I’ve teamed up with astrologer-healer Gitana Martinez to move us all closer to realizing our full potential. Join us this evening 6:30-8:30 pm PST.
In my October post Watch Your Mouth!: Self-Care Through Self-Affirmation I provided a few tips on how to affirm yourself to stay grounded and centered in the midst of social upheaval and general chaos. This month, I’d like to continue this discussion with an emphasis on mindfulness and meditation to help you free your mind.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that invites individuals to detach from external stimuli and be present with and for themselves. Mindfulness can involve breathing techniques or guided meditations. It can also be movement based through fusing meditation with yoga, Tai Chi, or other sports. It is important to note that mindfulness and meditation do not require you to change who you are to practice it. In fact, as you begin living a more mindful lifestyle, you may find out more about who you are and gifts that you had locked away, or traumas that need to be uprooted and addressed.
What are the Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation?
Taking time to check in with yourself is one of the most important things you can do for your health. By taking brief moments throughout the day, or even a dedicated time once per week, some stress related health issues can be avoided, or the risk diminished. Let’s look at some of the other benefits.
- Stress Relief: Mindfulness and meditation help relieve stress because it’s a way to take a break from the chaos of your daily life. The world privileges grind culture and treats us like machines which we are not. It’s okay to understand that your capacity has limits, and meditation is one way to step away and reset when it has been reached.
- Helps with Anxiety and Depression: A large percentage of society is impacted by anxiety and/or depression. Whether the anxiety and/or depression are seasonal or chronic, mindfulness and meditation can help alleviate the symptoms. Of course, these techniques should be used in conjunction with other treatment options depending upon the severity of the anxiety and/or depression. Mindfulness and meditation can help alleviate certain symptoms because in checking in with yourself, and detaching for a moment, it enables to you calm down and discern the root of whatever triggered the anxiety and/or depressive episode if it is situational. If it is not situational, these practices can still help you recharge after an episode.
- Improves Concentration: Since mindfulness and meditation require a level of focus, these practices help you learn to filter out background noise efficiently.
- Keeps You Physically Fit: When mindfulness and meditation are fused with sports and other movement practices, you’re able to care for your body and mind simultaneously.
- Helps Unlock Creativity: If you are feeling blocked, try meditating and you’ll be surprised to see the ideas begin easily flowing.
How to Begin a Mindful, Meditative Lifestyle
- Determine which type of mindfulness and/or meditation works best for your lifestyle. I personally enjoy meditating with crystals (check back next month for my article on the healing properties of crystals) and also through practicing the afro-Brazilian martial art Capoeira. Others enjoy meditating outside barefoot to connect to the earth’s energy. Some prefer traditional meditation. There is no wrong or right way to be mindful.
- Begin! Mindfulness and meditation are more than just trendy buzz words, they are things that we are all inherently capable of doing if we give ourselves permission to stop for a moment and be present differently.
Self-care isn’t selfish, take time to check in with yourself. To paraphrase En Vogue, free your mind; rest, healing, and so much more will follow!
on top of Koko Head peak today
any other day
he may be lost
or just on other mountaintops
Some days he is small
in his head
bible in hands
pain, remembrance of
days lost as a kid
We all had to grow up
a little too fast
we all had to survive
a little too much
to make it through days
as skeletons floating
above winery land
We were hot air balloons
on days our childhood house
was always in mode
of lights out and violence
Now you walk outside to see
colorful fabrics high in the air
flames giving way to
speed and light to
fly away from this life
to be bigger than this life
you and I
they and us
we aren’t kids anymore
it’s like we took those shades off and
see this new panorama
see this scenery
see these murals with messages
broadcasting how we don’t belong
to our skeletons of sad children
We can be anywhere
like you are now
in the Honolulu hills
and palm trees
There is nothing bigger than your grace
bigger than you
e kūlia i ka nu’u
Photo by Georgina Marie, Tropical Flowers in Rural Country, Ukiah, California
“e kūlia i ka nu’u” is a Hawaiian proverb meaning “strive to reach the highest”.
-Georgina Marie, Poet in Residence
We have made it to the fourth quarter of 2020! With only three months of this year to go, many are feeling emotionally and existentially tired. With things running together on what seems like a continuous feedback loop, many may have fallen off their usual self-care routines. The fourth quarter is where games are won and lost but, in the words of Ms. Lauryn Hill, “how you gonna win when you ain’t right within?” Practicing self-care in your usual ways, traveling, going to the gym, attending family events, may not be practical right now. In a climate rife with complaints and murmuring, the easiest way to maintain self-care, and remain in balance, is through the practice of affirmations.
What Is Self-Affirmation?
Self-Affirmation is the process of speaking life into yourself. It is using your own ashe (divine energy) to shape your circumstances and reality around you. It’s not just positive thinking, thought that is part of it. To affirm yourself means to speak life over yourself from a standpoint of truly wanting to see those things come to pass. Affirmations also aren’t wishful thinking either. The affirmation needs to have actionable intention behind it. For example, if you are affirming that you are a top scholar, you have to do more than just declare that over yourself, you have to do the work and study. Words are the starting point, consistency brings it home.
What If I Don’t Believe the Affirmation?
Of course, believing the affirmation makes it all the more powerful, but as Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers remind listeners, sometimes you just have to encourage yourself. You don’t always have to feel in the mood to affirm yourself though generally, it’s when you’re feeling down that you may need it the most. If you are having trouble speaking positively over yourself, there are a few ways to go about shifting that paradigm.
- Therapy. For numerous reasons, within the Black community going to therapy is seen as weak or ineffective. There was a meme on social media that stated essentially that many are exhausted from trying to pray their way through things they needed to seek help for. Self-affirmation can be placed in this context as well. Sometimes, you need a licensed professional to help you understand the root causes of self-esteem issues and other troublesome patterns of behavior. Once you’ve dealt with the root, you can then begin to plant a new harvest.
- Enlist the Help of Friends/Family. If you don’t feel that you are able to encourage yourself, try and see if you have family or friends who would be willing to offer you words of affirmation on a fairly consistent basis. Some people need to have things externalized before they internalize them. If that is you, get an affirmation buddy and make it reciprocal. You affirm them, they affirm you, and you build one another and by extension communities.
- Meditate. Sometimes it may not be that you have an issue believing the affirmations. Your mind may just be too cluttered with the minutiae of life. Take a moment, or several, to ground yourself and align yourself to receive positivity. For more information on meditation and mindfulness, check back in November!
How to Begin Self-Care Through Self-Affirmation
There is no wrong or right way to affirm and care for yourself. But if you are looking for some starting points, here are some suggestions.
- Scriptures, Proverbs, and Parables. Regardless of what spiritual system you subscribe to, if you subscribe to one at all, proverbs and parables abound. They also are prevalent outside of a spiritual context. Though many may find organized religion problematic, there are some gems contained in the Bible, Torah, Koran, Odu Ifa, the teachings of Ptahhotep, et al. that can start as the basis of your affirmation list.
- Music. Music is powerful with a specific energy. If you need affirmations on the go, try looking for it in music. Some personal recommendations are any album by India.Arie.
- What needs to change? Another starting point is by looking at what things need to change, or what things have died in your life. Once you are able to identify these items, you can move forward to speak life into them and build yourself up.
- Social Media. Social media is usually seen as harmful to one’s sense of self. However, there are a few accounts that are great at providing affirmations. Two accounts to follow on Instagram are: @thenapministry and @blackselfcaretalk.
Whichever method you choose to begin, the important part is to get started. Start setting your foundation for 2021 now. Happy affirming!
Experiencing personal racism is exhausting. It’s on the news. It’s in my mail. At work when I get some. It’s even in my family.
As I navigate this heat,–let’s call it Traumatic Racial Stress Syndrome, because that’s what it is–it’s as if the land around me is burning. The air is choked with its gritty scent. My home and possessions are threatened by active danger.
My retreat is to a place within where I have learned to cool my embers with the balms of healing. Even so the heat, smoke and flames are always at the door. They wait at the supermarket. Lurking in the woods is commonplace. Don’t even think of getting your brows done.
This is what it’s like to be a Black-Skinned Woman in 2020 America. It’s hot all the time–fires burn on every TV show. Every dinner party is laced with it. My actions are never good enough. I must learn my place or pay the price. I wear my papers on my skin: I do not belong.
Edissa completed production of a short documentary September 2020 and submitted it to several film festivals. She’s working on her next film and hiring a new Contributing Writer for Karma Compass.
This Quarantine has been an unprecedented and unforgiving time for many of us. Most people are feeling at least a little isolated; anxiety and depression are on the rise. Everyone needs a way to deal with the feelings that this period in time has brought. Teens and young adults, like me, are presented with a unique challenge, as they deal with the already jarring transition from childhood to adulthood. Towards the beginning of the quarantine, I was feeling alone and overwhelmed by all sorts of negative emotions that I did not know what to do with. Now having to adapt to adulthood, along with the changes our world is facing, it is understandable that many of us are feeling increasingly stressed out.
While we cannot do much about the hand the world has dealt us, we are responsible for how we react. All of our negative emotions are augmented by the loneliness and stress that have been stacked on top of us. Many are unfortunately turning to unhealthy outlets to rid themselves of those pent up emotions. However, some of us are using this time to grow. People are overcoming their negative feelings in a myriad of ways: they are learning new languages, picking up new skills, devoting themselves to a project etc. There are no limits as to what you can do to help you manage the negative emotions that have accompanied this quarantine, different strategies work for different people. For me, the way to weather the storm of negative emotions that I faced was by rekindling my love of reading.
I was an avid reader growing up, and I always especially enjoyed stories set in fantasy worlds. I believe that reading so much as a young child helped me become a more curious and thoughtful person. However, as I got older, I began to be obligated to read things, especially at school. While I understood that it was necessary, this change in mindset completely derailed my enjoyment and turned me off to reading. Recently, looking for a way to pass the time, I started reading a couple of web novels. Almost immediately, I fell back in love with reading. As I swiped through page after page, reading about fantasy worlds filled with magic and splendor, I was provided with what so many of us need right now: an escape. Reading does not stop us from feeling, as many try to accomplish to get through these difficult times. Instead, books introduce us to, and let us feel a whole new slew of positive emotions. Good books allow us to live vicariously through their characters, they allow us to feel happy when they succeed and make us root for them when they struggle; they give us hope.
Fantasy Book Recommendations for Teens:
- Frith Chronicles: Written By Russian author, Shami Stovall, Frith Chronicles is a coming of age tale that is relatable to many teens. It is set in a world where Arcanists can gain powers by bonding with magical creatures. I would recommend it to fans of other series, like Harry Potter, that feature a magic school and many adventures .
- Reborn: Apocalypse: Written by LM Kerr, Reborn Apocalypse takes place in an alternate dimension where humanity has been placed in order to compete to survive against other races. Eventually, humanity loses but the main character is able to return back in time back to when he was first pulled into the apocalyptic game with all of his knowledge about how to do better. I would recommend this book to people who might not even like to read because the game-like system which governs the alternate world makes it very easy to get into and makes the reader feel like they are in a video game.
- Cradle: The Cradle series, by Will Wight, has gained a very dedicated following online, and for good reason. It is a Western take on Eastern martial arts cultivation novels, in which strength dictates authority. It is incredibly well-written with great world building and compelling characters. It starts out a little bit slower than other fantasy books, but it picks up with each chapter you read. I would recommend it to those who have a little bit more time on their hands because the series is long and definitely gets you invested.
Jaydon is a senior in high school who lives in Pacifica with his family and his dog.
COVID-19 is often deadly because of pre-existing conditions that suppress the immune system. One of these is heart disease. While a poor diet and a lack of exercise can contribute to a weak heart, dysfunctional relationships can do so, as well.
Here are several examples of this: a significant other that always offers you a cake when you are trying to lose weight, and does not accept your answer, or individuals that have specific thoughts and feelings about events that have happened in their lives, but project those emotions onto you. Individuals that routinely dismiss your wants, needs, and ambitions and “friends” that may actively sabotage your efforts to improve yourself or your life may need closer examination.
“But it is not that bad.”
We try to tell ourselves that we can handle what life gives us, and that is a great way to maintain motivation. But what are the outcomes of constant interactions with those who put you down? Are they maybe otherwise challenging to be around? You may experience:
- Lack of trust
- Trouble sleeping or eating
- Feeling distracted
- Difficulty accomplishing tasks
- Physical illness or discomforts like teeth grinding, eczema flare-ups, etc.
This list is not exhaustive, but as you can see, not setting and defending firm boundaries in your relationships can create havoc in your life if left unaddressed.
How can you tell if you don’t “gel” with someone?
Some people, like family, are not very easy to avoid sometimes. In cases like these, it may be helpful to keep your contacts with them as restricted as possible. Strangers on the street can sometimes be easier to deal with — but always use your discretion. When in conversation, do your best not to overshare. Do not become too invested in the outcomes of your exchange with this person. Keep in mind that you define your happiness.
Transforming your relationships
Attempt to cultivate radical honesty about what you think and feel. Physical sensations may manifest as a way to let you know what your emotions are if you can not seem to name them. Stop to notice and accept them without judgment. Gently but firmly share with others how you feel, and state that you would like for your boundaries to be respected. Some people you may come across have no idea about how you are receiving them. Others you may have to, unfortunately, let go.
Dear Beloved Parents and Friends,
I’m writing to day to share this important and beneficial resource for all of our families during COVID-19. Our youth are all experiencing the loss of crucial socialization with their peers; students of all ages are struggling with online learning and engagement with new technologies without previous support systems; and parents and families are grappling with the challenges of balancing work, study, community and free time with the use of technology such as video games, tablets, computers, TVs and other devices. In short, we’re inundated with electronic media.
Join us for a free streaming of the documentary Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age by filmmaker and Primary Care Physician Dr. Delany Ruston. This family film addresses the concerns and needs of the average American family experiencing fallout of the Coronavirus global pandemic. This webinar event is sponsored by Intivix in San Francisco, and includes a one-hour screening, followed by a 45-minute moderated discussion with Licensed Clinical Social Worker Ali Tabb, who will answer questions from parents and children about how to adapt to our current circumstances.
For Secure Webinar Registration to Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age visit:
Thursday, September 10th, 6:30-7:30PM PST
Facilitated Discussion: 7:30pm-8:15pm PST
Join us for this special family event sponsored by Intivix founder Rob Schenk, a parent of a 7th grader who works with community members in his capacity as Sensei at Aikido Institute of San Francisco.
As part of our ongoing discussion of healing our own ailments, it’s time to consider the ways we invest in our well-being. As the old adage say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I believe it. Whether it’s PTSD, a physical injury or an emotional trigger point, the more an element of pain is activated in our bodies, minds or psyches, the more we are primed for recurring illness. That’s the law of the land. In a sense, our pain receptors, physical nerves, emotional buttons and hyper vigilance to trauma get atrophied in the “on” position.
In the same way that we cannot heal a sprained ankle by running on it, we cannot cure ourselves if we continually reactivate our pain receptors. Unfortunately, by design, our pain receptors are more easily activated than our joy and happiness and positivity receptors owing to our wiring that enables our auto-responsive defense mechanisms. In other words, we are built to feel pain quickly and easily so we can get out of the fire fast, with the least amount of damage. This generally works great most of the time. But, many of us unconsciously keep the fire burning when we don’t need it, and constantly insert a hand in it to see if it’s still hot. You may laugh even if you’ve done it yourself.
Maintaining a strong physical, mental or emotional boundary is akin to dousing the fire that threatens to consume everything in your path. So why are so many of conditioned to believe we have no right to personal boundaries? This is a rather important question to explore with a mental health practitioner if possible. And, even if counseling is not possible for you in this moment, I give you full permission to put up health barriers that protect and insulate your emotional, physical and mental health from any and all forms of disease, harm and dangers, including all of the following.
Learn to create, protect and enforce Your Personal Boundaries in all these areas:
- Toxic people: relatives, family, friends, coworkers and strangers
- Physical threats: aggression, micro aggression, trauma, violence, sexual assault and abuse from people or animals or other entities
- Predation: energy vampires, financial drains, sabotage, time waste and unreciprocated/one-way investments that deplete your resources and ability to thrive
- Personal harm: activities, foods, sounds, media, relationships or areas that trigger negative sensations, fatigue or the release of stress hormones
- Learn to understand what are Healthy Boundaries with this worksheet
Of course, there are many ways to enforce our personal space to protect our loved ones from injury. Mindfulness, awareness and contemplation are important tools for discerning where the fires are, so that we can give them our loving attention. Just as you wouldn’t allow a child to run in front of a car, you get to erect a beautiful boundary around yourself that reduces any future harm and pain, so you can concentrate on healing past situations. Once you you are able to protect your boundaries as part of your routine self-care, you can look to remedies like tea, medication, therapy or Reiki to bring your equilibrium into a normal range.
Photo by Ashton Huntsman for Living Artist Project
You’re on the other side, now what? Methods of healing sexual trauma can include art, music, spoken word, or any other creative outlet. You may already have creative training — but if you do not, don’t fret. Some resources may be free or low cost to get started.
Create your own space
If you can not find a venue that allows you to share your creative gifts in the world, you can create your own website or start a YouTube channel for free. Creating your own website gives you the freedom to speak frankly about the issues important to you without being censored by a third party, a la Facebook.
If you can afford talk therapy and would like to try it, give it a go! Psychotherapy can be highly transformative when approached thoughtfully and consistently. One thing to keep in mind when searching for a therapist is seeking someone who is familiar with or empathetic to your unique story while challenging your thought patterns with compassion.
Some questions to think about are:
- Does this therapist have extensive experience with sexual assault survivors?
- How spiritually inclined is this therapist? What are some ideological deal breakers for me?
- Does he or she start appointments on time and engage, or are they simply “phoning it in?”
- How comfortable am I with taking psychotropic medication, if recommended?
- Do I feel centered and connected to the work, or do I feel misunderstood?
Books as refuge
Perhaps you are gifted with words or like to doodle. A composition book or a Moleskine may be the tool you need to unlock your deeply hidden emotions. Some creatives report that the movement in their wrists helps them not focus on the pain.
Readers have plenty of books to choose from as they sort their feelings out. Here is a small list of books to get you started.
Things We Haven’t Said: Sexual Survivors Speak Out, edited by Erin Moulton
How to be Safe in An Unsafe World by Dr. Harold Bloomfield and Dr. Robert Cooper
The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk
A great podcast to listen to while you clean or drive:
The Left Ear, with Dakota Johnson
This Happened, by a survivor
Honor yourself at all times
Go to therapy at whatever price point you can afford. Get your pain out. You deserve to heal from your sexual assault.