Spiritual Vigilance in The Age of Social Media
“My boundaries are not meant to offend you, they are meant to honor me.”
This is an offering for my fellow Healers, Teachers, Artists, Community Organizers, and comrades who are asked to rise in their Sacred Callings to serve their communities, and an invitation to all those who exchange with them, to be aware of how they walk into these exchanges - particularly those that happen remotely through social media and the internet. As I continue to walk my path with Spirit, I have often answered invitations to create and to be present in Sacred Spaces of exchange. In parallel with my growing visibility as an individual sharing my Sacred Work through media, I understand that I’ve opened a doorway through which others can access my time and energy - and the necessity for establishing protocols.
I share this because of a series of recent toxic and demoralizing interactions full of miscommunications and misunderstandings, when the initial intention may have been to foster healing and connectivity. In a time when people are connecting with each other instantly across the globe, there is a greater need for us to be more vigilant and intentional than ever, and to practice discernment when approaching and when being approached with an invitation to exchange.
In speaking on boundaries and the honoring of self, I want to share about my current process and state of being as I feel it will serve in the process of exchanging with me and also serve others in creating their own protocols of exchange. I am coming out of a very real transition into my adulthood that asks me to be fully aware of my “Sacred Obligations” (a term my partner presented to me in one of our daily exchanges processing our movements and callings in the world). These Sacred Obligations not only take precedence in my life, they are also what I am intentionally filling my life with; they are the experiences related to me becoming my highest self.
As I’ve ripened in the development of my whole being, I recognize the importance of navigating the ways we all impose ourselves on one another without always being clear about our expectations or understanding someone else’s capacity to hold us. How do we let people see our intentions to hold ourselves to our Sacred Obligations, and how do we honor theirs in return? There have been countless moments when folks have become defensive by me just asking what their expectations are for our exchange and what they need of me physically, mentally, and spiritually. How can we value moments of discernment to understand if we have the capacity to hold others without being put in a position where our boundaries are perceived as offensive?
My offering in this reflection is a foundation of protocol that I have slowly been establishing for myself and individuals in every Sacred Space with me, whether it be virtually through social media/electronically, or in person at a gathering or one-on-one. I look at the perspectives of both those who approach and initiate an exchange and also those who are being approached and asked to exchange. I write this so we can all take better care of our interactions especially when it is meant to be space for healing, empowerment, re-membering, and creation. These guidelines are not finite, and are meant to be a beginning conversation with myself that I am also sharing with community for further growth and deepening of ideas and practices. They are shared for means of accountability, for safety, for care, for inquiry of self and other, and for deepening the process of honoring self and other.
Be clear with yourself about what your Sacred Obligations are, rooted in your greater Sacred Calling/Purpose
Look deep within yourself and around you and listen carefully to the experiences that are unfolding in your life, with a will to understand how they relate to what you are being called to do and who you are being called to be in this moment. As much as we lay down plans toward our visions, we also must understand we are in co-creation with the Divine. Our Sacred Obligations are asking us to be responsible to our lives and the lives of others - in our closest relationships and also in a more global sense. By adhering to these Sacred Obligations, we allow ourselves to rise in our fullness in the Sacred Collaboration between ourselves and the greater forces of Spirit.
Be clear about both parties’ expectations - and whether they can be met
In any exchange there should be clear expectations. If we can’t be clear about what we seek from an exchange, we set ourselves up for failed interactions where we feel unfulfilled or even used. Ask yourself these question: What do I want? What do I need? How do I want to receive? How do I want to give? How do I envision a space of exchange with this person (time, place, environment, etc.) In what way do I want to be approached, spoken to, be in physical contact with this person? Have I asked for consent? Have I given consent?
Be honest about your own and others’ capacity to hold space
Burnout is real for many who hold space for others, whether it be in intimate or in larger group settings. Be aware that we are all in the process of surviving and being liberated in this existence, and adhering to our Sacred Obligations. See the whole being and not just the part that attracts you to an exchange - whether that be your perceived commonalities, an intrigue and curiosity to know more, an attraction energetically, or a sense of inspiration that has come from your experience of who they are. There is so much complexity that lives in one being. How do we honor this and accept when someone does not have the capacity for us? This is not to say that we have to be reluctant to ask - just ASK, INVITE, and be ready to receive their truth, even if it means that they respond with the inability to do so. Don’t allow yourself to seep into a state of rejection and resentment when another does not have the capacity you seek.
Be Vigilant and Intentional of how you/others show up
We should come to any exchange as exactly who we are; if we try to alter ourselves for others it does not serve an authentic exchange. Show up as yourself in all your complexities, and also be honest about this in your words and actions. Leave nothing to be assumed about who you come as, and seek the same authenticity and truth from others. Also in showing up, be aware of your triggers and how you might also trigger with your language, your actions, your demeanor. Check what preconceived notions and judgements you are bringing into the exchange. Seek clarity throughout about what those are and allow them to be dispelled.
Check your privileges
In connection to how we show up, be particularly vigilant about how your privileges are present in exchanges. Recognize them and be aware of when they are exploitative, dominant, or harmful. Whether you have privilege in race, sex, gender, class, able-bodiedness, etc, see how dynamics play a part in the ability for you to hear and be heard. Be aware of how your privileged experiences may cause an inability to understand a particular perspective and communicate in a way where the other can feel they are being supported and understood. When you hold a position of privilege: it is time to listen, it is time to learn.
Relieve yourself of guilt in removing yourself from a toxic exchange
Sometimes, you just have to call it and end the exchange before it becomes more debilitating and destructive. If you can’t, if you don’t want to, then END IT. It will serve you all for the greater and if you can return to the exchange at a later time with clearer intentions, boundaries and protocols being met, then allow yourselves an opportunity to show up for one another more ready to exchange in a good way.
Be upfront about your protocol the moment you arrive, and if possible, beforehand
Let it be known in every Sacred Exchange - whether it be on the internet, over phone call or text, in an email, or face-to-face (one-on-one or in a group setting) - how you are honoring yourself and want to be honored. I am so moved by those in similar realms of service who are so clear about this. Particularly, I want to shine light on @TheTrapWitch who stated with clarity and transparency “If you would like guidance, counsel, mentorship or a check in with spirit, please book a session via my site before then, as my sessions are first come first served. There’s been a bit of misunderstanding that I conduct business through my direct messages. Incorrect. Please refrain from asking me questions about work in my DM or things that you can google. Trap Witch is for the people but now is protecting her energy going forward for the people who are healthily for Trap Witch.” This level of honoring of self is exactly what I am working to do in my own life and what I hope for for all of you.
We should all treat one another with the intention to honor that outside of any one exchange, we each have Sacred Obligations that we are tending to, and to truly value the time that is given to us when it feels ripe for all engaged. Take care of self and other by being invested in your protocols and your boundaries - for self-preservation, for protection of whole self, so that every exchange may be a Sacred one.
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.