Shamans use the monotonous sound of the drum or rattle to enter an expanded state of consciousness in which visionary experiences can take place. Other instruments can be used, like the digeridoo, played by Australia Aboriginal.
When we use the drum or rattle, beaten or shaken at a steady rhythm of 4 to 7 beats or shakes per second, our brain enters the theta state, in which visionary experiences are accessible.
Normally, our brain is between alpha and beta state when we are awake, and delta state when we are asleep and we dream. Beta waves are high-frequency brain waves, in which we are able to focus and perform tasks which requires concentration. Alpha is the state of creativity and emotions, reflection and intuition. During the day, we move back and forth between those two states – alpha and beta.
Below the alpha state and above the delta state, there is an in-between zone, commonly called the theta state. This is a deep, reflective, dreamlike state that we can experience when we have deep meditations, or we are in altered state of consciousness – as during a shamanic journey. This theta state has been measured in zen monks during meditation as well as in shamans during shamanic journey.
Dance, movement and singing can also be used before or during a shamanic journey. In traditional cultures, shamans don’t perform their journeys sitting or lying down as we often do in the western world. They dance and sing out loud their journeys.
If you are learning to perform shamanic journeys, you can also try to perform them dancing and singing. Then you will know if that resonate with you or not.
Some people in western world associate Shamanic Journey with the use of psychedelic plants.
I have never experienced those medicines, so I don’t qualify to write about it, but I heard different opinions about it. Some people report to have had life changing experiences, while other people speak of them as disturbing and they will not repeat it again.
I’m sure negative experiences occurs not because of the plant itself, but because of the misuse of the powers of the plant. In traditional cultures, those psychedelic herbs were used for sacred ceremonies and for purification of both body and spirit. Those plants are powerful, and the use of it must be done under the guidance of a very experienced and heart-centered Indigenous shaman.
In my experience, as in the experience of hundreds of practitioners I’m in contact with, as well as those of people I lead to journey, negative experiences never occur during a journey induced by the beat of the drum, in which we remain always in full control of what is going on.
The traditional shamanic journey with the drum empowers us and teach us a method to expand our consciousness that – once learned – we can use by ourselves whenever we like. A journey induced with the drum can be as mind blowing as one experienced with medicines, but it is safer. None ever comes back shocked by a shamanic journey with the drum.
And this lead to the next question – Is shamanic journey safe?