Recently, one of my yoga students said to me, “To see people fighting for your mere existence is exhausting.” That really sat with me. As a Black woman in America, I know what comes with the territory of being in my skin.
It’s the concept of “mere existence” that’s so poignant. It’s 2020 and Black people are still fighting for the right to exist with equanimity and compassion.
Exhausted is what many Black people feel. We watch our culture be appropriated through music and fashion, while we, as crafters of the culture, still have to fight to exist. Every day we step out our doors, and we put on armour that includes code-switching (making our look and the way we speak palatable to others) and tensing up whenever a police officer is near. All of this begins to take a psychological toll, which many of us may not even realize. Putting on the armour becomes something we’re used to doing.
It wasn’t until last year that I even began to understand the difference between what is known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the trauma that is suffered by the Black community. PTSD is generally defined as having a beginning, middle, and end. What we are witnessing with the Black community is trauma that has started, but is stuck in the middle with seemingly no end in sight. We are constantly on the edge of discomfort.
To help manage our daily lives and these current historical times, having an arsenal of wellness tools is critical. Here are some self-care tips I’ve suggested to my yoga community.
Begin or deepen your yoga and meditation practice
Our bodies are containers for our life experience; everything we see, hear, and taste is stored in the body and the deepest layers of our minds. Mind-body practices help relax the nervous system and bring awareness to where you’re storing your experience, and can be used to help discharge trauma. I especially suggest restorative yoga practices, which are deeply nourishing for the mind and body. If yoga doesn’t suit you, find some other kind of movement that will help you release.
Be mindful of what you are consuming and when
Green smoothies, nourishing dishes prepared at home with love, lots of room-temperature water (to protect the digestive fire), and not eating while watching the news (or TV altogether) are suggested to keep your body strong and optimal.
Take your news in bites
It’s important to remain vigilant, but an overabundance of news will burden the central nervous system. If you do start to feel overwhelmed, try a walk or sitting outside.
Stay connected and in joy
Call or text a friend or family member every day. Listen to your favourite music. Watch your favourite comedy. Play with your pets. And know that while these times are heavy, we are also witnessing a response from humanity—so try to find the beauty in humanity.
These suggested tips help to build resilience. And that’s what we need, now more than ever.
May all beings be happy and free.
Photo by Robert Maxwell.