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Tonalli

So much inspires me and the work that I do in the counseling room. My clients, music, art, movies, life experience, my community. As you may know based on my last post, movies are a big source of inspiration. The movie that I saw most recently for my birthday this year was The Boy and The Heron by Hayao Miyazaki. If you are familiar with Miyazaki’s work, you will know about the depth of his storytelling wrapped in a magical package. There are many articles that have been written about the movie that speak to Miyazaki’s exploration of intergenerational trauma, grief, and how the film mirrors his own life and work.


The scene in the movie that stood out most to me is one in which the main character (Mahito) is offered the opportunity to create a perfect world to live in or go back to his current reality, where he has been experiencing war, grief, and a great deal of change. Perhaps surprisingly, Mahito chooses the later. A choice so black and white wouldn't be an option for us in real life, but I think it is interesting to consider...what would we do if we had this same choice?

 

After Mahito decides to accept his life as it is now, he also does something that symbolizes his transformation from being a passive participant to an active agent in his new reality. His journey doesn’t suddenly become easy, but he starts to move through the world in a different way than in the beginning of the film.

 

When taking my class on Traditional Mexican Medicine, I learned about another way of viewing what I consider to be the crux of what we see activated in Mahito, his tonalli or “life force”.  In Mesoamerican culture the tonalli is found in our core/belly button area. Ideally, you want to be able to feel a strong pulse in that central area which indicates your tonalli is active and strong. Traditional Mexican healers known as Sobadora’s can help to bring your life force back into activation through prayer and massage.

 

As a therapist, who continues to learn about the art of Sobada myself, I hope to help clients with this in a different way. Whether that is through somatic experiencing, motivational interviewing, mindfulness, inner child exercises, art, or play….my hope is that my client’s feel empowered and as though ultimately, they are their own best healer. For everyone this process is different. Depending on our life experience, trauma, family history, etc. I think it’s important to note that this is something that cannot be forced but that when we take small compassionate steps to re-engage with our life force, we begin to step more fully into our power.



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