Medicines for the Body, Mind, and Spirit in the Time of Trump
In the past week I have been ill with the flu, and I have heard from so many that “it’s getting around.” I was taught by many elders just how much our physical ailments are a reflection and connected deeply to the ailments of our spirits. And in this week, I have heard and read the statuses of my communities and loved ones of being ill and in pain from not only the flu, but by the impending inauguration that will solidify the instating of a man as the leader of this country who cares very little for the wellness and the liberation of our communities. We are entering a time when the sicknesses of this country, that are rooted in ignorance, indifference and hate will have us searching for medicine to heal us and to build up our holistic immune systems.
I am focused greatly on medicine for the Body, Mind and Spirit - and was asked to share what I am doing in this time to ready myself for what is to come.
Medicines of the Body:
The medicine of the body requires deep listening, our physical beings tell us much more than we choose to hear. Often we resist giving our bodies what they need, we tell ourselves that we can do so much with very little, until our body is so spent that we fall ill, or we break, or we become bedridden. Burnout is so real for those of us who work serving our communities, and this culture needs to end. The difference when we are fully rested, when we have been nourished and are at our optimal physical strength is so valuable to the work we do for our communities - take these medicines as priority. These are the 3 main medicines of the Body that I feel are necessary for us in this time.
Pause with Purpose - Sleep, Retreat, Rest
It’s important for me to take moments of rest and distance from the intensities of living day to day. Pains, ailments, wounds persist when we do not re-member to heal ourselves - to be in a moment of rest. Create the boundaries you need for that intentional rest, close the door (literally to your office, your bedroom, your sacred space) in moments of needing to rest, say “No” with grace and to be at ease with doing only as much as your body can allow. Do not ask for time of rest when you are completely spent and exhausted from overworking yourself; make it a priority, a requirement, a necessity. These pauses are so crucial to our ability to persist. If we don’t choose to pause, our bodies will choose for us, and in these times, we have to be much more alert and ready when the time comes to be in full physical capacity to respond.
Eat Well - Nourish, Replenish, Refresh
I have learned the necessity of replenishing and fueling my well and how crucial it is to feed it what is going to allow me to thrive. Food intake should not be about the outcome of physical body results, but rather, I have learned to really listen to what makes my body feel good. I have learned to understand just what every herb, every fruit and vegetable, every grain, every meat and protein gives to my physical being. I have learned to listen, because I have learned to care. This is not about being a “health nut,” this is about understanding how we treat our bodies - how we fuel ourselves, how we give to and support our growth and longevity. There is justice in eating well, we should all be afforded the ability to understand the connection to our eating rituals and how they uplift us or restrict us from being at our best.
Exercise with Intention to Be Equipped - Defend, Honor, Protect
Our bodies at their full optimal strength, responsiveness and agility is important to being ready for the revolution. Exercise has become an entirely different practice - for me I think on how our ancestors did not have a need for treadmills and weight machines, they walked the terrains of their land territories and planted, harvested and lifted the food and water they would be consuming as a community. Their exercise was a part of their survival and allowed them the ability to see their physical aptitude to be connected to their survival. We have lost track of this, and so I invite us to remember what it would be like to take on the exercising of our bodies in a way that connects to our survival.
Medicines of the Mind:
The Mind is the Human asset that also falters us when we do not balance what leads its consumption of knowledge. We formulate our understandings and beliefs of the world by what we are taught and what we accept in those learnings. The more our minds are open, the more room we have to sustain its health and wellness - the health of the mind I believe comes from the maintaining of wonderment and humility, the ability to understand and hold compassion in our learnings - the want to know more and not just understand one perspective or bias.
Understanding and Being Intentional with Your Consumption of Content
In this time more than ever, we are exposed to so much knowledge - articles and diverse media and the ability to learn with the click of a trackpad, or the swipe of a phone screen. We have the ability to consume and consume so much knowing, and it is important for us to understand how important it is to look into the sources of that knowing, the framing of that knowing, the multiple perspectives that may be missing from that knowing. If we do not act on our own due diligence to question what filters and viewpoints are fueling the content, the messages, the knowledge, the beliefs that we are consuming, we can be affected by them in a deeply negative way.
And just as important as our need to look deeply into the sources and means of the content we consume, it is so important for us also to know that we can also turn it all off. That we can take a break from social media, from the controlled media of the news, from the feeds and the statuses and the back and forths that can be so draining for us. Just as much as we can be conscious about what we consume, we should also be aware that we don’t need to consume. This will be more and more important with the leadership already showing their want to control the narratives that are being “allowed” to be heard, to only allow for content that feeds their agendas, which do not serve the voice of our communities.
Caring for Communication
I believe that learning to communicate with full compassion and clarity with self and others is so important to wellness of human beings. Often our relationships falter when communication is not cared for. This portion of the Medicines I believe takes some breaking down and I have created for myself a number of practices that help me to create exchange rooted in understanding in every conversation I engage in or in life’s interactions:
1) Be patient. When you are communicating, do not be in a rush. Be willing to take your time, to communicate with awareness and ability to take pause to process when necessary, to really feel out and make sure the other you are exchanging with is following your communication, is with you. Take care of the communication and do not be afraid of silence, allow it to be a moment to communicate without word, or to hold room for the best exchange in response to what has been spoken to be achieved on both ends.
2) Acknowledge emotions that arise in communication, but don’t let them deafen and paralyze you. Emotional reflexes and triggers have been built up in each of us from experiences in the past. Communication is a muscle, connecting thought to emotion - how this is released should be taken care of. We should always honor the instinct of our responses, but then take care to release them if they are not serving the exchange. Emotions can easily hinder the ability for someone to be heard or to hear others. In this it is especially important to release defensiveness. This again comes from ego and the want to be “right” in a situation and not to be understood, regardless of whether the other may agree with you.
3) Pay attention and take care of how your body and energy support your communication. Your physicality is important, this is something that is greatly connected to the way that you engage in a conversation, either receiving or speaking in the exchange. Your physicality feeds into how your emotions and your energies are held. In these moments, breath should be checked, a release of breath can relax the body in an instance and create openness physically and energetically. Let your consciousness of physicality support your communication exchange.
4) Be flexible and open-minded in the way you listen and speak. We have to be willing to adjust in our conversation. If the other or your audience is not opening to you, or wanders from the communication how do you reengage? How do you take a moment to respond to the shifts in energy that may happen from the other? Be also willing in these moments to ask questions for clarity, still holding the intention to understand and be understood.
5) Be honestly compassionate in the way we speak our truth and experience, and honor the truth and experience of others. We all come from different, very complex, and layered experiences. It is important for us to understand this coming into any conversation, first and foremost. You have to know that your truth is not always going to be in line with another’s, but it does not make you or them wrong. This is the root of the importance in understanding. How do you consider how the other is entering the conversation? How do you engage their lived experiences that inform their ways of communicating and what they communicate, the ways they receive and listen and what they receive and hear in an exchange? These truths may not be in line, but understanding is not with intention to change someone’s mind, but rather gives them the opportunity to connect why your truth is informed by your living, different from theirs.
6) Be willing to see when another individual does not seek mutual exchange in communication and be okay with letting the conversation go. We are all conditioned by societal constructs, and working to undo these things that do not allow us to hear one another takes so much time. You cannot reach everyone and the acceptance of this comes with breathing through the care that you take in all your conversations to understand and be understood to the best of your ability. We cannot control how someone hears you and whether they want to, we can only take care of the experience with all of the intention to make space for understanding. If this is not mutual on their end, then it is important to release. There are always going to be audiences that come into a conversation with experiences and beliefs they may not be willing to compromise at all. In these moments, all you can do is breathe them out.
Take care of your communications, and create exchanges that will leave the other feeling they have moved toward deeper understanding and connectivity.
Shifting Mindset - Victim to Vision
According to The Empowerment Institute work by Gail Straub and David Gershawn, The Four Characteristics of Victimhood are:
4) Staying in a State of Confusion
And the question to ask self in connection to this is “Where have you been living victim in your life? Where have you seen others living victim?” We can choose to shift our mindset, to remember that we can have a life that we envision, not one that was presented to us as our only means. This is such a key notion for me in these times. How am I actively creating the world that I envision for myself and my loved ones to thrive in? How do my thoughts, my words, my actions all support that vision being upheld and not restricted, not determined by the acceptance of those we have believed have more power than us? I am not going to let Trump’s seat in presidency, nor the rising of those who call themselves “leaders” of this “free country,” and who advocate for the oppression and degradation of my brothers and sisters in my communities to uplift capitalistic greed and white supremacy dictate how my existence will be held. I am not a victim to their visions - I am an advocate for the visions that will persist not despite theirs, but because it is what I feel is just, and is led by love. They do not motivate me, my Love for life of all does.
Medicines of the Spirit
The workings of our spirit are the parts of our life that matter most. When we do not care for ourselves as sacred, our mind and body will falter. Now more than ever, being strong with spiritual rooting is most important for us.
Let your actions be Prayer
Let your creations be Prayer
Let your life be Prayer
And let all your Prayer be Powerful
I was told by an elder in my life that Prayer is communication with the Divine, the sacred, around us and also within us, and that we must let it be what leads all we live day to day. I don’t see prayer as just kneeling to the ground with your head bowed or speaking up to the sky. Prayer is seeing life’s miracles in all things that have been created, by the Divine and also by humans as we are extensions of that/those greater Creator(s). I do not speak of Prayer in the religious sense, I speak of Prayer as the part of our selves that moves us beyond thought and reasoning. Prayer moves us from the heart and to me is having humility and gratitude for all things, and stops us from exploiting, taking for granted, and shunning what is around us.
In this time where the country is being threatened to be led in a way that is not of prayer, but rather is all those things that stop us from being in a prayerful place - we have to more than ever look within ourselves to see what it is that keeps us from seeing the value of living. Value has been diminished to monetary measurements by the doctrine of capitalism. When we live in prayer we see the value of all things living and human-made, because we remember the wonderment that they exist and that you exist in relation to all things. Now more than ever we must be humbled to these truths, we must share them, live through them, and we must protect them - that is where living in Prayer comes from.
Surround Yourself with Mirrors of Light
It is time for the medicines of solidarity and interconnectedness to be called upon more than ever. Divisiveness will be the greatest poisons to our movements in this time of great shift. We have to be in a position of allowing ourselves to build strong allyship and understand ever deeper than before who those are that we have surrounded ourselves with that are our most sacred Kapwa (Shared Selves). Who are those who speak similar language of life and spirit with you, who walk the world with you in parallel paths of lightwork-purpose-sacred calling, and who seek to honor and uplift the living, creation, guides and the ancestors all around us? Look around you, see who you have chosen to walk with in this living and interconnect your circles with others that they have formed that will strengthen the greater movements that we must make for the good of our people, for the upholding of justice, for the Love of all.
Vulnerability is more important than ever, it is in these moments that we are most honest with what the spirit wants and needs to thrive, to feel full, and well. Deep intention to hold one another in a moment when we have become vulnerable as targets for oppression is so necessary - intimacy is crucial to the ability for us to find strength in each other. In these circles, we can all learn how Surrender, Acceptance and Trust allows for the deepest healing. In our most sacred circles of light, of community, we are able to explore our unique and similar needs, and how our unique and similar gifts can serve the greater whole.
And remember that those mirrors of light are not just those that are physically present and living; that we must call forth and surround ourselves with the remembrance of the ancestors and guides as spirit family that are always with us. Build, sustain, grow and honor your circles of Light, this will be deep medicine in this time where circles of darkness are emerging.
Accept Your Path and Trust Yourself - Accept that We All Belong
We all have been given a path to follow, one that allows us to serve the world at our greatest capacity. EVERYONE has gifts they were given to uplift this existence. We all must awaken to what this is within ourselves and we must answer that sacred calling that reveals itself to us - and we must use it to serve our communities, our loved ones, those we may not know who are a part of our greater communal, interconnected families and the sacred of this world - the waters, the land, the sky and the fires that are at the core of this existence.
I want to break down this medicine through the teaching of an elder from the Manobo Tribe in Mindanao who shared with me this story. I cried to her:
“ATE, WHAT AM I LIVING FOR? I am losing my mind. This world does not support my sense of justice, sense of belonging, sense of being. I’m doing the little I can, but some days I see how many want this life to persist of injustice and hatred or think to be complacent - that there is no other way than to live with these constructs that make so many suffer.
She shared, and that morning saved, with her stories that became reminders. One story to share in reflection of the Medicine of Accepting your Path recalled when she asked her own Elder in a moment of heartbreak by the world around her:
“Apo - Why do we work so hard? Why are we so poor?”
“This Earth is big and everyone was assigned to a certain place. And everyone has to take care of that place. Even the birds - they can only live with certain trees. (The Creator) made them for the certain trees. We all have the same place. He made our skin, our eyes, our body - to protect our part of this Earth, but the problem is that we are stealing from each other.
We are small beings and we have to take care of what is ours to take care of. You are blessed for every seed we plant. When you care for a seed, you already care for so much. Think of the corn with one seed. You have two stalks and each stalk bears 100 seeds. Too many people don’t see their blessings. Too many don’t know how abundant with one corn seed you have 200 stalks of corn, and you are still not satisfied?”
We have to celebrate. We celebrate when we plant. We celebrate when we harvest. We celebrate life and the part we play in letting it persist.
She said: “Without people like us, they will forget. It’s good we’re here because it can be passed down to our children. And so, you are doing good work, because you teach. You teach them to take care of our world after us.”
I know it’s not going to be immediate, I know it’s going to be difficult to live in this Now, that makes my heart break Every Day. But I am here. I will play my part. I will protect what I can.
I will follow my purpose in my belonging. And I will urge others to understand their belonging too. And celebrate it in deep prayer.
I’m learning. And with each learning, I do, I live. These medicines ground me in this, and I hope they will serve you all as well. We will all be alright so long as we truly look to what it is we are here to do - to survive, to sustain, to honor, to protect, to uplift all that is Sacred. What part do you play? And how are you taking care of yourself in your existence: Body, Mind, and Spirit?
More comfort from my Elder from the Manobo Tribe, more love of lessons, more medicine to close this sharing.
She shared, and echoed from my heart: “Many are worried about me, because I have very little already. That I gave up so much, I sacrificed, until I am in my bare minimum. And my community, they worry for me.
But I’m not worried.
I believe I lived a good life - for the people, for the youth I have been educating. My students, they are now at their right age and they are now the ones. You are the one. You are doing the good work in your communities.
Whatever man has done to the Earth, will be paid back by man. We can’t help how people have destroyed the Earth. We are passing anyway. The destiny of this Earth will be to pass, but we need to do our part as we are alive, to sustain.
We have to be gentle to ourselves. We can only do what we can. We can only do so much, and we have to do it where we can be supported, to do that good work more.
Keep humble to your gifts, and keep speaking the way you do Jana. You’re so young, but you’re so wise.
Keep speaking your beliefs. Your beliefs need to be heard to challenge the beliefs that many think they cannot challenge. That are the beliefs of those that do not care for the people - they do not care about the land, they do not care about the water.
This is a time of confusion. Human beings are confused - by all the luxury, by the want for things that are rooted in vanity.
How will you make your life more useful to many people? You will.
Just share your belief. Just share your prayer.”
Jana Lynne "JL" Umipig is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and activist who seeks to elevate the narratives of Pilipina wom*n as a reflection of her own life's journey toward decolonizing, re-indigenizing and humanizing self. She is the creator of the acclaimed Movement Theatre production "The Journey of a Brown Girl," noted as a "transformative human experience through the lens of the Pinay Narrative." She is a core member of The Center for Babaylan Studies, an Inner Dance facilitator, and founder of Butikaryo mga Babae, which creates sacred space for Pinay Womxn Healers seeking to learn and remember healing practice and knowledge connected to our ancestral traditions.