I was thrilled to take this 3 week venture to Austria, but when I arrived to my destination, I felt out of place and disconnected to the culture. So here is a little glimpse at my journey on how using these 4 tools helped flip the story...
Even though I was excited to return to Austria to visit Michael's family for Christmas, being in the 30 degree Fahrenheit weather, arriving with food poisoning from the airplane food, and immersed in a language I barely speak, all began to really get under my skin. Even though I have married into the most loving and beautiful family, I felt like an outsider and very quickly began to miss the comfort of home, my family and friends, and the familiarity of life in L.A.
Meditation as Medication
I made sure to stay consistent with my meditation to keep in my center and be accepting of this feeling of disconnect and discomfort, while reminding myself that it's okay to feel into the darkness that comes with the winter cycle. Not just in the morning and before bed, but while walking, while eating, while listening to music, while breathing, while just being, meditation has been a reminder that being present is the act of accepting the feelings that arise.
After a week of being in Austria, Michael and I gathered his family for a night of ceremony, where we invited everyone to explore their inner landscape with cacao, music, and expressing whatever truth anyone felt called to share. Of course I was nervous that the language barrier would be inhibiting, but it was an evening of deep connection with each person, and mostly importantly myself. My big "aha" moment was the realization of how important the act of receiving is, and how I don't allow myself to receive when the voice of judgement takes over my thoughts. I realized I was unable to connect because I was not receiving the experiences with gratitude and curiosity. Gathering together in ceremony, whether it's by yourself or with others, is an opportunity to connect to ourselves and explore the dance of the heart and mind.
Create a New Story
The old story was: I am finding it difficult to connect with my partner's family because I don't speak their language.
The new story is: how awesome is it that I have an opportunity to rewire my brain and learn a new language. Sure, I may only know phrases like "I am a woman", "I love food", "me too", "I read a book", "I have a man with strong arms", with the combination of my limited vocabulary, I am able to make people laugh and they appreciate I make an effort with my measly little Duolingo app and semester of German study at community college. The new story is, I have "abentuererlust", a spirit for adventure which has brought me to where I am at now, and I appreciate how my feelings of discomfort has been my biggest teacher. I now can see that when I step outside my comfort zone, I am allowing myself to stretch and open into new unknown territories which is where the magic happens.
I am so grateful for new experiences; grateful for all of the teachers, especially my parents for being my number 1 teachers; my partner for challenging me, encouraging me, and loving me unconditionally; my health which I remember to appreciate especially after being sick; so grateful for music that moves my soul; grateful for the sun and the snow which reminds me of the importance of the contrast of warmth and cold; grateful for all of the animals that bring softness to my heart; and most importantly for this life I have been gifted that is filled with such richness; and lastly, so grateful for this amazing family I have been born into and married into, the smiles they bring and the laughter they share.
Thank you so much for reading and let's stay connected!
5 days and 4 nights of ceremony with Abuela Malinalli near the pyramids of Teotihuacan, Mexico was an experience that left me both in awe and in a daze. When I first heard about this ceremony where women dance through four nights to celebrate the full moon and be in prayer for peace, love, gratitude and the healing of Pachamama, I was eager to know more and take part, especially considering this craving I've had for a deeper connection to my Mexican roots. As the time approached, my beautiful friend, sister, and now madrina, Guzel, gave me dates and an exact location so I immediately bought my flight. Days later, I excitedly meet up with her to find out more about what to expect. She shares details such as the 5 days of ceremony is mostly without sleep, with the exception of 30-45 minute naps here and there; and not to mention we are semi-fasting and sitting in a temascal (a sweat lodge) before and after each four nights of dancing. The thought of not sleeping and semi-fasting for 5 days leads me to immediate panic and anxiety, but I figured, we're all in it together; and if the abuelas are doing it, then I can do it.
Realizing that this isn't going to be the easiest ceremony I've done, I make sure to go in with the context of receive and surrender. After my first night of dancing, I'm struggling physically and emotionally, being flooded with doubt, regret, and an overactive negative mind, realizing that this was not what I thought it was going to be. As I dance through the first night, I wonder what it even means to surrender. My answer came to me the next day while reading the beautifully written book "San Pedro Huachuma" by Javier Reguiero who states, "Acceptance is one of the deepest expressions of surrender."
The second night of the dance, I have a bit more clarity around accepting the situation for what it is, accepting the fatigue, accepting the physical discomfort, accepting it all, loving and appreciating it for what it is, realizing how much of this is a reflection for life. The third night I felt so much more open to receiving the hypnotic smoky scent of the copal, the beautiful connections with the women, the uplifting beats of the drumming, and the harmonious sounds of the voices. By the 3rd and 4th night I am feeling much more understanding of the intensity of this whole experience, as the dancing experience begins to transform into an act of complete self-expression through voice and movement, where every moment becomes truly a living prayer.
Looking back and reflecting on what I got out of this experience, I realize that the lessons are ever evolving. In the moments when I feel heavy and unmotivated, I put on the songs of Abuela Malinalli, the feeling of strength and power, fuerza, are resurrected. The energy of the moon is a reminder to tap into the feminine energy of love and acceptance, and enjoy the ebb and flow of life and our emotions.
I came out of this experience feeling as if I have been initiated into a sisterhood, a long-lived tradition that I'm sure I've lived many lifetimes before, and remembering that I can tap into this reservoir of life energy at anytime. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity, for it was truly an honor and a blessing to be in community with the elders and sisters from all over the globe.
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.