Elaine Lilley

By Carolyn

What? Who said that? As I prepared to go out for an evening of dinner and drinks, I heard it. Soft and subtle, but not my own. You know that voice that warns you to not go down that street or not to eat that fish because it is not fresh? Yeah, that one. It wasn’t a special night. It was just a normal Saturday night of drinks and dinner.

Later that night, as I came home and entered the condo, I saw my dog. He was perched on the back of the couch, ears perked up and awaiting our return anxiously. I saw his eyes. Those soulful eyes. He was waiting for my greeting and the loving pats and cuddles that I usually gave him. Not this night. Mumma (as I am known in Dog World) roared past him and entered the bedroom, from which I did not exit until the following morning. No cuddles. No greeting.

In the morning, I made a decision that I was done. It had to stop. That is when I put a very large X on the calendar and never looked back. It has now been more than four years since I have had any alcohol. How do you maintain this commitment? That is a question I get asked a lot. For me, my spiritual practice helped me and brought me the salvation I was so craving.

I have found that nontraditional methodologies like Shamanism have allowed me to maintain my path of sobriety. Shamanism is a healing practice that originated with the aboriginal cultures. The practice helps me engage with the energy of nature, animals and the directions to increase healing and acquire insight. Shamanic journeying entails putting myself in a meditative state by listening to the beat of the drum, while allowing my mind and heart to journey to what Shamanism calls the lower world or to the higher world. The middle world is where we live, our reality.

My first journey to the lower world was to find my spirit/power animal. I was told any kind of animal could show up; tiger, hippo, crow. Which animal chose to be with me depended upon where I was in my life. This animal would be by my side as I journeyed to the lower world. He or she would provide protection and guidance as I made my way through a very unknown place – like your first days, weeks and months being sober.
The upper world consisted of meeting my spirit guides, angels and ancestors who provided wisdom, knowledge and just overall “Keep yourself together and we’ll give you signs we’re here.” I look to them each and every day as I continue to commit to my decision to stay sober.

What do Shamanism and sobriety have in common? Both can help me overcome obstacles and roadblocks to having a joy-filled life. Learning new practices helps me immensely in maintaining my sobriety. The beginning of sobriety is akin to the lower world, in my opinion. The path is not always lit, who I meet sometimes surprises me and my courage is necessary in order to enter into the unknown without always knowing where it will take me.

"My spiritual practice helped me and brought me the salvation I was so craving."