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”.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 men… Men 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:
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.
As part of the Black Lives Matter Movement, one of the things that black people are asking other non-black people to do is to talk to other non-black people about things that need addressing like racism, white supremacy, white privilege, oppression, black history… etc. The black community is asking the world to have these often uncomfortable conversations with our own community and especially our loved ones, our parents, our grandparents who often like to state that “because they are old, they are set in their ways”, our kids, our friends, our neighbours… People we care about, people we love who may be sometimes not so willing to listen to the other side of their arguments.
Now Racism is at the top of the list for a lot of people (myself included), but in my own country, in Mexico, Sexism and Violence Against Women have been at the top of my list for years. I have had difficult conversations with my peers, friends, and family which have often led to heated discussions that end with both parties feeling attacked, offended, misunderstood, unheard, and hurt.
I have realised that it is far more challenging to talk to the people you love than to lecture people on Twitter.
When I called my father out on his sexist jokes, I wasn’t aiming to alienate him… I just wanted him to understand why they weren’t funny at all. I wanted him to soul-search, to become aware that words have power and that even if he thinks that “it is just a joke”, it does have further implications than that because it perpetuates sexist behaviours and attitudes that harm women.
I was fortunate enough to have a father that listens, that is proud to learn from his daughter, and that is willing to change his behaviours and beliefs to create a kinder, more equal world. I have also learned that to make him listen I must always come from a loving place because at the end of the day… I am doing this (having these conversations) out of love, out of love for the cause I support, out of love for myself but also out of love for my father too. If I didn’t care about what he thought, I wouldn’t spend time debating with him.
My father and I have learned to debate without attacking/offending each other and that, in turn, has helped me debate with other people I love without falling out. This post is my guide to have uncomfortable yet important conversations with your loved ones without forgetting the basic thing: that you love each other.
The hardest part comes first. When we feel we have been wronged it is very hard to listen to others’ points of view. All we want is to be heard and understood, especially if we have been constantly silenced or if our voice has been disregarded before. It is so difficult sometimes to actively listen to my loved ones because it feels like my mouth is filling up with words trying to push each other out of my lips. Yet I hold them in, pressing my lips together, and tell myself to just… Breathe.
2. REMEMBER THAT YOU LOVE THEM
This is just as important as the first point. Before I speak, I look at them in silence while I breathe. I notice things about them that I love, their hair, their eyes, the wrinkles at the corner of their eyes, their laugh lines, their freckles… I hold on to them and I wake up the deep-seated love I have for them. Moreover, I remember that they are not my enemy, and I remember all the parts of them that are beautiful, and kind, and loving. The fact that they may be unconscious in some regards, the fact that they may be displaying sexist/racist/homophobic/transphobic…etc..etc attitudes does not mean that they are evil, does not mean that they are bad people. They are not. The whole of them is much greater than that and if I love them, I make myself remember why.
3. KNOW THAT IT IS MORE COMPLEX THAN WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
It is easy to label someone this or that, it is easy to judge and condemn. It is easy, yet unhelpful, to divide the world into “good people” and “bad people”. The world is not like that. Nobody is inherently evil nor good, those are human judgements. Shakespeare said it best: “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” (Hamlet). To know that your loved ones’ views are the result of a number of factors such as past conditioning, family/historical background, culture, past experiences, education, character, upbringing, fears and anxieties, etc. is helpful in understanding why they think the way they think. And we must never underestimate the power of Understanding, it can dismantle anger, resentment, and hate, for understanding where they are coming from can spark in us empathy, tolerance, patience, and compassion.
4. BE AWARE OF THE PAIN
When you and your loved ones are debating, pain may be easily triggered when having these difficult conversations. They may say something that really moves you and you may be tempted to react and say something that in return moves them and makes them react until it all escalates into a fire that will take the double amount of water to douse. Try, as hard as you can, not to talk from your pain. If you do or did, know that it is your pain talking, the part of you that is hurt, which often wants to hurt back. Know it for what it is. Most of us have it. It’s part of our shadow, but that shadow also makes our light possible. See it, acknowledge it, address it. Shining your awareness on it will make it lose its grip on you. The other person may also be talking from his or her pain, that does not concern you. Use their pain to look at your own. The other person is your mirror, you see in them what is in you. If you hear pain, resentment, fear in their voice, hear and look into your own.
5. INFUSE YOUR WORDS WITH LOVE
The best way to get your words across is to infuse them with love, understanding, compassion, empathy, and kindness. Even reluctant ears pick up on that loving energy, and the barriers lessen, the walls come down. And if they don’t… Understand that every Soul has its own processes and goes at its own pace. Don’t judge them or condemn them, we are all doing the best we can with what we know. Don’t assume that because they didn’t seem to hear you, your words won’t reach them. Sometimes the words stay, and they may ponder your words in silence, in stillness… and that’s when the real change happens. You must also do this yourself, even if you think someone is wrong, don’t disregard your loved ones’ words so easily… ponder them, they might help you understand your loved ones more, your relationship with them and yourself too. The words that stay with you are trying to tell you something as well.
6. DON’T BE AFRAID TO APOLOGISE
If you said something hurtful, if you were unkind… Don’t be afraid to apologise. Sometimes we don’t apologise because it hurts to admit we did wrong, or that we hurt others. Sometimes it seems that as long as we don’t apologise, somehow, it isn’t real. Sometimes we don’t apologise because we are afraid we will lose our power. But power isn’t love. And apologising can spark healing. It shows great strength and courage in taking responsibility for your actions, words, the positive and the hurtful ones. Mean your apology and change your behaviour, words, energy. If they were unkind to you… don’t engage and hurt back. Muster courage, strength, understanding, and love. Change the energy. Remember who you are and who they are and most importantly, that you love each other.
7. THERE IS ALWAYS TOMORROW
More often than not debates of this sort end without any conclusion. It is most likely that you won’t change their minds and that they won’t change yours by the end of the conversation. But the point is to have the conversation in the first place and to keep having them. Change takes time and sometimes it comes all in a rush. Be patient, be kind, be brave, and keep at it. If not today, try again tomorrow. Someday, you may be surprised.
Today June 20th, 2020 is the Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year, the shortest night of the year. On this day, the Sun is at its highest, brightest, and most powerful state. In many cultures, it has been an important date which represents new beginnings, a time of fertility, renewal, and a time for setting new paths and intentions. Rituals were performed during this day by many ancient civilisations. The descendants of these still perform them today. Many people, during this day, head towards energetic portals which are found all over the world like Stonehenge, the Sun Pyramid in Mexico, etc.
However, as we are still dealing with lockdown and COVID-19… travelling towards one of those Sun-Portals may be harder or impossible this year.
Here are a few things you can do at home to celebrate this day instead and to use the energy of the Sun to set your intentions for the rest of 2020. I think we can all agree… We could all use some sunLight right now.
Go into the Sun
Even if it is cloudy where you are, the Sun is still there. Go to your window, stand there, feel its warmth. Close your eyes, face the Sun, and with your palms open towards it let it fill you. Ground yourself, feel your feet and your roots that keep you connected to the Earth but face the Sun. Ask the Sun to fill you up with its Energy. Ask the Sun to ignite your Fire, to elevate your energy, to give you courage, and strength. Use your power of visualisation, imagine the rays of sunlight entering you, running and shining through every part of your body, waking you up, raising you, arousing you, setting you on fire. Fire that transmutes, fire that heals.
2. Drink Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is associated with the Sun, it has been used by witches and healers from many civilisations for detoxing, cleansing, healing, protection, releasing, and relaxing. It is basically a magical remedy applicable for lots of things. Drink lots of it today, add honey and ginger if you want to give it an extra boost of energy. And if you are feeling more witchy, wash your face or hair with it, or better yet, take a chamomile bath.
3. Listen to Sunny Music
Make a playlist of every song you associate with the Sun, the Summer, the Light. Of course mine starts with Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles. It also includes: Island in the Sun by Weezer, Walking on Sunshine by Katrina & the Waves, Pocketful of Sunshine by Natasha Bedingfield, Walk In the Sun by McFly… If you have more recommendations, would love to know!
4. Wear the Sun
If you have something bright, something yellow, something red, something orange… now is the best time to wear it. If you can buy yellow flowers, or just stop to contemplate them, and thank them for being little Suns on Earth, do that. Paint, draw, or colour Sunful images or pictures. Sun Mandalas are a good idea!
5. Light a Fire or… Just a Candle
This may be a bit harder to do for some of us. If you can do a proper fire, that would be awesome. If I could do that where I am now, believe me, I would be chanting and dancing around it right now. But… A candle works as well. Fire is a powerful element, it has the power to transmute, to enrich the soil, to purge, to cleanse, to warm, to revive. It has also a lot of destructive potential, but in its balanced state it is great for healing and letting go. Write a list of the things you would like to let go of… maybe it’s an unhealthy habit, or negative emotion, maybe it’s a toxic situation or relationship. Maybe it’s just old ideas about yourself. Anything that is holding you back, weighting you down, write it… and read the list to the Fire. Ask it to help you letting go, to help you transmute these into positive, to change, to renew, to be born again, like a Phoenix. If you can, burn the list. Gaze into the fire and thank all these things for they have helped you too. Let them go in peace and in love.
6. Set Your Intentions
Ask yourself what you wish for the rest of your year. What do you want more of, what do you want to let go of, what kind of energy would you like to have, what goals would you like to reach, what dreams, what would you like to heal… Write these answers if possible, then Read them to the Sun. Go into the Sunshine again. If possible, go outside into you garden, balcony, roof, nearby forest, or park… but a window works too! Ask for these things to come into your life, ask the Sun, the Universe, Your God/Goddess, Your Inner God/Goddess, anything, or anyone you believe in… in the end… We Are All One and Divinity is in everything and everyone. Put power into your words, infuse them with energy and love. Give thanks for you receiving all that you ask for. Believe that you will, that you already have. Give thanks for all that is coming, be grateful for all that was. After you finish setting your intentions, hug them, kiss them, and let them go… Let the Universe/God/Goddess/Your Soul/The Sun/All of It do its thing and just trust.
Words are important. Words have power. And there is something very powerful in being able to use words consciously. Not so long ago, I discovered how healing it can be to have the right words to verbalise your experiences.
It happened while reading a book for the feminist book club I had with my friends from university. We met once a month to discuss books by different female authors. That month’s reading was Toni Morrison’s Beloved. I think Morrison is a wonderful writer and the powerful reaction I had to Beloved is a testimony of just how good her writing is.
I remember that at some point in the story (no spoilers!), the book started shaking in my hands. I felt cold, and then sick and dizzy. I looked up from the page but everything around me was calmed, just another ordinary day. Inside, I was in turmoil, struggling to breathe. I couldn’t stop shaking and I felt this unbelievable sadness that came with memories from a painful time in my past. I needed to finish the book. I told myself to swallow whatever it was and push through, It’s nothing, just a memory.I told myself but the sickness would not leave, and the more I read, the worse I felt. Memories flooded me, pain assaulted me. I was outraged, It’s been years! I am over this! I’ve done the work! What is happening? It was overwhelming. It was such a strong bodily reaction that my mind could do little to contain it. In fact, my mind only made it worse. The memories seemed tangible, they seemed like not-memories-at-all. My mind painted them over reality until they seemed more real than the book in my hands.
Finally, I admitted defeat. I closed the book and started crying. I cried all day.
Days after, I sat quietly gripping my tea in a coffee shop surrounded by my friends. I was excited to listen more than to speak. I felt like back at university when I hadn’t done the reading for that week’s seminar and I kept my head down hoping that the tutor wouldn’t notice me. Everyone shared their first impressions of the book. I nodded my agreement when someone said that it had been a hard story to read. I hadn’t planned to share my reading experience with my friends. I felt ashamed and freaked out. I had labelled myself overly dramatic and tried to forget about it.
But when it was my turn, I confessed: “I couldn’t finish it. I don’t know what happened. I just started crying and then I couldn’t stop. I felt awful. It reminded me of something and… I just couldn’t go on.”
And then one of my friends said, her voice full of empathy: “Oh, yeah. Trigger.”
The others nodded in agreement and they all looked at me, with eyes of understanding.
Trigger. I was struck by that word. I repeated it silently to myself, Trigger.
I had heard it before, along with the words: Trigger warning. But I hadn’t really grasped its meaning until now. It took a bit of research to find out what exactly was a trauma trigger, or what was trauma, for that matter.
Learning these words, along with a few related ones like anxiety, flashbacks, post-traumatic stress, panic attack… helped me make sense of myself and my processes. These words became tools, they became guides that allowed me to understand my experiences, and thus, be less afraid of them.
I now have realised that humans are so attached to words because they give us a measure of control over things, they help us shape our reality. Words are tools, powerful ones. And like all tools, their role in this world depends on the one who wields them.
Words can be limiting, words can be hurtful. Words can create conflict and misunderstanding. They can create the opposite too.
Words can convey love, hope, and light. They can create friendships and spark romance. They can bring about forgiveness and redemption. Words can heal. Words can soothe your soul.
Toni Morrison’s words helped me heal by unearthing the remnants of trauma that were still buried deep inside my unconscious. And giving a word —Trigger— to my reading experience of Beloved made me feel peaceful. It allowed me to understand and therefore, not be afraid or judgemental. It shifted my perspective from being irritated with my reaction to being loving, caring, and respectful of my feelings. I had gone through a traumatic event at a young age, I had worked hard to heal it; if it was still showing up years later the only thing to do was to continue the healing, to be extra loving, extra patient, and extra kind to myself. To be present with my feelings and to honour them. So I did just that.
I am grateful for that trigger because it allowed me to work on past trauma, to look at it again, and to bring it to the light of my consciousness. It enabled me to heal. Having the word “trigger” is a shield with which I can face whatever comes my way that will awaken past pain because now, I will know it for what it is and will, therefore, be able to work with it instead of being at its mercy.
I am grateful to words and I am grateful for triggers for one grants me understanding and the other provides me with opportunity. Opportunity to let go, to let out, to heal, and to move on. I am also thankful for trigger warnings because they allow me a moment to breathe, to prepare, and to choose.
I am grateful for Toni Morrison’s words and stories which show us a traumatic collective past in need of healing.
I am grateful for my friends whose experiences have made them empathetic and given them words to share that provide healing for others.
Since then, I have gone back to Toni Morrison’s Beloved with a new sense of understanding of the novel and of myself. As I read through to the end and closed the book, I sighed in relief and thanked the healing power of words.
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.
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.
This is not the first time I feel grief. I am scared to think this is not the last time I will feel it, either, but I know it is true. The impermanence of life, of everything… is a guarantee of grief. Sometimes I look around me and I think what do I love? How many people do I love? Or animals? Or places? Or things? All of them will go someday, all of them will leave, or die, or change… How many of them will I grieve? How much will I grieve? How will I survive that?
For someone who has never experienced grief, this may sound a bit pessimistic, but when grief strikes it is all too real to write off as pessimistic. So I try, as hard as I can, without spoiling the Now (which often it does), to look around me, especially at the people, places, things, etc. that look the most solid, the most lasting, the most permanent… and I say: This too shall pass. Just like the grief of their passing.
For all my efforts, when the moment comes, there really is not much you can do to prepare yourself for the waves of grief that assail you when something comes to an end, especially if it is something you never expected to end, or at least, something you expected to last longer.
Abrupt grief is one of the most painful, soul-wrenching experiences one can have, and all too common.
This is not a post about what to do in those first moments, those moments of realization and just pure shock. There really is no point because at least I, in those moments, have been beyond help and all I have been able to do is sob, scream, pray, curl up into a ball, breathe, wish it wasn’t true…
But it wouldn’t be so bad if grief ended there. It stays and sometimes it feels like it will stay forever. But it doesn’t… Believe me, it doesn’t… Even if at first, it does seem that way.
So this post is about what to do in the moments after the first huge, awful waves of grief have passed, it might be days after the event, or weeks, or months, or even years. Grief does not have a set date, each soul takes it as it can, sometimes day to day, or breath to breath. And grief is not only caused by the death of someone (though in my experience those are the hardest ones), but also by any heartbreak and loss, it can be the loss of a relationship, the loss of a job, a home, a cherished item… anything you deeply love can cause grief. Not necessarily, but if you haven’t mastered the wonder of non-attachment (which I haven’t), it certainly will.
What to do in those moments? I’ve googled this so many times in the midst of a storm and many posts give the same advice: Cry, do exercise, call a friend, start a new hobby, sleep well, etc.
All that is great advice that actually does help… but sometimes grief strikes in just a moment, maybe in between typing your essay, or in the second that it takes to pour tea from the kettle intothe cup. What to do in those little moments when you feel the pang of grief in your heart, and you think, Oh God, she is gone, he is gone, they are gone, it is gone…
Sometimes I actually curl up into a ball and bawl but other times I think, Oh no, this again? I don’t have time for this right now. But it is worse to repress your feelings than to express them so I have devised a way to honor and express my feelings without going back to the catatonic state I usually am in after the shock of a heartbreaking event.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHAT YOU ARE FEELING
When you first feel that pang of grief, just pause what you are doing. Feel that it is there, and see it for what it is. It may not be grief in the form of sadness, you may feel anger instead which is grief unexpressed. You may feel longing, fear, regret, disgust… or just hurt. Anything may trigger it, even things seemingly unrelated may bring memories flooding back. Just pause, breathe, and bring it into your awareness. It is sometimes instinctive to push it back, but what you resist, persists. Instead of pushing against it, bring it into the light of your consciousness.
MAKE SPACE FOR IT AND BE PRESENT WITH YOUR PAIN
After you acknowledge what you are feeling, make space for it. I know you may be in the middle of something else, but the only way over this is through. So pause for just a moment, and simply contemplate what you feel. Then take your right hand to your heart and breathe.Close your eyes and whisper gently to yourself: I am here. I am right here. I know, I know. It’s okay. I am here.
HONOR WHAT YOU FEEL AND WHAT YOU ARE MOURNING
With your eyes closed, think of what hurts, maybe you miss someone, someplace or sometime, maybe you just feel alone. Whatever it is, hold it in your awareness and then honor that. For example, if it is a person I miss, whether that person is dead or alive, I think of them and I say (doesn’t have to be aloud): I really miss you so, thank you for all the love, thank you for everything. May the good in you be blessed, wherever you are in the universe right now. Wherever your soul is… I thank you, I love you. Thank you.
Say whatever it is you need to say. Even if someone hurt you, thanking them is the best way to heal the hurt. You don’t need to actually contact that person, just communicate with that part of them that is also you.
If it is a place or a past experience, you can remember it and say: That was so awesome. Thank you so much for that. I miss it, but I am glad it happened. Thank you because that moment will forever exist in my past, in my memory, in my heart, and somewhere in time.
USE THE HO’OPONOPONO
The Hoʻoponopono is a Hawaiian practice for healing. It bases itself on the belief that we are all one, all part of each other, that by healing oneself we heal others as well because we are all connected.
It consists of four small but powerful sentences:I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. I thank you.
Think of what is hurting, of the person, place, situation… Hold it in your mind’s eye and awareness, close your eyes and say: I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you and I thank you.As many times as you need, even if you feel like you shouldn’t be the one apologizing or don’t feel like saying I love you to that particular person/situation/thing that is making you hurt. When you are able to say this, you will notice that the ache starts to lessen. We are all connected, so by doing this you are addressing that part of you that is also the problem, the pain, the ache, and that which caused it. Try it, anytime, anywhere. It is simple and it can provide so much comfort and healing.
Often, I stop at step four because it is enough to make me feel better. However, there are times when the pain overpowers me and I have to give in. Then I just let myself cry. Tears are healing. They release oxytocin and endorphins which makes us feel better. Sometimes people swallow their tears because society has made us believe that crying is wrong, that showing emotion is bad, and that tears are a weakness. I know that tears are a sign of strength and allowing yourself to feel is a great act of self-love and self-kindness. I lost the fear of tears a long time ago, and when they come I welcome them for I know they are here to help, to express, to release, and to ease my pain.
IF THE GRIEF IS TOO GREAT… it is always best to reach out to someone you love. I am always afraid to be a burden to others and sometimes I use that as an excuse not to reach out but I know that if my loved ones were hurting and didn’t reach out to me I would be really sad. Little by little, I am learning to reach out more and to ask for help. That is also a sign of strength. Sometimes it is easy to think that we are alone, but the truth is that more often than not, we are the ones who isolate ourselves. There is nothing wrong with enjoying your own company but the truth is that by reaching out we are giving the people we love an opportunity to be loving and to feel loved. When someone reaches out to me I feel loved too because I know they trust me and it always warms my heart when I am able to be there if only to listen or hold my loved ones. It is also an act of love to let others be there for us as well.
Do not be afraid of your grief, it is the greatest statement of your love. The more you allow it to be, the more you are present with it, the more it will heal.
“Life is eternal; and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.”
I dreamt with stingrays again.I have never considered stingrays a significant animal but their constant presence in my dreams leads me to believe there is something about them I hadn’t noticed before. I find stingrays to be curious creatures. They are so common; they can be found almost anywhere in the sea, close to the shore and deep in the ocean, buried on the sea floor or flying through the water. They are so easily found, so common to see and yet, nobody thinks of them. Maybe it is due to their commonness that they don’t cause a lasting impression on the beholder. One may feel inclined to cling to the remembrance of a clown fish rather than that of a stingray. I, myself, am guilty of this crime. And yet, the more I dream them, the more I see them for what they truly are.
There is a beauty in stingrays that is not found in any other creature of the ocean, nor in any of the other realms, I believe. A singular kind of beauty that is not found in any of her fellow creatures that inhabit the sea, not in the intelligence of dolphins, nor in the magnificence of the whales, nor in the simplicity and variety of every kind of fish. Stingrays have a rare gift, a blessing that distinguishes their existence and makes them stand out against all other sea creatures:
Stingrays can fly.
One must not found this curious or peculiar at first; after all, any number of creatures on the Earth can fly. There are even fish in the sea to which nature has allowed to wear wings, so it should come as no surprise that even water creatures are able to reach the sky, even if just for a moment. But the stingrays’ gifts are different. They can fly, it is true, but the true beauty of their flight is that they fly underwater.
Their whole body seems to be designed for this purpose. It looks as if they are made of water wings and a sting. It is quite unfortunate that the sting is the only thing everyone focuses on. When one sees a stingray, one usually avoids it. We think of stingrays as ocean bees, who are ready to pierce you with their sword-like sting if you dare to bother their swim. But what we don’t notice, which is what most amazes me about stingrays, is that they do not swim, they fly. We are so worried about the sting that we don’t notice the rest of the ray. We don’t realise their gifts. They can fly underwater! And they do so with such grace, such dignity and easiness of spirit that it inspires peace in one’s soul. That is the beauty of stingrays; they can inspire your spirit to breathe, to let go, to fly, if you just let them show you how, if you just look.
I have seen stingrays of different sizes, colours and types. I have seen them buried on the sea floor, blending with the sand or flying through the water. They give me joy whenever I see them enjoying the waves, delighted with them like children at play. They love to surf! It is amazing to behold, the way in which they almost seem to smile whenever they catch a huge, roaring wave that carries them all the way to the shore and the way they rush back to the sea in order to catch another. It warms my heart. I see myself in them, that joy and freedom as the waves lift them up to the sky injecting life into them as they soar through the water. I only wish I could follow as they leave the shore to go deeper into the ocean.
But I have been afraid of stingrays too. I have also dreamt to have felt their sting. Nevertheless, the terror I feel when I first see them through the clear water fades away as I watch them spread their wings within the waves and I see them fly like underwater butterflies. I have touched them; their body is so smooth, smoother than water. I have brushed their sting, it is hard and spiky, so unlike the rest of their body. I have always respected their sting, I would never dream of bothering them and they, in return, seem happy enough to share their waves with me. It almost looks as if they boast of their surfing skills and want to teach me how it is done.
I love stingrays. I believe in their nobility of spirit and peacefulness of character. Whenever there is one near me I try to still myself, hoping it won’t notice me or get too close but as I look at the way she flies through the water I cannot help but stare in wonder and a peaceful warm glow enters my soul. And I cannot help but think that there is a beauty in stingrays that I had not noticed before.
Now I believe that stingrays are not short of significance. They stand for life itself. Beautiful, graceful, joyous, peaceful and dangerous all embodied in one. And yet, if one learns to control one’s fear and stay still, motionless in the water, one will notice, right away, the beauty of stingrays.