To say that I came back to Toronto utterly STUNNED by my seven, very full-on, weeks in sub-Saharan West Africa is an understatement. I am still actively grasping, digesting, and absorbing the sage African abundance I have been gifted. Even though I recognize, more than ever, the value of living in a safe and sacred space, I am faced with integrating red-earth wisdom rooted in powerful ancient spiritual vibrations, age-old animist protocols with an overlay of Christian or Islamic religious traditions, Burkinabe social and cultural customs, rural and economic conventions and limitations in a developing country, plus a volatile post-successful-revolution political climate complete with a terrorist attack on the day I landed—all this while living and working in Toronto, a large, bustling, yet on the whole peaceful North American city poised to create an infrastructure that enables more and more of its inhabitants. I mean, WHOA!
There is no doubt in my mind that all the perks of being a white, privileged, upwardly mobile Canadian woman in this wealthy city is enabling my growth and my ever-broadening horizons, especially in the realm of alternative health and healing. However, I am confronted by an increasingly high contrast between my spiritual values and practice and the dominant fear culture I no longer participate in. Outside of the frameworks of home, yoga studio, alternative medicine, and a like-minded community, I navigate a landscape sated with more jarring contrasts.
None of this is new. Many would remind me that I’ve been “weird” and marching to the sound of my own drum for decades, first as an artist and now as a light worker. However, the impact I am engaging with now has increased tenfold due to the “African” factor. It’s been trendy for decades to traipse around India and practise, eat, and exude a “South Asian” flare or spiritual exploration. To be precise, it’s been totally acceptable and even expected for us white folks to learn from the East Indian Hindu sages. But to exude “Africa” and align with Dagara teachings as well as the wisdom imparted by a very powerful healer and imam in Burkina Faso is, without question, a less-treaded path. It’s fair to say that I feel out on a politically charged and shaky limb.
That said, the motto I have embraced for a decade—“when in doubt, meditate or do yoga”—has never been more comforting and medicinal. These days I opt for seated meditation more often and for more hours a day, and I practise a fairly rigorous Ashtanga Vinyasa flow six days a week. This regimen smashes the adaptation-contrast-and-integration story to smithereens. When immersed in these sacred practices, none of it bloody well matters. The vibrational realms that were shockingly new and “out there” in Africa and especially disorienting when I first got back are gradually becoming more familiar. With every additional hour practising seated meditation or yoga asanas, I gain freedom and a growing certainty that all I can do and need to do is dive in, splash around, and take the wisdom in incrementally as best I can. Each day presents an opportunity to drink in the teachings, be nourished by them, and gradually learn how to manifest the wisdom in daily living as well as with clients.
So it’s sort of “same old, same old.” Wisdom is, of course, wise and therefore sits outside of damaging divisions based on race, gender, or what-all-else we humans have used as an excuse to rape, pillage, murder, and divide and conquer. Basically, if some amazing human beings in Burkina Faso are helping me align with harmony, then so be it … literally… be it in Africa or Toronto, white or black, male or female, or whatever seemingly disparate labels.