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A Shamanic View

Surviving Chaos


The past couple of months have been rather chaotic. My family and I moved from a house in Illinois to an apartment in Colorado. I’m relocating my shamanic practice and my wife and I are opening a shop together. The move was complicated and while boxes were designated as shop versus apartment, several ended up in the wrong place. There are still a number of things we haven’t found.


It would be easy to go on and on about the things that are contributing to the chaos in our lives, but I think everyone can relate well enough. Aren’t most of us surrounded by more than our share of it?


Modern society is a hectic place to live. We all bustle about rushing from place to place, from task to task. But we don’t even stop there. One task at a time is too slow for most people, so we multitask trying to get everything done at once.


But the reality is that the upper brain doesn’t multitask. It can only really focus on one thing at a time. It can switch back and forth very quickly. But that still means if you’re trying to do two things at once you’re really just ignoring one of them about half of the time.


On top of that, that kind of mental switching all the time increases levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Long-term high cortisol levels leads to all kinds of physical problems. Multitasking negatively impacts learning, and can change the way the brain learns new skills and stores new information. Too much of it might even be damaging the brain–in some of the same places that Alzheimer’s patients exhibit damage.


Not that multitasking is always bad. Mixing activities that use different parts of the brain is fine. Like listening to music and exercising, for example. Like so many things, balance is the key.


So what about multitasking from a spiritual perspective?


A big part of life is experiencing it. Your spirit is here to experience things. There is so much to experience in each moment, but if you’re multitasking it’s like being in more than one place, which means you aren’t experiencing either place fully.


So shamanically speaking, the answer is to slow down. Do one thing at a time. Make each of those things meaningful. Make them sacred. Taking the time to slow down and be fully present in each moment lets you absorb more of that moment, making each moment more worthwhile.


When life is chaotic it is especially important to slow down. Take moments to get grounded and centered. A storm around you does not seem as over-whelming when you are solidly grounded.


If you are under constant stress and un-grounded amidst chaos you are vulnerable to soul loss, which is how your spirit protects itself from trauma. Constant, chronic stress is traumatic. Soul loss is almost always the root cause of addictions. Is it any surprise that the more chaotic and hurried our lifestyles become the more prevalent addictions become?