Personal Development

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.

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!

Soul Compass Path 2022

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It is with a quiet excitement that I am announcing the 2022 Soul Compass Path for this year. I have updated the dates here. If you’re interested in the Soul Compass Path and what it is, click here for more information.

I offer a deep gratitude to the multitude of clients that have been patient with me as I spent the last year and a half recovering from getting hit by lightning, and then contracting covid. I juggled the option of not continuing journey groups or offering healing modalities, but over the winter and a much needed break I experimented with a few clients to find that my skills were slowly coming back. I am quickly finding that my passion is for healing the ancestral lines. I am excited by that work, and I feel very accomplished that the journeys I do for others resonate with them deeply.

I also offer gratitude to the 2021 Soul Compass Path cohort. They helped me experiment with the reformatting of the course. I had a few people retake the course from previous years, and they were also happy with the switch up. With my experiences living in community, off grid, and organic farming, I am happy to extend that education out to this class.

Last years Soul Compass Path was hard. Not just because of the pandemic, but due to a number of reasons (both personal and societal). We did manage to get through! However, it highlighted to me how much in-person teachings far out weigh the “online only” learning experience. I truly believe that in person connections help foster a deeper sense of community, and selfishly I want to be able to create a local tight knit community where we can practice these skills in person to work on wider societal challenges. I certainly witnessed and was apart of this across the year. Hence why I am deciding to reopen the doors to having in person classes and journey groups once again.

Some guidelines and protocols we will follow:

  • Name and contact information from each participant for all events. There will be a sign in sheet. I will not sell information to anyone or use them for marketing in any way unless you have indicated you want to stay in touch.
  • Completion of a survey either online or verbally before the event to screen “at risk behavior” or vaccination status. Personally, I have a mother in an assisted living facility, and I want to be responsible for my actions.
  • Please stay home if you happen to have any covid symptoms so that we can keep all of our guests safe. If you are showing symptoms, you will gently be asked to leave.
  • Sign a waiver understanding the risks associated with being in a group at this time
  • If you start having symptoms after the event, please contact me so I can contact the rest of everybody who attended that particular class/event. The more we can minimize the spread, the better.
  • If these guidelines cannot be followed, please choose the online only option. If guidelines are not adhered, admittance to future events will be prohibited.

I hope to have the office in Richmond opened by March, so stay tuned for more details! I would love to organize ride shares, so that we can cut down on how much traveling each individual is doing. If you are open to carpooling, please send me a message.

So without further ado! Here are the links you most need to know if you’re interested in participating this year:

If you would like an in-depth resource, there is an online course by the Last Mask Center called Energy Body Mastery. It begins this coming weekend! We cover similar things in the Soul Compass Path, but for a more in depth exploration, we highly recommend the course.

A good resource if you are anxious to get started is through the free, listener supported podcast, Why Shamanism Now. There are over 400 archived hours, and a teaser to what is available both within this course and beyond. A great place to start is the Basics of Living Well series and the specific podcasts below:

An excellent book which talks about this process mentioned so often in this course is by Langston Kahn called, “Deep Liberation: Shamanic Teachings for Reclaiming Wholeness in a Culture of Trauma“. Highly recommended.

Any questions? Please email chenchira@eagletherapies.com or call/text 571.306.3197

Valuing Limited Resources

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Overnight and the morning of January 3rd, we had so much snowfall that it ended up crushing/collapsing our cold frame greenhouse. There was a big part of me that didn’t want to go out into the cold to try and salvage what we could, but lately I’ve been doing so much healing work on myself that I found it hard to stop myself from putting on my ass kicking boots.

I wasn’t mad or upset at the fact that it happened. We should have taken it down sooner, so it was partially my fault for this happening. As I was starting this task, I heard a firm voice speak in my head, “Don’t worry, just leave it. We can buy another green house.” My immediate reaction was incredulity because if we didn’t have the resources to go out and just “buy another greenhouse” then we would have been out here sooner. As I got at least a hundred (if not more) pounds of wet snow off of this poor greenhouse, I spent the time really pondering that fact. If we valued it more instead of it being a simple commodity one could buy…

After living in poverty for most of my adult life, I was still able to scrape together a relatively good life for me and my son. But the ancestral healing work that I’ve been engaging in with the Last Mask Center has really opened my eyes to how I can pass as a white person, and that affords me certain privileges that don’t come easily to others. I’ve spent time on a few reservations and live in the intentional communities network where we purposefully try to live with less for this very reason – to value what we have. Now that I’ve had more of a cash flow into my life, I notice and catch myself not valuing the things that I have as much because it’s so easy for me to go out and get a replacement. For the past few months I’ve been cleaning out my moms house and preparing to sell it. I have seriously unloaded about 4, twenty-foot U-Haul trucks FULL of stuff out (redistributing them to other communities, charity organizations, homeless shelters, etc), and that doesn’t even include the hundreds of contractor bags that were filled with trash (I’m serious, I counted the amount of boxes we went through).

It impacts me and I feel physically ill whenever I see waste piling up, or things (or humans for that matter) being treated as expendable resources. I was under the impression that with healing work I would be numb to the amounts of non-recyclable trash that piles up. I thought that with good boundaries I wouldn’t feel the heart break of the train wreck that humanity is creating by growing dissonant with living in right relationship with the earth. Instead I have found myself growing more angry. But instead of taking that anger out on other people or internalizing that anger to toxic patterns of self destruction (I was really good at crippling anxiety and self guilt to motivate myself), I was able to find ways to use this anger to create change and action in this world. Even if it’s salvaging the plastic from this green house so we could get a new frame instead of a completely new one.

All of this passed through me as I was able to find that I had healed enough of my heart to hold my experience of heartbreak, and yet still find joy in getting snow off of the green house. Even laughing joyfully as I flopped around making snow angels, or throwing snowballs at little man while I was taking breaks.

I’m grateful for community, because obviously I didn’t do it all by myself. But I’m also grateful for the Last Mask Center and Community because I feel as though I would have either not done anything or have done it resentfully without as much joy. If you happen to be interested in learning more tools for processing emotions, Energy body mastery is starting up again soon. Would be happy to be in a study group with you! That’s the biggest thing that has helped me heal the most. Check it out at energybodymastery.com

My dream is that one day I will live in a community of a bunch of us who know how to live in right relationship with both the earth and each other. I firmly believe that the clearing practice has helped me navigate challenging relationships, including those with my family. It has helped me shut up and just get the work done without being resentful about it, or holding it over people’s heads. We all make choices in life, and we just need to learn to live with our choices, then learn how to make better ones in the future.

Many blessings for all y’all finding joy amidst the hard work that is before us this year. May we find the strength to do the things that bring us out of our comfort zone, and the community to help us hold these topics that are way bigger than ourselves so we can piece together a bright future for the ones that are coming. Happy Gregorian New Years! (My New Years already happened a few months back)

I’ll be posting the newsletter relatively soon announcing the plan to open an office in Richmond so that I can have people sign waivers to join journey group in person again. It would be nice to connect with others! I managed to contract covid, and it hit me pretty hard, so I’ll still be taking a break from hosting the Journey group until February. Looking forward to connecting with all y’all soon!