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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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