What it means to be Chinese
My body has been trying to find its way home for so long. As I sit here writing this, drinking the Chinese herbal tea I got in Chinatown today after meditating in a Chinese Buddhist temple, I am feeling immensely grateful for the thousands of years of wisdom cultivated by my ancestors that allow me to experience this moment. Due to the trauma of colonization, poverty, immigration, and assimilation I had been avoiding my culture for so long because my family had become a place I wanted to escape rather than a source of healing.
In the past several weeks, I have made an intentional effort to access the ancient healing traditions of my people. I started cooking more Chinese food and made cabbage and pidan soup, mapo tofu, easy egg fried rice, and zha jiang mian. I recently received some Chinese herbs from my friend Carolyn @acknowledgewellness, who studied Chinese medicine in Shanghai, in exchange for a lesson in soapmaking. This inspired me to visit the Chinese herbal medicine shops in Chinatown which have always been such an enigma to me, but which I realized today are such a treasure trove.
Eastern philosophies and practices have been utilized by Westerners for quite some time now, spurred by the hippie revolution in the 60s. I think it’s wonderful that more people are returning to the Earth in this way, yet I hesitate when I see cultural appropriation and the commodification of our culture. In my experience, being connected with nature is much more than yoga poses, Buddhist mantras, and vegan food…it is the vibrant poetry in the calligraphy my grandpa used to write, the resonant sunshine on my grandma’s skin as she foraged for herbs in the Chinese countryside before her village became gentrified, and the songs of my ancestors as they bathed in grief and joy surrounded by those they love.
I have come to realize that my healing is not personal, but intergenerational, intercultural, and collective. The global capitalist diaspora has uprooted most Indigenous people who have become disconnected with the land, our communities, and our true selves.
“If the wounding is ancestral, the medicine must be ancestral as well.” -Dr. Jennifer Mullan @decolonizingtherapy