Sabine Obermayr-Adamzek, from Switzerland, currently living in the region Arnhem, The Netherlands, graciously tells us how her shamanic calling to be a healer manifested through what the western world calls ‘psychosis’. We see more and more proof that is is high time we ‘Re- think mental illness’ through these stories. Thank you Sabine, we are Kinda Proud of your journey…
Shamanism, my key to mental sanity
Writing this blog was inspired by the documentary “CRAZYWISE” by Phil Borges and Kevin Tomlinson.
I dare to state that shamanism saved my mental sanity. By now I am living with a worldview that is strongly based on knowledge and tools from indigenous people.
A few months after my 28th birthday I found myself breathing deeply, for the first time in my life the nocturnal air of Africa. I was standing on a platform on top of the stairs that lead down onto the tarmac of the airport of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, a small country in West -Africa.
Little did I know that this visit would change my life fundamentally and irreversibly.
I was invited as one of the members of an international group of people who were invited by Sotigui Kouyaté (19 July 1936 – 17 April 2010, the head of a clan of griots and griottes, that are part of the Mandinka ethnic group. Griots and griottes are keepers of the oral tradition, storytellers, singers, performers, dancers and actors.
A number of westerners, including me, from a variety of countries, we were scheduled to travel around with several members of the Kouyaté family to do research for a theater project. I was a professional actress at that time.
To make a long story short: during this trip I started to have, what a professional would call, psychotic episodes. I saw things that others didn’t see, I heard strange voices in my head and I generally felt out of sorts, especially in the countryside. I remember a very strong physical sensation of dissolving into the earth, not being able to breathe anymore, it felt like being under water, drowning in the earth. It seemed that I had senses, that weren’t there before I went to Africa, feeling things happening miles away, hearing rock formations talking to me in my head….
I can assure you it felt absolutely terrifying. I lost my sense of self, my identity of who I was. On the other hand I had experiences of being part of something much larger than mankind, that infused my mind and my body with a sense of wellbeing that I hadn’t encountered before and left me totally confused. I convinced myself there and then that these feelings and sensations were related to my extended stay in Africa.
They would vanish as soon as I was back in Switzerland, where I lived and worked at that time.
Guess what? They didn’t.
Back in Zürich
After having returned to Zürich (Switzerland) a number of weeks later, these feelings, sensations and voices in my head still kept me awake various nights and made my daily life and functioning, the way I used to function, very difficult.
I remember one morning where I found myself sitting at the base of a big tree in a forest nearby the town center, soaked with rainwater to my skin and disoriented, gazing confused into the friendly face of a forest worker who asked me if I was alright. I answered more automatically than consciously : “Yes, of course” but obviously I wasn’t.
I had absolutely no recollection of how I ended up here. I had a vague memory of incredibly complicated energetic structures and deep friendly voices in my head.If anyone would have asked me then : What do you remember? I would have stared at them blankly and would have answered: Nothing.
At that point in time I was terrified, shaken to my core by the feeling of absolute powerlessness. Being in the grip of something so much bigger than me, that had taken over my consciousness. I wept for the woman, that I have been and wasn’t looking forward to the person I was becoming. Losing my memory, my sense of self and not knowing, where all these weird experiences would bring me, I decided that it was time to seek out a psychiatrist.
In the years that followed this episode, the knowledge that was dropped in my head that night, started to surface at appropriate times and gave me a lot of insight about the mechanics of the universe and the interconnection of all living systems.
A few weeks later my psychiatrist told me that I should take medication to control my ongoing psychotic episodes. I was afraid of what these chemicals would do to me and my brain, and decided to look for an alternative solution.
Synchronistically I came into contact with a Dutch man who was practicing Shamanism in France. After our initial contact on the phone, he told me, that he was expecting me. That his Spirits had already informed him, that a Swiss lady would seek his help and he recognized me, as this person. He invited me to participate in his upcoming workshop, where we would find the time to consult the spirit world concerning my problems.
Shamanism and shamanic illness
In the first workshop I attended he taught me several techniques to regain control over what was happening to my mind. He promised me ongoing teaching and mentoring to follow my calling. “What calling”? I asked him.
He explained to me that from a shamanic point of view certain types of “mental illness” maybe nothing more than a strong calling to develop and research certain abilities that would be beneficial not only for the person who is experiencing this “illness”, but for everybody and everything this person would encounter later in life. That this experience, this “illness” is an inherent part of the training to become a shaman, a mediator between worlds. This training would not only involve himself as a teacher, but more importantly, that there would be other teachers from unseen realms that would guide me in my search.
He would teach me how to reach out to these teachers, to learn how to integrate the messages from the other worlds and train me to balance what was going on in my life in a good, healthy way. That I would embark on a journey with him to become a shamanic practitioner, he told me. For 15 years, I worked with Daan van Kampenhout as his student and co-teacher.
I was reading, studying and practicing all kind of indigenous and tribal worldviews from Lakota to Sami, from real people, healers and medicine people to knowledge that continues to be passed on to me in dreams and trance journeys, since 1995.
Praying, like traditional medicine people do, accepting my “gift” of being able to communicate with everything that lives and generally embracing the idea that we all are interconnected with everything that has a spirit, the visible and unseen world around us, all coming from a common source, the creator, confirmed a lot of what I experienced in my ‘psychotic’ episodes.
Humility, deep felt gratitude and compassion are since then a constant factor in my life. They form the base of my work as a shamanic practitioner and systemic facilitator.
In #Emerging Proud, we like to call this the ‘positive domino effect’ – with every person who is brave enough to step up, accept their calling and work on personal healing, they become able to offer support to others on the same path. It’s thanks to Sabine’s bravery, intense study and self- work that she is now able to do just that… ❤
Sabine says; “Feel free to contact me for a shamanic consult (from a distance as I live in The Netherlands)”
Sabine Obermayr – Adamzek phone: ++31618275619