I went to a workshop on shamanism this weekend. I was fortunate to have a lovely talk with a woman who does shamanism and is also a Western medical practitioner. We discussed the role of illness in our world. I talked about wanting to write about why sickness is wrong. Why do we think sickness is wrong? She was one of the few people I have talked to who really understood what that means. She can see the way people are treated when they are sick. She could see the way people suffer because others have these judgments or because they fear the judgments of others about their illness.

Coming up against the wall of how do we change that she started to say that even shamanism does that. From my perspective, which she liked as we discussed this, I was hearing the language of shamanism being about transformation.

In shamanism, you do not go to the doctor a sick person, to have something done to you to “fix” you. In shamanism, you do not get “fixed”. Rather, you get transformed. Transformation implies less judgment about the way you were before to what you become. It is merely change because it is time to change.

If I use the metaphor of changing sheets on the bed, in Western culture, there is an implication that I changed those sheets because the cat had a hair ball on them or they had a rip and now I need to change to the blue sheets. In shamanism, the change is that it is just time to change. I change the sheets from time to time because it feels good to have new sheets on the bed. There is an excitement about the new without a negative judgment about the bad.

I appreciate this language and this way of thinking about healing. I think it is a better way of thinking about healing. This puts us in an empowered state of thinking of healing. Rather than judging ourselves as bad for having a sickness, we are just being guided to a place of change. We will be all that we were however, now we will be even better.

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Bonnie Koenig has been a licensed acupuncturist since 1999. She is passionate about helping people find real healing and real health. In the process she keeps asking about our attitudes towards sickness and health. Only by being clear on what sickness is, can we ever find health.

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