What It’s Like Being a Black Woman Holding Space for My Community to Heal at This Time

Jasmine Marie is the founder of black girls breathing, a "safe space for Black womxn to actively nurture their mental, emotional, and spiritual health via meditational breathwork." Marie has held space for hundreds of Black womxn in her virtual breathwork circles, and is currently raising $50,000 to make virtual breathwork free to Black womxn for one year. 

The past few weeks as requests for interviews and e-mails within my "black girls breathing" community have rolled in, the number one question has been focused on what right now feels like for me: How have I been coping with the incessant names and recorded videos of the Black people being killed scrolling across my timeline? How has the collective grief and rightful anger felt within the Black community impacted me and my practice? What has my self-care routine been like? How am I coping personally and as a breathwork healer while also being enough to make space for hundreds of other Black womxn via our virtual breathwork circles and online community?

For me, my answer has fluctuated. The medicine I need at any given moment depends on the day (a reflection of what it means to me to be present, in tune, and doing the work). I think from the outside looking in it would be easy for others to think that because I’m a breathworker, at all times, everything in my life is “put-together” and “well-balanced.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m constantly re-learning, evolving, and shifting my practice to take care of myself to match my life in the current moment. And right now, it’s been no different.

My personal self-care routine and my routine to ground in order to facilitate have drastically changed in the past few weeks. What worked before doesn't work anymore—and that is okay. I’m relearning almost everything, to be honest. My sleep schedule has been off. It feels like a cloud of heaviness looms over the day-to-day life. I’ve leaned further into my quiet times on my daily walks. I’ve allowed myself to wake up crying. I’ve taken up several friends' and colleagues' offers to support me. I do breathwork when it feels good. I crawl into bed in a child-like position whenever that feels good, too.

Black women have been through a lot; the past few weeks feeling like a climax of our collective weariness.

My nervous system and body have become more sensitive as I hold more space for Black womxn. Our recent sessions have doubled and tripled in size, and nausea and headaches have come as side effects for the heaviness of the energy felt at this time. Navigating these changes is my work—and I think what I'm experiencing mirrors other Black people's experience as well. I think it’s important my community offers themselves as much kindness, compassion, and gentle care as ever. We've been through a lot; the past few weeks have felt like a climax of our collective weariness. We’re going to need tools of restoration for what’s to come ahead.

There’s a shift happening—and I do pray and hope things will never be the same. We’re witnessing a global awakening and an outcry as our community and allies here and abroad demanding change. For myself and the Black womxn I make space for emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, it’s not that what the world is awakening to is new “news” to us. It’s that we can feel the frustration, the hopelessness, and the effects of being gaslighted by our country in regard to our experience being in Black bodies for so long.

It’s an exhale of relief that mainstream America seems like they’re finally getting it, but we're also experiencing a lack of comprehension about why it took so long for the world to arrive at this point? And, as an extension of that, we're now realizing the work that will be necessary to heal our community from being subjected to widespread injustice for so long.

 As we do our work to loosen the hold that trauma related to our experiences have had on us, we desperately need our country to do theirs. Our ability to truly experience the fullness of our healing work depends on it.

As I facilitate the healing work that I do, I’m crystal clear on one thing: My community’s healing, and our work to find and sustain joy, is internal. Historically, it always has been. That’s how we’ve been able to survive up until this point. In the meantime of waiting until those in Black bodies are truly free, we will seek the spaces that affirm us. That doesn’t add to the micro- and macroaggressions we navigate on a daily.

Until we are not subject to harm and prejudice due to the color of our skin, we’ll have to work extra hard to heal from the effects of our collective PTSD and trauma. We'll also have to protect our mental and emotional health from being re-traumatized. That is our work, but the work of the world in response to our Blackness is not on our shoulders.

We can no longer afford —mentally, emotionally, or physically—to carry that weight anymore. As we do our work to loosen the hold that trauma related to our experiences have had on us, we desperately need our country to do theirs. Our ability to truly experience the fullness of our healing work depends on it.

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