What Brings You Alive?
What kind of life do you want to be living, really? At Great Plains we teach you how to become a shaman-shapeshifter of your life. Through our individual fire talks, seminars and outdoor retreats you will learn to walk the Path of the Heart, a powerful and ancient method of self-transformation rooted in the earth-honoring spiritual practices of our indigenous ancestors.
Founder Jeff Nixa brings 25 years of spiritual care and outdoor adventure skills to this work, begun after a 2009 wilderness vision quest. He will teach you how to use the long-lost “power tools” of shamans worldwide:
- How to seek a vision for your life.
- How to meet an animal spirit guide.
- How to extract your self-limiting voices of fear and hesitation.
- How to retrieve lost parts of your vital energy, creativity and power.
- How to become an artist of the soul by awakening your inner shaman.
- How to connect with the animals, plants and elements and learn from the spirits of all created things, not just from humans and human institutions.
- Access to programs offering traditional plant medicine for deep emotional wounding, chemical dependency, addictions and serious mental health issues.
You will not find these tools anywhere in modern society because they are rooted in cultures that honored the earth as a mother and the spirit in all things as a father. These forgotten practices used by the shamans of your ancestors to guide, heal and protect their people for thousands of years are now re-membered and available in a coherent and timely program for the needs of our people and planet.
The shamanic approach is powerful, deep and unforgettable. It is not a religious program requiring faith in a spiritual hero, a sacred book or church institution. It is a practical methodology for finding your Center and walking a more intentional life of joy and service in balance with the living earth.
“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 reason to continue my path instead of getting bogged 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
- Fire talk counseling sessions
- Workshops on shamanic healing
- Retreats for individuals and groups
- Outdoor and Wilderness programs
- Seminars for colleges, business, religious and health care organizations.
“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 a more meaningful life in balance with the earth and the spirit world. People want a path that connects our lives with the larger web of creation around us, not just the desires 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 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.
People 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–“nature deficit disorder”– which we are experiencing now.
The traditional “medicine” for soul loss was not to stay busy, go to psychotherapy or take an antidepressent. It was to get your soul back. That means finding the parts of your heart that were lost, returning them and bringing your heart fully online as the unique artist of life your were born to be. To live that life, not the life others expect us to live, and walk a more authentic path aligned with the invitations of the Great Spirit.
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 their deep core 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 individual beliefs and knows that a true healer is a border walker who travels between meaning-worlds, capable of speaking different cultural languages. Including the language of people with no religious belief or spiritual awareness at all. “Shamanism is for skeptics”, says Harner, a system of direct experience. We listen for the invitations of the divine in our hearts, and then see if those leadings actually bear the fruit of healing, peace, compassion, forgiveness and joy. It’s not complicated. The sacred “text” of shamanism is not a book written in ink or on tablets of stone but “with the Spirit of the living God…written on our hearts” (2 Cor. 3-4).
If anything, our participants find themselves expanding their faith– developing a new and deeper respect for the sacredness of all creatures and the living planet, not just that of humans and human institutions.
“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, graduate student
“I trust Jeff’s experience and training; I trust that he has done ‘the work’ for his own inner journey to live generously with and for the rest of us. He uses non-traditional methods that enable my heart to speak and be more full alive.”
-Cynthia, Catholic health care chaplain
I teach what I know: how to shapeshift your life by walking the heart path. I have completely re-created my own life four different times in twenty-five years and now enjoy much greater peace, purpose, joy and a living connection with nature. Still, my journey would have been much easier if I had the tools I now have from shamanism. Since 2009 I have apprenticed with several of the most respected shamanic healers in the West including C. Michael Smith, Sandra Ingerman and teachers from the Harner Foundation for Shamanic Studies.
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 must 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.
Thank you for visiting. See you soon.
-Jeff Nixa, JD, MDiv, CMT
Founder, Great Plains Guide Co.