Last October, I traveled west of Boston to participate in a traditional sacred fire ceremony with Maya elder Nana Mercedes Longfellow* and a group of 27 others, many of whom have been studying with Nana Mercedes for years. I first met her eleven years ago at Rowe Center in western Massachusetts, where she came to teach with another beloved elder, Gerardo Kanek Barrios (since deceased). A small group of us subsequently traveled to Guatemala with them for ceremonies at sacred Maya sites there. In the years since, various groups have periodically gathered together for fire ceremonies and teachings in both Guatemala and Massachusetts. The teachings, as well as the fire ceremony, are centered around one of the many Maya calendars, the Cholqij, which is a guide to help humans align with the universe’s cycles. Gratitude, humility, and respect for all life are important aspects of the teachings, each one a gateway to inner and outer harmony if practiced with intention and dedication.
Last fall’s gathering was one of the most powerful we’ve had. The level of heart opening was extraordinary, both at the fire ceremony itself and in gratitude exercises we did in pairs later. As everyone shared their experiences, we were all brought to tears again and again by the sheer power of the gratitude in our hearts and the love we felt for one another. Nana Mercedes reminded us that we were experiencing deep divine connection when our hearts opened in that way. These were intensely moving “sacred moments,” as one person called them. It was as if we could all clearly see ourselves evolving, both in those moments and over time. The Maya teachings have that kind of profound emotional and spiritual impact. And, for me, the experience was also very connected to the work I am concurrently doing with Panache Desai.**
I have been attending Panache’s programs and events, online and in person, for five years. I first met him at Kripalu Center, in Lenox, Massachusetts, and he has been my primary teacher ever since. More than a teacher, he is a vibrational catalyst: the unconditional love and divine presence that comes through him shifts people into a higher vibration, and they are more aligned with their inner spirit. He has had a tremendous impact on my life, vibrationally, spiritually, and in every other way. Raised in London in an Indian family with strong spiritual traditions, he insists that we are all our own gurus, perfect just as we are in our humanity and divinity. I particularly appreciate his irreverent sense of humor and contemporary paradigm-busting worldview. Some people have asked me if I feel any conflict between his teachings and those of Nana Mercedes, who presents and practices the Maya traditions exactly as they have been passed down for thousands of years. My answer is always no. Though very different from one another, both in tradition and in personality, I find their hearts to be the same—full of love, inclusiveness, and generosity of spirit. To me, their teachings complement and enhance each other.
Nana Mercedes and Panache each embody a beautiful divine connection that shines through their eyes. They both teach that we too are divinely connected and are here on Earth to evolve—through love. Panache speaks of oneness, divine love, gratitude, and making life a “living meditation.” Nana Mercedes speaks of service to life, love of Mother Earth, making gratitude a prayer, and living in the “One Heart.” Vibrationally, they are essentially speaking the same language. As Panache has said, “If God is infinite, then nobody’s wrong.” I find each of them to be inspiring, compassionate, and extremely kind. My greatest transformative shifts in awareness have occurred since knowing Panache and Nana Mercedes, and I feel very grateful to be walking this Earth path with them. I love them both.
*I have written about my experiences with Nana Mercedes and the Maya elders in my blog and in my book Living with Spirit.
**I have written about Panache in blog articles and in my book Lose Your Mind, Open Your Heart.