As I’m writing I’m about halfway through an immersion in the Mesoamerican healing tradition of Curanderismo in sunny, triple-digit-weather, New Mexico. Here I am minutes before a powerful temazcal (sweat lodge) ceremony at master Curandera, Rita Navares’, home in Albuquerque in front of this gorgeous altar of the virgin Guadalupe. This was by far my favorite (and most cathartic) part of my time here so far.
For those new to the temazcal, the initial discomfort begins in the body due to the intense heat but just as quickly the mind can take over, weaving stories usually generated by fear or anxiety. At some point, you must surrender, get out of your head, and let go. It’s helps to have the guidance of a seasoned temezcalera. As the temazcal can teach us, the portal in to some of our deepest work is right here in our bodily experience. That is what I love about curanderismo. It’s a very grounded healing system that brings us back into our own physicality and our own wisdom. It empowers us to heal our relationships and take responsibility for our own lives. It acknowledges the co-existence of our animal nature and our spiritual nature. Whenever I am teaching my clients to work with their body and eating, I want to first work in a very practical and down-to-earth way. Whether I explicitly say it or not, I often like to relay the idea that when we care for our bodies, we are being asked to care for them as if they were our own children. What does that mean? It means:
You go to the grocery store even when you don’t feel like it to make sure your child-body has decent food at home, because coming home tired and hungry with little food around doesn’t turn out so well.
You realize the only thing keeping you up at night is social media and you are not high-functioning with little sleep, so you put down your phone and put your child-body to bed.
You also understand the importance of play and naps and fun and mischief because you know your child-body will get crabby, restless, or “snacky” if you don’t let these parts have their fun.
You create healthy boundaries with food. You support your child-body with regular meals as much as you can and let your child-body choose what fruits and veggies she likes the most.
Do you feel the mother love in these examples? Being good mothers to ourselves take practice. There’s a learning curve. If you do happen to have children, you know there is no such thing as perfect parenting. In the same way, you will not be a perfect parent to yourself. Sometimes you may miss your body signals or over-work. You might say something hurtful to yourself without realizing the impact it’s making. It’s okay! Sometimes the most loving act you can do, is simply being compassionate towards yourself for not being a perfect caretaker. At any moment, each one of us has access to tuning in with the divine quality of love and compassion and channel its healing energy towards ourselves. This is the bridge where our human life can be touched by our own divinity, through our own love and care for ourselves. So here’s my invitation to you: Identify one thing you don’t “feel like” doing that you know might be supportive to that sweet child-body of yours?
Is it slowing down to actually have meals?
Is it learning how to take better care of nutritional needs?
Is it shutting down technology earlier in the evening?
Is it getting your bare feet in the sand, dirt, or water more regularly?
Is it simply listening to her needs and feelings more? (which is often the most profound!)