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  • Finding Freedom In New Experiences


    Earlier this year, I announced that “freedom” was my theme word for 2017. Part of being free for me is being open to trying new things. In February, I went to a mindfulness workshop for women in the African diaspora and I learned so much. Since then, I have kept my eye out for other workshops where I can learn even more things to put in my self-care toolkit.

    At the 2016 Mindful Life conference, I heard Brenda Salgado speak about getting in touch with some of the indigenous healing and spiritual practices from her Nicaraguan ancestry. Salgado is an activist, healer and all-around amazing person. I was delighted when I learned that she would be hosting a workshop at one of the yoga studios that I frequent.

    The workshop was called Healing and Harmonization with Roses. There wasn’t much more information shared about it. While my skepticism is waning around spiritual/new thought/hippie/kumbaya types of things, I still hesitate to be open to things that seem “weird.” I quickly reminded myself that I’m not free if I shy away from non-traditional experiences – aka “white people shit”.

    By having a closed mind, I might miss out on things that were meant for me. I also had to remind myself that Brenda is Nicaraguan so this was not “white people shit” at all. Also a lot of stuff that gets labeled as “white people shit” at their roots are practices that come from people of color and has just been reshaped in the west. Many of these practices were taken away from their communities and the generations that followed. Therefore, freedom is really about reclaiming what’s mine and what’s ours.

    Healing and harmonization with roses is a practice that was passed down to Brenda by her grandmother. Her grandmother asked her to share this practice with as many people as she could. There is no certification needed. Only a commitment to always share where the history of the tradition began is required.

    In a nutshell, the process consist of a physical clearing with the roses themselves as well as a verbal request to release and let go of the things that no longer serve us. But there was much more to it.

    To begin, we each pulled an affirmation card and read it out loud. This particular affirmation deck was pretty cheeky. My affirmation was around intention and it said that my intentions would be very clear and would come to me in the voice of James Earl Jones. I nearly fell out laughing! We then burned white sage to clear out negative energies. Next, we sat in a circle where we invoked the names of ancestors who we wanted to call on for wisdom during the process that followed. Those practices were familiar to me, as I have participated in them before. It was a reminder that not everything is completely new, and I was here to build on my foundation. From there I tried to remain open to what was to come.

    The seven people in the workshop stood together and “called on directions” to create a sacred space. In this process you ask the winds of the south, west, north, and east as well as Mother Earth and Father Sky for wisdom and protection. It reminded me of all that we can learn from nature.

    Then we got to the heart of the session, the roses ceremony. This is a practice that you receive from another person. You don’t do this to yourself. You are the recipient of the harmonization and healing from the other person. We watched it demonstrated before we tried it ourselves.

    Before you begin, you are asked to get into the feeling of something that needs to be healed. It’s not necessary to replay the event in your mind. Just to remember how you felt so that it can be healed. Brenda shared this was necessary because “Nothing can be healed that you aren’t aware of.”

    “Nothing can be healed that you aren’t aware of.”

    Then a rose bud on the stem is dipped in water and you are tapped on the head three times and your full name is said out loud. Then the person proceeds to sweep the rose (still on the stem) across every part of your body while affirming that you will release and let go of any blockages in that part of the body. As the roses are swept along your body, you will start to hear the sharp sound of the rose stem snapping and the bud falling to the floor. You then select a new rose, dip it in water, and continue to sweep the body with a new one. It is said that where the roses break on your body is a sign of where your need the healing and harmonization.

    As I watched the demonstration, the skeptic in me thought, “Roses ‘break’ because they are delicate.” I was hesitant to subscribe any real meaning to the roses breaking during the demonstration.

    Now it was my turn to experience it. As my partner swept the roses against my forehead, ears, and throat I tried to truly keep an open mind. But truthfully I was anticipating when the roses would break. When she got to my shoulders the roses started to break repeatedly. It was explained that the shoulders are where we carry a lot of our burdens. And it’s true that there are some serious burdens that I want to let go of.

    But roses break…


    After she swept my entire body with the roses, we inhaled the scent of rose water and recited the following affirmations out loud.

    From this moment, I want to be born into a new life. All that has happened to me in the past I now release and let go. Any past stories, beliefs or habits that no longer serve me I choose to let go. Where I am able, I forgive with all my heart all those who have hurt or offended me. They may hurt or offend me again, but from this moment on I choose to love myself, I choose to care for myself, and I choose to respect myself.

    Then you repeat this last line three times louder each time.

    From this moment on I choose to love myself, I choose to care for myself, and I choose to respect myself.

    Then you “close the directions.”

    Afterwards we went around the circle again to share our experiences. The woman who I swept roses upon also noticed that the roses started to break only when we got to her legs. She shared that she had an ankle injury that hasn’t quite healed.

    But, ummm, roses just break randomly… right?

    I shared that the best part for me was saying the affirmations aloud. I usually just read my affirmations but something about feeling the vibrations of the affirmations literally and figuratively resonated with me. Then I remembered that an hour ago I pulled the card that said my intentions would come to me in the voice of James Earl Jones. A loud voice. My own voice.

    But roses just break….

    At that moment I was sure that I had gained something. Did I feel healed? No. Or more accurately, I don’t know. It really doesn’t matter because this is about healing deeper wounds and those take time.

    Did I feel harmonized? Probably. Most of all I was happy that I was free and that I didn’t get scared off because I didn’t know what was going to happen. That I didn’t get scared because I didn’t understand the science or spiritual underpinnings. It was really about spending sacred time with and for myself.

    What I will take with me is to start speaking my affirmations aloud in that big James Earl Jones voice. I also vow to take sacred time to continue to release things that no longer serve me. This opportunity provided me with just a little tweak to my self-care routine.

    What do you think about this? Would you do something like this? Join the discussion in the Prioritize You Facebook Group.