The melody of The Temptations' "I Wish It Would Rain" involuntarily pops into my head during monsoon season. The sad song—about a jilted man who wishes for rain to disguise his tears—sometimes plays on an endless, irritating loop. I can sometimes quiet the melody, but the truth is I really do want it to rain.
Many say we can't control the weather, but what if we give it a nudge? Media producer and author Quynn Elizabeth gathered a small group recently to help enhance the process of rainfall. Through movement, music and visuals, the attendees joined in thought to "practice the feeling of what it feels like to be saturated by rain and how grateful the feeling is." Interestingly enough, it began raining as the group dispersed.
Elizabeth takes a lighthearted approach to the happening: "I wasn't stating (the gathering) would do anything, and I'm not saying we had anything to do with (the rain). ... It was an interesting synchronicity. ... The goal was for us to feel better ... to connect to something nourishing to us."
Connection to nature is a theme Elizabeth shares as the organizer of the Tucson Circle for the Shamanic Arts. While the word "shamanic" may ruffle some feathers, Elizabeth says it's nothing to be afraid of. She doesn't refer to herself as a shaman, doesn't use medicinals or rituals, and says she isn't a spokesperson.
"I am following my own personal path. And if anyone else finds it interesting, then they too can explore their own inner world."
Elizabeth practices the act of shamanizing, which she says involves parting "the veil between our everyday thinking mind and what I call our dreaming mind. We can receive information in a very different way (in our dreams). We can fly; a flower can talk to us. ... It is something we can all agree (exists)."
Guidance received in dreams can even alter our path. Dr. William Dement of Stanford University, regarded as the leading authority on sleep, once had a dream that he was going to die from lung cancer. A heavy smoker at the time, Dement's dream moved him to immediately stop smoking.
"The part of the mind that opens up when we dream at night can be activated on purpose even while we are awake," says Elizabeth. There are different tools to use to activate this part of ourselves, and Elizabeth says she focuses on those that run through all cultural approaches: connection to nature, dreams, intuition, synchronicity and rhythm.
During her shamanic journeying circles, Elizabeth drums to create a rhythmic sound that helps people relax. "Listening to the drum calms them. ... Underneath the chatter of the monkey mind is the access point to the dreaming mind. ... I ask them to think of a question to focus on, ask for a helper and see what shows up. It may be a thought, memory, vision ... some type of answer or guidance will come in a very detailed way."
The whole goal of connection with nature, using our intuition or noticing synchronicity is to get to know ourselves better, says Elizabeth. "You can't study shamanic arts in a book; you can't watch it. You have to try it and see what happens." Then, she explains, you will know how your inner world speaks to you.
Elizabeth says a variety of people attend the Tucson Circle for the Shamanic Arts. "There are teachers, energy workers, home builders, engineers. ... They know there is something else in addition to ... the mundane reality."
One issue found in our cultural reality, says Elizabeth, is our "fundamental disbelief that anything but us as humans has an equal kind of energy as us. ... We (think we) are higher on the chain that other things—the Earth, the ground, air, the forest, the desert—so we ... don't have to be concerned with how we interact in the world."
Elizabeth raises a point worth considering regarding our interaction with the monsoons. "The monsoons have diminished. Maybe it's partially because there aren't enough people praying from their heart. I don't mean religiously, but embodying rain, really wanting rain. What would happen if more people beckoned rain?"
Maybe then we wouldn't need to hope—or sing—"I wish it would rain."