Why go to therapy when you could have a picnic with friends?
GWYNETH PALTROW’S GO-TO HEALER IS BRINGING OUT A NEW BOOK TO HELP READERS TAP INTO THEIR SPIRITUAL SIDE. JUST DON’T CALL HIM A GURU, SAYS LIZ CONNOR
GRANDMA, download more medicine into her body,” says Shaman Durek, as he asks the spirit world to rid my body of all the bad juju it’s been harbouring from years of London living. When you hear a command like this being bellowed into the ether, you know what’s coming next isn’t going to be your average encounter.
I’m lying on a massage bed at a trendy wellbeing spa in the heart of London’s swanky Knightsbridge, as Shaman Durek works with the spirit world to clear my energy.
It you’re thinking this has Goop written all over it, you’d be right – Durek is a sixth-generation shaman who counts Hollywood megastars, like Gwyneth Paltrow and Selma Blair, as clients.
Since discovering his gift at the age of six, Durek has travelled the world using his tools and knowledge to help create a bridge between the physical and spiritual world for burned-out celebs, royals and CEOs. Now, he’s brought out a new book on the subject – Spirit Hacking: Shamanic Keys To Reclaim Your Personal Power, Transform Yourself, And Light Up the World.
In the age of Instagram, the word ‘shaman’ gets thrown about quite a lot. But at its essence, a shaman is thought to be able to communicate with spirit guides and ancestors to bring back valuable information to heal the body.
Historically, it’s often associated with indigenous and tribal societies, who believe that shamans have a connection to the ‘otherworld’, alongside the power to heal the sick, communicate with spirits and send your soul to the afterlife using different kinds of natural energy.
Durek is a kind of shaman for the modern go-getter, if you will. “I’ve created my own shamanic lexicon,” he tells me.
He uses all kinds of commands to get my vibrational frequencies fired up, that sound half like I’m undergoing an exorcism and half like I’m on the operating table.
“Spirits, direct fire into the belly”, “Spirits, bring more saliva into the throat to rid the black tar”, “Spirits, lets shock her body at 500”, to quote a few.
I always knew that London living could be a little soul-destroying – all that anger at transport delays, crowds and rent hikes can’t be good for me – but on the fifth round of “expelling the black tar through my mouth”, I start to worry that I’ve irreparably destroyed not just my physical health, but my metaphysical one too.
Reassuringly, Durek grabs my arm, tells me I’m doing great and says the spirits have done their business in clearing out my body.
His method, ‘spiritual hacking’, is all about fostering happiness, or as he calls it – feeling ‘lit’.
“I’m the ambassador of all things LIT!” he says with a laugh.
“Lit to me is feeling excited about life. Don’t you want to feel that? Why do you wanna go [to] therapy for 40 years, instead of going for a picnic on the beach with friends and have great conversation? Do something that inspires you to be even greater than you are. This is what spirit hacking is about.”
Durek is a truly fascinating person. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it probably veered towards the ‘long white robes and incense stick-burning’ stereotype of a mystical elder. Instead, he wears checked Vans slip-ons, with blue jeans and a T-shirt.
“People think I’m going to be coming in chanting and shaking maracas,” he jokes, “but most shaman’s don’t dress like that”.
He was bullied at school for his gift and fell into drugs and alcohol abuse at a young age – but now at 44, he’s built a career on spiritual healing with an Instagram following of 134k devotees.
Incidentally, he hates the word guru. “I am not your Gucci bag, I am not your crutch, I am not your saviour, I am not your guru,” he says.
“I’m just a human being like everyone else, I have my own issues that I’m supporting and bringing love to. You cannot be dependent on me, because it makes you weak.”
His mission, he says, is to give people the tools so they can manage and control their own positive energy. “Looking at the spiritual community and all these self-help books that people are doing, [they’re] coming from this energy of ‘you don’t have the power, I have the power – buy my next book’.
“Mine is more like, ‘I’m giving you a book to remind you of your powers. To let you know you have the power and give you tools to step back in that power’.
“I believe in people being self-independent and self-preserving. I think society has fallen out of that because everyone is looking for someone to fix it for them. They’re still looking for their mommy and daddy to look after them. I think we need to become more spiritually mature.”
Durek says that when you have that power in your hands, you can start communicating, talking and learning about your own intuition – “when you trust yourself, you make great decisions in life”.
His final ‘diagnosis’ of me is that I get overwhelmed when I have too many pots on the boil (true), I get stressed easily (also true), and I often put barriers up in my relationships when I’m trying to spin a bunch of plates (nail on the head).
Some of the methodology gets a little too Goop for me, like programming the energy to burn fat in the body, or that good energy can help you to avoid cancer. “There’s certain imprints that women get inside of their vaginas when they have too many sexual partners that they need to clean out – I give exercises for that,” Durek tells me matter-of-factly.
But the essence of his method is knowing yourself better, without needing validation from other people or material objects, and I think there’s something incredibly valid in that. Even the biggest sceptic could agree.
Did Durek’s Grandma rid me of my spiritual demons? Who knows, but I do feel deeply relaxed after an hour’s session on the table.
As Shaman Durek puts on his shades and exits into his Uber, we share a long hug. I think about everything he’s said to me – the fact I take on too much, get overwhelmed and push away those closest to me out of frustration.
Whether you’re a spiritual believer or not, I’m left with a lot to think about on the way back to the office, and in a way, having someone voice the issues you’ve been holding on to for so long is the most healing thing of all.
■ Spirit Hacking: Shamanic Keys To Reclaim Your Personal Power, Transform Yourself, And Light Up The World is published by Hodder & Stoughton on October 17, £14.99.