Season 3 EP#73 Integration: My Journey through the Spiritual Underground
Welcome back to Your Story Medicine, episode one of season 3
If you are new to my work, welcome. I am June also known as Jumakae - which is a combination of my first, middle, and last name.
My medicine is supporting future ancestors like you with finding clarity in your message and confidence in your speaking so that you can share your story, grow your legacy, and heal generations before/after you.
And as your dedicated life doula, I hold space for the contractions that arise in your body as you begin to birth a new story for your life.
I am just returning from my first ever sabbatical, where I completely shut down my calendar for the past six months to explore this question of “Who am I when I’m not in service?”
- Phone or flight? Disconnecting from technology to reconnect with my medicine
- Lessons learned from being stuck in Peru during a political lockdown
- Integrating from my first ayahuasca experience in the jungles of Costa Rica
- Understanding what it means to be bodhisattva
If you listened to my last episode closing out season 2, I announced how the beginning of my sabbatical was supposed to be in Thailand - where my intention was to reconnect with my ancestors.
I had just returned from my very first experience of Burning Man, and the same night I would have boarded my one way flight back to the motherland is when I took BOTH of my parents to the hospital within an hour apart from one another.
On top of that my car was broken into not once, but twice that month - so I was without transportation as I stayed home with them.
Of course my ancestors would tell me that if I wanted to connect deeper with my roots, I would need to be closer to my elders who could very much become ancestors at any moment.
This is NOT how I wanted to spend my sabbatical, but had I not shut down my calendars in that time I wouldn’t have had the spaciousness to show up for them.
I had also mentioned how I had found love, but I also spent a lot of this time healing from heartbreak - which I now see as one of the biggest heart openers ever.
What a gift it is to experience having loved so deeply, and to be at a point in my life where it’s okay to let it go without attachment if it no longer feels aligned versus clinging on and hoping for a change overtime. We are not doing that anymore.
And so thankfully, when my parents got better, I was able to leave the country as originally intended to experience what it was like to radically fall in love with my own company. But instead of going back to Thailand, I traveled down south instead to Peru and Costa Rica and to welcome the new year.
And funny enough, I spent the majority of my trip without my phone - not by choice…
It was on November 28, the day I left, I had taken a selfie in front of the gate of my flight at LAX to announce my departure on social media - and I was the last to board the plane after I posted it.
By the time I got to my seat, I searched for my phone - only to find my pockets completely empty. The moment I realized it was gone, I attempted to rush out of the plane -
but the flight attendants stopped me and said that if I leave, I wouldn't be able to get back on.
At that moment, I had a choice to make… Phone or flight?
Of course, I chose my flight.
And as the plane departed, all of the stories began to surface…
How is my family going to contact me?
What if I get lost? I don’t speak the language.
How am I going to document my journey?
Did I make a mistake? Should I have just caught the next plane?
There were many moments where I realized how tethered I was to this device, from needing to check into my other flights to using google translate or punching numbers into a calculator to figure out conversion rates -
But I had to fall back on what life was prior to this technology. I made a lot of friends with random strangers and I picked up some extra Spanish along the way, using a notebook to write down new words.
My first week in Peru, I attended a retreat for women of color hosted by my friend Liz Jones, who was a previous podcast guest on an episode entitled How Sacred Travel Can Activate Your Dharma.
Liz, who used to work for a tech company, told me that it’s typical for corporations to give their employees a paid sabbatical after their 5 year anniversary. Some return feeling resourced, others don’t come back at all. She’s one example of someone who used her sabbatical to travel, only to quit her job entirely and now make travel her full-time endeavor.
As the only employee of my own business that was five years old, I questioned whether or not I would even come back to Your Story Medicine after this break! But as I was so busy serving others, I needed to be in the experience of allowing myself to receive.
And Liz definitely delivered, not packing so much into the agenda which allowed the spaciousness for me to dream. This was special too because Liz was my roommate for another retreat the previous year where she shared with me her dream of bringing people to Peru, and here I was as the recipient of her medicine after witnessing so much of her growth. I became so close to the rest of the women, where a lesson we all walked away with was to no longer just to pour from our overflow, but to deepen our well so that we’re not operating from a shallow cup.
And when they all went back home to the United States, I checked into a hostel by myself down the road called “Hatha Yoga”..
At Hatha Yoga, I was anticipating yoga and meditation classes everyday. You would think so with that kind of name, right? I thought there would be healthy food readily available for me to help me prepare for my dieta as I was preparing for my first ayahuasca ceremony coming up.. I was hoping I would be surrounded by a community of other yogis - but instead…
I ended up being the only one checked into the building the entire time. Our winter in the United States is their summertime, but I didn’t get the memo that summertime in Peru meant rainstorms everyday. I was in the Andes, so it was freezing cold at that high altitude -and I didn’t even have a heater to stay warm. Because I was in the countryside surrounded by cornfields and mountains, I was lucky if I had hot or running water - which meant that I got used to taking very short and cold showers.
It didn’t help that the only way to dry my clothes was to hang dry them in the sun, and so my first day there I was excited for an hour of sunshine - until my clothes became soaking wet again in the blink of an eye.
I remember bringing all of my clothes to dry on the floor of my tiny 10x10 foot room, called the “Cancer Room” - which happens to be my rising sign.
And the questions begin to surface again…
What am I doing here? Did I make a mistake? Does anybody even care about where I’m at? If I go missing, will anybody notice?
The nearest market was a 25 minute walk -
And on top of that, the country went into a political lockdown, so most of the stores were closed. People were literally getting flown out of Macchu Picchu! I was far away from any violent protests happening in the cities - though it was extra quiet to the point where my thoughts became really loud.
When I talk about shadow work, this is probably the deepest I’ve ever gone.
I had to get the thoughts that were consuming me out of my head, so Instead of documenting on my phone, I busted out my journal - and I began to write. I wrote a minimum of four pages a day, letting go of old stories and catching spells for my future self. and I also brought a kindle with me which I had bought the previous year but hadn’t read a single book on. I went through at least ten books in that month without a phone.
One of my other intentions was to connect with my inner artist that I put aside for five years, and so I bought a ukulele with me. The only deity I brought with me to put on my ancestral altar was Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of music and the arts who is depicted holding a veena as her instrument, which looks a lot like a guitar - and so I would stare at her everyday on my altar for inspiration while teaching myself how to strum.
I became friends with my neighbors down the road, where I would walk through the cornfields to get to the river house where they stayed - and we would walk to town together for groceries. This turned into shared meals in their kitchen, which then turned into art, poetry, and music making sessions. We were all away from our families and learned how to be that refuge for each other.
It was in this time of being disconnected from the outside world where I felt more connected than ever.
On Christmas we invited others down to the river house to break bread and share their art with us. This turned into a five hour jam session with other poets and musicians, and I remember someone saying that this was the first Christmas where they actually felt like they belonged.
It was also a big deal for me as someone who grew up Buddhist, not really celebrating Christmas and feeling like I was missing out on this day.
And so on December 27, two days after Christmas and exactly a month since being away from home, I said goodbye to my newfound family in Peru with my cup filled to the brim to begin my next adventure in Costa Rica.
Shoutout to Brother B, Liz, Brady, Samsara, Rhyz, Ausar, and everyone else who made me feel at home in the sacred valley!
So Costa Rica is where I welcomed in the new year with a new group of people I had just met for a Buddhism and Ayahuasca retreat for people of color led by Spring Washam, my badass dharma teacher who is the cofounder of east bay meditation center in Oakland, CA. It was here where we called upon the spirit of Harriet Tubman to guide us through the Spiritual Underground. By the way, she just released her newest book called the Spirit of Harriet Tubman - and I will be sure to bring her on as a guest to share more about her work.
I’m not quite ready to talk about my experience yet, but I will say that ayahuasca is NOT for everyone - and it brought up a lot of trauma that I thought I had already healed from. But healing doesn’t have an end destination - it’s an everyday practice we return to over and over again. I’m so grateful that I went with this particular group, where our daily talks revolved around decolonization of the heart, the dharma, ancestral healing, and where meditation was a daily practice to recenter ourselves back into our body.
After all, colonialism comes down to disembodiment - which is a disconnect from our body and the umbilical cord of mother earth.
The ways we abuse mother earth is a reflection of how it is we treat women in society and our own bodies.
I would grow up with my Buddhist mother justifying her own pain or the oppression of others with karma, and she would bypass her suffering by saying that this was just a part of life.
And I learned that Buddha Gautama never said life is suffering. Instead, he said in life, there is suffering - so with that means we can experience liberation in this lifetime.
For the first time ever, I truly understood what it meant to be a Bodhisattva. To be reincarnated as a human being in this body is to ensure that all beings can be liberated, but that first must begin with liberating ourselves and the stories we are clinging onto that shape our reality.
And after sitting in multiple ceremonies with lots of purging, the cries for mother earth became so loud that I had to train myself to sit still and listen.
I would wake up and meditate in total silence for at least an hour, which started to go by quickly the more I sat. And prior to this journey, I could barely sit still for 10 minutes - even with a guided meditation.
I felt myself returning back to my medicine - to use our stories to reconnect to our bodies, our ancestors, and to mother earth.
When we discuss spiritual ascension, this often looks like going to outer space or traveling back to the cosmos - and while we are made of stardust we get to remember that we are also made of earth.
Many of us may not be from this planet, but we are in this human space suit right now and our purpose in this incarnation is to be good stewards of the land in our temporary time of floating on this giant blue ship.
After my ayahuasca retreat that lasted for two weeks, I rented a house in the jungle on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica by myself for the remainder of January, and I was so proud of myself - because prior to me leaving, I wouldn’t have been able to do this! I would have been way too scared.
But being phoneless and alone in Peru during a political lockdown prepared me for my solo jungle journey - and while I was by myself, I felt far from alone..
The first night I arrived at my jungle casita, it was pitch black and I was terrified of the dark. But as I walked into the abyss toward my front doorstep, my entire lawn became lit with hundreds of fireflies - and it was so beautiful I damn near cried! It reminded me of my summer vacations in Thailand as a little girl where I would stay in my mom’s village, catching fireflies with my cousins in the rice fields.
I welcomed the benevolent spirits of the land, thanking them for allowing me to pass through safely.I was literally having full on conversations with spiders and crickets as big as my hand, negotiating for them to stay in the kitchen and far from my bed. And I feel like it worked because we respected each others’ boundaries in the time I was there.
I cultivated a ritual of making a spirit plate everyday, which is a small plate of food that I placed on my altar as a way to share a meal with my ancestors and the spirits that were there.
We often go to God, our ancestors, or spirits as a means of extraction when really they want to build a relationship with us.
So whenever my lights would flicker, instead of freaking out I acknowledged their presence.
And I began to sing and dance as an additional offering. I grew up believing that music and the arts was only meant for entertainment, when our ancestors used it as ritual and ceremony. The artists were the healers, the seers, and the shamans.
I was having the best time of my life!
And because I was by the beach where it was warm (opposite of the Andes where I was at a month prior to that) I literally lived in a sarong (which is a single piece of cloth I tied in multiple ways around my body). Sarongs were the only things I ever recall my grandparents and ancestors ever wearing. My grandfather had a pair of jeans for the few times he would go to the city.
I was finally ready to come back home to the United States…
And I felt so guided and protected every step of my way - even while not having a phone.
I didn’t even know how I was going to get home from the airport, but there was a kind man sitting next to me on the flight who was so inspired by my journey that he called me an Uber so that I could get home safely! No strings attached.
But… being back in the city of Los Angeles literally felt like an assault on my nervous system that I was not prepared for.
This is where integration is so crucial after plant medicine journeys.
It’s been exactly a month since I’ve been back, and I would be lying if I said that it’s been easy.
I’ve realized that in order to function within capitalism where everyone especially in the city is hustling, grinding, rushing and operating from a sense of urgency, most of us have had to dissociate from our bodies and allowing ourselves to feel because our individual, collective, and historical trauma is heavy - especially for highly sensitive beings.
We are literally walking plants, absorbing energies all around us in addition to our unhealed wounds from our childhood or ancestry.
This then manifests as what we call anxiety, depression, and even imposter syndrome when those are just symptoms of a larger root cause.
And so I’ve had to ask myself, how do I not perpetuate these harmful cycles? What can I do to show up with integrity while still running a decolonial business that divests away from capitalism, contributes to our individual and collective healing, and invests in local economies?
Speaking of decolonization, we can debate and talk all about what it means all we want - but until we get our hands into the soil, until we explore our inner cosmos, until we cultivate a new relationship with our bodies, the earth, and our ancestors - it’s just theory.
So I had to get away from the city and back to nature.
And as of now, I am recording this episode on the beautiful land of the Ohlone people in Santa Cruz CA, where I am currently farm sitting for my friend Montez Free Woman- who was one of my roommates at my ayahuasca retreat. Montez embodies elder goals, and is a retired lawyer with a dream to bring more black, indigenous people of color back to earth in a project that she calls Black to Earth. She also makes up less than 1% of black women farmers in the United States - so she is indeed a badass.
And I can’t believe that she’s trusted me to watch over her six goats, five chickens, five cats and two dogs.
Mind you, I’ve never taken care of a pet before or worked on a farm - so this is hardcore ancestor training.
I’m not sure if my ancestors are laughing at me or cheering me on, because my mom left her village to avoid becoming a farmer - which has been my entire lineage until her generation.
And I’m actually enjoying this because all of the animals have been so kind to me!
Unlike the ways we try to dominate control over animals, Montez has taught me the beauty of reciprocity. These beautiful, sentient beings want to be treated with kindness and compassion - just like the rest of us humans. We are even decolonizing farming y’all!
And while I can’t make any announcements quite yet, we are dreaming of ways we can bring more people back to the land.
This has also meant composting old stories of what I thought Your Story Medicine was going to be by planting new seeds of possibilities which were all inspired by my break.
So what seeds are we watering?
The next steps for Your Story Medicine…
I have some incredible guests that I’m excited to bring on this season, where we will dig deeper into plant medicine, ancestral healing, and entrepreneurship as sacred activism.
You don’t have to be an entrepreneur btw, but at least can be mindful of the individuals and resources that are available to support you with being rooted in times of change.
We are retiring my 12 week signature program, Roots to Rise, to birth other sacred offerings that are going to require more of my time and energy, such as my own retreats, ceremonies, and workshops.
Instead, I am only running ONE mentorship program this year, Bud to Blossom, which is my six month mastermind to support changemakers, visionaries, and healers with scaling their existing offerings. This is especially helpful for those who already have a service, such as a private therapy, consulting, or coaching practice, and are now wanting to expand their medicine to include retreats, speaking, and workshops while learning how to get paid for it. People are craving in-person experiences now that the pandemic has eased out, so let’s make that transition together. I also love working with educators and professors who are ready to teach their wisdom outside of formal institutions while creating a sustainable model to make that happen.
We are in the process of unlearning to learn, while divesting resources to where it is we choose.
And while I can help people with creating a profitable and ethical business plan, what’s most important to me is that we FEEL abundant beyond the numbers in our bank account.
I’d rather financial abundance be the byproduct of us living in alignment and integrity with our values.
And if you’d like a taste of what this can look like, then sign up for my upcoming free upcoming workshop on “How to Birth Your Sacred Offerings,” happening on Thursday, March 16 where I’ll teach you how to create a blueprint of possibilities that’s aligned with the seasons of nature - which has allowed me to take winters off cuz I just notice that my body doesn’t like to work at that time.
You’ll also get a replay to my last two workshops, How to Connect with Your Ancestors and Finding Clarity in Your Medicine — and all of these are going to be available until Bud to Blossom begins at the end of April.
So to recap…
- Honor the season that you’re in. Sometimes, the best way to connect is to disconnect.
- Give yourself permission to compost old stories and offerings that no longer feel in alignment. You’ll make space for other things to blossom.
- Sometimes, spiritual ascension looks like rooting ourselves down to earth and getting our hands into the soil.
So if you are in the season of receiving support to water the seeds you’ve been planting, then I invite you to apply to Bud to Blossom which will be the only way to work with me closely this year. The link is in the show notes, and I would love for you to treat this process as a ceremony when you fill out the application - because when your intentions are down, spelling becomes a spell..
Even if my coaching isn’t a right fit for you, I’ll make suggestions on where you can begin resourcing yourself - whether that means me referring you to someone in my community OR to continue on the path you’re already on.
Otherwise, know that you are already enough. You are the person your younger self prayed for so take time to celebrate how far you’ve come, and you are your ancestors’ wildest dreams come true.
Bud to Blossom Mastermind - https://www.yourstorymedicine.com/budtoblossom
Your Story Medicine Workshop: How to Birth Your Sacred Offerings