When I was a missionary, there was a lot of discussion about how the "heart compels"us to action. Over the last years, my service, though coming from a place of devotion, had lost its heart. There was still the compulsion, the humility, and love for the people but the love of service had left me. In its place rose feelings of depletion, sadness, loneliness. Despite all of my practices, smiles and laughs, I felt lost and I didn't even know who the "I" was.
I constantly put myself in check, realizing that I had what appeared to most a "dream life." I knew the life I enjoyed stemmed from a place of choice. I also knew the way I contended with the voice who asked my assignments of me. "Zonia, will you...?" I would always answer, "Yes, I will...." and then with a whine, "but I want a garden..I want a home...I would really like to just have a quiet little life in the forest smelling flowers." The voice would not blink. Again, I would bow my head, "Yes, I will."
Always the experiences would surpass my expectations and my resistence would give way to immense gratitude that a force of Creation knew my needs and the deep healing situations that would come for me if I would just say "Yes." Friends would listen to me with an impatience born of the stable who worked "normal jobs." They would say, "Zonia, be grateful." I would sigh the sigh of a weary travellers, "I am grateful." and only I could hear the little girl voice underneath that was watching time and place pass me by say "but."
I would return to my journals with the internal mantra, "I am grateful." As I read I would read over and over and over again, "Thank you."
"Thank you for my life."
"Thank you for my blessings."
"Thank you for my lessons, my realizations, my travels, for sustaining me."
The list went on.
Even, despite relationships in turmoil,"Thank you for all the love in my life."
So, I would wonder, where this little voice came from and why the sigh and contending after so many years of doing, as I voluntarily did, what I was asked. Questions would rise: Why do I feel guilty? Why do I feel so isolated? Why do I feel so alone? Why despite all my practices was I resisting? Where was I holding? How do I let go? What was it that was making it virtually impossible to ground down, complete projects, and get ahead on the material plane? How do I hold on? Why was I appearingly sabotaging myself? Most of all, why, despite all the things I did out of love for others, was I feeling it wasn't enough? And the intensity of these questions would drop me to my knees but no answers seemed to come...just another assignment and instructions on where to go next.
Last December I was called to a tipi. Sitting in front of the fire, I heard a voice tell me "No matter what happens, go to Mexico." I was to keep my word to myself and the retreat center no matter what happened in my life, including the rebirth of love.
When love rose again, I tried to change the agreement with the fire. It would not change. I would act and move according to my agreements to spirit and not according to my desire for love, family, and reconciliation. It was definite. I had already agreed.
And so it was, despite life despite the little girl who wanted to hold on, I let go and surrendered to my agreement to end up at the one place I could authentically embrace my entire self, working as a healer, teaching yoga, pouring sweat lodge. In the midst of heartache I embraced the my mother's lineage of joyful, laughing celebration playing in the ocean, climbing hills to jungles. It was the healing of my personal deep heart after years of peyote ceremonies, medicine ways and reservationa. After years of making peace with my Nde father's inspired fierceness, strength and courage, it was the rise of the feminine softness, it was rising off my knees before the fire to the extending of limbs in the water.
This choice was not without pain, suffering, sacrifice to myself and to my dear loved one. A reconciliation was again ended, my grandmother passed while I was gone, and I felt a soul wrenching confusion I could not dissipate. And yet, the message had been clear. No matter what, I was to go to Mexico....and my Beloved heard another voice....no matter what, you may not go to Mexico. When my grandmother passed, I asked, "Am I to return home?" Again, the answer was clear, "No." I was to stay. So, I did.
This proved to be one of the most difficult choices of my life. I would find myself at odd hours crying as in mourning in the Teomazcal for all the years of apparent loss and for the fact that for some reason my happiness always now had a twinge of guilt, of knowing, of feeling that my blessings had not come wihtout regret. And I wondered, what happened to my truest, sweetest, kindest heart. There was a grit, a strength of will, an individualistic mentality, and when I tuned into my heart, it was indeed courageous. I wondered, however, after years of wandering: Who I had become?
When I cried for love, there was inevitably overlap about who or what I was crying about, my heart cords had become tangled and there was no amount of removing cords, breathing cords in, rewriting of story lines that would make it better, until one day I struck on the only cord that I trusted and believed in more than anyone including myself, it was my cord to a God force.
A dear friend of mine in Mexico asked me to talk to him about it. At the end of my conversation with him he looked at me and said something that changed me for the better in ways I will forever be thanking him for forever, "Zonia," he said, "Americans focus an awful lot on what is right. How about just for a moment you ask yourself what is true?"
"What is true?"
I heard that question in the deepest part of my heart, a sleeping spiritual eye cracked open and I smiled.
What is true? It brought me back to days of the Bible and Pontius Pilatewho, at the trial of Jesus, asked, "What is truth?" In the story, it is derisive, it is a suggestion that there is no truth, and perhaps in the world of thinking that "everything is medicine."I began to think the same. But, in this moment, humble and completely softened by sadness and long sessions working from 8:00 am - 10:00 pm, my resistance broke and I retreated to my room with my cedar bag at my heart and asked, "What is true?" And, most importantly, "What is true for me?"
That was a deep heart inquiry that began four months ago. That is all it has been. I know very little but the questions have been many. In reflection I remembered times in my life when I had conviction, when I believed things to be true, and it moved me from my heart. It infused my actions with vitality and joy of spirit.
I began to see visions and snippets from the last 10 years of my medicine life. At the end of a series of images and experiences, sincere questions from a child-like heart filled with tears arose.
I began to ask, "Ayahuasca, if you are a healing for the soul, why are your people breaking families and marriage bonds with a cry for authenticity that has led to egoic visions of grandeur and themselves as God? At the same time I thought of my beautiful medicine family. I would see their freedom, their music, their fearlessness and I could see there were some who have stayed humble in their hearts and have become known in wider circles spreading messages of Earth, and I thank them for their songs, music and art. The two sides of me merely observed.
And then I asked, "Peyote, if you are a medicine for the healing of the heart and righting of relations, why are we competing with one another? When the medicine wears off and we are sitting near one another, why are there still divisions? Why are we praising each other more than we praise God. And, at the same time, I saw the way the fire and the medicine had helped me recover my own lineage, dissolve cysts, and heal abnormal cells. I saw how it had been my memory keeper and helped me recover stories about relatives long forgotten. I saw the way the fire helped me to help the lineage of diabetes and cancer that ran in my blood and I thanked it for helping me and others who I had seen self-heal in the fire. I loved this medicine of my lineage and I sat with it as long as I could. I sat with it until the peyote told me in circle, "You are not sick. Don't eat me." I persevered through grueling hours that followed on my knees, no help from the medicine and I prayed.
Then came the day when my voice would not sing and I watched the money cup pass around to pay for the medicine. I left the tipi to visit the medicine Mexico where it grows. It sent me to Huichotl villages where I did healing work on Shaman's wives in pain. When I asked them where their medicine was they would tell me they were selling it to pay for hospitals who gave them insulin to fight the diabetes they got from the coca cola being sold to them and I paused. I went to the desert and gathered my own medicines to use in healing work and I saw how it healed people and I loved the Hircori.
I paused and paused and paused.
And then I asked, "Cannabis, if you are a medicine for the healing of the mind, why are we recreating the same system of heierarchy and money grabbing as the seeds that were planted in us before? If you are medicine for the people, then when will we be well? And, at the same time, I observed the joy and Earth stewardship mentality of those who genuinely love the plant. I travelled to India and met the plant in the wild in the Himalyas and experienced the grandmothers healing with the juice, leaf, and flower. They told me it was the "dissolver of illusion," "the cementer of friendship." I bowed in gratitude as it was used to heal my own foot and I continued to see it as medicine.
I was asked to start using of these medicines in sessions and in healing circles. I saw the beauty of unification and the way they bipased the sub-conscious mind to allow people to reset patterns and belief systems that were blocking them from realizing their true potential to heal and come into union with God, the Earth and each other. And I saw the damage caused by ego, competition and cloudy vision. I saw the beauty of absolute presence, and the experienced the sadness of manipulation of power, the forgetting of consecration and offering back up to the Creator all of the events of the circle, as people bragged about what "they" had done in ceremony. And, most importantly, I saw myself.
As a small child, I was aware of something outside of myself. It was the Earth's spirit and the voices that walked with me were many. They came from crystals, rocks, clouds, trees, groundhogs, strawberry plants, flowers, it was the spirit of the Earth and she was my Mother, it was the spirit of the Heavens and he was my Father.
In prayer an energy settled in around the sheath of my body just under my skin and I listened and at times it moved me. As a Christian it took me to doors where I met addicts praying for guidance, depressed people contemplating suicide, and post-op people with no one to help. I read to them, talked, cleaned and loved them. As a Teacher, I taught at-risk youths who felt alienated by their families, spiritualists, free-spirits, young medicine people, Indigoes and Crystal kids with no guidance and nowhere to go. I taught them meditation, did drum circles, tapped into their art, music, writing and I hugged them. And I watched as the educational systems failed them and, then, just as now I had asked questions and more questions until, with brain tumor and broken back, I had no other choice than to turn in and confront the dark side of the moon, shine a light on the places, things and people I had never met before.
I sold everything I owned, backpacked, though I'd never been, walked, worked at hostels, hiked, made new friends, did yoga, listened to guides, followed directions, swam in the ocean, left my religion, lost all my friends and found something else space to commune with Spirit in private on my own year long vision quest. It was not dogmatic, was not based on one belief, creed, location, language or people. I healed somewhere deep inside of myself and my tumor came out of my nose, fluidity returned to my spine. I returned home and started trying to live the same life I had before. I got in a roll-over car accident, went to my first tipis, and sat with aging grandparents and with both my mother and father through cancer.
I met my companion of 7 years and started all over again. The medicine path called me back to the fire, back to my family. It was a constant push pull and always, I would surrender. I found rainbow tribes and ganja kids, I found hoola-hoops and drums. I found festivals and music. I found the Indigos I had taught, and crossed paths with the star people. I pushed and pulled and continuously surrendered my beliefs, everything I valued, and time I would have loved to have spend with my family. In exchange I met others who had knowing and I had treasured experiences and began to understand where others had been going and where they were coming from.
Through it all there was yoga. When I hit a wall I was asked to break through, I meditated, I walked, I vowed to get to know the very things that had been on the outside of my experiences as a youth, the joyous parts. As a youth I had experienced addiction and near death from overdose. This was much different. In the midst of losing myself to find myself, I would travel home to care for grandparents and always at the end of the journeys, I knew time was passing us all by.
People began to read the Hopi prophecy aloud and I rejoiced that "the time of the lone-wolf was over." I watched as medicine tribes grew and grew. Medicine ways exploded, elders who were once skimping were being filled and still, another part of me who looked on began to call. Something in me began to knock. I looked for the door, it knocked. I looked for the door, it knocked again. Frustrated, I went through the motions, the smiling and the laughter, but deep inside an unhappiness was pulsing and I always knew there was a door I was not opening and the knocking became more and more insistent.
Until, last tipi ceremony, it opened and all my lives integrated by the light of the moon and stars. It happened just before tipi while with family. It happened as I watched my wolf tribe nephew. I happened while I was doing yoga and it happened right there in front of the fire. All the visions, all the experiences all the voices inside myself began to come at once.
As the medicine passed around I heard the most important question of all, "When will we all be well?" I heard my own voice say, "Thank you, I vow now to be well."
This was the door of my soul telling me, to live a life with my authentic voice in union with the experiences of past. It was the door of integration, it was the door of Self. It is the door of Kuleana, the door of responsibility. It is the door my next chapter, next life and it asked me to step through it and, without much thought to what that would mean, I took my first step through the doorway.
What that looks like for me is to return back to the beginning when I believed and belief was my catalyst for practice and practice was my connection to God and it was free, it was natural.
It is moving from authentic expression and balancing that with an open healed heart cord to the fire, to the mother, to God; it is coming back form my days of eternal youth, which don't get me wrong I will ALWAYS BE YOUNG AT HEART, and accepting my role as spiritual ELDER. It is returning to knowing every experience is valid, not all are beneficial. It is knowing there is a time and season for everything and that at times we are asked to let go for our highest healthiest good. It is hearing the voice and listening.
In this, the love and gratitude for lessons learned and time spent with very special people I will know and remember all my days is balancing with the knowing and understanding of who I have been in ALL MY LIVES. It is a returning to myselves, all of them, in one moment, in one place, with all the forgiveness needed for my own humanity, my choices, and taking responsibility, enough to know when it is my time to step into the next phase of my life I am willing to change the patterns that have begun to be unhealthy, mindless, and habitual.
In walking through the door and promising to be well I have come back to the fundamentals of spiritual practice, a sense of responsibility to the next generation, my newphews, and the unborns to be whole and clear in mind-body-spirit.
This door is the one of Birth, Life, Light. Having understood my own shadows in the darkest places, in the deepest places, I pray to now remember myselves in the light. To rotate in an integrated wheel of wakefulness through all of myselves, lives and experiences.
It has been three weeks since tipi. I am experience the beauty, loss and love of sifting through experience for the gems of compassion, wisdom, understanding and though I have not made it all the way through...the door is a long hallway, it is finally open. The knocking has stopped and all I can hear is breath and...for now it is enough. I tell myself through this process as with any, "Breathe, awaken, remember, soften, be." And I promise myself it will all be alright, that all of us, will be more than alright.
It is not all clear, but I am. Prayer, meditation, yoga which have sustained me all these years, are currently my only medicine. Layers are lifting. I am integrating. I have no idea who I will be. No doubt just me...a different version but always this me.
What I am most happy about, is that my heart has returned to me. My service is joy again. And today, spent after yoga practice, I heard a voice, it called, "Zonia?" I answered immediately and with a smile on my face, "Yes?"
"Will you let go and begin from today?"
I heard a pleasure sigh. I breathed my deep breath. "Yes." I smiled happy in my deepest places, " I WANT to," and it is then I remembered the most important thing of all, the wanting to, the trusting enough to, is the best, sweetest fruit of service I could ever ask to have and I said with all my being, "Thank you."
The journey to becoming a healer begins with many prayers. I believe that there are those who are called to this path of personal transformation who have their own thorns and physical traumas. These experiences allow us to become the light at the end of long dark tunnels for others. I have been approached by those wishing to serve this way, the best form of advice I can give is that the true path of a healer comes when humility and confidence merge together into one.
Beyond linear time, certifications, classes and trainings, the true path of a healer comes when humility and confidence merge together into one.
Humility is the product of faith. It comes with the experience of putting your own life in the hands of God. When you really come to believing and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that there is a force greater than yourself guiding you, then you can sit in witness as others
receive the release of their shadow stories and let go of traumas. Merely an observer working in accord with their own personal guidance system, their own path will unfold, however long they wish it to be. For the work of faith is a personal one, it is internal, and I do know I can not take a person anywhere they are afraid to go.
I grew up believing in Jesus and the benign force of a Creator whose miracle worker representative responded to a blind man who approached him saying, "if you just want to make me well, I will be healed" by reaching out and placing his hands on the eyes of this man and saying, "I want to." I have the story of his compassion and kindness emblazoned upon my deep consciousness and also, the willingness of the people approaching him to believe.
I have a belief that is validated and confirmed for me by my experience. I have experienced spontaneous instantaneous miracles when as a 28 year old my pituitary tumor came out my nose from, of all things, a spiritual experience (Shamanic Burial) confirmed by MRI to have healed my gland of its imbalance and the chaos it was wrecking upon my vision and my endocrine system.
And I sink into that space of knowing that healing, true to the bones, cellular altering healing, happens both ways. It is both the responsibility of the giver and receiver to accept that change is possible, not at a mental level where we tell stories and dictate timelines, but in our bones. True willingness to be broken-hearted willing to press forward and know beyond all expectation beyond all the things people have to say in fear, beyond all the seeds any doctor has planted that you are now in a new body experiences new things and to accept with a state of wonder that you are not the same soul, spirit, mind or body. to give the outcome over to God...even if it means disappointment...that to me is the greatest act of faith.
To live as though the miracle has happened, to live as though you have been given a new lease on life, to leave off the fear to follow your heart, to allow space for it to be true...that is the healing that is hope...and where there is hope, there is life. Now or in dreams to come.
And, though I give thanks for modern medicine, I will not under emphasize the power of changing our life, our habits, our thoughts.
It is what leads me to have the faith to let go of one life and leave for another where uncountable miracles take place and blessings are experienced, but I am not naive enough to say all people should follow this path of not knowing of passing through the void of money, home, friends, health and future in a belief that things can change at any moment in time, not because of anything I say or do, but because I do know there is a force greater than all of us that has set the sun rising and setting so that everyday can be brand new, the stars at night to guide us back to the light no matter how lost we may feel, and dreams to keep us from giving up when all things seem lost.
During some of my travels through conspiracies and wandering for 12 hours a day not knowing where I would sleep, I came to realize the greatest medicine we can ever give to ourselves and to the next generation is to remember things the way we would like them to be, not the way we fear they are. There is a way to balance our worries about our bodies or the future of the planet, there is a way to bring those things of the dark into the light and then bless them for their teachings on balance, on simplicity, on organic, on natural, on Earth medicine, on rejecting GMO, on not ingesting poisons and chemicals, and there is a place of knowing were are miraculous adaptable organisms who have somehow managed to survive.
Will we survive as a human race? Can we return to mental health? Can we remember ourselves whole and complete? Can we remember love, forgiveness, and drop our boundaries that have become walls that block us from human contact and healing our relations? Can we come back to community? Can we leave off technology that gives us the impression we are connected and actually lift our heads to see who is here with us now and to be present in the moment they are? Can we learn that discernment is different than judgement? Can we come back to believing in things of the light like devotion, integrity, care-taking for the old and poor? Can we come back to balance and not forget that we will age, we will grow old, we will die and what will our legacy to the next generation be? Will we teach them to see the sickness and death or will be teach them how to focus on the fire, the light, the potentiality within each of us to instantaneously transform and allow our bodies and relations to be healthy?
Two of the first teachings I learned in the tipi ceremonies were:
You (as in the spirit essence, the unalterable God core in each cell...YOU) are as perfect today as the day you were born.
You can choose to walk out the door and leave all everything behind, walking into the world in a state of wonder...that everything, everything has changed.
And in that moment of hopelessness within me or others, when people ask how...I am naive enough to smile at the most horrendous of things. I am willing to stake my future and life on the belief that there is a force in control of this chaos and surrender my fear to look people in the eyes who don't understand, even when I also do not understand and say GOD.
How will it transform? How will it heal? I don't know, but I surrender everything all belief all thoughts all actions over to this one intelligence and imagine miracles are real, miracles are possible. That if we can not change anything else, if all seems lost, how can we turn our thoughts because in the end, it is the way we feel about our life, our experiences and others that will heal everything else...one love breath word at a time.
And I turn from shadow work to light work, that I can choose to break through now and behave as one who has all my prayers answered, meaning one who is happy, healthy and abundant. I ask, what does Zonia who is happy, healthy and abundant do? She grabs hold of people now, she openly loves, dances, and believes. She takes care of her grandmother and smiles about it. She does her yoga, tells God thank you when all her housing has fallen away and packs her car up for the road, not because of what has been lost, but because of what she is looking forward to enjoying. There have been enough experiences now that I know something beautiful is coming. That is I can bypass regrets I can right now, today, in this moment act as one who is blessed.
Because no matter what is happening, I do know I am blessed because I am here. Somehow despite my father stepping on a landmine in Vietnam, somehow despite my ancestors being surrounded by genocides, crossing oceans, somehow the greatest miracle of all has happened today...I am here. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. And I take the time today, to thank God for all the reasons I have to be grateful.
Thank you to each and everyone of you for sharing this life with me and for believing in and trusting the love between us no matter how much time or space may pass between us...I bless you. I bless our relations. I bless our lives and pray for all of us a bright and happy future filled with miracles that are working for you.
Healer, Spiritual Advisor, Yogini, Mentor