Gwyneth Paltrow’s Spiritual Advisor Shaman Durek on Letting Go of Perfectionism
By NICOLE PAJER
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When we think of shamanism, many of us think of those crazy scenes in movies where people head out into the desert with a spiritual guide and hallucinate on peyote. What they don’t think of is a modern-day mentor helping you to realize the potential within yourself and harness that as a tool towards living your best life. That’s the mission of Shaman Durek, a sixth generation shaman who has been practicing his craft since he was 11. The spiritual guru works with an array of clients, from Hollywood celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow to royals—he is currently dating Princess Märtha Louise of Norway, who often raves about his insight via her personal Instagram account—to CEOs of major corporations, and more.
Parade.com caught up with Durek, who explained how a few minutes of positive “soul talk” can work wonders, why we need to stop caring about what others think of us, and what readers can pick up from his new book, Spirit HackingSpirit Hacking. And great news! He also says that if you hate yoga or struggle with meditation, you have his absolute permission to abandon these practices, noting that wellness “should not be forced.”
For those unfamiliar with shamanism, give us a taste of what exactly you do.
Basically, I put the power back into people’s hands. I create a space for them to see themselves and give them tools to see deeper aspects of who they are outside of what they were told they had to be, or what they were forced into based on the idea of what this world has set up for them. And the easier way of saying it is: As a shaman, it is my role to help them discover all of the amazing gifts and abilities that they have and nurture those qualities inside of them from a place of unconditional love so that they can live their best lives.
In my readings, I’ll see if people have belief systems that they’re holding onto that are actually causing difficulty in their life, such as aggressive markers that are causing high levels of inflammation in their body or imbalances in their system. I’ll look at their social life and see if their social life is authentic to who they truly are. Are they people-pleasing and burning out their energy to make everyone like them and not really living their highest truth? Is it difficult for them to make a change? Does it cause them stress and anxiety? And if it does, then we have to release those things.
So instead of them coming in the door like a truck, they come in like an Aston Martin or a Lamborghini. Because the idea is to help them see their potential. People come to me because they want to optimize their life, on all levels. It could be health, it could be emotions, it could be mind or it could be spirit.
I have a shaman school if people want to learn how to build their abilities. I have a website where people can read blogs. I also have a podcast that has a huge following worldwide, which has changed the lives of so many people. I was just reading some of the letters this morning from people who said that they were depressed and the depression is gone or that they had money problems and their money problems are now gone because they listened to the podcast. It gives you really precise instruction on how to be able to navigate your life in the easiest and most playful way, which I think is important nowadays because people take things way too seriously and they’re so caught up in trying to make everything perfect.
How do you let perfectionism go?
You have to ask yourself, “What’s driving my critical thinking?” Is what you’re doing being driven by love or is it being driven by the idea that someone or something is not going to understand you, get it, appreciate it, or value it? And then you have to turn it inward. How many times have you actually celebrated yourself? How many times have you actually thrown a party because of how great you are and how beautiful you are and what an amazing insight you have? Ask yourself: “Is my driving point for perfection because I want to people-please or is it because I really want to have joy and playfulness and creative expression in what I’m doing?”
It’s also important to remember why you decided to do something in the first place. For instance, you don’t go into journalism because you’re going to be stressed out and have anxiety and create all kinds of stomach issues. You go into journalism because you choose to tell stories, to uncover things, to be able to write things and bring information to the world, which is an exciting thing when you think about it. So if you’re going into it with an attitude of stress, it means you have forgotten the original idea. You have now gone into a space of becoming a workaholic, wanting to meet expectations that you put on yourself and others have put on you and it’s not fun anymore. And so this is what I call “remember when.” It’s like; “remember when I first got involved in wanting to do this? What was my initial feeling?” Take a moment to identify that and download that back into your body.
I deal with a lot of celebrities. They’ll come to me and they’ll say, “I’m so depressed. I can’t handle what’s going on right now in my life.” I’m like, “OK, well let’s go in and look at what is causing that depression.” And so the depression comes up. “Oh the reason why I’m getting depressed is because I feel expectations to be something that I can’t be for the people.” And I say, “So what you’re trying to do is get the people to see you as you and they’re seeing something different. And that’s OK, but the reason why you’re going through depression is because you are questioning the validity of what you see of yourself.”
So this is an opportunity to fortify that part of yourself. That’s how we look at it in shamanism. You want to fortify yourself. You want to reconnect with the truth in yourself. Because if you don’t know what’s on your shelf and you have nothing on your shelf—then someone’s gonna put something on your shelf. So we need to make sure that we identify and clarify what is on the shelf of you.
So it sounds like a lot of the driving force behind perfectionism is caring what other people think. What are some ways that we can stop that?
Let’s say for instance, you stand in a room. And let’s say 10 people are judging you. Are they really judging you? No, they’re not. They can’t—because no one knows you better than you. They’re only judging the perception of how they choose to see the world. Every human being in earth has eaten different food, listened to different music, experienced different upbringings, different cultures, different philosophies, and ideas and thoughts and theology. So if you think about it, the person can’t judge you because in order to judge you accurately, they would have to be you. So they can’t judge you.
So if you feel like you’re being judged, the first thing you have to ask yourself is 1) “Am I judging myself? Am I not clear within who I am too?” 2) “Does this person live in my world of thought and belief systems?” If not, they can’t judge you. 3) “Am I focusing my attention on what I’m here to do? Or am I focusing my attention on how I’m afraid people are going to receive what I’m here to do?” 4) “In order for me to be the best me I can be, I have to realize that every time someone has uncomfortableness with something that I’m doing, it usually means I’m on the right path.”
What’s your take on the modern-day wellness movement?
I think the whole wellness thing is fascinating, how everyone has coined wellness and spirituality and put it into these boxes and categories. It’s really funny because whole idea of wellness is to create inner balance and peace of mind. Well, how do you create peace of mind if you’re running around trying to get the hottest new yoga pants and making sure that your mat is up to date with the other people in the class? And making sure you’re drinking that green smoothie so that when your friends come over, they see that beautiful blender sitting on the table with all the vegetables in your refrigerator showing that you actually are a wellness being. The true wellness is realness.
Some people will say, “Oh no! I didn’t meditate today. I feel horrible.” Well, yes, you chose not to meditate. Fine! If you’re doing something because you have to force yourself to do it, that’s not realness. If you’re doing it because you actually enjoy doing it, because it feels good to do it, that’s realness. For example, when people brush their teeth, they brush their teeth cause they’re afraid that their teeth are gonna fall out and get rotten. So that’s what encouraged them to brush their teeth. They’ve done it so many times that they have now made it a part of their lifestyle choice. You can do that. It’s just an action that you do. Just like driving a car. You don’t get in the car every day and think, “How am I going to maneuver this car?” You just do it. Well, the same thing is if you have to force yourself to meditate, force itself to go to the gym, force yourself to do yoga, force yourself to eat green foods, force yourself to do these things; that means that you have not found that space yet with in you of realness. You’re not real with it yet.
So the key is don’t follow the trends and do what everyone else is doing because that’s the cool thing and that gets you the street cred. What to do is to see if you can be real with something, so real to the point where it just becomes a part of who you are. This is the same as taking a shower or going outside and taking a deep breath. This is where true wellness is. It’s about being real because true wellness allows you to recognize equilibrium, and equilibrium is not found by stressing out trying to figure out how you’re going to get to your yoga class and go meet your friend for a smoothie. It’s about how do you simplify your life and subtract from your life so that your life becomes less burdensome and filled with more time to enjoy the people you love, your children, your grandparents and the nature itself.
I would incorporate the idea of what feels good to you. Does yoga feel good? Because I can be honest with you. There’s a whole yoga movement happening and everybody’s doing yoga. I do yoga. I’m bored to death. I’m like, “Oh my God, how long do I have to stay in this position?” So is yoga right for me? Stick to things that make you feel excited, like when you go to your favorite restaurant and enjoy a food that makes you feel good.
You’re also big on “soul talking.” What is that exactly?
Soul talking yourself basically is you setting the understanding of who you are from a core place of your being. So try saying some things like this to yourself and feel what it feels like:
“I love how you always come up with beautiful ideas.”
“I love how you’re always at the right place at the right time, doing the right thing at the right moment.”
“I love how you always take time for yourself to center yourself and ask yourself if there’s anything you need.”
“I love how you nourish your body and take really good care of your health.”
“I love that amazing people are talking beautiful things about you right now,”
“I love how creative you are and what a genius you are.”
“I love how you have so much powerful, good energy in your body right now that you can feel.”
“And I love how every time you walk into a room with people, you light up the room and people feel good around you.”
Now notice how you feel.
I feel like so many people say the opposite things to themselves all day long.
Exactly! That’s my point. And in shamanism, either you’re creating or you’re destroying. So the object to living a fulfilled and happy life is to create a good life. And to create a good life is to speak the truth over you. Forget the negative things you say. When you do the soul talk, those negative things no longer support you. Remember negative things are said because you use negative things as a motivational tool to propel you into more success. That’s because you were brought up in a system that tells you that if you don’t do something good, then you’re bad. And so the idea of being good, being loved, being liked is a huge component in our world system. Look at Instagram, look at Facebook. Hearts. I like this. I like that. Happy face. Sad faces. All of these things are actually contributing to a great deal of how people choose to feel and experience themselves daily. And then you have to think about the idea that most human beings live their lives based upon the idea of people liking them.
How often should you soul talk?
If you start doing soul talk every morning, you will actually make a real impact. You will create what is called neuroplasticity. And that will change the direction of the way in which your electrodes are firing off. You patterns and the way you make choices will be changed. So you will actually see your whole life change around you and you will be like, “This is crazy. I had no idea that this was even in my range of influence or within my vision.” And you will see your whole entire life, the people, these types of things show up for you—the opportunities, everything will be completely different. And that’s because you created that plasticity change within your brain space technology.
I noticed that you’re saying “you’ instead of “I” in soul talk. Affirmations are usually “I” statements. Is there a reason you do it the other way?
Yes, because when you operate from the state of I, you are not acknowledging yourself as a quantum being. You’re not seeing yourself outside of yourself and inside of yourself. When you operate from “I am a great person” to “I love how amazing and great you are,” it’s as if you are speaking to yourself in a second person.
Try saying: “I am a beautiful soul.” Then do it the other way and say, “I love what a beautiful soul you are.” And you’ll see for yourself which one has more impact. I always found it fascinating when I was a kid and I would read all these spiritual self help books that people put out that would be like: “I am beautiful.” “I am talented.” I felt absolutely nothing. But then when I say, “I love how talented you are and I love how you’re always coming up with creative ideas. And how you move them easily through life and you always bring the right people to you to be able to embark on these ideas and bring them into fruition.“ All of a sudden these people show up. I’m doing exactly what I just said to myself and these things are just happening.