Quietly Doing the Work

It’s important that we have qualified shamanic teachers that act with honor and dedication to further a transpersonal goal. It’s important that we have honorable teachers in all spiritual pursuits. It also follows that teachers who put themselves in public view, write informed books, and offer clear and consistent teachings will become better known. Thanks to those qualified teachers who dedicate their time and effort to furthering quality and heartfelt practice among discriminating students of Spirit, mindfulness, and Mystery.

This essay affirms the collective value of practitioners, at any level  experience, who quietly do the work. They may occasionally teach (perhaps on a small-scale or rainbow sunsetby the example of their lives), but their primary focus is to maintain an ongoing practice without necessarily drawing notice. They may work both in a group and on their own. Their primary focus is to achieve a depth of understanding over time, and to apply what they learn and integrate into the fabric of their lives. A serious practice will spread good medicine, like lighting up a corner of universe. A great many individual lights can make a beam. It really is true that a large number of dedicated practitioners — quietly doing the work — can spread spiritual health, influence cultural tipping points, broaden cultural perception, and extend the boundaries of human consciousness.

Quietly doing the work can involve responding to circumstances as they are encountered (rather like Thich Nhat Hahn stating that engaged Buddhism involves responding to circumstances as we encounter them our daily lives). Quietly doing the work may involve ritual or distance healing for friends and family (as ethics require). Quietly doing the work can mean becoming the invisible shaman/healer at the workplace (always within the bounds of ethical intentions and requesting appropriate or best possible outcomes). Quietly doing the work can involve communicating with the spirits of the land and buildings in your neighborhood and in the pathways of your life. Quietly doing the work can mean becoming and staying more awake to spiritual potential. Quietly doing the work can mean extending a daily or ongoing practice in which spiritual growth is more important than judgments and separatist belief.

A brief personal example
Recently I was on a walk with my two dogs. On intuition, I took the road south. I decided to connect with the spirit of the road after having come in contact and communion with a group of white pines. Within about 1/4 mile I encountered several cars taking up both sides of the road, moving slowly in my direction. They seemed to be herding a very frightened little dog in my direction. I thought the dog might approach my friendly dogs, but it ran past. I could sense the dog was lost, and was clearly threatened, barking continuously. Another car joined the group and a woman stopped to explain: “We’re hoping we can help this dog. At least we can move it off the busier road where it was in danger of being struck by a car.” We speculated that the dog was lost, and I wished her luck. My empathy told me that all the women in the cars cared about the dog. But given the timidity and flight pattern of the dog, it seemed unlikely that they would be able to catch it.

I walked about 1/2 mile or so and decided to return. I could hear the sound of the dog barking and could feel its fear. Then it occurred to me to become the invisible shaman. The anxiety burning through the air suggested a need for balance. I connected with the group, the dog, the land, and felt a circle forming between us. Then I connected with my power animal and the element earth to bring harmony and stability to bear. It happened in a moment — my connection with earth, the balance brought to the circle, and the silence that followed. They had caught him. I could feel relief. Several moments later they were driving off. Their intention felt pure, and I wished to the spirits of the circle for an appropriate outcome.

When we become the invisible shaman it might be through inner song, intentional movement, through connecting with our spirit helpers, through connecting with the spirits of place, and through connecting with the spirit of community that shares a common cause. In this case, I had been walking with the intent to balance the basic elements of earth, air, water, and fire. With the excitation of the frightened and lost dog, the fire element felt out of balance. With the help of my power animal, I focused on bringing stability to the situation with the element earth.

Let the Beauty we love be what we do
There are a lot of ways to honor and integrate a larger View. Examples include working with light and helping spirits, specific methodologies such as cleansing or spirit retrieval, communion with Teachers and our higher Self, and radiating loving kindness and compassion. Perhaps more important than methodology is that we are mindful of our transpersonal connections as we move through our day, and that we take time to honor and strengthen our spiritual links. Our desire to stay connected can guide us as we encounter unique situations, and can help foster a spontaneous flow of harmonious intent.

Once, I did shamanic counseling with a woman who was the voice of public television. She confided that she felt that her real job was attending to the spirits of her land and property, a garden and the many trees. I felt that the two jobs were not incompatible, that by integrating and honoring her work with the spirits of the land she was developing relationships and connections that travel. They could inform her job at public television.

When we are centered with transpersonal connections, or with our larger Self, whatever we do may have the potential to bring a degree of harmony. For example, prior to a meeting or presentation we can walk through a room ahead of time, making small adjustments or even patting the furniture as we connect with the spirit of the place or room. We can honor a place through silent intent, like making an invisible altar.

If we offer assistance with the medicine through which we connect, Spirit does the heavy lifting. But it takes an awake, discriminating, and unbiased mind to act as bridge. It takes an awake mind to see a circle where others may see a broken line. It takes an awake mind to become a conduit of blessings.

We should, each of us, realize that the spiritual work we do contributes to a larger circle of being.

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5 Responses to Quietly Doing the Work

  1. Irina says:

    I love this essay, Jim. It is very appropriate to the work our group has been doing recently.

    Walk in Beauty!

  2. Ken Meland says:

    This was a timely piece. I have been very unhappy with the administrators of my college but have enjoyed my students. I have been quietly doing the work with the students and had facilitated a number of them who had quit trying to finish their degrees. This article has made me realize how I need to extend my “quietly doing the work” approach to all facets of my life. I think I will re-read “Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics” by Marsha Sinetar. She has many of the same ideas in her book. Thanks Jim for re-awakening my sense of self-awareness and the need for a lifestyle that is mindful.

    • Jim says:

      So nice to hear from you Ken. Hope is the thing with feathers. I hope you continue to renew your sources of inspiration and meaningful connection.

  3. Great story. Thank you for sharing. I confer and often tell my students that much of shamanism is behind the scenes. It is actively holding space for healing when no one knows. The attitude that is carried in the heart, a consciousness that each action, thought, and word effects the whole. Caring. Sending a blessing just because you can.

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