Leisia Shopik shares a healer’s journey with us, what it was like going from studying to be an architect to training as a shaman and working with plant medicines in Peru. Leisia is an incredibly gifted healer, and she’s the one who guided me into training in Shamanic Chinese Medicine, which lead me to the incredible path I’m on now. I’m deeply grateful for Leisia, her light, her gentleness, and her many gifts.
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Full Show Transcript
Hello, and welcome to the mindbodyfree podcast. I am your host Abigail Moss, and here we unpack what it means to heal and step into your power. And you’ll find here a blend of interviews with other healers, thought leaders, and creatives, as well as live coaching sessions and guided meditations by yours. Truly, if you like what you hear, you can subscribe to the show and leave us a review, and you can learn more about what we do as well as sign up for live coaching at mindbodyfree.com/podcast. So without further ado, enjoy. Okay. So this conversation is with a good friend of mine and a huge inspiration. Her name is Leisia Shopik. She is a medical Qigong therapist and shamanic healer. She’s been on an incredible journey and continues to go on and a beautiful and incredible journey of, healing, shamanism, plant medicines of medicine, songs of just discovery and awakening and transformation. And she’s the one that inspired me to step onto the path of shamanic healing. And I’m so truly, and deeply grateful for her and all that she does and all the light that she brings into the world. And you’ll want to listen right to the end for this one because she shares an incredibly beautiful and powerful healing song that I don’t want you to miss. So without further ado, please enjoy. Welcome. Thank you for being here.
Ah, thank you, Abby. It’s awesome. It’s awesome to be here.
So why don’t you talk a little bit about your journey of becoming a medical qigong therapist and coming to Shamanic Healer?
Okay. Well, I suppose medical qigong came out of my experiences in the jungle. So you and I met in the jungle of Peru. We were at a plant healing center and I was at a retreat center and we met while we were volunteering there. And before that, I had come down twice. That was back in, gosh, must have been 2013 now. Nope, Nope. 2014 or 15. I went for my first retreat and it changed my life, to say the least. But one of the things that did happen was when I got home from that first retreat, I started experiencing vibration and energy in my body and I had never experienced anything like it before. And, I kinda called it energy attacks cause I’d be in a deep sound sleep. And I would wake up to this vibrating feeling in my body and I found it fascinating, but I didn’t know what it was.
So it was kind of alarming at the same time. And, through some serendipitous events, I ended up finding Wendy laying on an empty mountain. Who’s now our teacher, who teaches medical qigong, which is an ancient form of Chinese energetic shamanism. It’s the meditation and breathwork and energy awareness practice that allowed them to discover the Meridian lines and how energy moves through the body, which allowed them to develop things like acupuncture and acupressure 5,000 years ago. So it’s, and when I found that and started working with Wendy, it normalized so many things for me and it made the world make sense. It was just the things that I was learning that just blew my mind every time I would just like I learned something, you’d be like what they knew about that back then. How do we forget about that? So, the plant medicine journey kind of led me to the energy work that I currently do and I’m currently studying.
Awesome. I agree. It is amazing stuff. And it does make sense of reality.
Like what’s going
On, being on this planet and the universe, what is that all about actually? Yeah. Okay. So you, you, you went to Peru, you had some powerful ceremonies there and you came back and you had energy tax is an interesting term. I was like, yeah, you feel the energy in your body. And it feels like an attack. Like this is different.
I have never really felt the energy in my body before. And it was so intense, that it would wake me up and that’s why I kind of, kind of coined it an energy attack. And it wasn’t a violent thing that sounded violent, but it was more just random and unexpected and unanticipated and the randomness of it. And the intenseness of it, the fact that it would wake me out of deep sleep in the middle of the night, just, and, and it would just literally be like shaking, like internal, external, just energy moving, and super, super intense. And, you know, so I would, I was paying attention to it. I was breathing into it. I didn’t, I was trying to see if I could do anything with it and, you know, it would always eventually subside. But yeah, just the randomness about it just made it just feel like all of a sudden they just had an energy kind of a burst, I suppose you could call it. But to me, I just make that. Hmm.
It’s interesting. And I’m gonna, what I want to ask, like what you would call it now after years of training, but I can also relate, through doing the qigong and shamanic work and through Ayahuasca waking up another part of you that feels in a different level. Yep.
It kind of opened me up to the subtle realms of reality and subtle realms of perception and energies and subtleties of things. What would I call it now? I would probably just recognize that it’s energy moving. So, and I do believe that the reason it would happen often at night is kind of when we assimilate all the information from the day and any, any emotional events or any events that we have kind of worked through our system. They work through our brains, they work through our energy. And so I feel like I was unraveling and getting rid of a lot of knotted up energy, a lot of nodded up emotion, energy in motion, emotion. And as that was working out of my system, it was a very visceral experience. I went to the jungle, as a trained architect with a very Western mindset, you know, as a child, I was very imaginative and very creative and had all kinds of fantasies about things, you know, talking to plants and talking to animals.
But at a certain point, I kind of turned that off as make-believe, and kind of, I didn’t realize that I bound a lot of stuff up and wound myself up. As the educational system architecture in particular is a very hyper-competitive industry and it’s a hyper-competitive education. And so it, you, my system was fully ratcheted up and just used to go, go, go, go, go. You know, you’re, you’re talking about being up for three, four days straight to finish a final project. So, you know, my system was very tense and on high alert and there was a lot that needed to kind of wind down and relax and open up. And so I feel like the attacks quote-unquote were energy starting to surface and unwind and release for being so wound up for so long.
That makes a lot of sense. Energy is not, I don’t believe any of our energy is meant to be in that high alert, tense awake for four days.
Oh no, we don’t realize how many of us live in a fight or flight daily.
Absolutely. And so when you were younger, you had this kind of inclination to talk with animals to talk with plants, that you later called make-believe. Was there a moment or was it a gradual progression that led from calling that make-believe and not real and diving into this really kind of almost opposite ends of the spectrum intensive, competitive rigorous architecture world?
Hm. You know, I feel like it was probably, it wasn’t one acute thing that made me kind of shut down and stop. I feel like it was just kind of, a gradual process of whittling away at it. Like, you know, I, when after high school I went straight into art college, very creative, very open, very dynamic, very kind of, you would think very much in line with inner energetics and stuff like that. However, for me, I was hungry for practical application and I didn’t sink into art in my early twenties because I felt like I didn’t have enough life experience, like real legitimate life experience to say anything really rich and meaningful. And so I didn’t dive into my art that wasn’t necessarily true. But that’s what I felt at the time. And so I was very much in search of something very practical and very applicable and architecture fit that bill because it’s that creative side, but you have a design parameter, so you have a design problem.
So you’ve got your fence around the playground, so to speak. So you can push the envelope as much as you want to, and be hyper, hyper-creative within a framework. And, I was looking for that, but the process of learning about architecture, the process in any university is you’re learning how to think in an industry in that industry jargon. Does that make sense? Yeah. And that involves a very destructive unwinding process. So you kind of break everything down, you break down how you see the world, and then you build it up with these parameters and these specific ways of viewing and understanding and looking at the world that is in line with, you know, for me, so architecture and the built environment, and how do you look at space and looking how you move through space and looking at how space affects us very greatly on our, on our day-to-day lives, but we’re not aware of it on a conscious level and learning how to manipulate that and the importance of it.
So you, it’s a, it was a very wonderful process, but it kind of brought in this hyper-drive of analysis, I suppose, which kind of tampered that creative, liberal, you know, like everything has to be able to be buildable. So everything has to be able to be articulated or, or realized or figured out. So that kind of brings things out of like the fine art realm of, of totally pure just fund imagination too. There’s that with, with the practical real life, actualization of something. And so I suppose through that whole process, that hyper-analytical, calculating, analyzing how to, you know, like, it’s, like, if you think of a well-built building, you don’t think about it when you’re in it, you just experience it. It feels good. You’re like, I like going to this place. It feels good to sit in this room, but we don’t necessarily take the time to understand why, and to be able to do that, to be able to get somebody to stop and like to look at their space and to have it be very clean and simple is a very big process. It’s really easy to make something complicated. It’s very difficult to make something simple and complex at the same time.
Okay. Absolutely. The mind has all kinds of ways of creating noise to pull those pieces away and then distill it down to something that is, every part of it is, is integral and adds to the overall, best of it.
Everything is good to have everything be considered and everything to be considered within a certain idea or theme, with the program. So like if it’s a school or if it’s a church or if it’s an airport, to have it fit that program, but also have it be, you know, well, I want it to feel very light and open and spacious and have lots of natural light or natural ventilation. To keep it clean really takes a lot. Yeah. So it’s, it’s a lot of training to get there and that, I suppose, really, you, you develop a lot of processes. The architectural process is quite long and there’s a lot of front-end work that gets done that most people don’t even really see before you even get to the building part of it. And I feel like that got articulated and spilled out into the rest of my life.
It’s really interesting. Cause I, I kind of see it energetically as like the creative chaos is like the feminine energy and then the linear structure that supports creating it in the physical world is like the masculine aspect of it. And so it’s like kind of diving into the masculine so that it can be created so we can walk and live in it and it won’t collapse on us and it’ll
It feels to me, tell me where I’m wrong. Like you kind of, you were in this flow and connected with plants, with animals and then you dove into, or you looked at art, which is like the feminine creative process and then went into, okay, let’s contain that. Let’s make a container for it that we can, I can be a container for humans, understand the process that’s involved in that. And then you went a whole different direction.
Exploded. It exploded.
You, when you get, when it gets to, it just needs to be explored.
Well, and sometimes just when you, when you feel something, you just have to go with it, even though you don’t necessarily rationally understand why, or, or even feel confident in it, you just know that it’s the direction you need to move in.
And so I’m assuming that you’re talking about feeling called to try to be with Ayahuasca may be in the jungle.
Definitely. I mean, we all feel compelled and get messages in different ways. And with Ayahuasca, for me, it was, I’ve been hearing about it. I had a very good friend who was, who had participated in ceremonies fairly regularly and you know, I’d always thought, that’d be, that’d be an interesting thing too, to work with. It sounds fascinating. And life-changing, however, it sounds like it’d be very good for someone with a lot of trauma or a lot of pain or a lot to work through and maybe I’ll just leave it for, they never really became a priority so to speak. And then, I suppose just the way that the medicine came to me as I was living in Mexico. I was dating someone and he had worked for us coast guard and had debilitating PTSD.
And we were talking and in a conversation with some friends and Ayahuasca came up and after that conversation, he was like, you know, we were talking about how this medicine, they don’t know how it works, but they know that it like the way your brain works is we have neural associations. So you have a triggering event on the outside. And we have a neural pathway that creates an association and those associations are created early on in life. And what the medicine does somehow this plant medicine will go straight to the root event of the trauma and create a new neural pathway of association. So it was a quick example and I know, you know, all of this, but it, like if you get bit by a dog when you’re younger, you might wire your brain to be afraid of dogs.
Your brain might associate dogs, equal danger. And so if you work with the medicine, you’ll work through that trauma and realize, not all dogs equal danger, and then you’ll have a new neural pathway. So after this conversation, he looked at me and he’s like, that is, I never want to do that. That sounds terrifying to sit with my thoughts and sit with, sit with all my trauma and my experiences, no way, fast forward, a few months he sent me an email and he was like, I’ve been doing a lot of research and there’s more and more research about it indicating that it does help with PTSD specifically and other ailments. But for this, it was like, it might help me. I want to go sit with the medicine, but I’m terrified. And so indirectly, I was asked to come to the jungle.
And I just was so touched at the courage that I saw for someone willing to step through a lot of very trauma that I went and, yeah, everything, the rest is kind of history, as they say, right. I went to one retreat and then six months later went to my second retreat and was asked to come back and volunteer. I spent some time in the Andes working in studying because I didn’t feel confident being in the jungle without any real in-depth experience with the plants. And then, I went for six months and stayed for over two years in the jungle.
Beautiful. So you get a call from somebody else?
Well, I went under the pretense that I was going to help somebody else. Ha little did I know I’m just going for me. You don’t sit with the medicine for anybody else.
No. Whatever it takes though, right?
It was a pretty phenomenal experience. I didn’t necessarily go. I wasn’t, you know, I was, I was pretty excited. I was in architecture thinking that that was where I wanted to be. Not realizing how kind of ratcheted or amped up or busy I was in life. And, I was resistant to go back a second time after the first time I thought that was wow, profound, amazing. I’m going to go back. I’m probably planning to pursue a Ph.D. in architecture to look at the kind of helping the world through sustainable design, sustainable building principles. And really, I wanted to be at the forefront of that. So I was having interviews with different props around the world, looking at pursuing a Ph.D., getting reference letters, all pulled together. And in the middle of all this, I got another, I got a phone call from the same person that I was dating.
He was traveling a lot. So he phoned me from abroad and he was like, we need to go back. And he was on one of his trips and I was like, Nah, I’m good. You go back. I’m all right. I don’t need to go back. And he pushed and he pushed and he pushed until finally a week out. I was like, I thought I could outsmart things. And I was like, all right, it’s a week out. If there’s still space, I’ll go thinking that there wasn’t going to be any space. So he sent me a text a few minutes late. I was like, there was a spot you’re in. We’re going. It was just like, we’re going again. But here’s the crazy part about the medicine in my first ceremony, back in the jungle, my second retreat, right before we went to go and drink the medicine, my friend got terrified and ran out of the Maloca or the ceremony space and the facilitators there sat with him and convinced him to sit and stay and just sit outside.
So in the ceremony space, everyone took the medicine. And I remember after taking the medicine, just thinking like, wow, it doesn’t just feel like he got scared. It feels like he wasn’t invited into this space. That’s weird. And so to know, I’ll ask this won’t sound hokey for people who don’t, you’re working the indigenous belief. I also believe that plants have spirits. They’re there, they’re beings, they’re sentient beings. And when you’re working with them and vibing them, you’re inviting those spirits into your body and you’re working with them. And sometimes you hear their voices very clearly. Like they’re speaking out loud. And so I had one of those situations in this ceremony where I was thinking like, I am like, why was he not allowed in the ceremony space? Why does it feel like he’s not allowed in? And I’ve got a very crystal clear answer and it was he and I have done a lot of work together, but we’re done for now.
He needs to take a break. His whole reason for coming back was to bring you back because you weren’t going to come back and you needed to. And my first thought was whoa. And then, and then it was like, come on. Who do you think you are? What kind of self-importance is it like getting off your high horse, all those thoughts. So this is continued with the ceremony. I stayed in the sacred space. Didn’t leave, didn’t see him for the rest of the night until the next morning. And that’s important because the next morning we hadn’t talked about the ceremony. I hadn’t seen him. And he came and found me and the next morning and was like, how was your ceremony? I was like, it was really good. He’s like, cool. I need to tell you something that happened at my ceremony. I was like, okay, what happened?
And he was like, well, I’m sitting outside the Maloca space, a ceremony space. And it just, I got scared, but I felt like I was shooting out. If I felt like I was just told to get out and I couldn’t go back in. And that was confusing. And so sitting with the facilitators and I had a little sip, and then when I was on the medicine, I was like, I still can’t. I feel like I can’t go into the Maloca space. Why is that? So I’m asking for the medicine and I’m inquiring. And she gave me this, I heard this crystal clear voice, and this is X. And this is him telling me this story. And he said this is exactly what she said to me. And I need you to hear it. She said, we’ve worked together a lot, but we’re done for now. We’ll work together again in the future. The whole reason you had to come back was to bring Lasher back because she wasn’t going to, and this was the only way to get her back. And it was just, and I hadn’t talked to him yet and I hadn’t that hadn’t been verbalized that loud. It was, it blew my mind. It was weird. So that was kind of one of those he’s got to trust.
Trust. It is mind-blowing. And the more you’re in the more you, the longer you’re there, the more normal that stuff
Becomes. Oh yeah. Still
Magical. And it’s still fun. I like to take moments
To revel in serendipities like that and just acknowledge them because I’m very grateful for them because I, to me, they’re just a reminder that magic is real. And I like that.
That’s nice. Yeah. It’s nice to have those confirmations from the universe. Like, Hey, by the way, magic is real
Just in case you forgot. Yes. And it’s working with you.
It was working with you cause you were called there and there’s a lot of effort that went into bringing you there.
It was wonderful. Yeah. I found my heart there and I never would have known to look. Hmm.
So what does it mean to find your heart? What was it like to find your heart? Oh, well
I fell in love with the jungle. I fell in love with the shoe people’s culture, and I loved the work. I loved what I saw. Like my Western mind saw things that weren’t possible. I saw healings that I just like blew my mind. I remember when I was in the Andes apprenticing, working with the shaman to learn more about plant medicines, to see if it was like, well, what is this stuff? And there was a fellow that had Parkinson’s disease and so bad that he had tremors down the left side of his body. And he couldn’t use his left hand and couldn’t walk properly. And he wasn’t sitting with Ayahuasca. He was working with other plant medicines. He had a very specific diet. He had a very specific kind of routine. And, after the first three days of this routine, I woke up one day and he was chopping wood and he chopped firewood for half a day and his body wasn’t trembling.
It wasn’t shaking. And he had full physical control of his body. And when I saw that, I was just like, what, what the hell? It was the most amazing thing. And, he stayed on and he had it as I said, it was very specific like the whole jungle is a Pharmacopia of plants. We tend to focus on the big, heavy hitters, but the whole jungle. Sometimes you don’t even need to sit with Ayahuasca depending on what you’re there for. But, anyway, I digress that cracked me open, through some other serendipitous events, I ended up going into the deep jungle and studying with the shoe people, maze thrill, which is a master plant Shaman you know, historically that would have been the Shaman of, of the village, who, the medicine man of the village. And he was phenomenal.
And, on one of my plant diets, I was dieting a very sacred tree. The tree is called a noodle. And, I was meditating by this tree that I was dieting to basically, yeah. Just sitting in the jungle by myself, meditating and all of us. I hadn’t ever wanted kids, even as a child. I was adamant that I didn’t want kids. I didn’t like kids. I didn’t like babysitting. I wasn’t fuzzy and warm with kids. I just wasn’t comfortable with them. I never wanted one. I’d always thought I was very career-focused and career-driven. So I’m sitting underneath this tree and all of a sudden, my eyes pop open, and out loud, I blurt out I want to be a mother. And then I burst into tears and it was just the weirdest thing, because being a mother was foreign to me, absolutely foreign. And I just had this huge cry and I realized, oh my God, I want to be a mother. Yeah. And at, in, at the Ayahuasca center that I had actually, at this time I was running an Ayahuasca center now. And, the person I was running it with was also my romantic partner who is now my husband and we have a son. And so I found my heart and my family in the jungle by following my heart and following my joy because it was, yeah, no, that’s beautiful.
Just, just by following, having, by trusting, having faith to be, permit yourself to follow your heart.
Yeah. And it was all following. Like I didn’t seek any of it out really. I didn’t ask to go volunteer. They asked me, I didn’t ask to run the center. They asked me if I was having a conversation with one of our friends and we were volunteering at the center together at that time. And he mid-sentence stops and he’s very intuitive and he’s very flowy. Like he’s, this is a wonderful individual and he’d stop and look at me and he says, I’m, I’m going into the deep jungle over the break you should come to. And it was so random that I was like, okay, all right. And we went on this trip up to Wiki dos, which is the biggest city in the world that you can’t access by car. You have to take a boat or you have to fly in. So there are no roads out of it.
There’s a road. There’s a highway that goes out of a ketose and ends in the forest. That’s it just ends the jungle and you’ve arrived. Yeah, you’re here. So if you drive out of the city, you’re going to end up at a dead-end into the Amazon forest. And so that’s what we did. We, he was adamant on going to see his mind, his master showman that he was studying with, and this is where we were going, but he’s in the jungle. So we couldn’t get in touch with him. So we flagged a car and got a ride and we’re off on this highway and we were on this highway for about an hour. And then he’s like, now we get out. When we hike, we’re hiking into the jungle and there’s a dirt road. No, one’s expecting us. It’s like being in the jungle. And it’s wild to me. Like, where are we going? What are we doing? And we get to this camp. And it was just a, and that’s how I met actually at the time I met Don Enrico, who was my me, I swear. I met his brother, Don Miguel. And we sat with the medicine and I came back a few later and stayed for nine weeks and worked with the plants in-depth. But that all came from trusting and flowing.
Beautiful. It’s powerful. It’s a good reminder for me too. Cause man, let me tell you when you’ve got a kid it’s easy to not want to flow and it’s easy to want to plan everything and try to bubble, wrap them and create the perfect environment. You shall be safe in that bubble forever. Yes, exactly. I will. You are in situ on the shelf. Perfect.
So once I left, I got you back the second time, you followed the flow and what was it like learning. So you took training to learn how to be an Ayahuasca. You learn how to be an Ayahuasca Shaman. I did. What was that journey like?
I loved it. It was amazing. I was very scared of it because it’s intense. My relationship with medicine is a little bit different than others in that I’ve never been afraid to sit in medicine. I’ve always been like, this is, let’s see where this goes, but I’ve never been like, oh my God, it’s, you know, I’ve never been scared and I’ve always had a certain weird level of trust. But I was very afraid of going into the deep jungle because I heard that it was very arduous and you’re in the jungle. You don’t have power. We had running water, which was phenomenal. Like they’d set up the camp well so that we had running water, but there’s no cell service. I didn’t know what to expect. And it’s every second day you’re sitting in a ceremony.
You’re also like I said, you’re studying other plants as well. So Shaman, don’t administer anything that they haven’t tried themselves. Cause you have to work with the plant and develop a relationship with the spirit of the plant and understand how it works. And so that means taking a lot of them are prerogatives and a lot of them are, are, it’s pretty intense, but it was, it was amazing. And, and while we’re also doing that, you’re dieting. So the way that you study plants, you don’t just sweep. We sat in a couple of lectures and Rica would speak and kind of give us information. But really what you’re doing is you’re spending a lot of time in isolation. You’re spending a lot of time fasting and you’re ingesting certain master plants and through meditation and quiet, you’re connecting within and you’re developing resonance with the energy of that plant.
And the best example I can give you as to how the difference or how extreme the different plant energies can feel is I was dieting a plant called Marusa, which should people talk about as a hospital? Like it’s a very big healing plant. And when you die at any plant, you have to fast and you have a very specific diet. So your energy is relatively low and, but you still want to get exercise in this camp. So every day I would walk to the road and back just to get to stretch my legs, to move on the Marissa diet. There were days where I couldn’t, there were days where I could hardly walk from the Maloca space up to my hot, to my Tombo. And that was like, I don’t know, 20, 30 yards away and up to three steps. On some days it would be like, I’d walk up a step and just sit and have to breathe and catch my breath.
Like I was so depleted the diet I did afterward is a diet of a tree called chewy Chucky, which is like the trickster energy. It’s the wandering Palm. It’s an actual tree that has multiple trunks at the bottom and certain trunks lift and die off and then other ones grow. So it gradually walks through the jungle. That’s incredible. Yeah. It’s just, it’s a cool treat. Plants are just phenomenal. And on, on this diet, the same thing, you’re fasting, you’ve got a very specific diet, same diet, same amount of days fasting. And I walked the road twice a day, the whole diet,
No problem, no problem. I had
So much energy and I was still fasting. And when I was eating, I was in the very same minimal limited amount of foods and the same amount of isolation in the same amount of meditation. And that’s all the energy of the plants.
Yeah. And the minimum of foods and fascinating that’s so that you can hear the subtlety of the plan.
Yeah. So when you’re doing the ETA, traditionally data’s are many months long and they’re done in complete isolation. It’s just you in a hot way off in the jungle. And the only thing that you’re meant to ingest is the plant that you’re dieting with water, and then you work with tobacco as a cleanser and it also energizes it. And, and that’s it. When you shower, you’re typically just using water because you don’t want any there’s no, there’s no bug spray. There are no appointments, there’s no shampoos or conditioners and or deodorant because all of those things, kind of distort, they create extra static and you want it, the energy and the air and the environment to be as clean, as neutral as possible. So that’s just you in the plant. There’s nothing else.
Well, it’s incredible to think about that. And you think about how many layers of static we add typically to our lives and, you know, Western society, our homes, and all of the products and the foods and the electronics and traffic, like, you know, I think we, we forget sometimes how different our world is to our nervous system than the world that we were designed to originally live in the wild.
That’s a really good point and very, very true. And it’s, it’s fascinating to see how, when you take everything away, you know, I noticed before that, in the middle of this whole experience, as they tell you your thoughts are also that kind of static. And one of the things that they let you know is likely to happen at our still let us know it was likely to happen is you’re probably going to start thinking about foods and you don’t want to go down the train of building the thoughts of, I miss chocolate cake. Grandma’s pizza is those, those are or sugar, like anything like that, because that’s creating that storyline of that craving and that’s amplifying and building and you want to be clean and your diet, the reason you’re not eating those things is that it’s not clean. So you also don’t want them polluting your thoughts. So it’s, it’s, it’s a very, you’re just like keeping everything clean, clean, clean, and empty. And when you do that, you realize how much we feed ourselves to distraction. And not just with food, just like occupying our times with visual, physical, mental distraction.
What would happen if we just took all those distractions away and we sat with ourselves and then, and that’s the layers, and I think you mentioned you’d done for passing a meditation too. And then they talk about that a lot there and in Buddhism of that craving and aversion. So we, our mind creates all these cravings for things we want, whether it’s food or a person or a career or an object, and then aversion to the discomfort, to the pain, and to the fear of just being with ourselves. And it’s interesting because at first it usually sucks. After all, all of the thoughts come up, all the cravings, all the detoxing, and it takes a while to get to peel off those layers. But then the reward is so worth it to get to meet yourself.
And it continues. Right. Yeah. They call that the hungry ghost because it’s never satiated. It’s, it’s not a thing, but yeah, the craving is the hungry ghost, and yeah. It’s shocking to see what we avoid looking at and what we avoid sitting within. The whole serious irony that you’ve come to, the realization that you’ve come to when you strip all of that away is if you just sit with it far, far less uncomfortable.
Trying to placate it, cause then you’re repeating the discomfort. You’re suppressing it so that it just stays there and kind of grows as it’s like an itch. It’s like an itchy bug bite. Whereas if you just don’t scratch it and leave it, it goes away a lot faster. Yeah,
Exactly. If you keep feeding the hungry ghost, it’ll just keep consuming and consuming. And we see evidence of that on our planet and our society of needing more, wanting more. But it is never enough as long as we keep feeding it. And as long as we have that belief, I feel like the outer world reflects the inner world. And if on some level we don’t believe we’re enough, then it won’t matter how much stuff you try to shove in there until you realize who you are. Behave beliefs like that.
I agree. And I feel like that happens in many expressions. I know of my main practice. Lee’s relationship is continually letting each other go because that reminds us that there’s nothing to be afraid of. We’re here because we want to be with each other. We don’t have to be with each other and that takes away any kind of frustration or expectation. And that helps also take away any fear because it’s the fear of the discomfort of the loss. Well, if you’re letting that person go continuously, then you’re able to continuously appreciate them because you’re never assuming that they’re just, they’re not beholden to you. And it’s not an easy practice, but it’s certainly served us very well.
The practice of non-attachment with your spouse, like the most difficult of all to practice attachment
With. Yeah. And it means that we can sit and have very, very real conversations. You know, we’re not rude with each other, but we share our deep truth at the risk of you might not like this truth, but I have to share it because it’s my truth. And we do those deep dives and we go to those scary places and it’s always brought us closer to, to sit and see it through, but men, yeah. It’s we, we go there, there’s some conversation, especially in the beginning when we’re getting to know each other, there’ll be times where we’re like, are we going to make it through this one? I don’t know. You know, you’re talking about a tender subject where you don’t see eye to eye, but you, you want to find that you’re that, that resonance. So you’ve got to sit through and keep talking, keep diving and keep diving. And it’s always brought us to the surface and closer. But you can’t have that if you’re afraid of affecting the other person or losing the other person losing the other, a person’s more accurate because we’re not rude. We do our best to be as loving with our truth because that’s important. Love and respect are fundamental. So I’m not talking about just like, you were up Today.
Truth Is that you’re a jerk. Not like that.
Yeah. I mean, we can say that, but we can say that in a very loving way.
Yeah. And it’s beautiful that you’re both at that place and a level of openness and willingness to do that work because it does take to, to, to go there and to go to those places.
Oh my gosh. It does. And it’s not, I mean, there are times, you know, we’re having a conversation and it’s resistance and you know, I don’t know how many times I’ve been in that zone and he’s like, come on, we got to finish this. Great. Just like sitting down. And like, we’re gonna, you know, takes as long as it takes, we’re doing it. And like, You’re right. Okay. Breathe into the discomfort and let’s keep diving.
Absolutely. Yeah. And then it gets to be that place. I felt that too with Dave where, you know, oh my goodness, this is not comfortable or we’re going to get through this. I don’t know. You know, I think it should just jump, ship, and run that. I think that’s the best thing to do right now.
This feeling sucks. I want a new experience. Right.
Because we all just want to feel good. So it’s like letting the mind know that, you know, the truth, the true happiness is on the other side of the discomfort. So let’s get through it and let’s dive into it together.
Beautiful. Okay. So let’s go back to the jungle. So you had these data’s and you’re connecting with these plants, and then you were running the retreat center with your now-husband, which is amazing, by the way. I didn’t realize that was the new title, how beautiful congratulations. And, and then what,
Ah, well, we were running the retreat center and we both loved the work, loved working with the plants, loved the community, and loved living in a community. And at the same time, we both realized that we were in a place where we could have stayed forever, but we weren’t ever going to reach that next level of growth. We both felt a ceiling and it was a really hard thing to admit when you are somewhere where you’re absolutely happy through and through, and you love the work that you’re doing. It was a difficult decision to leave the jungle. we had been asked to potentially run another retreat center. So it was work that was very much in our hearts. And I remember having that conversation when we were sitting down and I looked at Lee and I was like, cause that was my dream.
I loved the work. I loved being immersed in that, in the, going even deeper into the jungle and working with more plants and stuff was just, and doing research was just this dream come true. But I, when I sat and breathed into it, I looked at, I was like, I, I want to, but if I’m honest with myself, that feels like the easy way out. The easy thing to do is to sit with the medicine. And, so we decided to, just to trust that, to trust the heart. And we came back to Canada and it’s been a beautiful rollercoaster integrating living in the jungle, living outside of the system very much. So living outside of the medical system, living outside of a governance system, living with, living with the Shapebos, to come back to Canada and then to be around family as well, who knew us pre jungle. And, and it’s been, and I, I see crystal clear why we came back, you know, cause you have to, I think it was Rahm Doss. He says it so beautifully and concisely. He said at one point, if you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.
We’d love it. Cause that’s where all of your triggers are gonna come right back in your face, all your patterns, all of your resistances, all of that stuff. And it’s really easy to get into a flow of being in a comfortable space, in a comfortable setting. But for us to kind of crack that shell and grow, even more, we had to come home and walk that walk here and, and, and test our metal so to speak. And it’s been wonderful and it’s been a cool journey and it continues to open and unfold and yeah, yeah.
And then that integration process, that’s what they call it in the Ayahuasca world.
Yeah. You learn all these lessons and have these amazing insights in these ceremonies and all these healings. And then the science of it would say you’ve developed a new neurological association, but you still have this deeply entrenched association. So you have to go back and use practices like mindfulness, meditation breathing, to start to get that new neural pathway worn in because it’s very easy when you go back to a familiar environment around familiar people to just flip back to the old neurological association that the previous behavioral patterns and that’s the challenge of it. And that’s the integration that’s, that’s what you’re integrating is, is being hyper mindful and aware so that you’re not just flipping back into this entrenched pattern to, to dig into a new association, to expand and keep those insights functional. Yeah. Yeah.
And it’s that balance when you’re at the retreat center you’re fully immersed or this beautiful open-hearted community that understands it to like gets it that is there for you that is loving and magic everywhere, the medicine, which opens you up to even more magic everywhere. And it’s beautiful nature and this cleanness of all of that of no, no static around and then coming back and then it hits the fan.
It’s real life. It’s like, how do you navigate to it, yeah, it’s absolutely that. And it’s, and it’s, and that’s been necessary, like I see how some people are meant to stay in the jungle and some people are meant to, to stay there. And some people get stuck there because it’s easy. It becomes the safe thing, the familiar thing, the comfortable thing. Cause it was very uncomfortable to come back and kind of get reoriented and, and figure out how to stay feeling connected to that. It’s a very spiritual thing. Like both Leah and I firmly feel like the plant medicine, some work we did, it’s highly spiritual and it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s like religion to us. It is religion. It’s a church. And how do you maintain that connection and how do you remember that and stay in that place when you’re in a world that isn’t reminding you every moment of every day, because you’re not in the jungle, living in the land with the plants and the medicine.
Do you feel like that’s part of what medicine wants us to call us there to remember and then bring that awareness out into the world? That’s a great
Question. Yes, hugely. It was Lee who kind of put it well. He talks about how, when you’re working with the medicines, you’re not just having an experience with the plants. The plants are also occupying your body and having an experience through you and your being. And when you work with the medicines and you have the fortunate opportunity to heal and to kind of wake up to a new level of awareness, I feel that you become an ambassador of the medicine. You represent the medicine because you’re representing all the possible potential realities and the love that was, that came out of that healing or that awakening or that, that sacred experience. And that’s exactly, we need to be walking more of that walk, you know, you open your eyes to see how, wow, we’re all just adults, but acting out our, our, our traumas and our hurts from when we were toddlers and babies and children.
And with this level of unawareness and dissociation and detachment, if we remembered in every waking moment that we are divine beings having a human experience and that we are all of the same divinity, then I would remember constantly that you are me. And you’re a reflection of me and I wouldn’t dare to be rude or condescending or treat you poorly in any way, because I would know that I’m treating myself poorly and our world would be a very different place. And those are the things, you know, when you’re in the jungle, those are the things you experience when you sit with people in the medicine.
Do you feel like we’re moving towards that, that place of remembering that we are these divine beings having a human experience that is all connected?
I feel so. I feel like even if it’s not on a conscious level, we’re all striving for connection. It’s, it’s a, it’s an interesting piece of the human condition to me that we are so socially reliant and socially connected. And yet we are all dying to be ourselves and express, but we all have this fearfully expressing ourselves. And the way that that gets articulated in quilts and others is that we try to shut someone down for shining too much or saying too much or being themselves too much because it makes us uncomfortable. After all, we don’t allow ourselves to express ourselves fully. I feel like that’s very much the case because fundamentally everybody wants that.
Wants to belong and be loved for themselves, wholly and completely and fully.
Absolutely. Yeah. It feels like the work that I was doing. And then a lot of healers are doing it similarly. And I love when you describe how I also take someone back to the beginning of trauma and reframes it, rewires it. So there’s a new synapse. So, that person no longer heats up to keep operating from that place of trauma and there are things. That’s what so many healers do through regression therapy, through cognitive behavioral therapy, you know, through the shamanic work that we’ve learned through Wendy. It’s interesting to see the parallels in that. But I feel like this trauma healing is getting us all back there. It’s like peeling off the fill between our awareness and our true self, which is free and inherently connected and inherently belongs. And this work that many are choosing to do, and some are being pushed into doing through like healing ourselves is, is like the map there, map back to that place of belonging and, and freedom.
Absolutely. Yeah. I agree. There are so many ways to get to those, root traumas and there are so many different modalities, new modalities, ancient modalities, there’s a lot of new phenomenal research being done, in trauma and child development that is just it’s. Yeah, it’s very, I feel like our awareness is growing and our desire is growing as a global culture for sure. Part of that process, just like with any of it is the discomfort of, of sitting in it and it’s, it can be, it can feel very destructive because you kind of have to break through all the different layers to get to the source and then once you’re there, then it’s, then you can grow now. So it is uncomfortable, but it’s super effective. And, and even with this, like to your point, the mandates to be isolating to self-isolate isolation is a very shamanic and very spiritual practice.
Like, and we’re asking our entire populations to self-isolate with no spiritual or Chemonics support. That is a big undertaking. So a lot of people are facing up to a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff is coming to the surface for better or worse and it’s being supported for better or worse. And so I do feel like it’s a collective kind of somewhat forced awakening. It’s, it’s very, it’s very powerful. There’s a reason why most cultures are spiritual or shamanic, or, or not, when, when you’re, you know, some cultures, when you reach a certain age, you go off on a vision quest to find yourself it’s by yourself. And it’s, you’re alone in the wilderness. You’re, you’re, there’s a lot about being by yourself when you’ve got no distractions. That there’s a reason for that. There’s a very deep self-realizing self-actualizing reason for that is very powerful. So yeah, I do feel like we’re headed in that direction from all different angles,
All ankles. Yeah. All the angles that are needed. And, yeah, it’s, it’s that Rite of passage that so many, so many cultures and tribal cultures and different cultures have of that growing up and, you know, becoming an adult, becoming a new title, becoming something new, hopefully, multiple times that each of our lives, and we’re collectively going through this metamorphosis. And what we’ve become is up to our openness and willingness to look at ourselves as well. I feel this is the support that we get. However, that support looks to have a guide walking you through the darkness. I was like, oh yeah, I’ve been there. I know that feeling. It’ll be okay. You just have to go on and continue unpacking this stuff.
Absolutely. And you know, we’ve seen in the last few years, an explosion in coaching, I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I don’t feel that’s a coincidence at all. And people are seeing the necessity of having someone who can be a sounding board for them and can help them navigate whatever expression it’s going to take.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
And everyone needs it differently. Everyone thinks and looks and responds differently. And I love the way that you use the term destructive as waste. Now, if we’re thinking in architecture and then just now it’s an ultimately productive process he constructs so that you can reconstruct.
Hm. Yeah. And there’s nowhere on earth that I’ve seen that more vividly than in the jungle. The jungle is such intense energy and the life-death cycle is so fast and in your face. And so like, there’s just so much life condensed into the rainforest. Like it’s, everything is alive and moving and eating something and like re having to lay eggs. And then it’s just like, it’s just life, death, life, death, life-death. It’s amazing. Like, like the best example I could give is, you know, how, when you’re growing up, I don’t know if your mom said this. I feel like most people’s moms were like, don’t leave, crumbs out. The bugs are going to get bugs in the house. And it’s kind of anecdotal in Canada. Well, the jungle, it’s not anecdotal. If you don’t have a surface, you’re going to get either tiny little spiders or like tiny little ants or cockroaches, like something’s going to come and eat it. You know, like within minutes within minutes and it’ll be gone. Like there was no trace of what was on the counter. No trace of the heads,
Army of creatures within a few minutes of leaving it. Yeah. Yeah.
I mean, living in the jungle, I know there were a few times where he’d have something show up kind of dead and I’d never move it. I would just leave it and it would be gone and the jungle would re-consume it and, you know, go, yeah. I remember stepping out of my door once and being like, how come there’s a plastic bag hanging from my porch. And then I looked at it closer and it was this big, long snakeskin hanging from my porch.
Oh, never mind. I’m in a different world. Yeah. The energy is so cold compared to Canada where I’m right now going into winter, it’s cold. It becomes very quiet, very subdued. I enjoy it as a way of self-reflection as a kind of data and a little way. And in the jungle, it is so alive and the vibration and the buzz are so strong. It’s so intense. And it takes time to adjust to that, to adjust to that vibration. Or you, you were just a part of it and you can’t be, you can’t just hide inside with your sweater and cup of tea and be comfortable. You accept what you’re in and allow yourself to be a part of it.
Yeah. Yep. That’s and it’s cool. Like, you know, on, on the Pacific coast, we’re still in a rainforest, it’s just a temperate rainforest and you feel slow like it’s a dial back a bit is not, there’s not the intensity. There’s not the tropical heat, the torrential rains like there are heavy rains here, but it’s, it kinda just drizzles buckets. It doesn’t just pelt down all the time. So it’s just, it’s different, it’s still intense, but it’s like a more drawn-out intense. There’s still power, but it’s kind of slower, bigger, steady, or power.
Yeah. It’s like the sweet spot between the two.
I love the Pacific Northwest. Beautiful
There. It’s very special. Yeah. So I want to ask you too, about what they call the Ikaros. So that’s the music, the song that the Shama and that the iOS girl is saying is when working with the medicine, how does that work?
So for the Shapebos, culturally, they don’t see a difference between sight and sound. They experience it simultaneously, and you get to experience this. You may experience this when you ever work with Ayahuasca, where you will start to see. I can’t think of the term. Certain people think, as the sounds will start and they’ll see colors flash. And I can’t think of the term for it, but they experienced that as well. And so what they see is that life is vibration and it can be an auditory vibration or a visual vibration. And we are vibrating beings. And when you’re in the medicine, they see our vibration and they see areas where energy isn’t flowing and it’s bound up or areas where we have a lack of energy and it’s kind of an open hole. So to speak, if you can picture a sweater.
So you’re like a whole bunch of stitching stuck here, and then a big hole here and through the [inaudible] and the medicine songs through the vibration of the sound, they help pull out and tease out where the energy is all knotted up and it creates a pattern of vibration and they fill in or stitch together the areas where there’s a lack of, of, of energy. And again, continue. So they see us as vibrating patterns and the songs and the egos that they sing with Ayahuasca and in the ceremony are vibrations that help, yeah. Fix our vibrations, get our vibration all kind of more even, and I’m flowing. Yeah. And they’re very powerful. Absolutely.
Yeah. We’ve, we’ve each felt that it’s visceral, you know, common singing to you, very strong, usually leads to, can lead to tears or laughter or, insights, all kinds of things.
Yeah. Sometimes it’s beautiful. Sometimes you just want to run away cause it’s just like stop it’s too many events. Yeah. There’s that , yeah. It’s a really important part of their ceremony. And one of the things that I love that’s happening in the jungle right now is, there’s a center called the Rio SPO center and they’re doing research with universities and they’re doing research with plant medicines. But the kicker for me that I think is valuable, that isn’t being seen is they’re doing their research in conjunction with the ceremonial setting. And they’re talking about, and looking at the effectiveness and the importance and the importance of the ceremony and the sacred set and setting for healing. And through all of my experiences of sitting with the medicine, that’s one piece that I feel can’t be stressed enough is the set and setting, because it is such a potential, it’s a very vulnerable process. And it’s potentially so destructive that if, you want to make sure that you’re sitting in a very trusted, safe in, in, in its integrity set and setting to hold that space for you to go to those deep places, to be able to surface all of those very, entrenched traumas to get that energy moving. And, you must have somebody there to hold space so that that energy can shift. Absolutely. And the egos are a big part of that, for sure. Yeah.
It’s like building a relationship with the plant-like you said, and you don’t take your powerful guru teacher and healer to the nightclub to learn some are sacred, some quieter, some safer. Yeah. Well, that’s funny. That’s how most of us introduce it or not, I shouldn’t say most of us. That is how I was first introduced to plant medicines with mushrooms when I was younger and it was in the party scene and it was beautiful. But, I hadn’t tapped into the potential that it has when taken in with a sense of respect and even reverence and intention.
Yeah. And if I could add to that, actually we did have a DJ come to the jungle. I like the DJ and his music. He talks about how music is very influential. And when you’ve got a crowd going the energy guilds in the crowd, and he talked about, actually, we had a few people come through the jungle who were involved in music or light lighting, which was interesting, interesting. And they would use the lighting in their music and create a certain atmosphere where they would say they had X, they would push the energy of the crowd, and people would have these moments of epiphany or revelation or shift in there, in themselves, through the music, a different experience. It’s very, it’s, it hits kind of a different place than sitting with a shaman with plant medicine. This is, you know, typically being used with things like MVMA and stuff in, in that sense. However, some people go and there are collective groups that go with the intention of that and have that love and that intention of like a collective building of energy building of love and, and, and breakthrough. So that was really, I never really thought of it that way before. And that was cool to hear, but a very different way about approaching that. Yeah. And it’s,
It’s our cultures, our, our causes this, this Western modernized culture’s way of working with rhythm and movement and sound too, do what we did, what we’ve done for so long and tribal cultures would, you know, like dancing around a fire to a certain motion and movement and rhythm and chanting that would induce these trans states and create healing and breakthroughs and, and release, blocks for people. And we’re still intuitively finding ways of doing that.
Yeah. Yeah. And, and again, just a, it is a very different way, a very different
Way. Yeah. Very different setting. When I club versus Ayahuasca. Yeah. Yeah. Beautiful healing in their ways, but not together.
Yeah. That wouldn’t be something that I would hurry up to experience.
All right. So, it grows. And so, you were taught that it grows in your training, is that right? Yeah, certainly girls’ songs.
Yeah. We were, we were studying it on Enrique and that was a part of the time it was all these plant medicines, but it also felt like music camp. Cause there was, you’re singing all the time and you’re learning the medicine songs and you’re also, sometimes you’re inspired and a new melody comes. So you’re taught that an eco with a melody and sometimes you end up with your melody. And so, but you’re singing constantly and you’re just you’re and that’s building and shifting energy as well, constantly. So yeah, it was, it was fun. It was like, I didn’t know that studying shamanism was like just music all the time.
Who knew to be the spot.
Yeah. This is awesome. It’s very,
Very essential. You’re not reading out of a textbook you’re doing
It. Yep. Yeah. And you’re feeling it and you’re just you’re. Yeah. And it’s either just on your one-on-one or sometimes, you know, and you’d sit down and, and, and, and sing together. And that was, that was very beautiful. Mm, absolutely. I can imagine.
And so I’ve heard you saying different medicine songs, and I think that it’s so beautiful and so powerful and I feel the energy moving and I feel tears releasing and this getting, you know, the clarity and the insights and the healing. That reminds me of the jungle and Peru and Ayahuasca. And last time you sang I felt like I was like, the plants were right there. They’re right back here. And it was such a treat to feel that and to remember that, and it’s like, they’re not that far away. They’re right here. I’m so grateful for that. Thank you, me too. Thank you. So how would you feel about singing on Ikaros today? Sure.
I’d love to share it with any girl. I’ll just, I tend to close my eyes before I sing to any girl. Cause I was taught to see me grow as I was your kind of cue up and connect with the plants. I’m just going to take a moment.
Yeah. No one will see you. The audience makes all the faces you want and takes as much time as you like. All right.
Thank you. Yeah, that’s beautiful. Yeah, that certainly brings the jungle right in close.
Absolutely. Like being in a ceremony again.
What does that feel like for you to sing it? Oh, man. singing
The ceremony is my favorite thing ever. I love it. I love the feel of the energy. It just, it doesn’t even feel like I’m singing. It feels like I’m just open and experiencing my body singing. And to sing, I’m just very grateful to have the Ikaros and I love just really diving in and sinking into them and playing with them and just hearing how they’re coming through. It’s been a journey too. At first, it was a lot about really spending energy and time thinking about how it sounds. And now it’s a lot more just being open and allowing it to just be in flow-through in that. Yeah. That’s yeah. It just feels great. It was great to receive it. Yeah.
I get it. When you’re singing. I could feel, I imagine everyone who’s listening to this, getting to receive it in their way and just the healing energy that kind of weaves all over. Thank you.
Thank you. Yeah, it’s definitely, those are beautiful powerful songs. The second one is a beautiful blessing and medicinal acro. it’s done in your case, family acre row and, it’s absolutely, it’s powerful. It’s a visceral one to sing for me and it’s very, very powerful. I hope it does offer people that, that moment of, I don’t know, ease, love, joy
Healing. I feel like it’ll give them whatever they need at that moment. Yeah.
Oh, it has been such a pleasure. How thank you and how can people, people want to work with you, how can they best reach out to you?
The best way to reach out to me is either on Facebook, at Leisia Shopik that’s my profile on Facebook, or by email, which is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yeah. Okay. Beautiful. Yeah.
And it’s been such a treat too, cause I met you in Peru. I don’t know how many years ago it was four or five years ago. The numbers keep going up because that’s good. That’s how time works. It feels like forever, but also yesterday. Yeah. And so it’s been a real treat to go on a kind of similar journey and watch you grow and while I grow, so thank you on the path.
Thank you. Yeah. Thank you so much. It’s been phenomenal. It’s been amazing to share this journey with you and to, and I say share just because you’re a constant source of inspiration watching you move and be inspired and just you’re, you’re very daring and you’re very, action-oriented. And the practice that you have is inspiring. Your sessions are very, very powerful and very valuable. Thank you.
You too. Yeah. That’s the beauty of getting to have healer friends like, Hey, help. Yeah. I guess just in general, it’d be able to say help. It’s a great thing to ask and receive help. Yeah. Thank you for all the help that you’ve given me, which has been a lot, and, yeah, everyone has their gifts and yours are beautiful and many, and thank you for sharing them with the world.
Hmm. Thank you so much. This has been phenomenal and likewise, it’s, yeah. It’s like, I’m excited to see how it all unfolds and where it all goes. It’s been such a phenomenal journey thus far it’s and it just keeps getting better and better.
Absolutely. Absolutely. And,
Thank you to everyone listening and yeah. Reach out to Leisia. She’s a wonderful healer, iOS Garah, and singer. Yeah, thanks so much, everyone.
Thanks for listening to the mindbodyfree podcast. I hope you enjoyed it. And if you did leave us a review and subscribe, so you can stay up to date with future episodes and you can learn more at mind, body free.com/podcast. I’m your host Abigail Moss, and I’ll see you next time.