Shamanic Journey vs Meditation: A Comprehensive Comparison Guide

Delve deeper into the realm of mindfulness as this article explores the profound differences between a shamanic journey and meditation because both possess unique benefits and methods that can significantly enhance your wellbeing.

Key takeaways:

  • Shamanic journeying involves altered states and spirit interactions.
  • Mindfulness meditation focuses on present-moment awareness and non-judgment.
  • Shamanic journeying aims for personal transformation and connection to the spiritual realm.
  • Mindfulness meditation promotes inner peace and stress reduction.
  • Shamanic journeying utilizes rituals and tools; mindfulness meditation requires no special equipment.

Definitions and Origins of Shamanic Journeying and Meditation

definitions and origins of shamanic journeying and meditation

Shamanic journeying hails from ancient spiritual traditions, particularly those of indigenous cultures around the globe. It involves entering an altered state of consciousness to interact with the spirit world for guidance, healing, or knowledge.

Meditation encompasses a range of practices, some as old as humanity itself, with historical roots in traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. It generally refers to the practice of focusing the mind to achieve a state of mental clarity and emotional calm.

Both practices reflect humanity’s longstanding desire to explore the inner landscape and to understand the deeper aspects of existence, often leading to profound personal transformation and insight.

Core Intentions and Goals of Each Practice

core intentions and goals of each practice

Shamanic journeying serves as a bridge between the physical and the spiritual realms, aiming to facilitate personal transformation, healing, and the gaining of wisdom and guidance from spirit allies. Its goal is to connect with a deeper reality beyond the sensory world we commonly interact with.

In contrast, mindfulness meditation focuses primarily on cultivating a nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment. It encourages practitioners to observe their thoughts and feelings without attachment, seeking to foster a sense of inner peace and reduce stress.

Both practices, although differing in approach, share the intention of enhancing self-awareness and promoting a harmonious balance within the individual’s inner and outer worlds.

Methodology of a Shamanic Journey

Embarking on a shamanic journey involves a series of ritualistic steps typically guided by an experienced shaman. To begin, one usually finds a comfortable and quiet space, minimizing external distractions. The shaman initiates the experience with a drumming or rattling sequence, pacing steady rhythms that facilitate the entry into an altered state of consciousness, referred to as “shamanic consciousness”.

Participants set an intention, a crucial component of the journey, focusing on a question or healing that they seek. As the trance deepens, the practitioner enters non-ordinary reality, a space envisioned as a different world or plane existence often accessed through an imagined pathway like a tunnel or bridge.

Here, interactions may occur with various spiritual entities or guides. These are typically envisioned as animals or ancestors, believed to impart wisdom, messages, or provide healing. Once the journey peaks, the shaman gradually brings the rhythm to a close, helping the participant to return to normal consciousness, usually marked by a slow down or cessation of drumming.

The return involves recalling the journey’s experiences, often followed by a discussion to interpret the symbology and insights gained. Grounding practices include consuming light food and water, which help in reorienting to ordinary reality.

Methodology of Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation focuses on the present moment, involving a heightened awareness of one’s thoughts, sensations, and feelings without judgment or attachment.

Sit quietly, often in a comfortable, seated position, and close your eyes to minimize external distractions.

Begin by concentrating on your breathing, noticing the inhalation and exhalation, the rise and fall of your chest, or the air flowing through your nostrils.

As you settle into this awareness, observe any thoughts or emotions that come to mind.

Instead of engaging with or suppressing them, acknowledge their presence and gently return your focus to your breath.

This practice may be aided by silently repeating a mantra or counting breaths to help maintain concentration.

The key is consistency and patience, as the mind will tend to wander.

Each time it does, treat it as an opportunity to strengthen your mindfulness muscle by bringing attention back to the breath.

Regular practice can cultivate a sense of inner calm, increased focus, and a more profound sense of connection to the present moment.

Typical Experiences During Shamanic Journeys and Mindfulness Meditation

During a shamanic journey, individuals often report vivid encounters with spirit guides or animals. These visions can be symbolic, offering insights or solutions to personal or community problems. The experience is frequently described as a deep trance state, where one feels a detachment from the physical body and a connectedness to a different realm or reality.

In contrast, mindfulness meditation tends to center on the here and now. Practitioners typically notice their breath, bodily sensations, and thoughts. They cultivate an attitude of non-judgmental awareness, learning to observe without getting absorbed by the contents of the mind.

Sensations of deep relaxation and peace are common in both practices; however, the shamanic journey might provoke more intense emotional responses or epiphanies due to its narrative and interactive nature. Mindfulness meditation, by fostering equanimity, often leads to a quiet but profound sense of contentment and clarity.

Use of Rituals and Tools in Shamanic Journeying

Shamanic journeying often incorporates specific rituals and instruments to create an environment conducive to entering altered states of consciousness. These elements serve as both psychological anchors and spiritual conduits:

  • Drumming and Rattling: Repetitiveness helps to alter brain waves, facilitating a trance-like state. The vibrations are believed to mirror the heartbeat of the Earth, promoting a deep connection with nature.

Sacred Space Creation: Practitioners might ‘smudge’ an area with sage or other herbs to purify the space and invite protective spirits, creating a safe container for the journey.

Invocations and Intentions: Verbalizing a clear purpose or calling upon spirit guides ensures a focused and directed experience.

Symbolic Costumes or Objects: Wearing certain attire or holding totems can empower the journeyer with the qualities embodied by these items.

These tools and customs are not mere accessories; they represent a language through which communication with the spiritual realm is established and facilitated.

Simplicity and Accessibility of Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation stands out for its straightforward approach, allowing practitioners from all walks of life to engage with it. This form of meditation requires no special equipment or environment; simply a quiet space and a few moments of time can suffice. Whether sitting, walking, or lying down, the focus is on the present moment and the breath.

Key points highlighting the simplicity and accessibility include:

  • Ease of Learning: The techniques can be self-taught or learned through various readily available resources, including books, online courses, and apps.
  • Time Flexibility: Sessions can be as brief as a couple of minutes, making it practical for busy schedules.
  • Place Flexibility: It can be practiced virtually anywhere – at home, in the office, or even during your commute.
  • No Cost Involved: There are no fees required to start or maintain a practice.
  • Universality: It is a non-sectarian practice, aligning with any belief system or lifestyle.

These attributes make mindfulness an egalitarian form of meditation, promoting mental well-being without barriers.

Potential Therapeutic Benefits of Shamanic Journeys and Mindfulness Meditation

Shamanic journeying is often sought after for its deep healing properties. It encourages the exploration of subconscious terrains, potentially unveiling insights related to personal traumas and life patterns.

Proponents claim it can facilitate a profound connection with spiritual guides, leading to empowerment and an enhanced sense of purpose.

Mindfulness meditation, on the other hand, is lauded for its stress-reducing effects. By anchoring attention to the present moment, it cultivates a state of calm and reduces the impact of everyday stressors.

Regular practice has been shown to decrease anxiety, improve mood, and enhance overall emotional regulation.

Both forms can contribute to an individual’s psychological well-being and emotional resilience. The immersive narratives of shamanic experiences, coupled with the stabilizing attentional focus of mindfulness, offer complementary paths towards mental and emotional harmony.

Each individual may resonate differently with either approach, finding unique relief and introspective wisdom.

Challenges and Precautions for Practitioners

Navigating the depths of one’s psyche can often lead to unexpected or intense experiences, which is particularly true for shamanic journeying. Without proper guidance, individuals might confront emotional discomfort or psychological challenges. It’s important to have an experienced shaman or guide when embarking on these journeys to ensure a safe and beneficial experience.

For those new to mindfulness meditation, they might encounter restlessness, frustration, or self-judgment due to perceived inactivity or lack of immediate progress. It’s essential to start with short sessions, gradually increasing duration, and to practice non-judgmental awareness of one’s thoughts and sensations.

Both shamanic journeys and meditation can stir up suppressed emotions or trauma. Therefore, individuals with a history of severe psychological issues should consult with a healthcare professional before engaging in these practices.

Participants must understand that these practices are complementary to, not substitutes for, professional medical advice or therapy. Remaining patient, maintaining consistent practice, and seeking support when needed can greatly aid in navigating these challenges safely.

Integrating Shamanic Journeying With Mindfulness Practices

Individuals seeking a comprehensive spiritual path may find value in combining the transformative power of shamanic journeying with the stabilizing presence of mindfulness. Here are some practical ways to weave these practices together:

  • Before embarking on a shamanic journey, establish a mindfulness-based grounding technique. This could involve sitting in silence, tuning into the breath, and observing sensations, thoughts, and emotions without judgment.
  • Use mindfulness to set intentions. Clear and focused intentions, fostered through mindful contemplation, can guide the shamanic journey toward a more purposeful exploration.
  • Mindfully create and engage with your sacred space. Whether preparing for a journey or practicing meditation, the intentional creation of a physical or mental sanctuary enhances spiritual receptivity.
  • After a shamanic journey, apply mindfulness as a tool for integration. Reflect on the journey’s insights with a non-reactive, observant mindset, allowing for a deeper understanding and application to daily life.
  • Regularly alternate between both practices. Mindfulness can maintain a baseline of mental clarity and emotional balance, helping to discern the symbolic messages received during shamanic journeys.

In essence, the interplay of mindfulness and shamanic journeying can lead to a harmonious balance between deep inner exploration and present-moment awareness, enriching one’s spiritual journey.


What happens during shamanic journey?

During a shamanic journey, one gains controllable access to their inner self at a soul level, unveiling the nature of their soul through various energy patterns and images, and identifying the realities housing the soul.

Do shamans meditate?

Yes, shamans do meditate, typically through practices like drumming, chanting, and dancing to connect with the spirit world and our reality.

What are the 7 stages of shamanic initiation?

The seven stages of shamanic initiation are spiritual education and psychic liberation, engagement and disengagement, descent and ascent, death and rebirth, incarnation and release, coniunctio which signifies marriage, union and spiritual illumination, and finally, submission.

What is the spiritual path of shamanism?

The spiritual path of shamanism involves individuals intentionally shaping their life experiences based on information and guidance obtained from being in relationship with the spirit inherent in all things.

What techniques do shamans use for healing and divination?

Shamans use techniques such as soul retrieval, extraction healing and divination through journeying or drumming in altered states of consciousness for healing and divination.

How does shamanic journey differ from traditional forms of meditation?

Shamanic journeying differs from traditional forms of meditation as it involves the use of rhythmic percussion sounds to achieve an altered state of consciousness, allowing interaction with the spiritual world, while traditional meditation focuses on mindfulness, breath control, and achieving inner peace.

Can shamanic practices be integrated into daily meditation routines?

Yes, shamanic practices can be seamlessly integrated into daily meditation routines to enhance spiritual growth and mindfulness.