Who Are You?  What Brings You Alive?

What kind of life do you want to be living, really?  Our programs help you discover a more purposeful, heart-centered path using the wisdom of indigenous people worldwide.  At Great Plains you will learn to become a shaman-shapeshifter of your own life using the real “power tools” of your ancestors:

  • How to seek a vision for your life.2runningbuffalo
  • How to find an animal spirit guide.
  • How to extract the self-limiting voices of fear, hesitation and stagnation.
  • How to retrieve lost parts of your vital energy, creativity and soul.
  • How to become an artist of the soul by awakening your inner shaman.
  • How to connect with and learn from the spirits of all created things, not just humans and human institutions.
  • Access to programs abroad offering traditional plant medicine for deep healing, chemical dependency, addictions and serious mental health issues.

These are tools you will not find anywhere else because they are rooted in premodern cultures that honored the earth and the wisdom of the soul in all things.  With the practices you learn in our individual sessions, group programs and outdoor retreats you will come more fully alive: getting clear on your core self, breaking old patterns, living a more purposeful life, selecting supportive relationships and honoring your creative powers.  These are the same tools used by the shamans of your ancestors for thousands of years, now integrated in the modern setting for our daily lives.

The shamanic approach is powerful, deep and unforgettable.  It is not a religious program requiring faith in some spiritual leader, sacred book, ideology or institution.  It is a practical, spiritual methodology for walking a more intentional life of service to others and balance with the earth.  Founder Jeff Nixa brings 25 years of spiritual care and outdoor adventure skills to this work, begun after a 2009 wilderness vision quest.

I loved our fire talk yesterday.  You are a wonderful guide on the path of the heart.  I feel more focused on my goals, like I am wearing armor to guard from negative experiences.  Today I found myself using a negative situation as a good reason to continue my path instead of letting it bog me down.  I am definitely recommending you to my friends.”                                                                                –Nick, U.S. Army, Humvee scout/tracker

The shamanic journey that Jeff led our group in did more for me in ten minutes than a year of therapy.             --Tom. software developer                                                               




The evening you spoke with my class was the best thing that happened all semester. It was one of those experiences you keep in a special place in you, and take it out when you need to be pulled back into a place of sanity.  One of my students said that when they were driving back to campus they all felt different–more expansive, somehow.

                                            -Patricia Sayre Ph.D, Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana

Why Shamanism Today?

The wisdom of ancient shamanism is reappearing because people are hungry for more a more meaningful life in balance with the earth and the spirit world.  People want a life path that connects our individual path with the larger family of nature around us, not just the aspirations of humans and human institutions.  Shamanic practitioners are healers first and foremost, who remember what our society forgot centuries ago: that every created thing is alive and has a soul.  And that to be happy, healthy and safe humans need to live as co-creatures in the greater web of life, not as the dominant species exploiting it.

Jeff Manitou group 2010 copy2People who attend our programs are often facing a big decision, relationship or career change.  Others feel stagnant in their jobs or unsatisfied in their relationships or church.  Some are recovering from a loss, divorce, illness or past trauma.  A few aren’t sure what they are looking for, only that they  sense they are not living the life they are supposed to be living.

The shamans of our ancestors called this puzzling loss of vitality and direction soul loss.  Soul loss can result from many things– a broken relationship, a past trauma, feeling trapped in a job or living a dutiful but uncreative life.  Soul loss also results from losing our connection with nature–which human society is experiencing the consequences of now.

The traditional “medicine” for soul loss was not to stay busy, go to therapy or take an antidepressent- it was to get your soul back.  That means actually finding those lost parts of your heart and coming alive as the unique artist of life we are each born to be.  To live that life, not the life others expect us to live, and to walk a more authentic path aligned with our heart and the invitations of the Great Spirit for us.

Some people know exactly what has been lost and the adventure begins there.  Others have no idea what is missing so we begin with exercises to teach people how to identify and listen to the deep heart for the first time.  Every person is different; every path is unique.

“One of the changes I have experienced through Jeff is letting my heart lead in new directions.  I have even been writing some poetry.  I never imagined myself doing that a year ago!  I can sense your prayers and feel your sincere compassion and direction.   Thank you!”       -Keith A., CPA

Respectful of All Faith Traditions

The shamanic practices at Great Plains can support and strengthen the personal faith of anyone.  “Shamanism is not a religion but a methodology,” says anthropologist Michael Harner.  One can learn the tools of shamanism just as one can practice yoga without being Hindu, or study meditation without being a Buddhist.

Jeff Nixa served as a Christian chaplain for twenty years in hospitals, nursing homes and a state university.  He understands the need to respect for individual beliefs and knows that a true healer is a border walker, one who walks between worlds of meaning and is capable of speaking different religious and cultural languages.  Including the language of people with no religious belief or spiritual tradition at all.  “Shamanism is for skeptics”, says Harner, you don’t “put your faith” in a book or a person.  It’s about direct experience of the sacred: there is no clergy or guru telling you what to believe.  Rather, you find out first hand what works for you, and use that to support your path.

If anything, our participants find themselves expanding their faith– developing a new, deeper respect for the sacredness of all created life, not just that of humans and human interests.

I treasure my Christian faith, and I deeply appreciate how Jeff can guide me to a deeper understanding of myself using the tools of shamanism in a way that feels very respectful to my faith.  The human heart is not easy terrain to explore, and Jeff’s help has been so valuable.                          –Jennifer W., after her first Fire Talk session


What You Will LearnIMG_0100

I teach what I know: how to shapeshift your life by walking the heart path.  I completely re-created my own life four times in a twenty-five year search for meaning and now enjoy greater peace, purpose, joy and an abiding connection with the natural world.  But it all would have gone a lot easier had I known about the shamanic Path of the Heart.

We are each called to be our most fully alive self in the world.  To do this one must make a journey downward, into the soul.  Society does not teach you how to do this.  You go deep and meet both your core self and your biggest limiters- your inner “dragons.”  We engage with those, transform them and return with a gift for the world.  You learn to become a shaman of your life: a shapeshifter able to navigate with love and vision in an anxious world.

It’s an archetypal hero’s journey.  In making real changes you will encounter resistance from others, but mostly from within yourself.  The negative voices of self-doubt, hesitation and social custom are powerful dragons that you will need tools to conquer.  I teach those tools and will support you as an ally and guide in the adventure.

You can begin the journey to a more happy, authentic and rewarding life today.  Learn more about my programs and background, read my client testimonials or just enjoy the photos by clicking around this website.

I hope you enjoy this web site, and thank you for visiting.  See you soon.

-Jeff Nixa, JD, MDiv, CMT

Founder, Great Plains Guide Co.

Great Plains Guide  Company

e-mail: GreatPlainsGuide@gmail.com

blog: Urban-Shamanism.org

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