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Healing through Ritual

by Agatha Bolla

Before the COVID pandemic began I was supposed to give a little talk on Intuition. I was really excited about it, but I had a feeling it wouldn’t go ahead (good ol’ intuition doing its thing). Now it’s perfectly clear as to why that was. But recently I’ve realised I had a large chunk of my story sitting in that talk and I really wanted to share it. I want people to know where I’ve come from, where the soul work I’ve been doing has lead me in hopes of it helping others. So here it goes…

My journey to this point hasn’t been a straight forward one, It’s been very rewarding at times and extremely challenging and grueling in others. It all started back in 2016, I was 26, I had been freelancing in the advertising world for almost 2 years, and I had a talk with a recruiter who told me if I continued to freelance my career would suffer. Not long after I got offered a full-time role and retrospectively I had a lot of fear about my worth, around what I was doing, I thought I would be unemployable if I didn’t try harder, so I took it. It was a job that was shiny it had a nice bow on it with a delightful paycheque, but as soon as I walked through the door on the first day I knew I had made a terrible mistake. 

I persevered thinking it was just first day jitters, but as the weeks went on I found myself feeling less and less happy in this role. Two months into the job, I was diagnosed with a thyroid autoimmune condition. I had no idea what this meant, how could I be sick I was 26, I exercised 5 times a week, ate vegetables, I was active, I’d be fine. The job continued to work me into the ground, I recall one week where I finished working at 1am every day and walked in the next day at 8am with not even an ounce of appreciation from my boss. I felt extremely stuck and one day out of the blue, I simply quit. I gave my 2 weeks notice, called my old freelance contacts and had another gig lined up before I knew it. Take that unemployable! 

“I’d let someone else control my path, instead of listening to my gut feeling.”

I’d let someone else control my path, instead of listening to my gut feeling. and I felt a lot of shame about not being able to hold down a job, about always jumping from one gig to another. All the while I was navigating this new health situation. Looking back, no one; not my doctor, not my specialist, no one told me what this meant for my body, for my mind. How my thyroid was part of the Endocrine system a bigger system intricately connected to hormones, mind, and body. I’ve slowly uncovered all of this on my own and every day something else appears that I wish I had known. But that’s the journey.

I started going to a vinyasa yoga class at a nearby studio to my house at the time, and I loved the teacher it wasn’t my first time doing yoga but I remember realising that it was what I deeply needed. But I was traveling every day for 2 hours to get to and from work as well as having picked up a few extra clients on the side, I was getting to that studio once a week at best. I kept freelancing another year, whilst building my own client base – very slowly I realised I was capable of doing the work on my own and people were happy with what I was delivering and the results I was bringing to their small business. I decided in August 2017 after a trip away, I wouldn’t go back to the agency world. I was done. I’ve been fully sufficient with my own content & design business since. There have been ups and downs but this was the first scary leap. It was after this moment that I felt I came up for air, for reflection.

Enter March 2018 and I went to a Yin Yoga class at what is now my regular yoga studio Humming Puppy. I had never done yin yoga before and I remember the discomfort it brought me, I wasn’t ready for everything that was just sitting there internally waiting to be tapped. It had been 28 years of moving, being active, always doing something, and thinking of the next thing. One hour of stopping felt so lazy, so self-indulgent. I needed to move, it would take a few more prompts from the universe to get me to commit to myself and my practice.

In April of 2018 I had a big relapse of my thyroid condition. I had been able to stabilise it up until this point but a big stressor from work blew my levels out. It had been 2 years, to get to that point and it had all been reversed in 2 weeks of stress, doctors wanted to operate, but this is when my intuition started screaming! NO! It’s clearly stress that is doing this to me. I realised I needed to try other ways, I realised that my health had to be my priority. I started to go to acupuncture and the call to start back up at yoga was there. I signed up to a 20 class pass in June 2018 at Humming Puppy and didn’t stop going after that day, this is when I said YES to myself. The first 10-15 yin classes, all I did was cry. I had finally acknowledged I needed to stop and a dark room with a hum seemed the perfect place to start. It is here that I discovered the darkest and brightest parts of myself. It is here that I have learned the power that lies within me. It is here that I have found what it means to be intuitive. That we all have this magic within us, we just need to discover the key to unlocking it. Yin yoga, has been one of the biggest gifts I have found for myself. It has helped me to unlearn the push I felt so strongly for the first 3 decades of my life. I realised that these moments of pause, allowed me to truly see what I needed and wanted.

I’ve had many moments of clarity, shedding, and pain surface since the beginning of this journey and it continues every day, but one that stands out was in an acupuncture session in late 2018. The needles had been put in and I was simply lying there in that beautiful floating meditative state. For years I had been grappling with life’s big questions; “What am I here to do?”,  ‘What’s my purpose?” and then the word “Sanar” To heal came to me, in Spanish my first language. This word in this moment of pause, of silence, felt like the answer. It felt like a gentle whisper in the right direction, I like to think that because it was in Spanish it carried a deep knowing. I held this word close to me I thought about it for a long time, I knew it was my word. I didn’t know if it meant to heal myself or to heal others- now I know it means both.

“We all have the power to tap into our intuition, to see beyond what is happening in the clouds of stress, doing and pushing.”

We all have the power to tap into our intuition, to see beyond what is happening in the clouds of stress, doing and pushing. But we have to honour ourselves with space, with the ritual of time. It’s in these spaces that the magic of our intuition truly comes to us, it’s in these pockets of time that we can see our soul, see what we are here to do in this lifetime.

Of course, as you can see Sanar turned into Sanas, mostly because I liked the idea of a palindrome. The fact that you can spell it the same way back and forwards for me symbolised that there are many avenues into healing, that healing isn’t linear, instead it’s a spiralic journey that we dip in and out of, that sometimes the most unexpected turn brings us great insight or also makes us feel like we’ve taken 5 steps back. All of it is a journey that ebbs and flows. The ritual part felt like an open-ended invitation to the many routes we might take into the healing spiral.

After studying an introductory herbalism course I decided I wanted to create a small ritual to help those on their own path; a ritual that allowed for this ‘pause’ that had helped me so much, and so the 4 herbal blends came to be. Each tea comes with a mantra card, to ground, and to make the practice of the kettle boiling and the tea brewing a ritual, a space we can hold for ourselves. Whether it be in the morning, at lunch, after dinner, or just before bed, I believe this pause is the biggest gift we can give ourselves. And perhaps a tea ritual isn’t your way of tapping into this space. Perhaps it’s walking in nature, perhaps you’ve already experienced this through yoga, by sitting with your morning coffee, by reading a book. Whatever it is, honour it and if you don’t have anything like this it’s an invitation to start creating pockets of time that can be truly yours.

Once I started to tap in, I found that the messages started flowing. In fact, this whole piece came together by honouring those small pockets of time. Start listening, observing, feeling in. I love to make a note of the things I feel, see, and experience. Sometimes they don’t make sense immediately and sometimes they don’t come with the answers we want or in the way we thought they would, but they often weave into a story or a solution, or a direction that I can confidently say came from within.

Intuition appears in many ways, sometimes it comes in the form of words, similar to that “sanar” example, sometimes it comes as an image, a number, a thought to ring someone, a feeling that ‘this isn’t quite right.’ Another example of this for me came in a session with a beautiful friend Jaime Alexander who does energy work. In one of our sessions, I felt this strong message of using my hands, it took us a few sessions but after the third session, I walked out with the word Reiki. I just knew I had to study this, it was the first thing I had been sure of for a while since the creation of Sanas Ritual. Earlier this year, I completed my Reiki 2 training and now know that this whisper to Sanar (to heal) lives within me, my thyroid is balanced for the first time in 5 years (that’s a story for another blog post) and I have a toolbox of rituals to keep me centered, grounded and calm.

It feels like a long journey of piecing things together since that 2016 full-time job, but I’ve given myself space, listened to the calls, and ultimately trusted that it was the right path to take.  We’ve all had our intuition show itself to us, sometimes we listen, sometimes we don’t. What I’ve found is that the more I follow the intuitive pulls the better things feel.