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Culture, Mindfulness and the POC Body

Mindfulness and the Body and Connection to Indigenous Peoples Day

I happened to be talking to my ‘Hot Mess to Calm Oasis’ Course participants on Indigenous Peoples Day, about mindfulness and the body, and I was reminded of how, as people of color, so much of our cultural experiences are body based. And likewise, our healing practices need to take place in our bodies as well.

Our ancestors, grandparents, families and communities express culture in very sensual ways – music, food, language, rituals, ceremonies, practices – they all touch upon all of our senses. And our senses reside in the body.

Tasting a delicious bowl of posole, listening to the music and rhythms of mariachi or Afro-Cuban beats, touching the fabrics or hearing the rustle of ancient dance attire, or weaving the plait of a braid; smelling the spices of street or comfort foods; seeing the colors of Mother Earth, the sky glowing in sunset or sunrise, and witnessing all the beautiful brown and black skin tones of community… are all examples of cultural experiences taking place in the body. And of course, there’s the sense of our souls and spirits and experiences of our ancestors that gets stirred, are awakened and resonate in our bodies, when we experience familiar practices, or are gathered with a group of folks who look like us.

Our cultural experiences take place in a world full of sense (not the mind kind, but the body kind), color, sound, energy, spirit, and our bodies feel alive.

The experiences that harm us also take place in our bodies – whether it’s a traumatic history of being hit or hurt as a child, or yelled at by someone we love; or being stereotyped or invisibled as a person of color by the dominant culture, our experiences register first in the body we live in. As POC, we carry a fair amount of resting trauma that resides in our bodies, that gets activated, when present day loss or trauma occurs.

Our feelings take place in our bodies. When we suffer loss, our hearts feel like they’re actually breaking. Anxiousness about our own safety makes our heart beat faster, a tightness creep through our chest and shoulders, our hands feel sweaty. When we are demeaned, excluded, or targeted, our bodies might feel the hot rush of anger pulsing through, or the cloak of shame spreading through our skin.

And yet, often we ignore these precious bodies – we don’t like the feeling that arises of discomfort, or rage, or shame along with the hurt that we’ve suffered. Often, our sense of being connected to and expressive from our bodies has been colonized out of us, leading us to believe that operating from the brain – or rationally, or cognitively, is the only wisdom of value, the only way to be in this world. Our bodies have been targeted, shamed, used, rejected, hurt, othered, and we have learned to shut down or not value what our bodies say to us about our own capacity for health and well being. We have learned to not pay caring attention to our bodies, each filled with strength, vulnerability, and wisdom.

We have so many pressures on us to abandon our bodies – and all the wisdom inherent in these beautiful magnificent bodies.

Recovering our connection with our bodies helps us to feel whole, balanced, secure and able to find a home within ourselves. It literally and figuratively helps us to be comfortable in our own skin.

Many of our cultural practices and traditions are helpful toward the healing of these bodies that have been neglected or broken.

Let us rekindle our flame and reclaim our power of being alive and well in our bodies. Let us listen to, pay deep respect, celebrate, honor, and not deny our amazing and beautiful bodies of color. Let us remember who, what, where we come from.

Let yourself be mindfully aware of what you’re experiencing in your body. Whether you are joyful or struggling, allow for dancing, making art, singing, playing music, doing yoga, stomping, hiking, sighing, marching, hollerin’, cooking, raging, body wailing, holding, witnessing, hugging, listening/ talking circles, movement, and anything else that comes from your POC body’s experience, to be sources of healing the soul and the body the heart and mind live in.

Appreciate the body as the holder of all experience and as the only part of you that is always in the present moment. The most important link from our ancestors’ wisdom, to future generations’ wellbeing, lies in our body.

If you or someone you love is having a hard time connecting to the wisdom of the body, please contact me for a therapy appointment, or to learn more about mindfulness skills for POC.

Take good care of yourself and your body.