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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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