We are always faced with the prospect of understanding ourselves with a tool that is, at best, counter intuitive, and, at worst, a manipulating task master.
Yet here we are.
We need to understand what we see, deal with, dream, or initiate in the world. We really are forced into a mental construct in order to do that if we are going to in turn apply it in any positive way in the here and now. What we assume, wrongly, is that wherever we are is a natural position for us to live in, a place that is dictated by our natures and personal predilections.
The reality is a bit different; we're only really renting this reality, we don't own it. We don't even rent with an option to own. The landlord is our reason; our conditioning at the hands of others and our emotional bonds that we believe are purely our own feelings when in fact they are representative of contact with other human beings throughout our lives.
We 'believe' a certain thing because we hold an expectation about it - a chair must hold up our weight, our minds say it must. Yet our positions are false ones, places we have come to through experience and the impact of living in a world of other people, not always nice people. Shamans hold the opposite view. They can be anyone, anywhere, in defiance of what the world has told them has to be 'normal' or their place in normalcy. But to reach that level of fluidity, one must first know who they are - who they really are - without all the hooks, patterns and expectations placed on them by the circumstances of their lives.
It isn't just those things you're 'taught'. You are taught what reality is, and you cannot deviate from it without some pretty severe consequences. You believe that up is up and down is down, that gravity binds you inescapably to the surface of the planet.
Shamans don't believe any of that. But how you move apart from those beliefs, from that reality, requires a careful maneuver of stalking yourself through your reality and gradually changing it until nothing is not only not impossible, but highly probable. Change it too fast and you get one of the nice coats with the really long arms; change it too slowly and you will be dead before you accomplish anything.
The key is in the balance and the movement itself as a process. You must first look at yourself with a brutal honesty that you probably won't like much. The recapitulation was created to make that process less painful, but it still has its moments. Some people must go further and literally tear down the walls of expectation in their life on levels that are, frankly, frightening. Most people who come to this have a first question, where do you start? And you start with ritual. No, not wandering around behind the little farm animals chanting in the dark - your own personal rituals, and believe me, you have thousands. Which hand do you brush your hair with? Why?
You just do some things for no reason at all, every day of your life. Ritual. When you sit down to eat, do you touch your plate first, move it, which utensil to you pick up first, with which hand, do you eat a bite of one food then another, or do you eat one thing at a time until you're finished? Which leg of your pants do you put on first, right, or left? They are your personal rituals. Your whole day, and hence your whole existence, is one long ritual that you repeat endlessly until they shovel dirt on you and divvy up your stuff, and even that is a ritual.
You begin stalking the self by altering the patterns of your personal rituals until there are none. Brush your hair with your left hand, change the order in how you eat, alter the way in which you relax, etc. The difference with the shaman is that they may do things certain ways, but they completely recognize it's a senseless ritual. For instance, here's a deeply personal question - do you wear underwear? If so, don't for a day. This is how you start the process of stalking, by breaking your energy out of the patterns of behavior that have become your life.
You begin breaking your personal rituals down, but the trade off for that is a much more keen awareness of the things around you. This is the place you really start in stalking the self. The point is not to fear those little changes you can make that alter the way you connect with the world and in some ways the way it connects with you - become keenly aware of those things you do that are ritual within your own life.
We live with ritual, there are no options. Technically, I suppose breathing in and out is a ritual. The real issue is our awareness of why we do the things we do, even minuscule things, and that they are, in fact, rituals. The problem with people and shamanism in general is that most people are wandering around in a haze of self-satisfaction. They are satisfied with the way their lives are basically; they just want to understand the weird stuff.
The next step is to become aware of the opportunities that are ever present around us and that our personal rituals protect us from noticing. If you alter your little rituals and pay attention, you will immediately notice things that you didn't before. You will even find yourself 'thinking' in different ways than before. Beyond that, the questions are why you have those rituals to start with, who taught you to be right handed, who showed you how to eat dinner, on and on through the patterns of your life. I can sit down and watch football, basketball, etc., talk cars with other men, or go to a gay bar and dance to bad disco music.
Usually the people you find being ritualistically weird are the ones who just enjoy the ride but have no clue or desire to arrive anywhere. It's the attention factor. Once you really stalk these things, you find your ability to change positions and 'be' in that position starts to grow significantly. It isn't just an issue that I can watch football on TV, it's that I can move to that position and actually enjoy it, get into it, cheer and all that stuff. But all the time, I know it's just another position. Just about anything we do with other human beings puts us in certain positions. We move around through those in life from a central position we have defined as 'ourselves', but the shaman recognizes those are all just positions one can occupy at any given moment. The movement between them becomes a place for a position as well, the ability to be in two or more positions at once.
Practice changing positions and thinking about them as roles you play in life. You get up in the morning; you're in the sleepy position. You go to work; you're in the employee position. You go to lunch, you're in the lunch patron position. You expect to wake up, you expect to get a paycheck, and you expect your burritos when you pay. It's not that you have to not take the burritos, it's that you understand that position. Most of the rituals and positions in our lives create subservience in one way or another. Look at the amount of energy, emotional, etc, you invest in playing those roles. What if you could play that role without expending the energy, but could then turn and use it for something else, like becoming more intensely aware of everyone else's rituals and the ways between them to see the world differently.
Generally, you will reach a place in stalking yourself where you won't budge. At first you won't recognize it, then slowly it will dawn on you that you're fighting yourself, or your mind is and that is the point at which you have to become ruthless in defeating it. But for right now, try just recognizing the thousands of little rituals you live your life by, that have become your life. This is a shamanic act. It's part of what shamans go through in learning to change their worldview, as the proverb says, 'Reform the world Lord, starting with me'.