danceI FACILITATE EXTEMPORANEOUS, ecstatic, inclusive ritual that lends itself very well to personal transformation and the healing of old emotional wounds. These rituals are focused on personal work, on becoming our most excellent selves, reaching for our inner divine.

In reaching for that something larger, there is our broken hearts, the wounds of our past, the shadows that dog our steps. There are the obstacles that stand in our way, the barriers that keep us from becoming more, from reaching for our dreams. There is the pain of what’s been done to us, and what we’ve done in turn.

Sometimes I think the hardest part of the process of healing is that moment when we wake up and realize that we are so often our own worst enemy. Even though it may have been others who have hurt us, we keep those old wounds, old stories, alive and thriving in our own lives.

I believe there are many components to effective energy healing, but here are three:

• Sound and Music Healing — I believe that the magic of movement and sound, of singing and toning and drumming and making rhythm together, is a core component. Sound, on its own, is a powerful agent of shifting our energy, of healing. Sometimes sound — the right sound — can intensify energy. Gong bath, the right chant, the right harmonics, can absolutely intensify the healing energy.

• Take Responsibility for our Own Healing — Some of the magic of ecstatic ritual and of healing is forgiving ourselves — opening to a possibility of healing, and being willing to reach for it. For that matter, it’s about taking responsibility for the process of our own healing. While many of the techniques I use in rituals are similar to many shamanic traditions of soul retrieval, for me it’s important to not do the journeying work for the participants in the ritual, but to facilitate their own journey of healing.

I don’t believe that energy healing works as a prescription or recipe. Light this candle, sing this song. Nor do I believe that energy healing works in the way some people define magic as “something that I don’t have to do any work to get.” Energy healing sets the intention, but we have to do the hard work of changing our own stories.

Changing our Selves, changing our stories of our Selves, is hard work. Whether our story is that we can’t stop smoking or we can’t eat healthy or nobody likes us, because all the kids in grade school made fun of us — whatever our story is, we are the ones who can change it.

• Active Participation — Energy healing doesn’t work when we don’t participate. So often I hear from people who want to know what color candle to burn, or, want me to sing a healing song for them. They want me to do it for them, but the truth is, only we can heal ourselves.

With energetic healing, that means we need to participate in building that energy. In the ecstatic rituals I facilitate, I work to help people sing, chant, drum, dance, move, and use emotional intensity and intention to focus energy for transformation and healing. I believe that an actual emotional connection to that intention of healing is the most important of these, but being willing to move and sing and add energy through participation is key.

We, ourselves, are potent energy batteries. There’s an amazing documentary, Dances of Ecstasy, in which an African healer articulates it brilliantly. They must have asked him, “Why do you dance in order to heal?” He responds very matter-of-factly and says something about how without the dancing, there is no energy to do the healing. I’ve read in a number of places that shamanic work is about spiritual heat. We raise up that spiritual heat, by intense dancing or by rocking back and forth through the song of shared grief.

I often say that, in a ritual, I’m not there to heal you, I’m there to help you get into a trance state where you can heal yourself. What wounds of your past would you heal if you could?

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Shauna Aura Knight is an artist, author, presenter and spiritual seeker. She travels nationally offering education in the transformative arts of ritual, community leadership and personal growth. She is the author of The Leader Within, Ritual Facilitation, and Dreamwork for the Initiate's Path, as well as author of several fiction titles. Her spiritual-mythic artwork and designs are used for magazine covers, book covers and illustrations. Shauna is passionate about awakening mythic imagination and helping people reach for their highest potential.

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