As a child, one of my favorite things to do used to be to look out from high places. The top of sliding boards. Looking out of a second or third story window. Sitting on my big sister’s shoulders. Or maybe even a small glance from a see-saw as I sprang up into the sky and then back down to earth again and again. When I discovered there was really such a thing, however, as a glass elevator... it was a wrap. I mean, in addition to being able to push the button (which was always super thrilling) I got to watch the entire world become smaller and smaller as I ascended into the air like Charlie (from the Roald Dahl book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) in the glass elevator. In the movie adaptation with Gene Wilder, Charlie exclaims “Look Grandpa! I can see our house from here!” This was the part me and my sisters always waited for. This ending. Where a glass elevator soared through the sky in every direction and the child-heir to a candy factory, the one pushing the buttons, spotted his house. (In hindsight, the thought of this was probably a nightmare for parents or people with vertigo.)
As an adult, I may not be an heir to a candy factory, but I can still appreciate a good view from high up in the air. I can also appreciate the perspective I achieve when I put distance between my body and the ground. Whether I’m in a glass elevator, in a skyscraper overlooking the city or in an airplane taking off into the sky. And this leads me to what we’re focusing on this month with our theme for July...
One of the things that I have been happy to achieve when I practice meditation is an elevated perspective. When I close my eyes and focus on nothing but breathing in and out, I often find that images of the universe come to mind. Perhaps it’s because when one’s eyes are closed, it’s easy to imagine the deep, blackness of space. In these moments, my fears, my worries and everything that plagues me drift into the great abyss as the little blue orb that I call home grows smaller and smaller.
Now lucky for me, my meditation doesn’t stay in the blackness of space. Just like the see-saw, I am gingerly brought back down to earth where I can reassess my situation with fresh eyes. Eyes that have “seen the mountaintop.” My mind knows what it feels like to have a moment of peace and clarity, elevated above the mish-mash of everyday ‘earth-life’ scenarios and can act like a kind of Google-maps satellite for the rest of my body, translating this peaceful information.
All is well. All is as it should be. Everything is at peace. We are at peace. These are affirmations relayed to me from the great beyond, putting me at ease. A beautiful reminder. A sweet surrender.
That said, we at Black Women’s Day of Meditation challenge you - with your next meditation - to elevate your mind and therefore your body and spirit.
When you get a chance, we encourage you to try this meditation...
Find a quiet place where you won’t get distracted. Turn off any electronics that might disturb you (unless, of course, you want to listen to soothing music). Get into a comfortable position, sitting in a chair. Or on the ground with your legs folded.
Close your eyes and inhale deeply. Using your belly. And exhale slowly until your lungs are empty. This is a preparatory breath.
Now on your next inhale, imagine that you are ascending up, up, up into the sky.
Up... up... up...
Until earth’s atmosphere drifts away behind you.
Up... up... up...
...as earth disappears and you are in the peaceful, quiet blackness of space.
You wait there a moment. Taking in the beauty. The majesty of distant stars and planets.
And now you exhale, lowering back down to earth.
Down... down... down.
Earth is back into focus again.
Down... down... down.
You can see the geography of your continent. The terrain of your country. Your neighborhood. The beauty and majesty of your body, as you return to it.
Continue to do this exercise, inhaling upward... ascending, elevating your energy into space. Then descending peacefully back into your body.
And once you have completed this exercise to your liking, feel free to continue your meditation however you see fit. Whether it be focusing on your breath, continuing to inhale and exhale in and out of the universe or resting in another safe mental space.
Whatever you do, please remember that your mind, body and spirit are worthy of wonder, of peace and of rest.
Yesterday was surprising in a wonderful way. The entire country celebrated Juneteenth together. CLICK HERE to understand what Juneteenth is. Seeing so many beautiful, Black, smiling faces venerating the ancestors on social media timelines (because I’m still very much social distancing #SafeAtHome) was inspiring, self-affirming and breathtaking.
Here’s the thing that stands out to me... when we honor those that came together to create us, we honor ourselves. And when we honor ourselves, we empower ourselves. And with the kind of power we generated yesterday (and will hopefully continue to generate) we WILL change the world.
This is not to say that we’ve officially arrived. I think we all know that Black people are a long LONG way from where we want to be as a people in this country (and this world, for that matter) but the thing that stood out to me the most was our recognizing those who have gotten us this far. If you read the blog posts, you know one of my favorite sayings is “what you appreciate, appreciates” and yesterday we appreciated our freedom. I just... ksksksksksksksks...!!! I mean!!! Guys!
One of the things that bothers me as a filmmaker is when I hear people complain about “slave” movies. As if the three or four movies that Hollywood managed to painstakingly squeeze out over the past few decades were just too many (meanwhile, there’s a million and five World War II movies... but I digress). It always bothered me because it felt like no one wanted to know about Black American history and what’s worse... they were ashamed of it. “We’ve done more than that” or “We’ve done more since that.” I’ve always thought, ‘yes, but slavery was also a really significant part of our reality in this country and it was no small thing’ My thinking has always been that it’s important for us to know and tell these stories because it speaks to the strength of who we are today. What we’re capable of due to what we survived. The immunities we developed while - quite literally - being warriors, for generations. As well as the harmful coping mechanisms that we picked up and passed along, that need to be broken. Our origins in this country is quite literally a blueprint for how to overcome oppression in the world.
That said, I hope that for every Black American person reading this that yesterday allowed you to focus - for maybe just a moment - on the wisdom of your ancestors. Love them. Love yourself. And recognize that they built this country for YOU. It is yours to take with both hands. And you are so worthy.
Today is just like any other day. As I type this from my bedroom in Los Angeles, sunlight pours in through my window. The birds are outside, chirping their little hearts away. And I know that, should I turn on the news or go on social media, there will be some horrible reminder of Black life in America. Last month ended with a viral video of a Black man, George Floyd, being murdered, suffocated to death, by a police officer. This was the image that assaulted our eyes, day in and day out. But it isn’t the first time we’ve seen it. We have been seeing Black people suffocating to death - whether it be by a noose, or a knee on the neck, a chokehold, etc. - for hundreds of years. Forced to watch loved ones and strangers alike murdered because of the color of their skin.
This is America.
If you know anything about Black Women’s Day of Meditation, you know (or should know) that we started this group as a way to encourage meditation amongst Black/Indigenous people. We wanted to create a mental sanctuary in the minds of those who needed it the most. This has been our plan since inception. And every day that the inequality and suffering of Black people continues, we grow stronger in our purpose. In the midst of the protests (as I type this, there are major protests happening in big cities all over the country) we need a place of mental reprieve because white supremacy is not just a physical battle, it’s a mental one.
For the month of June, we at Black Women’s Day of Meditation would like to offer our services in the best way we know how. If you follow us on social media, or have been looking at the rest of the website, you know that #JuneBlackLives is our hashtag this month. We are setting our intentions to meditate and focus on Black Lives, putting our mental, spiritual and physical energies toward the support and protection there of. If you have Black ancestors, we encourage you to meditate on them. To call on them for strength and guidance during this time. We implore you to channel them within yourself. Unlike the quote on those trendy t-shirts, WE ARE ABSOLUTELY OUR ANCESTORS.... come back to demand what is ours.
For my white readers (not sure if we have any but, if so... “hi!”) this is the time to understand that you are living in a day of reckoning. If you didn’t know that Black people were THIS angry, it’s because you weren’t taught to know this. Understand that despite the bliss of white privilege, willful ignorance has been a huge disservice to you as well. I encourage you to learn what you can. Do what you can to support. And most importantly, stay out of the way. This is four hundred years of righteous anger. RIGHTEOUS anger. You will not make any valid points during this time. Just listen and support in any way you can that doesn’t involve policing Black people or attempting to excuse injustice.
These are some interesting times, that’s for certain, but I hope that we can keep this same productive energy even after the rage has died down. That said, while standing in the streets and shouting and holding up signs that say “I Can’t Breathe” let’s remember to do several things...
2. Tap into the infinite resource of your inner support group - your ancestors
3. and breathe!