Sarah, a certified, trained, and initiated shamanic practitioner and living energy healer in the lineage of the Q’ero medicine men and women from the high Andes of Peru, proudly carries the mantle of a full mesa. Her mission extends beyond personal healing, as she passionately teaches individuals how to become their own healers. Dedicated to facilitating transformation, Sarah empowers others to carve out space in their lives, shedding conditioned layers that hinder authenticity. With a focus on creating moments of freedom and joy, she guides individuals through a journey of self-discovery. Through direct experience, Sarah’s teachings enable individuals to perceive, shift, and move energy in any aspect of their lives they wish to transform. As a trusted guide, she assists in reconnecting to innate wisdom, reactivating senses, and walking the beauty way, fostering a path to becoming Wildly Alive.
Read more about this fascinating woman in the latest MysticMag interview.
Can you explain the concept of Ayni and how it relates to the idea of a “right relationship” in Shamanism? How does reciprocity play a role in maintaining balance in one’s life and relationships?
Ayni (the word that Q’ero medicine men and women use to describe the right relationship or reciprocity) is one of the main teachings and focus of Inca Shamanism, a foundational practice interwoven into the daily lives of the Q’ero. It is a way of being in balance, harmony, and gratitude with our sacred inner worlds, outer worlds, and the divine.
For many of us, there is an intrinsic, deep yearning and need to reconnect, to find balance and our place in the world (and even in the Universe). Shamanic healing allows us to curiously explore our inner terrains and bring to light what is out of balance and ready to be healed. As we heal our past, we shift our current state of being, becoming more in balance with the living energy (Kawsay) that is within us and all around us. So when we are in Ayni, we are literally in flow with universal energies which are always giving and receiving in a balanced exchange of energy and information.
In shamanic practices, self-healing is often emphasized. Can you describe some techniques or rituals that individuals can use for self-healing? How does the concept of Ayni factor into the process of healing the self?
Yes, in the medicine work that I do, I teach people how to become their healers. Through their own direct experience, they will learn to perceive, shift, and move energy in whatever parts of their life they want to transform. As you become your healer, you begin to flow with each challenge, each experience, in each moment, alchemizing your struggles into gold, into the gifts you are here to receive.
We hold a lot of wounds and traumas that have created behaviors, patterns, and stories that no longer are beneficial for us and that create Hucha (heavy or dense energy). Our Sami (refined light energy) is many times reduced, stagnant, and dimmed. When our Kawsay (living energy) is out of balance in this way, we can feel stuck or blocked, unable to move forward, and are caught up in looping stories or cycles. Eventually, the Hucha begins to grow and can crystallize and solidify in our Luminous Energy Field (our light body or energetic body). This is when the energy of Hucha begins to manifest in our lives as dis-ease – an imbalance in our relationship to ourselves and our outer world.
As we do our healing work, we begin to disconnect from our minds, reconnect to our inner guidance system, and see and live through the eyes of our hearts. As we disidentify with our personality, our conceptual identities, with the maps we carry and the masks we wear, we begin to learn that our suffering is just our resistance to the present moment, resistance to what we are experiencing right now and believing the story that our mind is telling us about it.
The medicine teachings and practices are not about what you gain as knowledge outside of yourself, they are about what you are experiencing directly within you. You learn to perceive, shift, and move energy in your life. The process is active and participatory and creates a pathway for you to experience and know your absolute truth that is beyond words and perceptions. Your mind doesn’t understand but your soul is listening. It is within this space where healing happens – where the aha’s arise, the information you need to move forward in your life becomes clear, the next steps materialize and amazing insights begin to form a clear, true and experienced new reality.
Here are two ways to begin to come into Ayni (reciprocity, right relationship, balance) with your sacred inner world and your outer world:
- Nature Pachamama (Mother Earth) offers us amazing clues for ways of living and being in the right relationship. I invite you to take time each day to sit in a chair on your deck or in your yard, look through an open window, or go for a walk. Spend time observing trees, flowers, birds, animals, mountains, water, etc. Notice how they are not “doing”. They are BE-ing. I invite you to place your hand on a tree, close your eyes and feel the wind or the sun on your face, pick up a stone and examine it, find a picture in the clouds, smell a flower, and touch a leaf. Ask the natural world around you for assistance and then sense what comes into your awareness. The invitation for you is to step into knowing and have a direct experience.
- Gratitude – Gratitude is a way to give and receive energy. Pause each day and sense into what you are grateful for at that moment. Start with the basics – gratitude for breath, for sunlight, for food, water, and warmth – it will grow from there and, over time, will expand into a natural state of being. Some days it is harder than others to find the beauty and wisdom in what is. Yet as you begin to attune to these states of wonder, your perception naturally shifts and allows the frequency of gratitude to recreate your reality.
Could you share your personal experiences with shamanic journeys and how they have contributed to your understanding of Ayni and self-healing? What are the key elements or stages of a shamanic journey, and how do they tie into these concepts?
Most significant for me is that we as Humans are hardwired to journey and to perceive energy. We were born to do this! When I did my first journey many years ago, I was astounded that I could perceive information in this way. I experienced a powerful change in my life that I could trace back to the work I did and the wisdom I received in my journey.
It was through shamanic journeying that my personal healing journey began and that led me to the Medicine Wheel teachings where I dived into the dark recesses of my soul, into the wild and untamed thicket of my wounding and traumas. My soul yearned for this and as the layers of conditioning began to peel off, I discovered my brilliance and found joy, beauty, and the wild aliveness that I had so craved but could never hold onto. The experience was profound and transformative. My life shifted so dramatically. The medicine work helped to connect me to the incredible support all around me, recover more of my healed state/true nature, and remove blocks in my life so that I could see more clearly the signs on my path and step into my purpose. It helped me to discover my destiny and answer a deep call within which led me to train as a Shamanic healer.
A Shamanic Journey intends to access and work in three worlds or realms of consciousness – Lower, Middle, and Upper World, to do healing work for ourselves (and for our clients). Each world is connected to an archetype and energy that offers wisdom and healing and an experience that is connected to yet unique to the others. In a journey, we can trace the source of the disharmonious energy or Hucha – the unconscious, our maps, beliefs, and wounds – the energy of ourselves that has not yet learned to live in Ayni. We can also access information and wisdom and uncover resources to assist us in our daily lives. We can experience the refined energy of Sami within our luminous lineage and our healed state and come into a relationship with our guides and helping spirits.
Key Elements of a Shamanic Journey:
- Repetitive sound. Drumming or rattling helps to shift our consciousness by shifting our brain states from alpha or beta into theta.
- Discover a place of power on the land to begin your journey.
- Invoke a guide to come with you on the journey.
- Ask open-ended questions such as “What am I missing?”, “Show me what I am not seeing”, “What next?”, “Take me to…”, etc.
- Trust what you perceive. It might not be what you wanted to hear, which is perfect, because that is shadow, what we cannot see. If for some reason you feel stuck in your mind, ask the question three times.
- Return the way you came. If you went down a set of stairs to access your Lower world, then as you return you go up a set of stairs. If you can’t remember, ask your guide to take you back the same way you came. Nothing bad is going to happen to you if you don’t, it’s just going to take a little longer for your energy to catch back up as it has to meander around those threads for a while.
- Keep a piece of paper with you to jot down keywords afterward. No need to write a novel about your journey. It’s easier to recall what happened with those keywords.
- Integration – After a journey, integration work is key and highly beneficial to care and tend to the healing. It could be a particular medicine practice that allows for the vestiges of the old belief, wounding, or trauma to fully disengage and disintegrate or for the soul part to fully integrate and for the wisdom of the experience to fully manifest into awareness.
Shamanism and the concept of Ayni are often rooted in specific cultural traditions. How do different cultural backgrounds influence the interpretation and practice of these concepts, and how can individuals from diverse backgrounds approach them respectfully?
To be in Ayni or the right relationship with shamanic teachings, it is important that we deeply honor and hold deep gratitude for the great seers, traditions, and lineages that we are initiated into or trained in, sacredly holding and embodying the teachings and honoring the tradition’s invitation to share their medicine with the world, teaching it with integrity and in the way it was gifted to us (a form of appreciation rather than appropriation).
As humans, our connection to all things is a way of BE-ing that we have been disconnected from and without that connection, we become out of balance and out of harmony with the flow of life. We don’t see the beauty in our experience here. Our survival and our ability to thrive here on Earth depends on this connection. There is much Hucha in the world right now, yet when we connect to our inner worlds and Pachamama and begin to shed the old, we come into balance and begin to live in that sacred bond of reciprocity. We cannot shift our external world until we heal within.
Ayni is often associated with maintaining balance and harmony. How can one ensure they are in a state of Ayni in their daily life, and how does this contribute to overall well-being and a sense of connection with the world around them?
When we are out of balance or not in Ayni with our inner and outer worlds, we tend to become stuck and stagnant. We may feel like we are blocked or we keep having repeated experiences (such as certain types of relationships, interactions, or jobs). We may be stuck in our minds in looping patterns of behaviors, thoughts, or stories. In essence, the energy within us is heavy or dense.
When we are in balance, in Ayni, we live in awareness of and experience the present moment fully, we see through the eyes of our heart rather than our minds, we find freedom within and are in deep connection and gratitude with our inner knowing, nature, and the divine. We step out of our old looping patterns, shift our perceptions, and create space within. We remove blocks and begin to flow and create a new reality. We live in a state of gratitude and beauty.
A way to come into Ayni in our daily lives is to notice when we are stuck in our minds. It might be a recurring pattern of thought where you are creating multiple outcomes to a scenario you have experienced or expect to experience. Or you might notice a behavior that you keep repeating. You can simply notice and choose to step out of that thought or behavior and come back to yourself with compassion – again and again and again (and again!). This is called the Art of Return and is a powerful way to begin to come into your awareness and release what you are tightly holding on to which is dense energy that weighs heavy on you and tips the scales of your balance and your energetic exchange. It is also a way to come into contact with your inner world, to explore with curiosity what is happening within, and to heal it. As you explore within, you will begin to see shifts in your life – your perception of an experience shifts, you begin to notice signs that point the way on your path and people will come into your life that provide you with support and creative pathways. The ways are endless and when we open to these, we open to receive and connect with the beauty life here offers. We come into Ayni.
How can the principles of Ayni, self-healing, and Shamanism be applied in our modern, fast-paced world? Are there practical tools or strategies that individuals can incorporate into their daily lives to experience these concepts on a practical level?
Begin by connecting with the support all around you. You can do that by calling in Sacred Space which is shifting your energy and your awareness from the ordinary world into the sacred. What you are doing is calling your awareness present to all that is.
Start by lighting a candle and taking a few really good deep cleansing breaths.
Then begin naming, invoking, singing, whistling, dancing, or blowing in those you are called to call in, whatever comes to you – Animals, Plants, Trees, Water, Mountains, Winged Ones, Stars, Ancestors, the Directions, Guides, Color, Elements, etc.
When that feels complete, take a moment and become aware of the energy and space around you. How has it changed or shifted? What is your felt sense and your experience?
Keep it fresh and in the moment each time you call in Sacred Space, letting your inner knowing guide you.
Being in a ceremony in this way helps us to reflect, celebrate, and honor our journey. It helps us to step outside of the chaos of the external world and into a space of presence, awareness, peace, and clear inner knowing. This sparks an exchange of energy (Ayni) that grows resilience, restores balance and deeply connects us to the support that is all around and available to us. As we learn to embody (live, breathe, and be) the medicine teachings and practices, we create the change we want to see in our lives and the world.
We never walk our path alone. We are wildly and divinely supported. Coming into contact with this support is the beginning of a beautiful and rich journey of becoming Wildly Alive and experiencing the energy of Ayni!