One Spirit Medicine: The Modern-Day Shaman’s Approach to Wellness

In the West, we have a disease-care system, and medicine recognizes thousands of ailments and myriad remedies. The shamans of old, on the other hand, discovered One Spirit Medicine—a healthcare system that identifies only one ailment and one cure.

The ailment is alienation from our feelings, our bodies, the earth, and Spirit. The cure is the experience of primeval Oneness with all, which restores inner harmony and facilitates recovery from all maladies, regardless of origin.

Laying the Foundation for Oneness

At the heart of One Spirit Medicine is an age-old practice called the vision quest, a carefully choreographed encounter with nature and the invisible world. Through fasting and meditation, a vision quest awakens the body’s self-repair and regeneration systems and reconnects us to Spirit and our own deepest purpose. In the traditional cultures where I trained as a shaman, it is customary to seek vision in the wilderness. But the experience of One Spirit can take place anywhere, even in a home garden or city park.

In rare instances, the encounter with Spirit is spontaneous, a bolt from the blue. But for most of us, receiving One Spirit Medicine is a process that requires careful preparation over time. Otherwise, the experience will most likely be fleeting—a sudden flash of insight or revelation, maybe a good story to tell over dinner with friends, but nothing anywhere near life-changing.

Laying the groundwork for transformation requires both spiritual and physical action. Physical preparation starts with priming the brain. Today’s hectic lifestyle keeps us in a constant state of stress. We need to be weaned off the stress hormones that promote a fight-or-flight mindset, and start producing the brain chemicals that create health, serenity, and joy.

The Food-Spirit Link

The process begins with detoxification—ridding the brain of toxins and reducing the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Then, we turn to superfoods to repair the region in the brain responsible for learning, and help the pineal gland manufacture DMT (dimethyltryptamine), a chemical that allows us to experience a state of oneness and connection.

This exchange is necessary to recover our health and attain optimal well-being. We can’t heal our emotions if our brain is toxic from mercury or lead poisoning, or our mind is careening unstoppably because our brain has been damaged by childhood trauma or pesticides in our food. Ridding ourselves of environmental toxins is essential to restoring physical and mental health.

Superfoods and neuro-nutrients bring about changes in the brain that set us up for an extraordinary experience of higher consciousness, while spiritual preparation helps us let go of limiting beliefs and behaviors. As we free ourselves of outmoded stories about our past, One Spirit Medicine can infuse our being like a steady IV drip of healthy nutrients.

A Method for Creating New Maps

The benefits of One Spirit Medicine are far-reaching. Whether you’re suffering from a lifestyle-related disease, or you’re physically, mentally, or emotionally drained by the demands of your life, One Spirit Medicine can help you feel better and develop a renewed sense of purpose.

Through One Spirit Medicine, we come to fully understand that how we perceive the world “out there” is a projection of internal maps that shape our beliefs and guide how we think, feel, and behave. Stored as neural networks in the brain, these maps are the unconscious programs that drive our experience of life and the state of our health.

We want to change the maps that consider a 50 percent chance of Alzheimer’s a normal part of aging after age 85, or rampant cancer and cardiovascular disease “normal.” The key to optimum health is to upgrade the unconscious maps and limiting beliefs that have been driving us to a toxic lifestyle and relationships.

Alberto Villoldo, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and psychologist who has studied the spiritual practices of the Amazon and Andes for more than 25 years.

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