Ever Heard of Shamanism?

Deanna Slate Stennett, LAc 

 If you think that a Shaman is a Native American healer, you are correct, but only partly. So is an Irish Druid, so is an Australian Aboriginal, so is a witchdoctor––the list goes on.

Shamanism is a spiritual practice older than any known practice or form of healing, dating back 40 to 100 thousand years. Virtually every single culture on the planet has practiced it at some point in their ancestry. The actual word Shaman comes from the Tungus tribe in Siberia and means one who sees in the dark.

The core belief in Shamanism is that everything is alive. What that means is that spirit dwells in all that is, and in fact everything that exists in the physical realm existed first in the spirit realm. On a practical level, there is wisdom in everything around us; all we have to do is access it. From a modern perspective, having an understanding and relationship with all of life around us could be the catalyst to stopping the destruction of the planet. If one has a vital relationship with something, would they destroy it?  Or pollute it? 

Illness from a Shamanic perspective is also spiritual. Every disease process starts first in the spirit realm and then manifests on the physical level. Healing also follows the same pattern. Shamans access wisdom and medicine from spirit and bring it back to their “patient.” Sometimes the healing is a process, and sometimes it’s an instant “miracle.” I’ve seen both.

While Shamanism is a spiritual practice, it is not a religion. Shamanism can be a complimentary practice with any religion. I have met ministers, nuns, rabbis, Buddhists, Sufis, and Hindus in the various classes I have attended or taught over the last 15 years. At some core level we all long to re-establish our connection to nature and the natural world. Most of us live as if we are separate from nature, but that is an illusion, all we have to do is wake up to the connection––that is exactly what the practice of Shamanism does. The Hopis say we have been dreaming the wrong dream.

One does not have to be a Shaman or healer to practice Shamanism. Most of the tribes or villages from our various ancestries operated with the understanding of the aliveness of nature and communicated directly with nature for their everyday lives: where to hunt, where to plant, which herbs for illnesses, as examples. In a modern culture the same can be true––being connected with the web of life can help us make everyday decisions and choices.   

Shamanism may be the oldest spiritual practice, but it certainly has applications for the modern world. I invite you to find out more about it.

Shamanic Conflict Resolution

Deanna Slate Stennett, LAc 

 Traditional Shamanism teaches that all disharmonies are illness.  It also teaches that all physical disharmonies start in the spiritual realm and then eventually manifest in the physical realm. So, for instance, physical disease start long before any physical symptoms occur. When a healer such as a Shaman communicates with the spiritual realm, he or she can detect the disharmony long before it becomes physical and can restore harmony, thus preventing illness.

The interesting thing about this is that according to traditional Shamanism, unhappiness in a family or a community is also considered illness, with all the same guidelines of having started in the spiritual realm as well. 

Many of us live and work in very stressful or emotionally toxic environments. We think that talking, fighting, arguing or strategizing can solve these problems. Sometimes that does work, however, more often than not it doesn’t. Most of the time we end up leaving the stressful situations.  We get divorced, we leave our families, we find new jobs, new neighborhoods and so on. What happens is that we often find the same or similar problems in our new situations sometime after we are in them. Some think that we carry our problems with us, suggesting that we are the common denominator. I think there is something even bigger than this going on.

If we start with the premise that these situations are illness, and that all illness starts on the spiritual level, from the most minute of problems 
all the way to the global problems, then we can look at these situations differently. Let’s say that the individual has spiritual imbalances (as we 
all do.) This individual’s spirit is looking for ways to come to balance, so he or she chooses on an unconscious level people or situations that seem to fit his or her imbalance. The other people involved are doing the same thing. So, down the road a bit those imbalances flare up and cause the manifestation of illness. If the individual leaves he or she will look (again unconsciously) for people or situations to balance his or her imbalance and the same cycle or similar cycle is recreated.   

As a practitioner of Shamanism, I can tell you that there are ways to address the imbalances and the illness that is co-created by combined imbalances on the spirit level, so that the situation seems to miraculously shift. Without talking, fighting, arguing, strategizing or leaving. These are ancient techniques that create harmony and peace. They can be practiced by individuals for their own lives or by groups for larger disharmonies. Wouldn’t you like to learn them?

Why Would I Pay Good Money To Be Stuck With Needles?

Deanna Slate Stennett, LAc 

As an acupuncturist, I often hear people say that they are perfectly healthy and have nothing wrong with them, so why would they want to try acupuncture? Further questioning reveals that they have trouble sleeping, or they don’t go to the bathroom everyday, or their periods are irregular and painful.

People in our culture have come to accept that by the time they are 45 or 50 they will be on cholesterol medications, or blood pressure medications or heart medications or insulin. It’s normal isn’t it? Doesn’t everyone take something for indigestion at least? Or sleep aids?

All of the above issues can be addressed with acupuncture. Imagine living your life without pills, sleeping soundly, waking up rested. Imagine regular bowels, menstruation without pain and not having heartburn. Does that sound like a pipe dream? It shouldn’t.  

We as a culture have come to believe that aging means medications. We have come to believe that declining health is par for the course. Take a moment and think about all the commercials on T.V. advertising medications for conditions that we have come to think of as normal. Ask yourself, who is profiting from this? Certainly it isn’t the average person who thinks that they are healthy when they are on 3-10 different medications.

It is not unreasonable to live your life feeling well. It is not unreasonable to have energy, and feel good. It is your birthright to live a full and healthy life.  

Acupuncture is a natural system of medicine that balances your life force, called Qi. Qi flows throughout your body in a circulatory system to each organ and to every cell. When it is balanced and flowing smoothly your own body can take care of each challenge it faces. When it is stuck, or flowing too slow or too fast, disease (dis-ease) starts. Why wait until you have disease to use this ancient time-honored method to create ease in your body, so that it can function to it’s fullest? You have a right to feel well.

Acupuncture and The Treatment Of Cancer

Deanna Slate Stennett, LAc 

Can acupuncture cure cancer? This is a question I have been asked before, and with all my heart I wish I could answer yes, however, I can’t. Can acupuncture prevent cancer? Again, a question I have been asked. There haven’t been any studies to support acupuncture as cancer prevention, however, we know that the healthier someone is, the better their chances of not getting cancer.

What I can say about acupuncture and cancer is that I have treated quite a number of people with cancer. Acupuncture has effectively reduced the side effects of chemotherapy, promoted the immune system (shown by an increase of white blood cells directly after a treatment) and helped the patient’s spirit and mood (which we know is helpful in healing from anything.)

One of the great benefits of acupuncture is an increased awareness of one’s body, mind and spirit. Most of us walk around disconnected from our bodies, and if asked where an emotion is felt in our bodies, can’t answer. After acupuncture treatments over time, the awareness of where something is felt in one’s body increases. The majority of the people who I have treated who had cancer, expressed an awareness that the cancer helped them to awaken to their bodies. Add acupuncture to that, and the aliveness and awakeness they experienced was phenomenal. I say that my patients who had cancer taught me worlds about living, being fully present in the moment and about dying with grace. I was able to help them bare the experience with acupuncture, but they chose to be fully awake to the experience.  

Some of my patients survived cancer, and some didn’t. Isn’t that true of life in general? None of us gets out of here alive, death is a significant and profound experience we all share. Those who have survived cancer have gone on to embrace life in a way those of us who have not been awakened this way could never understand. And those of my patients who didn’t survive, taught me about the art of dying.

Five Element Acupuncture

Deanna Slate Stennett, LAc 

When you see your health care practitioner, do you feel seen? Or do you feel like a number, or a diagnosis? When you find a practitioner who really “gets” you, how do you feel?

One of the amazing things about five element acupuncture is that there are no two people exactly alike. So, there are no two people who are treated exactly alike. While the symptom that brings you to an acupuncturist may be the same as your friend, you are not likely to be treated the same, even by the same practitioner.   

You may suffer from migraines, or asthma, or any number of problems according to allopathic medicine, but it is much bigger than that with five element acupuncture. Your headaches are likely not the only thing that is going on. You may not think that your emotions, or skin rashes, or digestive disorders have anything to do with your headaches, but in this system everything about you has everything to do with your symptoms.  

Each of the body’s organs and organ systems fit into one of the five element categories. One of those elements is where you as an individual “lives.” So the characteristics of that element are reflected in your emotions, your personality and your physical manifestations. While this sounds like a simplistic way of categorizing people, when one or more of those elements are out of balance, it is the relationship between the elements that causes disharmony.  

In easy terms what that means is that, as an example, the element of earth is where the digestion (stomach and spleen) lives. If earth is your constitution (where you live) it is likely to be the place where you are most vulnerable. Now that doesn’t mean that everyone who has digestive problems will be treated on the earth element. 

Earth relates to the other elements in different ways. It feeds the metal element (lungs and colon) it controls the water element (bladder and kidneys), it is controlled by the wood element, (liver and gall bladder) and it is fed by the fire element (heart and small intestines.) So if the earth is the vulnerable element, it may not be feeding the metal so the symptoms may be respiratory or waste elimination. It may not be controlling the water element so the symptoms may be urinary. It may be too out of control for the wood to control it so the symptoms may be with the liver or gall bladder. And it may not be accepting the “food” from fire so the symptoms could be cardiologic or absorption. 

The subtle nuances of looking at all aspects of a person can point to the element that is most vulnerable, and therefore allow the practitioner to really get the patient, not just chase their symptoms. 

Pain Relief With Acupuncture

Deanna Slate Stennett, LAc 

There are many causes of pain, whether acute or chronic, from a Western allopathic perspective.  Injuries that don’t heal, arthritis, herniated discs, and inflammation to name a few.  From an Eastern medicine perspective there are also differing ways of assessing them.

When you visit an acupuncturist for pain, you’ll be asked questions such as: Does pressure make it feel worse or better?  Does heat or cold improve it?  Does stillness or movement make it feel better?  What types of things were happening in your life when the pain began or injury happened?  

Acupuncture treatment is based on a system of Qi.  Qi is the Chinese word for energy.  This energy flows through the body in a circulatory system, similar to the vascular system.  Each pathway, referred to as either a meridian or a channel, flows to an organ, and on to the next meridian.  Each meridian is responsible for different things – some responsible for muscles, some tendons, some ligaments, some blood flow and some temperature distribution.  

When something happens to us on any level – body, mind, spirit or emotions – these channels are affected.  The Qi can speed up, or slow down, or become stuck.  There could be too much in one place, or not enough in one place.  All of these conditions can cause pain.  If the pain starts with an injury, your body is designed to heal itself, so pain should not last if you are functioning properly.  If that pain lasts and becomes chronic, this is an indication that the Qi is not flowing smoothly.  This is where acupuncture can assist your body in doing what it wants to do anyway.

Don’t live with chronic pain, try something that can help your own body, mind and spirit do what it does naturally, heal.

Call us at 410-961-9033

Beauty On the Outside, Beauty On the Inside: Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture

Deanna Slate Stennett, LAc 

Most of us know someone who has undergone some type of cosmetic procedure to enhance their beauty. We get to a certain age and the facial expressions we have had our whole lives have left their marks or we’ve lost and gained weight so we have sagging skin, and the gravity from walking around on this planet begins to call our flesh downward. We may be accepting of growing older and the respect that we may receive for having lived a while and learned a few things, but when we look in the mirror we are astounded that we look older than we feel. Thus, people spend tens of thousands of dollars, not covered by their insurance, to alter their appearance. Did you know that the average facelift only lasts about six years? What about Botox®? Botox is a trade name for botulinum toxin A. In this way, Botox is related to botulism, which is a form of acute food poisoning caused by bacteria that grow in improperly canned foods.

So, how about an alternative, which costs less than out-of-pocket elective surgeries, is safe, gentle, effective, and helps your whole health as well? Facial rejuvenation acupuncture may be an option for you. This focus of acupuncture has been around since the 1200’s in China.  It may shrink and help erase wrinkles, tone the musculature of the face and increase circulation and production of collagen. Needles are put in the face as well as in the body. The body points help with the organ systems that affect the face. So, in the process of enhancing your face, you can enhance your health.

The protocol is 12 weekly treatments. You should notice differences by the fourth or fifth treatment. After the 12 initial treatments, you come back once a month to maintain your revitalization. The treatments last about an hour and a half, they are relaxing as well as effective and you don’t have any side effects, pain or anything to heal from.  There are no harmful chemicals or bacteria, or       anesthesia to recuperate from. The only thing you have to lose is your wrinkles.

Annapolis Healing