As I started this newsletter I re-read last month’s essay, which was about processing the shooting at Pulse in Orlando. Not even a month later we are in another state of processing the grief and trauma of the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille as well as the police officers killed in Dallas.
For the first time in my life I felt the beginning of a panic attack. Thursday night I was glued to Facebook reading as much as I could and going into a sharing frenzy of articles, resources, marches and vigils. I barely slept that night.
Friday morning I went to the dentist, and when I got in the chair I felt a surge or anxiety move through my body and my heart racing. I started my tools of lovingkindness and yoga nidra and was able to ease back the panic. I took 14 hours off Facebook, but then dove back in to check in the latest news, updates, articles and events being shared. I slept better that night.
Saturday I spent time with a friend talking about the violence, oppression and white supremacy that is terrorizing our country. When I got home I realized I had to do something more. White supremacy is literally killing Black men and women, and it is my job, as a white person, to dismantle it. I also see it as my job to help support other white people in dismantling it as well, and to get support from white people to help me see where I am still unconscious. White supremacy is not something that is “out there.” Racism does not just affect police officers, it affects all of us. The more I can look deeply into the ways that racism and white supremacy have conditioned me the more I can heal myself and the more I can support a more just world.
I am launching an on-line book club on one of the most powerful books I have read on whiteness so far, Witnessing Whiteness by Shellly Tochluk. At this point I am gathering emails for those of you who are interested. Let me know and I will add you to the list. This will most likey start in August.
Sunday I took the day off Facebook. I went to yoga. I read Active Hope by Joanna Macy. I was honored to be asked to teach a yoga for trauma and resilience class for POC. I finally was able to cry. I cried for several hours, and the panic subsided.
This act of slowing down, taking time away from stimuli and being in my body helped me access the grief that was underneath the fear, rage and panic. When I allow myself to go through all the feelings I can be in a more grounded place to move forward in action. But had I avoided the news and the horrors (as I historically have done) I would not be as moved into action. Here is the balance I am learning to navigate. How much do I stay engaged and how much do I need to take time to just be? Of course, just like a balance pose in yoga there is constant change and movement within balance. When I feel like I am tipping over I move in the other direction. Sometimes I overcompensate and sometimes I can find that sweet spot of balance for a fleeting moment until something else knocks me around. How do you find balance?
Here is a poem from the current book I am reading that is helping me, Active Hope by Joanna Macy:
Active hope is not wishful thinking.
Active hope is not waiting to be rescued
by the Lone Ranger or by some savior.
Active Hope is waking up to the beauty of life
on whose behalf we can act.
We belong to this world.
The web of life is calling us forth at this time.
We’ve come a long way and are here to play our part.
With Active Hope we realize that there are adventures in store,
strengths to discover, and comrades to link arms with.
Active Hope is a readiness to engage.
Active Hope is a readiness to discover strengths
in ourselves and in others;
a readiness to discover the reasons for hope
and the occasions for love.
A readiness to discover the size and strength of our hearts,
our quickness of mind, our steadiness of purpose,
our own authority, our love for life,
the liveliness of our curiosity,
the unsuspected deep well of patience and diligence,
the keenness of our senses, and our capacity to lead.
None of these can be discovered in an armchair or without risk.
Black Lives Matter.