In this excerpt from her new book, The Altar Within, spiritual activist Juliet Diaz shares a ritual that helped her finally drop her resistance to rest and self-care. Questioning the notion that we must always be “on” in order to be valuable–a practice she refers to as “decolonizing spirituality” –was ultimately what liberated her.
Decolonizing spirituality, “the work,” requires that we reclaim our sacred sovereignty. That means when we don’t want to be on, we get to turn ourselves off. Spiritual work is also resting, recuperating, and recovering. It looks like leading your life with Spirit, following your path with heart, and unraveling everything that doesn’t serve you to make space for what does. Most especially, it looks like living our Divined lives for our ancestors, our grandmothers and grandfathers, and even our mothers and fathers–all of those who were denied their authentic paths.
Before journeying with this practice, I struggled with a guilt that would haunt me in moments of rest and self-care. Since my 20s, I’d tried to take care of myself but was never really consistent with it. Something always came up, and someone always needed me first. By the time I had time for myself, I was too tired or felt obligated to finish up more chores, work more, and so on. Even when I spent time with my kids unwinding watching TV, I would feel guilty for not playing a board game, doing arts and crafts, or throwing the ball around. Ugh. It was a constant narrative that I could not shut off.
This guilt came in many forms, the old language of supremacy raising its head to taunt me: I’m not doing enough, I’m not good enough, I’m not pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, strong enough, sexy enough, Indigenous enough, Latina enough. I could be a better sister, aunt, mother, daughter, wife, and friend. Supremacy requires that you reign supreme in all things, and if you don’t, then you’re losing the game. And that shit ran my fucking life.