Sophomore learns he’s a peacekeeper as shamanic healer beats drum, shakes rattle

Ulises Barajas
Shaman Jana Din drums for one of her many patients with cancer at UC Davis.

When senior Manson Tung, editor-in-chief of The Octagon, asked if I wanted to try shamanic healing, I didn’t even know what a shamanic healer was.

Was it someone dressed in a Native American outfit with feathers on their head and a drum in their hand?

Admit it. Many of you probably thought of the same image.

You’ve also probably thought it’s all just a scam to get $150, but as I would later find out, it was definitely worth the money.

As I entered the Tao Center For Healing (2131 Capitol Ave, No. 204), the ring of a chime echoed in my ears.

After about 15 minutes of waiting in the lobby, I heard the door slowly open.

Shamanic healer Jana Din – dressed in a black jacket, white shirt and black pants – entered, greeting me with a welcoming smile.

As she would explain during my session, not all shamanic healers fit the stereotype.

Din, who is of Asian descent, first learned about shamanic healing when attending a lecture and demonstration given by her former shamanic teacher at a medical clinic in 1999.

According to Din, “shaman” is derived from the Siberian word for “spiritual healer.”

She also said the role of a shaman is to address the spiritual aspect of a problem.

Din, for example, has been providing shamanic healing support for critically, terminally ill or injured pediatric patients at UC Davis Hospital for the past two years in collaboration with David Steinhorn, a former UC Davis Children’s Hospital Intensive Care physician.

Recently, their collaborative healing support for Steinhorn’s patients was featured in a nationally broadcast television show, called “Healing Quest.”

Before the session started, Din asked me if there was anything in particular I needed healed.

But the truth is, I couldn’t think of anything.

I took my shoes off and lay on the black portable treatment chair that reminded me of a massage chair.

Staring at the ceiling, I noticed the small holes that can be found in standard office rooms.

That ceiling made me feel like there was nothing going on in my life, as if I had no homework to think about – or Octagon article to write.

My mind went blank.

Din started putting on necklaces that she said symbolized health, and then grabbed her large drum with a unique wolf design.

As I closed my eyes, Din, standing over me, began to hit the drum slowly and rhythmically.

I started to feel myself dozing off. Why?

Din later explained that the drum’s sound often makes patients sleepy.

But at that moment, I wondered about the possibilities. What would she find? Something good? Bad?

Soon Din replaced the drum with a rattle.

Din said she uses drumming and rattling because that was the tradition in which she was taught. But other shamans may use a gong, a whistle or a bell.

As Din shook the rattle over me, my head began to pound.

But as soon as she began moving it towards my stomach, the tension died away.

Then I got a new feeling: the gurgling sensation of hunger.

Finally, during the last few minutes of the session, I felt a slight blowing from my head to my heart. As Din had explained to me before, this was a step in the healing process.

Then I felt a small weight on my chest.

When the healing was over, I discovered what it was. Inscribed in gold letters on a black stone was the word “Peace.”

“Do you find yourself trying to keep peace in many situations?” Din asked.

When I thought about it, I remembered so many times when I’ve tried to help someone emotionally and physically.

Whenever I find friends fighting with each other, I unconsciously put myself into the situation.

If they don’t want to talk to each other, I try to find out why, and then talk to one of them to resolve the problem for them.

I do all of this, even though it’s not my fight.

Din explained that I should instead be a witness.

“If your parents went to your school and sat in your desk from the beginning, would you be where you are now?” she asked.

Mentally I was going ballistic because I was thinking of all that I’d been doing wrong.

Din held the rock in her hands.

“You either hold the peace, or don’t hold it at all,” she said.

Walking out of the building two hours later, I felt like I’d learned something about myself.

As Din put it, I am a peacekeeper.

—By Ulises Barajas

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