What are you practicing?
Recently, I’ve come to embrace the idea of having a practice, or something I do on a regular basis with intention. Over the past few years, I’ve dedicated a small chunk of each day to a daily practice of meditation. By connecting to my breath and embracing stillness every day, I’m investing in myself and my ability to cultivate ease and non-attachment in my life. It has been a transformative practice.
I also have an active yoga practice. I don’t practice every day, but I attend (virtual) yoga classes a few times per week and try to incorporate shorter periods of yoga and movement into my days.
“Practice makes perfect” is not the adage I adhere to. Instead, “Progress, not perfection” and “Take imperfect action” are my mantras! Both meditation and yoga are about embracing imperfection. During meditation, the thoughts come up and I watch them and let them go. The practice itself doesn’t end at the 20-minute chime that signals the end of my meditation, or at the end of the yoga class. It continues into the rest of my life as I watch impatience come and go, as I notice resistance, as I let go of doing and embrace being. These practices are building, slow, and important.
I’ve added a new daily practice into my life in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the wave of consciousness that has swept through me and many others since. I consider myself progressive. I also identify as white. Like many white Americans, I’ve been propelled out of the comfortable complacency of white privilege in the last few weeks. I’m committed to finding my place as a true ally, as an activist and as an anti-racist. This, too, is a practice. It’s not a one-and-done, “I made the donation and watched the webinar and had a few conversations about race” sort of thing. In order for me to process my own white guilt and white grief, I need a practice and I need community.
So here’s my new practice. Every day, I’m committed to unlearning the racism engrained in me, and relearning the stories of oppression that my country was built on. Right now I’m using a syllabus provided by Rachel Cargle and also this Justice in June template. I’m finding my edge of comfort and trying to go beyond it. It’s an imperfect practice. I have already noticed myself slipping back into complacency, avoiding social media because it’s hard to see the brutality of police violence at every swipe, not having the conversations about current events and racism with my family and friends. It’s hard to look straight in the face of Trump’s recent policy on transgender access to health care that will clearly lead to more oppression, more loss of human life, and more pain for an already marginalized group of people. It’s hard to stay present to the grief and anger pouring out from my country, my home. But staying present to that grief and anger is part of the practice.
Yoga and meditation practices take place within the support of community. In person or virtual, meditation together or reading words by teachers helps me reground, stay committed, and go deeper.
Anti-racism practices need community, too. To begin with, I’m creating community around my own unlearning and anti-racist work by having an accountability partner to share our reactions to our unlearning, to share emotions and breakthroughs and transformations, and to share action steps. I hope that building accountability for myself and others will allow us to stay consistent, to go deeper, to promote connection and solidarity, and to have rich discussions around differing life experiences and perspectives. We are checking in weekly and have a goal of persistent, consistent, imperfect unlearning, relearning, and action.
I challenge you to join me by creating your own anti-racist practice, and by finding an accountability partner in your own life that you can commit to doing this with and checking in with on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. These small steps and these conversations are what will continue to lead to change.
“How you do one thing is how you do anything” is one of my favorite quotes. Do you keep the blinders on? Or do you follow that small seed within you that says “I can do more. I can do better,” and bravely step into showing up for our Black fellow human beings who need us to do this work so they can be more free?
I’d love to hear what action steps you’re taking, what practices you’re developing, and how you’re holding yourself accountable in this time of grief, anger, and opportunity. In the meantime, I’ll keep practicing breathing, moving, and unlearning racism with love and care and intention.