Shaman Durek is the go-to healer to the A-list, boyfriend of a Norwegian princess and has a book on healing coming in October. While on a whirlwind London tour, Stylist sits down for a session with the shaman, with some unexpected results.
Here’s something you never want to hear in a shamanic healing session: “We need more time. She needs a full body reboot.”
I’m lying on a massage table in the middle of a stark, marble-lined hotel suite in London. Shaman Durek, the go-to healer of A-listers including Gwyneth Paltrow and Selma Blair has already spent nearly an hour clearing my energy. But when his publicist knocks on the door to signal that our time is up, he motions her away. “You need this,” he says to me, placing a hand on my arm. “Spirits, download more medicine into her body.”
Later, when I interview him, I understand that this is how Durek talks, at the intersection of modern buzzwords and the more esoteric language of healers. But in the moment, lying on that table and gripping the two energy-conducting rods Durek had given me at the start of the session, I feel exhausted. Am I really broken? Do I really need a full body reboot?
“Download more medicine,” Durek repeats, over and over again. Apparently, I really need it.
According to shamanism.com, which seems as good a source as any, shamanism is an “ancient healing tradition” and also “a way of life”. Shamans connect to different kinds of energy, usually from the natural world, in order to heal. Most shamanic practices today are derived from indigenous cultures from around the world.
The misconceptions around shamanism are many and varied, Durek says. When I ask him about them, he laughs. “They think that we’re all going to be walking around with feathers,” he says. When we meet, Durek is wearing a T-shirt and jeans, with some long beads and an embroidered bolero. “I have friends that dress in ceremonial garb but on an average day they are wearing jeans, or they’re wearing a suit and a tie,” he says. “We’re a part of this world too.”
There are different kinds of shamans that connect to different kinds of energies. Durek has relationships with many kinds of spirits, he says, from the water spirits to the fire spirits and the electrical spirits, all of which he calls upon in his healing sessions. He is a third generation healer who began his training in California at the age of 12. Now, he travels the world healing people. The idea in each of his sessions is to isolate the negative energy in your body, understand where it’s coming from and expunge it, once and for all. Usually, people cough, burp or vomit out that negative energy.
So, kind of like a therapy session. (If you thought this was getting a bit Goop-y, just you wait.) “All I’m here to do is to bring people back to the root and tell people to stop complicating their life,” Durek explains. “Simplify, subtract, live a good life. Don’t spend 20 years in therapy when you can have one or two sessions with me and be done.”
Suspension of belief is not only advised but actively required when seeing a shaman. But Durek’s clientele don’t seem to mind, and neither do the thousands of people who listen to his podcast, follow him on social media or fork out between $400 and $1,000 for a one-on-one session with the man himself.
“I don’t like the phrase celebrity shaman because I didn’t come here to be a celebrity shaman,” Durek explains. Sure, some of the women he works with have very famous names. But they’re still just women dealing with many of the same issues that we all deal with. “They’re just people like everyone else,” Durek says. They’re overworked, they’re tired and they’re stressed. They’re looking for a reset and for some balance.
That, incidentally, is Durek’s diagnosis of me. After he downloads my spiritual files and consults my energy, he tells me that I’m not drinking enough water and that I need to stop eating dairy (practical) and that I am holding an enormous amount of negative energy within me (supernatural). This energy, he explains, comes from other people in my life. I support them and take on their problems without leaving any space for myself.
I’m not alone. This is a problem that faces almost all of his female clients, Durek says. Women are “giving and giving and giving and giving,” he muses, but no-one is nurturing them. “What happens is women become depleted. They get disconnected from their true desires and wants and needs,” Durek adds. “You have no more energy, you’re exhausted, and you’re not putting yourself first.”
Luckily, he knows a shaman who can help with that.
Durek’s diagnosis of me as person who takes on the negative energy of others is both sweepingly general and incredibly specific. I hazard a guess that there are a lot of women who fit that description, and yet some of the details that he hits upon, especially in regards to my relationships, feel incredibly – impossibly – personal.
And Durek was committed to helping me ‘reboot’. During the healing session, he talks constantly to the spirits, telling them to download more medicine or water, to shock my energy with electricity to expunge the negativity from within, and to open the ‘gates’ inside my body to let the medicine flow through. I don’t cough or burp, which is common in a shamanic healing session. But my body responds in other ways, though, later I can’t work out whether my shoulders twitched because there were spirits rattling through me or merely the fact that I had been lying on a table for an hour.
Afterwards, I feel fantastic. Durek asks me to in the mirror in the middle of our interview. “You look brighter,” he said. “ Just look at yourself.” I walk back to the office on a bit of a cloud, though I also cynically voice note a friend about the experience. But by the time I’m back at my desk I feel completely depleted.
If Durek had rebooted me, then by the afternoon I feel like I need to plug myself in to charge. I am exhausted and all I want to do is head home and crawl into bed. But one of my best friends was visiting from New York, so I rally, drinking a bottle of wine and eating a lot of cheese – sorry, Durek – at dinner with her. I have a deep sleep, but the next day I still feel completely wiped.
Apparently, this is normal. Spiritual healing, such as it is, can have this kind of knock-out impact. For Durek, too. He says that he practices a lot of meditation and tries to be creative as a way to fill himself when he feels depleted. “I play video games, I paint, I write poetry, I do escape rooms with my girlfriend, I’ll go to an art show, I do pottery, cooking,” he says. Or he’ll go into nature. “My girlfriend was in town all weekend and I just sit and relax and breathe.”
What he doesn’t believe in is wellness for wellness’s sake. “I think the wellness community has become a gateway of narcissism and social cliques,” Durek says. “I don’t see wellness, I see who is cool and who’s not. It’s unfortunate.”
For Durek, wellness can’t be just about “the Lululemon yoga pants, the food you’re eating, the cool new book you’re reading, the cream you’re buying”. It has to be about what he calls “conscious wellbeing” and a focus on what is going in your body on a spiritual level. You might be eating the right food, but are you ingesting good energy? Are you eating from dysfunctional relationships with your friends and family? Durek suggests you ask yourself this question: “What am I nourishing myself with?”
I don’t know. But talking to Durek makes me realise that I need to think more about how much of an impact my relationships are having on me. Maybe I’m taking on too much of everyone else’s negative energy. Maybe I need to do exactly as Durek says, and learn to open up the gates inside me and let go of all that toxicity that I’ve been holding onto. Or maybe the fact that I’m tired all the time has nothing to do with the spiritual plane and everything to do with the physical one. Though, isn’t that Durek’s entire point? I honestly don’t know.
But Durek is right, I do need to drink more water. So I do.
You can pre-order Shaman Durek’s Spirit Hacking: Shamanic keys to reclaim your personal power, transform yourself and light up the world now. The book will be published on 17 October.