Carl Greer took a winding road to becoming a clinical psychologist, Jungian analyst, and shamanic practitioner. But the transformation he experienced is a testament to many of the practices he extols. After studying metallurgical engineering in college, Greer received a doctorate in finance and management and went on to teach at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business for many years. Later he moved to Chicago to work for an oil company. Throughout his career, though, he always felt strong passions for psychology and spirituality.
Those interests—as well as an experience reading a book on shamanism and healing—led Greer to a revelatory moment on a beach one day: “I experienced a spontaneous sense of being connected with each of the natural elements—water, fire, earth, and air—more deeply than I have ever been. I became aware that they were not inert but rather had a consciousness I could engage,” Greer recalls.
That moment inspired him to pursue shamanic studies and eventually become a teacher. Through making that decision to pivot his life and career, Greer realized that he could change his own story and reconceptualize who he is and what his relationship to his body and health could be. He could become a healthier version of himself. Greer began sharing his insights in his award-winning 2014 book Change Your Story, Change Your Life, and he continues in Change the Story of Your Health, which includes more techniques to help readers understand their lives’ stories, choose more beneficial ones, and then make those new stories reality. Change the Story of Your Health has a specific focus on maintaining wellness while aging, managing chronic conditions, and responding to life-changing events.
“The holistic techniques I feature in the book, which I’ve used in workshops, are ones people can use on their own,” Greer says. “They can be valuable adjuncts to western allopathic medicine, presenting little or no risk. The practices I recommend may help people gain deeper insights into their health and offer them a greater sense of well-being—as well as power over their health stories and even relief from physical symptoms. I believe this happens because, somehow, we have the power in our unconscious [minds] to affect our bodies’ systems for better or worse.”
Beyond journaling and story conception exercises, the book also delves into some shamanic practices to help explore the energy fields that, according to Greer, intertwine with and influence the physical world (and our health). “Transpersonal realms are where we experience our individual sense of identity blurring as we realize our consciousness is part of a greater unified consciousness,” he says. “They are most accessible when our consciousness is in a nonordinary state—for example, when we are dreaming or meditating. It is here that we can discover possibilities that had previously been hidden to us.”
Greer sees a clear parallel between these realms and well-known psychological concepts; he says, “you might also think of transpersonal realms as the collective unconscious, as psychologist Carl Jung called it.” He posits there is much overlap in how shamanic traditions and Jungian psychology deal with issues of health and understanding the human body’s relation to the environment: “both traditions recognize the value of working with the unconscious and have similar means of doing so. For example, the nature painting or sand painting techniques used in shamanism are similar to Jungian sand tray work: both involve intuitively arranging items to access insights from our unconscious. As readers do the exercises I offer in my book, I think they’ll find they are starting to rewrite their health stories to be more satisfying and empowering,” he says.
“There are no guarantees, of course,” Greer continues, “but I believe achieving a greater sense of wellness and better health outcomes is always possible to some degree—and that the practices in Change the Story of Your Health can help, no matter what health challenges someone is facing.”