Jennifer’s story will inspire, touch and amaze you as she takes you on a riveting ride that includes her surreal survival from an accident she was lucky to live through and a completely unexpected transformation into a Shaman (By the way, what is a Shaman?) during a spur-of-the-moment trip to Mexico. Now Jennifer lives her purpose by helping people heal and create their own authentic lives. Listen in and feel the JOY!
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Jennifer Monahan – Shaman, Coach And Award-Winning Author Who Helps People
This is Stephanie Barnhart with my lovely co-host Irene Weinberg here for another fantastic episode of the show. Irene, how are you?
This is going to be a great episode. People are going to want to read this because we’re talking to Jennifer Monahan who walked away from a 25-plus-year professional business and consulting career to focus on her shamanic coaching and author work, helping people live courageous lives. She has identified six things that each of us must do to live courageously.
As a shaman, coach, and author, she helps people heal and release what’s been holding them back from their authentic lives. She’s written a book called This Trip Will Change Your Life: A Shaman’s Story of Spirit Evolution where she shares the messages she received from the spirit world as she was trained to become a shaman. It has won six literary awards, including two Body Mind & Spirit Book Awards and a 2017 National Indie Excellence Award. This gal’s impressive. Not only that but she’s a fantastic person.
I’m very excited because the whole shaman thing is very intriguing to me. I’m excited to meet Jennifer. Jennifer, say hello. Tell everyone a little bit about you, what you do, and how you got into this.
I am thrilled to be on the show. I am looking forward to our conversation. Everything about me, I’ll start a few years ago when I took this spur-the-moment vacation. I had been dating this guy. We’ve been dating for about a year. I finally worked up the nerve to say I love you to him and he dumped me the next day. I decided I needed to go on a vacation and recover from that hurt.
That sounds like trauma. A lot of us can relate to that one.
I decided to go down to Mexico to the Yucatan. I had never been there before. On my third day there, I hired a driver. I finished doing some touristy things. My driver was dropping me off at the hotel and said, “You should go to the Town Green tonight. They’re doing an exhibition of traditional dance.” I said, “That’s great.” I decided to walk there. My friends who know me will tell you I get lost backing out of my driveway. I promptly got lost but this very nice man who was working in a hotel was leaving for the day. He asked me where I was going. I told him and he said, “I’m going that way, too.” We walked and talked. We had a great conversation.
When we got to the Green, he said, “I need you to meet somebody.” I was like, “Okay.” He said, “He is right around the corner.” There were plenty of people. It was still daylight. I went around the corner into this store and he introduced me to the shaman. The shaman proceeded to tell me all about shamanism. I’d never heard of it before. He then did a four-hour healing on me right in the store. It was this I’m-lying-on-the-floor-on-this-Mexican-blanket-and-the-shoppers-are-walking-around-me kind of healing.
The thing is I spent most of this session worrying about how I was going to pay him because I hadn’t realized that many places in Mexico don’t take debit cards or credit cards. They only take pesos. I was mentally freaking out but I’m like, “I’m going to go with this. Worst case, I can take money out from the bank tomorrow and pay him the next day,” because I had already taken out my allotment for the day.
Long story short, he did the session. I had huge insights and releases. At the end of my vacation, he presented me with an extremely valuable gift, an ancient carving that had been used by shamans for many years. He told me, “You’re going to become a shaman. You were meant to be a shaman.” That started me on my shamanic path.
When someone says something that to you though, what do you think? Are you like, “My life calling is to be a shaman.” Did it resonate with you? Were you like, “This is what I’ve been waiting for?”
It was a blend of those things. I was in a bit of shock because it came out of left field. My professional life has been one where I started in marketing, moved up in marketing, and then moved over to business strategy consulting. It was Type A, very analytical thinking, process, to-do list, timelines, and all of that. To have this hit me almost like a 2×4 upside the head was shocking. I spent some time thinking about it. I went back through my life and said, “Does this resonate with me?”
For the audience who don’t know what a shaman is, let me explain what that is. A shaman is somebody who works with the spirit world and intercedes on behalf of an individual, a family, or a community to bring about spiritual healing. Spiritual healing can lead to physical, mental, and emotional healing as well. Every indigenous culture in the world has its version of a shaman. The Native Americans in the United States called them medicine men or women.
They’ve been called witch doctors or healers. There is a variety of different names. It’s been around since pretty much the beginning of time. When I looked back at my life, I realized that I had this theme of healing go through my life my entire life. There were 3 things that I told my mom and dad when I was 3. I wanted to go to Paris, a little sports car, and be a brain surgeon. I’ve checked off two of them but I hadn’t gotten to the brain surgeon part.
Through high school, I was taking all of the sciences as pre-med. I was planning to go to medical school. My family had a tragedy when I was sixteen and I realized, “People die.” When you’re sixteen, you don’t think about that. I walked away from it. I went and pursued a more safe degree in marketing. Nobody dies in marketing.
When I graduated, I considered going to veterinary school. I didn’t do that. I got a Master’s degree in Natural Health. I got almost a PhD in Natural Health but I never did my dissertation. I did the coaching program and realized that this theme of healing has been going on since the time I was a little kid. It started to resonate with me, this idea of being a shaman. It did take some soul-searching to see, “Does this resonate with me?”
Your story is amazing. Wasn’t there something that happened to you in a pivotal car accident that changed your life?
Yes. That was a few years ago. I had been practicing shamanism. I had traveled down to Mexico quite a bit to get training from the shaman. At the time, I was living in San Francisco. It turns out that the Bay Area has a highly reputable shamanic studies program. I took a few classes from that. As soon as I said yes, my guides came forward and started training me nonstop.
I had been doing all this work. A few years ago, I decided to go public. I had been practicing with friends, family members, and everything. I’m like, “I’m going to hang out a shingle because I’m enjoying this work and I’m seeing how powerful it is.” I did that. About a month later, I was walking across the street in the financial district in San Francisco and a guy in a minivan hit me at 25 miles an hour.
He didn’t see me. I rode up on the hood of the minivan for about half a block before he finally stopped. I sustained some injuries. I ended up being out of work for a little over three months. I was stuck on my couch for 6, on crutches for 8, and had a cast for 14 months. It got smaller over time but it was a long healing process.
There was a lot of negative around it because nobody likes to be in pain like that but the accident gave me time to fully integrate everything that I had been learning. It also gave me time to write the book. It gave me time to think, “What is it that I want out of my life?” I started to question the life that I was living in terms of being a consultant and being on the road every week. Was I finding fulfillment in that?
I feel like when people get injured, you go into this dark hole. You get sad and you can’t do anything. I feel like you took that to embrace it and reflect on your life, which fascinates me. I get little injuries for running and I feel like there’s nothing I can do.
Stephanie, it was a conscious decision that I made while I was lying on the road while the EMTs were working on me. I knew I was hurt. I had no idea how badly I was hurt. There was one point where the doctors told me that I wouldn’t be able to walk again unless I had crutches or a brace for the rest of my life. What I do in situations like that is I start looking for the gift. The first gift was that the driver stopped, which we all know doesn’t always happen.
That’s amazing. That would never happen in New York City. There are so many hit-and-runs. It’s always my biggest fear.
It happens a lot in San Francisco too. I have a friend who got hit twice on his motorcycle and the guy never stopped. The police came to the ER to talk to me while I was in the ER. The guy had no driver’s license or insurance. He had borrowed the minivan. The owner of the minivan had no insurance. He was legally blind in one eye and an undocumented immigrant. He had all of these strikes against him and he still stopped. I held onto that. I was like, “This truly was an accident.”
I wouldn’t have thought that he had intentionally tried to run me down. I held onto the fact that this was a decent human being who had made a mistake. It helped me a lot. That’s not to say that I didn’t have days where I was in this dark hole pity fest. I was stuck on my couch for six months and was on a one-floor walk-up in San Francisco. I was trapped in my house alone. There were some dark days but I did my best to stay positive.
That points to attitude and mind-setting yourself when you go through something. That’s the experience that I had when my husband died next to me in a car accident and I was very badly injured. I remember them pulling me through my car and saying, “I will get through this somehow because I have to be a role model for my son so that you can keep on going and get through the darkness to the other side.” You did the same thing. For other people, that would be the end of their lives and the story for the rest of their lives.
You had some divine intervention that gave you comfort as well during that time. I did as well. While I was on the hood of the minivan, when the guy stopped and I started to fall, two things happened that also brought me comfort. One is hard to describe but I felt hands holding me. There was nobody there. I have to believe that my guides and angels were holding me. Every single medical person said, “Nobody looks this good after getting hit by a minivan at 25 miles an hour.”
They all told me I should be dead so there was something there. I wear glasses. The one thought that went through my mind was, “Please, God, don’t let my glasses break.” I was terrified that the glass would go in my eyes because I did end up landing on part of my face when I fell. As soon as my glasses fell off my face, they folded themselves up and landed 6 inches in front of me just like I put them on my nightstand at bedtime.
That tells me that there was divine intervention. It is unheard of that somebody who’s an immigrant without a license and blind in one eye stopped. The fact that happened and all these things, it was meant to be to make you reflect and figure things out, which is wild.
That’s what I think too.
What happened to the immigrant, to this man, who had all these strikes against him and stopped for you?
San Francisco is a sanctuary city so he was not arrested for his immigrant status. He was given a court date that I was unable to attend. I physically could not attend. I believe he got fined. If you kill somebody with a vehicle, it’s a different story but because I didn’t die, all he got was a fine. I’m sure the fine was a financial hardship for him. My heart goes out to him for that.
You’re an amazing, compassionate, and insightful person. Jennifer, can you briefly go over your six tips? Is it 6 tips to change your life, 6 things that each of us must do to live courageously?
Yes. One of the things that I started to reflect on after the accident and then subsequent to that was why we hold ourselves back from living the life that we’re meant to live that is filled with passion and joy. There are ups and downs because that’s part of living but one where we feel like we’re bringing our whole authentic self to our day-to-day life.
What I realized as I thought about my life and the transformation that I went through, because I did ultimately quit my job and I’m doing my shamanic and coaching work full-time, is there are six things that all of us need to do. I’ll give them in an order but the reality is it’s cyclical. You learn something at another step. It causes you to go back to the first one or the second one and go deeper.
The first thing is to release personas. We all have personas. There are things that we often take on in childhood that help us navigate our childhood. It’s not something for people who have had a very traumatic childhood. People growing up in the Brady Bunch all have personas. That persona is something that you’re known for.
It could be that you’re the class clown, the athlete, or the smart one. Maybe you grew up in a household where it was a single parent or one of your parents was sick and maybe you became the caretaker. Maybe you’re the rebel. Whatever it is, we all have one of those. They’re good when we’re a kid because it helps us have a defined role in our family and the structure of our society. As we grow older, those personas can hold us back.
The class clown, for example. If you’re known as the one who makes everybody laugh, then you start to feel pressure to do that all the time. Maybe you’re doing that at the exclusion of feeling the feelings you need to feel. You see that with comedians, even Robin Williams. I love Robin Williams. I’ve read some things that said he couldn’t express his sad emotions because he was known as a comedian. That is a persona that’s holding somebody back from being whole and complete. The first is to identify and release that.
The second step is to identify and release limiting beliefs. These are things that we’re told by society, our families, our religion, and our friends. It could be even things we tell ourselves that hold us back because they’re not necessarily true. A simple example, and it ties to the persona I described, is there’s a general saying in our society that boys don’t cry. Boys cry and they should cry.
You can see how that programming and believing, “I’m a boy. I’m not supposed to cry,” can go and cause problems as you go through life. That’s because then you can’t fully express what you need to express, for example, when your spouse or parent passes away. If you’ve had a bad day, you don’t have the tools to do it. There’s a whole host of limiting beliefs.
Some of the most heartbreaking, for me, are the clients that come to me and say, “I’m not lovable or worthy. I don’t deserve this.” Those types of limiting beliefs, if you truly believe that, you’re not going to have a joy-filled life. You’re certainly not going to believe in yourself enough to go after that life. That’s the second step.
You manifest that for yourself. When I’ve talked to my healers and stuff, I’ll say things like that and be like, “I’m fed up. I’m so tired.” She was like, “You can’t say that because your body can’t translate what you’re saying against what it’s saying.” When you say things, you are putting them in stone. That’s why they say that you’re supposed to do these happy affirmations. The more you talk to yourself about it, the more you start to believe it and stop talking so negatively. You’ll create that true energy and reality around you, which I’m learning about myself. I agree with you about that.
Stephanie, our minds don’t know the difference between what’s reality and what’s make-believe. Let’s say something happened five years ago that made you angry. If you haven’t learned how to release it and you think about that, it can still make you angry five years later. Your mind doesn’t know what’s reality so whatever we think becomes our reality.
That in itself in this interview alone is something so many people need to know. They’re creating a false reality for themselves.
It’s something that we all need to learn and then we have to keep practicing. As much as we can tell ourselves, “I’m smart, accomplished, and I’m confident. I can do this,” we’re all going to have days where we’re like, “I can’t do this.” You have to remind yourself,
Do you have a success story or a positive story from working with someone that you could share with us that tells the audience what to expect? Do you have a cool outcome that has come from someone who’s come to you?
Tell us how you worked with them in that scenario because people don’t understand how shamanic healing works.
I’m going to tell you about a client over in Europe that I was working with. She called me. I do a lot of virtual or remote work, which is wonderful. I can work with anybody around the world. At the time, she was struggling to figure out what her life purpose was, which is step four of the process. It is figuring out your life purpose. She wanted help and guidance. She felt like she needed to do something different with her life but she wasn’t sure what it was.
I did a shamanic journey for her. That means I go into an altered state or a meditative state and connect to the spirit world. I asked my guides and her guides for insights in terms of what her purpose was and what her next steps should be. I hung up the phone when I was doing that because it was me being quiet and nobody wanted to listen to me breathing. I said to her, “Go relax somewhere. Pay attention to whatever comes to you.” Sometimes, when I work with people, they get messages as well.
She decided to go take a walk in her little town over in Europe. While I was doing the journey, her guides gave me this beautiful crystal ball with rainbows in it. I’m not going to disclose what her purpose and everything is but it had to do with what her purpose was. They gave it to me to give to her. There was a message that went with it.
When I called her back, I said, “This is what happened. The guides gave me this crystal ball with rainbows.” She said, “Stop right there.” I said, “What?” She said, “I am standing in a store holding a crystal ball that has rainbows in it. I’ve been holding it for the last half hour. I’m sure why I am holding it.” I said, “Now we know.” We talked about it and everything. She had some clear next steps. We finished the session and hung up the phone.
I had a quick check-in about a week later. Everything was going well for her. I then didn’t hear from her for about 6 or 7 months. In the 6 or 7 months timeframe, she called me up and said, “Everything in my world has fallen apart. I don’t even know what I’m doing. I need more help.” We started talking. I did another shamanic session for her where it became clear that some limiting beliefs were holding her back.
The biggest one was around being worthy so we spent quite a bit of time working on that. That’s where the coaching came in terms of helping her learn and identify her worth. I said, “While we’re working together, I have this online course. Why don’t you start taking the online course?” She did. She took the first step around personas. We talked about her and everything like that. I did some shamanic work for her on that to identify some personas that needed to be released that were holding her back.
We then did limiting beliefs. She came up with 1 or 2 limiting beliefs. The worthiness one was not one that she came up with. She said, “I feel good to go on to step three,” which is identifying your gifts, your talents, and what makes you unique in the world. Every one of us has a unique skillset or talent set. We were talking about that and she said, “I don’t have any.” I said, “What do you mean you don’t have any?” She said, “I’ve sat here and have done all the ways that we had talked about,” which was for her to try to discover them. She said, “I don’t have any.”
I said, “Let me list off 5 or 6 that I see from working with you. I listed things and she said, “I don’t have any of those.” I said, “This goes back to the limiting belief of not being worthy. The light bulb went off. She goes, “You’re right.” We went back and started working on the limiting belief about being worthy. She started to see how that belief had impacted her throughout her life and prevented her from taking advantage of what had been a perfect package for her.
When she first called me back after that time, everything had fallen into place for her to do the work that she wanted to do. She had found the space. Somebody had given her all of the materials that she needed to set up her business. She had potential clients. Everything was perfect. She walked away from it because she didn’t believe she was worthy. We worked on that. We worked on defining what her gifts were. She got even clearer about what her gifts were and what her purpose was.
Her purpose was beautiful about helping to empower and heal others through movement. From there, she started to define, “What does that look like for me,” and put together an even more beautiful approach to the work that she wanted to do. She’s going down that path. The whole shamanic thing is incredibly powerful. I could talk for hours about clients and the miracles that I see almost every day. It comes from the person wanting to be healed, live their life, and be authentic. It has to start first with the individual.
That goes back to the attitude. You can live in your swamp or you can want to heal and move forward. Jennifer, you’re so wise. Do you have a tip for people finding joy in their lives with all of that we go through and how complicated life is?
I touched on it a little bit with the accident. For me, gratitude is the biggest way for me to find joy. Even in my most difficult times, I look for what I call the gift. I’m like, “What is the gift that is waiting for me or that is coming to me as a result of this situation?” It may be that the gift is that I learn how strong I am, how determined I am, or that my body can heal from an accident. It may not be anything that you’d go and shout from the rafters but there’s always something to be thankful for even in our most difficult times. When I look for that, then I feel joy and peace as I go through my life.
That’s good because a lot of us forget sometimes daily little things that we should be thankful for. I realize that sometimes too because I try to teach my son to be humble, whether it’s little things. When he gets angry because the banana’s too brown, I’m like, “You do realize how lucky and thankful you should be that you even have a banana that is edible because so many people don’t get that.”
I feel like sometimes that helps me with the lessons to realize how lucky we are to have the simple basic things in life, like warmth, clothing, and food. Even if you are so sad or you can’t find anything happy, you should always understand there’s always somebody worse off than you and you should appreciate what you do have. That’s a good place to start to be a little bit more understanding of what you should be thankful for.
I split my time between California and Guatemala. I built a sanctuary for myself or a house for myself down in the jungle of Guatemala. This is a quick story. A Guatemalan friend of mine, we were out and about one day. He bought a bag of half a dozen rolls. He said, “Do you mind if we swing by this house to drop off these rolls?” I said, “Not at all.”
This family lives in what is technically a house. Dirt floor, concrete walls, partway, batch roof. There are a couple of mattresses thrown on the dirt floor. There were no sheets or anything. It’s the bare mattresses. There’s a pile of clothes in the corner. There’s a hammock. These people have nothing. This is, unfortunately, true for many people in developing countries and within the United States as well.
We brought these rolls because these people could not afford the equivalent of $0.50 to buy 6 rolls. The woman of the house invited us in and offered to cook us a meal, and yet she had nothing. That stays with me. Somebody that all they have is grind corn and they’re making tortillas and maybe they have a few beans and they’re offering to share it, then why can’t I share like that? I need to be grateful for everything I have in my life.
I don’t want to end this interview but we need to. That’s a wonderful ending to it. I feel so blessed and grateful to know Jennifer and Stephanie. We are having an amazing journey right here, all three of us.
Thank you for letting me be on your show.
You’re welcome. Would you please give people how they can contact you? How do they get your book and all of those kinds of things?
My website is SpiritEvolution.co. Email is the best way to reach me because I am traveling quite a bit. My best email is Admin@SpiritEvolution.co. I have a weekly radio show. It’s on Wednesdays at 2:00 PM Eastern and 11:00 AM Pacific through BoldBraveMedia.com. If anybody wants to listen to that radio show or call in, I take live calls.
Will we be live when you and I do our interview?
Yes, we will. People can call in and ask you questions.
That will be at 2:00 Eastern Standard Time on May 30th, 2018.
On May 30th, 2018, you will be on my radio show. I’m looking forward to having you and having you tell your story.
I am too.
My book is called This Trip Will Change Your Life: A Shaman’s Story of Spirit Evolution. You can get it on Amazon in eBook, paperback, or Audible. Barnes & Noble has it in eBook and paperback as well. If anybody’s interested, I’m hosting my first retreat in Guatemala in July 2018. That’s July 14th through the 21st, 2018. That information’s on my website. I would love to have people join me.
I would imagine doing that with you would be incredible. Do you have an offer for our audience if they read this episode and would like to have a shaman coaching session or get onto your online course?
If anybody emails me at Admin@SpiritEvolution.co and references this episode, they can get 10% off of a shamanic session, a coaching session, or an online course.
A lot of people should want to take advantage of that. It would be very enlightening and probably fun too.
It is a lot of fun.
I always hate to cut it short. Jennifer, we could probably talk more because I would be fascinated to learn about Guatemala even a little bit more. Unfortunately, we’re out of time. When the episode goes live, I hope everybody can contact you and check out your book. I want to read that as well.
I’ve ordered it already. I can’t wait to read it. It’s in the queue.
Thanks for joining us. Thank you to all of you out there for reading another fantastic episode. Until next time.
To be continued. Thank you.
- Jennifer Monahan’s Website
- Jennifer Monahan’s Book: This Trip Will Change Your Life: A Shaman’s Story of Spirit Evolution
- Jennifer Monahan’s Email
- Jennifer Monahan’s Weekly Radio Show