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care as a form of loving rebellion against anti-blackness

erika-fletcher-CJU2rWTF7hQ-unsplashimage by @erikafletcher

Racial and social injustices sadly don’t stop even in the face of a pandemic. While the number of those we have lost to COVID-19 has tragically eclipsed 100,000 in the United States, there is always a sense of danger for those with Black bodies and concern if we will be murdered while sleeping, jogging, walking home, sitting in a car reading, asking for help after an auto accident, holding a cell phone, taking out a wallet, playing with a toy gun, shopping, breathing…. These are quite simply heartbreaking times.

For those who brutally kill Black people due to the internalization of white supremacy and the associated fear and loathing of Blackness, there isn’t even a modest amount of accountability unless countless people view traumatizing videos of those murders and then demand action. So much emotional distress and vicarious trauma is associated with the viewing of these videos and the way Black bodies are depicted and dehumanized both off and on camera.

How can we be with these injustices? How do we take care of our trauma and heartbreak and how do we seek justice and peace? Can care be a form of loving rebellion against racial injustices?

I have offered a few resources below as potential areas to start to explore this inquiry around care as an agent of healing, resilience, and transformation.

For some care is in the form of resting and tending to trauma and grief while for others, particularly for those not in Black bodies who are less vulnerable to the harm and violence associated with racism, the heart of healing is in the form of seeing more clearly all the nuanced aspects of white supremacy that are socially acceptable presently and utilizing your privilege to engage in anti-racism work.

Please honor the forms of healing needed for your body and heart right now. Please take care and let all of your offerings and actions come from that place of care.

A call to resourcing again and again:

First, it’s really important that all of us resource ourselves daily, offering ourselves whatever care is needed in each moment. Many of my previous blog posts offer examples of resourcing. Here is a guided meditation practice I’ve made to be a source of support in receiving and offering yourself and others care:

A call to rest and care for Black people from Octavia Raheem:

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A beautiful song “I Just Wanna Live” by Keedron Bryant, a call for protection:

Recognize the many layers of harm and trauma associated with racism (image by RYSE):

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& the link between mental health healing and anti-racism (image by @minaab):

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How to learn more about anti-racism and why considering yourself to not be racist isn’t enough from Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Anti-Racist:

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*Kendi’s book and this list of Anti-racism resources compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein are great places to start your anti-racism journey.

*A free course by Resmaa Menakem, author of My Grandmothers’ Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies (a highly recommended book), offers somatic body focused study and exploration to help people recognize body trauma born out of racism and white body supremacy in their own body, their community and to start to heal. 

*Understand concrete examples of White Supremacy with this visual aid from @theconsciouskid

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Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please know that both offering yourself rest and resourcing and/or engaging in anti-racism work are forms of care for all of us.

Please remember that systems built on capitalism and supremacy do not support care and that the act of care alone has ample loving rebellion for those systems of harm. Not only is it okay for you to center care, but we actually need you to center care for our collective liberation and healing.

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This post is offered in loving memory of all the beautiful Blacks beings we have lost too soon due to white supremacy including those in the pictures below (named in order of appearance): Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Keith Scott, Atatiana Jefferson, Jonathan Ferrell, Jordan Edwards, Stephon Clark, Amadou Diallo, Renisha McBride, Tamir Rice, Sean Bell, Walter Scott, Philando Castile, Aiyana Jones, Terrence Crutcher, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, Sandra Bland, Botham Jean, Oscar Grant, Corey Jones, and Ahmaud Arbery.

May they rest in love.

May we see them as they are depicted here and see their value, their loveliness, their humanity.

May we remember that our care is also for them and their loved ones, for their heartbreak and healing.

— Lissa

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inner child care

deva-darshan-UtNLIFQT0dY-unsplashimage by @darshan394

“In each of us, there is a suffering child,” according to Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, and “the cry we hear from deep in our hearts comes from the wounded child within. Healing this inner child’s pain is the key to transforming anger, sadness, and fear.”

Any time of intense stress including this current pandemic can bring us into contact with painful memories from the past or activate childhood wounds or trauma.

I’ve found in myself and others a need to engage lately in inner child care to resolve painful emotions, experiences or memories that our inner child may be holding onto due to the collective grief and trauma strongly present during this pandemic.

Many of us were not taught growing up how to take care of ourselves when we experienced trauma or suffering as we were raised by people who also were not taught how to take care of their childhood wounds.

There can be a tendency to forget, ignore, or suppress painful experiences from childhood. However, ignoring or attempting to forget the past doesn’t mean that our inner child no longer exists. The child is still there, seeking our attention, and for some of us making increasingly louder attempts to get our attention.

Ways to Engage in Inner Child Care:

Some of the key ingredients to inner child care are offering ourselves nurturance, acceptance, safety, play, structure, and boundaries.

It may be helpful to initiate this practice of inner child care by engaging in a contemplative inquiry about the wounds and needs of this child in the past and present as well as to set intentions on how to be with this dear little one.

Time for Reflection:

*Reflect on your childhood and adolescent years. Did you feel safe? Did you feel a sense of belonging in life? Did you feel like you were accepted as you were? Could you accept yourself as you were?

*Reflect on your relationship with your inner child presently. What is your relationship with this child? Does your inner child feel safe, like they are heard and seen by you? Is there a sense of belonging and acceptance present now?

*Reflect on current needs that would be of support to offer care to your inner child. How can a safer space be created? How can there be structure? How can boundaries be set to allow this little one to be seen, heard, and taken care of as well as for realistic expectations to be set in terms of how and when this care can be offered to avoid overwhelm or resentment.

~These reflections can be done in journal form, through creative forms like drawing, making music, or dance, or through dialogue with a person you feel safe exploring and discussing this with. Perhaps looking at old pictures of yourself as a child may help to stir some memories if adding that visual element will be of support.

Acknowledgement and Meditation/Visualization:

*Acknowledge your inner child by directly talking to them or writing them a letter identifying needs you had as a child that weren’t met and offering empathy perhaps using language like I’m sorry. I love you. I deeply appreciate you. I’m sorry you didn’t get what you needed growing up. I will take good care of you. I love you. I’m here for you.

*Engage in a mindfulness meditation practice that allows you to be aware of the emotions or sensations present in your inner child and allows space for those feelings to be present. Allow anything that arises to be acknowledged. If the need for tears arise, allow the tears to flow and release. Take care of your child however that looks or feels like for you in each moment. Offer yourself whatever is needed.

If it’s supportive, visualize your inner child’s needs being met and them being embraced by yourself. If additional support is needed, imagine yourself and this dear little one being supported and offered care by a loving protective benefactor such as an ancestor, spiritual guide, or Mother Earth.

Approaching this Care in a Playful and Light-hearted Way:

*Engage in playful or embodied activities infusing curiosity, connection to the body, creativity, and/or humor to connect with qualities typically more encouraged in childhood and qualities that help to counter shame or a strong critical voice.

*Remember you can talk to or connect with your child as often as is supportive and as time allows, embracing the child and reassuring them that you are here. Setting time for these regular interactions can be offered in a more structured format initially and as you feel comfortable with noticing when your child has a need can become more spontaneous. Feel into what is supportive for you to allow for consistency as well as to create a light-hearted nature in your time together, avoiding stress or rigidity in the schedule you make for connecting.

The Healing of Intergenerational Trauma as a Form of Inner Child Care

*Remember that this inner child care is not a form of indulgence and is vital not only for your own care but for the care of all of those who have come before you and who are to come after you.

In Reconciliation: Healing The Inner Child (2010), Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us:

“With practice, we can see that our wounded child is not only us. Our wounded child may represent several generations…So when we’re embracing the wounded child in us, we’re embracing all the wounded children of our past generations. This practice is not a practice for ourselves alone, but for numberless generations of ancestors and descendants.

Our ancestors may not have known how to care for their wounded child within, so they transmitted their wounded child to us. Our practice is to end this cycle. If we can heal our wounded child, we will not only liberate ourselves, but we will also help liberate whoever has hurt or abused us. The abuser may also have been the victim of abuse. There are people who have practiced with their inner child for a long time who have had a lessening of their suffering and have experienced transformation. Their relationships with their family and friends have become much easier….

The people around us, our family and friends, may also have a severely wounded child inside. If we’ve managed to help ourselves, we can also help them. When we’ve healed ourselves, our relationships with others become much easier. There’s more peace and more love in us.

Go back and take care of yourself. Your body needs you, your feelings need you, your perceptions need you. The wounded child in you needs you. Your suffering needs you to acknowledge it. Go home and be there for all these things.”

Heal as you’re able to for you and your little one and on behalf of all beings.

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Heal as you’re able to and be gentle with all that arises during the healing process.

 

With love, care and appreciation for you and your little one,

–Lissa

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a heart embrace

In dedication for all of you, all the places that hurt, all the beloveds we have lost… I am holding you. I am holding all of you in my practice and my loving care.

omer-salom-xnynBH_ux_I-unsplashimage by @osalom

Oh, my heart,
I’m here.
I know it hurts.
I know it’s hard.

What do you need?

To weep.
To rest.
To be held.
To let go.

My hands
support your aches,
holding, allowing,
feeling the way you
tremble — not used to being held
rising and falling in cycle
with the oceans of tears
bathing this earth body,
noticing the way you expand
when you’re taken care of.

The warmth and love
from our contact
intermingling
with all the places
grief and rage linger
allowing
them to stay
allowing
them to be held
allowing for the lifetimes
of wounds underneath
all the layers,
all the armor,
to slowly release
and come undone
as the body gently
begins to sigh.
Sighs accompanying sighs
alongside your steady beats
in a deep embrace of letting go
felt throughout the body.

Oh, my heart,
I’m so sorry
for all you had to hold alone.
I’m here
and I won’t let you go.

–Lissa

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Blessings for All Beings

A blessing is whatever reminds us of the sacred loving presence that shines through all of us. ~ Tara Brach
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Dear ones,

I am holding you in my practice… all that aches, all that weeps, all that is weary, all that grieves, all that is enraged, all that is terrified… all the injustices, all the brutality, all the losses…the ten thousand joys and the ten thousand sorrows.

May all of it be held and taken care of in this moment. May all of you be held and taken care of in this moment.

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With an offering of BLESSINGS for all beings everywhere:

Through the power of all the Buddhas, May all always be well. May all be safe and protected. May all be peaceful and at ease. May all be free from suffering.

Through the power of the Dharma, May all always be well. May all be safe and protected. May all be peaceful and at ease. May all be free from suffering.

Through the power of the Sangha, May all always be well. May all be safe and protected. May all be peaceful and at ease. May all be free from suffering.

May there be endless blessings for all beings everywhere.

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With an offering of LOVE for all beings everywhere:

From Zenju Earthlyn Manuel’s Chants Against Hatred

BE LOVE ~zenju-2

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With an offering of PRAYER for all beings everywhere:

The Medicine Buddha Mantra — A Tibetan Buddhist Mantra for well-being

Tayata
Om Bekandze Bekandze
Maha Bekandze
Radza Samudgate Soha

One translation for this mantra:

May the many sentient beings
who are sick,
quickly be freed from sickness.
And may all the sicknesses of beings
Never arise again.

 

May the totality of our practice be a transformative prayer and blessing that brings liberation to every being, every system, every force of greed, hatred, and delusion.

deep bows & love,

Lissa

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you are precious — reflections & experiential practice

mahkeo-Zk7CTalDR6c-unsplashimage by @mahkeo

“All my life I thought there was something wrong with me.” These were the dying words of someone’s beloved. I heard this shared in a dharma talk by Buddhist teacher Tara Brach. Those words landed deeply in my body with a lingering pause and wonder.

What did that person realize in those last moments that made them recognize the falseness of this very common belief people have about themselves? How would it have completely shifted their life if they could have seen all that was worthy in them earlier on?

What if I said to you that you are incredibly worthy exactly as you are and there is nothing wrong with you?

You are lovely as you are … and there is abundant space for the evolution of your loveliness.

The process of growing, seeing more clearly, and relinquishing harmful patterns and limiting beliefs is of great value to all of us and in no way negates the worth that we already embody.

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What’s your relationship to enoughness? What do you need to feel enough? What do you need to feel like you have enough? What do you need to feel healed enough, beloved enough, and happy enough? What do you need to feel like those around you are enough? 

In a society that capitalizes on dissatisfaction and an incessant need for self-improvement and consumption, how does one connect with enoughness and feel satiated? How can enoughness feel enough?

eric-muhr-jLIXSbV27Zw-unsplashimage by @ericmuhr

Our sense of worth can greatly fluctuate.

This is true especially when living in a society built around supremacy and oppression.

This is true especially when our ancestors lived in societies built around supremacy and oppression and passed down unresolved trauma associated with that to us.

This is true especially when our worth may be connected to our job, our performance, our wealth, our appearance, our having control, our relationships — all of which can easily shift or come tumbling down upon us in a life that always has change and loss.

This is true especially during times of high stress like this one when we may not able to navigate the world in the same ways we are accustomed to and may have a steep learning curve to learn a new way of being.

It’s okay and completely normal that your sense of worth may fluctuate and come and go.

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Who benefits from you being able to recognize and believe in your value and worth? And who benefits when you don’t believe that you are worthy and enough?

I find it deeply empowering how embracing our worth can be a form of undoing the harm of systems of oppression. There’s a power in knowing you are enough.

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What kind of things are you saying to yourself? What are you believing about yourself? What kinds of homes and worlds are you creating with your thoughts? 

The words we tell ourselves matter.

What if you tell yourself that you matter, that you are precious, and that there is nothing wrong with you? What if you create a home of worth with each moment? Beginning anew with each cycle of breath. 

Changing thought patterns and core beliefs takes time and love and support. Offer yourself that time and care as you are able.

Please take this as a daily reminder of how incredibly worthy you are. Spend time with this and know all that you are.

To explore this further, please check out an experiential practice and reflection for being with our critical and compassionate selves and offering ourselves love and care:

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Two poems by Nayyirah Waheed on self-love and self-worth:

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precious by NW

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A poem from the First Free Women by Matty Weingast on liberating from the thinking mind:

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In closing, a wish for you.

May you feel enough. May you feel like you have enough. May you feel like you are enough. May you feel healed enough, beloved enough, and happy enough. May you know how precious you are.

May all of those around you benefit so deeply from how incredibly enough you are and how incredibly enough you in turn inspire them to feel.

May you be able to see the incredible merit and value of all of those around you and of all beings everywhere.

May you know joy, peace, and ease and may you be free from greed, hatred, fear, and delusion.

May your life be a reflection of your incredible worth, love, and care.

 

with love,

Lissa