Ayni is a beautiful and powerful quechua (indigenous Peruvian language) word that means harmony, balance, sacred reciprocity.
Ayni is at the heart of the Andean Cosmovision. Is in the hearts and minds of the Q’eros that live in the Peruvian mountains. Ayni is also gratitude, respect, honor and reciprocal living. Ayni is about recognizing that all of life exists in a sacred balance of give and take.
Living in Ayni is about living in balance. “Asi nomas es “ (its just the way it is). Give and take. When you give, you will receive and when you receive, you will give. Sounds very simple, right? If it was so simple, why we don’t do it?
My teacher is Maria, a 92 year old woman, she looks at me with her beautiful eyes and smiley face , she repeats “Yananti – Masintin”, which means balance and complementarity. She doesn’t speak Spanish, she speaks quechua and is an expert in the international language of love. “Observe nature, stay silent and look, but most important see what is there. Open your eyes, your mind, you will and your heart” She is the head of the Apaza family, a family of healers and shamans. She is the altomisayocc which is the highest rank in the Andean Shamanic tradition. All the Apaza family has an enormous vast of wisdom and knowledge and I am very moved by how humble they are. Sometimes they are very gentle, and other times they are wild; as wild as the scenery of the rainbow mountain at 16,000 feet above sea level. They taught me how to observe and notice that everything aims to be in Ayni. Walking up the mountain I focus on my breath, I am very conscious that is a permanent give and take.
Maria and her family asked for permission before climbing a mountain, crossing a river or cutting a tree…the Qero’s, the Linaje Apaza bless the ground beneath their feet. They treat Pachamama – mother earth - as holy land. They are teachers that don’t talk about it, they live it, they do it and we all learned by doing it by feeling it.
In my learning journey, I learned that Ayni is not only reciprocity but the right relationship with Pachamama and everything. Everything? Yes, everything. Ayni is about connectivity and interdependence in its most profound and wild form. Living in Ayni is respecting myself, is respecting you, respecting everyone and everything that breaths and doesn’t breath. Profound respect to everything in every moment.
A way to practice this way of seeing is observing stones. We were asked to really observe their shape, the texture, the colour, the smell.. to establish a connection with a stone. To listen which stone is calling us. “Las piedras son silenciosas pero tienen mucho que decir” Stones are silent, but they have a lot to say. While doing this practice I remember that listen has the same letters as silent. If you got to this line…por algo sera (it’s for a reason), so I want to invite you to go outside and observe the stones, maybe there is one that is calling you!!
In future posts, I will share different ways of practicing Ayni with Pachamama which could be as simple as sparkling a bit of water before you drink, a mindful gardening or a despacho…