Walda Laurenceau speaks the truth—with love.
Thanks to her Haitian background, the acupuncturist learned early about alternatives to Western medicine. She studied English at Rutger’s and publishing at Pace University with an eye towards more traditional fields. But a health issue in her early 20s inspired her to get better acquainted with her body. She began investigating healing modalities—and the rest is history.
While getting her Master of Science in acupuncture from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, she was inspired to launch TeaFèy Infusions, a local Brooklyn-based herbal tisane and tea brand. Meanwhile, she continued to educate herself at externships and internships, traveling to Peten, Guatemala to study with local indigenous healers and volunteer with the organization Healer 2 Healer. She has since studied nutrition, breathwork and Western herbology at the New York Open Center.
Here, the founder of Root & Essence Acupuncture talks resistance and the challenge of healthy detachment:
Live The Process: How did you become interested in healing—and, specifically, acupuncture?
Walda Laurenceau: Growing up in a Caribbean household of Haitian descent definitely exposed me to herbs or fèy from Haiti. My family members would bring over certain herbs that were good for high blood pressure, colds, cleaning the blood etc. We often would look at the bags of dried herbs to treat an ailment before considering Western remedies.
But I also developed a greater interest at 24, when I had a desire to take more charge of my body. Spurred by an early diagnosis of fibroids, I started paying attention to how I could have a healthier body. I delved into understanding as many healing modalities as possible to see which resonated—from herbs and nutrition to energy work like reiki.
My first experience with acupuncture was in 2007. I met a woman on the bus who mentioned she was a “traveling acupuncturist,” and she was only in town for a few weeks before heading back to California. I’d never experienced it at that point. So, we set some time ,so that I could have my first session a week later.
LTP: What is the nature of the way you work and why does it make sense in today’s world?
WL: Aside from using all the textbook theory and education, I work quite intuitively with those I treat with acupuncture or herbs. There’s a different quality of listening I've become better at over time.
The listening is not just about what they say they want help with; sometimes it’s about how they say it through their body, the quality of their voice or with their eyes. I try to unravel things layer by layer and not only focus on just what they are bringing attention to at the surface of their discomfort. I always try to hear them from an emotional space. I think about how am I hearing their pain and how I can best get them to apply an emotion to the pain—are they angry, sad, frustrated? From there, I think about the best way to release that, so they have a bit more freedom.
Just look at the world around us: We are living in the most chaotic era ever. People are scared, angry, downtrodden and are literally getting sick and tired. But, luckily, everyone is becoming so much more aware of the importance of not only physically taking charge of their health (where Western medicine may not be helping them), but also taking agency over their mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. These shifts are so important across the globe; and this medicine is here waiting to serve those who are ready.
Resisting change makes life so much more difficult. Resistance in a healthy form, like standing up for what’s right, is always good. It creates a platform we can stand on to advocate for and create change. On the flip side of that, resistance can be downright exhausting—this constant fight, especially when looking at it from a more internal perspective. Trying to control outcomes is a losing battle. I think the best way to influence outcomes is to have healthy detachment (that’s a challenge!), where you are allowing yourself to go with the flow and rhythm, so you can ultimately create space for more of what you’d like to experience.
LTP: How and when did you come to launch TeaFèy Infusions?
WL: I launched TeaFèy Infusions while I was in school for my master’s in acupuncture. I wanted a brand to speak to what I loved to do (creating herbal blends) and also to give homage to my Haitian roots. Fèy in Haitian Kreyol literally means, “leaf/ plant medicine.”
LTP: Aside from acupuncture, do you have other practices, products or rituals that keep you feeling balanced and healthy?
WL: I love my Vitamix and make a point to use it daily, whether making seed or nut milks or green smoothies. Anything I can create in my kitchen—like homemade ghee or coconut butter—is my little ritual for self-care. Getting my hands to create healthy staples like these gives me a healthy and balanced state of mind.
Going to see my physical trainer has been good for me over the last couple of months. Before working with him, I was in a spot where I was feeling low-energy and motivation, I think in part because I was experiencing a bit of a “healer burnout.” Working on other people’s health concerns and wellness plans definitely kept me off a daily self-care and maintenance routine for myself. I realized that folks like me, who work in healing spaces, pour out so much energy that we don’t realize our depletion, until we get to the point of being like, “What's wrong with me? I don’t want to do anything right now!” or we crave all the wrong foods for comfort. Someone who doesn’t know that experience might mistake it for laziness, but it’s not. Keeping a regular 2x weekly schedule with my trainer has created a better rhythmic routine not only physically, but mentally, as well. Creating routine is key to me feeling balanced and healthy.
I also aim for at least 30 minutes of daily prayer/meditation, preferably in the early morning hours between 5-6am. If I miss that window, I just make sure to do it as early as possible.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
WL: Right now, having healthy detachment from outcomes and accepting things and people as they are without changing how I choose to love, share and connect. That’s freedom—the ultimate happiness. The hardest thing is when you allow something—or the action of others—to dictate your energy and happiness.
Being able to manage my energy in a way that serves my best self, no matter what anyone else does or how something is happening, is the path to freedom and ultimately happiness. Is it a challenge when someone seems to be acting off key or like an asshole? Hell, yes! I mean the easiest thing to do is tell them to piss off, but, at the end of that sentence, you may not always feel happy, even though it was a good release. It’s just reactionary. (I speak from experience!) I guess the key to finding that perfect balance is to speak truth and also not to give a fuck—with lots of love attached to it. Healthy detachment—that’s what happiness looks like for me right now in 2019.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
WL: Just do everything in your power to be yourself; be authentic. Be where you are without trying to cover up your emotions—or, at least, work on it in the best way possible. If you’re upset, fearful, insecure, angry etc., acknowledge that and be willing to speak to that emotion and get to the the root cause of why it's there. The more we can take ownership of what we are in the moment, without blaming others, the closer we get to living the process.