What it’s really like to see Gwyneth Paltrow’s shaman
Why the latest A-list must-have is a session with Shaman Durek
BY ISABEL DEXTER / JANUARY 29, 2020
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Google ‘celebrity shaman’ and Shaman Durek’s name is the one that comes up. Not surprising, considering the LA-based healer has the A-list lining up for his spiritual detox and clients include Gwyneth Paltrow, Selma Blair and Nina Dobrev. Oh, and his girlfriend is Princess Märtha Louise of Norway. But Durek is not a fan of the term.
“I’m the people’s shaman. I’m here for everyone,” he says, and then adds mysteriously: “You are never really seeing a shaman, you’re seeing yourself. A shaman reflects to you the places inside yourself that are blind spots. It’s about diving deeper into the unknown of the subconscious.”
In layman’s terms, a shaman acts as a mediator between the spiritual and physical planes, calling upon spirits and ancestors to heal the physical body as well as the mind and emotions. This gives you what Shaman Durek calls “behind-the-scenes insight on how to navigate your life in a way that supports your highest growth”.
An ancient tribal practice in many parts of the world, traditionally a shaman would also help mediate between the tribe and cultivate a sense of justice and community. “I teach people how to live harmoniously with each other, on a planet that we all share,” Durek explains.
But what exactly does he do? And why is a session with him held in such high regard? When we meet, Durek, dressed in jeans and with a warm, magnetic presence that could rival a red-carpet regular, begins by assessing my energetic field and physical, spiritual and mental health. He explains that the benefits of seeing a shaman differ for each person, but include not only physical healing and wellbeing, but also help with balancing emotions, cutting old habits and generational behaviours, and increasing self-worth and motivation, which leads to more success and happiness.
“I am known by many as the ‘no nonsense’ shaman,” Durek says. “I’m into practical and easy solutions that are not convoluted. My sessions range from something as tame as just speaking and going through emotional transfusions, to life-changing moments where clients literally puke up poisons, shake, and feel electric shocks in the body, detoxing on very deep levels.”
It was certainly an intense hour. Lying on a massage table set up in a plain room in South Kensington, the shaman explains that he “offers people their true selves”. It’s this search for authenticity that has
award-winning actresses and rock stars alike mesmerised. And me. Honestly, I was surprised at the intense physicality of my reactions during our shamanic session. While I’m admittedly a fully-fledged member of the yoga and green juice brigade, and a firm advocate of cranial-sacral therapy, reiki and acupuncture, I was still a little skeptical about the genuine benefits of seeing a shaman, physical or otherwise.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been living with a constant sense of anxiety, which was manifesting in some pretty horrific dreams after my baby was born earlier this year. Physically, I had issues with my gut and a post-pregnancy liver problem, which our GP reassured me was hormone-related but which three months after the birth of my baby had only slightly abated, according to blood tests. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t mention any of this to Shaman Durek. As it turns out, I didn’t need to.
“You have some blockages in your liver and also in your gut,” he said almost immediately, while calling on my spiritual ancestors. “There’s a lineage of depression and melancholy on your mother’s side; a feeling of not wanting to build anything because it will be destroyed. Something about not belonging,” he said scarily accurately. My mother’s father was an immigrant from Estonia, who after being held as a prisoner of war in the UK during the Second World War – at the tender age of 17 – subsequently never went back to his country or his family. I also have several family members with mental health problems and have suffered from depression myself.
Durek also talked about the issues with my gut and suggested a two-week detox after the session with no meat or dairy. I followed his advice and not only felt more energised and lighter after a fortnight, but my next blood test showed an improvement to my liver too. Coincidence? All I can say is that my GP was pleasantly surprised.
There was no spirit animal chat and just a little chanting, but mostly Durek would simply communicate to my body, the universe and his ancestors (he’s a sixth-generation shaman) to inquire what my body and spirit needed, and then request for it to be “downloaded” into my energetic field. This is the part where I started to feel intensely British.
“Download serotonin into her body times 1000, times 2000,” the shaman said. “Acupuncture team place needles in her foot to re-balance her energy.”
But then something strange happened. I started coughing uncontrollably, deep from within my chest. It was as though there was something so old in my chest and throat that only this violent hacking could bring it up.
“That’s it, my love, let it all out,” Durek reassured me.
Putting my Britishness aside for a moment, I managed to croak out a request for “something to spit in” and literally hacked into a waste paper basket, while the shaman held back my hair for me. I realised I was also crying. A clean, pure, releasing crying. Like a child.
I cried and coughed and spat, sinking back onto the bed full of exhaustion. Then, more serotonin was downloaded. I talked about my family; deep, heart-breaking things that made my arms shudder when I said them. I sighed. I yawned. Then I started laughing. Deep belly laughs. I flopped my arms above my head, the way my baby does when he’s most relaxed. A sense of wellbeing and lightness came over me. It was like that feeling after a particularly intense yoga class – but times 1000. Times 2000, maybe.
Afterwards, my face looked brighter and if I’d had an A-list facial. There was mascara all down my cheeks, but I looked shiny and new. That was exactly how I felt.
I asked Durek about the downloading, and this mixture of ancient and modern, which characterise his sessions.
“Downloading is accepting a frequency consciously into your being that holds certain levels of information that the body responds to, due to its awareness,” he explained. “We pick up on frequencies every day, some more often than others. Most people aren’t even aware of half the ones they pick up on. In spirit shamanism, we find frequencies that your body needs in order to heal, reduce inflammation and alleviate pain – mentally, emotionally and physically.” In his book, Spirit Hacking, Durek teaches us to do this ourselves using body awareness techniques and meditation. “Your body is intelligent and it knows how to course-correct yourself back, it just needs support.”
Months later, the benefits keep occurring. An ambitious work project, which I have been thinking about for a while now, is starting to take shape. The relationships and friendships that aren’t working in my life are taking up less of my head space – and less space in my actual life. I feel surrounded by supportive, loving people that care about me. I’m just happier.
It’s often too easy to simply dismiss non-clinical solutions or to be skeptical of energetic remedies. Of course, there are charlatans out there, but seek out recommendations and trust your instincts. As with any wellness treatment, you want a practitioner who empowers you and motivates you to make positive, healthy changes in real-world time.
“My definition of shamanism is putting the power back into people’s hands, teaching them to honour themselves, honour others, preserve the earth and culture, preserve life, and teach them how not to be codependent beings but leaders,” explains Durek.
“The greatest commodity and the greatest power in life is choice. When you’re aware of all the choices you have, you’re a powerful person.”