When I requested Teri J. Dluznieski's novel, Cafe of the Hungry Ghosts (which I reviewed recently here ), I said that I was interested in the shamanism aspect. She then generously offered to send me her non-fiction shamanism book, Dancing In Your Bubble. It's based in the same Andean culture as the novel. It can be read as a companion book for the novel for those interested in finding out more.
Dancing In Your Bubble is not a memoir of Dluznieski's experiences with Andean shamanism. It's a guide for shamanistic development combined with a psychological self-help book.
A number of the exercises included within the book are psychologically focused. I recognized the use of re-framing from NLP (Neuro -Linguistic Programming). It's possible to take a non-spiritual approach to this book and use the psychology aspect for personal growth. It addresses problems that anyone might have, not just those who are interested in pursuing shamanism.
I think that the reason why Dluznieski integrated psychology with her approach to shamanistic training is because many people who aspire to become shamanistic healers are broken in some way. They need to mend themselves before they can heal others.
I liked this book's outlook on trauma which is called hucha.
Dluznieski tells us that the Andean approach to hucha is to re-frame it
as something that strengthens you. Acknowledge the trauma, but don't
dwell on it for the rest of your life. You will be trapped in that
stage and will be unable to progress. Dluznieski compares it to putting
fertilizer on a weed. The weed will flourish at the expense of any other seeds that you may try to plant. In Andean healing, you go through a process of
cleansing from hucha, so you can recover and move on.
Some readers might wonder why Dluznieski was drawn to Andes shamanism. The issue of cultural appropriation rears its head. Someone like me who is genuinely curious about all spiritual practices and takes a multi-cultural approach, might be turned to stone by the fear of cultural appropriation. Some would say that since I was brought up Jewish, I should confine myself to that spiritual path. Yet I feel that in this conflict ridden world, there is a strong need for inter-cultural understanding. I have also always believed that if someone is drawn to a path that is unrelated to his or her genetic heritage, it should be explored. Perhaps there is a past life connection with that path. Maybe that is the case with Dluznieski.
To avoid accusations of cultural appropriation, it is important to be sincere and respectful toward traditional native practitioners. Readers should not pick up Dancing In Your Bubble, do the exercises and then call themselves traditional Andean shamans. As I have indicated, the book fuses modern and traditional elements. If you want to be authentic about your own practices, you will acknowledge eclecticism. If you are genuinely connected to spirit, you will receive your own new revelations. Be true to yourself. There is no need to borrow a false sense of legitimacy by laying claim to a title that isn't yours.
I thought that there were some useful insights in Dancing in Your Bubble. I adopt what I find useful by integrating it with what I have previously learned, and making it my own so that it's relevant to me. No two people will have the exact same responses to the exercises in this book. If Dancing in Your Bubble helps you to define yourself, then it should be considered a success.