Way of the Leopard Teachings

My ‘Way of the Leopard’ teachings are an answer to my question, “how to help people who don’t come from a traditional shamanic culture, to connect with their vital essence, their humanity, and discover their calling in the world?  And how to use traditional shamanic teachings to help the everyday person?”

It was inspired by my traditional sangoma apprenticeship as well as Zen training and general life experience.

Most of us have problems and anxieties either voiced or kept silent. A key part of these teachings is to encourage the individual to ‘feel’ their emotions and physical body. Our gifts or abilities are connected to whatever we are struggling with.  ‘Every crisis creates an opportunity’. To connect with our inner power we need to breathe into our shadows, those unacknowledged parts of ourselves.

I do this through encouraging people to feel their heartbeat. To breathe deeply into their pulse, and accept themselves completely. Sometimes this is scary for people, but the results are always invigorating. After a few minutes of breathing and feeling their pulse I teach people how to move and shake their bodies in a vigorous and dynamic way. This has the potential for building up an incredible amount of heat. The heat is what helps to transform us, giving us energy, positivity, vitality and eventually personal freedom.

Let’s say someone is full of anxiety because they are in a relationship that doesn’t make them happy, and they are unsure about whether to break up with their partner. I teach a few simple breathing exercises and stretches and then an awareness of the hearbeat. Once we become centred around our beating hearts we connect to something dynamic, solid, and the ultimate bass drum. Often people say they can’t feel their pulse. In these cases I get them up dancing and shaking. I bring in a few simple African chants like ‘umama wam’ (my mother) and ‘umoya wam’ (my spirit). When it is done with a particular heartbeat rhythm it is deeply moving and invigorating. People laugh and sometimes cry. We all sit down and everyone feels their heartbeat. Once the heart is free to express itself freely unhindered from thinking and anxiety it gives us images and impressions, helping us to navigate our lives. The person with anxiety about their partner might need to move more, think less and feel their heart deeply, and over time in my experience, the answer always comes in a clear way.

Our hearts connect us directly to the natural world and our own strength.  Our hearts speak in the language of mysticism, images, colours and impressions. We stimulate our hearts through happy movements and then listen to it’s song.  It is always unique to each individual, loaded with possibility and creative potential.

The Leopard teaches us how to REST and STALK our spirit. Resting involves listening, the most radical form of mindfulness. And stalking involves complete concentration, searching for our spirit and what makes us feel alive. 

Are you ready to dance and shake your body and listen to the drum in your chest?


African Zen in Japan

I recently had the good fortune of being invited to Tokyo to lead retreats and give private sessions. My first introduction to Japanese mysticism and spirituality was at the age of 18 when I immersed myself in studying Soto Zen, a branch of Japanese Buddhism. I was taught how to clear my mind, find calmness in my breath, and energise my body through the beauty of nature. The teachers were kind and strict. I learnt the beauty of spiritual discipline. Now 20 years later I find myself full circle, back in Japan, and this time I was given an opportunity to give back to the Japanese people whose spiritual culture had inspired me years ago. 

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Listen up for John on the Mindrolling Podcast!

Later next week, John's recent interview as guest on the Mindpod Network's Mindrolling podcast, with Raghu Markus and David Silver will be released!

John, Raghu and David talk about John's dynamic mindfulness work and his trip to the US. Raghu and David both have long histories working with spiritual leaders and are collaborating on this wonderful podcast featuring mindfulness teachers and current topics in modern Buddhism. 

US Tour Video

Watch this beautiful new video from New Snow Media about John's work and its relevance in the Western world.

Elenore Snow of New Snow Media created this informative and beautiful piece on John and his work. For tour dates and info visit http://www.johnlockley.com/events/category/usa/

African Zen - 'Ubuntu' in Action

Ixopo BRC IMG_3131


I just completed another retreat in Ixopo at the Buddhist retreat centre. We danced, sang, drummed and prayed. I was overjoyed to be joined by the Zulu cooking staff who helped keep the rhythms sweet and joyful. It is always such an honour for me to be able to share the wisdom of Sangoma culture with people. The Sangoma people of Southern Africa are equivalent to the Buddhist monks and nuns in the Far East. After my time in South Korea in the early 90's studying Korean Zen under the late Zen Master Su Bong, I discovered a number of similarities with my Sangoma colleagues in South Africa. The similarities involved an emphasis on prayer, humility and connecting with the divine through chanting.  This included working together as a team, putting differences aside for the common good. In this way we all help to realise our ‘Ubuntu’, our humanity, and thus also our spiritual direction.

IMG_3132I was delighted to see the dedication of fellow South Africans to learn about Sangoma traditional culture. This is the future, and it gives me great hope. We had a number of elders with us who were over 80 years old. One of them said to me that this weekend retreat at the BRC in Ixopo was ‘a wish come true’ for her, and she quietly said that she had wanted to learn about Sangoma traditional culture her whole life, and now she had. She was very happy. This warmed my heart and inspired me to continue sharing the beauty of South African traditional medicine.

I will be back at the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo again next year from the 15-17th January 2016, and I welcome all South Africans to join us.

John Lockley April 2015.

Mandela Medicine in the USA

Mandela5 Mandela emancipated Africa and made African people everywhere stand tall with dignity and self respect. He made it possible for us to believe in ourselves and practice our old spiritual ways, the ways of our ancestors, the ways of Mother Africa. One of Mandela's core principles was 'Ubuntu' (humanity) and this ties in with his traditional background as a Xhosa man.

I am proud to be an adopted member of the Xhosa nation. As a traditionally trained Xhosa Sangoma, I teach the old ways of our people. One of our principle teachings is 'Ubuntu Ubunzulu', translated as 'the depth of humanity', meaning 'one blood', 'one humanity'. As we say in Xhosa 'if you cut my arm red blood flows; and if I cut your arm, red blood flows. We are all connected. There is only one Great Spirit and one human race. A core Xhosa saying is 'uthando lothando, ubuntu olothando'.  Love is love, Humanity is love.

We believe that to be a human being is a wonderful and sacred job. Our forefathers like Mandela maintain that we are constantly realising our 'ubuntu'. We are constantly improving, by becoming more intuitive and more compassionate. Our original jobs as human beings is only service, 'how can I help you?'.

I will be teaching about Ubuntu as a way of reconnecting with our humanity. I will be in New York City and Asheville, NC. Through simple Xhosa songs, rhythms, drumming and stories, I intend to show people how they can reconnect with their own 'Ubuntu' and Ancestors.

As we focus on our blood and bones, so we energise our spirit, and we can walk as lions and leopards with dignity, love and self respect.

Do you want to learn the Mandela way? Then join me in New York City and Asheville, NC.

Written by John Lockley 9/5/2014


New York City 7th - 27th May

  • Public Talks/ Blessing Ceremonies
  • Thurs 8th - Metacenter, Manhattan, 7-9pm
  • Exchange: $30 at the door
  • Friday 9th - Golden Drum,Brooklyn, 8-9:30pm
  • Suggested Donation: $30
  • Wednesday 14th - The Fifth Line, Sterling pl
  • Exchange: $30 at the Door
  • I will perform an African Blessing ceremony with traditional Sangoma songs & rhythms. There will also be an opportunity for people to ask questions. A number of people have reported ancestral dreams after these sacred sound performances.
  • Weekend Workshop 17-18th - Golden Drum
  • 'Way of the Leopard training'
  • Ceremony 1 - Opening the Door to your Destiny
  • Donation: Early Bird price $250 - March 2nd-April 30th. May price: $300
  • To Book: Contact Golden Drum
  • Private Sangoma Divinations/ Plant healing In New York City, Brooklyn
  • May: 10,11,12,13,15,20,21,22
  • I throw the bones in the traditional Sangoma way and work with ancient plant medicine from South Africa to help heal peoples' spirits.
  • The main focus of my work as a Sangoma is 'ukuvula indlela' which means 'to open the road', so my job is to literally help people find their road or life path.
  • As the bones fall they form a spiritual constellation of a person's life. This is helpful in pointing out areas of strength/ gifts and also where more work is needed.


Asheville, North Carolina 29th May - 3rd June


Xhosa Culture; Growing up in South Africa

Voices of the Earth, a project of the Earth Medicine Alliance (www.earthmedicine.org) speaks with John Lockley, an African Shaman who originates from South Africa. In the 1980s, John had a strong dream calling him to train as a Xhosa Sangoma (shaman). Because of his country's Apartheid laws, it took him seven years to find his teacher. In 1994, he trained in the townships of Eastern Cape, serving a 10-year apprenticeship with his teacher, a well-known sangoma medicine woman. Today, John facilitates Ubuntu (humanity) workshops around the world, teaching people the ancient arts of dreaming, using medicinal plants and connecting with the ancestral/spirit world. He is also trained in Yoga, Zen Buddhism and Clinical Psychology. For more information, please visit www.african-shaman.com.