I found this article over at Jayson Gaddis’ site and wanted to repost it here in full because I think it is such an important message to get out there:
“The Shamanic View of Mental Illness”
by Stephanie Marohn (featuring Malidoma Patrice Somé) (Excerpted from The Natural Medicine Guide to Schizophrenia, pages 178-189, or The Natural Medicine Guide to Bi-polar Disorder)
What a Shaman Sees in A Mental Hospital
In the shamanic view, mental illness signals “the birth of a healer,” explains Malidoma Patrice Somé. Thus, mental disorders are spiritual emergencies, spiritual crises, and need to be regarded as such to aid the healer in being born.
“To laugh is to risk appearing the fool. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental. To reach out to another is to risk involvement. To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self. To place your dreams, ideas before a crowd is to risk their loss. To love is risk not being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair. To try is to risk failure. But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing. They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live. Chained by their certitudes, they are a slave: they have forfeited their freedom. Only a person who risks is truly free. The pessimist complains about the wind; The optimist expects it to change; And the realist adjusts the sails.”
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
“A creative illness succeeds a period of intense preoccupation with an idea and search for a certain truth…. Throughout the illness, the subject never loses the thread of his dominating preoccupation. It is often compatible with normal, professional and family life. But even if he keeps to his social activities, he is almost entirely absorbed with himself. He suffers from feelings of utter isolation…. The termination is often rapid and marked by a phase of exhilaration. The subject emerges from his ordeal with a permanent transformation and the conviction that he has discovered a great truth or a new spiritual world.”
“Here is this vast, savage, howling mother of ours, Nature, lying all around, with such beauty, and such affection for her children, as the leopard; and yet we are so early weaned from her breast to society, to that culture which is exclusively an interaction of man on man.”
I’ve tried to start a blog several times in the past, but felt overwhelmed and never quite knew where to begin. I am interested in lots of things and came to recognize that what is really important- simple living, connecting with the earth, eating whole foods, taking care of oneself (and each other) by enriching the mind, body and soul– is all mutually beneficial and intimately connected.