Decolonizing Energy Healing
Note from the Author: When I am writing directly about decolonization, it is important for me to address that I am writing this from a 2nd generation, queer Filipinx perspective. My writings do not claim to speak for everyone in the Diaspora, but I do this work to help our collective process of decolonization. In sharing this work, I hope that this helps you connect to your Ancestors, your roots, and your Purpose in this Lifetime.
Decolonizing Energywork: Where do we start?
In order to begin the decolonization process around our Spiritual Practices we must first acknowledge what ways we, and our customs, have been colonized.
In what ways has the colonizer made us believe that our ways are not good enough?
What parts of our own cultural heritage and beliefs have been completely erased?
In what ways have we been conditioned to believe narratives about ourselves and our cultures?
In what ways do we perform constructed ideas of cultural, gender, and classist identity?
Institutionalization of Practices
A major indication of colonization within Spirituality is the priority of institutionalized belief systems over other forms of Spiritual expression. In other words, if your beliefs belong to a church or an organized belief system, then the colonized perspective sees it as valid. If your Spiritual practices are not found in a church or system, then it is not looked at as legitimate.
Colonization tells us that if we don't belong to organized religion then our beliefs are not real.
Our Ancestors Were Real
In re-claiming Spiritual Practices, especially those indigenous to our respective lands, we must first acknowledge that our Ancestors did this work before us. Our Ancestors created sacred space and passed on sacred knowledge before our people were colonized.
I've learned of folx in different cultures that have been able to preserve and carry forward their ancestral and indigenous practices; this gives me a lot of hope for the future of the decolonization and re-indigenization movement. For those of us in the diaspora who do not have the experience of cultural and Spiritual preservation, we must continuously educate/re-educate ourselves on the history of our Ancestors.
In seeking Truth on our path forward, we must first respect and honour the past of our Roots.
For the filipinx diaspora, colonization has left us searching and mending together bits and pieces of our practices, based on what we learn through our history and our existing elders. It continues to be a process for the filipinx community to unlearn and re-learn what it means to be in connection to Spirit and to Kapwa*. We must be mindful of not appropriating a romanticized and fictional version of our history. We must collectively learn, grow, and share knowledge together, in order to heal as a unified people.
*Kapwa can be described as shared identity or Oneness in the Filipino Diaspora
Is Energy Healing Decolonized work?
This question has been perched on the edges of my mind since I started my Reiki journey in 2015. Reiki which describes an approach to Energy healing, Uses Japanese and Chinese Kanji (characters) to describe and symbolize energy flow.
To answer the question simply, Energywork belongs to no specific culture or people. Energy is energy. It belongs to and exists within people just as it does in plants and in nature.
However, when we start using energywork modalities - like Auric, Chakral, Reiki, and Pranic healing to name a few - we must acknowledge the complex histories within these approaches. We must ask ourselves:
Where does the etymology of the word come from?
What is the history of this approach/ healing modality?
Who is documented to have "founded" this approach?
What were the influences of the founding practitioners?
In doing this work am I appropriating parts of a culture, am I being performative, or am I giving it the full understanding and respect it deserves?
How to Decolonize the Future of Healing
To decolonize our Healing we must first understand what is colonized in our practices.
I've learned that it is difficult for me to connect my Spiritual practices to any institutionalized organization or system. Seeing as Capitalism keeps colonization and oppressive systems alive, it is important for practitioners (including myself) to consider alternative options of accessing our work, including service-for-service, trade, and other forms of energy exchange.
But decolonization goes beyond the money of course. Decolonization needs to happen at the root of what we are teaching and how we are sharing knowledge with others. Some of the questions that help me anchor this work include:
Is my teaching accessible to minority and underrepresented groups?
Is my offering accessible to those who need it but have difficulties accessing it due to financial limitations and/or systemic oppression?
Is the language I'm using inclusive?
Are my teachings truly inclusive and not just performative?
Am I teaching holistically and leaving room for individualized experiences?
How does my teaching differ from western education and academic systems?
Of course the conversation does not end here. There is still much healing, re-learning, and understanding that we must take on before we can fully decolonize.
Will we fully decolonize in this lifetime? Who knows. As always, I consider myself a cautious optimist but I keep my focus on the present. What can I do now to contribute my gifts to our growth? What can I do now to support our collective healing? What can I do now that can make the decolonization process easier tomorrow?
PS. If this piece resonated with you and you would wish to discuss/ share your decolonization journey, follow and message me on Instagram. Chat soon Kapwa!