Oct 24, 2014

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Latina and Buddhist: “I Start My Day Practicing Compassion”

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At New Latina, we celebrate and honor diversity among Latina women.  The Spirituality Series showcases Latina women’s faith and spirituality, highlighting how they choose to live a centered and guided life.  

Spirituality Profile:  Yvonne Valdes Miller, Ph.D.
Married, Two children
Occupation:  Teaches child development and literacy education at a small private university in the Midwest.  Area of focus: “at risk children” and their literacy development.

1. What religion/faith are you currently practicing? How did you come to know your religion? Family? Personal choice? Have you always been a part of this faith background?

I have been currently practicing Buddhism for about three years. After speaking with my cousins who were very involved in Buddhism I sort of began to change my way of thinking. I was raised Catholic and practiced it for many years but found that I felt VERY uncomfortable with the way women, children, the divorced GLBT, (gay lesbian, transgender and bisexual) individuals were being treated. Not to mention the whole pedophile thing! I finally realized that I felt as if my values were being compromised. I had to get out.

2. What was it like for you growing up with this or another religious background and how did that impact your perception of faith and family traditions as an adult?

I dutifully followed Catholic practices and followed all of the traditions in a Latino family. I have broken away with many traditions and that was very alarming to my Mexican mother.

3. Do you think that your faith traditions and beliefs play a role in your personal or family identity? How so?

Not sure what you mean, but I do think I am where I am now as a a result of where I came from. In other words perhaps the Catholic faith formed me to have certain expectations on how we should treat each other.

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4. What are some common misconceptions about your faith that you would like to explain to others?

Buddhists do not worship statues or objects. It is not a religion that has a deity per se. Everyone has the possibility of becoming a Buddha. Through mediation and how one lives one’s life. Getting rid of attachments, emotional and material that cause problems.

5. What do you think are the most comforting things about your faith? Why do you feel it’s the best fit for you?

What is comforting is knowing that even with the most difficult people and situations compassion goes a long way. It is a good fit for me because I did not like how Catholicism could be so judgmental on people who are different. That their way is the only way.

6. What are some things about your faith that might be difficult for individuals to adjust to? Have you found certain aspects challenging?

I think people are afraid of what they don’t know or understand. My extended family thinks this is weird or strange. But I believe it is because they are afraid.

7. How do you practice religious traditions in your daily life? What is your daily or weekly routine like?

Daily I meditate and start my day be practicing compassion towards others. Sometimes the meditation is coupled with yoga or in my daily exercises. I also try and study further about Buddhism and it’s many different facets.

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Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Dr. Perez-Litwin is the Founder & CEO of ELLA Leadership Institute, a multi-platform professional development organization designed to advance the careers and leadership of women. She's the creative force behind the LATINAS THINK BIG™ national tour, sponsored and live-streamed by Google.

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Comments

  1. This is beautiful Yvonne, and I can relate to everything you say – being born and raised Catholic in a traditional Mexican family myself.
    I practice meditation as well, from a spiritual path with roots in Hinduism and Buddhism. I don´t know if it happened to you, but once I started practicing my Yoga I was able to understand the deepest part of Catholicism and actually understand it a little bit better without all the “stuff” that makes it so distant. I believe that´s when I was truly ready to connect with my Dad who had a really hard time coming to terms with me not going to church or even not calling myself Catholic anymore.
    Anyways, thank you for sharing, this was beautiful to read! Blessings!

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