Your Roots of Animism are showing…

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Did you know that Thailand still honors its old animist roots? I’ve visited temples (called Wats) where they do their best to work with the existing nature and history to still update it and make it more accessible for travelers to visit. Absolutely love how they cut holes to make their decks go around trees instead of chopping them down. They also refresh the blessings and re-adorn statues according to some of the Thai holidays or moon cycles (that’s what the yellow cloth is). This is part Buddhist in influence, to minimize the harm done to others, including other-then-humans.

Often when exploring Thailand, you will see a shrine like this one (I actually took that picture at a gas station). These are shrines dedicated to the spirits of the land, and some are to honor ancestors or other beings. The English translation is something like “Spirit house”. These tend to be refreshed daily in the morning. I’ve seen them everywhere, including on a shelf in a shop within an airport. I’ve witnessed a shrine like this in the middle of a busy traffic circle and people rushing through traffic with armfuls of offerings in order to pray! The theory is, that if you have a nice place for wandering spirits to visit, they will not bother to haunt a house because they will have everything they need at this little outdoor house. I found it to be a lovely place to give offerings or meditate.

After asking some questions of the locals, I was amazed to find out that Thai people would NEVER consider bulldozing over a cemetery. Even though the younger generations don’t believe as much, I have heard of some still tending the shrine on land they inherit. Not because they believe, but more out of, “Well… what if it’s true?” I’m part of the younger generation trying to learn the old ways, and I’m proud to see this country being proud of their animist roots, where it’s normalized to give offerings daily. Please be respectful if you happen to see one, and if you feel called, give a little Wai (Thai greeting of respect) or some small snacks from your bag.

Brief History and Sovereignty

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Here is yet another post that I’m backlogged in updating on the website.

Going back to Thailand to take care of family business also got my mind to researching some more about Thailand and it’s history. I grew up in the United States and never really bothered to research it or look back at it. I suspect that some of the reason why was because of the traumatic upbringing that being raised by a mentally unstable parent can create. I felt a lot of unresolved ancestral baggage, and a lot of my personal work has been able to prepare me for learning about Thailand’s history and not see it through the lens of my own trauma. I’m grateful I took the years to process my own personal work so I could learn the history in an unbiased way.

One of the things that I absolutely love about Thailand is that it was one of the only countries in South East Asia to maintain its sovereignty against the colonizing forces of England, Portugal, and France. The Thai people are very proud of their history and culture, and have managed to mostly keep out practices they didn’t agree with, and yet integrated those that fit their perspective of how they view life. My favorite mindset they have is “Sabai Sabai”, which is very similar to taking your time and not rushing. I love the very Buddhist centered teaching of being in the moment and enjoying.

Thailand is very much known as the “land of smiles”, and I feel like the “Sabai sabai” mentality is part of that. If you really do take the time to be expansive in the moment and feel grateful for what you have, it is easy to have a positive mindset, even in the face of adversity.

Gender fluidity

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Originally posted May 4th, 2022

I wish to share something very dear to my heart. As I have been close to many that have struggles with gender identity, I absolutely love the fact that Thailand as a whole is very accepting of gender fluidity. When I dressed as a man the first few days I was here (mostly because my mom wanted me to cover up my tattoos), I was addressed as a male, no questions. At first I was upset because I strongly identified as a woman, but then I was able to play with it. The more I soaked in the acceptance I felt, the more I was able to find it within myself.

People can change how they want to be addressed on a daily basis based off of how they dress and how they use the Thai speech (there are different endings for politeness in male speech vs. female speech). If a man wanted to dress as a woman and identify as a woman that day, everyone addressed her as her (at least from what I have witnessed).

In fact, many foreigners come to Thailand for gender reaffirming surgeries, because unfortunately where they live it’s either not accepted or too expensive. Thailand has a good reputation for medical procedures (especially in Bangkok), but of course it can be a gamble.

One thing that Thailand has taught me is to be comfortable in my own skin, and embrace how I show up in the world by just having confidence in how I want to be seen. Dress politely around temples, but then if I want to dress like a man, that’s okay too (although I’m really loving these Thai skirts). As long as I’m polite to others, that’s what matters.

May we all find the strength to embrace the ways we show up in the world that bring us happiness, joy, and inner peace. Because Gods know that the outer world needs peace with all that is happening right now. But peace comes from within ourselves first.

As an addendum to this post, my most recent trip in August of this year has highlighted that not everywhere in Thailand is as welcoming. I guess this is the same for any country, but it tends to be more progressive in the cities, while more conservative in the outskirts. I feel that since I was blessed with an ability to stay there longer then the average tourist, some of the glamour also faded. It was humbling to realize that we all deal with the same issues, more or less – it’s just that the surface tension of how those issues present are different across different cultures. I still say that Thailand as a whole is very welcoming and open, accepting of who a person is, but I have also encountered some friction. Most likely it’s due to western, colonial ideas being integrated into the current frame of mind, but that’s just my suspicion.

Thank you for reading <3

Saffron Colored Apology

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I wish to give an apology to the way in which I was disrespectful to Buddhism and the sangha that upholds the structure of this beautiful spiritual path. Back in May of this year, I made a post which included me without clothes on in combination with expressing a desire to become a Buddhist Monk. This was inappropriate on my part, and my action created harm, potentially damaging the Buddhist image. The path of Buddhism is about humility, letting go of vanity, and simplicity. 

While my path is not one where I will dedicate myself for a lifetime of service within a temple, it is seen as something that people periodically do in Thailand. When they feel called to practice Dharma in a more serious way, people can choose to become a novice or become ordained for a short period of time (sometimes that can be from a few weeks to a few months). 

This is my calling, to prepare myself for service and to dedicate myself to that path within the next few years. Through my last trip to Thailand, I found a temple that I am happy to dedicate myself to, and the commitment I am looking at is 3 months of service within a Monastery in Chiang Mai. But the way that I introduced this concept in May was problematic because I carried a lot of Western assumptions as I traveled to a South East Asian country. I can’t make the commitment yet because I have a teenage son, but I will continue to visit this monastery and establish a relationship with them simultaneously while I visit family. 

While it is not wrong to be proud of one’s body, it is problematic to create an announcement of this intention while simultaneously posting pictures of myself without much clothes on. I did not know this while I made the post, and that is why I’m making amends now. 

I knew the path was going to be long and obscure, and it is requiring a lot more of me then I thought it would. I am grateful for my ancestors and family to lead me through this process so that I can make them proud by aligning my thoughts with my actions. I want to be clear that there might still be more “revealing” photography in the future (because I mean… I live in a commune-like situation and nudity is a way of life for me), but I will not confuse it with this other aspect of my life where I am welcoming in this discipline and humility. Becoming a monk feels like a rite of passage for me. Will there come another time in my life later where I might go into the monkhood again? Probably. But for now, I shall focus on this shorter term goal and keep learning Thai, praying, making merit, and loving my family who were so generous to me as I visited Thailand over the past few months.

I feel grateful because the forgiveness of ignorance seems like something that is easy to grant, but what I wish to bring attention to is how much we can accidentally damage or unintentionally create harm. Buddha teaches to alleviate suffering, and lays out a clear plan on how to alleviate suffering, but if we don’t look at the way our actions create suffering, we will not be living Buddha’s teachings. Thank you for taking the time to read. Many blessings to you <3

Taking things apart

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It is with a processing heart that I make this announcement. With many things coming together in my life, it also puts me in a position to break down that which I do not have a capacity for. Now that I have taken care of a lot of things family wise, I am focusing more on what my life is structured around for me personally.

One of the biggest things I have had the most success with is the Soul Compass Path. I have met some incredible and amazing people through hosting it over the past 5 years, but hosting it on zoom is no longer sustainable. I feel as though I am changing as a person, and my passion for the commitment to leading people through a 9 month transformational program has questioned my ability to continue this responsibly. Part of the reason why I did so much travel, was to really look at my wake amidst health challenges from 2020, and how I structure my business as an income. I have decided to keep seeing private clients, host ceremonies in person, host journey groups, but I have decided to discontinue the Soul Compass Path.

If you have been following this blog for any period of time, you know that the Last Mask Center is near and dear to my heart. We are rebooting the Cycle Community, and I’m 100% into it. I have killed off so many parts of me that felt like I had to do this alone, but one of the things that has been the hardest for me is how to translate spiritual, mental, and emotional healing into a business model that is sustainable. One of the reasons why I felt like I had to put the Soul Compass Path to rest is because it felt so much like I was participating in this Spiritual consumerism that is so prevalent at the moment. My time in Thailand taught me that spirituality is not merely a thing gifted to Westerners because they show up with time to kill and expensive gifts. It is something hard earned, and it needs a community of people to support that transformation.

I am choosing to dedicate more time to the Last Mask Center teachings, and am still a student teacher of Energy Body Mastery. I feel like the format of a 9 month program is just not feasible with everyone’s schedules at the moment (or at least the ones who have turned their attention toward Eagle Therapies), but a 7 week intensive seems to be very receptive. If you’re interested in the next round starting next week, feel free to sign up for the Orientation. It will be recorded, so even if you can’t make it live, you can watch it later. There’s no commitment, and because I’m still a student teacher, it’s done by donation! This is normally a $300 value, so why not give it a go? I have decided to put a pause on teaching EBM specifically for kids and teens until I am fully relocated to the Pacific Northwest.

Speaking of that move, I am excited to say that I’ve had time to schedule more blog posts on this website. It was hard to do it with this last trip to Thailand since for a majority of it I was either sharing bed space or floor space with my family, but I am happily back at the Magnolia Collective with more rest and allergy friendly food in my system. Stay tuned for more travel updates and finding more about which monastary I will choose to serve as a Buddhist monk at!

All in all, I feel quite alleviated that I am putting the Soul Compass Path to rest. I am looking forward to creating practice circles where we get to get knee deep in process, dance, and share how we are manifesting our own destruction of the patriarchy!

Remember that I will only be in the Richmond, VA area for less then a year at this point – so if you want to join us for any live ceremonies or dances in person – get to stepping and follow the Meetup!

If you happen to have a big transition happening at the moment and you feel called to participate in a fire ritual that’s centered around letting things go, send an email to chenchira@eagletherapies.com because a big death ritual is happening this weekend. It’s always more powerful to do ceremony in community, and there will be several powerful practitioners here. If you happen to be in Alexandria, VA this weekend, don’t be a stranger! Send a message so you can swing by.

Gratitude to each and every person who read this! I look forward to more juiciness in the future from all you beautiful people.

Giving offerings to Pélé at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (post coming within the next few weeks)

Wat was that?

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Back in April of 2022, I did a lot of traveling to Thailand for the first time. I’m trying to repost some of the posts I made before on the website. I just landed on Sunday, coming back from another family trip to Thailand, and I’m happy to engage more with Eagle Therapies. I look forward to getting Eagle Therapies back on track.

To be honest, I visited so many temples that I have lost track. In my path to learning what the steps are to become a Buddhist monk, I have visited so many to see that many temples run their temples based off of their priorities and values. Some have more of an emphasis on meditation, while others care more for doing acts of service for the community. I feel a great deal of pride knowing that I will follow in the footsteps of my ancestors as I learn more about this path.

Originally posted on May 4th:

My time in Chiang Mai was very meaningful to me. I met amazing people, learned amazing history, and visited incredible Wat’s (or temples).

Did you know that most temples in Thailand have a monastary attached to them? Even the big ones that tourists come to visit. The reason why is because Thailand is primarily a Buddhist country, and monks are held in high status there. People often give donations and gift food, and in return the monks perform ceremonies of good luck and good fortune for the people. It’s been humbling to experience and meet the people I have met. It has been so magical here, and I’m blessed to know that this is in my blood.

Dehumanizing tourism

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I am going back through some of my social media posts and re-posting some of the things that felt really important for me to share to the wider audience that pays attention to what I have been doing/up to. I went to Thailand back in April for family obligations, and will be going back in another week to complete some of the things I started back there. This travel has initiated a huge amount of personal work combined with ancestral healing, and also led me to my choice of wanting to be ordained as a Buddhist monk. This was an emotional post that I had written after I had left my mom with family members (since I’ve been her primary caretaker). I traveled on my own, and things collapsed down on top of me.

This was originally posted on May 2nd:

I had the experience today where I booked a tour to see the sights of Phuket in English because I clearly don’t speak the language enough to enjoy it on my own. Sure, they showed me the sights and gave me the history, but the most offensive thing to me was the dehumanization of being labeled as a tourist with money.

No. I’m not just a tourist. I’m a woman that’s trying to rediscover her roots because my mother never talked about it. She just wanted me to be American because it’s glorified internationally as this unreachable standard. Every time I asked questions about Thai culture, she deflected them. So here I am as an adult trying to understand the rich culture and history of this half of my bloodline.

No. I’m not just a tourist. I’m the primary caretaker of my aging parent who has a lot of needs to be met in order to live healthily. I’m here in Phuket to take a mental health break because being a primary caretaker is a lot of fucking stress. I could just leave my mom in an assisted living facility for the rest of her days, but I know in my heart she would be so much happier here in Thailand with her brother and sisters to take care of her.

No. I’m not just a tourist. I’m desperately trying to learn a whole new language because I don’t know how long my mom has left to live, and sometimes she forgets English because of her dementia. I want to still be able to communicate with her even when she forgets.

I’m not just a tourist, so don’t treat me like one. Being treated like a tourist robs us of being a human with human experiences and emotions.

As much as I want to continue posting amazing experiences of this trip to Thailand, it’s also a really emotional trip. For the first time in years my mom is finally stable enough to come back to her home. Don’t get me wrong, this is the first huge hiccup in this whole trip that has been filled with the generosity and kindness of human beings. In a way I’m grateful this happened so that I could finally process and come to a tipping point with all the emotions I’ve been keeping inside.

It’s ironic, that here I am in Thailand, known as “the land of smiles”, and my first day in Phuket I couldn’t help but cry all evening. I’m supposed to be taking a mental health break, and here I am processing what it’s like to be treated as a tourist.

My whole point to this is not to generate pity. It’s to share my story of what it’s like to participate in an extractive system that just treats people like a commodity (both on the tourism side and the healthcare side). What we need are more stories of connecting to the hearts of people, to hear what really matters, and to do so by honoring the individual. America needs to change its standards on how we treat our elderly and the response to just stick them in “old folks homes”. In the United states they are treated as a nuisance, while in Thailand the elderly are revered and treated with respect. We could learn from Thailands standard.

The picture shown is from a lovely temple that I went to go visit with a massage therapist turned friend right before I left Chiang Mai. I will go back to being happy tomorrow, but for now I’m sitting with this big ball of emotions and processing it all. Thank you for bearing with me and my messiness.

I’ll Shave This for Later

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TLDR: Cancer sucks and I want to be a monk

For those that are willing to bear with me and this long post, I wanted to make a powerful statement with my hair and the purposeful choice to sacrifice my hair for a variety of reasons, then gift it to the land so my prayers can be heard.

The first being that, for years, I have been asked by my ancestors to join a monastary. I had no idea what this looked like because I didn’t know much about Thailand and Thai culture until I started researching it as an adult. I ran into a lot of conflicting information, which led me to believe that women couldn’t join a monastary. After being in Thailand in April of this year, I found out there are certain monastaries that allow it! The women monks are just called different names. Since the dead listen to action instead of empty spoken promises, I chose to shave my head as a promise to my ancestors that I will find my way to a monastary and become a female monk. Of course I have to learn Thai and become intimately familiar with Thai Buddhist practices. It might take years, but I’m going to make this happen.

Another reason why I’m shaving my head is for cancer awareness. Some of the most lovely people in my life have had cancer and it has really impacted me lately. I have countless friends and relatives struggle with their cancer diagnosis, and I am happy to report that a majority have pulled through chemo. Cancer is one of those really Not-Fair things that happens in life. So I chose to shave my head in solidarity with them back in May of this year. To share the burden of that pain, and to help them know they’re not alone.

My dear and beloved friend Mati Vargas-Gibson had been diagnosed with late stage cancer and didn’t have the opportunity to be given the choice of chemo. She passed away in February and was such a beautiful person. Her passing moved me so much. Just a few weeks before she went, she literally messaged me and said we should have a chat. I said sure, I would love that. Both of us not knowing she had cancer at the time. You never know when people are going to go, so don’t miss your chance to catch up with loved ones.

Hair is power. In many indigenous cultures, they view that your hair holds your power. It’s one of the reasons why some cultures (such as the Lakota or Seminole) only cut their hair to show their grief for a loved one passing away. I shaved my head for all these reasons above, but also as a statement. It can be hard for people that either have cancer or alopecia to show up comfortably in a world that cares so much about how people look. Many wear wigs or hats to cover up the effects of chemotherapy or the gradual loss of their hairs ability to grow. Sometimes it’s easier to “dress up and play the part” instead of attracting attention to yourself by showing up as you are. My choice to shave my head and show up as I am is to help shift this narrative that no matter how you show up is beautiful, even if it’s not accepted or judged by many in society. I have the luxury of growing my hair back. Some people don’t. I often choose to cover up my tattoos and wear T-Shirts and long pants because there are times when I am tired of the questions or the stares that I get from people. My tattoos are sacred to me, and are meant just for me, just like how attractive women dress down when they don’t feel like they want the attention. When I feel confident about myself, and have the energy to deal with questions, then I will wear a tank top with shorts. Or… post pictures of myself on social media 😅

My prayer with this act of vulnerability by sharing this post is to bring attention to the fact that not everyone has the privilege to show up as they are, either due to illness, out of politeness or maybe because it’s not safe. My prayer is that we stop judging people based on how they look, and instead embrace each other as humans with very real hearts. My prayer is that we can find a way to normalize looking like how we feel inside and be accepted just the way we are without question. My prayer is that I find the discipline needed within myself to have the heart and compassion big enough to anchor this awareness personally, and dedicate it to those who are coming. May our children not have the burden of being judged, and be invited into a loving world that is accepting of a person no matter how they show up.

🙏สาธุ 🙏

And a big thank you to Coriander Woodruff with Coriander Focus Photography for being able to capture this epic moment of ceremony!

Restructuring

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For those who have known me for quite some time, Eagle Therapies has grown, evolved, and changed as I have grown, evolved, and changed. Eagle Therapies used to be a business that was born out of a way I could use all of the different modalities I was training myself in, to offer services to people. Little did I know when I started this business close to 10 years ago that I was the one most in need of all of those healing forms. It was a perfect expression of some of my shadows, where I hid in my service to others, so that I didn’t have to heal myself.

Now that I’ve been working on that pattern for many years now, Eagle Therapies is still my business, and is still an expression of who I am. I used to use Eagle Therapies as an excuse to travel, but now it is my reason for anchoring to a place. I would like to announce that I am beginning the process of moving from the Northern/Central Virginia area to the Pacific Northwest beginning in late Spring of 2023. I feel called by the volcanoes and mountains of the Pacific Northwest, but that doesn’t mean I won’t travel occasionally to the East Coast to do Ceremony. I have many ties that are here in the East Coast, so as long as I have friends willing to share space, I will be happy to travel when family responsibilities keep me anchored to my obligations here.

In that big decision, I have also begun to move more into the Last Mask Center community, becoming a student teacher of Energy Body Mastery. I would like to specialize in teaching pre-teens and teens, but would love to keep community practice circles going in the east coast. If you are interested in the next round of Energy Body Mastery (hosted by me), then message chenchira@eagletherapies.com so that I can keep you on a mailing list. Because I am a student teacher, I need to host this class at least 2 more times before I can become a full teacher. I also plan on becoming an Energy Body Clearing instructor, because these skills have been fundamental in my understanding of life and the world.

It also turns out that I have been posting quite a bit of content on Facebook. I have fallen off the Instagram bandwagon and have just been utilizing Facebook because of the time/energy juggling I’ve been challenged with. I’ve posted some pretty powerful content that has sparked curiosity in many individuals not on Facebook, so I have decided to slowly pay more attention to blogging once more. I will be reposting those Facebook posts on this website so that I can be transparent with the things I am learning.

A majority of my focus at this time, has been more on how I’ve been participating in a consumerist model of a business. I’ve been trying to disengage from creating a false sense of scarcity to seduce people to the classes I’m teaching, or rituals that I’m helping conduct. It’s been a lot, and with my most recent bout of family obligations, I have become painfully aware of how I’ve been participating in these systems of injustice. I’ve really dived deep and have explored my culture (from my Mother’s side) a bit more deeply. I wish to share those in my blog posts, so stay tuned! I have enough content that I will just keep them scheduled, and I will write more as I get back from my travels in September.

Life is a balancing act, but at least I am having fun, and nourishing the relationships that have brought so much meaning and depth into my life so I can be present for those who could benefit from what I have to offer.

Lots of blessings from the desert of the South West in America!

A Myth about Shadow Transformation

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A big myth about shadow work is that shadow work is hard. I admit, I fell into that trap myself in the beginning. I worked so hard transforming these warped and twisted aspects of my selves that it was almost masochistic. Then once I got enough of my shadow transformed and was living my ally, there was a massive change in my perspective. I realized I was making the experience harder then it needed to be.

I found that it was this combination between addiction to intensity as well as some ancestral patterns that progress is painful, and the “No pain, no gain” story. This idea that personal work was hard was playing as a constant background drum, like the drum used to keep rowers in tune on a big old ship. Once I broke that drum and stopped pushing myself so hard, I finally found joy in my process.

Now, it’s not so much about causing myself pain, but it’s about looking forward to what juicy aspect of myself I’m ready to live. The reason why we PUT shadows in the closet in the first place is because this part of us twisted by extreme fear. We still have access to it, but it’s almost completely unconscious. It’s that part of us that acts and we immediately think afterwards, “Jeez!! Why did I just do that?!?!” These parts of us are just looking for liberation, and now I’m actively welcoming that transformation if it comes up in my process.

Are you looking to welcome self sabotaging parts of you back home? Join the courses available through the Last Mask Center! I promise, you’ll have a much easier time navigating the chaos of the world after your transformations if you do 🙂 I won’t be taking this course this year, but one thing that I absolutely loved about it is that there’s a beautiful community of humans that get to hold you during your messy process. They’re there for you as you untangle all the ways you’ve betrayed or abandoned yourself/your dreams. You get to engage in fun elemental rituals, and dance your butt off! It can be terrifying at first, but what’s a little transformation without the terror that turns into excitement? Check out if it’s right for you.

And even if you DON’T take the class, the free webinar that explains the course is really great this year. Christina Lee Pratt goes into the difference between marginalized selves, shadow selves, dissociated selves and lost selves. The first hour is really educational. If you click on the above link, the password to get to the recording is z2z.5MeP

I don’t know about you, but even though my life is fast paced, I don’t get overwhelmed as easily as I used to. This course helped me become the eye of the storm and give my all to the different things in life that I love, adore, and want to have thrive in this world. Blessings for you to find that same joy and abundance in your own life!