In my journey of becoming a therapist, one of my primary motivations that kept me on my path was being an Indigenous therapist to Indigenous clients. When I told my grandmother that I was going to graduate school in New York City, this was her motivation too. She pushed me to pursue my dreams to give back to my community. This felt particularly important as I was headed into a field that remained predominantly white in a city so vastly different from the Laguna Pueblo reservation and small town New Mexico where my family came from.
Thankfully, I’ve reached a point in my work where my grandmother’s vision is real. I am grateful to sit with Indigenous clients from all tribes and regions, with varying connections to their culture. Our work together, and my work with my own Indigenous therapist, has highlighted important aspects of wellness that are rooted in Indigenous experience that help heal the hurts of colonization that impact everyone.
The Power of Nature
Indigenous people have a long standing relationship with the earth. We nurtured and respected it and it gave back to us in plenty. Being on the original lands of our ancestors can be a truly healing experience. For some, that is inaccessible for many reasons: not traveling in the time of COVID to protect relatives, financial constraints, or environmental devastation to this land. In order to find healing in nature in the big city, I invite (and have been invited) to intentionally connect back to the nature around us.
My invitation for you:
Walk to your nearest patch of grass
Once you arrive, take off your shoes and socks and stand with your feet flat on the ground and allow yourself to settle there. Really notice how you begin to ground into the earth. Notice what that does to the rest of your body. Are you standing straighter? Are you letting go of something you didn’t know you were holding? Just notice that feeling – enjoy it. Remember that the earth is here for you, it can hold you, and accepts you how you are now.
Building a connection to the earth is a powerful way to invite moments of connection and rest into our lives. Colonial capitalism keeps us on a never ending hamster wheel. If we can disrupt this cycle, and root back into our humanity via the patience and kindness of the grass beneath our feet, we can begin to reclaim ourselves and our lives.
The Power of Community
Growing up, I would attend “Feast Days”. Feast days are days where each village of the Laguna Pueblo Reservation celebrates family, community, and abundance. Among the dances and art vendors, and saying high to every auntie you pass, there is a tradition called “grabbing”. (For a more indepth look, I recommended this documentary Grab – if you look close enough you’ll see a very emo teenager named Shelby). When we would “go grab”, anyone from the village could go to the hosting family’s house. This hosting family is standing on the roof and everyone is standing below them. The hosting family gives thanks to everyone and says a blessing in Keres (our native language) before pouring water from a traditional pottery bowl – again for gratitude and blessing. Then, we grab – the hosting family throws items from the roof to the people down below – anything from household products, to food, to candy, to water balloons for the children. In the end, the crowd thanks the family for their gifts.
What I love the most about grabbing and Feast days is that they taught me so much about community and giving in abundance. Grabbing is giving out of gratitude, without expectation of direct reciprocity. Feeding during Feast days is provided without conditions. There is always enough. We are all connected to each other. Indigenous wellness is expanding our thoughts about giving and receiving. We can provide time, knowledge, food, kindness, a hug, or encouragement. The more we allow ourselves to give, the more we allow ourselves to receive.
Start by giving thanks for what you have – you may find that the list is longer than you think.
From this list, think about what you can give and who you may want to give it to – what would you throw from the roof? And then give freely, without the expectation that this person has to return something right then and there. Give from your gratitude for this resource you have in your life. When this person thanks you for giving, receive that gratitude as a foundational block for connection. Repeat.
If you would like support exploring and repairing your connection to yourself and your history whatever that may be, we at SteadyNYC are here to help. Please contact us.