Letting Go- the Displacement of Pain That Restricts Healing

Displacement of pain is not healing. When we take on someone else’s hurt, or we set the hurt aside and do not confront it and feel it in its fullness and complexity, we do not allow the wound/trauma to truly heal. I have been slowly removing the phrase “Let it go” as a way of communicating “Let yourself heal.”

This year I have been allowing myself to be fully invested in viewing my entire life as spiritual practice,l- every breath, every movement, every touch, every thought, every word rooted in gratitude, understanding and what I have found more and more each day to be a deep intention for healing. This virtual sharing is me working on communicating my experience with this healing in an in-depth reflection, as I confront and embrace my hurt and traumas in my every day. It is healing in itself to connect with others who experience the same, who recognize your truth- your human experience- as connected to theirs, who understand how important this reflection and declaration is and that as you write/speak your existence they can echo and reflect it with you.


There is so much pain that we allow ourselves to be unconscious of, that we choose not to dig into because it is overwhelming, because it is terrifying, because we have been taught to avoid that pain, to keep it bottled inside us. And often I have held pain within myself in order to relieve pain from others who I care for in my life. This does not make way for us to truly heal. I reflect on the repeated moments that I have allowed myself to keep my thoughts, my words, my feelings, my actions from surfacing to avoid causing pain to others- how often I have left my truths from living and being shared. This cautiousness as I look back at these moments have not helped the hurt from existing. I believe that these unconfronted moments were opportunities to heal, and because I did not allow myself to live fully in the pain and discomfort of that truth, my truth, or the truth of another in that moment- instead I made a decision to create an act of sacrifice that forced meto give up something or give into something in order to uplift another, to ease a situation- I “let it go.”  But I question if it is ever “let go” of fully if we do not first fully embrace the pain that has transpired. Rather than letting go of the hurt, the wound, how can we tend to it, how can we approach it with compassion and with the want to understand where the pain is rooted?

When I remember these moments of sacrifice, where I felt I just “let it go”  for the sake of moving forward and not digging too deeply into what a hurtful experience had created between me and another- I have found that the pain continued to exist and may have also festered into resentment, distrust, may have awoken my ego making me feel the other owes me in some way and should regard my sacrifice as something that saved our relationship. This pain that continued to live, as it was just displaced, or transferred to a place unseen, unthought of, untouched- brings on thought, speech, and action that made me unable to fully build with them again, and to build with others in the same regard, it mades me live in fear of re-experiencing the pain, because I had not experienced the healing from it. That has become clear to me, and so I question- how can you look back at an experience of conflict and feel settled, at ease, accepting of it, if you have not felt what healing from the pain of that moment is like. If I cannot look back and see how that confronting that pain grew my relationship with another, how it made room for newness to grow from our exchanges, how it helped me to understand and love them deeper, then I know I have not truly healed. I know what healing a hurt looks like and these healed spaces allow me, when confronted with similar circumstance, to experience similar conflict/challenge from a place of knowing, of understanding and not trauma and fear of being hurt again.

When we “let it go” where does that pain go to?  Where is it displaced?  Where is it transferred to? Did I let it go and let it live somewhere else inside of me, where I bear it and don’t know that it still persists until I am triggered, until it can do nothing else but resurface? Does it also show up in small ways in future moments? Will it get passed down to my children? I just don’t think “letting go” is healing, I think it is temporary, I see how regardless I learn from these pains- I don’t want pain to be my teacher anymore, I want the healing to be, I want love of self, of other, of spirit to be my teacher.

Like any wound that is deep, it has a potential to leave a severe scar if it is not taken care of properly. In metaphor, how can the tissue that grows in the place of the wound be stronger, how can it be skin that is NEW, that is strengthened by the healing, rather than fragile and susceptible to further and worse pain? How do we take care, how do we fully heal and give an opportunity for that healing the be what is re-membered when looking back at the challenges and conflict?

I am unpacking my hidden places of past hurt, and I am recognizing what pain I need to confront if I want to heal my whole being. I understand that all interactions of conflict/challenge that bring hurt are an opportunity to call forth experiences of healing and I welcome this fully.  Healing takes time, and sometimes the process of healing is more painful than the initial hurt itself. I am learning to be patient with the process of forgiveness, of growth, of betterment, of rebirth, of re-creation. I am realizing that these are all acts of healing, and that we must invest and make intention to heal every day.

 

Missing Ancestors Passed Although You Have Never Met: Healing Absense of Familial Elders

I never knew much about my father’s family, I was never told, and I never asked. And so my father’s side of my family has been a mystery to me. I barely knew my grandparents, I, with humility, recall not even knowing or ever asking what their names were, even when I last visited them before their death when I was 13 years old. As a child I was free to not know, I was relieved of the responsibility to even care, they were far away in Ilocos Sur and back then I did not long for the land like I do now. We visited them one time that I could remember, and all I can recall is my grandfather telling me that wearing shorts and showing my skin was “not good, it was bad.” I recall even feeling an aversion from them, my father and mother urged me to pay respect, but respect did not mean connection. As a child what I cared about was my immediate, the past that was tied to me in the Philippine was not tugging for me to turn around and bare witness to it yet, the colonial impacts of the US were pushing me far away from the motherland. Out of sight, out of mind. My grandparents and all of my father’s relatives included in this forgetting.

And now as I grow into my wom*nhood, I unpack my lost parts of self connected to my ancestors deeper and deeper ever day I wake. In college I began with the unpacking of my Pilipino-American dual identity and understanding the Histories of my people in connection to other people of color in the US and learned primarily militant histories and the revolutionary heart of Pilipinos in the midst of struggle- continuing to fight for true liberation on American soil and also in the motherland. As I grew into myself I examined deeper the colonial oppressions of my people and how it has created self oppression and disconnection from our ancestry, from religion, to superficiality, to disconnect from the land. And I focused continuously on the oppression of our wom*n and the returning to our inherent power and healing nature in rediscovering the Babaylan. And now as I near my 30s, I look back and see how deeply I have dug and realize the intimate stories are what have been missing. This is where I needed to land in order for me to find new pathways to connect with ancestry, beginning with my most immediate ancestors, my parents, my grandparents. My relationship with my maternal grandmother has been my core connection to ancestral knowledge, from the language to ritual, and I have shifted my conversations with her in the past 5 years to make sense of what she passed down to us, searching for intention and meaning behind her everyday rituals and the healing she provided for us growing up. She has more recently shared me stories of my grandfather who I never knew as he was killed far before I could know him, but my grandmother often left altar food offerings (atang) for him as I was growing, to invite him to our table for nourishment and honoring.

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I give gratitude to her for continuously opening her memories to me, and as I sit with her, I recognize the disconnect not having my grandfather, her husband to ask questions to, and then I also think on my father’s parents and how much I denied myself connection to them.


I have seen my self find regret in this as I look to my father who is slowly aging and I see how much he sacrificed for our family, including the sacrifice of our connection to his own family, in maintaining his status in the United States. My mother’s family raised me, and every year we spent holidays and gatherings with them, and my father was separated from his own family oceans and lands away. I never recognized how that severing may have affected him. I wonder to myself as I look to him, what he may have reasoned for himself to be away from his parents and all his family in this way. I think about how much I miss my mom and dad, but still see them at least 3 times a year. And I ask if that is enough for me?

I have in the past two years, been prying into the treasure chests of self knowledge that are my parents and my only living grandparent, my maternal grandmother. In them I have searched to understand my ethnobiography and lay it out so I can allow it to live and breathe with me on my journeys. It is difficult to get my parents to talk, more particularly my father, but what I have realized is that I have not asked the right questions to get him to unpack his experiences. I have not been sensitive to how much he has never talked about his past, how many days passed in my growing that I did not ask him about his family, my family.

The other day on the phone with my father, I asked him “Dad, can you tell me about your life in the Philippines?” his answer was “Oh Jana, that was a long time ago already, I don’t know those memories so much, I don’t remember them too well. It was too long ago.” I urged him “Come on dad, what was it like when you were younger, what was it like to grow up there?” He said simply “I was very small, I was the smallest.”
I needed to ask better questions, I needed to help him dig up the stories he buried deep in his mind. I said “Dad, what were my grandparents like? What did they do for work?” My father took pause almost reluctant to begin, but with a breath of what sounded like annoyance he started to tell me stories of my grandfather, a farm worker and my grandmother a house wife. He told me how hard his father worked and how he was taught to do the same, how they planted rice. And he spoke to me of the hard work of planting the rice fields, “You had to do the planting in the mud, in rainy season. You had to go in there, in the mud and plant with your hands. And it took a long time, and it was 10 people for one hectare. And you bend over all day so that’s why many of the old people in our family they have hunched backs, because of the planting of rice…. You know your grandpa he worked hard so that me and your auntie could go to school, come to the states. It was hard work, but he had to do we could go to school.” He stopped himself from continuing his storytelling. Silent.
And I took this moment to give thanks “Dad, I want you to know I don’t take all you have done for us for granted. I am so thankful dad, I am so thankful for everything and I know that I am not successful the way you wanted me to be, but I am working hard too dad, I know I don’t have to labor the way you all did, I can be an artist because you did, and grandpa did and I’m just, so thankful.” He responded a little emotional, the both of us- he said “Okay Jana, I know that.”


My maternal grandmother’s stories have been important to me,she has been willing to share and I have continuously asked, but it is the stories my father have slowly revealed to me that have uncovered a connection to my ancestors on ancestral land I have been looking for. His father a farmer, connected to the land, tilling crops and creating nourishment. His mother a house wife and a healer creating home and heart of family. Letting go of their two children to see them grow into their adulthood far from them. For years we never visited them, disconnected from their grandchildren, but proud of their children. I think about how far away I have gone from my own parents, and as I think of my own future children, I long for home, I long for them knowing those that sacrificed for me and in turn sacrificed for my children and their children and theirs. And I can’t explain how much it shakes my soul to really imagine how much my father left his life behind- so he could build a life for my mother, for my sister and for me. I think about my maternal grandfather amd paternal grandparents and I pay homage.
We forget to miss ancestors who’ve gone just because we never met them. Today I miss them. Today I remember and honor them. Take time to remember those you never knew, trust me, it feels like you’re remembering yourself.

 

Shower Ritual: For Use in Moments of Needing to Cleanse 

Living in the city offers limitations for connecting to land and water and sky. It is important to me to be with these Divine creations that are the foundation of what our physical beings are made of. In recognizing that my own body is connected to land, water and sky bodies, I look to all things around me and know that they have been made from pieces of these Earth elements, I think on the memory of the land and sky and water  and how they are held in each piece of matter that has been created for our human use, inhabitance and consumption. I think on this with deep humility and honor them all. Many of my daily meditations and rituals come from these recognitions and looking and listening deeply to what all things have to contribute to connection of my spirit.

Today, I needed cleansing for my spirit that woke with heaviness and discomfort.  I needed to “wash away my dis-ease” so I could arise to my day of living with positivity and love for self. And as I have in the past, I made the intention to allow myself to have a deep cleanse in Shower Ritual.

I do this everyday, but today called for the intention of my exchange with the water that falls from my shower head, to be deepened, and clearer.

Water is healing, it is life holding, life bringing, life sustaining, it is powe-full (filled with power of carrying truth and feeling and divinity), it flows through and fills up space, it soaks into every crevice and pore of every thing. Water cleanses, it renews, it washes away to make room, it is both gentle and fierce, it flows, but also crashes. Water takes us away and leaves us feeling fully present and refreshed.

When I stand/sit in my shower, as each droplet streams down my body and seeps into my being from the pores at the top of my head down to my toes I remember all these things about what Water does for all of us. I breath through the water pouring upon my face from the top of my head and feel it drench my hair from my roots to its tips, dripping down all over my body. I feel the miracle of water I honor it. I see in all the water spilling down from my body to the earth below me into the drain that will carry it out of my home, I see everything that weighs heavy, that makes me feel not my whole and truest self. I feel my tears join the water, flowing into each other and I watch them leave my space of being. I honor them as I release, as I let go, I let flow. I see moments of water from mountain and see flowing on and around my being and I know this is source of the water that flows into my blessed home. I think of all that the water has touched, that has breathed upon and through it, the memories it has held in all it has exchanged with living and created things. I see how sacred the water is. I feel my self getting lighter, I let it all pour over me. And I let myself be changed. I give gratitude to the water that cleanses me, and then I close my eyes and feel it cover my bring and know that it is my being.



This morning my wash was so centering. So calming of spirit. I recommend that you let all moments be like this one. I see all moments as opportunity for prayer, for giving of gratitude of life, for honoring of divine in all things, for spirit to be practiced- Life is a Spiritual Practice.

Let yourself see life this way, let yourself remember to see divinity in all and see how it shifts the way you move through the world. Gratitude.

Lemonade: Pinay Reflections on Community Creation for Healing and Empowerment for Ourselves, Our Ancestors and Future Generations

There are many reflections that have been floating through media and conversations on the ground after we as a society fixated on media were drawn in to the global release of Lemonade, Beyoncé’s newest communal creation. My first feelings around the piece is this admonition, it is so powerful because it is a reflection of what it means to have a village raise up a child- that child being a one hour cinematic album that has converted many who were not Beyoncé fans to the #BeyHive. As I took in the words of Warsan Shire, the masterful imagery from a team of film makers, listened to the strongly produced music, vibed to the vivacious choreo, took every artistic choice from location to wardrobe and make-up, and bore witness to the countless divine Black Wom*n that filled the screen, I was in awe.

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I am neither a Beyoncé fan nor am I a Beyoncé hater. I appreciate her way of creating art with so many surrounding her and lifting her vision and I appreciate her confidence and way of standing as a strong wom*n who has created herself in the eye of the public as an icon and admired artist figure. Lemonade reflected all the things that make me appreciate Beyoncé and then some, because this piece in particular showed how well she knows her community, how well connected she is, how she can use those relationships built and her stance as a iconic figure to create with a team around her own visions (Meet The All-Star Team Behind Beyonce’s Lemonade). And in this instance I am most moved by how much she allowed for a space where in particular other Black Wom*n and girls could be lifted as she rose up to her power in the center light of what I am recognizing is emerging so visibly- the elevation of Black Wom*n rooted in their path toward liberation after years of being oppressed in this country and globally. Lemonade is a call to Black Wom*n everywhere to rise up in the power that is inherently within them. In this moment in time Beyoncé took her role as the most visible Black Wom*n in media to make that call to her sistren around the world, and in particular here in the United States, where oppression of Black Wom*n has waged for centuries.

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I sat there taking in the breathtaking imagery, filled with ancient symbolism and calling for healing and reconciliation, where Black Wom*n Magic was bursting through the screen. And in this admiration I found myself recognizing that although as a Pilipina, Brown Wom*n, a Wom*n of color I could find some connection to what this creation stood for I understood that this work was meant specifically of my Black Sisters.

After I watched the full hour, I sat with my realization of what Lemonade represented for me as a non-Black Wom*n of color and when my partner asked me how I felt about the piece, I could not help, but respond that I felt saddened. I celebrated the Black Wom*n rising as I have seen this truth of current happenings everywhere, this reclamation of power, not only in the media, but on the ground especially because the weekend after the release I joined the sacred sisters of Harriet’s Apothecary for their 19th Healing Village in Brooklyn, NY, where Black Sisterhood and Spirit was so alive and vibrant.

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And I see it in the way so many neighborhoods in NY are filled with cultural, political, social and spiritual events that raise up Black Wom*n, and I know it’s because they have and continue to fight to be create and maintain and grow those spaces collectively. They re-member and re-envision themselves in a world that has told them they are the other and has created trauma to their spirits. Beyoncé in her visibility and placement as a iconic figure has stood up in leadership of that, whether folks always agree with how she does it, she has progressively stepped up to her role in being the most globally recognized Black Wom*n icon in today’s media.(Being visible does not inherently mean you are a leader, nor does it mean that others will lead you, but it means that you can lead). She is not the only one rising. I see it in other artists that I love and respect and I think on how it is not just today, but in the past we have seen those that have paved for Beyoncé to walk on. Then and even more in the present moment we live in, we can see that Black sisters have answered the call from their Ansisters to rise.
I admitted to myself how much more I longed for my ancestry to show up powerfully in this way particularly here in the United States, where we have and continue to experience the traumas of being a colonized peoples. In all this reflection, I fell deeper into what Lemonade represented for me- it was a call to action from her lineage in connection to my own.

I thought of all the Pinay who have influenced me, particularly in artistry and in leadership organizing our community and I envisioned a moment to be surrounded by all of them- powerful Pinay who were awaken to not just our oppressions here in the US, and as a colonized people, but that were also actively working to heal from it and create something greater more visibly, to touch our younger generations-together. I know that there are many groups and individuals who are doing this work, I look to the Center for Babaylan Studies who I have been called to create with on a daily basis and I am thankful for spaces like this that are working to connect to and remember our cultural, ancestral and indigenous stories, traditions, rituals and practices, but I wish it was not something that we had to dig for, because it took digging for me to create the path I am now walking on back to my ancestors and to my motherland. I wish we had more support uplifting our community to heal and to remember, I wish our community would find greater urgency to support our selves being uplifted in this same way we see so tremendously done by the our Black brothers and sisters in today’s society through a piece like Lemonade or a movement like Black Lives Matter. I have such a great respect for the Black community as I have seen how they have risen in all spheres of being in the past couple of years- the oppression still exists, but the community continues to let the world know that they will rise up stronger every time. Beyoncé has been criticized time and again, but she continues to create, she continues to show up and this time she called so clearly for Black brilliance to show up beside her. I long for this to happen for Pilipinos in the US in reflection of our own deep history here. All people of color carry a burden our past with this country, and we need to heal that.

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I don’t think we need a Beyoncé to do that persay, but what I know is that there are many Pinay leaders who are doing the work to uplift and empower us from the ground, but I wonder what it would be like to have someone, in this world influenced by media, to look to with the resources like Beyoncé had for Lemonade who could gather so many masters of artistry in music, visuals, craftsmanship, movement, organizing, and community cultivation around one project, relevant to the present day and that utilized all the advancements of artistry and organizing that could make the world feel the rising of other communities.

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I question what has stopped us from having that in my own community, when I am consistently surrounded by brilliant, prolific and masterful Pinay artists who are doing such beautiful work. Do we need a Beyoncé to make this happen? I don’t think anyone in this current day of celebrity and media could have pulled off the production of this communal masterpiece, but her. I know there is much critique around her artistry in relation to this piece, but also I know that she did it- all those people surrounded her vision and helped to bring it to fruition, to empower Black Wom*n everywhere. So I guess this is a call to all of us to begin seeing the truth of Beyoncé’s Lemonade that it is a communal created, supported and executed piece and it is our diverse communities that upholds it, praises it, brings it to our dinner table conversations. So, when will we all begin seeing the power of creating in this way for our own communities, to heal from our oppressions, to uplift and create for our future generations? No Beyoncé needed, just community gathering in their mastery to create with purpose- together.

The Pilipino Urban American Identity, and the Journey Back to the Indigenous from Homeland to Motherland

 

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As of late, I have been in a constant flux of living and walking in my two identities influenced by environmental growth and development. Those two identities being my Urban American youth identity- growing up as a 2nd generation child of working class immigrants in both the Kalihi Valley of Honolulu, HI and in Stockton, CA both locations where the histories and her stories of the Pilipino people in America are deeply rooted.

Because of the neighborhoods I grew up in, filled with immigrant stories that echoed the experiences of racism, segregation, poverty and diaspora from other communities of color, where often we we as Pilipinos were constantly being compared or considered as a part of the Black, Latino, Chicano and other minority groups occupying similar spaces of living and growing. The indigenous culture that emerged and grew me in the hoods that I grew up in was Hip-Hop. I am a child of Hip-Hop, resonating with artistic expression at the center or cultural practice and ritual, from the cypher to the dance floor, to the presence of community on the streets- the core values of Love, Peace, Unity and Having Fun were essential to my upbringing.

To be Urban Indigenous (a term that found its home on my tongue from sister Cultural Bearer Sammay Dizon) is to recognize this significance. Hip-hop, before the practices and rituals were colonized, commodified and made to serve capitalistic purposes, was what taught us, it’s what lifted our spirits-connecting to a divine space, it’s how we convened in like energy and energy exchange, Hip-Hop healed us. And so much is because many of the practices of Hip-Hop, the rhythms of Hip-Hop, the dress of Hip-Hop, the energy of Hip-Hop came from our ancestry beyond this land that our ancestors were brought to or traveled to for survival and by oppressive force. The 5 elements were our ritual, and the cultural bearers who practiced and cultivated energy through emceeing on the mic, breakin’, DJing, and graffiti were our warriors, teachers, visionaries, healers who’s artistry sought to uplift our narratives and move our spirits.
To be a child of Hip-Hop in the US particularly growing up in the 80s and 90s when it was rising from inside of those channeling something divine that spoke to our creation of culture in the hood- meant an inherent tapping in to the spirit of our ancestors from the lands that our parents and grandparents came from. This was an act of reclamation and upliftment, that I never recognize as powerful as I do now while I watch the Hip-Hop culture like our cultures from our motherland begin to be lost, to be taken over by colonizers of culture, taking from it what serves capitalistic, individualistic mindset and culture that is not inclusive of us.

And we look to our elders of Hip-Hop as they age and leave this plane of existence and see we have a responsibility to re-member where Hip-Hop was rooted. And as I look back I dig even deeper and am called to the Philippines to learn the sounds, the movements, the spirit of my people and I create so many connections to the ancestral teachings of the living cultural bearers of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines who are fighting for their practices, their stories, their homes, their villages, their land, their connection to the divine, their understanding and feeling of spirit in community with all these things – I create so many connections to them and the ancestors of Hip-Hop as we fight for the very same on this land of the US and in the communities we cultivated our families in.

It is important for me to create these ties of understanding to who I am as a cultural bearer and what it is that I want to uphold and create deeper understanding of. I think about those who have influenced this in my life, whose music and words and the way they walk in the world have served as example of what it means to live understanding the Urban Indigenous- Bambu, Kiwi, Kuttin Kandi, DJ Neil Armstrong and the 5th Platoon,Rocky Rivera, and the Rhapsodistas, Prometheus Brown  the Kuyas and Ates who paved the way for my generation to see Hip-Hop as our storytelling, healing and ritual practices. I’m reflecting and inspired to create.

I am an artist of Pilipino and Urban American identity and I honor what it means to connect to the indigineity of both. I am unpacking, I am re-membering, I am going deeper and what I am discovering is so divine.

2016: The Year of Life as Spiritual Practice

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As the New Year draws near, I close out 2015 feeling deep clarity and rootedness in how I want to move forward on my Life’s Journey. I reflect back on 2015 and give gratitude for the greatly transformative experiences, the opportunities to be challenged, the exchanges that brought great lessons of Love of self and others and the moments that expanded my spirit past limits that I could never have imagined.

 

2015 was a year I was confronted with what it meant to truly lose, to feel loss, to let go so I can make room for what will come-and more powerfully- to make room for what I will create. 2015 was the year of Honoring Life Cycles, because it was the year that I surrendered to the waves of the Universal tides and let it move me through chaos with wonderment and openness only to land in a place of clarity and and deeper sense of readiness and peace with life’s challenges. 2015 was the year I felt more connected to death and the truth of impermanence and I learned to value it as much as creation and life lived. It was the year I spoke more often to my ancestors for guidance and lived out my own laying down of legacy understanding that I myself am a living ancestor. This was the year I felt more connected to my menstrual flow in mourning of life not lived and celebration- of the ability of my being to bare the flooding of unlived life, the potential of birth, of creation through me.

 

2015 was the year I felt more connected to Moon than ever, more connected to the waters of the world and of self, This was the year I felt more connected to the ebbs and the flows, the gives and the takes, the losses and the gains, the emptying in order to fill, the ending so I may truly begin. 2015 was the year I honored life’s cycles and owned them as part of my Journey.

 

And now as I acknowledge this New Beginning this- New Year and I breathe into the grand intention to create my life through ritual, through honoring of my life as sacred, I begin this New Year with the grand intention of living Life as Spiritual Practice. I have already begun, and I know that by making this declaration I am setting in motion and making my truth, that I see all aspects of my living as sacred and because of this I treat my existence as the miracle that it is. I live ritual in the way I breathe, in the way I wake, in the way I eat, in the way I walk, I run, I sit, I speak, I sing, I draw, I write, I create, create, create.

 

Because I live Life as Spiritual Practice, I build friendship, family, Love, all relational exchanges through committed practice of communication, investment and presence. I hold my thoughts as prayer shifting my mentality, rooted in compassion, mindfulness and positivity, clearing my mind of what does not serve me. I give gratitude every moment, I am grate-full, I am thank-full, I live with awareness of abundance. I experience life with my senses open to wonderment, I see, hear, smell, taste, feel the wonderment of life.

 

Because I live Life in Spiritual Practice, I connect to earthly elements and see sacredness and am humbled by it all- water, soil, air, fire and all its formations. I see myself as part of all the universe and the universe as part of me, the mountains, the clouds, the stars, the tress all interconnected to my whole being and this is miracle, I am miracle, life is miracle. And I see myself in all my brother and sister human beings and all other beings that live.

 

Because I live Life as Spiritual Practice I answer my Sacred Callings with intentions to create constantly- Theatre as Spiritual Practice, Visual Artistry as Spiritual Practice, Writing as Spiritual Practice, Teaching as Spiritual Practice, Organizing as Spiritual Practice, Learning as Spiritual Practice, Healing as Spiritual Practice- and I am motivated to do so because I understand that my creations and exchanges, have greater purpose of serving my community, serving my ancestors, serving the world I was born into, serving the universe and serving my self whole. In serving my self whole, I listen deeply to my body in movement and have conversations with it to give it the nourishment it needs, the mobility it deserves, and to push it to continue learning to re-membering what it is capable of doing. I feed my mind with endless learning, and expand it with understanding of evolving truths, I stimulate it with new experiences and challenge it to ask questions of the universe that will expand and deepen my knowing and unknowning of Life. I honor my spirit by holding it at the center of what guides me to live my life in all these ways. I listen to it with trust and let my intuition strengthen by doing so. I honor my spirit by living all aspects of my Life as Spiritual Practice.

 

I am Jana Lynne Umipig, a reflection of my ancestors and of the universe- a Teacher, a Healer, a Warrior, a Visionary and at my core a Creator who creates all things with Love.

 

 

Truth Be Told- Truth Be Lived

  
The greatest lesson I Live by, without fail, is to always speak your Truth. I look back at my life and see moments I have spent undoing damage and rebuilding connections that have been broken with family, friends, colleagues and in romantic relationships because the truth was withheld.  My belief is that lies do not serve any relating, not even the little lies, the fibs, the white lies, the half truths or hidden truths. I have learned to live my life with intention of telling the truth. 

I had a revelation of this when I began to question for myself what kind of life I wanted to create for myself, what the foundations of my living would be, the Truth was one of the central pieces of how I wanted to walk this world. 

I question- What makes us tell a lie? How could truth not seem as important to uphold? I broke down moments where lies took power over the telling of truth in my life and I examined the insecurities, the fears, the beliefs that someone could not handle the truth, that it would hurt them, and that it would make them turn away or reject me? All of these reasons I have come to know at their root are self serving, and are false understandings of how and in which way truths effect others. It is a reality that the truth can be painful, it can shake us, it can disrupt our comforts, and turn our world upside down, but from this we gain the opportunity of awareness, of knowledge, and most importantly of understanding and capacity to love ourselves and others because from these gifts of truth we are invited to grow, expand and are given the greater opportunity to make choices for our betterment with clarity and courage. When we tell the truth we offer others freedom, because when we withhold the truth it is a form of manipulation, a way of controlling a situation, even if it doesn’t look like manipulation and control to us, because to us it looks more like protection, support or knowing better for another. 

Telling the truth has become a continuous practice for me, it has been a way of life, it has been a way of ritual and often others are taken aback by my spiritual practice of truth telling, because of the transparency, the statements that are simply spoken, that are said with courage and conviction, the deep questions that are posed and the exchanges that are taken care of regardless of how long the conversation takes or how painful it may become to have for true clarity. There is no truth that I do not hold without Love, without compassion, without openness, without the intention to let another’s truth live beside my own. This is what is central to my practice of truth telling in a world that has taught me to be false, to lie, to keep secrets because it will provide an advancement, an advantage, a security in controlling, that withholding the truth is powerful. I don’t believe that anymore, and it has taken and still takes continuous practice to make this happen, but I do the work because I know how real it is that the “Truth will set you free.” Telling the truth, living with truth at my core has freed me moment after moment.

I have decided to share this practice with a hope that it may serve someone else as it serves me.


1) The Truth Does Not Come With Ease: 

My practice of telling the truth begins with the acknowledgement that it can be difficult to tell the truth, because we as humans have created the practices of lying, that have to be unlearned. Lies exist and have become the foundations of many relationships, of learnings, of businesses and of institutions. The truth is not always supported, so rooting it in my existence takes continuous tending and continuous unpacking of the feelings and challenges that hinder me from recognizing that the truth is worth the work and will serve me greatly in the long run. 

2) Taking Time for Truths to Be Held:

I have learned that the way I tell my truth is as important as what I am saying. Choosing my words with care, being patient with the process, giving myself room to speak with readiness and inviting others to do the same by giving room for patience in my listening exchanges. I do not rush the process of telling the truth, rather I hold it with love and compassion and take it slowly.


3) My Truth is Not Always What is “Right”
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Telling the truth does not have to become an argument with intention to trump the truth of another. I enter truth exchanges with the understanding that I do not have to convince someone else that my truth is right, rather I carry the intention to honor my truth by letting it live, with hope to at the least understood. My truth does not need to be accepted as another’s truth, it just needs to be acknowledged as mine. The goal for me is to be heard, but it is not to be right. One of my greatest mentors- JLove Calderon has said to me time and again “Do you want to be right or do you want to be free.” I choose freedom.


4) Editing and Explaining: 

I have found that in the midst of truths being told, often emotions spur up and words get jumbled along the way. Because of this I make room for myself to catch when I have not spoken exactly what it is I wanted to communicate. And I also am completely open to explanation as my communication unfolds, stating what I am doing, feeling and what I need. Phrases that come up often are “I feel…,” “I’m not ready to speak on that just yet, but I will be,” “I need to sit by myself for a moment, but I want to continue the conversation,” “I am crying because…,” “I need to think about what I am saying…,””I need to take a moment to breathe…,” “I need you to repeat what you said, I’m seeing that I didn’t hear you the way you wanted me to hear you….” In all this I work to have my truth received with simplicity and clarity. 


5) Ask Questions with an Intention of Seeking Clarity:

I ask questions when I share my truth, to make certain that what I have communicated is heard with clarity and light. I like to know what others hear in my communication, to make sure that what they process of my truth is not a misrepresentation of what I actually mean to say to begin with. I also check in around feelings that my truth makes them feel. I seek to understand how my truth is received. And when others express their truths, I ask questions to make certain I have heard them with clarity and light in return. 


6) Acknowledging the Understanding of Another’s Truth In Relation to My Own- Hearing Where They Are Coming From:

I constantly remind myself when I express my truths, that I will effect those that receive it and that they may experience my truth from a perspective that I am unaware of, that is out of my reach. My intention then is to find understanding in where they are coming from, to see my truth as it effects, influences and connects to their life experience. I open myself to this and the responsibility of how my truth will effect others.


7) Having Practices That Keep Me Present:

In experiences of truth telling I understand my emotions may take me out of an exchange, especially as those receiving my truth may react in ways that may cause my spirit to leave the situation. The response to this for me begins with breath, taking a moment to find my breath centering my being and then letting it guide my spirit, my mind and my body to follow. I also practice physical cues of centering including placing my palms to my chest or finding opportunities for touch and engagement with who I am sharing my truth with. 


8) Vulnerability is Power:

I am an emotional being and I have learned to see the power in that, telling the truth is complete vulnerability. And with that comes things that expose our emotions to emerge as expressions of our souls surfaced. When we are vulnerable, we invite others to join us in being vulnerable, which makes exchanges even more powerful. I have learned that Truth lives fullest when we allow ourselves to be present in our most human states of being and open our selves mind, body and spirit to the experience of vulnerability.


9) Remove Fear of Silence and Stillness:

Another part of being willing to live the vulnerability of truth is being willing to sit in silence and stillness and seeing the value of this. So much can be held by silence and stillness and so much can arise from this as well. Our words are only a part of telling the truth, with engaging our bodies and the way we elevate spirit in our exchanges truths are held in powerful ways. Energetically the silence and stillness can bring us closer to each other, it can embrace us and bring us to connect with eyes, with breath, with touch that all communicate deeper than words can sometimes. Silence and stillness can help us to center ourselves in finding words that we may not have found to express before and can often hold us in our exchange to feel what words cannot express.

10) The Only Resolution is That You Have Honored Your Truth:

I have experienced that I cannot enter any truth telling with an expectation of how it will be received. I understand fully that my truth will come with no assured resolution. That I may leave a telling of truth with a loss, with a heartbreak, with rejection and in that leave with an opportunity to grow, to change, to find deeper understanding of living. But more than anything else what I know I will leave with is My Truth and my honoring of truth as the center of how I choose to live in relation to all others.

I believe the more that I apply my practices of truth telling and truth living the freer I become. If the expectation of others becomes that I live truthfully then the hope will be that it will invite them to do the same with me in exchange. 
Truth be told, truth be lived.

I Am an Emotional Being

When I was growing up, I was taught that my emotions were a problem, a weakness, a part of who I was that needed to be fixed. So I resisted my emotional self time and again- keeping in tears and sobs, holding my breath and tongue, telling myself to hold it together. I was taught that living present in my emotions meant “losing it,” being crazy, irrational, annoying, overbearing and ridiculous. I have memories of my parents shaming me for my tears, with repeated phrases that rooted in the command of “stop being so emotional”. This is something I have carried inside me throughout my lifetime making me deny that- I am an emotional being.  This is something we are all conditioned to believe, reinforced by societal stigmas around emotions. More and more I have allowed myself to realize that my emotional self is a part of my power of being. That I am called to feel others through my sensitivity and understanding of my own feelings. My emotions ask me to be true to them to be fully present in them. And the benefits of this are limitless as they give way to my ability to be my whole and truest self as a human;  to shed the contrived mechanisms that have restricted me (like all of us) from being true to the emotional being within has brought immense liberation. It has allowed me the opportunity to connect to everyone I encounter from a place beyond what I have ever had words for- it allows me to connect from a place of spirit where my vulnerability is awakened. And to be vulnerable is such a powerful thing, it may be the most powerful thing, because it has been kept buried deep inside so many of us, and to see it emerge is something rare, something precious, something sacred.

When our emotional selves are given the permission to live, they manifest in physical expressions that engage our entire bodies, awaken our minds to connecting in memory and understanding and gives way for our spirits to release- tears, laughter, change of breath. These are all so sacred.

Tears in particular for me are such powerful physical manifestations of the spirit. The outward flow of the divine waters from within us. Water is healing, tears are spirit healing. And when we are vulnerable in this way, when we let our tears surface from within us, we express what our words may not be able to speak with clarity, and we create an opening to exchanging with others where they feel safety and love to do the same.

In understanding my emotional being, I allow myself the awareness of the emotions as they emerge, knowing they are not arbitrary, but are truth emerging. The awareness is not to then control my emotional being, but to be present with her, to nurture her and to not be ashamed or fearful of her being present with others. And I am teaching myself to navigate around when others present their emotions to me and how to hold space for them and embrace the courage of bringing them forth without in the process taking them as my own. I’m learning to acknowledge them and connect to them with human exchange and understand and to not get lost in their emotions and lose my own.

I welcome others and I have found time and again others seek me to hold space for their emotions to live beside mine. Such an honor, such a gift to hold space for circles of emotional beings to live fully. I accept the emotional being in all of us, and know that this part of ourselves is not often given permission to be present, that it often sits unhealed from the traumas of human living. This part of self is one of the most powerful parts of our being, if we let it learn to take its place in our daily lives.

I believe our mental bring is often hindering, our physical being hindering, and this comes from not freeing out emotional being, by freeing our emotions our mind and body are free to express outside of constructions that constrain us us. If we let our emotional brings live, we let our entire self be alive. As an emotional being I see how being free with my emotions, gives lead for my mind and body to be freed and allows all these parts of my whole self to be in support of each other.

In most recent happenings my emotional being has been experiencing the challenge of expansion and growth, to be fully accepting of this part of self that is so important to my ability to heal myself and others. It’s because my emotions are the guides of my intuition. And the more I trust them the more I live from a place of integrity and love for myself and others.
I wish for all of us to be open to the emotional beings we have locked away inside of us. I hope to encourage this with whole truth in exchanges with every person I encounter, to say “I welcome your whole being to be present in this encounter, body, mind and emotion.”

My Sacred Calling: Art as Spiritual Practice

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My reflections as of late, have been centered on how Art in my life has been the elevator to my spiritual practice. I have reflected on this in the past just recognizing how my artistry awakens my being in different ways. When I draw, I tap into a place of meditation connected to the lines on paper and canvas, the colors flooding the surface and releasing an image of spirit to ink from inside me; when I dance, my body opens itself to energy enveloping it and stimulating it in movement, where I am body and spirit spiraling together and journeying through space and time and light; when I speak and sing, my voice in rhythm of breath, sound, and emotion, in music fills me, makes my body feel lifted in releasing vibrations to shake and awaken; and when I create theatre in acting and directing, experiences of living, I transform my self and ensemble, I transform the space surrounding us, I transform breath,  movement, speech and create sacred connection to human being through the honoring of story and creation of connection and understanding in its telling.
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The arts give focus and freedom to my spiritual practice. And have done this throughout time and space, for not just me, but many others…and in deeper understanding, I would say, for all of us. I reflect on how all religious practice is lifted by the arts like- through visual artistry-construction and beautification of sacred spaces that are adorn with spiritual relics, symbols iconography and imagery; through song and chant- that communicate to divine celestial beings with stimulating sound vibrations awaken spirits; through theatre- exhibited with ritual, with processions, with dance and other choreographed movement as simple as repetitive sits, stands and kneels- roles are played and ceremonies are rehearsed. I have observed in diverse religious experiences in my life just how much Art elevates spiritual practice. And even truer to me in this reflection that Art IS spiritual practice.

In the Catholic Church growing up, I never felt so connected to the beliefs and doctrine persay, but what I recognized as I grew that what engaged and stimulated me was the stage that was set to conduct mass and to liven this holy place. The murals and stained glass, the large effigies of saints and Jesus painted throughout the space, so many images to look on and be moved by. The altar space that the mass was conducted on- and the step by step process of prayer that we moved through with guidance by the priest dressed in beautiful robes, supported by altar boys/girls playing their parts. And the song, the hymn that played and lifted me every time. I believe spirit does not need art, that one can pray and breathe spirit anywhere. But art is spiritual and when we practice any type of art, we are practicing a connection to the spiritual. That is why it elevates religious spaces the way it does, the arts access something deep inside all of us that is sacred, channeling the divine. The arts activates body, mind and spirit all at once and something powerful is released when we create through artistry.
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I believe that is a large part of where the spirit comes from in the arts, it is that we are creating, in the likeness of our creator, artists are called to create from a divine place. And these creations are birthed from our dreams, our imaginations, accessing ideas, movements, feelings, that cannot often be explained, it can only be shown, displayed, played out. All art becomes even more powerful when it is shared. The experience of creating and living out a creation takes the artist to an elevated place. If you have ever been caught in the trance of dancing, when your whole physical being is engaged in movement that makes your body awaken. Or if you’ve ever let song lift your being with vibrations of sound waves that speakers to something so divine, every note played or sung moves you. Or if you’ve let words spill out of your mouth or pen speaking stories and wordsmithing or have embodied a theatrical role and in your story telling awakened a deep human connection to someone you never knew lived inside you. All these practices make you lose track of time, space, awareness only focused and pulled in by the creation unfolding, rooted from a divine place, channeled through you. What an audience witnesses is an a being in their spiritual practice.

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I engage in this writing to reflect on this and to speak a greater clarity of my desire to learn how this has shown up for my ancestors. How have the arts in practice been utilized by my ancestors to connect them to the spirits and the planes beyond our own? How did they dance and paint and sing and speak and act in spirit? What were those specific rituals that they created and embodied to elevate their connection to the ancestors and divine beings that they wished to honor and ask blessing from? I wonder as I think on the way I want to understand my own artistry,
p156367_657629827590_2811148_narticularly with Theatre. I think of the practices that I have developed that have made it my sacred calling, that have helped me create in sacred practice. I think on the space and how much care I take to have the performers and the audience feel held by the space, that when they enter it they feel the energy engage them in being present to the experience they are about to engage in- like church, or a temple, or sacred circle for ceremony like ancestors created. I think on how I work with the performers to awaken spirit through body and breath, that lifts into emotion and sound, releasing words that are influenced and empowered by all of this in silence before being shared with audience- like healing ritual and prayer in practice how ancestors have opened self beyond physical being to connect to spirit.  I think on how I take care of ritual of this as I help guide them to transform into others awakening their understanding of how others live inside of us, of how we are shared self with many and we can re-member them in our breath, our bodies, and our voices. I think on how I make clear as was made clear to me in my learnings that our practice in theatre is at root intended to honor the story, the living, the spirit of another and connect it to ourselves- that we are actively practicing Kapwa (Shared Self) and Loob (Interconnectedness) together.

This reflection has been one that has guided me so deeply as of late, to make room for that which serves what I have come to believe is my purpose in this living. My sacred calling is to empower self and other to recognize and remember that Art is Spiritual Practice. What a blessing to live in and for this.

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