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?