Part of my Healer Training with Wahe Guru at the Awareness Center is to create a research paper on any aspect of the healing arts. Being a librarian at heart, this totally tickled my fancy, and I chose a lineage not too far from my own. Assignments such as these have played a huge role in the evolution of my practice and am super excited to share!
Just as many ancient cultures around the world, the Mayas in Southern Mexico and Central America have a strong and rooted connection to life force energy, massage, plant medicines, and prayer as part of their healing arts. According to author Lev G. Fedyniak, there are 6 main principles of Mayan healing. When the Spanish Conquistadores came and destroyed the Mayan culture partly by burning thousands of their writings, many of the healing rituals were able to survive since a lot of it was passed down through oral tradition. All of these principles can be found in other parts of the world, showing the interconnectedness of the healing arts form all around the globe.
The 1st Principle: Life Force Energy
“This Life Energy is everywhere and permeates everything – mountains, rivers, houses, plants, people – and is said to be from a divine, spiritual source. It has this in common with Eastern healing traditions where it is known as chi and even prana. Ch’ulel binds everyone and everything together. It is a main goal for the Maya healer to balance the flow of ch’ulel in the body. Maya healers also maintain that praying directs ch’ulel to where it is needed.” (Fedyniak, 2007)
In addition to the awareness of breath, a physical way of manipulating the life force energy in the body is through massaging the center point of our being, our abdominal area. The Mayan Abdominal Massage, very similar to Chi Nei Tsang (a Taoist abdominal massage modality from China), is intended to move stagnant energy sitting in our internal organs. The Mayan Abdominal Massage focuses more primarily on the womb to increase fertility and help with prolapsed uterus whereas Chi Nei Tsang focuses on the whole internal organ system. Ultimately, they are both addressing the restoration of the organ vitality so that the life force energy can be fluid. These modalities are a method for clearing blocked energy, both physically and emotionally.
2nd Principle: Body and Soul as One
We have the ability to call upon the spirits and guide for support through prayer and incantation. Moon and Sun dance are just a few ceremonies to mention where people gather to honor these celestial beings with song, prayer, and intentions to heal, awaken, and empower. This sacred ceremony that involves dancing, fasting, sweating and being in silence are all tools for purification and accessing the spirit realm. These rituals are a remembrance of the interconnectedness, reminding us that there is no separation between the body and soul.
3rd Principle: Plants as Medicine
Just as in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the science of Ayurveda from India, the plant kingdom plays a vital role in healing the body, mind, and soul. In Latin America, the medicine people talk to the plants and are passed on messages on how to use the plants for healing. Whether it’s as food, herbs, tinctures, balms, teas, these plants support the healing process for both the body and spirit. Before a Mayan Abdominal Massage, a woman can do a yoni steam with herbs so that the warm steam opens the pores of the tissues for the vapor of the plant oils to clean out any incrusted fluid blockages in the uterine walls from previous menstrual cycles. These plant medicines are in relationship with the healers who are constantly exploring how to apply the properties of the plants for healing purposes.
4th Principle: An Integrative Approach
The Mayas believed that each element is working together, from the patient and healer to the plants and spirits. The combination of these various factors is what contributes to one’s healing process, knowing that it is never really just one aspect, but all of it combined.
5th Principle: Status of Blood
In many traditional practices, taking one’s pulse is what helps determine any imbalances before moving forward to any diagnosis or treatments. Healers are also able to distinguish whether the illness stems from physical or emotional in origin.
6th Principle: Hot and Cold
Fedyniak states “The Sixth Principle is that of Hot and Cold, which applies equally to illnesses, foods and plants. Fevers, diarrhea and vomiting are example of “hot” diseases – while cramps, constipation and paralysis are examples of “cold” ones. “
When it comes to women’s reproductive health, it is believed that if the temperature of the yoni is cold, the yoni steam can help bring balance to the temperature by bringing heat into the cervix, vagina, uterine walls, and fallopian tubes, creating expansiveness.
These six principles are very brief overview of the many layers, tools, and elements of the healing arts of the Maya. Reflecting on these ancient traditions is a powerful tool to accessing these forces within us so that we can remember the wisdom of the earth.
1. Argivo, Rosita. Rosita Arvigo on Yoni Steams. https://www.soulvibrance.com/vibrant-living/yoni-steam
2. Chia, Mantak. 2007. Chi Nei Tsang: Chi Massage for the Vital Organs
3. Fedyniak, Lev G., 2007. Medicine of the Ancient Mayas
4. Yamin, Sonja. Should I get a Mayan Massage or a Chi Nei Tsang?
Marisa trains with Celtic Shamanic Priestess,
About the writer:
Marisa loves hoop dancing, riding her bicycle, playing, hosting gatherings, practicing yoga, traveling, meeting people, eating, and savoring dark chocolate covered strawberries and coconut ice cream. She strives to be fully present, compassionate, and act and connect from a place of love.