The High Price of Wellness

I’m not incredibly wealthy, but I am well-aware of my privilege as a white, college-educated woman. I grew up very middle class and thanks to the Texas Guaranteed Tuition Plan (which I wrote about here) I am debt free.  Because I am training to be a clinician I have invested quite a bit of money in health and health education and though I dislike spending lots of money I look at it as a business investment because who wants to take advice from an unhealthy clinician? I also am fortunate to live in a place where I’ve been able to barter, use high quality sliding scale services and get very reasonable payment plans and even then all of my money is going to classes, herbs (building an apothecary), cooking supplies, water filtration (dude, getting fluoride out is expensive) and the occasional functional medicine appointment. Is my health worth it? Of course, but I could not justify the expense if I did not also think it would eventually lead to financial gain. Is that screwed up? Yea! Gah…capitalism…but let’s leave that rant for another day.  Continue reading

Emailing Shamans, Critical Thinking, and Retrieving Souls

On Tuesday I emailed a shaman. That is a very bizarre sentence, when I say it aloud to myself I can’t help but chuckle, but the 21st Century is a very bizarre time and you can indeed contact them through that medium. I was interested in doing a soul retrieval, something I had first read about in Elena Avila’s bestseller Woman Who Glows in the Dark: A Curandera Reveals Traditional Aztec Secrets of Physical and Spiritual Health. The basic idea is that when you suffer a trauma or susto (fright) a part of your soul leaves your body leaving you disconnected or lost. This is very similar to psychotherapy’s concept of disassociation, but the difference is in therapy the focus is why and in soul retrieval it is where. Both interpretations seem valid, but from personal experience in psychotherapy, the constant rehashing of wounds and wrong doings can become rather self-indulgent. It seems that the shamanic practice is less concerned with why and focuses more on the practicality of bringing those pieces back together. It is difficult to say if analyzing the hell out of why we are dysfunctional facilitates the process. I don’t think in my case it hurt, but I also feel that most people who seek out therapy have a fairly good idea of why their lives are falling apart and maybe a soul retrieval would save a lot of time and grief. Continue reading

Questions on Healing

This entry may be a bit of a ramble…bear with me. Do you ever have that feeling that you may have just stumbled upon something, but can’t name it? I’ve been feeling that a lot lately. Life is becoming a huge and confusing revelation.

If you read my last post then it probably comes as no surprise that the idea of healing would become important to me, but that is only part of the story. Last year I began working with refugees and my main responsibility was to administer a virtual therapy project. What began as very promising only produced moderate results which was at first disheartening, but got me to thinking. Was it a problem with psychotherapy or the fact that therapist and client were not able to be in the same room? Does the healer/needer of healing relationship pose a problem in terms of power dynamics? How can we mitigate that without blurring boundaries? How necessary are bounderies? Our refugees tended to be from the same region…what does collective healing look like? If the problem was psychotherapy then what would be a more meaningful alternative? What role can nature play? What role does ceremony play? What role does activism play? Does sharing one’s story in this context help or harm? Can that even be measured? Continue reading

What the Maya (Didn’t) Say in 2012

Last Friday when social media was abuzz with bad end of the world jokes there was actually something amazing happening in Mexico. Something that showed such dignity that for the first time in a long time I dared to hope.

For those of you who know me you know the rap. Mexico is in crisis. The economy may not be tanking, but the human right’s abuses and a widespread acceptance of corruption leading to impunity make for a nightmarish situation. It is hard to get numbers, but  it is not out of reason to say that since Felipe Calderon declared a War on Drugs there have been hundreds of thousands of causalities. There is little hope that the new President, Enrique Peña Nieto will change this since he is basically a pretty boy puppet of the PRI, the corrupt party that “democratically” ruled the country for over 70 years (1929-2000). Slightly, more surprising than Mexican voter fraud is how un-informed we are in the United States about Mexican politics and history even though we share  nearly 2,000  miles of border. If you want to learn more I’d reccommend checking out Molly Molloy’s Frontera List, anything by Melissa del Bosque or John M. Ackerman and if you are really interested Charles Bowden has written several books worth looking at. I personally think that is some of the best stuff out there on violence in Mexico in English.

Screen shot 2012-12-26 at 12.41.20 PM

Unfortunately, silencing dissent is nothing new in Mexico and that is what brings me to the Maya. If you don’t know about the Zapatistas I strongly encourage you to do some research. Basically, they are indigenous people (different groups who are descendents of the Maya) from the southern state of Chiapas who have formed a mostly non-violent “army” to protect themselves from a State that has a long history of abusing indigenous communities. They gained faim mostly due to their internet presence in the mid 90s back when internet activism was uncharted territory, and are known for occulting their faces with ski masks and their  spokesman, the blue-eyed Subcomandante Marcos.  This is a gross over-simplification of the movement, but I could write dozens of posts about it and still only be scratching the surface.

On December 21st, 2012, 40,000 indigenous men, women(some with infants in their arms), and children, marched  in perfect formation, through the cities of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Ocosingo, Las Margaritas, Comitan, and Altamirano. What is amazing about this march was that it was done in complete silence. In a country where words often mean nothing their silence meant everything. For nearly two decades they have been organizing and in those two decades there have been considerable efforts to stop them. Politicians aren’t going to listen to their demands, but they can’t deny that they are a force to be reckoned with and with social media their struggle is once again taking place on a global stage. I have never seen a march conducted with such dignity and unity and I was frankly saddened when most of my friends did not even know it was going on. I probably wouldn’t have either if I wasn’t such a twitter addict.

The date they chose was no coincidence. Not only was it the end of the Mayan calendar, but it was the day before the 15th anniversary of the massacre at Acteal  where 45 members of an indigienous pacifist group were killed for voicing support of  the efforts of the Zapatistas. This bloody event was carried out by “guerrilla” armies supported by same party of the very recently inaugurated president who also has employed guerrilas in the past when he served as governer of the state of Mexico. I really hope he was scared when he saw how organized they were and that he realized that the people are tired of the fighting and violence. Peaceful protest is becoming the norm  in a country being torn apart by violence. In a country where activism is often frowned upon. Maybe it really is the beginning of a new era.