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Mind & Body

Do you need a shaman?

When DANIELLE FOX booked an appointment with Gwyneth Paltrow’s shaman, she wasn’t expecting the profound effect the encounter would have on her. So should we all be swapping our therapist for a shaman?


Recently I found myself lying on the floor of a meditation studio, quietly sobbing and tightly holding the hand of Gwyneth Paltrow’s go-to healer, Shaman Durek. I had just been hacked; not a ‘clone my identity and take all my money’ hack, but more one of a spiritual nature. It was a powerful experience.

Spirit hacking, according to LA-based Shaman Durek, whose roster of high-profile clients includes chief executives, royals and the Hollywood elite, is a shamanic technique using mental, emotional principles to ‘hack’ into the body’s energy system and improve your wellbeing. According to Durek, shamans don’t treat disease, they treat the person; he has even written a book about it.

These days, you’ll find shamans not just in the rainforests of South America sipping on Ayahuasca, but in airy NYC loft studios, at hotel spas and even on Skype. Louis Vuitton is known to retain a shaman on their payroll to keep the rain away for their outdoor runway shows and shoots. Indeed, spiritual healing and its practitioners have become more mainstream and are endorsed by A-listers such as Selma Blair, Kim Kardashian and, of course, Gwyneth Paltrow. But what exactly is a shaman?

A good shaman hits on three healing points: physical, emotional, and spiritual – all vital to good health. Think of a shaman as a life coach cum therapist cum reiki master. “Using a shaman as a method to find healing or help with a situation can be very different from traditional western medicine or therapy,” explains Durek. “A shaman goes to the root of the problem – your relationship with your ancestors, emotional trauma – and helps you recognize it and face it straight on.”

So how does it actually work? “It’s very different from traditional western medicine or therapy,” explains Durek. “As shamans, we heal the body with the help of spirits, by channeling ancestors and spirit guides. I treat a person in many ways – everything from reading your pulse, looking at the dilation of your eyes, soul reading, communicating to spirits, looking at where you are being affected by darkness and negativity, looking at how you treat your body and how you understand your emotions.”

What should you expect from a session with a shaman? Just like an appointment with a therapist, you can have a one-off or book in multiple times either face to face or through skype. But the key is to be open-minded.“Every time is different,” says Durek, “a shaman will help shift energy and build on your emotional intelligence with the help of music, movement, and body manipulation.

When should someone visit a shaman, I ask him? “When you feel like you need answers to your life,” advises Durek. “And an ongoing treatment plan should include practices such as getting up before the sunrise, doing certain shamanic exercises with breath and words to activate your energy and mental clarity followed by a healthy diet, meditation routine, and building your ability to recognize their inner strength and inner power.”

It’s important to find a shaman who is trustworthy, so do a little digging and find out where – and with whom – your potential shaman trained. “Any shaman that you chose must have a long duration of training, a repertoire of techniques, a non-judgmental and unconditional loving attitude,” explains Durek. There is no official qualification so definitely do ask around. Like any good healer or even hair colorist, recommendations often guide you to the right person. If a friend has had a powerful session with a shaman, that person might work their magic on you, too.

As for my session, I found it surprising just how well Durek intuitively knew me and my character traits without, well, actually knowing me. When adjusting my energy, my body responded with involuntary twitches (apparently completely normal!) and I felt waves of energy moving around my body. “The only thing you can really expect is that you are never going to be judged on any level,” Durek tells me, as I find myself crying off my new Code 8 mascara in front of him when he tells me that he loves me with the sincerity of a star-crossed lover.

A shaman is a bit like a very good therapist – my session with Durek certainly released something in me and was a very positive experience. I arrived stressed from work, grappling with some health issues and feeling incredibly anxious but, surprisingly, after my hour with Shaman Durek, I left feeling wonderfully soothed – both in mind and body. For me, it took a session with a shaman to hear what I already knew but perhaps didn’t want to address; that I needed to looking after myself better and love myself more.