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What Moving the Winds Means and How a Curandera Does It

For more than five centuries, folks of Mexican, Mexican-American, and Latinx heritage have been practicing curanderismo, a healing ritual rooted in strong beliefs of harmony with nature, spirit, and self. And as a life coach and curandera (i.e., one who practices curanderismo), Robyn Moreno recently took to TikTok to share a process she calls “moving the winds,” which is a way of releasing negative energy from your body.

Though the literal translation of a curandera is a “healer,” Moreno conceptualizes her role a bit differently: “What I’m doing is caring for people—I care for my clients, myself, and for my family,” she says. “Guides—like your ancestors—are working through me, but I’m just here to guide, support, and care for you.” Moreno says she learned how to move the winds with a curandero she studied under in Mexico. The two agreed that “the winds” are akin to unideal feelings, so to move them means to get rid of that energy.

Moving the winds means getting rid of negative feelings or energy.

To “be in a wind” means that there’s something preventing you from operating as you normally would. Maybe that’s because you had a weird conversation with your boss or are feeling badly about making a mistake. “For me, moving the winds means moving those bad thoughts in a different direction, so you have more sense of who you are and can walk in a more rooted way,” Moreno adds.

So, how can you personally practice moving the winds to shake off less-than-ideal vibes? Below, Moreno shares four strategies she swears by.

4 ways a curandera practices moving the winds to shake off unwanted energy

1. Practicing smoke medicine

Smoke medicine is the practice of burning herbs to cleanse yourself spiritually. “You’re cleansing yourself and your body to move from your head back into your heart,” she says. When practicing smoke medicine indoors, you should at least crack open a window so that the energy can actually move outside of the space you’re in—instead of it moving to another room in the same building, for example.

However, Moreno caveats that this practice isn’t for everyone. For instance, you might need to cleanse the space in an indoor working environment—where you might not be able to open windows or want to disturb anyone (or set off a smoke alarm) as you’re burning herbs. Additionally, depending on your cultural background, certain forms of smoke cleansing are appropriative and harmful for you to practice period. For instance, if you are not of a member of an Indigenous community, you should be mindful not to burn sage, Palo Santo, or other sacred herbs.

2. Cleaning

“Maybe the moving of the winds is like redirection, organization, cleaning your desk or altar, or wiping the window,” she says. The idea here is that you’re still physically moving things around, which would be helpful in clearing the energy you don’t want to carry with you.

Even the act of cleaning a surface could be helpful, because you’re moving in a different direction than you were when you were letting yourself stew in the bad vibes, Moreno adds.

3. Using breath work

Because “the winds” are essentially negative emotions and experiences, using breath work is a great way of releasing those emotions and moving those winds. As an added bonus, breath work is science-backed, too: For a small 2020 published in Frontiers in Psychology, 131 university students were either placed in a non-intervention control group or received well-being training in breath work, emotional intelligence, or mindfulness. It found that students in the breath work course experienced the greatest well-being benefits.

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When you’re using your breath to move the undesired winds, Moreno says it’s key that your exhales last longer than your inhales, because you’re releasing more negativity from your body than you’re taking in. Her method? Inhaling for four seconds, holding that breath for one second, and forcefully exhaling for eight seconds. “Push out that energy or angst you might have,” she says.

4. Going outside and standing in fresh air

The benefits of being outside abound, and Moreno says that this can also help you move the winds because you’re moving out of the physical space where you are experiencing them.

And bear in mind that you can enjoy fresh-air benefits in a parking lot just as you can in a lush forest. “The literal wind, the Earth, and standing in the sun is infusing,” says Moreno. She adds that to practice this method, you want to ask the wind to clear your negative emotions as it’s hitting your body.

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