Liberation and the Shamanic Journey are Processes of Learning
We are always being invited to shed unwanted habits and patterns. And to be empowered to identify our highest purpose and then to experience the freedom to pursue it. Liberation is, however, no easy task. It is not so much a state of being as a process of becoming. The shamanic journey takes us on the path of liberation.
As a leader and facilitator in the conscious dance movement, I have spent 20 years in my own “laboratory,” exploring the concepts and processes of freedom through movement, spiritual connectedness, and prayer. This has led me to hone a modality called Dance of Liberation. For me, the process of liberation is a shamanic journey. It is a journey that requires us to have a contract with our own souls, and to revisit that contract continuously, so that we are ever present to our deepest callings.
Kai Karrel and the Shamanic Journey
In my exploration, I have encountered, worked with, and relied upon wisdom teachers to help ferry me through the dark nights that are an essential, if deeply uncomfortable, part of the shamanic journey. One of my most treasured wisdom teachers is Kai Karrel. Kai is a spiritual teacher, writer, mystic, and practicing medium of profound knowledge and experience. In recent years, he’s narrowed his focus and attention to Afro-Brazilian Shamanic teachings. He works with the wisdom of the forest, its native inhabitants, and ancient traditions in order to heal and promote awakening. Kai leads hundreds in workshops and retreats around the world.
Kai has been instrumental in teaching me about my own Dance of Liberation – and the collective Dance we all participate in. I sat with him to explore his ideas about finding our way through the darkness to freedom, so that we can live lives of spiritual lightness and wonder.
Interview with Kai Karrel
Parashakti: What does Liberation mean to you? What is it we try to liberate ourselves from?
Kai: Liberation is having the ability to choose, the freedom, and the courage to allow our lives to turn from being a monologue with life into a dialogue, or a dance if you will. An expression of a flowing movement, rather than a monotonous repetitive choice-less action. We walk, act and behave ourselves into situations we have no awareness over. Nor do we understand how we got to where we are. We just “flow.” We let life pull us here and there. These choices are almost predetermined, and we just realize our role in this symphony we call life.
When we are confronted with a difficult situation, we tend to call it a “problem.” It is our approach, and our attitude which will determine if this is a mindless-response or a heart-born choice. When we are confronted with a positive situation, we tend to call it “pleasant, beautiful, beneficial.” It is our habits and our patterns which determine if we’ll be able to see through and judge truly, do I grow from this or not?
We are born open, trusting, we absorb what we see, what we encounter from our surroundings. We are born into a mode of “survival,”into learning we need to protect ourselves. And slowly but surely, we build walls around our hearts, making sure that we would not get hurt. We tend to evaluate situations more by judging if they are painful or pleasant, and less if we grow and expand, or grow further away from ourselves.
We live our life in constant conflict. In our endless effort to become something we believe will make us feel whole, happy, content. It’s like a dancer who cares for nothing more than the applause at the end of their performance. Or dancing with the intention to perfect each and every move, to dance in such rhythm, in such gusto that the dance will achieve its own life, it’s ultimate perfection. We live our lives in an endless attempt to ignore our flaws and humanity, and aspire to reach a heavenly, improbable divine. Reach a stature of saintly recognition, professional acknowledgement, or in other words, feel successful or at the very least, loved.
So, given all of these challenges, how do we find liberation? Is it possible?
Once we embrace this shamanic journey, and acknowledge the glimpses of freedom we touch within our own dance, we allow a deeper, more profound healing to take place. We recognize the only Liberation would be the Liberation from the confines we’ve agreed to put ourselves into. We take the responsibility, owning our own actions, choosing as we did while dancing what is our own authentic voice, how do we truly decide to move within our lives. Liberation means that our actions are an endless acceptance of who we are, a complete whole being, which is on its process and is forever walking the path of its becoming. An endless story which unfolds with our every move, with every breath we choose to take.
Liberation means choice. It means the ability to respond, the ability to offer our own voice.
In the Dance of Liberation™, on the dance floor, we incorporate blindfolds. This is an idea that is found in other shamanic traditions, to help people feel less self-conscious and to welcome the darkness. To both surrender to it, work with it, and use it. Can you speak about what we can remember when we are in the midst of darkness?
We need nothing, look for nothing, aspire to all that is already there. We dance with an open intent to discover our present moment, to hold our own space. It is there, in those moments we let go, that our own path is revealed. Our inner voice finds its self-expression. It is there, in the unknown, that the dialogue with life can really happen.
When we dance without caring if we are being seen, if we dance in the “right” way, if we dance gracefully or not, if we are in accordance with the music, not even if we look “good” to our fellow dancers.
When we can’t see, all that remains is a shared beat, a mutual harmony of fellow explorers, diving into their own discovery.
Can you share more about what that inner and shared discovery might look like? And how that truly connects us all?
Dancers are guided by a constant and binding thread. The constant beat of the drummers’ drum. The incessant flow of the all-enveloping music that surrounds and nurtures their each and every movement. As they begin to move, the music, the beat, their breath and body all merge into one harmonious resonance. The music carries the dancer into deeper realms of letting go, allowing them to relax and open themselves to a spontaneous flow of movement, unknown to them, unplanned, and definitely not choreographed. As they sway and explore these new sensations, a new type of movement is allowed to be born. Since the music has no language, it becomes an extension of the dancers inner most soul. Wording its expression and surfacing with and through their body, their feet and their breath.
A deep sense of togetherness arises, a fellowship that forms between those who walk side by side on the same path. We feel connected, maybe for the first time, without the need to see and define each other. Without knowing or coming to conclusions about those around us, just letting them be, as they are, with the acceptance of our own process.
Can you speak to the shamanic cycle of rebirth, and how it can be experienced through dance?
This cycle, danced and experienced in the Dance of Liberation™, is the cycle of growth, the timeless story of those who walk the hills and valleys of the spiritual path and the shamanic journey. It is our own story, of choosing a human form, allowing the divine experience to enter into darkness, choosing to cover its own eyes, and search and discover its own dance, its endless movement just to merge back into stillness at the end of this cycle, being whole, complete, and filled with our inner light.
Kai Karrel and the Shamanic Teachings
Kai Karrel is a writer, mystical travel, poet and student of shamanic teachings. kaikarrel.com.
Parashakti’s shamanic healing work is born of more than two decades of experience facilitating workshops, trainings, and retreats around the world, in Los Angeles, New York, Mexico, Bali, Guatemala, Indonesia, Israel, and Greece. As a lifelong dancer, her path as a healer followed a severe injury – a period of what is often called shamanic dismantling, after which her mission shifted towards healing. Over the last 20 years, Parashakti has developed the Seven Foundations and the Dance of Liberation™, as maps for her spiritual practice, living and breathing these foundations in daily ritual. Dance of Liberation™ has been practiced by over 10,000 dancers around the globe. It’s was born of a mission to help people experience ecstasy – without taking it.
Above all, Parashakti is dedicated to serving community and creating a sacred container where people feel safe enough to experience their deepest essences, honor their voices, and shine their brightest light. Join her on the Dance floor: www.parashakti.org