“With knees softened, and feet hip width apart, I can feel the earth, firm and cool, beneath me. Hands, in gently closed fists, rest as directed at my naval. Behind me, my workshop partner Nicki stands close, hands cupped around my ears. The rhythmic drumming echoes around the meadow, bringing ancient traditions into the present moment.
Initially feeling strong, and yet safely held (although my partner isn’t touching me), there is a softening that begins to envelop my body, drawing me gently down to the welcoming ground. Supporting me, Nicki guides me to the floor, and then sits with knees bent behind me; my body rests against her chest, whilst her hands continue to cup my ears. The drumming continues….
Time stands still, held as though within an invisible womb, I rest. Deep peace pervades my body-mind, and all is still…”
Shamanic healing postures are ancient and were widely used across the globe. Pottery figurines have been unearthed on all continents and, fascinatingly, the same posture (or very similar) found thousands of miles apart, yet clearly made in the geographical area they were unearthed.
Felicitas D. Goodman Ph.D pioneered the study of bodily postures and altered states of consciousness from the 1970’s until her death in 2005. Alongside her students (she taught anthropology at Denison University, USA), she explored many postures depicted in these pottery figurines, cave art and (later) on ceramics. Using rattles and drums (traditional in shamanic healing traditions), the group would copy a posture whilst the rattle and/or drum would play at a set rhythm for 15-20 minutes. The students would enter altered states of consciousness – something that today many people are fearful of (and yet do so every time they watch television or ‘zone out’ with social media!) On coming back to the everyday ‘reality’, each reported their experiences; over time it became clear that each posture had a specific purpose as commonalities in vision, bodily sensations, colours, inspiration or insight were mirrored in the ‘journeying’ people.
Felicitas Goodman was the Founder and Director of the Cuyamungue Institute, New Mexico, USA, and she researched what she termed psychological archaeology. “Where Spirits Ride The Wind” was her first book that shared her studies, findings and 30 key postures.
The Bear Posture (as described in the opening paragraphs) is a well-known healing posture that, over the years, I have drawn on in times of need – and out of curiosity! My experiences have ranged from the initial feeling of being safely held and deeply peaceful, to being protected (amazing Mother Bear energy!), playful…and consoled.
Within the Sound of Grace workshops and programme, this is always a favourite posture to experience. Initially you practice this on your own – then work in pairs. It really feels safe, loving and even magical!
“This sounded so weird, and I was cautious…but once the drumming started I felt transported to another world; held and peaceful, curious, and afterwards so light-hearted. My experience has opened my eyes to new possibilities…” LD, Somerset
“I’ve done shamanic journeying before so was excited to be introduced to healing postures; of all of them the Bear is my favourite (but I like the Diviner too). Magical! I could really feel the ‘bear’ behind me when we worked in pairs (even though logically I knew S wasn’t touching me).” GD, Glos.
Come and experience the sacred, healing Bear… I’m offering an Introductory Sound of Grace workshop on Saturday June 29th – 9.30am to 4pm near Cheddar in Somerset. A day for women to come together and co-create a beautiful healing circle, it combines healing mantra and chant, shamanic healing postures, cross-cultural music journeying, silence and community. The Early Bird price is £55 for the day and includes full programme notes, mantra recordings, organic herbal teas and…cake!
“I had no idea why The Sound of Grace called me, I just knew I had to be on the programme…it has brought sacredness into my life, enlivened my spirituality and a ‘zest’ for life that had been buried!” LD, Somerset.