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The difficult importance of honoring our personal experiences

This week, I’ve been home for the first time in weeks, trying to begin processing my recent travels and family visits. I wanted to write some reflection on that to share with you in this month’s newsletter, but make I’ve been flooded with a lot of conflicting emotions.

What’s happening in our country this week is unthinkable. It’s heartbreaking enough to make us want to crawl back under the covers and never come out again. How can I write about the personal challenges I’ve been facing, when those challenges seem like a dream-life compared to what Black Americans face every day? I’ve struggled to decide how to move forward, because these updates I send to you are highly personal and always given a lot of thought.

In the past, my shock and anger over racial injustices have rendered me largely speechless. Other times, I struggled to find the bravery required to publicly speak my mind on these issues– either for fear that I would incite the defensive attack of someone with a differing, but equally strong opinion, or that I couldn’t possibly be as eloquent, informed, or 100%-right as my ego needed me to be in that situation.

My silence, I’ve realized, has been much worse than any of those things could’ve ever been. I understand now that none of those fears should prevent me from speaking out against injustice when I see it.

It all goes back to being a kid on the school bus and seeing someone bullied. Do we sit silently in our seat while our heart wrings itself into a knot, choking back the words of dissent we long to shout– maybe looking around, waiting for someone else to stand up first?

Or do we stand up against the bully in front of everyone else on that bus– which likely helps others to feel courageous enough to do the same. We know bullies will echo their threats to those who try to stand up against them, but we also know that we are social creatures, and the more we are willing to stand our ground against bullies, the more people will stand with us until the bully is outnumbered.

“Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” – Elie Wiesel

The practices of yoga and mindfulness are not only about taking what feels good and ignoring the rest. Both of these practices are about truth and integration. If we want to be healthy, whole, and healed, we must look at every part of our experience.

So what I’ve come to realize is this: I do have an experience and a story to share. Our personal stories are still as important to honor whether or not they seem as harrowing, heroic, or relevant as the personal stories of others. There are multiple layers of human experience, beginning with the personal and moving outward into the community experience and the world experience.

By not creating space to honor our own experiences, we weaken our potential for heart-centered courage, for compassion, and for respecting ourselves enough to feel that our voice or actions matter when we step out into our community and the world. If our internal voice of personal experience and emotion doesn’t matter, how can we feel that our external voice in a sea of millions does?

Acknowledgement is important. Listening is important. Learning is important. All of what is happening in the world is true. AND all of what you are experiencing personally is true. We must acknowledge and integrate. Give space and take up our space. Speak for others and speak for ourselves.

Your personal story, your voice, and your actions are all important. We must each learn the delicate dance required to balance these from moment to moment. To everything there is a season. To everything, a balance.

So with that, I am sharing this post about my own experiences over the month of June, if you’d like to read it.

If you’d like to share any thoughts with me about this post, I invite you to do so. Reaching out, creating discussion, witnessing each other’s struggles and emotions– these are all powerful things we can do to strengthen ourselves, each other, our communities, and the world.

 

 

Love,

Thanks for reading! Share your thoughts and replies in the comments below. – xo

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