March 2015 By Punya Srivastava Punya Srivastava meets shamans Paul and Neelam, whose mission is to heal the soul of the wounded, and restore them to wholeness Paul and Neelam: A symphony in scarlet Paul and Neelam, if seen through conventional glasses, might come across as an odd couple – he a Californian, she an Indian a good 16 years younger than him. But once you get talking to them, you’ll notice how they complete each other’s sentences, coming across as a perfectly working single unit. They call themselves ‘twin flames’ who are meant to be together following their souls’ calling – to help heal the world through the ancient practice of shamanism. It was Skype and spiritual dating websites which led Paul Hinsberger and Neelam Nanwani – already practising shamans in their respective corners of the world – to each other. Paul, with his laughing eyes and pink face, has an unhurried persona and comes across as slightly more languid in pace; while Neelam appears eager and enthusiastic, ready to get on with the next task. The duo got married in 2013, and has been conducting workshops together across USA and India since the last few years. Shamanism is the most ancient healing modality existing that seeks help from the spirit world for healing illnesses and diseases in this realm. It’s been a way of life for many indigenous cultures across the world. It is deeply rooted in nature and derives energy from it. Shamanism believes that everything, whether tangible or non-tangible, resonates with spirit energy and it is this spirit energy that a shaman uses to heal others. Though always practised indigenously, New Age spirituality brought it sharply into focus as the Western world embraced shamanism and its exotic esoteric practices with gusto. Following is a Skype conversation with the duo. What made you both choose this path? Paul: It is an inner calling. I had a natural curiosity since I was young. I was always aware of the unseen, and sought to understand the hidden meaning of things…I had always been curious about shamanism since my teens. Later, I discovered I had been practising it unknowingly since birth. Moreover, everyone has the ability to be a shaman. The call begins as a small whisper, for it is indeed a very personal experience. Neelam: It is ingrained in everyone’s DNA. Connecting with nature as children is shamanism. However, this gift fades away as we grow up because of our conditioning. And like Paul said, it is an inner calling; Spirit asks you to take this path. Hindu religion is the most shamanic in nature. We are taught since childhood that there is life in each and every particle of earth. That indeed is the crux of shamanism. What were your lives like prior to becoming shamans? Paul: I’ve always been on this path, though it was sometimes called something else. For economic survival, I’ve worked in corporate America, in the fields of finance and accounting, county Government…learned much, touched some lives in the process; and now, I am fulfilling my soul’s purpose. Neelam: I was also a part of corporate India for many years. However I used to feel quite unfulfilled until I realised that helping people through healing of the soul and emotions is what fuels my passion and is my mission. What are the prerequisites for becoming a shaman? Neelam: A shaman is a person who has chosen to look inside and decided to heal his wounds, and then move beyond his suffering to help the world. A shaman connects powerfully to the soul of the person in need of help. We help people become one with their soul. Distress in life surfaces when one is not in alignment with his or her soul. We hold out the key to bringing in that alignment. How does a shaman work? Paul: When we are working with anyone, we tune into them, becoming egoless. We are messengers of the Spirit. A part of our soul leaves and goes to all realities – into the world of power animals, ascended masters and the dead. We believe that a shaman’s soul leaves the body and connects with the client’s soul at a higher realm, and since we work directly with the soul, we create an increased sense of personal awareness that skyrockets every time we do healing work. Neelam: Everything has a message for us. We teach how to connect with nature; how to awaken to divination. The most fascinating aspect of shamanism is that it’s not a spiritual practice; it’s a way of life – just like breathing. It provides us with a strong sense of integrity. And because a shaman sees everything as energy/soul/spirit, there is a prevalent sense of interconnectedness. Are spirit and soul two separate entities? Paul: Spirit is the universal energy; it is manifested as all forms of light force referred to as energy or prana. A rock has spirit energy; all inanimate objects have spirit energy. Whereas, a soul is individual but connected to other souls through the thread of divine oneness. We comprise souls that thrive on spirit energy. Neelam: Even businesses have souls, as do places and buildings. For example, our house is a baby. We had given it out on rent for some time. When we came back, the house seemed alienated. We had to do a lot of alignment and healing work. This is true of every tangible and intangible thing. Shamans believe, “Everything is alive, everything is spirit and everything has a soul, be it people, places, things, situations, business, relationships, your home – anything and everything. And shamanically, one can connect to the soul/spirit of anything and everything for healing and guidance. How does shamanism see illness? Paul: Shamans work in partnership with their helping spirits for healing work. There are basically three causes of illnesses when seen through a shaman’s perspective – power loss, soul loss and spiritual intrusion. Power loss happens when a person loses his or her power animal or protective guardian spirit. Then there is spiritual intrusion that happens when a person is left without a guardian spirit, or when his or her vital essence has disappeared, leaving a gaping opening in the body. Now since the Universe does not stand a void, something comes in to fill that space. Neelam: Soul loss happens because of severe trauma. For example, when parents fight with each other, a child undergoes an emotional trauma, and his or her soul may get fragmented, and a part of it may depart to another realm. Soul loss is the most severe form of spiritual dis-ease. Unless fragmented soul parts are retrieved, a person cannot feel and live a life that is whole and complete. Can shamanism help in healing diseases like cancer? Paul: Cancer is nothing but accumulated unresolved anger. When our emotions are left unacknowledged and suppressed, we form emotional blocks and these blocks lead to soul loss. In addition, we may take on the unwanted or undesirable energy of another. Or perhaps we have given our energy to another. This displaced energy can accumulate and fester, causing a myriad problems. Besides cancer, other dis-eases and ailments can occur such as depression, anxiety, addictions, mental and emotional numbness, inability to fully participate in life, weakened immune system, frequent or chronic illness, feelings of emptiness and in the language of modern psychology – disassociation. Neelam: However, in some cases, people themselves opt at the soul level before taking birth in this realm, to suffer certain kinds of physical situations like cancer, because of unresolved emotions/life issues. Paul: It is important to realize that shamanism heals cancer in a different way from Western medicine. It recognises the uniqueness of an individual. Therefore, not all people are treated the same way. Only their souls reveal the embedded lesson behind the client’s personal relationship with the dis-ease and what is required to treat it. This is not a “take a pill and call me in the morning” type of process. It is believed that shamans treat schizophrenia as a gift rather than a mental disorder… Neelam: In Western medicine, schizophrenia is looked down upon. But in shamanism, people recognised as schizophrenics are looked upon as gifted people. Shamans recognise that these people have immediate contact with other realms – a direct access to the spirit world without putting in any preparation. However, with so much hullabaloo in our contemporary society regarding schizophrenia, the people suffering from it are subjected to medicines and other cures. This pushes them into a vortex where they are left alone and without guided support to channelize their gift in a proper manner. Paul: It’s a sad truth of this age but a truth nevertheless. While a yogi steps into a pool of spiritual energy and swims in bliss, a schizophrenic steps into the same pool, struggles and drowns. How does our suppressed shadow-self manifest in our routine life? Paul: Usually it depends on the type of day you are having! The Shadow refers to all aspects of yourself including traits, needs, drives, abilities, feelings and potentials, capacities, both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ – that you have rejected, denied, disowned and pushed out of awareness and into your unconscious. Carl Jung describes the Shadow as ‘the person you would rather not be’. It mostly appears by external or internal triggers – something that sets it off. The key is to understand these triggers and operate out of awareness rather than react rashly. How does accepting our shadow-self help us? Paul: Creating an alliance with our Shadow(s) is immensely rewarding and liberating. By no longer having to hold down and repress your shadow aspects, which consumes a lot of energy, you free up your life force and vitality, become much more present-moment centred,
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