A quarterly feature of “Listening with Heart” blog, sharing wise words, meaningful things read or good things found, to help warm your heart.
These are the most impactful quotes I have read or heard these last three months that give me pause, or uplift my heart. Wisdom spoken in just a few words. They reflect what I’ve been reading or learning, or values I share, or what’s been going on in our world.
It’s been another very challenging quarter – even unprecedented, and I know we each need some insight and encouragement to keep carrying on. Our world has been turned upside down, and we all have been faced with difficulty and uncertainty, and our lives have been stretched beyond recognition. Of course, our more marginalized communities have been even more terribly impacted, with farther reaching long term negative effects in store. Even more reason that so many of us are struggling with grief and anxiety, as our lives, homes, communities and whole planet have become more vulnerable.
These words have been particularly meaningful and impactful to me because they offer some insight or light into these very dark times. I am happy to share these quotes – that speak to hope, structural inequalities, change, racial justice, healing, freedom, anti-racism, mindfulness, and I hope you find something here that gives you solace or perspective, or maybe even hope. Take a moment to go through them and maybe highlight and share a few that speak to you. Blessings…
- Our race-inflected culture not only exists, it thrives. The question is whether it thrives as a virus or a bountiful harvest of possibilities.” – Toni Morrison
- “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall
- “Thank you to the earth for giving us food. Thank you to the air for letting us breathe.” – 6 year old Marshawn giving daily gratitudes after the murder of George Floyd
- “When people move together history changes.” – Yung Pueblo
- “If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves. So the bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform….I recognize that these past few months have been hard and dispiriting — that the fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality still shape so much of American life. But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful. If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals. Let’s get to work.” – Barack Obama
- “The questions being posed on Twitter and elsewhere are relevant to all minority communities: Do you speak up when someone in your community expresses anti-Black sentiment? Do you compete in the “oppression Olympics”? (Yes, the bigotry many minority groups face is unacceptable, but no group in America faces the same multifaceted discrimination as the Black community.) How do you benefit from your proximity to whiteness?…This isn’t just a “Dear white people” problem: It’s equally important for Asians, Latinos, Native Americans and others to speak up against the outsized racism Black Americans experience”, said Michelle Kim, the CEO at Awaken, a company that offers diversity and inclusion workshops in the workplace. “In our quest to survive, some of us may have been striving to become white-adjacent — as successful as white people, as fitting in and assimilated as white people, as deserving as white people of dignity and respect — and along the journey, consciously or subconsciously, have adopted the language and beliefs of white supremacy and anti-Blackness,” she said.
- “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
- “I can’t breathe.” – George Floyd
- “A riot is the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
- “You clap for us. We kneel for you” – health care workers at protests
- It’s a bummer that the person didn’t just reach out to us directly. But you never know what someone else is going through and how they are processing this time of horrendous grief and fear. But I don’t want to have that dialogue here. I can’t stomach it right now. There are racists that will flip your compassion, support, and respect for Black-owned businesses into something ugly. And I am already too traumatized to see any more hate. And thank you for recognizing my “heart of gold”. After years of yoga and meditation practice, and prayer, I’ve learned to balance my deep rage against racism while maintaining a peaceful heart. It is a constant, exhausting struggle.” – Jean Moore, Anasa Yoga
- “Witnessing police brutality, even vicariously through videos and news stories, can be deeply traumatizing,” says Cathryn Leff, LMFT, President-Elect of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. “People in ethnic minority communities often experience racial trauma from witnessing racial violence. This trauma can lead to depression, anxiety, anger, or post-traumatic stress disorder that can have substantial negative consequences for individuals, families, and their communities.”
- “Our heart and love goes out to you, and we send our prayers out for the Spirits of loved ones lost, and for the energy required to continue holding so much personal + community care work 💜… Our collective spiritual teachings tell us that in order to bring peace to any “conflict” or with an “antagonist” the only solution is to send Love to that being…make it offerings and acknowledge its rightful presence in our universe and world. And that in this manner, according to Universal Law, that being will reflect that Love. … we want to invite our community to be mindful of the language we use right now, since words breed thoughts, and thoughts produce energy… We encourage people to use terms like “Safety Solidarity” instead of “Quarantine” and “Physical Spacing” instead of “Social Distancing”. Because, we don’t want to become socially distant, we need to collaborate to meet our needs. And we don’t want to be locked down by force, but rather choose the option to do what is best for the communities we are a part of and remain in solidarity with our vulnerable human relatives. We gotta be ready! Let’s continue to be forces of Light & Love in all the ways!!” – Carla Perez, Healing Clinic Collective
Healing Collective Clinic Mural
- “I think art is important for healing because it expresses the things we feel but cannot yet speak.”
- “Do I capitulate to that attempt to use race to leverage what she wanted, or do I stick to my guns and keep recording, and I really kind of decided consciously I’m not gonna participate in my own dehumanization. I’m gonna keep doing what I was doing, as if I was anybody else.” – Christian Cooper after being threatened by a White woman in Central Park that she was going to call police and say an African American man was threatening her life, because he asked her to put her dog on leash
- “White privilege does not mean your life hasn’t been hard. It means your skin tone isn’t one of the things making it harder! There’s plenty of other privileges (socioeconomic, male, heterosexual cisgender, Christian, able-bodied) but white privilege is perhaps the most enduring throughout history.” – @espringermft
- “The function of freedom is to free someone else.” – Toni Morrison
- “In the end, anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination or equivalent to the same thing – anti-humanism.… We must reject not only the stereotypes that others have of us but also those we have of ourselves and others.” – Shirley Chisholm
- “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” – Angela Davis
- “You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise.” – Maya Angelou
- ~ “People can end their participation in the perpetuation of dehumanizing narratives and ideologies by intentionally activating and strengthening Brain 3.0 until they develop the capacity to hold space to feel and experience the discomfort of Brain 1.0 without giving in to urges to escape into Brain 2.0. This capacity enables people to harness the full functioning of Brain 3.0 to face and address the social injustices and systemic inequities that have confined large groups of people to living a majority of their lives in Brain 1.0. It will require a collective shift into Brain 3.0 for our society to finally have the capacity to hold the space needed to compassionately face and heal the long-standing wounds of racism and other forms of oppression.” – Mindful Leader
- “Dear White People, Do Not Defend Me. Anti-Blackness is so utterly pervasive, most of us can’t see that it exists — especially in ourselves. When we’re willing to see it, it’s uncomfortable. It’s disorienting. It can unleash a torrent of emotions like shame, denial, grief, regret, anguish, anger, guilt, and profound sadness. But being uncomfortable and sitting with that discomfort is required for real growth and lasting change.” – Marie Forleo
- “Those who have experienced racism, whether subtle, overt, individual or structural, for a long time, are finally being listened to… I am devastated that members of my community, as a Black person, literally had to die in order for people to listen,” said Carter. “but I’m going to take every opportunity I have to use this moment to make sure that people do not forget.” – Evelyn Carter
- “The work of anti-racism is the work of becoming better humans so that we treat other humans better. “ – Austin Channing Brown
- Feminist scholar and anti-racism educator Peggy McIntosh famously described white privilege as an “invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.” In other words, white people typically move through life unaware of all the head starts, resources and access the color of their skin affords them. They don’t recognize these unearned advantages until they’re pointed out — and even then, some white people will try to deny the existence of their privilege.”
- “But the trauma that’s being enacted is not just to bodies. It is also trauma to minds and souls, and particularly to the minds, souls, and bodies of Black and Indigenous people. It is trauma that has been institutionalized and built up over centuries. This is only the most recent outbreak of a chronic cultural disease. As healing professionals, we have an important role to play.” – Martha Kauppi
- “May I prove myself worthy of the work ahead. May you hold me accountable. May we create space for an ever widening circle of redemptive white embarrassment and guilt and capacity to transform. For the point of speaking together differently is to live together differently. – Krista Tippett
- “… I just feel like some of the system could look at us as individuals. We do have lives. It’s just a mistake we made. And not just do us as if we are animals…“ “… I feel like it should be a way for you to have some kind of person – like a mentor or something – be assigned to you to keep your track. – keep you in the direction you need to be going. But here yet, I’m trying. I’m not the type of person to give up. Ima keep going until I make it to where I wanna be.” – Rayshard Brooks regarding the failures of probation and prison reentry systems, (four months before being killed by police)
- “You are valuable just because you exist.” – Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble, licensed psychologist who spent 20 years in academic medicine. She’s the lead author of The Handbook of Mental Health in African American Youth, the host of the podcast “Couched in Color with Dr. Alfiee,” and the founder of the mental health nonprofit the AAKOMA Project.
- CNN Townhall with Dr. Alfiee.
- “I found myself sharing this experience with my Black Wisdom Circle last week only to realize that they were the peaceful protestors surrounding me in compassionate presence, witnessing my trembling voice, grimacing face, tight fists, and raw rage; holding my grief and sadness until it dissolved; without interruption, just care. Within a few moments, I felt release, more spacious, and reposed. I touched a deeper longing that many Black people share: to be seen by each other, reassured, and surrounded in loving care – this, to me, is the healing meaning of Juneteenth! This we can only give to ourselves.” – Ruth King
- “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
- “May your choices reflect more of your hopes than your fears.” – Nelson Mandela
- “In this moment we are publicly interrogating the harms Black people face from the institutions like the police that claim to keep us safe. But the fact is that plenty of corporations also bear responsibility for violence, harm, and discrimination against Black people, whether they carry it out, enable it, or profit from it.” – ColorofChange.org
- Anti-Oppression Therapy feels like: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” -Lilla Watson
- “For the past 25 years, I have been on a mission through my art to sound the alarm,” Palmer says. “I hope that this cover reflects that concern. My message is not white hate. It is resounding Black love.” – Re: Time magazine cover 7/6/20
- “Your mask doesn’t just protect me. It protects the vulnerable people I love and care for. Your mask is an act of love to protect our community. When you and I cross paths on the sidewalk or at the grocery store, your mask doesn’t just protect me. It protects a whole invisible network of people who love me and rely on me. Your mask is an act of love to protect our community.” – Azucena Rasilla
- “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – Thomas Jefferson, et al
- Dr. Markham, “Rage doesn’t dissipate until it feels heard.
- “After one year, two year, maybe people … will develop oneness of human being. Not the concept of ‘we and they’ … That kind of thinking is backward. We should see a problem and rush to help. That’s what I feel.” – Dalai Lama
- “For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
- “Understanding one another’s differences leads to a stronger bond and connection, eventually resulting in the union being much greater than the sum of the parts…. managing automatic reactions and intense emotions in order to stay present and hear a different perspective is one of the most difficult, most compassionate, and most human things we can do.” – Martha Kauppi
- “Discuss racism even if it’s awkward for you. It’s a privilege to learn about racism, rather than experience it on a daily basis.” – Farhiya Ali
- Obama, meanwhile, argued that the lesson of Lewis’ life was that politics was the work of overcoming complacency and fear. “That’s where real courage comes from. Not from turning on each other, but by turning towards one another. Not by sowing hatred and division, but by spreading love and truth. Not by avoiding our responsibilities to create a better America and a better world, but by embracing those responsibilities with joy and perseverance and discovering that in our beloved community, we do not walk alone,” he said.
- “In my life I’ve done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and non-violence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring… Let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.” – John Lewis.
- Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public
- “Sometimes we’re carrying the burdens of people who came before us. Although we didn’t ask for this, it’s up to us to figure out and resolve as much as we can before we pass it onto those coming after us.” – Dr. Ebony
- “True unity comes when we can recognize how we play a role in disparities perpetuating themselves.” – Antiracism Daily
- “As a veteran English teacher who teaches about race, I was ignorant when it came to this particular phrase. Teachers also learn a lesson sometimes. A knowledge gap led to my use of a term that is offensive to Black people. I might have hurt someone by using it, even unknowingly. I don’t want to be that person. I want to be a bridge-builder and advocate. Therefore, I have to be open and willing to hear from others who can enlighten me. Allowing others to speak their truth must be my default setting. Try as I might to get it right, there are certain things I am blind and ignorant to. That doesn’t sit well, but it’s true. Coming to grips with our own lack of knowledge and understanding as White people can be painful and awkward. When we stumble, responding with humility is key.” – Tracy Gerhardt-Coope
- “I’ve never considered myself a racist, but I have been complicit in it because of my silence,” he said. He wants the elected officials that represent him “to be angry about this situation,” but the politicians he has voted for—like Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham—are not. “It makes me embarrassed to be a Republican.” – Michael Quattlebaum
- “The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg called Biden’s pick “a great moment.” “Let’s take care of her and make sure we are supportive of her because this is a no-nonsense race and she is ready. Go Kamala!!” she tweeted.
- “When talking to a spouse, child, colleague, or a relative with vastly different political views, we can slide into listening to respond rather than listening to understand. Listening to respond renders us absent – we’re just waiting on our turn to speak. Listening to understand keeps us connected – we’re empathizing with the heart of the other person’s experience. Practice staying connected.” – Mindfulness.com
- Harris’ mother, an intelligent woman with a Ph.D. who worked in breast cancer research, was also a trailblazer. She warned her daughter about the sexism she would encounter in her career. “She was one of the very few women of color in science,” Harris told The New Yorker. “When I decided to run [for public office], she said, ‘Honey, you watch out for what’s going to happen, because there are still certain myths about what women can do and cannot do, in spite of the fact of what women actually do in life.'””I know that regardless of our race, age, religion, or politics, when we close out the noise and the fear and truly open our hearts, we know that what’s going on in this country is just not right,” she said. “This is not who we want to be.” – Michelle Obama
- “If this virus can teach us one thing, it’s that disparities are here and present. We have control over ending both the pandemic and the disparities. The pandemic will end eventually, and we will need to figure out how to remove the disparities.”
- “Diaphragmatic breathing (engaging the large muscle between the chest and abdomen to take bigger, deeper lungfuls of air) can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety – and the NHS recommends this for stress relief. “If we are breathing into the diaphragm well, we can send messages to the body that we are safe,” says Hartley. Consciously slow and deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system – the “rest and digest” response that is opposite to the “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system. Studies have shown that controlled breathing can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol in saliva, and another study shows that controlled breathing can alter the chemistry in the brain, affecting levels of another stress hormone, noradrenaline, which could enhance focus and keep brains healthier for longer. The first step to improving your breathing is to become aware of it, says Hartley. You may notice you are holding your breath more than you realise or taking shallow breaths. “Breathing is subconscious, as in it goes on 24 hours a day and most of those we don’t notice, but it’s the only system of the body that we have some alertness over and have some ability to change,” says Hartley. “Find out how you breathe first – place one hand on the lower belly, one hand on the upper chest, take a few breaths and notice which part of the body rises more.”
There are dozens of exercises in Hartley’s book, as well as numerous tutorials online from breathwork coaches, books and apps, but as an easy one to try, she recommends extending the exhalation as a way to feel more relaxed. “Breathe in through the nose for four, hold the breath for two, and then breathe out for six, and then repeat that for a few rounds.” You can also practise on the move, ideal on your daily walk or commute, if you are back at work. “Breathe in for five steps while you’re walking, and out for five steps, always in and out through the nose.”
To start getting familiar with breathing into the diaphragm, meanwhile, Hartley recommends sitting on the edge of a chair with legs hip-width apart, then leaning forward with your elbows on your knees and your chin resting in the palms of your hands. Take a deep “sniff-like” breath in through the nose. “You should feel your belly and lower back expand,” she says. And then breathe out slowly again through the nose, then repeat for a minute.
And what if you want to lull yourself back to sleep? Try tensing all the muscles in your body as you breathe in through the nose, then releasing them as you exhale through the mouth, which you repeat a few times. Then create space between your teeth and, with your tongue placed on the hard palate, breathe in through the nose for a count of three, hold it for a count of four, then breathe out through the mouth, relaxing the tongue, while counting to five. Hartley advises repeating this for at least 10 rounds.
Of all the wellness trends, one benefit appears to be that breathing – for all the coaches, books and apps out there – cannot be commercialised in quite the same way as sleep and eating. It is free, it can be done anywhere, and the effects are instant. “Breathwork is brilliant for bringing us into the present moment,” says Hartley. “We spend a lot of time mentally elsewhere, and the breath can never be in the past or future. If we focus on our breath, we’re pulled back to the present moment so there’s no overworrying or overthinking. We can just be in the here and now.” -Eminente Saner
- “To be young, gifted and black, we all know what it’s like to be told that there is not a place for you to be featured,” Boseman said. “Yet you are young, gifted and black. We know what it’s like to be told that there is not a screen for you to be featured on, a stage for you to be featured on. We know what it’s like to be the tail and not the head. We know what it’s like to be beneath and not above.”…”And that is what we went to work with every day. Because we knew not that we would be around during award season or that it would make a billion dollars, but we knew we had something special that we wanted to give the world,” Boseman added. “That we could be full human beings in the roles that we were playing, that we could create a world that exemplified a world that we wanted to see.” – Chadwick Boseman
- “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Elie Weisel
- “As Black families, we know there is no option other than to talk to our children. We know that our children’s ability to make it to adulthood is dependent on their ability to read the world, to understand the spaces they occupy, to know that the very presence of their beautiful Black skin can be seen as a threat and used as a weapon. When we introduce the realities of the world to our children we are establishing a foundation of trust, signaling to them that we are in their corner and that they have a safe place to land when the world is rough. Talking early to children about white supremacy creates a context into which they can scaffold their experiences as they grow. These conversations do not inoculate our children from the impact of living in a society that puts a target on their backs, but they do give our children reference points so they can externalize (rather than internalize) experiences of oppression they will most definitely have.” – Malaika Parker
- “Take care of yourself. These topics are hard. Do not underestimate the toll that is taken by navigating the complex trauma you experience when talking to your children about oppression. Take time to cry, breathe, and experience the loss, disappointment and fear that are present when sitting in spaces that require you to come face-to-face with possibly harm happening to you or your children as a result of White Supremacy.” – Adoptive Parents of Color Collaborative
- “Is there a solution? Research shows that mindfulness practices help us focus, give us greater control over our emotions, and increase our capacity to think clearly and act with purpose. Might mindfulness assist police and other public servants in minimizing the mistaken judgments that lead to such harms? Might they help the rest of us—professors and deliverymen alike—minimize our biases as well?” – Rhonda Magee
- “RACISM CHOKES US ALL” -sign at Portland Peaceful Protest
- Greater Good Science Center Monthly Happiness Calendar for September
- “May we understand and transform racial habits of harm. May we remember that we belong to each other. May we grow in our awareness that what we do can help or hinder racial well-being. May our thoughts and actions reflect the world we want to live in and leave behind. May we heal the seeds of separation inherited from our ancestors in gratitude for this life. May all beings without exception benefit from our growing awareness. May our thoughts and actions be ceremonies of well-being for all races. May we honor being diverse racial beings within the human race. May we meet the racial cries of the world with as much wisdom and grace as we can muster. – Ruth King
- Nice White Parents Podcast
- “In sum, racial equity is not something that can be easily achieved via a single one-day retreat for antiracism training. Rather, racial equity is a practice that requires organizations to take a hard look at how their organizational policies, practices, and culture are currently affecting their diverse employees and are hurting their chances of both recruiting and retaining diverse talent. Only then can organizations make the necessary structural changes required to achieve racial equity.” – Ifeoma Ajunwa
So that’s this quarter’s short list of Heart-Full Moments that holds some meaning for me. I hope your Summer has been graced with kindness, justice, and health. And that you might take a moment of pause to connect with what consoles you and replenishes your soul.
Please share with me any feedback you have that come from checking this list out. I’m curious to hear what’s touching your soul or uplifting you these days. Take good care…
If you or someone you care about is struggling to find moments of full heartedness, please contact me for a therapy appointment.