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World Mental Health Day: Ophelia’s Flowers

Tate Britain Museum in London

Today I visited the Tate Britain Museum in London and I stood in front of one of my favourite paintings:

John Everett Millais’ Ophelia (1851-2)

John Everett Millais’ Ophelia (1851-2) Oil paint on canvas

It shows Ophelia, drowned, carried by the current. Her flowers are strewn on the surface of the dark water. 

The colours are beautiful – the vibrant green of the riverside, Ophelia’s fiery red hair, and striking blue eyes that still have light in them. She has her hands open as if accepting her fate, letting the water take her. Her mouth is open as if she would speak…

If you’ve read Hamlet, you know this. 

Ophelia suffers a lot in this play. She is in love with Hamlet who denies ever having loved her. She is ordered about by everyone, Hamlet, her brother, her father, Polonius, the Queen, and the usurper Claudius. She is used as a pawn against Hamlet. Her needs and desires are disregarded and she is given little room to speak even narratively by Shakespeare himself.

When her father is killed by Hamlet… she goes ‘mad’. 

Her speech becomes ‘incoherent’, her songs become ‘inappropriate’. In her madness, Ophelia finds freedom – freedom to speak, freedom to express, and to emote: grief, desire, longing… Because one of the things ‘madness’ does is that it frees your mind from this mad world’s constraints and fears. ‘Madness’ makes you fearless and therefore you can speak. 

It is in her ‘madness’ that Ophelia is finally able to speak. She sings songs and gives different flowers to each of the characters:

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. 

 Pray you, love, remember.

 And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts …

There’s fennel for you, and columbines.

There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me. 

We may call it “herb of grace” o’ Sundays.

– Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference.

There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, 

But they withered all when my father died.” 

(Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5)

Her flowers have meaning, they are symbols. Ophelia’s songs and flowers speak for her. 

Ophelia’s flowers

In Millais’ painting, Ophelia’s flowers are still with her, speaking to the viewer in her stead. I wonder what each of us hear…

Ophelia’s death is left ambiguous. It happens off stage and we are only told of it by the Queen who implies that it was an accident – “an envious sliver broke”, and she “fell in the weeping brook”. “Her garments, heavy with their drink, Pulled [her] to muddy death” (Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 7). 

Ophelia drowns… her death as passive as she was in life.

This is one of the readings. 

However, suicide is also suggested further along in the play. 

We may never know what really happened, we may never know if her death was intended or an accident. I wish I knew Shakespeare (and that he was alive, of course) so I could ask him this and a few other million questions.

I thought of all of this as I sat on the almost-empty gallery, looking at Millais’ Ophelia. The fact that today, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day made it twice as significant for me to be there in front of Ophelia.

For the longest time, I paid no mind to my mental health… Until something happened to me that made it impossible not to. Since then, I’ve realised the true importance of caring for our minds as much as for our bodies. Both are precious tools with which we, spiritual beings that we are, manifest in this world. It is our responsibility and privilege to care for them.

Your mind needs love. It needs care and nurturing. Be careful of what you hear, see, watch… all that is the food you give to your mind. 

Your mind needs you, it needs your presence and awareness. This world needs that too.

I am sad to realise that there is still a taboo about mental health in most parts of the world. This makes people ashamed to address it, to share their experiences, to seek help. 

I am pleased to realise that in the UK, mental health is taken seriously and a lot has been done to raise awareness and to open up the conversation about mental health. 

I hope that in my own country, Mexico, we can break the taboo and start doing this too, more and more. I believe we are, slowly but surely. 

However, it is not enough to open up the conversation. We have to actively care for it. And it isn’t just about sharing your own experiences or listening to others’ experiences. It’s about taking a look at your own habits, your mind diets, your thoughts…

I’ve realised that most people only really care about their mental health when they start to suffer because of it. Only when they start having anxiety attacks, or when they get triggered, or when depression sets in… It doesn’t have to come to that… it shouldn’t have to. Preventive medicine is the best kind of medicine. 

So, share, talk, seek help. Please do. But also, on a daily basis, meditate, exercise, make sure you get enough sleep, find ways to destress, eat healthy food, connect with others… Do everything you do with mindfulness. Care for yourself. No one else will if you don’t. (I am saying this to myself as much as I am saying this to you, I too need to prioritises my health – mental, emotional, physical)

And if something has happened to you, or if something is happening to you right now, I send you lots of light and love with these words. You are a brave soul, your heart is courageous to be braving this world. And you are not alone, even if you think you are. You are not crazy. You are not mad. You are not a bad person. You are not a misfit. You are not sick. You are not weird, or strange, or too different. You are none of these things. 

You are a perfect soul. And don’t let anything or anyone convince you to feel otherwise.

And do reach out. Even if you feel ashamed or worried about what others might think… I can assure you, there is someone who understands, there is someone who has been there too, and there is someone who can help. Write it, cry it, say it, feel it. You are not alone. No one really is. Because ultimately, We Are All One. 

You are not alone

I feel extra happy that I was able to behold Millais’ painting today. It reminded me of what I have been through, of what I’ve learned, of how much I’ve grown, and of what’s important. It made me happy to be alive. I wish Ophelia was too, but her flowers and songs will forever remind us of what was in her heart. 

Thank you, Shakespeare. Thank you, John Everett Millais. Thank you, Ophelia, may your flowers speak forever for you. 


Bibliography:

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, edited by Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor, Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2006.

John Everett Millais. Ophelia. 1851-2. Tate Britain, London.

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com
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Walking through Doors: My Visit to the Jurassic Coast

The pains that you suffer, the loneliness that you encounter, the experiences that are disappointing or distressing, the addictions and seeming pitfalls of your life are each doorways to awareness. Each offers you an opportunity to see beyond the illusion that serves as the balancing and growth of your soul.

Gary Zukav

I recently spent a few days in Dorset, in the south of England. I had never visited it before and I cannot think now why… It is so beautiful and it is definitely underrated. It seems to me that whenever people think of nice beaches or coasts, they all mention places like Spain, France, Italy (if talking about Europe), the Caribbean islands, my own dear Mexico, Hawaii, etc. Nobody really mentions England as a place where beaches and coasts are worth visiting. I too never thought they could be so beautiful.

Man O’War Beach
Man O’War Beach

But now I can say that the Jurassic Coast is definitely worth a visit, several in fact. I would love to visit again sometime and wander through the many towns, beaches, and paths, just admiring the view, feeling the ancientness of the place. As you walk in the Jurassic Coast, especially in places like Durdle Door, you can feel the waves of history that are stored in the memory of the place, in the rocks, in the cliffs, in the very grains of sand, and the seawater.

Durdle Door has now become one of my favourite sites in England. It is simply magical. No other way to describe it. 

Durdle Door

To visit Dorset, we chose Weymouth as our base, a small town by the seaside (just 3h 45m by bus from London). I am glad of that choice, I found Weymouth to be enchanting. It was quiet and calm, perfect for a brief escape from busy London. The weather was good, it was windy but not too cold. It was only cloudy one of the days but the rest there was gorgeous sunny weather and the occasional fat clouds that look ready to be painted with oil on canvas. 

Weymouth

Plus, we stayed in a cute inn called The Tides Inn. I had always wanted to stay in an inn. Something about them makes me feel like I am in a book. Also, having the pub downstairs can be fun, not only for the cider or the Pimm’s but because you get to watch people and weave stories out of them.

The Tides Inn
Sea View from the Room

To get to Durdle Door from Weymouth, we took the bus (X54) which is £4.50 (single) to Durdle Door. The bus ride (30 min approx) was full of wonderful views of Weymouth Bay and the countryside of Dorset with its bright green fields, its tall trees, horses, cows, and sheep. (I do love a good countryside view).

We got off at Lulworth Cove which is also worth visiting. There are pubs, inns, and stores about to take a break. The water is a breathtaking deep blue I didn’t know existed in English waters. It is wonderful and on sunny days, it is perfect for a swim. 

Lulworth Cove

From there to Durdle Door is a short climb/walk that is worth doing because of the views and the good exercise your body gets out of it. While I was walking along that path towards Durdle Door, my mind got quiet (finally). It is almost a meditation to walk on those cliffs. The wind and the ocean overpowered my mind chatter and I could finally rest in all that beauty. The contrast between the green of the countryside, the white cliffs, and the deep blue ocean is beautifully striking. Taking photos almost seems futile because no matter how good the camera or the angle, it feels like no photo will ever do justice to the beauty before your eyes.

Path from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door

I still tried. 

But more than pictures to remember the place, I think it is always better when I close my eyes and through memory, I go back to that moment, and I feel the wind, and I see the sun sparkling on the surface of the ocean, and I hear the waves crashing on the cliffs. I can almost breathe it in, all that beauty that makes you happy to be alive. 

And then when we finally reached Durdle Door, I smiled in awe and pure joy. Durdle Door is a natural limestone archway that is one of the most iconic landscapes of the Jurassic Coast which (thank God!) is a World Heritage Site and therefore cannot be touched. Durdle Door reminded me of el Arco de Cabo San Lucas in Baja California, Mexico. Though el Arco is just as beautiful as Durdle Door, I started thinking about the difference in names, and how much I love that this particular limestone arch is called a Door. 

Durdle Door

Names are important, and there is a difference between being an Arch and a Door. A door opens. A door allows you to enter somewhere else, something else, sometime else. The fact that this place in the Jurassic Coast which houses millions of years of geological history is called a door makes it twice as significant. It is then a great place to visit not only when you want to visit a place of historical and cultural importance or to bask in the beauty of it, but it is also the perfect place to go to when you want to go through a door (a metaphorical door in this case) towards something new, something else. That’s what I felt when I was there. I felt like that place was helping me go through the door. 

Durdle Door

Doors can be scary sometimes, especially if you don’t know what is on the other side. Sometimes we hold on too much to the past, not because it is the best, but because at least it’s known. If the past was good, we hold on to it in a futile attempt to keep what must flow. To let go has been one of the biggest struggles of my life, time and time again. And because of this, I believe doors help. They are ways out and ways in, they are full of possibility, they symbolise freedom, hope, and courage, for it takes courage to go through them. 

Sometimes doors can be frustrating though, especially doors that just won’t open no matter how hard or constantly we knock, or pull, or push. Still, I believe we should always knock at least once or twice. Even try to push or pull or turn the doorknob a little bit. If it won’t budge, then you know, it is not your door, it is not your way, and that is fine. It is more than fine, it is good because it means there’s a better door for you. I believe the Universe/God/Goddess/Love/Light/Soul (call it what you will) loves us. It never takes away from us what mustn’t go. Even if we can’t understand it, even if at first we can’t accept it. Though I know that the longer it takes us to accept it, the more it will hurt. Doors and walking through them help in accepting that what is past is past, but that there is always something else coming, something new. And I believe that what C.S. Lewis said was true: “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind”. 

Durdle Door

Walking through a door shows courage and more than that, it shows trust. Trust in life, trust in you, trust in everything. It shows belief, faith, and strength for it makes you realise that you are willing to move on, to let go, to keep moving forward with life, to step into the unknown, into the new, into the Now. 

Durdle Door helped me walked through my door, into the next chapter of my life. I have yet to discover what it is called but I don’t mind the uncertainty so much now, nor the unknown. I embrace it, it excites me, it scares me too but I know I have the strength and the courage as we all do, to face whatever comes next.  

If you ever go to Durdle Door, if you feel the place calling for your presence, make it a conscious visit and with willingness and soulful awareness walk through the door. 

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The Whole Within

A few days ago, I woke up thinking “Today I need more Yang”. 

I was out of balance. I felt too emotional, too sensitive. I no longer label that as bad, or wrong. I have worked hard to realise and accept that feeling emotional and being sensitive is good, that it is a strength, not a weakness. I know that, I accept that and honour it. But I needed to come back to my centre. As much as I love being emotional and sensitive. I also want to feel strong, centred, resilient, and powerful. Those qualities reside in me also and I’ve had opportunities to show them time and time again. I needed them right then. I needed more Yang to rebalance my Yin. 

The Ancient Chinese concept of Yin-Yang shows a Whole made of two opposites that instead of fighting against one another, complement each other. Many people have associated these opposites with moral values of good and bad. However, neither the Yin nor the Yang is inherently good or bad energy. They are just different energies, both are needed for both to exist. Without the Yin, there would be no Yang, and vice-versa. There are so much depth and wisdom to be derived from this Ancient Chinese concept, especially in our current times.

Wherever you look, “opposites” are fighting against each other. Attacking, defending, pushing back, one trying to overpower the other. We forget… without our opposites, we wouldn’t be. We are not here to fight each other, in fact, we all need each other. There must always be Yin in the Yang and Yang in the Yin. If there isn’t, we go out of balance, it becomes too much Yin, or too much Yang. And too much is as unhealthy as too little. The balance of either can only be achieved by raising and working on its opposite. 

While the Yin is associated with the internal, with the female energy within ALL of us, with the night, the Moon, the stillness, the cold, the Water, the Earth, the Heart, Spirituality, the Divine,  intuition, the Right Brain; The Yang is linked to the external, to the male energy within ALL of us, to the day, the Sun, the Movement & Action, to Fire, the Sky, the Mind, Science, matter, reason, the Left Brain. 

Even though yes, the Yin embodies the female energy, and yes, the Yang represents the male energy… Another misconception that has had serious implications is to associate these energies with the construct of gender. This misconception has caused an awful divide between men and women categories, and disregarded everyone outside of these boxes. It also has made it so that, historically, men, have been supposed to be action-focused, externally-based, energetic, analytical, determined, disciplined, authoritarian, dominant, strong, all mind no heart because they were bullied into giving up their intuition, their flexibility, their fluidity, their emotion, their internal world, their stillness, their calm, their creativity, their female energy which is part of EVERYONE and which is also our basic right, the Yin. And without their Yin, men’s Yang went out of balance, and in its unhealthy state, too much Yang becomes aggressiveness, fury, anxiousness, brutality, violence, addiction, restlessness, hate…

Women, on the other hand, were allowed their intuition, their sensitivity, being in touch with their emotions as long as they weren’t unbridled because then it was called hysteria or madness, they were allowed to come from the heart but were disregarded as inferior minds. We were allowed our Yin but not our Yang and it is because of that that our Yin ended up overflowing… our emotions raged inside us, our whole beings begged for balance, for our lost Yang… and what do we all do when we are suppressing or repressing one of these energies within us?

We try to search for it outside of us. 

So men… with repressed Yin and overflowing Yang… search for women with overflowing Yin and suppressed Yang. This is an unconscious attempt to find balance. This is the typical “macho man” with the submissive woman. But of course, too much Yang in someone, or too much Yin ends up being unhealthy, toxic, and not-functional. That is why we have toxic masculinity (too much Yang, out of balance, in need of Yin) but we also have a trampled Yin that overflows into depression, over-sensitivity, over-emotionality, drama, and doesn’t find structure and cannot function either. We sometimes try to rebalance ourselves unconsciously finding a partner that seems to embody the energy we need. The problem is that when we are too much of either, the moment we get the other energy, it will also be too much, out balance, and unhealthy. 

So people who have too much Yang and are therefore aggressive, controlling, dominant, authoritarian, despondent, condescending, arrogant, when they tap into Yin they switch to Yin’s unhealthy, overflowing state so they become emotionally manipulative, dramatic, depressed, hurtful, clingy, needy, etc… Also, people with too much Yin, when they switch into Yang, they get the Yang in its unbalanced state too and they become aggressive, anxious, vindictive, violent… etc.

Or for example, this is very typical… a man who has a very present Yin, because historically and socially the Yin has been repressed in everyone but especially in menMen who have a very active Yin are afraid of it and use their Yang to beat their Yin out of themselves, or target people who embody Yin energy more clearly, for example, women. This is the reason behind misogyny, gynophobia, transphobia, homophobia. This is also the reason why some people cheat on their partners, drink, bully, fight… Those people try to get more Yang, but because they do so unconsciously they end up using Yang in its unbalanced and toxic state and with that they try to further repress their Yin, to get rid of it. If they would only embrace their Yin instead and balance it with healthy Yang… the world would be a very different place. 

Too much or too little of either is not healthy. We need both. And most importantly we need to understand we ARE both. Sometimes we think we are only one part of the whole, that we are the part that has the Yin with a bit of Yang and that someone else who will complement us or rather “complete us” will be the Yang that has a little bit of Yin, or vice-versa.

This is not true. It is unhelpful, unhealthy, and it keeps us dependent on another external source to become balanced, functional, fulfilled, structured, and whole.

We ARE the Whole, we ARE the Yin AND the Yang. All OF US.

Both of these energies are intrinsic parts of us, and we need both to be centred, balanced, and healthy. We are entitled to both, we deserve both, all of us, regardless of our gender identity, our appearance, our genitalia, our hormones, our bodies… ALL OF US ARE BOTH. 

But because we are led to believe that we do not have one of these, or even that we are not entitled to one or deserving of one, or simply not allowed to have one of these… we go through life oscillating between both energies in their unbalanced state, going through toxic and codependent relationships with others, and making unconscious choices that cause us to lose out on a lot of life’s opportunities and happiness. This is also why we say “opposites attract” when we refer to someone who seems to be with another one who is very different from them. That relationship is an attempt to reconnect with that part of you that is lost, that you need, not necessarily with another person but with yourself. And this is why many relationships fail because there is no integration of these parts of the self, but rather co-dependency on others to provide the energies we need in order to become balanced which ultimately never works unless we find both energies in ourselves and embrace them, heal them and restore them to the centre.

I realised that to stop your Yin from overflowing, you have to add Yang. And to stop Yang from overflowing you have to add Yin. But not go to the unhealthy state… do this CONSCIOUSLY so you can use the energy you need in its healthy state to balance the other and restore it to the centre. 

So I had been feeling out of balance. My Yin was overflowing, my Yang was nowhere to be found. I needed to help my Yin come back to the centre, I needed to help it heal and I instinctively knew I needed Yang to help my Yin. However, as I realised all this about the Yin and the Yang within me, for the first time, I resisted the impulse to go looking for my Yang outside of myself. Instead I made a little experiment. So a few days ago I decided: Today I am going to be Yang. All day. 

I wrote all the characteristics I associate with Yang in its healthy, balanced state and sought to embody them for a whole day. My list went something like this: Strength, determination, assertiveness, action, ambition, spontaneity, adventure, excitement, courage, protection, discipline, confidence, productivity…

That day I engaged in all kinds of activities that would wake up and sustain my dormant Yang energy within me and gave me opportunity to embody these qualities:

That day…

I woke up early, took a cold shower, put on working trousers, and shoes (I usually have just been wearing leggings and flip-flops during this lockdown), I tied my hair (I usually love it free and flowing), I power walked to the supermarket, looking straight ahead without ever stopping. I did not say sorry like I usually do when someone allows me to pass first (why do I usually say sorry for that? I wondered afterward), I just nodded and said thanks. I was surprised that my voice even sounded stronger, firmer, lower. I looked at my finances that day, paid all my credit cards, figured out my budget, worked with numbers, I got work done too. When it was time to do exercise instead of doing yoga or pilates like I usually do, I chose something that helped me develop my strength so I did body pump, lifted weights, worked on my core. I went outside to explore the countryside and took new paths that I hadn’t even seen before. 

By the end of my day, embodying Yang, I felt so good… so centred, so balanced, so strong. When I relaxed in the evening, I tapped into my Yin consciously again and I no longer felt over-sensitive. I did Yin-like things: I wrote, I took a bath, I did a bit of stretching and looked into my feelings. I felt surprisingly at ease. For days I had been crying, I had been feeling depleted, lonely, and sad. Now I still felt sadness because of recent events in my life but it was not overpowering. I cried, careful not to repress my feelings… but just two tears rolled down my cheeks and I found that I didn’t need more. I felt at peace. My Yang had helped my Yin. And it had been my Yin, my intuition, that had allowed me to find my Yang by telling me all this and creating this experiment, in the first place. It is just so wonderful to see that we have all this power of balance within us. We always did, but now that I know it and I can use it CONSCIOUSLY… I feel so… grateful, so relieved. I feel grateful that I am not only Yin, I am grateful that I can be Yang. And I am grateful to know that everyone is BOTH. If we understood this, truly… everything would change… gender roles and binaries, misogyny, gynophobia, toxic masculinity, homophobia, transphobia… all those fears would transmute into understanding, freedom, compassion, joy, and celebration of the wholeness in difference. I believe that we are moving (slowly) but surely towards that… and may the YIN-YANG within ALL of us help us on our way.

I found this later on the internet. I find it helpful to make my own list but if anyone wants to tap more into their Yin or their Yang, here is a quick useful list. 

May you stay WHOLE always and may you use your Yang to heal your Yin and your Yin to rebalance your Yang.

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Why I No Longer Feel Guilty When I Check My Privilege

Nowadays, privilege is a word we hear in many contexts. There are so many privileges people can have: the colour of your skin can bring you privilege, your social status, your income, your place of origin, your passport, your visa status, your language, your accent, your facial features, your gender identity, your sexual orientation, your body, your family background, your health, your religion, your education… 

I used to get defensive when I heard variations of “Check Your Privilege”. When people have thrown this at me with resentment in their voice, I couldn’t help but feel a bit attacked. I used to get upset by it. After all, I can’t even control or take credit for some of my privileges. Still, I used to try to excuse myself: “I didn’t choose this skin”, “It’s not even my money, it’s my parents! I had nothing to do with it!”, “Hey! I worked hard for my education!”… All I really wanted to say was: “It’s not my fault!”

It took me a few years to realise that it is not really about “fault” and that denying my privilege wasn’t helping anyone. 

As I grew up I learned of the many ways I myself are oppressed… because I am a woman; because how “white” I am depends on where I am in the world; because while in Europe “I am not-so-brown for a Mexican woman but definitely someone of colour”, in my own country I am “a whitexican (White Mexican)” and hence, part of the privileged sector in Mexico; because I speak “good English for a ‘Hispanic’” (whatever that word means); because it is impressive that I can travel to other countries and be so educated for “someone from a Third World country”, and other things people have said to me.

Then I learned the names of the structures and systems in place that shape/shaped our world and which have set the social hierarchy that gives privileges to some at the expense of others: Patriarchy, Colonialism, Imperialism, Neocolonialism, Structural Racism, Heteronormativity, Capitalism… just to name a few.

Learning these names and what they mean gave me insight into how the world perceived me and how my identities intersect and give me a place in the world in the eyes of others.  

I understand now why the people who told me to check my privilege sounded so resentful. And I must admit, I was afraid of their resentment. I kept arguing because I wanted them to know that I wasn’t their enemy. That is why I kept making excuses for my privileges and even tried to convince them that life had also been hard/difficult/unfair to me. It came to a point where other people and I even engaged in the Who-Is-Less-Privileged Game as if it were a competition to see who is more wretched than who and therefore deserves more… What? … Praise? Credit? We didn’t even know what we were fighting for.

Now a wonderful word comes to mind: Empathy. 

We all need Empathy. Empathy is Key. So are Kindness, Understanding, Open-Mindedness, and Compassion.

I realised that I didn’t want to engage anymore in the Who-Is-Less-Privileged game, its podium wasn’t one I wanted to be on and, moreover, the competition was too great… There is always going to be someone less privileged than I, there is always going to be someone more privileged than I. My complex intersectional identity has made me face both wonderful and difficult situations throughout my life and I thank it for I have grown from these challenges. 

I don’t shrink back from “Check Your Privilege” anymore. I have realised that when people point out your privilege they are not saying that you haven’t worked hard or faced difficulties before, it just means that some parts of your identity (maybe your whiteness, maybe your heterosexuality, maybe you being male, maybe your nationality, etc) is not a factor for which you will be oppressed or discriminated. What helps now is to shift our perspectives from feeling guilty for what we have to feeling grateful for our affluence. 

The problem with some privileges though is that they often come at the expense of others because when creating the ONE as the norm, the OTHER suffers. If we find ourselves in the position of the ONE, the best thing we can do is not to bring ourselves down but to raise others up, to make it so that they are not THE OTHERs at all, to USE our privilege to bring attention to what needs to change in order to live in an equal world, to listen to other people, to stand with them, to pass them the microphone. Yes, the resentment in some voices may still be there. Just know that feeling guilty won’t help nor will it help to cancel them for their resentment. Reproaching others for their privilege doesn’t help either but making them aware of it will. 

Nevertheless, no matter how careful we are sometimes in these talks and debates and exchanges… people can still be offended or feel attacked, walls come up, defensiveness kicks in… Survival mode. Every man for himself. We must strive to change this, we must if we want to live in a better world! If someone says something that moves you, that makes you react first just… Breathe. Rather than engaging in what can become an argument try to listen, hear their perspective. Don’t take it personally, a lot of people talk from their pain. We must strive to put our ego aside and just listen rather than defend. 

Souls don’t get offended, egos do.

Know that if someone is reproaching you, insulting you, or verbally attacking you, it’s a sign that they are hurting. And for some reason when humans are hurt… they tend to hurt other humans… as if that would lessen their own hurt… but it doesn’t. We all need to remember that the next time we want to hurt as we have been hurt. When that instinct kicks in just… Breathe into it. Breathe into your pain, it will help lessen its sting. 

And if we want to change the world for the better we have to be willing to listen to those whose voices have not been heard before. All the riots… they are screams, pleas to be heard… Maybe if we listened, they wouldn’t have to shout so loud. 

And if we truly want to help we must muster all our empathy, all our kindness, all our open-mindedness, all our courage, and bravery to listen to others but also to look inside, to check our privilege, to acknowledge it, to see what behaviors, attitudes, ideas within ourselves do not serve to create a kinder world, and to care enough to change them. More than anything, what could heal us most of all is to realise the Oneness of us all. Oneness doesn’t mean we are the same because, in truth, we are all different, but it just means that spiritually, energetically, soulfully We Are All One, we are all divinity expressed in different individuations. We have all been in each other’s shoes before, we have all been everyone. There are no victims and villains, we are all here just trying to wake each other up and to evolve. We are all mirrors of each other and what we give to others we give to ourselves because there is really only one of us. So let’s give each other Understanding, Empathy, Compassion, Solidarity, Kindness, Help, Love… And watch the world change.

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The Oneness of COVID-19

May 2, 2020

What the COVID-19 virus has helped in making more evident than any other event that we have had in the last centuries is that WE ARE ALL ONE. 

This sentence which I have heard from different spiritual leaders, religions, philosophies, literatures, is more evident now than ever.

For the first time, it is clear that we are all indeed one and that what affects one of us, eventually, affects all of us.

The rapidity with which this virus spreads has now made it a global pandemic which now ails all of the globe. The fact that it can cause death for vulnerable people causes concern and those people are whom we stay home for, because we all know somebody who could be seriously affected by the virus: maybe our grandma whom we love so much, maybe our friend with asthma, or maybe our teacher who is a single mother and has to take care of her kid so cannot afford to get sick. We all have someone we care for, someone we are worried about. Then there are those people that worry us not particularly for physical health issues but for their mental health and wellbeing in general. I think of my friends from university, most of them shut up in tiny rooms in student residence halls, with not enough space to even have a good, long stretch. I think of my friends who live alone and do not even have cats or dogs they can hug just so they can feel another body warm and alive. I think about every person, such as myself, who has gone without a hug for more than a month, let alone a hug, not even a high five. I think of all the people who are separated from their families by oceans, borders, and closed airports. And then I think of the ones that I do not want to think about, the people that are sick, self-isolating in their homes and I wonder if they have enough strength to cook a hot, comforting soup for themselves. I try to send them good energy with my thoughts, to tell them to push through, they can do this. And the ones at hospitals… I don’t even want to imagine what they are going through. But worst of all, the unthinkables, are the bereaved ones. The ones who have actually lost someone because of this virus and couldn’t even say goodbye, couldn’t even hold hands, or hug, or kiss for the last time. 

It all seems surreal. Part of me wonders if it is all truly happening or if maybe we all jumped down the rabbit hole together. I have gone down the rabbit hole by myself before, but the difference now is that we did it together. Together. All of us.

Consensual reality is now madness. Global pandemic. A collective psychotic episode. I wonder, when will we wake up?

And here is where my broody, glum thoughts stop. And I feel a small shy smile start to form at the corner of my lips. I guess we are… waking up, I mean. This global pandemic, this virus, this shadow is forcing us to become light. It is the setting, the background, the context, the darkness, in which we can become stars instead of planets. Instead of being rocks floating in the universe, we can become suns, sources of light. Do you know how stars are born? They are created when their elements are under enough pressure to undergo fusion. Same way with diamonds, graphite needs to be heated and compressed in order to turn into diamonds. 

COVID-19 is definitely a source of pressure, it is our wrench, the darkness against which we can shine. Like every other “bad” thing that ever happened to us, it is a blessing in disguise

I know, I know, whenever I use this phrase, I always get a few eye-rolls. I would do the same if every “bad” event in my life had not shown me after many dark nights, tears, pain, and fear, that this is in fact true. 

The worst things that have ever happened to me, with time and a looooot of growth on my part, have turned out to be the best things in my life. Things from deaths of loved ones, to illnesses, to heartbreaks, to failures, to all of life’s frustrations… all of them have shaped me, made me who I am, and each time one of them comes along, another “bad” event, (I call them alarm clocks, because they wake me up, a little bit more, every time), I become stronger, kinder, wiser, more empathetic, more understanding, and more loving than before. 

This virus is no different. The only difference now is that it is an alarm clock for everyone, everywhere.

I remember when it was only in China. We mostly thought, Oh my god, that sounds awful, I hope they will be able to solve it soon, and then we went on with our days. It wasn’t until it affected us, personally, or our loved ones that we started giving it a second thought. We think of ourselves as separate from each other, us and them, always the one against the other and never the twain shall meet. How much damage has that thought done in the world? If you think about it, all human conflicts have stemmed from this exact idea of separateness at an individual level or on a global level. Every war is fought on the basis of separateness. It is truly madness. And yet, it is very hard to think of each other as one because we are used to thinking that to be all one means to be “one and the same” and we are definitely not all the same, we all are wonderfully different from each other, we are all walking worlds that often share common aspects. I believe our differences enrich this world, they should be a cause for celebration, not division, not discrimination, not segregation, not separation. 

We are definitely not the same, but that doesn’t mean we are not one. I believe all life is one, we are all part of each other, just in different individuations. I see this clearly when I look at a toddler running around and I feel this flowering feeling in my chest, or when I hear a babbling brook, or see a tree shaking its leaves aided by the wind, I feel this when a stranger is kind to me, when a friend from the other side of the world lets me know I am not alone, I feel this when I with all the neighbors go out to clap into the streets for the many people who are working to save lives in this pandemic, I feel this when I look at the stars at night and I remember who I am. I feel this and I call it love. 

That’s what we are, ultimately, at the core of our beings, and I can only hope that that is what we chose to be at every moment, with every thought and word we say. And I believe that this pandemic, this virus, will speed us on our way. 

“Behold the darkness, yet curse it not. That the moment of your greatest darkness may yet become your grandest gift.” -Neale Donald Walsch

Demons Within: Eckhart Tolle’s Pain-Body in Marvel’s Venom (2018)

Based on the character of Marvel Comics, the movie Venom (2018) follows the story of Eddie Brock, a journalist who tries to expose a fraudulent company doing experiments on humans that attempt to unite human beings with an alien race called “symbiotes” in order to colonise other planets. (Aside: I can’t help but roll my eyes at the idea of colonising other planets. It is so sad that the imperialist spirit hasn’t died, right? People from former colonised countries can tell you, it isn’t fun or fair and… nor is living a postcolonial situation and let alone a neocolonial one. But okay, back to the movie now) 

Accidentally, Eddie gets bonded with one of these symbiotes called Venom who gives him extraordinary abilities and together they take down villains from both races, humans and symbiotes. 

When I first watched this movie, though I liked it and found it funny and entertaining, I must admit, I also got a bit scared. The scene that scared me was the one where Venom makes himself known to Eddie (Venom 57:34-58). My hair stood on end when Venom’s head comes out of Eddie Brock and, still attached to him, faces him. He looks so frightening, with his demon-like grin and empty, milky white eyes, it sent a shiver down my spine. But it wasn’t just the visuals that did it, it was the idea it represents: the demons within. 

Eddie meets Venom

It struck a chord. That scene made me think of the demons within ourselves that we may not know they are there but which speak to us, bringing out the worst in us. And yet, those demons eventually show us the path to enlightenment when we manage to bring them into the light.

I believe this movie hinted at the concept of the pain-body introduced by spiritual master Eckhart Tolle in his world-renowned book, The Power of Now. If you haven’t read it, please do. The world would benefit immensely if everyone heeded Tolle’s words of wisdom and put them into practice.

In The Power of Now, Eckhart defines the pain-body as the accumulated pain that  we carry within our mind and body, “the shadow of our ego” (45). He also states that it can be dormant or active, and that its awakening can be triggered by situations that resonate with past pain (45)

He writes:

“Some pain-bodies are obnoxious but relatively harmless, for example like a child who won’t stop whining. Others are vicious and destructive monsters, true demons. Some are physically violent; many more are emotionally violent. Some will attack people around you or close to you, while others may attack you, their host. Thoughts and feelings you have about your life then become deeply negative and self-destructive. Illnesses and accidents are often created in this way. Some pain-bodies drive their hosts to suicide” (45). 

I find lots of parallels between the pain-body and the character of Venom. 

In the movie, at first, Eddie is not aware that he has Venom inside him, thus, he is completely at his mercy, just as we are when we confuse our pain-bodies with our own selves. We become the negative thoughts, we become the pain, the anger, the resentment, the fury, the sadness, the anxiety… in whatever form your pain-body manifests, physical or emotional pain… we often mistake it for our true selves. Just like Eddie does at first.  

Even though he gives him super strength and agility, Venom also enhances Eddie’s most destructive aspects of his being and endangers his loved ones. He not only attacks people and eats them but also turns against Eddie and harms him. He tortures him with negative thoughts: “I know everything Eddie, everything about you. I am inside your head. You are a loser, Eddie” (Venom 57:34-58). In this scene, Eddie squeezes his eyes and attempts to cover his ears, trying to shut Venom’s voice out for it verbalises Eddie’s worst thoughts about himself just like our pain-bodies do to us. In fact, Eddie later discovers that Venom is killing him from the inside. 

It is only until Eddie meets Venom and they face each other that they start to work together and eventually become friends. This is a story about befriending your demons and it encourages us to do the same with our pain-bodies. Eckhart Tolle suggests that when we get out of identification with the pain-body and align with the Presence within us, we become the watcher, the observer. And when we observe our thoughts/emotions without labelling them, aligning with them, or mistaking them for our identity, when we become “the watcher, the observing presence (…) all that is unconscious in you will be brought into the light of consciousness” (35).

The solution is to disengage from the pain-body, to look at it, to face it, and to see it for what it is, to bring it into the light. To watch it, to observe it and thus, to be able to work through it and to dissolve it so that we are not at the mercy of our thoughts and emotions, reacting all the time to external events and internal conditions but rather to be able to tap into that state of Presence, of absolute Stillness where peace and light quietly reside. And it is in this state that we can become aware, awake, and alight. The pain-body is nothing more than a tool to get us into this state. The bigger, meaner, more destructive your pain-body is, the more you will have the urgency to connect with the Presence within yourself to be finally free of pain. With this awareness, just like Eddie, we can befriend our Venom, thank it for its purpose in getting us back to ourselves and let it go. 

Even though I know that as a Marvel movie, Venom’s main goal is to entertain, more than launch people into a whole spiritual wondering… I think Venom’s creators were fully conscious of the parallels between Venom and the pain-body. It doesn’t seem a coincidence to me that when, at the beginning of the movie, his life is going downhill, Eddie turns to meditation, and he lays on the floor of his apartment and listens to an audiobook. That audiobook is The Power of Now, and Eckhart Tolle’s voice is heard saying one if his most quoted quotes:

Realize deeply that the Present moment is all you ever have

Eckhart Tolle

At this, I smiled at the screen as I thought, Okay, I see what you did there. 


Bibliography & Filmography:

Fleischer, Ruben. Venom. Marvel Entertainment, 2018.

Tolle, Eckhart. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. New World Library, 2004. PDF.

Love is (not) enough

How many times have we heard things like ‘love is the answer’, ”love is all you need’, etc.

I used to believe love was enough, I used to believe that if someone loved you then it would work out. That if someone loved you and you loved them it would all be alright, that you would be able to overcome anything. Yes, I am talking about romantic love in this case, though it applies to other types of love relationships as well.

I recently realised this is not true because love is not enough.

My inner child is rebelling against these words I am writing and she screams inside me, How can you say that? So I have to explain it to her.

In life there are only two basic core emotions, love and fear. Total opposites. Sometimes people believe the opposite of love is hate but no, it’s fear. Hate is just fear disguised in anger and violence. Love and fear are the two basic core emotions from which every other emotion emerges.

The Positive emotions such as joy, empathy, hope, understanding, trust, open-mindedness, peace, strength, wisdom, courage, gratitude, happiness, etc. all stem from love. Love sponsors these emotions so whenever you feel them, if you dig deep you will find love as the roots of the emotion. On the other hand, the Negative emotions are sponsored by fear: hate, fury, resentment, guilt, betrayal, hurt, jealousy, shame, apathy, despair, sadness, anxiety, etc. They all come from fear, if you dive deep you will find fear at the base. And if you ponder the question: fear of what? The answer is always the same one: fear of death. Not only fear of our own physical deaths, but fear of the ego, fear of losing anything or everything we identify ourselves as, sometimes it’s an image we portray, sometimes it is material stuff, sometimes it is our position, our body, our job, or even our relationship with someone. Sometimes unconsciously we identify with all these things to the point to which our very own selves seem created by them so the fear of losing them would represent death of that image of the self we have created in our minds.

So, with everything in life we have only two basic choices: fear or love. Whenever we do something, or say something, or think something, or feel something we are either doing/thinking/saying/feeling it out of fear or out of love. All your actions are sponsored by either of these forces and if you go inward and dig deep enough you can always know which has been your guide. Needless to say that to create a better world we would all have to choose love, every time, consciously. But to do so, we have to be aware of all this. That is the first step.

So if we take love in this sense, this all-encompassing love then yes it is enough…

But I mean the love in romantic relationships, the one when people say “I love you” but they cannot support that statement because they… we… I include myself for I have too done that before… because we lack self-love.

Love is not enough to make a relationship work. Not in its one-dimensional aspect. Love needs to be unfolded in order to succeed. For a relationship to work, you need love, yes, but you also need strength, understanding, wisdom, honesty, trust, respect, confidence, integrity, courage, loyalty, self-esteem, assertiveness, forgiveness… All derivatives from love but unique and important on their own. And most importantly, self-love, for we can only love another to the extent we love ourselves and others can only love us to the extent they love themselves.

This is why Stephen Chbosky’s quote in The Perks of Being a Wallflower hit us all in a soft spot, because we all know intuitively that this is true. What is in reflects our outside. The love we have for ourselves will also manifest in our relationship with others, and we will only be able to love others as much as we love ourselves. And sometimes, when we find something good, something worth while, something worth working for… we mess it up. Feelings of unworthiness will make us sabotage good relationships. So will the fear of being hurt again. This fear will prevent us from even seeking a relationship in the first place. Fear destroys love. And the fact that we messed it up will only reaffirm our low self-esteem. It is a vicious cycle, hard to see, even harder to change but not impossible.

We can choose love instead. If we see our fear for what it is we can shine the light of our consciousness on it. We can feed it love instead. Where fear breaks, destroys, kills… love creates, heals, and grows anew. Fear is not our enemy, it is our teacher. Fear is our catalyst for change and even if we need twice as much love as before to rebuild our self-confidence, to heal our broken heart, it will be worth it. And the next time someone breaks our heart, or tries to, we will know, we can always choose love again. Self-love first and foremost, and the rest will follow. And if we healed once, we can do it again. Every time you suffer heartache, you also become better at healing, you become more whole, more capable of loving. Any heartache only adds to your heart the capacity to feel, and to love.

Yes, love is enough, my dear inner child, but only if you dare to seize it whole in all its aspects and embody all its attributes, with every one of your thoughts/choices/words/actions. Be loving, but also be brave, be strong, be kind, be honest, be loyal, be decent, be respectful, be conscious, be resilient, be flexible, be selfless, be trustworthy and trusting, be reliable, be assertive, be confident, be joyful, be fun, be empathetic, be understanding, be open-minded, be caring… and be these things for and towards others, yes, but most importantly, for and towards you. You can only be these things towards someone else, truthfully and genuinely, to the extend you are being these things towards you and for you. If you are not kind to yourself but you are kind towards others, you may not be kind because of kindness’ sake, but to secure other people’s love and appreciation, which ultimately means that your actions may be coming from fear… fear of losing love and when someone is afraid of losing love, or being abandoned, or feeling unloved, or being rejected, then they take abuse from others which leads to more self-doubt or even self-loathing.

The person who needs you to be these loving things the most is yourself for yourself and towards yourself. And I am talking about the love that puts yourself first from a place of love, because it knows that you taking care of yourself and giving yourself love will ultimately make you a more loving and caring person for others for you won’t do things to please them, to enchant them, to make them stay, but because you are so full of love that you need to share it, it overflows, it fills you up and expands towards others, naturally, effortlessly.

Yes, love can be enough but only if we choose love… every time, with every word, every choice, every thought, every action. And the first step to do this is to observe our thoughts/actions/words/feelings, to monitor them and when one arises to ask ourselves…. Is this coming from love or from fear and if it is from fear how can I shift to love? What would Love do/think/say/feel?

Love is enough as long as it is based on love, not fear. If you love someone out of fear… fear of loneliness, fear of emptiness, fear of unworthiness, then that is not really love… that is a statement of the lack of it.

If you love someone because of who they are… instead of who you are… your love is akin to fear as well because it will depend on the other person being who you need them to be, and if they fail you, and they probably will because no one is perfect, and no one should be expected to be… that love will fail.

If you love someone not because of who they are but because of who you are… then that love will stay (I am no saying the relationship will stay, necessarily, but the love will) despite what they do or don’t do for the love you have and are is not dependent on external circumstances. That love will not be so much a statement of the relationship but a statement of who you choose to be. And regardless of whether they leave or stay… if the love remains -love for yourself, love for them and who they were in your life, whether a great love, a wonderful companion, a teacher, a guide… all they were. And gratefulness for what you lived together, for the good moments, but also gratefulness for the lessons you learned in the tough moments- if all that love and gratefulness and light which is all part of the same energy, the divine energy some call simply Love, remains… then no matter what happened, happens or will happen, it was all worth it. And regardless of who stays, who goes, who comes, who leaves, the love will remain for it becomes you, you become it. All that love, the love you give, gave, the love you received, the love you share or shared… it BECOMES YOU. You become that love itself, and then it will always stay for it is not only part of you or part of your story, it is you. All the love in your life will guide you through every moment, in every Now. That love which remains, the love that is you, will allow you to see your past, present and future with bright eyes, with love and gratefulness, and hope.

So yes, my darling inner child, love is enough, it is always enough, but make sure the love you profess is rooted in love as well and then and only then will it truly outlive every heartache and every pain and it will shower you with beauty and more love, for evermore.

Book Reviews June-July 2020

Postcards to the Universe: Harness the Universe’s Power and Manifest Your Dreams by Melisa Caprio

Genre: Self-Help, Self-Care

Breathtaking pictures, practical advice, and words full of wisdom. Postcards to the Universe is a wonderful book that offers guidance to experience health, love, abundance, and fulfilment by using one’s own power of manifestation. One of the things I loved most about this book is that it not only offers wisdom and insight, but it also gives you wonderful activities, tips and beautiful rituals to try. It gets you moving! It starts you off on the path to manifest what you want.

The writing flows and the words and pictures are infused with love. Reading this book is like having coffee with a good friend who has been where you are and wishes to share with you what has helped her in the past. As you read the book you go inward, and you can feel things shifting once you start exploring within, just by answering the questions that the book poses. It is a deep, personal, soul-searching experience.

The cherry on top is the collection of beautiful pictures of the many wonderful postcards made by different people who also share the stories. This is a book you want to buy in printed form to enjoy the wholeness of the pictures. The stories of all these people inspire and also let you know that you are not alone, that many go through similar experiences as you, that everything changes, and, more importantly, that we have a saying in the direction that change will take by using our own power of manifestation. Overall, a wonderful, enjoyable, and helpful book!


I Work for Me: 7 Steps for Successful Entrepreneurship by Snehal R. Singh

Genre: Self-Help, Business, DIY

Snehal R. Singh’s book I Work for Me: 7 Steps for Successful Entrepreneurship is a wonderful handbook for anyone who is self-employed, anyone who wants to start a business, has a project in mind or simply works from home (which a lot of us are doing right now). She gives practical, eye-opening tips, and advice that will lead you to become a more organized, more confident, more dedicated version of yourself. I especially loved the ideas she suggests about how to set up a positive, professional mindset for running your own business. For example, she suggests for you to write to yourself an offer letter appointing yourself as whichever role you will be fulfilling in your own business, whether that is just one role or multiple. This kind of simple but powerful acts, I believe, can help us take ourselves and our job/passion/business/brand seriously, they lead us to root for ourselves and to give our dreams the importance and priority they are due.

The guidance Singh provides in this book ranges from business technical advice to self-care which is as important as managing your social media accounts when you are working for yourself since you are both your employer and employee and your wellbeing will also influence the affluence of your project. Reading this book, I felt motivated. It reminded me of the power we have to build the lifestyle and career we want, and it gave me the clarity I was seeking to take the steps needed to put my ideas into action. Singh’s voice is compelling, friendly, clear, and kind. I recommend this book to anyone who feels daunted by the prospect of setting off on their own. This book is a source of encouragement, clarity, and guidance. After you close the book, you definitely feel more confident, determined, and ready. It feels like by reading this book you are already taking the first step into making your dream a reality.  


Becoming by Michelle Obama

Genre: Memoir

Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming humanises the controversial world of US politics and life in the White House. I read this through Audible, and it was a pleasure to hear Michelle Obama narrate her life not only through her own words but with her own voice. Her voice is clear and kind, I recommend buying the Audiobook version. She talks about racism in the US, sexism, politics, and the hard balance between work and family life. She also gives insight into the pressures a life in politics entails and her strength, her courage and wisdom are admirable.

The only thing I didn’t like about this memoir is the aggrandising of war. As the kind woman she is, Michelle visited war veterans in the hospitals which is great, but the whole idea of fighting a war “to protect” your country has never sat well with me. It makes no sense to me that there is still war in the world and that the US has a part to play in wars that are not even inside of it. The idea that going to war is an admirable thing to do for me is part of a brainwashed ideology based on separation psychology: us vs them. To save our world we don’t have to win more wars we have to stop them altogether and stopping the idealisation of war in movies, books and media is one step towards that. But I do think it is great of Michelle to visit veterans in the hospitals, though I think it would be better if the US just stopped sending soldiers to war altogether and stopped making soldiers in the first place, and stopped making guns and weapons while they are at it… But I know that is one of their most successful businesses, so, for now, it is just wishful thinking.

Even before reading this I had wished Michelle to be president. How nice it would be to have a woman like her in the steering wheel of the most powerful country in the world, instead of … Well, you know.

My heart sank when, at the end, she states that she will never ever run for president. After reading her memoir, I already expected that but I was still disappointed.

Nevertheless, it is nice to know that women are starting to be more heard, that they are starting to be more recognised and placed in positions of power. I think Michelle’s story can inspire us all to raise our voices, to become visible, to take up space and to share what we have to give with the world.


The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary

Genre: Romance

Spoilers coming up. 


I must admit I only got to this book because it was the daily deal on Audible and as a bookaholic I couldn’t resist the temptation of purchasing a book for £1.99, especially on Audible where they tend to be extra expensive. I also thought that if anything, it would keep me amused on the underground while commuting, and it did. The premise of the story -two strangers who share a flat/bed but occupy them at different times of the day- seemed formula for funny/awkward/drama/disaster sort of plot and it was. As with most romance novels the plot is quite predictable and some of the characters (especially the villain) are very one-dimensional. I also cringed at the male-saviour moments.

Nevertheless, it is funny, and entertaining. I found refreshing that the abuse the female protagonist suffers at the hands of the male villain is not romanticised like in other novels but criticised in accordance with contemporary rising awareness of abuse and mental health issues. This book, while following the romance novel formula, deals with serious issues such as gaslighting, PSTD, codependency, trauma, violence and rape within relationships.

I recommend it as nice and-they-lived-happily-ever-after kind of story that also raises awareness of issues most of us have had, have to, or will have to deal with in our relationships.


Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Genre: Non-Fiction; Racism

Like a lot of people wanting to support the Black Lives Matter Movement, I purchased this book on Audible hoping to educate myself further on racial issues especially concerning the UK, the country I am living in now. On Audible, this book is narrated by Reni Eddo-Lodge which makes it twice as enjoyable. I totally recommend buying it in its audiobook version.

I chose this book because it is very specific to the UK and the racism that exists here. I wanted to know more about it especially because I have heard a lot of White English people say things like: “Oh no, there is no racism in the UK”, or “Oh, there might be a little racism, but nothing like in the US”. And the truth is that pointing the finger to the US as an epicentre for racism isn’t helpful in changing the racism that is still very much present here as Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book evidences. The first step into stopping racism is recognising that it is there.

Even though this book talks about the UK’s situation, it encouraged me to look at the racism that exists in my own country, Mexico. Mexicans are a mixed race. Our skin colours are as diverse as the cultures within our country. It is sad to say, however, that Mexico is full of Colorism: the darker your skin is the more discriminated you are. This is also the case in many African countries and other Latin American countries. Racism, Colorism is everywhere, and criticising others for their racist attitudes doesn’t help if we don’t look into our own. This book made me question myself and it put me on the lookout for any internalised racism that may manifest in my thoughts, words, or actions. It encouraged me to dissect myself, to look in the mirror, to keep learning and unlearning because we are all here just trying to do our best. Nobody is born knowing everything there is to know about sexism, racism, transphobia, xenophobia, etc. In order to be able to help, we have to first educate ourselves in these matters, and Eddo-Lodge’s book is a wonderful guide to do that. I recommend it, even if you don’t live in the UK for it is an important reading which raises awareness, encourages soul-searching and sows empathy.

Happy reading, everyone!

Coffee Shops and Strangers

I love a good coffee shop. Who doesn’t, right?

They are cozy and perfect for catching up with a good friend, read a book, write, or work. I find the background noises of coffee shops and the soft chill music they usually have on soothing and helpful for concentrating. Then you have the added pleasure of good coffee or a chai latte, in my case, plus a cookie or a shortbread cake. It is the perfect work/study/reading environment if you feel like a bit of social company. Not that it is not as wonderful to stay home in your very own home office with your cute tea set and cactus in the window.

Sometimes days in coffee shops are uneventful but what I love most about coffee shops is that it can also be a place for new things to come your way.

I was in a coffee shop in Kensington earlier this week, writing my dissertation, or trying to. I had writer’s block which came from pure dissertation page fright. So I kept reading, looking at my phone, Shazaming the music on the coffee shop to add to my playlist titled ‘Coffee Shop Vibes’, and doing any number of stuff to keep me from actually starting to write the first chapter of my dissertation. A man with his dog came into the shop and the dog made my day by coming to my table and letting me play with her. The cute dog saving me once again from the blank page. Then the dog left and I was still not ready.

As I was having this procrastinating turmoil inside, a young woman suddenly approached me.

“Hey! Your keyboard cover is so cute! Where did you get it, it is so colourful!”

I get that a lot. My keyboard cover is cute and colourful, but the reason I have it is due more to my clumsiness and expensive habit of spilling my drinks on my laptop than my aesthetic inclinations.

I told her she could get it on Amazon, and that it was quite cheap too, and would save money by avoiding spilling accidents. She said thanks for the tip and then simply started making conversation.

Now, I am usually someone who doesn’t mind talking to strangers as long as I get good vibes from them. I listen to my intuition and this girl, I knew, just wanted a friendly conversation. Or maybe, she just wanted a friend.

The reason it surprised me more was that in London, I found soon after I moved here, people just don’t talk to strangers. If you do, everyone around you will gawk, especially if you do it on the bus or god forbid, the Underground! You can see they all go visibly surprised and uncomfortable.

Coming from Mexico, a country where people are ready to smile at you as you pass by and wish you a good morning, I felt the loss of that easiness of day to day social connection. After a few months in London, however, I got used to it. I avoided eye-contact in the Underground like every one else, more for their benefit than mine. I looked at people’s shoes instead, like Forrest Gump, and wondered where they had been and where they were going. I buried my nose in my books as usual or sometimes just my phone if there was no room to read.

In the street, I also stopped smiling at people. I learned to walk looking straight ahead, becoming a ghost like all the others. Sounds awful, I know, but it also has its perks. You feel free, unwatched (which is so not true, there are so many cameras in London), anonymous, small and grown up at the same time. It is nice, actually. Different, but cool in its own way. It took a while but now I am used to it and even appreciate this anonymity and freedom.

Nevertheless, I do believe it is sad. It is so sad that there are so many people in London, sometimes very close to each other and yet so disconnected, so far apart and just lonely. If I didn’t have friends in London that made me feel connected I know it would feel like a very different city. It wouldn’t feel so much like home. But I know that is not only specific to London but to every city or really, every place in the world. Friends, family and love (in any of its versions) are what make a place feel like home.

But now, in this COVID-19 world, I think we can all agree that making friends just got a little bit harder which is why I admired that this girl took the first step. She kept to social distancing measures and was funny and kind. We talked for a bit more than an hour, I didn’t do any work but I did smile and laughed a lot.

When it was time for me to leave, I thanked her for starting the conversation.

“More people should do that,” I said. “Especially here, especially now, in these times.”

“Yeah, I think so too.” She said. “And you look like someone with a good heart, that is why I talked to you.”

That made me smile. That’s the intuition and vibes I talked about. It’s nice to know I give them out too.

“Ditto.” I told her and she smiled back.

I walked home, with that freshness that good human connection gives you.

I realised that maybe now, especially now, we are all feeling a bit lonely, a bit disconnected, a bit far away… maybe now, especially now, it is the time to get over that ghostlike existence, now that we have to keep distance, it is more important than ever to make eye contact, to smile at each other from across the street or across the room, to wave at each other from opposite windows and sometimes just to say hello and start conversations with strangers with good vibes in coffee shops.

“You have not suffered so you cannot speak”

Written in 2017

My relatives have always been the kind of people that like to argue at the dining table. They like to think it makes lively conversation to discuss a touchy subject, but more often than not, it leads to several of them leaving the table with a scowl and a sour taste in the mouth. As I grew up, I learned the hard way that it is better to limit yourself to be an observer in these situations and that keeping your thoughts to yourself and writing them later serves you far better than arguing with your relatives. My aunts and uncles, however, are not of the same opinion.

“What is abundance?” My uncle asks the whole table. “Because I have been trying and trying to understand it and to grasp what it really means, and I just hit dead ends everywhere. So, what do you think?”

That’s a good question, I think as I look down and start to eat my soup quietly. 

“It is when you feel you have plenty, that you never will lack something”, my aunt says.

I continue to eat the soup. 

“It is when you have a lot of wealth”, says my cousin. 

My uncle shakes his head and turns to me. “What do you think, mija? You are always connected, and you have read a lot. I want to know what you think.

I smile, it warms my heart that my uncle asks me to speak my mind, and I know it is not to drag me into awkward conversations but because he genuinely wants to know what I have to say. 

I look inside my mind’s archives for what I have read and heard and learned about abundance, and I try to form a thought that conveys what I believe to be true about it.

After a few seconds, I venture: “I believe abundance is something you are, rather than something you have. A state of being. Of giving freely because you know the source of where that came from is infinite… that being love, or money, or freedom, or joy, or—”

“Ugh!” My aunt’s grunt cuts me off and everyone turns to look at her. 

She looks at me with fire in her eyes and with contempt in her voice she says, “You can only say such things because you have always had everything given to you, you have never lacked anything! Your parents have given you everything you have ever wanted, and you are way too fortunate to know what it’s like to have to work for what you have! You have never suffered so you cannot know what you are talking about so you shouldn’t even speak!”

Silence falls over my wide-eyed family. Even I, who has always known that this particular aunt has never liked me, am too stunned to speak. And I am sure now that part of her disliking me is the things she just said. Thoughts rush through my mind, But I do work hard! But I have suffered too! I have lived through the deaths of loved ones! My parents got divorced! I have buried a baby! I have seen and survived tough things! I know what it is to feel sad and broken and lonely!

I don’t say any of this because it all seems pointless and because in the back of my mind a small voice is asking: Why do I have to have suffered in order to have an opinion, to have something valuable to say, something worth listening to? 

However, I don’t ask this either. I just press my lips together and look down at my soup. I barely hear what my grandmother says next, trying to deviate the conversation to a lighter place. 

This is but one of the many instances in which I have been silenced, disregarded, or dismissed because I am too inexperienced, too young, too naïve, too innocent, too fortunate, too lucky, too loved to be able to speak about such topics as abundance, grief, success, violence, feminism, money, love, and anything really. After all, happy people, abundant people, lucky people, positive people, loved people can’t possibly understand what it is to feel grief, or pain, or heartbreak, or hopelessness, or loneliness.

This, of course, is bullshit because we have all lived through tough stuff and we have all had obstacles to overcome. Nobody is exempt from hardships, but it always amazes me how many people actually believe some people are, and how easy it is to confuse positivity, resilience, kindness and the relentless desire to see the good in even bad situations as naivety and lack of experience or knowledge. 

In this world, it seems, suffering and going through tough things gives you the right to speak. And the worst thing is that, after people repeatedly tell you this, you start to believe it. 

And the saddest thing was that when a few years later, a terrifying thing that left me shattered in pieces happened to me, one of my first conscious thoughts was: “Now, nobody can tell me I have not suffered. Now, I have earned my right to speak”.

De adentro hacia afuera

Siempre me ha gustado estar sola, la soledad era mi refugio. Ella me ayudaba a respirar, a relajarme, a escapar, a recargar mi energía… Nunca pensé que la soledad podría convertirse un día en mi prisión.
Ahora sé que estar sola por elección es muy diferente a estar sola porque no hay otra opción.

Cuando la soledad se impone, el techo y las paredes parecen más sólidas, más gruesas, más cercanas, el espacio más estrecho, el aire más pesado, el oxígeno se escabulle por la ranura debajo de la puerta. Las ventanas se vuelven vitales, las necesitas para respirar tanto como tu nariz. La ventana es un escape, un recordatorio de que el mundo sigue existiendo, de que no eres el único ser vivo que aún se mueve y respira. La ventana es tu contacto con el mundo todo el día… hasta que llega la noche y se convierte en espejo. Al encender la luz, lo único que te deja ver la ventana es tu reflejo.

Te acercas, un tanto molesta, tú quieres ver el mundo exterior. Te acercas más para ver más allá de tu reflejo. Te acercas tanto hasta quedar frente a frente contigo misma. Logras vislumbrar algunas sombras fuera de tu ventana pero luego, con un sobresalto, te percatas de que algo te está mirando. Te das cuenta de que son tus propios ojos, tu propia mirada, tu reflejo, observándote desde afuera hacia adentro, a través de la ventana que se convirtió en espejo. Por primera vez contemplas lo oscuras que son tus pupilas, el vacío en el centro de tu ojo. Un sentimiento extraño llega a ti… un sentimiento parecido al miedo. Te alejas un poco del vidrio, haciendo una pequeña lagartija vertical con tus manos y piensas: ¿Cómo puedo tener miedo de mi misma, de mis propios ojos, de mi mirada, de mi “adentro”?

Te vuelves a acercar y te desafías a mirar la oscuridad en tus ojos, ese hoyo negro que parece interminable, te preguntas a dónde lleva y si tiene fin. Sigues ese túnel y viajas por el tobogán que empieza en tus pupilas y caes en las profundidades de tu ser.

Ahí encuentras más oscuridad, neblina, lodo, musgo creciendo en lugares donde el agua está estancada dentro de ti. Descubres cavernas y cuencas que no sabías que existían. Encuentras viejas ideas que no sabías que habían echado raíz en ti, envenenando tu ser. Viendo todo este panorama desolador, no puedes ignorarlo y mientras la ventana continúe siendo espejo, no hay nada más que hacer, no hay a dónde escapar.

Entonces tomas tu decisión. Te arremangas, te amarras el cabello y te pones a trabajar. Limpias, sacas, levantas, mueves, desentierras, aireas, quitas, tiras, desechas, cortas desde la raíz todo eso que estaba atorado, putrefacto… lastimando. Luego sigues con el agua. Descubres el dique que mantiene el agua inmóvil, estancada. Levantas las piedras, quitas las ramas, creas espacio, creas caminos para el agua que empieza a fluir de nuevo. Con el río respiras y sientes que algo se destapó en ti. No hay un desborde como temías, sólo un flujo fuerte, gracias a los caminos que has creado el cauce de tu río se mantiene firme, dirigiendo el agua, caminas junto a él siguiendo tu corriente hasta que llegas a donde desemboca en el mar en ti. La brisa abre tu pecho y expande el espacio en él. Con el sol tu piel se calienta y se atreve a estirarse, con el agua y la belleza de ese mar interior, por primera vez desde que la ventana se convirtió en espejo, sientes libertad. Por primera vez, las paredes de tu cuarto son lo suficientemente grandes, el techo suficientemente ancho para hospedar tu ser. Y, por primera vez, agradeces que la ventana se convirtió en espejo porque te permitió ver el universo que llevas dentro y que cuidándolo y atendiéndolo, el mundo tras la ventana se ve mejor desde adentro.

Feet on the Earth: 7 Things to Ground Yourself

Grounding is the first thing a witch must learn before she or he attempts any kind of spell, ritual, or magic. Grounding is basic. It is a survival skill for everyone, not only for witches and healers. 

Grounding brings you back into your body, into Presence, into the Now. Grounding helps to feel centred, focused, present, safe, here. Grounding helps with anxiety, panic attacks, depression, post-traumatic stress… It helps with pain, loneliness, fear, stress. It is one of our most basic and simple tools that we can all access to heal. I believe we should all be taught how to ground ourselves since we are young. Like breathing, grounding can help you relax and bring your mind back to the present, to feel safe in your body and in the world. It can also help to steady yourself before doing something that is out of your comfort zone, something brave.

There are many ways to ground yourself. In this post, I will share the things that help me get grounded and stay grounded. 

  1. Love your feet

Your feet are of the utmost importance, they are your first connection to the Earth. They are your first point of contact between you and the ground, they give you direction and help you move. Thank your toes, your nails, your ankles. Love them, take care of them, honour them. Make sure they are well. Put lotion on them, moisturise them, clean them thoroughly in the shower or bath, touch them, caress them. Touch the soles of your feet, ask them to keep you grounded, to keep you in contact with the Earth. Thank them for carrying your whole body weight, thank them for getting you everywhere, thank them for being part of you. Get a pedicure, get a foot massage, or even better, give one to yourself. Give your feet the love they deserve, realise their importance in your life. And every time you want to get grounded, think of your feet! Send your awareness to them. Plant your feet firmly on the ground, carpet, mat… wherever you are. If you have shoes, socks, flip flops, boots, etc. feel your feet inside them. Be aware of how it feels and be conscious of your feet as you walk, stand, or sit. Wherever you are, think of your feet and, if you can, plant them in the ground and breathe into them! 

  1. Go barefoot

Whenever you can, let your feet breathe. Take the shoes, the socks, everything off. If you have a garden, live in the countryside, live near a park, leave near the beach… Walk or just stand barefoot. Feel the soil, how fresh it is. Feel the earth, the grass, the sand. Does it feel warm or cold? Bury your toes in the soil, the sand. If you are on the beach let the water reach your feet, let it sink you on the sand. The water heals you, cleanses you. If you are near a river, dip your feet. Flowing rivers have the power to wash away negative energy. Talk to the river, talk to the ocean, ask for the help of the Earth to keep you grounded, centred, connected to this life, to this world and to your true being, to your essence, and your Soul. 

3. Sit Down and Feel Your Body

Close your eyes and put your awareness on those parts of your body which are making contact with the ground, and the chair, sofa, or whatever surface where you are sitting on. Feel your back supported, feel the surface where you are sitting down. Feel your legs, your feet, the strength of your spine. Take your awareness to your bones, feel their strength, and solidity. Feel their weight and their sureness. Be aware of the gravity that keeps you on the ground. Thank that gravity. Feel your body with your hands, touch it, and press lightly on different parts of it. Say: I am here, right here. I am here. And be there with your whole being. Lovingly press each part of your body, the top of your head, the sides of your head, your cheeks, your eyes, your neck, your arms, your core… all of it. Get acquainted with your body and the space it takes. Breathe into it, allow it to be and thank it for its abilities and its limits as well. Your body is your anchor, it is one of the most precious tools you have to be able to manifest yourself in this life, with this form. Thank it every day. Your cells hear you, they hear your every word, your every thought, make sure you speak only love, health, and peace into them. If you don’t, apologise as well and change the way you talk or think about your body. 

4. Root yourself 

Plant your feet on the ground (soil or grass is preferable) but anywhere can do. Breathe and close your eyes, think of your feet, send your awareness to your soles. Imagine roots coming out of your soles and digging deep into the Earth. Even if you are not on the ground. Maybe you are in an apartment, or a second floor, still… imagine roots coming down from your feet and going through all those layers, down, down, into the earth, pass all the apartments, all the floors, deep into the ground. Imagine that your roots reach deeper, through all the layers of the Earth, deep, deep, to the very Core of Mother Earth. Get to the very Centre of the Earth. Imagine it how you will… Sometimes I imagine a bright beautiful light. Sometimes I imagine a radiant crystal, other times I imagine a bright star, but most times I imagine a loving Mother, with her arms wide open, waiting to embrace me.

5. Work with Mother Earth

Wrap your roots around that light, around that crystal, hug the Core of the Earth. Thank her… There is so much to thank her for. She volunteered to hosts us, despite all the damage we’ve done. She still gives us space, life, love. Honour that. Hug her. Thank her. Love her. And ask her to keep you connected to her, to keep you grounded, to keep you centred and safe. Imagine how her love feels. Ask her to send you her highest vibration. Imagine that energy, what colour is it? I visualise it usually as a green healing energy, or as a golden powerful light. Visualise the energy of Mother Earth surging from her, travelling through your roots all the way up, up, up, up until it reaches the soles of your feet. Imagine it travelling through your feet up to all your body, pass your ankles, shins, knees, thighs, and as it goes up to the rest of your body, it activates your chakras. Root chakra, sacral chakra, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, crown. Imagine these energy centres activating, lighting up as the energy goes up into all your body. Fill yourself with light. And then when you reach your crown chakra, try to keep your awareness there as you also think of your feet. Integrate all your body, envision all of it, connected, centred, grounded. Embody your body. Fill the Presence of your Soul in every cell, every muscle, every corner of your body. 

6. Go for a Walk

If you are on the beach, or somewhere you can walk barefoot, do that! But if not, just walk, or hike, or trek. As you walk, feel every step. Try to step with awareness, with consciousness. Sometimes walking becomes such an ordinary thing that we are not even aware of it, we walk while talking, thinking, looking everywhere but within, texting, listening to music, or I must admit I have even walked while reading a book (do not try this on the street!). But try Conscious Walking… no music, no talking, just you and your feet and the world. Make walking a meditation. Be with your body, with yourself. Clear space in your mind. Connect with your body and the Earth. It is not only a good way to exercise but also to come back to your Soul. 

7. Work on your Lower Body

Work on strengthening your core, legs, thighs, calves, ankles, knees. Work on becoming more flexible. Your legs support you, they are like the extension of your roots. They give you movement, they carry you. Work them. Do whatever exercise you find to your liking that strengthens, adds flexibility to your core and lower body. I like to do Body Pump, Pilates, Yoga, Spinning, Running, Walking, but there are so many other things to try. 

Once you get grounded, magic away! Or simply, you know, go on with your day, keep going, keep moving, keep growing, knowing that your roots are deep enough to keep you upright! Whatever happens, you take your roots with you, you take your strength, your courage, your Presence… Carry yourself with you always and know that you will be alright. Just remember to always come back to your body, to your centre, to your essence, to your Soul which is connected to everything. That’s where the healing starts.