It was a dark night in November of 2019. My evening shift at the bookstore was wrapping up soon; a few customers quietly roamed the shop as rain pelted the rooftop, but my coworker and I were tucked away in a corner of the children’s section, deep in conversation.
“There’s a change arriving in 2020,” whispered my coworker, Ana Mercedes Smith. Though she spoke in hushed tones, her voice brandished confidence. “The world is just so busy right now—it’s going to burst. Airplanes flying, people driving, the shopping, the materialism, the devastation of the natural ecosystem—it’s going to come to a head next year and there will be a shift. It will change everyone and everything. I can feel it.”
I had known Ana Mercedes since March of that year, and though we are several decades apart, we became fast friends. That night, her wild, graying hair was pulled up in a bun, and she wore a warmly knitted sweater, dressed for a cozy night after work—but her eyes were serious, her face drenched in concern.
Ana Mercedes is highly intuitive, though she prefers the term spiritual mentor. “A spiritual mentor is someone who helps others discover their own spirituality and their connection to the divine,” she explains over the phone. “Spiritual mentorship is really taking somebody through a journey of self-discovery and self-healing.” The role of a spiritual mentor may differ from person-to-person, as may the tactics, but the end-goal is the same: connecting the client’s path in life to their higher consciousness, healing psychological wounds, and learning to be more at peace.
Back in November 2019, spiritual mentorship was not the topic of conversation. In truth, I had never expected Ana Mercedes’s predictions to come true. Speaking to her a year later, she explains how she foresaw 2020’s shift. “As an empath, I can feel and process energy. I could feel the intensity of tension—us getting ready to go over the edge. And, of course, there is a spiritual community and there is chatter. I wasn’t the only one who felt this.”
Now, months deep into a global pandemic and amidst the ongoing fight for racial justice throughout the country, Ana Mercedes has been looking inward for guidance. Although she has been healing her inner wounds for two decades, she has since learned that healing is a life-long journey.
That life-long journey began when she was an adult; after all, she was raised by parents who misunderstood her. “I came into the world very connected,” she says. “I was able to deeply connect with people’s emotions, the earth, just everything. But I came into a family who had difficulty with my exuberance and curiosity.”
“…Connecting the client’s path in life to their higher consciousness, healing psychological wounds, and learning to be more at peace.
This difficulty is understandable; modern society seldom discusses the spiritual aspects of day-to-day living, and fifty years ago, these psychic qualities were far less understood. “Being very psychic and empathic was confusing for me,” Ana Mercedes says. “People would say or do one thing, but then I would read their energies and feel their inner truths. My parents were fearful [of that]. They didn’t understand. So around the age of nine or ten, I just slammed the door on everything. It was too much.”
Slamming the door on her innate abilities had a profound effect on the rest of her life. For two decades she suppressed her true nature, ignored her intuition, and hid her subsequent trauma. She struggled with daily life, and by age thirty-six with two kids, she felt her body was shutting down. “It was this knowing that I was dying,” she says. “I wasn’t taking care of my body because I wasn’t taking care of my soul. I had to act fast.”
Ana Mercedes considers this realization a wake-up call, but first, she had to heal her physical body before she could unpack the years of suppression and spiritual isolation she had inflicted upon herself. After five years of hard, physical work, she finally felt ready to begin the long, spiritual journey of healing her soul.
Her journey of self-discovery began while practicing Reiki—a Japanese form of energy healing. “I was introduced to it by a few friends, and that was the point when [my healing] switched on. It was night and day.” The change she felt was so drastic that she became “obsessed” with healing, and began experimenting with other forms of energy healing: acupuncture, herbology, and sound healing. Ana Mercedes knew what her calling in life was. She wanted to help heal others. “I realized I needed something more dynamic than just meditations and sound healing. I needed conversation.”
By 2019, she was well on the path to opening her own business: a virtual space for intuitive readings and acting as a spiritual guide. She took classes on spiritual mentorship and began the prep work of maintaining a website. In March, she began working at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore in Middletown, Connecticut,—a stepping-stone she felt was necessary in tackling her fears of working with the public. “Working at the bookstore allowed me to be just Ana. Nobody knew who I was. I was not Ana the spiritual worker, or Ana the healer. I was just me.” Still, she could feel change creeping around the corner as 2020 loomed.
When the pandemic hit, Ana Mercedes stepped away from the bookstore. The time at home allowed her to delve deeper into her psyche and practice her readings. “The pandemic allowed me to put my focus into what it meant to develop a business. What does it mean to be a spiritual teacher and make your living from that? The pandemic gave me time off work while still giving me an income. It allowed me to give myself the time to really dive deep into myself.”
Still, Ana Mercedes says that this time spent soul-searching was nothing like a vacation. “That spiritual deep dive requires a lot of energy and a lot of time. People think you just wake up one day and you’re lit up. It doesn’t work that way,” she says. The progress made during quarantine was four-fold: Ana Mercedes learned how to present herself, how to create an online business, and also how to promote herself virtually.
Quarantine also provided her a chance to practice her readings. Christina D’Amico, one of Ana Mercedes’s earliest clients, explains what made her seek out a spiritual mentor.
“COVID-19 is such a time of uncertainty,” D’Amico says. “An intuitive reading was an opportunity for clarity. I am always trying to figure out my path forward in life, so having that guidance seemed like a good thing to do during the pandemic.”
D’Amico explains that she did not know what to expect upon going in for a reading, yet was happy with the outcome. “[Ana Mercedes] connected spirituality with my own life in ways I didn’t expect, and the reading ultimately affirmed what I knew and didn’t know about myself. I learned about my strengths and weaknesses, both spiritually and concretely.”
Having met with clients like D’Amico, Ana Mercedes is confident that she will open her business by the end of the year, but she still has some work to do. “There is something missing within myself that I must find before I can take this next step,” she says. “Self-healing is a lifetime of work. It is constant. How can we live our lives in service to life? The pandemic allowed us to see what is really important: restoring the planet, our relationships, and our hearts.”
Zachary DiGirolamo is a staff writer for Blue Muse Magazine
Header Credit: Phys.org