Sadhana means daily spiritual practice. For many years my Sadhana has included some form of movement, meditation & contemplation. Through this, I've found healing and forgiveness.
And while finding peace through meditation is nice, the deep inner work is what I crave. It's what strengthens and empowers me to do and be, better.
When 2020 began, I committed to reading more and added reading and reflection to my Sadhana. I'm loving this space in my day to dive into new books and articles. A friend recently sent me the article, White Supremacy Culture by Tema Okun. When I opened it and scrolled through the list, my eyes were wide and I felt a lump in my throat that grew as I read:
sense of urgency
fear of open conflict
I'm the only one...
Whoa. Confronting these characteristics that are rooted in structural racism is painful. It's also liberating. They have created conflict and communication breakdowns in my life. And I have a new understanding of why. Through this awareness, I am understanding the depth of internalized structural racism. And I am empowered to make new choices.
And do better.
Ibram X. Kendi said:
"To grow up in America is to grow up where racist ideas are constantly rained on your head. You have no umbrella. You don't even know you're wet with those racist ideas because the racist ideas themselves cause you to imagine that you are dry. And then someone comes along and says, 'You know what, you're wet. These ideas are still raining on your head, here's an umbrella.' You can be like, Thank you! I didn't even realized I was drenched."
In the wake of the death of George Floyd, the renewed interest in racial justice in our country and my own anti-racist work, I want to know - what can I do? There are many changes one can advocate for at this time. There are new terms that are being tossed around and how do we really know what they mean or what true impact they would have? I believe in keeping it simple. Focusing on one topic allows me to stay focused and learn as much as I can about it. My research and discussions have led me to determine that financial reparations for all descendants of enslaved African people in the US is where I want to put my focus and energy. As a result, my first action step was to write letters to my senators and congresswoman. I'm sharing the letter below if you'd like to use it as a reference to write your own letter. Click here to find your Representative and here to find your Senators. Sending them a letter via the web is quick and easy.
In light of the murder of George Floyd, the continued police violence against Black people in the US and the gross disparities between Blacks and whites in our country, NOW is the time to introduce and support legislation for financial reparations for all descendants of enslaved African people in this country. I implore you to take this step in acknowledging the inherent cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery as practiced in the United States. It is the ONLY way we can begin to heal the wounds, wounds that have not been appropriately acknowledged or addressed and continue to fester, of the millions of people who built our country. Please take action.
If you want to change your beliefs and thoughts, you must talk about them, share them, risk being "wrong" or looking bad. When you share what's on your mind, you open yourself up to being challenged. Challenging your thoughts & beliefs reveals your blindspots and opens the door to change.
Stop being silent.
Talk, share, express, challenge your patterns, thoughts & beliefs and most importantly, listen. Through the listening you gain understanding. Through understanding you shift your philosophy which leads to shifts in your thoughts, beliefs and actions.
I appreciate how nature demonstrates change and transformation showing us something beautiful that emerges out of something ugly and messy. Thinking of the lotus flower that grows out of the mud and muck or the caterpillar that literally digests it own self, turns into a soup and then reorganizes as a butterfly. Beautiful examples, but really think about what that means to digest yourself and reorganize your cells into something new.
Change is necessary. It can also be messy and painful. When you are on a path of growth and transformation in your life, it doesn't just end with one shift. I look at life as a really big onion with lots of layers. Peeling back the layers will likely make you cry, but with each layer you peel back you develop strength, confidence and the knowing that you CAN do this again.
Take a good hard look at yourself. What do you need to change right now? What can't wait? What beliefs are you holding that are toxic, to you and others? You have to acknowledge these things to yourself in order to work through them and let them go. The caterpillar doesn't stay a soupy mess forever inside the cocoon, eventually she emerges as a butterfly. And through her process she serves as a symbol and inspiration to other beings that we can do it too.
This poem was shared with me this morning and I felt inspired to share here.
by Maya Angelou
Into a world which needed you
My wish for you
Is that you continue
To be who and how you are
To astonish a mean world
With your acts of kindness
To allow humor to lighten the burden
of your tender heart
In a society dark with cruelty
To let the people hear the grandeur
Of God in the pearls of your laughter
To let your eloquence
Elevate the people to heights
They had only imagined
To remind the people that
Each is as good as the other
And that no one is beneath
Nor above you
To remember your own young years
And look with favor upon the lost
And the least and the lonely
To put the mantel of your protection
Around the bodies of
The young and defenseless
To take the hand of the despised
And diseased and walk proudly with them
In the high street
Some might see you and
Be encouraged to do likewise
To plant a public kiss of concern
On the cheek of the sick
And the aged and infirm
And count that as a
Natural action to be expected
To let gratitude be the pillow
Upon which you kneel to
Say your nightly prayer
And let faith be the bridge
You build to overcome evil
And welcome good
To ignore no vision
Which comes to enlarge your range
And increase your spirit
To dare to love deeply
And risk everything
For the good thing
Happily in the sea of infinite substance
Which set aside riches for you
Before you had a name
And by doing so
You and your work
Will be able to continue
You aren't alone if:
You can also start to take steps to shift how you are feeling...
I've been walking about 3 miles every morning. It is a glorious experience. I typically walk and listen to a podcast or audio book and use the time as my exercise, fresh air, self care and personal development time. I love walking the same route and taking in the subtle changes that occur from day to day. Seeing the trees blossom and then turn bright green, smelling the fresh cut grass, watching the birds sail around - all of this makes me feel both free and connected to God and Mother Earth. I feel elated, connected and whole. Walking is gentle and I'm appreciating that gentleness as I engage my senses and connect with what is happening around me.
I talk, teach and write about self care because I have struggled with it and I see your struggle too. Self care, actually the lack of self care, is what brought me to Kundalini Yoga when I felt like my life was falling apart. All my life I found myself with opportunities to serve and take care of others - I was the oldest child, raised Catholic, with a parent who was an alcoholic, and as an adult, I became a Social Worker. Helping and taking care of others fulfilled my need to matter, and taught me to be selfless, but at a price. While I found and created opportunities to serve others in my life, I rarely even considered myself.
This is not uncommon. If you are good at taking care of others, if you enjoy being of service, if you identify as being a helper - it is likely that you find yourself struggling to care for yourself, to know what you want, to attend to your own needs, to make time for yourself. But you can. My teacher told me years ago, if you want to continue on this path, you have to find a way to take care of yourself.
So I say to you, if you want to continue on this path, you have to find a way to take care of yourself.
Allow that to cut through your inner resistance, negotiations and reasons why you will start once school ends, in June or tomorrow. Don't wait for crisis to be the catalyst for you to make a change. Just make a decision to start now.
It can be very simple:
The bottom line is: self care creates space for you to have more energy & passion, knowledge, love & trust for yourself so that you can be that force that you dream to be.
In life you can always hit the reset button.
Simply take a deep breath in and exhale. Each breath offers a fresh start. A connection into the here and now. A new opportunity to be.
I am an animal loving-Vegan runner, I practice and teach Kundalini Yoga and I love to cook and eat flavorful plant-based food.