Working with a Shaman

Have you ever wondered what a shaman does? Or if modern shamans are available outside of tribal communities? Do you know you can heal all levels of your being? That you can heal beyond all the scars of a troubling personal history? Have you wondered if shamanic healing is for you? Do you know how to find a shaman?

A shaman is a healer who has learned to work with specific types of spiritual connections that help facilitate profound levels of healing and well-being. Some shamans have learned these skills from traditional tribal shamans, from elders in their own families, or from non-traditional shamans. Some are born with these skills.

Shamans work with all types of health and life issues including physical and mental illnesses, emotional challenges, and self-defeating ways of being. Shamanic healing is compatible with all other forms of healthcare support you’re receiving. From the shaman’s point of view, everything you’re doing is working with everything else for your highest good.

The shamanic perspective is that illness, disease, and struggle originate in your soul before they appear in your physical body or behavior. This perspective isn’t saying that you did something wrong or bad and caused your own illness, nor is it saying that if you do everything exactly right your life will be trouble free. It’s a fundamental understanding that our physical body is the slowest part of our beings to respond to internal or external influences. By the time an imbalance appears in your body, mind, or emotions you’ve already been dealing with it for quite awhile.

In addition to addressing physical imbalances, shamans work to restore balance in the unseen or subconscious layers of your being that are supporting the health issues you’re focused on healing. This helps you reshape your life to release the health issues and support the other experiences you want to have.

What you can expect from your chosen shaman

  • You’ll be worked with respectfully and confidentially.
  • You’ll be considered to have the wisdom to guide yourself on your path through life.
  • Your spiritual beliefs will be respected.
  • You’ll be supported in remembering and following your own wisdom about your healing process.
  • You’ll be worked with one session at a time rather than being told you need to schedule a series of sessions.


A session may include any combination of talking, touch, guided meditation, sacred ceremony, or suggestions for changes you can make to support your well-being. While evidence of healing may gradually appear over the weeks or months following your time with the shaman, it’s also possible that it may appear immediately and fully within one session.

How to decide who to work with

  • Non-native shamans are available outside of tribal communities, whereas most native shamans are available only to people within their own communities.
  • If you don’t already know someone, you can begin searching by looking online or asking for recommendations from holistic practitioners in your community.
  • You don’t have to be limited by your geographic area. Some shamans offer their services by phone.
  • When you have a list of at least three shamans, spend a few minutes in meditation. Breathe gently and give yourself permission to set aside fear, desperation, and pain for just these few minutes. From this centered place, notice how you feel about working with each shaman. If you feel open and relaxed, you’ve found a good possibility. If you feel hesitant or tense, look for someone else. The right shaman for you will feel right to you.
  • When you’ve found a shaman you feel is a good possibility, the next step is to call or email to set up an appointment and to ask any questions you have about fees and what to expect during a session. If you’re satisfied with this interaction, schedule an appointment.


Most shamans do not include hallucinogenic substances in their work. Be cautious about working with non-native shamans who do use them. In addition to being illegal in many areas, these substances are not necessary and they can also be detrimental.

A shamanic healing gift for you

Set aside thirty to forty-five minutes to do this healing.

Sitting quietly where you won’t be disturbed, close your eyes and breathe gently until you feel centered. Then begin remembering backward in time until you come to a time you wish you hadn’t had to experience. This might be only moments ago or it might be years ago. It may have been a moment of embarrassment, a time of pain or trauma, a time of disappointment, or anything else that was hard for you to go through. Whatever its nature, it’s an experience you would have preferred to avoid.

Ask the self within you who lived through that moment to come and sit with you and tell you his/her story. Listen silently and lovingly. When the story is complete, thank that part of you for her/his honesty. Then ask that self if he/she is ready to finish growing up, come home to your heart, and rejoin you at the age you are now as a positive, supportive part of your being.

If the answer to that invitation is yes, physically open your arms wide like you’re welcoming someone into a hug. Open your heart and breathe. Allow the part of you that’s been holding the truth of that experience to gently return through your heart and settle into your body. When that feels complete, sit quietly for another minute or so then open your eyes and gently go on about your day.

If, however, the answer to that invitation is no, lovingly tell this aspect of you that this is okay and the invitation remains open. He/she is welcome to come home whenever the time feels right. When you feel complete with this, sit quietly for another minute or so then open your eyes and gently go on about your day.

A few sweet stories

A couple who’d worked with a fertility clinic had been told they were both physically capable of conceiving, but they still weren’t pregnant after more than four years of trying. While working with them about getting pregnant, a shaman helped the man finish grieving the death of his infant brother. Seven weeks later, the couple became pregnant with their first son.

While working with a woman who’d had numerous accidents resulting in broken bones, a shaman asked her why she wanted to understand how easily human bones break. She said she didn’t want to understand that but she was fascinated with how bones heal. The shaman used this information as the foundation of a guided meditation to find the source of her fascination. During the meditation, the woman remembered another lifetime in which she’d been unable to properly heal her daughter’s broken leg, and the girl had suffered from pain for the rest of her life. The woman had never forgiven herself for that, and her broken bones in this lifetime were her reminders to forgive herself for what she’d seen as her failure to be a good mother in the other life. Almost twenty years after this session, she still hasn’t had another broken bone.

Several members of a family struggling with a three-generation pattern of widespread addictions participated in a shamanic ceremony to heal their ancestors. During the two years following the ceremony, most of the family members healed their addictions. Eleven years later, the family is almost addiction-free.