Times have certainly changed since the sages of Ayurveda, or the medicinal shamans of any and all indigenous cultures around the world for that matter, discovered their respective ancient methods and concoctions for healing and well-being. On the one hand, the so-called progress of modern society offers us convenience, comfort and ease, as well as alleged quick fix solutions to many of our basic ailments. On the other hand, both individually and collectively as a society we seem to be suffering more than ever on all levels of our being – physical, energetic, emotional, mental and soul.
When I contemplate how these sages and shamans discovered the profound properties and healing affinities of various natural substances, I come to believe that it is because they were deeply tuned in to both the external and internal world, at every level. They embodied the reality of interconnectedness of all. They valued their interrelationship with the more-than human world. They took time to slow down, listen and feel this underlying interconnectedness and interrelatedness. They did not see themselves nor their kin as separate, but rather as an integral part of a greater whole. Albeit, they probably also had a very keen intuitive sensibility. But that in and of itself is arguably a skill that can be refined and perfected through practice.
I admire this way of being. I humbly aspire to embody it myself. The motto I am now practicing in my own life is to move, breathe and simply be: “slowly, softly, gently with sensual serenity.” It is a way of being that helps me listen and discover how I am actually feeling at a given moment. It helps me to tune into my relationship with all of the things I encounter in my day to day life, whether it be people, places, foods, the weather outside, or thoughts or emotions inside. I allow myself the time and space to actually be affected by these encounters, rather than repress or deny. I may then contemplate how I might be able to mitigate or alleviate any dis-comfort or dis-ease that has arisen, or may arise again. I can’t say that I always succeed in finding answers, or that I even succeed at following the motto. It’s like a mantra, that serves as a reminder of my admiration and aspirations for a more simple way of being. That leads me back to the practice. After all, It’s really not about finding answers as much as it is living the questions. And, to say this way of being is living simply is perhaps a misnomer. As this is really living into the full complexity of life. It is a waking up to the breadth and depth of life, and a moment-to-moment openness to seeing with new eyes.
Ultimately, we can each be our own best healer, our very own sage or shaman, if we just slow down to listen, inwardly and outwardly, and see with new eyes. To not take anyone else’s word for it, but to experience this one precious life of ours through our eyes. In doing so we too will be sages and shamans to our loved ones, to our communities and the planet.