Taking a one-hour journey with Laura Beann of Napa could mean finding ancestors, talking with animals and discovering a part of yourself you had long forgotten – or perhaps had never even known about.
Beann is a practitioner who uses the 40,000-year-old practice of Shamanism to help people heal spiritually, emotionally and even physically.
As a social worker, Beann said she turned to this ancient healing method several years ago after surviving tremendous grief and spending two years in isolation, learning how to connect with nature and the spiritual world.
From her living room studio on Atlas Peak Road, Beann conducts classes and meets with clients individually, teaching how meditation helps people connect with “healing spirits.”
During group sessions, she and her clients use drums and other instruments to create a four-beat-per-second pulse that alters brain waves to reach a Theta state of consciousness, allowing meditation to relax and open the mind, Beann explained.
Meditating clients are asked to look high and low in a natural setting for their individual power animals, who help answer questions and guide them to ancestors and other healing spirits.
Beann says 90 to 95 percent of her clients “meet their helping spirits” during their meditative journey, but some don’t.
“It doesn’t work for everybody 100 percent of the time – and I don’t always perceive what my helping spirits are saying,” she admits. “We say that shamanic healing is 80 percent accurate.”
But when it works, she says, the experience can be life-changing.
‘You wouldn’t believe the efficacy,” she said. “We use altered states of consciousness to meet, greet and relate to helping spirits in a non-physical way, through inner knowing and perception. I believe my helping spirits put me in touch with people and put people in touch with me. Helping people meet, greet and relate to helping spirits is my work.”
Originally from Minnesota, raised by Lutherans, Beann attended college in Boulder, Colo., earning a master’s degree in social work at the University of Denver. There she met her husband, Earik, and worked as a community development manager for agencies serving women and children. She also worked for an international faith-based organization bringing water filtration systems to a dozen Third World countries.
Then life took a sudden turn for the worse, as she suffered a miscarriage and lost her mother and a close friend. Beann met a Shamanic teacher in Boulder and decided to go into retreat for two years to develop Shamanic skills.
“I dealt with my own healing while acquiring skills to benefit others,” she said. “I was guided by my own helping spirits, including ancestors such as my paternal grandmother, angels, saints and power animals. Our helping spirits love us and want our lives to go well for us.”
Her Atlas Peak studio overlooks Napa Valley, where she said she was advised to move to by a South African shaman who trained with Zulus.
In concert with other Napa health professionals, Beann is hoping to develop a larger practice, which she plans to call the Atlas Peak Healing Arts Center.
She enjoys sharing her spirituality with her husband, who meditates three hours a day, practices yoga and works as a hedge fund manager.
She said anyone can attend a meditation workshop to learn how to “journey.”
“I think this is social work,” she said. “I don’t want to work in a conventional setting where I couldn’t bring my spirituality to work with me.”