The Universes We Inhabit

by Jan Engels-Smith

My life has been filled with changing situations, opportunity, and shifts in consciousness. Where we allow our self to be open and receptive to possibilities, we live in a state of constant learning and expansion of awareness. My training and degree in the hard sciences provided me with traditional knowledge of our world and universe. My degree and training in psychology helped me to explore the intricacies and mysteries of our mind and our behaviors. My experiences with  a Lakota family, where I was adopted by a Lakota elder, added to my understanding of our relationship to the Earth and spirituality. My work with shamanic healing and energy medicine, including the creation of a school for passing this knowledge to others, has freed my mind to engage with the spiritual world and alternative universes. I am amazed at how life unfolds in all of its magic, mystery, and the unexpected.

We live in many realities even in our everyday existence. We might have a work life where our behaviors, attitudes, and interactions differ in significant ways from our family life or our social life or our spiritual life. Obviously, these “realities” intersect but there is also distinctiveness and originality in each of our lived worlds. Imagine then the extension of this analogy into the broader presence of our being in multiple universes where we act, react, and interact in alternate realities—true to our essence and in a sustained reality that is faithful to our true self but unconstrained by limitations of space, time, and possibility. This is the realm of a quantum existence—nonrational, true, and infinitely expansive.

The boundlessness of such universes is the source of unimpeded opportunity, ceaseless joy, and confirmation of the greatness of our existence. The recognition of such truths diminishes and ultimately eliminates the negative impacts of our false sense of tragedy, pain, and emptiness.

Evidences of alternate realities come in many forms and from many sources. People often remember vividly and precisely different events from their past that conflict with the accepted truth or historical record. This phenomenon is so prevalent that it has been given a name—the Mandela Effect. The term comes from the fact that many people recall that they had read about the death of Nelson Mandela when he was incarcerated in South Africa in the 1980s. This well-known leader of the movement against apartheid died in 2013 after leaving prison and becoming the leader of his nation. The vividness of the memory of his earlier death has raised questions about what happened. Many other instances of memories held with great certainty by people across many cultures and in many eras has given rise to the idea that these events, although seemingly contradictory, did occur in alternate universes or dimensions and alternate realities.

I suspect that we all have had the experience of looking for an object where we were certain we had left it (imagine your car keys) only to find that it was not there. After a fruitless search, we return to where we began and the object is where we had originally imagined it to be. We might ascribe this strangeness to our faulty memory and our carelessness but we also were certain that the object was not there until it was there. However, what if had been both there and not there simultaneously and we had been in both places. Before rejecting the irrationality of this idea, consider the following experience I had many years ago.

When I began my career, I worked with many patients who were diagnosed as having dissociative identity disorder, which is characterized as the presence of more than one sense of identity within a single human body. These alternate identities are commonly known as alters or dissociated parts. At the time this was popularly known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). I had the opportunity to work with a doctor from Africa who integrated some indigenous ritual practices into specialized treatment in a hospital setting. These unconventional approaches proved to be of interest to a number of practitioners in the hospital setting and a decision was made to create demonstration sessions with patient volunteers and to have panel discussions related to the observations. One of the members of the panel was Truddi Chase, an American author best known for her book When Rabbit Howls (1987) and her interview on the Oprah Winfrey show. Her life was depicted in a television movie. Truddi brought insight and attention to the event. Doctors and the media exhibited a high level of interest.

I specifically remember three of the patients in the study—one who expressed cerebral palsy as an illness of one of his alters, one who was completely blind in one of his alters with a thick blue film over his eyes, and a heart surgeon who had multiple alters with different personalities. Thorough physical exams had been performed on the first two patients by doctors outside the study. The determination of cerebral palsy in the first patient was based on the deformation of his limbs based on bone measurements and atrophy of muscles. Eye exams were performed on the second patient to determine total blindness. Each of the patients was asked to move into a different alter. The patient with cerebral palsy transformed into a robust and athletic appearing individual with evident strength and energy increases. The blind patient became sighted and the blue film disappeared from his eyes. The heart surgeon did not change physically but his new alter differed in attitude, vocabulary, and posturing. He seemed to take on the persona of a person who lived on the streets.

This experience affected me in profound ways, but it would be many years later that I would come to realize its true significance. I became a shamanic practitioner and along with my experience with my adopted Lakota Sioux family expanded my understanding of the healing achieved with shamanism, the existence of paranormal mysteries, and the significance of the unexplainable. These realms of enlightenment opened many doors for me to expand beyond the artificial limits of our so-called rational condition. Miracles became common events of possibility rather than fanciful imaginings.

The concept of simultaneity references the relation between two events assumed to be happening at the same time in a particular frame of reference and is common to quantum physics. Imagine extending this concept into explaining the “unexplainable.” Dissociated personalities, seemingly contradictory histories of events, déjà vu, simultaneous expression of same thoughts by two individuals at the same time, a predilection for knowing what will happen before it occurs, and other strange unexplained phenomena—all disrupt the rhythms of our rational world and compel us to think beyond our simplistic “proven” conventions.

My curiosity about quantum physics and how it relates to shamanism led me to the realization that many of the unexplainable events that I have experienced could be explained by the existence of parallel dimensions. In reflecting back over my career as a shamanic practitioner, I realized how different my approach to healing was from my colleagues. I was never able to fully understand and name that difference until recently. Now I believe that what I have been practicing all these years is quantum shamanism.

My awakening to this recognition began over two decades ago when I asked the spirits to show me what I looked like to them. They revealed me as having no body or physical form. I was light, sound, and patterns consisting of small particles bouncing around with no physical restraints or boundaries. Because of this realization of “who I was”, I could become “unidentified” with my body when I was doing healings. I could also see my clients in their unbound states. I could actually see them as a radiant being unafflicted by whatever concern we were working on together.  My client and I were two intersecting fields of energy that were disengaged from the confines of the projected affliction. There was freedom, love, nonjudgement, gratitude, and awe. This was a world of high frequency, and magic. A parallel reality where radiance and health existed as the norm.

We exist in multiple forms simultaneously in different but parallel universes. The idea that the blind can become sighted, that tumors can suddenly disappear, that miracles occur may be nothing more than an individual moving from one dimension where one is experiencing an infirmity to another dimension where that same person is simultaneously free of the affliction.

Ancient shamanism often involved trances where shamans assumed different personalities and spoke in mysterious ways as though they were in two places at once. Shamanic practitioners today pass from one dimension to another as they engage with clients. We have long recognized the existence of spirit beings from other realms that guide and assist us in our efforts. The modern practice of shamanism does not necessarily conflict with our current life but only with our limited capacity to see and understand ourselves as sentient beings in alternative universes who can gain the capacity to better comprehend our limitless possibilities.