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In the yogi-shamanic traditions, the name given to holding a stance of ‘inner listening‘ is called ‘atma vichara,’ which literally translates to, ‘self-inquiry’ or the act of becoming aware of ourselves. Atma vichara is not about ruminating on a perceived problem and dissecting it to pieces. It is a practice of inner reflection in which we open to our own deepest wisdom and learn to trust it, rather than conceding to the often ingrained habit of trusting questions and doubts thrown up by the mind.

Atma vichara is an essential practice for yogi-shamans who are committed to facing dark patterns of energy in order to transmute them and particularly for shamans who do energy retrieval work for others.

As shamanic practitioners, we must be vigilant about what feels right for our lives and what doesn’t. Sometimes, changes can be subtle. Sometimes, the people and places we are most familiar with no longer generate the energy we need to thrive and yet we continue engaging with them out of habit or an unconscious fear of making the necessary changes.

One sure-fire way of knowing if we are energetically out of sync with our lives is to observe whether we are feeling inspired and energized. If we are not, on some level we are choosing fear and are being held captive by it.

Through the stance of inner listening and through acknowledging, identifying and embracing unconscious beliefs and behavior patterns hidden beneath a reluctance to change, we are able to access an expanded vision for our lives. And when we align with renewed vision and purpose, we become more authentic. We are able to engage with ourselves and with the world in a way that reflects passion and integrity.

In support of this, we can consider the following:

1.Where in my current life do I perceive a lack of vitality?

2.What choices can I make now that will serve to nurture and renew my energy?

3.Where do I feel there is a lack of self-love?

4.Is there any aspect that ‘takes’ and does not give?

5.Which aspects feel aligned and ‘on purpose?’

A number of years ago, in my own self-inquiry, I began to see that the tendency to believe myself to be indispensable at work and not value my gifts, was related to lack of self-worth. Underlying and reinforcing a lack of self-worth was the habitual tendency of stepping into the role of the victim.

As grace would have it, at the time of these insights, in the course of a conversation, a friend who is a physician and counselor, trained by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross casually remarked,

“Everyone has a victim within and no-one should take their victim seriously.”

With this prompt, I knew it was imperative to spend time in self-inquiry contemplating where and when my ‘victim’ was present. I considered,

1.In which areas of my life do I feel helpless, defeated or betrayed?

2.Which situations and experiences cause the victim/rescuer to manifest?

The answers that were forthcoming quickly led me to identify which areas needed to be transformed and I immediately set to, changing the habitual work dynamic from within.

No matter what situations or personal relationships serve to activate repressed energy, in and of themselves, they are never what is at issue. Power and energy lost, repressed or ‘given away’ is what is most important.

Whether we consciously acknowledge it or not, we always know when we are giving away our energy. We can feel when there is a leaking out of personal energy and when people or events are draining. We also know which situations, places and people serve to empower us.

As an additional exercise to retrieving lost or repressed energy, we can also inquire into where we find rejuvenation. We can inquire:

1.Which situations, places and people bring power into my system?

2.Through these connections, can I support bringing even more energy and vitality back into my life?

3. Are there new ways in which I can align myself more fully and authentically with the limitless energy of my Spirit?

When we begin to acknowledge within ourselves what we are honestly feeling and begin to take responsibility by engaging in the practice of atma vichara, or self-inquiry, the results are astonishing. Not only do we feel energized, we are also able to hear inner guidance more clearly whenever we need it. In fact, we come to realize we are ONE with it.

Ultimately, when we are willing to engage with self-inquiry practices, the grace of our own effort leads to being gifted with renewed vision and purpose and a complete transformation of our lives. And this profound, mystical and alchemical process is beautifully defined in the words of one of my shamanic-yogi teachers:

“When a drop of water falls into the ocean, it is not lost; it becomes one with the whole ocean. A ray of light becomes the whole light. Through self-inquiry, which leads to transformation, your soul ultimately merges with the Creator until all that remains is the totality and Truth of Oneness.

Knowing who you really are, is the purpose of life. There is no greater sacrifice than to let go of the small 'i' and dissolve into the Truth of Oneness.”

(C) -2011 All Rights Reserved

About the author:
Julie Hoyle is an internationally respected spiritual teacher, trans-personal hypnotherapist and author of the best selling E-books, 'An Awakened Life- A Journey of Transformation,' and 'Living An Awakened Life.' Based on personal experience of assimilating the profound effects of a life-changing spiritual awakening, Julie teaches people internationally how to transmute fear, dissolve psychological barriers and live aligned with courage, passion and purpose.

Through her books, True Alignment Soul Purpose Readings, the Living in Alignment online program and a new course, ’From Turmoil to Transformation’ in conjunction with Daily Om, Julie counsels people to retrieve repressed energy, access gifts and live with renewed courage and vision. Julie also writes for respected Mind-Body-Spirit magazines in the USA, Canada and Europe including Light of Consciousness, Inner Change and Timeless Spirit.


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