity of your heart will open doors to real teachings, since in many cultures, knowledge is not given to those who are not personally prepared to be proper stewards of it.

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3. Do research.

Although native traditions have elements in common, they also vary significantly from one another. Before considering who you might study with, identify traditions you can easily relate to. For example, don’t visit high-altitude tribes if you don’t function well at high altitude. Don’t visit groups who use psychoactive plants as a main ritual if that’s not your thing. Some groups engage in ascetic, physically-demanding and sometimes scary exercises. Some have a gentler approach.

4. Respect your elders.

In this case, it means anyone whose knowledge you are seeking. Many indigenous societies prize wisdom, and hold their teachers in great esteem. Teachers themselves often use politeness as a gauge of your readiness and sincerity. Do not be too forward. Show patience and restraint. Bring a gift. Defer to whomever the local teachers are in the way you speak and carry yourself. Know that direct eye contact with elders, in some cultures, is a sign of disrespect.

5. Merge with them.

In some places where I studied, I was given information that was not in any textbooks or anthropological articles on the tribe. You can learn a great deal from joining a village for a while and studying as one of them. Real oral traditions may be shared only with those who respect the tribe’s ways by living as they do, and not necessarily with those who are there to only study as an outside observer. You may need to learn their language and culture. And in some cases, you must be prepared to dedicate significant time among the tribe, as some top shamans do not accept students for less than a comprehensive training program that can take years.

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6. Identify the real shamans.

In some areas that have already received interest from the outside, there may be many claiming or pretending to be the village’s healers or teachers. They may try to intercept you as you inquire about medicine men and women in the area. Beware, as these practitioners may not be skilled or worse. Use the sincerity of your heart, and keep asking locals to guide you to the people who are at the top of the food chain as teachers/healers for the community.

7. Find local resources.

Studying indigenous wisdom begins in your local area or home country. Seek out professors, shamans, authors or non-profits who have worked with native people and are already familiar with certain areas. They can often point you in the right direction, and may have contacts you can draw on. Keep in mind, these resources may only get you in the door. From there you’ll have to seek out real teachers on your own.

8. Understand what you offer.

Those of us who are more a part of modernized society are often viewed as important and valuable members of the planetary community by native people. Although they may possess wisdom we have lost and forgotten, and we may need them to re-teach it to us, they need us as well. We offer a bridge to the current state of the world. Realize the value you bring by being willing to learn their tradition, as it gives them an ally within modernized society that, from their perspective, needs healing and change to live in harmony with all things.

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9. Consciousness is common ground.

If you are intrigued by the idea of learning native traditions at the source, but worry you may not have much in common with native people, remember human consciousness is much the same across cultures. Our minds share similar qualities irrespective of language and custom. In fact, you may find the shaman experiences more in common with you than with many people within his/her own tribe.

10. Be careful.

Keep in mind traveling in remote areas is dangerous. There is not the same level of communication to the outside world you may have come to expect. You may be traveling in areas with bad characters and in cultures who view you as an unprotected person in terms of the structure of their society. Affiliate yourself with a respected healer quickly, and keep your eyes out. Black magic is common in many areas where positive healing and spiritual arts are practiced.

Indigenous people have so much to offer those of us who have grown up in modernized society in terms of what it means to be a human being, the nature of life, and how to heal and develop our minds through natural methods. We should take care to learn ancient traditions and be respectful stewards of them in order to ensure such knowledge continues to be passed down. By learning native traditions from the source, person to person, we can help ourselves, others, and the planet heal by promoting unity and harmony between all of creation.

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Featured photo credit: 123RF via 123rf.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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