Feeling Dispirited? Ask Yourself 5 Questions

Article 5 mins Learning & Wisdom
You don't need a shaman to detox your heart of negative emotions. Start with these questions, and the work will unfold.
Feeling Dispirited? Ask Yourself 5 Questions

In shamanic societies, people visited a local shaman or healer whenever they felt spiritually, physically, or emotionally sick. The shaman would ask four simple questions to get at the root of the problem. These four questions are still incredibly relevant today in helping to detox our hearts of long-held anger, fear, and hatred.

4 Questions of the Shaman

1. When did you stop singing?

We can take this teaching on a literal or metaphorical level.

Perhaps someone told you that you had a lousy singing voice in childhood, and you quite literally stopped singing. Or maybe you've felt silenced or afraid to speak up because of the harsh reaction you received when you tried to express yourself. At some point, you may have lost your voice and not even realized it — now is the time to reclaim it.

2. When did you stop dancing?

When did you lose the play in life? Were you traumatized in some way? I experienced trauma related to my race, gender, and sexuality, which stopped me from dancing. For you, maybe a parent said, "Stop being a sissy," or "That's not for girls." If you grew up in a household with violence or intense arguing, you might have stopped dancing.

It's important to dance — to move, evolve and do more than go through the motions — because we deserve to make our way through life fully inhabiting our bodies.

3. When did you stop being enchanted by your own stories?

Storytelling is an integral part of our culture — it's how we share information, pass along lessons, bond with one another, and make sense of what we experience in the world. But at some point, we can lose our enchantment with stories, especially our own.

We lose our wonder because of anger. Many of us have heavy hearts, and sometimes we don't even know why — it's too distressing to access those memories. If you've ever experienced hatred, you know what this feels like. When it's too painful to be with our own story, we stop being enchanted with life. Stories are powerful, and marveling in their wonder is a beautiful part of the human experience.

4. When did you stop being able to dwell in the sweet territory of silence?

Sitting in silence can be scary. So many of us have a continual mental loop of thoughts running through our heads. Even if that loop is negative, we take comfort in the constant chatter. Our heads are full of noise — our silence has been hijacked.

To be able to sit in stillness is a gift to yourself. Find that sweet territory of silence, and don't be afraid of what you might discover.

Adding a Bonus Question

This next question is something I imagine the Buddha would have asked his disciples or those who came to him for help.

5. When did you stop breathing?

When we grow up with any amount of distress, we hold onto our breath and tense up, preventing us from accessing mental clarity. Think back to when you stopped breathing and release this tension.

Remembering Who We Are

I've spent many years teaching adults and young people to play again and to have and trust in that play. As we learn to rewrite our stories, it's important to reclaim every part of them, to relate to each differently. In practicing to find comfort in silence, we must ask ourselves how we can get to a place of silence. I call this the place of stillness simplicity. It's found when we rest in self-love and kindness. To come into our own, we must sing again to find our voice.

Knowing when we stopped singing, dancing, being enchanted by our stories, resting in silence, and breathing tells us valuable information about when we lost a part of ourselves. By identifying this, you can remember who you are instead of filling in the blanks of who you think you should be.

You don't need a shaman to begin to heal and detox your heart of negative emotions. Start with these five questions, and the work will unfold for you.

Try this course, Detox Your Heart of Anger Fear and Hatred, by trauma expert Valerie (Vimalasara) Mason-John to release long held emotional baggage and find your way back to yourself. 

Header photo: FG Trade/E+/Getty Images

About the author

Valerie (Vimalasara) Mason-John

Valerie (Vimalasara) Mason-John

Vimalasara is committed to assisting others live healthier, happier lives through mindfulness. She is has over 30 years of experience as a Dharma teacher, trauma expert, and certified mindfulness teacher.
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