I’ve reached a new level of “healing” with my body. I am detoxing, eating to live, exercising, meditating and de-cluttering my car, my closets and my files. I don’t know what’s going to happen next but I’m channeling the prayer warrior skills of the elders from St. Marks Baptist Church, a place where the old folks would moan the spiritual hymns. It smelled of Avon perfume and sweet potato pie and was filled with women and men from the deepest parts of Louisiana. I am choosing to believe that I can heal and if there is surgery needed I will have a speedy recovery.
Part of my healing approach involves minimizing stress and anxiety. Right now, many of us are functioning at a heightened state of awareness as we see injustice being replayed on our television and computer screens. It’s hard to fathom how our ancestors coped with all of this nonsense. Although the church no longer functions as the safe haven that it once was, I am understanding why it was so important to our grandparents.
I am finding it impossible to be signed in and not read, watch and listen to every single thing about Ferguson. I am finding it challenging to not think of my heart as an aching machine with I think of Mike Brown’s friends and family. I am finding it difficult to not cry at least 2 to 3 times a day. Behind on work and deadlines, important meaningful work that I believe makes a difference, I find myself needing to check out–often.
New research revealed that the shorter lifespan of Black men can be partially attributed to the pressures they deal with in society. I know, I know it seems like common sense, but there is now scientific proof that racial discrimination causes a reaction in the body and impacts stress hormones in a myriad of negative ways. This same stress affects Black women and children as well. It’s the build up of micro-assaults and the cumulative affect of dealing with them that creates health issues and conditions that can lead to early death.
This morning, I signed onto Facebook and saw that an old friend and classmate who I love and adore is on the ground in Ferguson. Within 20 minutes I felt a knot form in the upper left quadrant of my back. I was immediately reminded of the importance of feeling my feelings, not trying to stuff them and why we must let the tears fall. I did a prayer for him and his safety. I then repeated the following:
I release all pain. I release all stress. I release all fear. I release all anxiety. I release all worry. I release all anger. I release all resentment. I release all fear. I release all pain. I release all fear. I release all pain. I am filled with good, with love, with light, with faith.
One of my little “sisters” works in a conservative corporate environment in the south and is dealing with daily microaggressions that have intensified now with recent events in the news. My recent conversations with her reveal classic stereotypes about Black women and textbook examples of the stresses that women face. She is expected to be strong, to carry more work than others, to not be emotional, to work without acknowledgment and to not complain. When she complains she is perceived as angry.
The strong Black woman stereotype is another issue for us to address because many of us internalize it adding even more weight to our wellness challenges. I no longer try to be strong. I admit when I feel powerless and frustrated while at the same time clinging to the idea that I/we can overcome any challenge as long as we believe it’s possible. Managing stress means being present to how I feel at any given moment, monitoring what I ingest mentally, emotionally and energetically and establishing practices and rituals that support me feeling peace within. I just don’t have the luxury of being able to not manage my emotions. Stress shows up as physical reactions (i.e. illness) in my body and it is my intention to be well. Insomnia, binge eating or loss of appetite can be a reaction for some women. In my body, anger, rage, fear and worry each trigger symptoms like physical joint and pelvic pain, nausea, a weakened immune system, tension in the back and hips, edema, even more painful PMS symptoms and worsened monthly cycle issues.
This month I am channeling the prayer warrior women of my childhood. Here are a few of the things that I do to stay as grounded as possible. Check out the list below:
1)Slow down and take a minute to just breathe and pay attention to the breath. There are plenty of breathing exercises on youtube where you can learn how to breathe properly if you want to go deeper.
2)Do a body scan. Go from the bottom of your feet to the crown of your head paying attention to the places where there is tension and letting it go. Wiggle your toes, move your hips, breathe into your back, relax your tongue and loosen your facial muscles. When we’re busy we often forget to check-in on our bodies.
3)Listen to inspirational audio. It might be religious or spiritual, it may be motivational or meditational, but find audio that helps you to tune into ways of thinking that benefit you and your health.
4)Take walks, exercise and/or dance. Movement helps us to release tension.
5)Stay in touch with loved ones. It’s easy to feel isolated so stay connected to those who love you and make you feel safe.
6)Don’t hesitate to seek out support or professional help if the pressure gets to feel like too much to bear or if it’s consuming you. I see a counselor who is also an energy healer rooted in spiritual healing practices and I sometimes go to a monthly healing circle she facilitates.