A lot of us are learning more about our history in response to recent events, protests and having a little more time on our hands. I confess that before this year, I knew very little about Juneteenth. I am an introvert and I do not gravitate toward large events.
This year, because it has become abundantly clear that people who identify as Black or African American have never been truly free in this country. We swim in history that is informed by a philosophy of white body supremacy.
I found a virtual Juneteenth event in Saint Paul that was co-sponsored by the Saint Paul Library. On the home page (linked above) are some beautiful read-aloud videos from staff there, children’s stories that have wonderful lessons for adults. Check them out. They can be resources to help teach children about inclusion versus racism.
I will be tuning in this Friday. It is time to learn and grow, time to come together as human beings “alone together” on this tiny planet.
I find myself celebrating the past year for my birthday but feeling quieter and more reflective than in past years. When I read that George Floyd was also 46 years old I realized we shared an age, but are separated by a yawning gap of white body privilege. His life was cut short, and my life continues.
I spent the past week re-reading portions of “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies” by Resmaa Menakem. I downloaded the audio book so I could listen to it as well. Coincidentally, Krista Tippett had a conversation with Resmaa on her podcast On Being just before the pandemic, but it aired only within the last week. If you have not heard it, I recommend a listen.
There is also a simple body practice that is about 4-5 minutes that Krista released yesterday that I really love. It helps us engage the vagus nerve and the psoas muscle in a way that is calming. Resmaa describes how “bodies of culture” must orient when they feel in danger.
One of my loyal yoga practitioners (Jackie) told me last week that Resmaa’s book is sold out right now, since she had looked for it online. I find that wonderful and hopeful. Maybe we white folks are ready to grow up and out of our privilege in a way that can support “bodies of culture” (I love Resmaa’s terminology) to achieve their dreams as well.
We must do the work, and we must begin now, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel at first. One thing that yoga teaches us is that we can stay with discomfort, a moment longer, to hear what it has to say. I love it that we have the tools to do that. It is our practice off the mat, and it is why we can succeed in this effort.
As a white woman from a multi-cultural (Swedish Mexican) heritage, I have struggled with knowing what my role can or should be in this effort. I have to admit I don’t have a complete answer right now, except to highlight voices that may not otherwise be heard. I also hope to hold space for other “white bodies” that know we must be part of the solution here.
Resmaa recommends we do our own work, with each other, to educate and get over our “fragility” around race discussions. In my 46 years of life I have never worried about being killed by a police officer. My level of discomfort is a tiny sliver compared to a daily stress of someone who’s life has been cut short by a police officer. While police bodies also need to do their own work, we can and must begin in our own bodies.
I close this reflection by saying all of this begins in our bodies. We unwind our stories and social conditioning by exploring their origins, questioning the protective habits that our “primitive lizard” brains developed, and by learning better ways to sharing the bounty we all have. When all do better, all do better (a phrase Paul Wellstone used to use frequently).
P.S. Resmaa’s Cultural Somatics Institute offers a free 5-day e-course which summarizes the principles in his book. The videos are short and they are helpful. They will make you want to get the book.
Oh, the beautiful and joyful experience of being on vacation and devouring a new book by a favorite author!
I typically read books I love more than once. This one made me close my eyes at times, and just breathe in the wisdom and the impact of the words. Glennon has a way of speaking to my soul. One of my many favorite passages:
“The blueprints of heaven are etched in the deep desires of women. What women want is good. What women want is beautiful. And what women want is dangerous, but not to women. Not to the common good. What women want is a threat to the injustice of the status quo.”
Like Love Warrior, Untamed is a book I will read many times because of the ways it made me laugh and brought tears to my eyes.
I received some news at work yesterday which was surprising at first. It took me a few minutes to process it, and I am still deciding how to approach this news.
My emotions went from disbelief to amazement to sadness. Then I felt quiet recognition that this was not actually unexpected. My intuition had been nudging me here but I had been reluctant to fully see and acknowledge what I was seeing.
So my current emotion is relief. There is some uncertainty in the process of moving forward after big news. And there can be a delightful freedom in it, a chance for something new to burst forth.
I thank my yoga training for allowing me to sit in the “heat” of any situation in my life and recognize it is here to teach me something. My resilience and resourcefulness come from within, and I am so grateful that I know this.
Over the weekend I received news about a yoga teaching opportunity which was energizing and exciting. After my “desk chair yoga” class in February I have been wondering what is next along that front, and some new options are emerging. I felt like I had been pushing, pushing, pushing on some projects that had felt stuck. And now I feel a sense of ease at understanding that planting seeds was more important, that growth and harvesting are a later part of this particular project.
Grateful for all the the wisdom I continue to receive.