Updated: Mar 8
Mindfulness: Connecting to Medicine
I have been on a journey of discovery and exploration. Since being told about mindfulness meditations, walks and the like, I have decided to take one of my own. I don’t quite understand what mindfulness means; I mean, I have an idea, but what is it? When I talk to my peers about the benefits they have received from these exercises, the answer isn’t clear because they often use “mindful” in their description, and when you quite understand what the word means, it makes it all the more challenging. When I find myself challenged, I often seek the guidance of my elders. I am a two-spirited Haudenosaunee from the turtle clan for those who don’t know much about me. Many of my teachings come from the elders in my family, my aunties and uncles from the previous generation who spent their time living the best they could while following the sacred teachings.
I went to one of my elders and asked about mindfulness. Would this blend well into our practice of spirituality? Her answer was simple: mindfulness was a means for some to connect to medicine. I also asked why it is so difficult for some to describe. In which case, my auntie responded: Medicine is a personal thing; is it possible that they don’t know how else to describe their experience? Here I was, trying to live vicariously. That is not the way, and their medicine is not my medicine. People receive what they need from the Great Mother and our relatives. Nature provides all we could ever need, and not always in a usual way. Not all medicine is herbal, and it often exists in places and people with whom we share connections. Some don’t understand the process by which they are receiving healing. Here I was, asking personal questions. “What was your intention, young, Handsome? Visit your teachings. How respectful are you being? Is it coming from a loving place? No, I see this coming from a place of judgment. What was your intention?”
My Aunties have a way with words as harsh as they sound. She comes from a loving place, and her voice never raises and is calm, yet her eyes seem to cut through whatever guard I present, seeing beyond—seeing me. No anger, no disappointment either, but curiosity. What will I do with what she is telling me?
The question I brought to her had me reflect on my approach to mindfulness and how I connect and receive medicine. This path for me and mine alone. Having a clear intention to take in and learn from the loving embrace of our great mother. Reminding me to visit my teachings:
Am I being respectful,
Am I coming from a loving place,
Be honest about the experience,
Be courageous when the path gets too challenging,
Learn from the experience,
What I experience is true to me, perhaps only for me.
Be Humble. This journey might make me a better person but not make me better than anyone else.
Now begins my journey into mindfulness. What that means, I would have to figure that out on my own.
It was interesting that I found myself stopped by a spider web. The caretaker was a glorious female, black and yellow. She had an ancient sense of her because of her size. Her web got my attention, the time of day, and the sunlight reflected prisms in the threads. It looked magical. I found myself complimenting her on her work. If I didn’t know better, she smiled back at me, maybe nodding. She continued with her work while the web held me in thrall.
This web that provided her nourishment, she perfectly engineered to catch her favourite food. She’s lived a lot of time, no thought of being overly ambitious. Catch what she likes. Otherwise, she’d be creating a new web all the time instead of giving it occasional maintenance.
What does this web mean for me? I found myself pausing and asking about how I receive nourishment. These threads were coming together had me reflecting on my relationships and how I connect to the community. How people connect and how they nourish one another. The supports and anchors represent those the community depends on, working together to create a sturdy foundation. A web of people supporting each other. Nothing too ambitious but with potential to grow. A simple web designed to capture the nourishment needed for those spiders occupying and maintaining that web.
From that experience, I acknowledged the need and the form medicine has taken for me. This pandemic has many of us feeling alone and isolated—personal connections, dust-covered and on the verge to snap. The spider in me is sheltered and safe while my web goes into disrepair. I find myself needing those connections, reaching out and plucking neighbouring threads to see if other spiders peek out and see who is knocking and maybe wave. Begin my work to repair, take down old broken silks, replace them with new ones. Patch holes, perhaps old friends might greet me, and maybe a few new ones. All of us gather with the same loving intention, our medicine being the same.