I HAVE BEEN on a journey of intentionally incorporating spirituality in my life for about 12 years now. This started about a few months after my Papi’s passing.
I had just moved to a city that was on high elevation, higher than I had ever lived before, and I was starting a new job across the country during the dead of winter. For about the first two to three months, I experienced insomnia, which was taking a toll on me—tired during the day and restless at night. I knew that acupuncture might help, as I had tried it once before right after my Papi’s passing.
With one session, the extreme tension I felt on my shoulders immediately melted away. Remembering this, I asked some of my new colleagues and was referred to an acupuncturist. I had found healing. Her sessions were not only filled with poking needles but also filled with spiritual teachings and lessons in the form of everyday conversations on what was going on in the world and with myself. Through these conversations, I learned so much about my connection between body, emotions, spirit—or the mindbodyspirit. To this day I maintain in touch with my acupuncturist, Billie, and refer to her as my earth angel and spirit guide.
For over eight years, I went once a month whether I felt a dis-ease, imbalance or not. Aside from getting me through understanding and making peace with my Papi’s passing, it also helped me experience less stress while obtaining tenure and experiencing many other personal hurdles. BUT perhaps more importantly was the awakening I experienced that life is more than what is right in front of me. There is all this unseen force, energy that is all around us. I started to see the connections between Chinese medicine and yoga, the Chakras, crystals, essential oils and so on and so forth. There are so many things available to us to awaken us beyond our inherited Western five senses and to connect us back to source, inner Self, god, universe or the multiple and varied ways people might label it.
My spirituality is practicing what I have found helpful in bringing me back to center—the remembering of who I am. I find solace in holding and meditating with crystals and using them to heal emotional trauma and stuck emotions that are manifesting physically. I practice and teach yoga to heal the mindbodyspirit. I follow the phases of the moon to release that which no longer serves my higher Self and to set intentions for manifesting continual personal growth. I read the works of Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chödrön, and Don Miguel Ruiz. I follow socially conscious astrologers like Chani Nicholas. My scholarship and pedagogy are influenced by scholars who have embodied and grounded their work in spirituality, like Gloria Anzaldúa, Irene Lara, AnaLouise Keating, and many others.
Do I get lost, you might ask? Of course—many, many times! But through this journey, I have found that I have less difficulty remembering who I am and finding the lessons from the forgetting of who I am. After all, it’s in forgetting and remembering that the greatest lessons arise, and the opportunity for growth happens. And the funny thing is that oftentimes, it’s those with whom I have most conflict who become the greatest teachers, reminding me who I am. My acupuncturist, after listening to me rant about someone always says, “ahh, they are your teacher!” Then I take a deep breath and realize exactly what she means. Sometimes it’s really hard to acknowledge challenging people as teachers, but once I do, a weight is lifted. I encourage anyone to try this.
As a Latina, I wish my story was one where my abuelas, abuelos or an elder from my community taught me or passed down wisdom and knowledge from our ancestors to me. How I wish to tell that story. And then I think which ancestors would that be? European, Jewish, and or Indigenous? Even my Indigenous grandmother and her father were already cut off from those Indigenous traditions and had been colonized as well as assimilated into mainstream values and perspectives with perhaps tiny hints of an Indigenous past. And my Jewish roots are but non-existent. It’s like we sprouted from nowhere and just appeared in Nicaragua one day. And I wonder how many feel this way?
My journey of spirituality began with seeking to heal my insomnia but realizing that my insomnia was a call to heal the pain and grief over my Papi’s passing. In this seeking, I met a healer, a white woman, who helped me to remember who I was. It was not about finding myself but remembering who I already was. I am whole and complete, perfectly imperfect and interconnected to seven billion others. I want to own this story because it’s the truth. And the journey each of us take to remember who we are is irrelevant as long as it is based on love and healing because the greatest threat to our world is in forgetting who we truly are. And who we truly are is One having seven billion experiences.
I’d like to end with the Namaste prayer that I used to end my graduate multicultural class at one of the universities I worked at in Utah for over eight years. This course was so tough for so many reasons that multicultural teachers know, especially when teaching mostly white students. But these students were truly my teachers and I learned (or remembered) so much about myself because of them. And now I’d like to offer it to you.
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Thank you. Gracias. Tlazocamati.