[0:03] Welcome to a brand new episode of the Yoga Girl podcast, thank you so much for tuning in. Wow. Wow you guys, what a week, what a year. Holy…holy shit, I [laughing] I honestly, I honestly feel so pulled in so many different directions right now, I have no idea how to frame this episode. I’m going to do my best.
[0:30] So I’m sitting at the, the top floor of my house, in my little, what used to be our guest room that I’ve now transformed into a little office slash yoga space. And looking outside, we just, we had our first rain last night in months, it hasn’t rained in so long, I think maybe half a year without a drop of rain here. And we had a big rain yesterday, the clouds were just dark, it was very ominous looking and it rained hard and for a long time, and it felt really cleansing. And last week, if you tuned into last week’s episode, with the Black Lives Matter movement and the hugely important things that are, that are happening all over the world, I decided to give the space of this podcast to three beautiful people in my life. You heard last week Dianne Bondy, Rocky Heron and Maite Onochie share on the show, speaking about, speaking about race, speaking about racism. This is something that we need to hear from Black voices, Black people sharing their experience, their opinion, their feelings about this.
[1:40] And just as it has been for you, this past week has been filled with a lot of learning, a lot of introspection, contemplation; some shame, discomfort, guilt, and framing this episode, you know, I, I, I really sat down [laughs] this was like a couple days ago, and I thought “okay, ‘m gonna, I’m gonna record a really perfect Yoga Girl podcast for next week.” And I decided “I’m going to do it when Im in a really good space, I’m gonna really outline this episode because I want to touch on all the things I’ve learned in all of this….” And then a couple of things happened all at once.
[2:19] One was I had a, a real big reality check and a real big learning around how incredibly easy it is for us White people to continue to center ourselves in this conversation. And I had a big, just a…yeah, something I’m reading now and I had a big moment of “hey,” you know, “how on Earth will I go about talking about this as a White person, on my podcast, talking to, to a community of mainly White people?” It’s, it’s impossible [laughs]. So that’s one thing that came my way. And then the other thing that happened is I entered this space at our house — I don’t know if you can tell, I’m stuffy right now, it’s because I’ve spent all morning crying.
[3:02] I don’t know what’s happening in, in the world, but also the reflection of that that I’m seeing inside of, of all of the people in my life. We’ve had several days in a row of just unbelievable tantrums with Lea Luna, you know, if you’re a parent, you know what that’s like. But it’s been, it’s been a, it’s been an emotional, big, big, big rollercoaster here.
[3:27] So basically, this idea that I had last week of like “yeah, I’m going to be super centered and calm, and outline this perfect episode to talk about what I’ve learned around, you know around this movement and how we can all be of service…” that’s not going to happen. So this will be a from the heart episode, I’m going to share, you know, what’s moving in my world right now, and in terms of the Black Lives Matter movement, I am doing so much work around this on my own as I know you are. And to avoid centering myself in this conversation, I am not going to have this episode be about how to be an anti-racist. Just for the simple reason that I am not an educator here, and I know just by talking about what I have, you know, realized, and truths that I have found, and, and mistakes that i’ve made and things like that, it’s going to be as if I’ putting myself in the role of the educator, because you guys are listening to me, and I know you hear me.
[4:19] So instead, I’m going to have some beautiful people from the Black community join me on the show, we have some people in the pipeline coming soon, and we’ll, we'll leave those big questions that I know you have about this, we’ll leave those for them to answer, right? And at the end of this episode, I’m going to share a list of resources that I am currently learning from, books that I’m currently reading and people that, you know, if you aren’t already following online, that you really should so you can educate yourself from the source, right? And what I have learned is, in terms of White people speaking to other White people about race…you know of course it’s, this is something that’s okay to do, you know, around the dinner table, with your family, with your closest people in terms of checking ourselves and, and sharing what we’ve learned and things like that. But on a big platform or to the public, it’s not something that should come from a White person.
[5:12] So, I am going to share a couple of observations that I, that I’ve had over the past week that, that really kind of made my jaw drop in a sense of how, how have I not had this looking before? Like how has my worldview been so limited prior to this? One of the, one of those things were — and this was like, beginning of this week, I think right around the day when the last, last podcast episode came out. And I was driving from having dropping Lea off at her daycare. And I normally don’t listen to the radio ever, like I’m a Spotify person, I listen to playlists, and just the radio was on in the car. And it was a local radio station here in Aruba, and they’re talking in Papiamento, and sharing, you know, “and this is what’s happening in the Black Lives Matter movement, protests, and demonstrations, and uprisings all over the United States,” and you know, just kind of describing the whole series of events.
[6:07] “Here is what actress Kristen Bell shared on her Instagram account.” And then [laughing] they start reading, you know, verbatim, a post that Kristen Bell had, had written. And I love Kristen Bell, she seems like an, an amazing person, you know, I like her movies and her show and all that. But they start reading from her Instagram account, her point of view, and like, “here’s what this means,” and “yes, Black Lives Matter move…Black lives matter,” and just sharing from, reading from her Instagram.
[6:38] And I’m driving the car listening to this, and I’m like, “wait, like, what?” [Laughs] You know, “they’re sharing these huge events that are happening all across the United States, and the only person they could think of to weigh in on this is a White woman?” [Laughs] Like, a White actress? That’s the person they chose to give context to this situation? They couldn’t think of one Black person, a Black celebrity, actor, actress, whoever they want, to be the person to touch on this; they had to choose Kristen Bell? You know, how does her opinion weigh in, like how does that, how does that matter here?
[7:20] It was just one of a million tiny little moments that I’ve had over these past few weeks where I’ve caught myself going like, “wait a minute, what?” And I’m sure you have too, right? So, sharing with each other these observations that we’re making about the world, right, maybe how we’ve been unconscious before and now we’re aware. I don’t want to compare these two movements, because I don’t want to minimize the importance and the huge, huge, huge, huge importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, but I’m having similar, similar feelings in a sense, of, of, of what came my way after the Me Too movement, where it felt like all of a sudden, women all over the world realized like, “hey, hey, wait a minute, I’ve been abused. Hey, wait a minute, like that’s sexual harassment. Wait a minute, men do this to women all across the world everywhere, and we’ve just all been okay with that?”
[8:14] Like that feeling of like, “hey, what?” I’m sensing that similar thing just in terms of what I’m digesting from the news, what I hear on the radio, what I see people posting and sharing, and then remembering experiences in my own life, going like, “hey, what? Why didn’t I say something? Hey, like why wasn’t that a bigger thing than it was?” One of those, one of those things that I don’t know how I’ve not been aware of before, but the fact that there, my entire life growing up, and still to this day, I have never seen in my life a BandAid in another skin colour than White.
[8:51] And it’s just one of those things where like, I just thought my whole life that that, “this is what a BandAid is. A BandAid looks like this: it’s this weird, pale, brown…like it’s this weird, pale pinkish color, that’s what a BandAid is.” And it’s just, it’s occurred to me BandAids are that colour because they’re meant to mimic skin color, to blend in to people’s skin. And who’s skin are they meant to blend into? White skin. It’s just…what? What? What? So, so many observations like this, and I am appalled, and, you know, a lot of, a lot of things are moving inside of me, and I feel really dedicated to, to, to pick this work up in a way that I never have before, and continue this work forward in a way that I never have before.
[9:39 — Commercial Break]
[11:09] So, when it comes to, you know, the big conversations in terms of how can we be of service, how can we help? What does it mean to be an ally? What does it mean to be and to actively be and anti-racist? I want you to take all of those questions, bring them within yourself, and then find the answers that are already available to you everywhere, right? They really, really, really are. We’d only have to ask all of our Black friends to answer these questions for us, right, but all of these resources are available. So, right now, you know, saying “I don’t know where to start,” that’s not really valid, because there’s so much out there. Everything you need to do this work is out there. And all you need to do is to start Googling, right? If you’re a podcast person, search in the search bar in the podcast app, you know, “anti-racism” or any other term you’re relating to: “how to be an ally,” and you’ll find so many podcasts, you know, recorded by Black people, telling you this from their point of view, which is the only point of view that matters right now.
[12:12] So, yes. Holy moly, so yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s where I’m gonna leave this conversation now, to not, again, center myself, which of course is a, is a challenging thing for White people I think: we’ve been told our whole lives that our opinion matters so much, right, everyone want to listen to what we have to say [laughs] and this is a big practice in taking the backseat in terms of like, “hey, this is not about me. Whoa, whoa, okay. How can I be of service here and not make this about me,” right? That’s, and it’s a big practice, big thing for all of us.
[12:50] And of course, you know, we all want a just and equal world, at least I thought we all did [laughs] until I started, you know, talking about this on social media a lot, realizing how many people are out there who actually don’t feel like that. And how me being silent all this time has made me complicit, in allowing those people to continue, continue to view the world that way, to continue to spread violence in that way. So, if you’re a White person listening, you are, you are playing a part in this, you are responsible in this, and it’s up to each of us to do, to do this work.
[13:29] And a reminder that’s, that really helped, that really helped over the past, over the past few weeks, because of course this is overwhelming…what was most overwhelming for me actually was the conversations that I’ve had with other White people, especially other White people telling me that, you know, “here’s how you’re supposed to do this.” So just going back to that big, most important learning, I think, is that the people to learn from are the Black community right now. And if you are feeling overwhelmed right now, and you are feeling like, “whoa, there’s a lot happening in this world,” you know, and it’s not like everyone was, you know, peacefully having a totally normal time and then this big topic of race, you know, came right in everybody’s face — which of course is nothing compared to what’s like living, you know…no amount of overwhelm or exhaustion that White people are feeling just being on the sidelines of this conversation can compare to what it feels like or what it must feel like to be at the center of this, to receive this kind of injustice every day, and for centuries.
[14:31] Right, so keeping giving yourself those reality checks. But something that was really helpful for me, because I had those moments of just complete overwhelm in terms of spending time online, that was a big thing. I, I had a big feeling like “okay, I have this platform, like this is, this is how I can best be of service. Like this is going to mean more talking about this to two million people on Instagram, it’s going to mean more than just doing this in my family, or with my friends,” and I, I have found myself, you know I have…if you have one of those, what do you call it, it’s on Apple, it’s “Screen Time.” If you’re, if you’re on an iPhone, you can click “Screen Time.” I had for the past ten days like eight or nine hours of screen time [laughs] a day. [Laughing] Which is, you know, not a super healthy thing to do. Not a, a healthy, you know, not a sustainable, let me put it that way, not a sustainable thing to do.
[15:25] You know, there’s no way I’m going to be able to spend nine hours a day, you know, online, doing anything, let alone talking about this. And I had one of those moments of like, “oh, my God, no matter what I do, like this is never going to be enough.” And someone shared with me, like “hey, what really matters is that when you put your phone down, you pick your life up.” Sometimes we, we…because of social media, because of the internet, and because of this power — which is of course why now this movement, I really believe, is going to, it’s going make the change, finally. Finally, finally, this is it, right? Here, now. Because we have phones now, right? Because we have the internet now, because we can connect on this huge, global level. We can share these terrible things that are happening so everyone can see, it’s like people can’t hide it now.
[16:11] But when we put our phones down, we pick up our lives. And I had, I had at least like a couple days confused, feeling like my phone was my life, right? And everything I did that mattered happened on my phone, or happened in social media, or happened in how loudly I could speak, or, you know. And actually, that’s not, that’s not true. So of course everyone has a responsibility to speak up and share, but the most important thing is that I am giving myself those reality checks inside every day, right? That I’m doing the inner work within myself every day, because that’s what’s going to create that everlasting change in terms of how I show up in the world, right?
[16:51] When I’m done that inner work, and I’m in that internal space of unlearning, relearning, dismantling the racism that I grew up with, right, that is internalized in every White person that walks this Earth, then it’s not going to be that hard to have that align through our actions, right? Because everything comes from within. So, you doing this work in your own way, we all do this in different ways, we all do this in different paces, as long as you, you keep going, right? We don’t turn a blind eye, we don’t look away, we don’t decide “okay, well, ten days have passed now, let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming.” Like no. No, no. You know, we end this shit now, you know. We fight for a just world now. The time is really now.
[17:36] So, yes, please look forward to, to some beautiful guests coming on the show soon. Leaving, leaving this, of course, you know, emotional and big, big, hard topic of racism, I think we should all take a moment to breathe right now. [Laughing] Ah man, I wish I had a little…like every ten minutes of my day, I could, I could use a little nudge, like someone tapping on my shoulder, like “hey. Hey. Have you taken a deep breath lately?” Just so I could go like [inhales, exhales] “thank you, thank you.” So, we all need to ground ourselves, yeah? Every moment of the day, especially now.
[18:18] Let’s close the eye, you guys. Let’s close our eyes. And if you want, you can place a hand to your heart, place a hand to your belly, just give yourself a moment to feel here. You can take a deep breath in through the nose…out through the mouth [exhales]. And give yourself some time and space right now, just to bring your awareness to the center of the body, center of the heart. And check in, yeah? Check in. Right now, in this moment as you’re listening to these words, checking in here and now: how am I doing right now? Not in the big scope of the whole world, not how were you this week, or how are you going to be tomorrow, but right here, right now, in this exact moment. What’s moving inside? [Inhales, exhales]
[19:27] And whatever surfaces right now, and this is an important practice, a very important practice that we, that we allow whatever comes up to be there, right? That we don’t shut down, that we don’t…you know, if there’s discomfort, if there’s a feeling — and a lot of people right now are feeling guilt, or feeling shame, or feeling “how have we allowed this to go on in the world, right? How is there so much injustice, how is there so much suffering? Maybe you’re feeling a lot of pain right now. So if pain is present right now, notice that feeling in your body. Maybe you can even track it inside of the body, yeah? If you’re feeling pain, where in the body do you sense that right now?
[20:17] And if you’re feeling something totally different — maybe you’re feeling joy today, maybe right now you’re feeling gratitude, you’re feeling at peace — do the same thing, right? Just track it a little bit in the body, where in the body can you sense this feeling present right now? And what does it feel like? And if you have some space and you want to take a deeper breath into that, that area of the body, go right ahead. Inhale. And exhale.
[20:57] And what we’re practicing collectively now, all of humanity, is the art of letting everything surface. Right? Anything that’s been messy, anything that’s been untrue, yeah? Lies, anything false. Anything that’s been muddied or unclear, right? Anything unjust. All of those tings are surfacing right now. We are watching that or seeing that happen on a global level, and I think Mother Earth has been sort of preparing this for a long time, or Mother Earth has been in this process of purging for a long time, right? We saw it with the fires in the, in the Amazon, fires in Australia, the big, big, big moments when Mother Earth has told us that “hey, I am not okay. Look at what’s happening here.”
[22:04] And then that straight into COVID-19, and then from that, straight into, into this injustice that has been going on for so long, right; it’s woven into the fabric of our society. And right now, it’s surfacing and we’re able to see it, right? Actually see it. Not just see it with our mind, with our eyes, but see it with our heart, feel it in our bodies, that acknowledgement of “whoa, this is not okay. There’s pain here, there’s injustice here.” And all of this, of course, is also reflected inside of you, right? Perhaps in your own life over the past weeks, months, year, you’ve noticed this falling away of things in your life. Maybe you’ve had relationships implode and disappear, right. Maybe you’ve seen big changes and shifts, and you’ve had loss in different ways, loss of your old structure, of your old normalcy, maybe a loss of something inside of you as well, right? Realizations around how you’ve been living and what hasn’t been working.
[23:20] So we’re witnessing now this purge, globally, locally, within us and all around us. So recognize inside of yourself right now, what actually is moving here, right? If you get totally honest with yourself, totally present with yourself right now, right, if there’s nothing you have to hide, nothing you have to package so it looks a little prettier or so it becomes more digestible, right, but let yourself be here with all the things, right? With the shame, with the ugly, with the pain, with the grief, with the loss. And also with the joy, with the love, with the compassion, with the light. Sensing all of these different parts of yourself that make up the whole.
[24:25] And then taking a deeper breath into, what’s here, now. [Breathes] And practicing today, and throughout this episode, and also throughout the week, coming back to this place, right, tracking within the body how you’re feeling, and allowing for everything to come through, right? Because feeling is how we heal, right? And if right now you’re feeling a lot, it means that you’re probably healing a lot too, or maybe you’ve started down the path of healing. And that’s what I, what I hope is happening in the world right now is that we are in a big healing, right? That it’s not just a, a falling apart of everything we know for no reason, right, but it’s a falling apart for things to come back together. What if we could look at it that way, that right now, we’re healing, right? Right now, for the first time in so long, maybe for the first time in the situation ever, we’re giving Black people the, the space to start healing from all of this pain.
[24:49] And really if we look at, if we look at the world, if we look at the spiritual idea of “oneness,” right? We’re all one, one big organism, we all connect, if you feel pain, I feel pain, right? And I see a lot of people sharing things like that lately, that bypasses the situation a lot. But if you look at that within yourself, right, whatever’s left to heal inside of you, it’s going to continue to show up, right? Whatever isn’t right within, whatever wound is there, no matter how hard you try in all these other areas of your life, that wound is going to continue to show up, right? You’re going to find yourself in that pain again and again and again.
[26:33] And collectively, as humanity, we have this big wound, huge, huge, huge, massive amounts of suffering for so long, and then somehow as a society, we just decided that “yeah, well that’s done now.” We put a White BandAid on it and decided to move on, right? But nobody really moved on; there were no reparations there, there was no healing that took place, right? So what if right now, all of this is unravelling just to clear the space for healing to begin? And you can look at at that as you doing your own healing work within yourself along with humanity, along with society doing this healing work together, along with Mother Earth healing. So taking a, a moment just to acknowledge within yourself the healing that’s happening now, to acknowledge society, the healing that’s happening now. And to acknowledge, for this planet, the healing that’s happening now.
[27:48] And see if with that knowing, you can breathe just a little deeper, inhale [inhales] and let it out [exhales]. Beautiful. Mmm. Can blink your eyes open if you had them closed. Thank you for breathing with me. Thank you for [laughs, sniffs] being here with me. So as I’m sure you can tell, I am very emotional. I wish I could say this is just today, this is every day [laughs], so I’m sorry I’m stuffy and sniffling a little bit, but yeah, speaking from the heart right now, how am I doing…[inhales] I don’t know how to answer that question and not cry. So, I guess I’ll just, cry.
[28:43] Personally, in our little sphere of the world, if I put aside the things that are happening in the world, which is impossible to do because everything weaves together and connects [sniffs] but I have had some, some really big upheaval in my own life. This feeling of, of, of everything that hasn’t been working, you know, and having that fall away; for me, I’m experiencing that on a really deep level. Of course, coronavirus and the pandemic and the, you know, quarantine, and I’ve shared with your guys a lot of realizations of big things, big changes that I found in my own life, and I’m in a place right now where I feel like, you know that, that, that, what is it? The metaphor about the onion [sniffs]. I can’t remember who it is that coined that, but the idea of the spiritual work and the personal development work being like peeling off layers of, of an onion, right?
[29:39] Like when we are born, we are born these perfect, beautiful light beings. And then for everything that happens to us in our lifetime, right, from, from small things that we might deem as small, but actually when we’re little are very big, like moments of rejection, moments of loss, having to face a reality that we didn’t expect…you know, things from like, you know, having someone tease you in school, to having to do something you really didn’t want to do, to anything goes against your natural, your natural flow, right? And I think things that we kind of say are super tiny as adults are actually really big, and I think about that a lot. Like, being forced as a kid to finish your plate, you know. That might sound like something, like “yeah, that’s just parenting, like ‘finish your food, eat your food.’”
[30:31] Things like that when like hey, as children, I remember that feeling, being little, being forced to finish what was on my plate even though I was so full, I felt like I was going to vomit, right? And how those things actually were big things when we were small. Not being able to, not being able to, to follow our own, our own will in a sense. And of course there’s a balance to that when parent keeping their kid safe and healthy, and I, I, I try to walk that line very carefully with my own daughter every day. But all of those moments that we had, right? And you might have had moments when you were little where like, your mom was late picking you up from daycare and you were scared, right? You might have had moments where you just didn’t feel safe, like little things, and it’s unavoidable, right? That’s something that’s really important that we acknowledge: it’s unavoidable. Pain is unavoidable, we cannot avoid pain.
[31:22] As a parent, we’re going to fuck up, you know? We’re not going to do this perfectly, it’s impossible. We are all some shape or form probably going to traumatize our kids, like that’s just, that’s just what it is. But as we grow older, right, it’s like we add layers to this core of pure light, of pure love, layers of protections, right? We don’t want to feel that pain again, or that fear again, or whatever it was that came our way, so, so we adapt to it, and we put a little layer of protection over our hearts in a sense of, “okay, but it’s okay, I’m tough,” right? “I don’t care if they tease me,” but yeah, we did care. So we put on that big, strong facade, right?
[32:03] And as we grow older and older, and of course more hard things happen to us, depending on how much support we have in our life in terms of processing things that come our way, which in my generation and older generations, I think little to none. I would love to imagine Lea Luna’s generation being the first generation that was really taught how to properly sit with and process and hold emotion, right? That would be so beautiful. But I didn’t learn that, right? So [sniffs] we add layers, and layers, and layers, and layers, and then we had big things come our way, right? We had actual trauma, you know, huge things, and people die and maybe we get sick, or maybe there’s a divorce, or an accident, or we’re abused somehow, like there’s big things that come our way.
[32:50] And all of a sudden, we grow up and we find ourselves this big, fat onion. And we have so many layers to our being that maybe we’ve completely forgotten that at the center of our being is this core of total light, right? Of total pure, innocent love. This place of, of perfection, right, of just total beauty, where everything is, is okay, right? Where we shine so brightly, we don’t have to apologize to anyone, like that space is inside of us, but we lose sight of it, right, we forget. And after a while, we start thinking that, that who we are, like we are the onion. Or maybe who I am is the outer layer of the onion, like this version of my personality that I have right now.
[33:35] But actually, this personality, you know, these personality traits: how you wake up in the morning and how you, how you behave, you know, how you treat other people, how you treat yourself, how you act, how you feel. Maybe, maybe, maybe it’s just a layer. Right? Have you ever contemplated that? Maybe this whole personality that you’ve got going on — and I’m not talking about who you are at your core, I’m talking about personality, like, ego, you know, how you react to stuff when it comes your way, you know, your emotional wellbeing, whether or not you feel angry a lot, most of the time, or if you feel like you’ve been wronged most of the time, you feel victimized a lot, you feel sad a lot, you feel little, you feel…whatever is there, you know, and then how you relate other people, like all of this that we put together and make into person, what if it’s just a layer to your onion? Right? What if, what if, what if we’re all, we are all beautiful cores of light walking around this Earth thinking we’re something totally different?
[34:38] And that’s kind of — this is a fun analogy, I know, but — it’s kind of, that’s what I feel right now. And I think in my own, in my own life when I did, when I had my first ever encounter with trauma healing, and which for me was the biggest thing that had ever happened in my whole life, right? I was 18 years old, and it was like someone removed the veil from, from over my eyes, right? It was like for the first time in my life, I could see life clearly. And I could realize how I had spent almost 18 years of my life completely unconscious, you know, like a walking wound, basically. Hurting other people because I felt so hurt, it was like…and I was living this totally unconscious space, and then found this path and realized so many big things, about my childhood, about my past, about pain that I had never been able to express, about guilt that I have for things I thought was my fault, like this whole big story, right?
[35:35] And then, I thought to myself that “whoa, this was like the biggest, this was the biggest, biggest healing of all time, like man, I’m done now,” you know, like “this was it. Whoo. Now I’m gonna, I’m gonna teach yoga now.” You know, “I’m gonna start teaching yoga, I’m gonna, I’m gonna be one of these people who just lives super healthy and who do this healing work all the time, right? Who can, who can help other people with that.” And what I’m realizing now is what if that thing that I thought was this massive amount of healing, you know, this world-shattering amount of healing, what if that was just the outer layer, you know? You know the skin of the onion that crackles when you just hold it? Like what if that was it?
[36:20] Or maybe it was just the first layer of the onion, you know, the one that kind of is a little spotty that you just peel away before you start to actually chop your onion? You know? What if, all my life, I’ve walked around feeling like “I am a whole person,” and actually, I’m really broken? [Laughs] Okay, I made this so dramatic just by saying that. Also, I don’t believe, I believe we are all whole, right? I really do. But that’s where I, that’s where I’m at, funny how I used this, this long analogy to explain this. But basically, that’s what I feel: I feel like a lot of the healing work I’ve done in my life actually hasn’t been as deep as I thought. I realized a lot of the healing work I’ve done has probably been scratching at the surface of things that are really still there, at pain that is really still there, at trauma that hasn’t been resolved.
[37:13] And it’s really now, I think because one fo my coping mechanisms to deal has been work, right? It’s been not just work, but it’s been moving at a really high pace, doing things all the time [laughs]. If someone, like if you opened a dictionary and you looked up my name, it would say “Rachel Brathen: moves at a really high pace, does things all the time.” That’s me, okay, that’s literally, like ask anyone who knows me, like “oh, yeah, that’s, that’s Rachel,” right? And I’ve lived like that my whole life, I’ve been like that my whole life: always doing a million things, always creating a million things. And of course, it’s not like it’s been all bad, like I’ve created beautiful, awesome, amazing initiatives, and organizations, and companies, and platforms and, you know, that a lot of people are benefiting from now. Like if you’re listening to this, you know, you’re on the Yoga Girl platform, we’re doing so many beautiful things and I’m so grateful for that.
[38:06] But I’m also realizing now that moving at the pace that I’ve been moving for so many years, basically my whole life, has been one giant coping mechanism, right? Because if I move really quickly, if I do a lot all the time, and if I’m busy all the time, then I don’t have to feel this sense of, of, of unsettle, unsettling that is inside of me almost all the time. If I move a lot and do a lot, I don’t have to be in touch with this feeling of, of unworthiness that sits inside of me. This feeling of lack that sits inside of me, this fear that sits inside of me actually. And this feeling that, that I have in my body that I don’t know if it’s safe to be here, you know? And all of these things, it’s like I’ve thought they’ve just been this kind of undercurrent, because I feel them at moments, and especially when big things happen and, you know, I’m doing this work all the time, so I also am like, okay, for a regular person, you know, my pain and my stuff, like this is not a big deal, right? Everyone has trauma, everyone has been through hard stuff, everyone has a story [sniffs].
[39:13] But I think what I’ve done is, is I’ve kind of minimized my own trauma a lot, and I jumped ahead a little bit thinking that “oh, well I’m done with all of this, look what I’ve learned. Look how enlightened I am now, you know, after all of this learning that I had,” when really, I’m not, right? really I’m not. Really, I’m struggling. A lot, actually. And it’s been fine, because I’ve ben doing so much, I’ve been so busy, there’s always a reason to jump to the next thing. And now with the pandemic, with corona, with not doing, with having so much fall apart around our business, around our team, around projects and, you know, things that I spent so much time on, suddenly they’re all gone, right? Like I literally have projects that I’ve spent countless hours, about to unveil to the world, right, as something big, and it’s just disappeared.
[40:04] Along with this long to do list every day, along with, with groups, and trainings, and retreats, and tours, and all the stuff, right? None of that’s happening. So, over quarantine, I’ve been able to be really still, right? I’ve been able to be really quiet, and it started with this beautiful, I mean I had I think, what, two months of gardening, you know, you guys know, an insane amount of gardening, growing all my own vegetables, baking sourdough bread every other day, spending so much time with my kid, also with some fear around “are we safe,” and corona, but it was like overall, if I look back at isolation, it was like some of the most beautiful time in my whole life. That quiet pace.
[40:48] And at the same time, this is like, what I never really could compute, but it’s clicking inside of me know, is during isolation, I have never slept so poorly in my life. I have never slept fewer hours, hard time falling asleep, and then that kind of sleep where it’s like you wake up and you feel like you didn’t really sleep at all? You know, where like I would wake up once an hour every two hours, have a thought and then go back to sleep, and just this feeling of being really unsettled. And I couldn’t, I couldn’t, it didn’t really compute, right? I couldn’t connect this, like what now that I have so much space, I have so much space, I feel like, you know, I’m doing yoga every day, and moving my body every day, in the garden every day, doing all these beautiful, calm, quiet things, feeling really good, but then at night, it’s terrible, right? How does that make sense? Shouldn’t I be…and I’ve been really confused about that in a sense, like shouldn’t I be sleeping better now? [Sniffs]
[41:45] And then, so I’m still in therapy, once a week, life-saving, gotta say. And together with my therapist, having connected the dots in terms of what are, in my own life, if I look back at my life, what are the moments in my life where I felt the most unsafe? And this is like a big, you know, [laughs] a big door to open, to look back at that. What are the moments in my life where I felt the most unsafe? What are the scariest times of my life? And the weird realization here that shocked me, that shook me, is the scariest times of my life have been the times in my life where everything is fine. And even saying that now, like I, I get, I tear up immediately because it’s so, [sniffs] it saddens me and it’s also so, so, so very true that the scariest moments of my life are the moments when everything is okay.
[42:40] In crisis, because I, I kind of was born in crisis, I’ve seen crisis and chaos all my life, I actually thrive. Like I’m not, I’m not a, you know, happy and at peace or, you know, completely amazing human being, of course not, because I’m in crisis and being in crisis sucks, but in crisis, I know what to do because I get to stay in motion, right? I get to problem solve, I get to look around and see what needs fixing, I get to stay in this place of high alert all the time, which is the state that I know the best: the high alert, fight or flight, semi-panicky, “something’s, you know, something terrible’s happening,” that feeling is actually a comfortable feeling for me because it’s what I know best.
[43:25] Which might sound absurd, or maybe some of you listening can really resonate with that. Who here has, you know, when something goes wrong, it’s like you spring into that place and it’s almost like yeah, you’re in, you’re in your best place when shit hits the fan, you know. Like you’re the person that other people are going to call right away because you’re the one who’s going to figure things out, you know. Why is that? Why do you think that is, that it’s so easy for you to jump into action when other people get paralyzed, or freeze, right? Or that, maybe there’s a side of you that when something bad is happening, or something isn’t well, or there’s drama, drama is another version of crisis, right?
[44:02] Drama is like a more socially acceptable, day-to-day level of chaos where we continue to create or find reasons to dive into drama, all day long, whether it’s relationships, or “this person said that,” and “I can’t believe this is happening,” and “duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, state of the world,” and in this constant place of, of high alert, you know, unsettling. And that big realization for me is that the scary moments of my life is when everything is fine, because the, I’ve never felt more unsafe in my life than feeling fine and then have the rug swept from beneath my feet, right?
[44:40] So when things are quiet, when things are okay, right? When no one’s dying, when everything is, is kind of calm, that’s when, inside of myself, I go into complete, complete panic mode. That’s when I go “wait a minute. Wait a minute, wait a minute. Something’s going to happen.” You know, “the other shoe is going to drop any moment,” and it’s like I don’t know how to, I don’t know how to feel safe in moments of quiet, right? So oftentimes, I run, or I create chaos, I’m really good at that too, right? I’ll find drama, or I’ll, you know, it’s almost like because I have that energy of crisis inside of me, I meet it, a lot in other people too. Right? Does that make sense?
[45:21] So that realization, and I’ve, I’ve cried and cried and cried and cried over this realization, but that when everything is still, when there is no crisis, right, when everything is actually okay? That’s when I feel the most unsettled. That’s when I feel the most stress, and that’s when I feel the most unsafe, you know. Because there’s no scarier thing than allowing yourself to be safe, letting your guard down, and then having your whole world fall apart, which happened to me. And also in those moments of, of calm, and peace, I have no idea how to act [laughs]. I have no idea how to exist, I have no idea how to be, right? So I’ve had these big kind of “oof,” like in my face moments of, of, of like being in bed, late at night with my daughter and my husband, all of us like spooning together, cocooned together in this perfect, perfect bedroom, in this perfect house, you know, surrounded by our perfect garden where everything is so safe, and so beautiful, right? And then Dennis falls asleep, and Lea falls asleep, and I’m there like, in this cradle of just, family, beauty, perfection, and I start getting an anxiety attack.
[46:34] And that’s been, and that’s been happening a lot in the quietest moments, in the safest moments, my inner child, you know, starts to completely lose her footing, and my body starts to go into, into this, into this scary place of “wait, wait, wait, wait. This is not safe, this is not right.” And I find myself lying there in the middle of the night with like, heart palpitations, you know, having a hard time breathing, feeling like my chest is tightening, and oftentimes having to leave. Can you believe that? Having to leave my perfect, perfect cocoon, my perfect family to like go out to the kitchen, drink a glass of water, sit alone and just try to breathe, you know.
[47:19] And this has been, like the last month for me, more or less. Like every day, a new, you know, kind of hard inner thing, a new something that relates to an old trauma, to an old wound of some sort, but surfacing in a way that, that it’s never been able to surface before. And, this is hard to talk about, I’m sharing it now because it feels good to share [laughs], it really does feel good to share. And I know maybe some of you guys out there resonate or feel a little bit the same I think, maybe? Like I, I have a feeling that, that this is not as strange as it seems to me, like I had a feeling of like, “what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just feel at peace?” And now it’s like, “okay, well this makes sense,” right?
[48:08] So, over this past month, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s been a very, very hard, hard month. For me, it feels like a hard month for our family here, but it’s also a really beautiful time, right? It’s kind of like, you know, anything we’re seeing out in the world that’s bad, that’s unjust, it’s not like that’s new stuff, right, that’s all of a sudden happening now, and it didn’t happen before. No. It’s old. It’s ben there for fucking ever, you know? It’s been there under the surface, and for a lot of people in this world, in their face, right, and for so many of us, we’ve turned a, a blind eye, We’ve kind of buried our head in the sand, like “no, but that’s not true, that’s not a big deal,” or, “that’s not my problem,” right? But it’s been there. So it means that whatever wounding is there, inevitably it’s going to come up and out, it’s going to come up and out.
[49:01] And when it comes out, yeah, that might be really chaotic, might look like it’s creating more chaos, where actually it’s just releasing some of the chaos, a minor part of the chaos, that’s been under the surface all along, right? And healing looking like that. I really think so. Like looking at that inside of myself right now, healing looks like that, looks like wake…you know, waking up two am in the morning with my family, in bed, realizing that I don’t feel safe here. Whoa. Whoa.
[49:32] Going out to sit, you know, in the kitchen and, and, and breathe by myself, like that’s not pretty, right? It’s not comfortable, it’s not, not fun, that’s not what I would have wished, right? It’s like “oh, finally, I have time, and space, and stillness, and peace, and what? Now, now I can’t sleep?” [laughs] “What that fuck is up with that?” And I know it’s through allowing this to surface, right, through feeling this really hard shit, through going back and really unravelling a lot of the things that I thought were fixed, right? A lot of the things that I thought were whole, the things that I thought were fine, that I’m realizing now they were not fine. They have never been fine, you know. I’ve been kidding myself thinking they’ve been fine, they haven’t been fine.
[50:19] And, somehow trying to stay afloat all throughout, you know. Someone wrote me this the other day, “hey, I feel ashamed asking this, but if you could answer on your podcast ‘how can you make a change in the world while moving through your own trauma?’” And I was like, that question made me laugh, like literally laugh out loud because like, “oh,” you know…and here’s the thing, it’s not like I’m pitying myself, it’s not like I want anybody to pity me in any way. Actually, sharing this and touching on this place is an empowering thing to do, right? there are two ways to go about that.
[50:55] So [sniffs] an important mome…an important thing to realize is that everyone has their own trauma, right? There is not a person in this world that’s, that’s free from pain and from challenges, but some people have had it way, way, way worse, right? Some people have had it way, way, way worse. Some people have had it, you know, worse in ways that, that privileged people like me cannot even begin to, to realize, right? For me to imagine like, “okay, here are the challenges and trauma I’ve had in my life, imagine if added on top of that was the day-to-day continuous trauma of being discriminated against because of the color of my skin,” you know? To, to, to, to even imagine that, putting myself in those shoes, it’s, it’s really hard for me to get there, right, because I haven’t had that experience in my life.
[51:47] So, how do we make a change in the world while we’re moving through our own trauma is we do the work, right? We realize that everything is connected, everything is connected, and when you are having a really hard day, when you are having a low moment, when you feel like you can’t manage, yeah, you’ve gotta stop what you’re doing and ground yourself, right? Whatever change you’re trying to make in the world, if you’re not present in your own body, chances are that’s not going to be good change that you’re making, right?
[52:17] So, first of all, we anchor into our bodies. If you have a huge, active, open wound, it’s like tend to the immediate thing, right? And then recognize and realize that there are different levels and layers to this. You might have weeks where you feel like “hey, I’m going to be all out there in the streets protesting with my sign, like this is…I’m here fully. And I’m at home, and I’m having these conversations, I’m doing it all, all the time.” And then next week it’s like “hey, okay, yeah, all I got this week is, is, is, is reading these books right now, right? And digesting this and processing this,” because this is not a sprint, right? It’s a marathon, it’s changing this massive structure that we live in all across the board, right? And it’s not only up to me and mine. What I do is hugely important, but I can’t put all of it on my shoulders immediately and expect this to be fixed as if somehow, you know, as if somehow it’s about me, right? Then again we put ourselves in that place of like “I’m the one at the center of this,” and we’re not.
[53:20] So, I think allowing ourselves to be human, allowing ourselves to feel what’s there, and when we process what’s inside of ourselves, and this is really important, I think, when we process what’s moving inside of ourselves as White people, we don’t have to vent that or share that with the Black community right now. At all. Like I really don’t think so, at all, you know. You talk to your friends, you talk to your family, you talk to your therapist, deal with that in that way so that when you get out there, if you’re on social media, or you’re out there in the world in that big way, you’re there mainly to listen, right, and to share the voices that need to be heard right now, which probably isn’t your own.
[54:05] So, I don’t know how to do any of this perfectly, I don’t know how to, I don’t even know if I know how to do any of this well, I just know I’m trying my best. And the decision that I, that I made in terms of, you know, we’re going to have these conversations with a Black person on the show, I think a hundred percent that’s the way to go because I don’t know anything about this, you know? I can sit here, as you guys can tell by being like an hour into this podcast, I can only talk about my own wounds, right? I can only talk about my own trauma, I can only talk about my own experience. And you might resonate with that, you might feel that a lot, but I cannot talk about racism because I haven’t been there, that’s not, that’s not where I’ve been.
[54:46] So, maybe taking a moment right now to acknowledge how much, how much pain is in this world. Like that’s been, you know, taking a moment to sit with that and feel the weight of that, and then see what we can do to not get lost in that, right? How can I allow these feelings that I have of injustice, of shame, of “oh, my God, I can’t believe this is happening,” and use it as fuel instead of having it dim my fire. Right? Use it as fuel to create more change, to take more action, knowing that a lot of that action is going to be happening inside of yourself.
[55:30] So for me, personally, [laughs] Yoga Girl speaking on the Yoga Girl podcast, my decision this week is to, is to be gentle with myself. I have a tendency to be really hard on myself if I don’t get everything right, if I don’t do everything perfect, to try to, you know, try to do everything at once, to just be gentle with myself and to allow myself to be a human being, right? Trying her hardest, dealing with what I’m dealing with inside of myself, and dealing with what we all are dealing with outside of ourselves, like it’s a lot. It’s a lot. It’s a lot for everyone, so the biggest thing I can leave you with this week, I think, is what do you need to ground yourself, so you can continue showing up for the world? Right? Remembering that, remembering that, that no one benefits if you lose your footing. What do you need to do, what are the practices you need to anchor into to stay grounded so that when you listen, you listen truly, right? So when you speak, you speak truly, right? So it doesn’t come from that place of ego, or trying to be the best ally, or showing the world that you’re doing good so here’s a cookie, you know. It’s like listening and speaking from that place of total honesty, of total truth, you know?
[56:55] We need to stay grounded, to stay within your body, to keep your feet on the ground? For me it’s, I do what I call “something quiet,” every day I give myself something quiet, like a moment of something quiet. And it doesn’t matter what it is; this week it’s been a bath, like I’ve had 20 or 30 minutes in the bath, no music, no book, no person, like no child in the bath with me, just some, something quiet, just twenty minutes in the bath, lying there, being quiet, right? It can be a few moments of sitting on the rock outside of my house in meditation, or watching the sun set, or something quiet where I’m not digesting information, where I’m not taking in, or processing, or thinking about something, or discussing something, you know. And also I’m not moving, right? So something quiet, where it’s just a place to, to be still.
[57:47] And maybe that’s something that could work for you too, you know. What would it look like if you gave yourself something quiet, every day? Twenty minutes, 20 minutes sitting in silence, going for a walk, looking at the sky, lying face down in the earth, you know, taking a bath, something quiet. Having a cup of tea, right? Journalling a little bit, maybe. But sometimes even journalling, for me, when I get to that place where I feel my nervous system is really heightened, sometimes even journalling starts to, to move too much inside of me so it doesn’t become quiet any more, right? So, something quiet.
[58:29] Thank you. I love you. Thank you. Thank you for listening, thank you for, for showing up and I look forward to continuing this conversation in the right way on this show. Alright, so some resources I would love to leave you with, I also have them on a, on a highlight on my Instagram account if you, if you wanna find them directly there so you can just click and follow. But some people to follow on Instagram, if Instagram is your place to be, is Layla Saad, Rachel Cargle, Jessica Wilson, Latasha Morrison, Munroe Bergdorf, Austin Channing Brown, Ericka Hart, and Ibram X. Kendi.
[59:20] Some books I am reading right now are: I’m Still Here, by Austin Channing Brown, So You Wanna Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo, White Rage, by Carol Anderson, Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey, and Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. These are just a few places to, to get started, there’s so many resources to find online, so please continue looking things up whenever you have questions, continue reading, continue listening, continue learning, there is so much to learn and relearn. Thank you so much for listening, Yoga Girl podcast will be back next week.
[60:03 — End of Episode]