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What spirituality can teach us about ourselves

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Geraldine Standup, along with her son Mike, launched a spiritual teachings program at Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services (KSCS) about a year-and-a-half ago, but a recent Facebook post about this Family and Wellness initiative served as a reminder that Mike and Geraldine are still available for appointments – especially during this tough time.

Both Mike and Geraldine have worked at various organizations and other facilities. Geraldine, now working full-time at KSCS, worked in Toronto at the Aboriginal Health Clinic as a traditional healer for more than 20 years. Along with a position at KSCS, Mike has been working at several places, such as the Native Women’s Shelter and the Native Friendship Centre of Montreal for the past 17 years. The Standups have been practicing spiritual healing for 30 years.

Geraldine and Mike only fairly recently started working in the community, “Because Kahnawake is a highly-colonized community. Our traditional work was not really recognized in our community. It is only fairly recently that people have come to recognize the value of traditional knowledge. So our work today is really about teaching this traditional knowledge and teaching our people how to apply it to their lives,” Geraldine said.

This initiative was introduced with the objective of incorporating and protecting traditional practice and knowledge in the community’s health care system.

For Mike, the essence of these meetings is to “serve to help people change their own thinking. We are healing through teaching. We teach the person how to heal themselves. We demonstrate through our own inner peace to guide this person to the same place.”

Mike remembers one spiritual teaching session some years ago that was tremendously impactful for both his client and himself.

He had gone to visit a young man in the hospital who was in a motorcycle accident. His physical condition worsened during his stay at the hospital, which caused his mental state to deteriorate.

Mike told him, “This is coming from your heart. The injuries, the bacteria, the disease is connected to your heart energy. You’re not taking care of you the way you should be.”

Mike taught him some simple exercises to do on his own. “Take your hands, put it to your heart and you begin by breathing and asking the Great Spirit to come into your mind, to help change your mind about your sickness and what’s going on at the moment. As you breathe out, you release everything that’s been disturbing you. Keep repeating that.”

A few days later, the young man was healing and was able to go home. “He was very much relaxed and relieved. He looked like he was home again in his eyes,” Mike said.

For Mike, changing one’s state of mind is many times the key to changing one’s outer world. “We switch peoples’ minds over to practicing an attitude of gratitude. That’s been my saviour. Giving thanks to all the very small and taken for granted things that we have.”

Mike explained that the pandemic has given us time to do some self-reflection about who we are and what we all want for the world.

This reflection is a crucial thing for the world at this time, he said. Spirituality can mean many things for different people, however; spirituality is primarily about a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves that gives us meaning in life. Our business-as-usual, fast-paced lives take us away from that.

“Even for myself, I’ve kind of gotten away from the basic things – I was living for the next rather than living for the now.”

If interested in making an appointment, community members can call KSCS at 450-632-6880 for more information. The Standups say it’s difficult during these times because these are meetings that are preferably done in person, but Mike says that he’ll meet with people, “even if we meet on the front deck of my mom’s house.”

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