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Healing with the mind-body-spirit connection

Published:Sunday | December 13, 2015 | 12:00 AMDr Glenville Ashby
Mary Shutan
Mind, body and spirit must work in harminy to achieve good health.

Renowned healer, spiritual teacher, and author Mary Shutan is adamant that there needs to be a connection of the mind and body in the healing process.

Shutan, author of the critically acclaimed book The Spiritual Awakening Guide, recently opened up about her life and philosophy during an interview with me.

Tell me about your services and the integrative healing modalities you use. Also, what moved you towards this field of spirituality and mysticism?

As a child, I was interested in myths and fairy tales - basically anything that explained the magical aspect of things.

As a teenager, I explored Zen Buddhism, meditation, and started studying the chakras or energy centres of the body.

In the 15 years since my spiritual awakening began, I became really focused on understanding what was taking place as I began to heal others.

I have had a long fascination with the occult, magic, and folk healing. I now teach and write to provide information about spiritual awakenings and psychic abilities, with a focus on helping people manage and work with them.

Can traditional religions bring about spiritual awakening?

Yes. There is no one true path, no one guru, no one way to achieve spiritual awakening. Generally, most people who have achieved spiritual awakening, even when following a specific religion, have done so by having direct experiences, which allow them to transcend the philosophical or intellectual aspects of religious institutions.

What are the chakras, a term often cited in Eastern mystical practices?

Chakras are storehouses of energy within the body. They store all of the information of our physical, energetic, and spiritual bodies. They are whirlpools of energy that can be accessed to help balance the mind, body, and spirit. When this is achieved, we eliminate physical discomfort and remove harmful energies, thoughts, or experiences.

Can you elaborate on the kundalini and its importance in spiritual awareness?

Kundalini is a latent energy that is present at the bottom of the spine (the tailbone). In some people, this energy 'wakes up', rising up the spine.

This is a strong, spiritual force that clears out the chakra system and the whole body of past traumas and belief systems, as well as the communal and societal belief systems.

Awakening, in simple terms, is letting go of all of the personal and societal belief systems to better understand who we really are. We discover our own divinity and our mission on earth.

What are some of the challenges of spiritual awakening?

In the awakening process, there is a great deal of physical and mental/emotional issues that surface. This can be quite rapid, meaning that if we are having an intense awakening, we may wake up one morning with an entirely different outlook on life.

Everything - from our thoughts, our emotions, our past traumas, and our personal history - are housed in our physical bodies.

We form these blockages when we have a trauma or event that is too difficult for us to process. This can be psychologically and spiritually difficult and physically painful. This is especially true in sudden or intense awakenings when we suddenly come face to face with all our traumas. They must be addressed if we are to heal.

Our society, as a whole, is just waking up to the fact that mind and body have some interaction, so the idea that spirituality can play a role in physical health is difficult for most people to comprehend.

What can be done to address some of these problems? Can traditional methods, such as prayers, be used?

CranioSacral therapy from an advanced, experienced practitioner can be life-changing for people dealing with spiritual awakenings. This is because CranioSacral therapy is light touch and does not put an extra stimulus into the body. People undergoing spiritual awakenings are already dealing with a lot, so going to a practitioner who puts even more stimulus into the body can overwhelm the system, resulting in furthering an already difficult symptomotology.

There are also other bodywork modalities, such as zero-balancing, which can really help to clear out trauma in a gentle way and help to integrate mind-body-spirit through a really grounded touch.

Reiki and energy work can be helpful. Acupuncture from a very spiritually aware practitioner can be very helpful to balance and clear energies.

Counselling can also be helpful. Transpersonal psychology and Jungian work are particularly oriented to reconciling some of the mental-emotional aspects of spiritual awakening that arise.

A visit to a spiritual worker can be very helpful as well. The difficulty with this is finding one that is truly knowledgeable. But there are Shamans and traditional spiritual workers and teachers who can help people understand what they are going through and how to work through these layers of trauma and simply be an invaluable resource.

Prayer can be very helpful, but I am careful about guided energies, meaning other people praying for you. These energies can be very powerful, and it can sometimes be unclear about what type of energy or thoughts are coming your way.

What are some of the time-tested ways of attaining spiritual enlightenment while avoiding the pitfalls that so many experience?

Meditation is really the vehicle to spiritual enlightenment. Also, it is important to attend to your physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual needs. So meditating, exercising, eating right, getting counselling or guidance for any traumas, and getting spiritual guidance through the right spiritual path are important.

I cannot overemphasise getting bodywork (therapy) that connects mind, body, and spirit. We tend to think that since we are having a physical pain, we should treat it only physically, and when we are going through spiritual issues, we only need to treat them spiritually. What we need to attain spiritual enlightenment is to work on all levels (mind, body, spirit) simultaneously.

The biggest pitfall that people succumb to while 'attaining' spiritual enlightenment is to feel that spirituality is somewhere 'out there', so to speak. People want to ascend, they want to go somewhere. The truth is that real spiritual enlightenment is an inner experience..

- Dr Glenville Ashby is the author of 'Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend and Bridge to Enlightenment and Creativity', now available at Amazon. Feedback: or follow him on Twitter @glenvilleashby