A RECENT INCIDENT refocused me to my grief. Traveling by myself for the first time since before the pandemic, I was not prepared for the energy surrounding me and permeating every pore of my senses. The buzzing of people’s energy, the consumption of consumerism, the lack of respect for personal space, and the entitlement of “mine” over-stimulated my whole being. My stomach was in knots, my hands were shaking, and my inner chiquitx (inner child) was full.
Boarding the airplane was intense, like a survival test of the fittest fighting for the best seats or cows in a cattle truck pushing towards the end of the line with wide-eyed, tormented faces. I sat at an open seat using my hands to brush off energy. A couple using their outside voices with entitlement felt it necessary to disrespect me about how, why, and where my backpack was located and about the empty seat between myself and them. I took a breath and calmly proceeded to explain that I had taken a seat to care for myself. I was not prepared for the animosity coming out of their mouths. The stewardess intervened. Everyone calmed down, and the flight was on its way.
I looked out of the window and found myself in tears. Tears of grief for the lack of humanity, for the shame I felt, for feeling vulnerable, for the souls lost to the pandemic, for the wandering souls trying to find their way back from isolation, for my body not being strong enough, for feeling pendeja for not defending myself…tears for feeling death close by, tears just because…
I found comfort in the voice of a comadrita, a kind woman nearby, who was able to hear my pain and grief. Her words refocused me to feel what I was feeling. Centering into myself, I heard the ancestors whisper that I should shower using the Nine Shower ritual and let the water cleanse me. The Nine Shower ritual would connect me to the nine stages of grief, from shock to reintegration.
Shock was my body’s first reaction as my skin felt the cold water down my back, mimicking the shock my spine felt from all the chaotic energy and frenzy. It was important to connect both types of shock to my skin’s sensory mechanism in order to center what I was feeling.
Disorganization followed shock as my mind could not think. Where was my mask, my phone, my wallet, my room key? The lukewarm water in my face felt like a soft caress from my abuelita, and the mind chatter—the mitote of What if? What could have?—slowly disappeared.
Denial came next, as the third shower trickled to my hands. I cupped the water and splashed it on my face as my mind tried to deny the reality of the situation, preferring instead to believe a mistake was made. With each splash, I stated, “I love myself, I accept myself, I embrace myself.”
Depression or low feelings came as my heart felt immense sadness for the world, for humanity, for Mother Earth, for me, for you, for us. I used the water to receive clarity and release the sadness as I turned my body towards each sacred direction.
Guilt and shame set in as I thought the incident would not have occurred if I had done, or had not done, something. I felt like I didn’t have control over anything and that I should have been more vocal. I stood over the shower drain and watched the shame and guilt go down with the water into the darkness of the drain pipes.
The stress of the incident was overwhelming, and by the sixth shower, my legs folded, and I sat on the floor with the water running down my head and back. I slowly performed some deep-breathing exercises in each direction as if I were conducting a chanupa ceremony. The deep breathing helped me manage and reduce feelings of anxiety.
Feelings are sometimes released as aggression, hostility, or anger. I found myself using the West direction jaguar scream exercise to release my anger. By facing up into the shower head while the water poured on my face, I was able to desahogar echando maldiciones (vent frustrations) in a way that won’t damage me or others. My screams echoed while the water washed my anger away.
Resolution set in by the eighth shower. I used a vocalization exercise with Spanish vowel sounds. Aaahhh to open my tonalli to creator, Eheehehe to clear the grief from my throat, Iiiiiiiiiii to heal my heart, OHOHOhooo to center my strength, and UUUuuuu to feel the snake Quetzalcoatl clearing ancestral wounds from my nape to my tailbone. This exercise helped me release the grief and begin to accept the situation.
The final shower gave me the message to use movement as a step to rebuild; a sense moving forth and starting to feel more positive about life, humanity, and my future. I wiggled my fingers, toes, shook my hands and legs, stretched, did planks, and released the energy with a final, deep, full-belly breath.
Any triggering event can create strong feelings and have an impact on those involved. Everyone is different, and moving through the stages of grief must go at a personal pace. The Nine Showers took me three hours to complete. I am grateful to have the time to be still, process, and be alone to take my time with each shower allowing the sacred water to comfort me.
With no tools, herbs, or traditional medicina, my body processed the stages as the water gifted me relief.
Agua bendita, Agua bendita, limpia esta alma
Agua bendita, Agua bendita, limpia este cuerpo
Tata Tonatiuh, Tata Tonatiuh, dale fuerza con tu luz
Madre Tierra, Madre Tierra, sustenta este corazón
Blessed Water, blessed Water, cleanse this soul
Blessed Water, blessed Water, cleanse this body
Father Sun, Father Sun, give strength with your light
Mother Earth, Mother Earth, nourish this heart
My spirit, heart, mind and body needed the catharsis, el desahogo, and now I’m ready to move forth, travel, be of service, and live. No more Judas body labeling. I love myself, I accept myself, I embrace myself.
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Thank you. Gracias. Tlazocamati.