Living in Harmony
Ayni — the principle of reciprocity — is the basis for all Andean shamanism. It is a beautiful principle. When we attain ayni, the universe reciprocates our every action and mirrors our intent back to us, just as we are a mirror to others. In ayni, we live in synchronicity.

Those of us born into a Judeo-Christian society grow up internalizing our culture’s “original story” of being cast out of paradise and separated from our divine Creator. This bankrupt story tends to permeate our lives whether we are raised in a religious home or not, causing us a great deal of suffering. When we buy into the story, we do not recognize our own divinity, and depend on an outside force to deliver us from the curse cast upon us as punishment for the sins of our ancestors.

If we wish to heal our wounds on every level, it’s crucial that we discard this myth and discover that we never left the Garden of Eden. Despite all those exquisite museum paintings of a celestial heaven, divinity actually resides within the trees, the oceans, and the cliffs. The sacred is present in every leaf, sidewalk, and drop of water. In every animal, the finned, the furred, the winged, and the creepy crawlers.  

The Laika understand that the kingdom of heaven is within and without — inside us, above us, below us, and all around us. It is only our inability to perceive it that makes us outcasts. We are, in fact, still living in the lush garden of the divine, but understanding this intellectually, from the perceptual level of Jaguar, isn’t enough. If we’re to experience paradise, we have to feel this in every cell and bone in a sacred way, from the level of Hummingbird.

The Laika call this ayni, or right relationship with nature. When we are in ayni, we don’t have to fear nature. It’s only when we’re out of balance that we may be killed by a lightning bolt, a panther, or a microbe — for the Laika, there’s no difference between being killed by a panther or by a microbe. When we’re in ayni, we’re no longer part of that food chain.

Earthkeeper medicine practices are based on the idea that we must realign ourselves with nature and come back into balance, and then our natural health will return. When we’re in ayni, paradise is our home; and physical, mental, and emotional health is our birthright.

Once, many years ago, walking near the Amazon River with a couple of shamans, they suggested I walk into the jungle to see what would happen. As I stepped into the rainforest I heard its song: the chatter of the macaws, the parrots, the monkeys, and the insects. I took the first step, then the second, and on the third step, the jungle grew quiet. The shamans explained, “The creatures know that you don’t belong here, that you’ve been kicked out of the garden.”  I thought that was absurd — surely the animals were smelling the remnants of deodorant or foot powder, even though I hadn’t used any for weeks.

I noticed some natives cooking a boa constrictor on a spit by the edge of the river, and asked if I could have a little of the snake fat they were collecting in a tin can. They were happy to oblige. I stripped and smeared myself with fat, convinced that the birds, monkeys, and other creatures would think I was just another serpent slithering back into the rain forest, and thus continue their song. Reeking of boa fat, I confidently took a step into the jungle and then another, yet by the third step, all had grown silent once again. The only difference was that this time I could hear the buzz of about 600 flies swirling around me, attracted by my stench.

Ten years later, after I learned the ways of the Earthkeepers, I found that when I strode into the rainforest, the creatures and insects who sensed my presence recognized me as someone who walked with beauty on the earth, who belonged with them. Their chattering, squawking and singing continued uninterrupted even as I delved deep into their realm.

I had come to realize that to be in harmony with the garden, I had to drop my story, the cultural myth I’d bought into. I had become the storyteller of my life. I was in ayni. I was at home in the garden.


Enhance your practitioner skills and
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Using his simple lifestyle modifications (or "hacks") to take advantage of how the structure of your brain works, Dave Asprey shows readers how to take their mental performance to the next level. Combining the latest findings in neuroscience and neurobiology with a hacker-inspired "get it done now" perspective, Head Strong offers an easy to follow, two-week program with a detailed plan to supercharge brain performance.

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