One of the greatest lessons the global pandemic has taught me so far is that while indoors [for over seven weeks now], there are intentional ways to live, share space, and connect with loved ones near and far, whether they are chosen or biological families and collectives. Feeling “stuck” is painful.
Learning how to be present in my own body is still challenging because I always feel a huge responsibility to support communities who are at the margins, who have been impacted by hegemonic systems of terror and injustice. In my body I feel the pain, I feel the loss, I feel grief and the need to mourn.
As a highly sensitive being, one of my strengths is connectedness. That is the main source of my resilience. For me to survive and envision a better world, I need to connect with the resilience of being in movement. Zapatistas in Mexico state this in their Primera Declaración De La Selva Lacandona, their invitation to coexist: it is a powerful tool to reimagine a utopian world where JUSTICE and ABOLITION are a reality.
Thus, being in my body and listening mindfully is sometimes challenging because I have this deep desire to be at the front lines. I am learning that in calmness and stillness there is power. As a Healer, I am learning that it is okay to restore my well-being now. In the past, being at the front lines meant organizing youth within rural communities to support cooking and carrying meals to the families most impacted by flooding, earthquakes, and tropical storms ripping away their homes in the southern region of El Salvador in el Bajo Lempa. Or it meant going out to facilitate hard, honest conversations about what collaboration would look like between local youth leaders working for their communities in the Dominican Republic and U.S. students finding ways to support those local initiatives. There is power in all ways of organizing. There is power in centering communities and their ancestral knowledge. There is power in solidarity. There is power in cultural humility.
There is power in having a highly intuitive gift of knowing that everything is part of Mother Earth and we all belong to this expansive family of life. From the ladybug in my friend’s cornfield in Nicaragua to the thunderstorms in Michigami, to the mushrooms growing in the Black Forest in southern Germany, to the chemical fertilizers sprayed upon the banana plantations in northern Colombia, to the thousands of migrants fleeing historical systemic violence in their land of origin to cross imposed borders so they can dream futures robbed in the crossroads of racism, sexism, and fear-induced violence in their lands of arrival, to the elephant migration in the African continent.
Hence, coexistencia is necessary for survival as we all adapt to the new changes in the universe. Perhaps, it is time to challenge and deconstruct old ways of relating to money, time, toxic power, and freedom as we walk our paths. We are beings capable of adaptation and we are called to heal with Pachamama. In these last seven weeks, I’ve moved from resistance to stillness.
Mama and mamita, my first Teachers used to say, “hay que sufrir con paciencia”.
In general, I prefer being in a community with others as we share space, thus my difficulty accepting moving fully into virtual spaces. Don’t get me wrong – I am all about taking care of one another. However, in this situation, I’ve felt stuck as if the possibility of danger was scaring me to the point of feeling incredible anxiety when making eye contact with anybody at the grocery store. I see and feel their fear. I see the fear in people’s souls. There is a generalized collective feeling of being overwhelmed, and in that there is an opportunity to find ways to slow down.
Too much time in front of a computer, holding a cellphone, wearing headphones, texting, emailing, and scrolling through social media platforms is exhausting for me – especially if I don’t take breaks. So, I feel accomplished that I [temporarily] deleted Instagram from my phone today.
Sitting for too long only exacerbates my physiological chronic pain. I am clenching more and more in my gut, glutes, hamstrings, neck, shoulder, spine, and jaw. Clenching for too long without releasing is painful, and it is hurtful. I need to step back. If you have lived with chronic pain, please listen to your body. I call this boundary ‘taking agency over liberating my being from pain to whatever extent possible’.
My spiritual and emotional body is speaking to me through this physiological body.
I need to listen respectfully. It is important to learn the sources of all this pain. Is it that my well-being feels threatened again? Is it that I can feel so much empathy for the experiences and stories of the people I am interacting virtually with? Is it that I am heartbroken? Where does the source of this specific pain come from? Is it simply related to the lack of moisture in this weird, dry, cold winter weather?
All of my inquiries and reflection made me realize a few boundaries with and within connecting virtually, which allowed me to take action for change.
What have I realized?
- That I miss sharing physical space with extended family and collectives near and far [especially hugs, which are a cultural remedy]
- That I am experiencing loss and grief and this makes me feel very sad
- That I can’t be in front of screens all the time because this toxic practice overstimulates me and messes up my sleep cycle
- That conflict arises especially when we feel we lack of control related to uncertainty
- That honest, respectful, flexible communication is necessary to coexist
What can I control now? What have I changed so far?
- Scheduling intentional time to talk and deepening connection with family and collectives
- Virtually facilitating short conversations while sharing rituals to increase joy and reduce stress as part of my offerings in partnership
- Participating in webinars that make me feel connected to Brown and Black liberation movements globally
- Staying away from screens – mainly social media platforms, news outlets, and too much TV
- Noting being present in my energetic body, as these practices allow me to hold space for restoring my well-being while working on my visions
- Somatic and physiological pain can be directly connected to emotional pain from past traumas, secondary traumas, the worries of uncertainty and the perceived threat of danger in my body
- Being in my wholeness and in acceptance of what is right now, I continue to humbly use ancestral medicine and home remedies available here:
- Taking naps
- Massages in my legs, calves, and soles with essential oils
- Journaling and creative handwriting
- Cooking more salads and greens
- Eating on time
- Reading and learning ways my ancestras survived during their chaotic times
- Yoga at-home practice
What are expansive ways to express gratitude daily?
- In her way, Mother Earth keeps telling us that we need to change. I am her humble daughter and grateful that she nurtures me daily. I am grateful to be alive.
- Immigrant workers, caregivers, undocumented workers, global farmers, security guards, social workers, nurses, public transportation drivers, somatic healers, community organizers and medicine people, truck drivers, cleaners, food service workers, grocery store workers, delivery persons, mailpersons, etc. are always essential frontline workers. I am in awe of their presence in my life. I am grateful that because of their beautiful healing hands I can still eat.
- I am grateful that my families have access to food and shelter for now.
- I am grateful that my body keeps speaking to me in different ways.
- I am grateful for How to Survive the End of the World, a podcast by adrienne maree brown and Autumn Brown.
- I am grateful for my plantitas, which remind me daily that with a little water, they will continue to grow.
- I am grateful for our collective resilience and for the reminder that being born in chaos has taught me many lessons.
- I am grateful for the free resources available on the https://self-compassion.org website developed by Dr. Kristin Neff from her research in Mindfulness.
How are you all, near and far, taking care of your energetic body while supporting your collectives?
What are past and present ancestral practices that facilitate you feeling more connected from within?
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