Season 2 EP#69 The Wisdom of Anger: Tending to our Inner Fires
- Reflecting on the impermanence of life
- How often do you take time to meditate on death
- Anger as an indicator of something that is not in alignment
- How you were able to forgive versus holding on to guilt, shame, and resentment.
- Becoming masterful at tending to your fires.
Hello, future ancestors… and happy Lion’s Gate Portal that just recently passed.
I'm just returning from my very first wilderness backpacking trip ever!
So last weekend, I hiked a total of 25 miles through the Lost Coast Trail, the ancestral land of the Sinkyone people that has been protected and preserved from development (and was too dangerous to build the Pacific Coast Highway through upon construction). I walked through hills and streams, and timed out when the tidal waves would be low so that my friends and I could safely cross without being swept away by the ocean. This often meant waiting for six hours until we could hike 3.5 miles to the next safe zone!
One would probably ask, why would you put yourself through that kind of struggle?!
If you listened to my last solo podcast episode about my time in Channel Island entitled: “Emergence: Reflections from a Post-Apocalyptic World”, immersing myself in nature is where I feel the most abundant. And it's more than just pitching a tent, but the pilgrimage that it takes to get there. The days and months of training my mind and body for these experiences so that I can enjoy those evenings around the fire with a belly full of rehydrating food and laughter after a long day of trekking makes it all worth it.
On the days where I just didn't want to move my body leading up to this, I remembered the greater destination ahead - and so “one foot in front of the other” became a mantra to affirm that these small steps would eventually move from one mile to a hundred - or in our case, 25 miles.
It's also transferred into my personal life and legacy as I have a lot of time to clear my mind on these walks without any distraction.
Every time I've left, I come back feeling rejuvenated in my purpose and commitment to decolonization: Where indigenous people worldwide are at the center of these stories, where my connection to the cosmos deepens, and where my desire to care for Mother Earth strengthens.
After all, it's where we all will return when we become ancestors: back to stardust and soil. ✨
I'll always come back to the question of:
What is the legacy you're here to leave behind?
And when you're confronted with the real conditions of nature where decisions can mean life or death, it becomes a mirror to what is most important in life. We can either meet these feelings with despair, or opportunities for growth. We can sit at the ledge and wait forever in our thoughts for the tides to pass by, turn around and go back to what we feel is “safe,” or move through it and trust what's on the other side.
There was a section of the hike where we walked by hundreds of charred trees, and it reminded me of a recent museum exhibit I attended in Downtown Los Angeles called “A Forest for the Trees,” which was unexpectedly about the colonization of fire.
Did you know that Smokey the Bear was a campaign created by the government to get Americans to FEAR forest fires? While the campaign did create a more collective effort for people to prevent the spread of fires, it was then that ALL fires were deemed as bad. In reality, indigenous people have been using controlled fires to sustain the forest since the beginning of time. Not only that, but fires have been used for warmth and food and ceremony. Fire was seen as a great ancestor to be treated with reverence. Therefore, indigenous people were banned or even criminalized for holding ceremonies on their own stolen land.
Okay. I may have had a stoner moment last week where I had this cardboard box of joints, and I didn't realize that my last joint was still burning when I put it back until I started to smell smoke.
But it was a slow and steady burn versus a flame, so instead of freaking out I just observed it.
The logical thing to do would have been to put out this fire, but I started to wonder what the intention was behind this cardboard box and why the creators behind the brand chose this packaging. What would they want for me to do?
Btw, my favorite brand at the moment is called Weekenders, which is a BIPOC and women owned cannabis company based in California and no they're not a sponsor but I still recommend it for those seeking a more gentle connection.
My sister came out with the water hose to put it out, but I stopped her instead.
If we put it out with water, it will end up in a landfill where it is going to decompose a lot slower or maybe not even at all, especially if there's no dirt to break it down.
So all these disposable items that are marketed as compostable may be doing more harm than good if they are just ending up mixed in landfills with plastic and may actually be better off in a compost bin.
Our landfills are overfilled to the point where America is shipping out its trash overseas to other countries, or it's landing in the ocean altogether and could potentially end up in the great garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean, a giant plot of accumulated plastic that's twice the size of Texas and growing by the day.
So wouldn't it make more sense to just allow it to burn and return it home to the soil from which it came from?
After all, isn't it where we all eventually end up?
Which then led me into pondering about a recent meditation I did led by the great Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, on thermodynamics, and about how matter is neither created nor destroyed.
In these words, “When the cloud is no longer in the sky, it doesn’t mean the cloud has died. The cloud is continued in other forms like rain or snow or ice. So you can recognize your cloud in her new forms. If you are very fond of a beautiful cloud and if your cloud is no longer there, you should not be sad. Your beloved cloud might have become the rain, calling on you, ‘darling, darling, don’t you see me in my new form?’ And then you will not be stuck with grief and despair. Your beloved one always continues.”
Rest in peace, dear teacher.
So with my time immersed in nature, I’ve had a lot of space to reflect on the impermanence of life - especially with my aging immigrant parents and the responsibilities that are being placed on me as their child without extended family or support here in America.
And I’ve been filled with anger as I’ve cursed at the universe as to why I’ve been ascribed such responsibilities. I didn’t ask to be born into this world, so why should I be obliged to care for the death of another? I would never want to place that burden on my children, if I ever even have any….
But it wasn’t my parents I was angry at.
It was my inability to sit with this truth, that we will all go one day.
I mean, how often do you take time to meditate on death? And where are the death rituals from our ancestors that involve more than just eulogies or wearing black, but the celebration of life with songs and dance that honors this transition?
When I think of death as loss, I am filled with grief as I want so badly to cling onto this world and all the things I have yet to accomplish.
But when I think of death as the portal into the ancestor I am becoming, or even my parents, my body lights with joy. I know that I will leave this world with nothing, other than the imprint I may have made on others. (And I hope it’s a good one!) My body will become one with the earth, and my spirit will live on in other forms. I may even reincarnate into another body to continue my dharma. Or maybe a flower. Or both.
It’s wild to know that we were conceived before time, and even existed in our grandmother’s belly! Can you imagine hearing her conversations in the kitchen, and the secrets she never told a soul? 😍 Can you hear the prayers she made for you? And can you whisper sweet prayers back to her, acknowledging that she is also enveloped by your love?
All things are impermanent, and the best way to live is in the present moment - bringing forth the past and future generations with us.
And I've said this before, but some seeds can only sprout upon being scorched by fire.
Oftentimes we try to control our own internal flames versus allowing it to burn and trusting that within that is something new waiting to emerge.
We prioritize our peace without giving light to the pain that also has a lot to teach us.
I like to imagine feelings like anger and pain as children that are asking to be tended to as we too often center pleasure and what feels good.
After all, anger is simply an indicator of something that is not in alignment or it can be a rightful reaction to an injustice.
The challenge is when we react from a place of violence vs asking what these emotions have to teach us. We can also take time to ask what anger is protecting us from.
And most of the time, anger is just sadness’s bodyguard.
When we neglect tending to these fires within us, they can manifest into tantrums or anxious attachments as adults or total avoidance of allowing ourselves to feel such things. Instead, what if we cultivated awareness and trust that these emotions, or energy in motion, will pass like water or the clouds floating by?
Just as the seasons of nature.
Just as the cloud turns to rain, which then evaporates back into the sky.
Just as fire not only destroys, but has the capacity to create.
Life is an adventure to meet our inevitable death into the ancestor we are becoming, where we will all return to the Earth and cosmos or reincarnate to continue our journey of learning the lessons we have yet to integrate from past lives. And those who are committed to the Boddhisattva path intentionally reincarnate into human form until all beings are liberated from suffering.
How are you preparing for your end of life?
And I’m not talking about paperwork, beneficiaries, etc.
What memories are you creating on the way?
Because in spite of all the material things one can accumulate, the only thing we will reflect on when we take our last breath is how much peace we were able to maintain throughout it all.
How you were able to forgive versus holding on to guilt, shame, and resentment.
Holding on to anger is like holding on to a hot coal of fire - the only one that gets burned is you - so how can you alchemize these feelings into radical compassion for self while extending that to others?
Become masterful at tending to your fires.
Learn to ride the waves, and if we are all just made of drops of water in these bodies then remember the ocean that lies within each of us as we awaken to our interconnectedness.
And when one of us can maintain our stillness throughout the waves, imagine as this ripples out to all the lives we get to touch.
This wisdom doesn’t have to come from books, but can come from time immersed in Mother nature as our greatest teacher.
You don’t have to go on a 25 mile backpacking trip either, but can begin by reconnecting to your local park or sitting by a large body of water, or taking time to observe the flicker of a flame by lighting a candle in your own home.
Before books, isn’t this how our ancestors learned anyway?
And in a recent reel I posted on Instagram, I shared…
We are the descendants of the healers that didn’t have formal qualifications...
The ones who would be criminalized for sharing their medicine today
The ones that may not have been able to pass an exam, but could birth babies with their hands and heart ❤️
The ones that may not have been able to write, but could prescribe the right herbs to soothe a tummy ache 🌿
The ones that may not have known how to read books, but could read the stars ✨
The ones that may not know how to use citations, but could recite songs to spark a revolution. 🔥
Birth workers, midwives, herbalists, artists, storytellers...
Healing is not about fixing,
That the medicine has always been you. 🙏🏾
Before we had interns, we had apprentices...
Wisdom passed down from one family member to the next.
And while many of us may not have that connection to our roots, there is a resurgence of reincarnated ancestors who are remembering their gifts.
When you follow that nudge and lead with curiosity, the right teachers and mentors will reveal themselves...
Until one day, that teacher becomes you. 💕
Thank you so much for tuning in to today’s episode! By the way, my sabbatical is coming up in a month and before then I’ll be hosting a mixer on Saturday, August 27 for anyone that I’ve had the privilege to work with. I’ve hired my photographer, Karissa of Olive La Vida, to capture people in their medicine and we’ll also have some other alumni offering their medicine, from sound healing to tea ceremony and a dinner provided by Plantberri - who also catered our retreat.
Spots are limited and this will also serve as my going away party so I’d love to see you there. https://www.yourstorymedicine.com/retreatmixer
Otherwise, stay in tune to the podcast as I continue to share these thoughts, and may these words serve as balm for your spirit, as water to your fire, or fire to the spark that just needs a nudge within you to keep going.
You’ve got this.
And the fact that you’re here listening to this today gets to be an affirmation that you are on path.
May we continue to reawaken to our dharma, our purpose, as we meet at the altar of each other's hearts.
Download my free guided meditation on how to connect with your ancestors bit.ly/ancestorinthemaking
Listen to episode #66: "Emergence: Reflections from a Post-Apocalyptic World": https://www.yourstorymedicine.com/blog/season-2-ep-66-emergence-reflections-from-a-post-apocalyptic-world