Being a woman of color in a predominantly white field is not always easy. I live in a town where there is still a lot of healing to do and the wounds of racism run deep. It shows up in the form of fragility, cultural appropriation, and spiritual bypassing. Most of the time it is missed and not addressed because of the lack of people of color around to point it out or bring it up in a discussion. There is also a lack of accountability for it on the end of the white people in the community.
For the small community of people of color that do reside here, I see a lot of fatigue. I see upset and stress show up in many ways and definitely experience it myself. I see the struggle of trying to learn how to mold ourselves for survival when we should have the space to focus on thriving. I have seen the effects of what happens when activism becomes a weight that can be a bit too heavy to carry. The thing is, just like the generations before us, we still have a lot of work to do and while it can get hard, we still have to push forward.
Lately, more than usual, I have been encountering situations where anger, rage, and stress arise. I see my intelligent, compassionate and caring friends of color being accused of being aggressive just for speaking their mind. I’ve seen children being discriminated against and viewed as terrorists in class just for the color of their skin. I’ve seen anger, guilt, and avoidance from Caucasians who don’t have the tools to deal with the stress the topic of racism brings up inside of them because they were not taught how to have these conversations in a productive way. They were not taught that it takes a great deal of self-awareness and psychological self-work to undo what has been done.
I am currently undergoing Resistance and Resilience training; a course based on non-violent communication and the dismantling of colonization and racism. I started this course with the hopes of picking up more tools that will allow me to do the self-work that is needed for me to show up fully and in integrity for the people I work with and the people I live beside in my day to day life. The process has been triggering, eye-opening, and at times exhausting. Still, I value the experience as it unfolds because it is providing the resistance that is needed for resilience to be present. It is providing a great metaphor for the fact that you cannot progress, grow and thrive in a bubble of peace and protection. You have to face the depths of a situation, dredge through murk and mud, and find your way through the storm to make it to the light.
I have come to this realization before, and this course is reinforcing the strong belief that self-care is going to be the largest component in healing the wounds of our society. This is the whole reason for why I created Life by the Moon Yoga, and why I have chosen the path of yoga, Ayurveda, and self-empowerment through consent and harnessing the power of working with the cycles of this life we live to create the world we want to live in. Dismantling racism and oppression is not an easy task. It is a darker side of the cycle we face, but it is important to acknowledge the work that needs to be done on both sides, and the energy that it takes. It’s equally important to have ways to care for ourselves when times get hard so that we can keep on going.
How do we care for ourselves when the fight of spiritual and physical activism starts to weigh us down. The thing is, we can’t just walk out on it all. We may get tired, we may approach conflicts that make us want to tap out, but this is not how we find solutions to the deeply rooted issues. So what can we do take care of ourselves when we reach our breaking points?
I have put together a list of some things I do to take care of myself when I start to feel a bit worn out and need to take some time to nourish myself through the movement.
I am sharing this with you in hopes that it will reach all genders, all races, all people. We all have work to do. Some of us have been doing some truly deep work. Some of us have been afraid to take the dive into looking at what is ingrained in us and trying to find ways to rise above. It is important to remember that the work and effort need to be made on all spectrums of the skin color wheel. It can be hard work to do, but my hope is that some of these helpful tips will carry you through the hard times so that you can continue to be an important, impactful cog in the wheel.
Meditation is a powerful tool for self-care. When we sit in meditation, even for 5 minutes, we have the ability to change the cells in our brain and body. Just taking time to slow down and breath has gotten me through many hard times. When I feel low on light and energy, I call on the light that exists around me and channel to the weaker parts of my body. I created a meditation that will allow you to work with the light of the waxing moon to fill yourself up with light, but there are many other forms of meditation that can be helpful. One of my teachers, HeatherAsh Amara, shared a meditation on recapitulation in a course I’m currently taking. The idea is to recall all of the moments in your day where you lost your energy, and then visualize that energy coming back to you, while also visualizing yourself returning the energy that does not serve you back to those places.
I am so highly reliant on herbs and salves at this time in my life. There is nothing more nourishing an healing for me than working with my plant allies to promote health inside and out. I work in the realm of Ayurveda, so my go-to is typical Ayurvedic herbs and one that has been speaking to me in times of stress lately is Ashwagandha. This is an herb from Northern India that grows in super stressful and harsh conditions. The result of that is that is has the ability to combat stress, rejuvenate the tissue layers and adapt to what is going on in the body. The brilliant flexibility of this plant allows it to either go into the body and provide energy in times of adrenal fatigue or produce a calming effect on the nervous system in times of stress. I admire the adaptability and resilience of this herb because it is the perfect example of how one must show up on a day to day basis to really have an impact in the work of activism.
I have also been receiving wonderful balms from some friends in my community. I just had a dear friend gift me a balm that was made with St. Johns Wart, Calendula, Arnica Lavender and a few other amazing;y healing herbs. There is a lot of calming, uplifting and strengthening energy in all of these herbs and the effects of these plants can be so amazing for scars, inflammation, muscles aches and even the mood. It’s so important to work with the tools mother nature gives us to find our path towards healing and self care!
The more we can move our body, the better. Some of us may be limited to the range of motion we have, but even if yoga only looks like stretching out the arms or legs, or just sitting in easy pose and doing a pranayama exercise with the breath, it is going to be enough to have a rippling effect throughout your whole day. Restorative yoga can also be a very opening and healing process. Taking the time to hold certain asanas and breath deeply into the more constrict spaces of our body can allow us to release the blocks to emotions and energy that needs to flow.
Nature never fails to amaze me. Whenever I feel disconnected from my body, or down, all I have to do is go outside. It allows me to remember that I am a piece of something so much greater than myself. I am growing and shifting and changing and just as this is happening for me, it is happening for the people around me. Even though we don’t always physically see the changes that are occurring in the present moment, it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Feeling the kiss of the sun on my skin or the gentle touch of the wind brushing past my face reminds me that I am held in the most beautiful container known to humans and this beauty is at least one thing I can count on to bring me peace in times of sadness or defeat.
Listen to music. Make music, write music. Allow music to be a healer. Sometimes you’ll be able to find songs that express words you just can’t find within yourself. It’s almost as if someone else is singing that song just for you. Let the vibrations of the music fill you and soothe you. If music isn’t your thing, then any other creative outlet will do. Sometimes when we get caught in our emotions and the weight of dealing with triggering topics, the best way to channel that energy is through creativity. Dance it out, sing it out, write it out. Just get it out.
This journey is far from over, but I salute those of you who have been doing the work to come this far. To those of you who are ready to start but afraid of where it may go, just know that while the work does need to be done, there are tools that will help to support you through it all. I hope some of the tools I have scared in this article will give you some guidance.