Shamanic journey as in-sight meditation

To be truly present to the moment, rooted wholly and unreservedly here in the now, is to pray.

Being present is a spiritual practice that you can practice anytime and anywhere. To be present introduces a gap, a pregnant pause, in the thinking of the mind. The space opened up by the prayer of presence enables us to respond—rather than react—to the situation at hand.

To slow the movement of the mind, to stand rooted and aware, to respond in any given circumstance is to generate a sphere of wakeful presence both within and without. Generating this state of prayerful presence enables us to truly see as we walk about the world.

In the words of Abraham Heschel in the introduction to his masterpiece, The Prophets:

“What impairs our sight are habits of seeing…. Our sight is suffused with knowing, instead of feeling painfully the lack of knowing what we see. The principle to be kept in mind is to know what we see rather than to see what we know.”

The shamanic journey, or in-sight meditation, helps destabilize the mind’s habitual ways of seeing. It is one way of arriving at the sight beyond our conscious knowing. But shamanic journeying, or in-sight meditation, can itself become domesticated and lose its liberating power if we’re not vigilant.

The practice of presence and slowing down, in life and journey alike, can help us break the shackles of mental routine and deepen our vision into genuine in-sight.

We tend to see what we know. Sight “suffused with knowing,” however, is inferior to innocent and unlearned vision. To look for what you’ve been instructed to see is to be blind to the wild and liberating power of in-sight.  

Our problem is that we try to be good students. We want to know what we are looking for so we can accomplish the task before us. In the grip of the mind, absent from our senses, we have access to nothing more than the conventional wisdom of our time.

We have become domesticated, losing touch with our wildish souls. Souls, like honeybees, thrive not in the light of conscious awareness, but in the subconscious darkness of the hive. What we are after in the meditation of in-sight is the inner, humming, honeyed reality of mystery that lives under the surface at the center of existence.

The honeyed reality of in-sight is protected by stings, however. Until you are willing to commit to metabolizing the pain you carry within, you cannot successfully enter the inner sanctum of Spirit.

Once you agree to proceed anyway, you will find your eyes adjusting to the darkened light of inner reality. As your capacity for in-sight is awakened and remembered, it will extend beyond yourself out into the things of this world.


This week, let us make an offering to the protective spirit that guards the threshold between surface vision and in-sight. We will share our offerings at the start of the circle.


This will be a journey to explore our capacity for inner vision. Let us practice slowing down in the journey state, being really present, awake, and softening into presence as we kindle our shared intention for deeper in-sight in darkening times.

The emphasis here will be on peeling back the layers of conditioning and expectation to reach down and breakthrough to unite with the living Mystery at the core of reality.

This is a free weekly online journey circle offered by Gaia Shamanism at 4-5:30 pm PDT every Wednesday in 2020. Email your interest in joining us at All skill levels are welcome. 

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