What is journeying, and how is it different from meditation?
Meditation and Shamanic Journeying are two fundamentally different things, although the line is often blurred between the two. This article has been written to help distinguish between the two, as well as to provide further clarity regarding journeying. Both are wonderful techniques to gain wisdom and insight for personal development. Some people will find value in both, while others find that one is more useful than the other. Both are simply tools to help one develop amongst their spiritual path. One is not “better” than the other, and to profess that is to think with a closed mind. This is the Middle World, where people have free will and can choose what they wish to practice based upon what resonates with them.
There are many forms of meditations out there, but as a general rule of thumb, meditation is about turning inward and listening to the wisdom of the body. Meditation is extremely valuable and can be used for many purposes. One can often find insights from their intuition as well as find some inner peace. A few examples can be: emptying the mind of excessive thoughts, mindfulness/gratitude meditations, self-reflection, connecting with the inner light, and many more. There are many traditions and resources to help those who are interested in learning more about meditation, and I encourage you to explore them if it resonates with you.
Shamanic journeying is a technique that can be used by anyone if they open themselves up to it. To journey is to travel to the “other side” and receive messages from Spirit, spirit guides, helping spirits, power animals, plant spirits, guardian angels, devas, higher self, specific deities or a God/Goddess. When we live in combination with Spirit, we are able to be more fully aware of our life and life choices.
When we start exploring journeying, it is helpful to establish a relationship with at least one helping spirit. Working with the same one over and over provides a trust that deepens over time, especially in the material world when the guidance given is put to use. Journeying is not the only part of the process – you don’t just “take a trip” and say, “Wow, that was a nice ride.” The real work comes from living your practice and acting out the guidance given to you. The more your journeying is done with mindfulness and awareness, the deeper and more rich the experience will be when translated to the material world. Journeying is not about escaping; it’s about how to live more fully in your body and utilize the guidance that you receive.
The important thing to remember about journeying is to not compare your journey to the quality of other people’s journeys. Comparison is the thief of joy. The journey you received was the message that was right for YOU. Sandra Ingerman explains it beautifully in this video. The key is to remember that we all have different strengths and weaknesses in our spiritual bodies. A lot of people don’t realize how disconnected we are from our spiritual bodies. Some shamanic cultures believe the root of many diseases is a misalignment of spirit from the physical body. Every sense we have in this physical world, we have in the spiritual. This includes (but is not limited to) sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. The more we use our spiritual senses, the stronger they become. Some people have a stronger visual sense than others, while others have a stronger auditory sense. Neither is “better” or “worse” than another. Learn what your strongest gifts, are so that you can strengthen the rest when time comes. They are very similar to having muscles: the more you use them, the more they grow. If you don’t use them, they will waste away and weaken.
There are many techniques for how to journey. You can use plants or various substances to chemically alter your state of consciousness, but this can be messy and have lingering effects. It speaks to a lack of control, and is a union instead with the plant or substance that was made in order to travel into the spirit realm. At Eagle Therapies, we use a sonic driver for journeying instead. With a sonic driver, you work in partnership with a drum, rattle, or stick clicks, and use that sound as the “horse” to carry you into the realm of spirit. With sonic drivers, it can be harder to have a deep journeying experience the first time (especially if we have a lot of mind chatter) but generally everyone has some sort of journeying experience. You retain much more control with a journey powered by a sonic driver, and you will find it easier to return to your body.
When people first begin journeying, it is helpful to breathe deeply and focus on your breath. Once you have emptied your mind of your thoughts (as best you can), then go ahead and visualize yourself walking in a spot in nature. Very shortly you will find a “hole” or a “portal” that calls to you, like an opening in the tree itself, a tangle of roots of a tree, a cave, or anything of the sort. Once you do, the first journey I always recommend to people is to either first meet their spirit guide/power animal/helping spirit that is willing to help guide them, or to find a place of power. Journeying is a question driven activity, and going into Spirit with a concise purpose will help bring about clarity. The two ways to word the first journey are:
“I would like to meet my non-egoic connection to source at this time”
or “I would like to be shown my place of power”
Both journeys can be done at the same time, and the benefit of establishing your place of power, is that it can be a place where you can easily go to if you are feeling threatened in physical reality. It’s also a good “meeting ground” for you to meet your helping spirit/spirit guide before you go on adventures. It’s good to have consistency, so that patterns begin forming – but it’s also typical to not.
If you are interested in coming to the journey group in person, the journey group in Fairfax on Thursdays at 6 Pm, and a link detailing the structure can be followed here.
Journey Group in Fairfax is located at Sticks and Stones. Located in the back of Westfair Center, just west of the intersection of 236/50/29, turn at the Guitar Center entrance on to Fern St, go straight to the back, turn left into our parking lot. We are next to Wild Chicken.
11037 Lee Highway
Fairfax, VA 22030
For more information about journeying, there is a good book by Sandra Ingerman titled “The Beginners Guide to Shamanic Journeying“
If you would like to journey at home, it is highly recommended to attempt to sing/dance/rattle before hand to get a deeper experience. Here are some links to the journey tracks that I use personally:
Sandra Ingerman 12 minute track: This has whistling in the beginning to help call in protection as well as welcome the ancestors. This is a wonderful track to start off with, because it’s the same length of time as the Journey group.
Shamanic Drumming 1 hr track: For those that have a daily practice or those that want to try a longer journey. This is a good track with a slow buildup. Again, please ask for protection and sing/dance/rattle before hand.
Michael Harner Double Drum 1 hr track: I like this version, it’s clean and precise. You might have to skip around a little in it to find the drumming section you like, but they are two 30 minute tracks in one youtube video.
If you are not able to attend this journey, and don’t feel comfortable journeying alone at home, there are two others in the area that I know of. Mary Tyrtle Rooker does them in Takoma Park on the fourth Saturday of every month. Visit her website here for more details. Monika Coyote also has hers in Laurel, MD. To follow up to date events, visit her Facebook page.
If there are any other questions or concerns, please feel free to give a call/text to 571.306.3197 or to email email@example.com