Healing Your Inner Child, With Risa Luna

Vigorously pounding our feet to connect to the earth, our hips sway in aquatic rhythms as our arms rise, light as air. It is a Thursday morning in Urubamba, and Risa Luna is leading an intimate group through her playful and emotive DanSpiritual class. Urging participants to ground themselves and ‘feel part of something,’ the movement meditation created by Risa has become the ideal complement to the Inner Child sessions she offers online and in person.

For the past five years, Risa has been practicing as an Inner Child coach whereby she guides clients to hone self-empowerment and compassion by becoming the parent that they always needed. “I’m here to help anyone who feels they are ready to consciously choose to take responsibility for their life,” says Risa, a decision she made herself some years ago when she packed up her bags and moved to Holland.

Hearing (Inner) Voices

Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Risa had been clinically diagnosed with depression at 19 and assumed she would have to rely on antidepressants for the rest of her life. Though her career as a painter was burgeoning, she continued to feel unworthy and inextricably sad. With her young son in tow, she decided to move to Amsterdam, “seeking something to happen that would take away [her] sadness.”

Feeling lost and undecided about what to do with her life, she got used to the company of her inner critic who was constantly complaining about life. It wasn’t until quite a few years of living abroad had passed that the voice changed.

“I started hearing a voice that sounded different than the normal inner talk that I was used to. This one sounded like a child and she was so upset, sad and angry,” recalls Risa. Intuitively, she spoke to her as an imaginary and loving mother, validating every feeling that she had and telling her she could cry as much as she needed. Having divulged to a close friend about said liberating experience, Risa came to know about Inner Child work and therein began her research.

John Bradshaw (psychotherapist and author), Thich Nhat Hanh (Buddhist monk, among many other titles) and Michelle Chalfant (therapist and holistic life coach) are just some of the great influencers upon Risa’s continued research and practice. “What they all have in common is the belief that there are, quoting Richard Schwartz, ‘no bad parts,’” Risa says, as we relax in her tranquil backyard in the Sacred Valley. “That all the destructive parts in us, as wounded inner children, have the intention of protecting us adults in inappropriate and out-dated ways. Most ‘parts’ can change for the better when they encounter a loving compassionate adult who cares about them.”

Combining meditation, conversation and even a movement meditation that Risa calls DanSpiritual, clients are led to connect with their adult self as they visit their inner children (their younger selves at various stages of childhood). Under this guided and conscious re-parenting, common behaviors and patterns of a wounded inner child — such as depression, low self-esteem, codependent relationships, addiction, procrastination, indecision, fear and self-sabotage — often dissipate.

“Inner Child work is a training as well as a therapy,” explains Risa. “People don’t recognize that the problems they are dealing with in their adulthood are often related to their childhood experiences. We look to the people around us to validate us and our emotions…but actually what we need to do is meet our own needs and those of our inner children. The starting point is always internal.”

Healing in the Sacred Valley

Having taken on the role of the mature, loving and mindful adult that she needed as a child, Risa has been able to discover her immense potential as a coach– not to mention, as an individual. “I can finally say that I feel worthy for simply existing,” she states, with a smile that beams with confidence. 

Seventeen years after having moved abroad, Risa has returned to her homeland of Peru and has landed in the Sacred Valley. Currently based in Urubamba in a cozy home shared with her black cat, Feliz, and an organic garden that she diligently tends to on the weekends, Risa feels she is exactly where she ought to be.

“The weather and nature in the Sacred Valley are ideal, but the kindred spirits that I’ve encountered here have been a true gift. There is a shared consciousness here that you have to do your homework to heal and become a greater version of ourselves; that we want to have a real relationship with nature, and build and maintain a safe community. Having grown up in Lima, the Sacred Valley has shown me a side of Peru that I didn’t know, and I love it!”

Risa’s Inner Child training is available in-person (if you are located in the Valley) or online. Sessions can be held in Spanish or English and typically run between 2-3 hours.

Get in touch with Risa via her website https://risaluna.org/ or Instagram // Facebook

All photos: Erick Andia

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