​Journeying to the Upper World.

journeying to upper world, mountains blog post ananda

We are always connected to the spirit world and have access to the wisdom that exists among the multidimensional beings that are all around us. The question is “how do we make a direct connection with our helping spirits and access the information we need in order to guide us toward the life changes we desire?

In the practice of shamanism, we work on the level of spirit, trusting that our guides are benevolent and here to provide us guidance on this life’s journey. There are many ways in which shamans make a connection to spirit. One of the most traditional methods is through journeying. Journeying is a discipline and requires time, patience and an immense respect for the unknown.

Traditionally shamans would journey on behalf of someone in their community for the purpose of healing, transformation, soul retrieval, power retrieval or extraction of an unwanted energy. The medicine shamans believe that all illness is rooted in a spiritual imbalance, and if we align our energetic body, all other healing will fall into place. When we are spiritually balanced, physical, mental and emotional disease will cease to exist.

Today, many shamans are teaching that we are able to enter into a healing journey on our own without the assistance of a shaman. To engage in the practice of journeying on our own, there is a basic protocol to which we must attend. It is important to understand and follow the steps of the journeying process and then practice on a regular basis to become more and more comfortable with our ability to enter into the non-ordinary reality.

Setting an Intention: 

An intention is the driving force that empowers us and provides purpose for us to connect with our helping spirits during the journey. Crafting questions that we would like to ask while on our journey is an important part of the preparation process, and helps to keep our mind focused while in the journey. When we are new to journeying, it is best to start with just one question. Consider questions that do not require a “yes” or “no” as an answer. Effective questions usually start with “how” or “what”.

Such examples would be:

  • “How can I best serve my community?”
  • “What are the steps for me to manifest my soul’s desires?”
  • “How can I improve my relationship with ____?”
  • “What lessons do you have to teach me?”

Inducing an Altered State:

A shaman uses a vehicle to enter into an altered state of consciousness. A vehicle can be a form of rhythmic percussion like a drum or a rattle that allows us to journey outside of time and space into the non-ordinary reality of the journey. It has been shown that by listening to the monotonous tone of a drum our brain waves begin to slow down from our natural beta state, to the alpha state, and eventually to the theta state which is where we can do our shamanic journeying. In journeying, it is necessary that we reach an altered state in order to release mental constructs and connect to the deeper energies that will allow us to explore the invisible realms and have contact with our helping spirits. 

Following a Path:

A shamanic journey travels a particular path from a starting place to an opening. The starting place is where we begin our journey. It may begin in the place where our physical body is at the time of the journey, or it may begin in a place that we visualize or create in our minds. Usually we start in a place that is easy to connect to like nature, and we follow the path the same way every time from the starting place to our helping spirits. The opening is where we enter into non-ordinary reality. The opening may be a particular gateway or entryway, and is the place where we meet our helping spirits. There is usually a transition we pass through that will indicate that we have entered non-ordinary reality.

Engaging with Helping Spirits:

Our life is conspiring with our soul to try to help us wake up, and our helping spirits are available to guide us in this process. A shamanic journey involves the engagement of helping spirits. We can ask why certain things that are happening in our lives or why there are certain patterns repeating in our lives. Journeying to engage with our helping spirits is our opportunity to learn more about what our life is trying to teach us.

Interpreting the Journey:

After the journey is complete, we need to spend some time with our experience to practice accurately interpreting the symbolic language and messages we received during the journey. We may even need to go back into our journeys to find the deeper meaning of a message or to ask clarifying questions. If we don’t take the time to interpret our journeys, we may miss some of the unique and important lessons that they have to offer us.

Taking Action:

Journeying just to receive information is not enough. We must act for change to happen. We want to take action in the world in a way that is informed by Spirit. Our messages from Spirit are information. They are not absolutes or commands. It is up to us to determine from a heart-centered place how to take the fruits of the messages we have received from our journey, and manifest them through our action in the world.

Journey to the Upper World:

Choose a time of day when your mind is clear and you feel as though you can thoroughly concentrate. Find yourself in a comfortable, quiet place where you will not be distracted or interrupted. You can journey either sitting or lying down. You want to make sure you are comfortable but able to stay alert. 

Make sure you have a clear intention and purpose for your journey. If you have determined a question you would like to bring to the spirit world, repeat the question out loud at least three times. You may want to start by dancing, chanting or singing to get energy moving in your body. This allows your heart to open to feel the spirit realm and connect to the union of all that is. Take some deep breaths and repeat your intention again as many times as necessary in order to feel clear about the purpose of your journey. If you ever feel lost during the experience, come back to your intention and feel yourself breathing through your heart center. 

Begin to rattle or drum in order to release the constructs of the mind and find a deeper connection to spirit. While playing your instrument to help alter your state of consciousness, visualize your starting place…perhaps a place in nature through which you will leave to enter into the Upper World. From your starting place, notice the environment around you and look for what will be your portal to the Upper World.

shamanism blog post

You may see yourself climbing up a tree, a rope, a rainbow or a beam of light. You may want to ask a bird to guide or carry you up. Any way you want to get to the Upper World is fine. After traveling through the portal, envision yourself passing through a transition point. This could be a gate or a cloud, a layer of fog or some kind of permeable passageway that indicates that you have entered into the Upper World. Look around and notice the change of landscape here in the Upper World. 

Once you have connected with the vibration of the space around you, ask to meet your spirit guide. Ask your guide to come forth to stand in front of you. Once you feel your guide is with you, stop drumming or rattling so you can fully engage with the presence of this divine being. At this point, you may want to ask the name of your guide and then present your question. Know that your guide may communicate with you through words, images, symbols or metaphors. Release any expectation and simply open your heart to absorb the guidance that is being transmitted to you.

After receiving the wisdom of your spirit guide, give thanks and say goodbye. This signals to your psyche that you have come to the end of your journey. If you feel as though you have not received all the information that you need, know that you may always return at any time for further questions or clarification.

Begin drumming or rattling again, and start your return journey by following the same route that brought you into the non-ordinary reality. Retrace your steps back to the starting place of your journey. Give gratitude to your portal and any other guidance that has helped you along the way. See yourself back into the room where you are physically sitting or lying down. Gently place your instrument down and slowly open your eyes. Your journey is complete.


Take the time to quietly reflect upon your journey. Journal about your experience, and intuitively feel what you can interpret about the experience and the information you received. See what information you can immediately apply to your life. Ask yourself how you might be able to take action with the guidance you have received from your spirit guide. You may not remember everything or understand the teachings, but be patient with the process and have compassion for yourself as you continue with the practice.

Shamanic journeying is a lifelong discipline. It will take time to develop relationships with your helping spirits, but know that they are always available for you. Continue to return to them for assistance in the co-creation of your life and the manifestation of your dreams.

We have recorded a Shamanic Journey to the Upper World for you to enjoy. You may use this as an alternative to drumming or rattling on your own. However, we recommend that you try both. Enjoy! 

In Peace and Awakening,

CJ ananda bio blog post

Ananda facilitates 200 hour and 300 hour Yoga Teacher Trainings, Shamanic Cleanses and Transformational Retreats giving each person the heartfelt attention and direct facilitation that cultivates ecstatic, healing and magical experiences. As a teacher, she sees each of her classes as an opportunity to hold sacred ceremonial space.

Integrating her teachings and passions, Ananda has developed a system of intentional-based healing that draws on the philosophy that we are all a part of a collective life force that is driving us towards greater consciousness. By exploring our gifts and expanding our relationship with higher Self, we come into alignment with our inner purpose of Awakening. Through our collaborative efforts and unified intentions, we magnify the richness of this life's experience.