No matter who you are, where you live, or how you identify, it’s fair to assume that the coronavirus pandemic has touched your life and shifted the way you go about it in some way. Whether that means your plans for milestone events have moved, your job security has been compromised, you’ve experienced financial strife, your mental health has taken a toll, your physical health has been called into question at the hands of the virus, or some combination, your world has undoubtedly been shaken in some way by this illness. For Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) who have historically had less access to social determinants of health, these effects of COVID-19 are especially pronounced. More specifically, research has shown that Black and Latinx communities have been disproportionately impacted by the virus, which is crucial to know given that as Black people fight to survive the pandemic, we simultaneously bear the burden of tirelessly fighting against racial injustice following a public reckoning with systemic racism that reached an inflection point in response to the May 25 murder of George Floyd.
Tirelessly fighting for racial justice period, let alone in a landscape where an invisible virus threatens a person’s very existence is tiring. And yet women of color, Black women in particular, are often looked to as sources of strength, even when we want to—and deserve the right to—fall apart. While it’s okay not to be okay right now, some female-identifying people of color are finding that spirituality is helping them find healing energy that allows for rest, replenishing themselves, and persisting in resistance.
Whether you tend to your spirit via an organized religion, an ancestral tradition, or through meditation and journaling, spirituality can be a great tool for self-care and coping that in turn can benefit mental health, emotional health, and physical health.
If you’ve been looking to develop your own spiritual practice, or have been wondering how other women of color are using spirituality to cope with the stress that this year has brought about, keep reading. Below, four women of color share how spirituality for healing has helped them find solace during these difficult times.
On why finding space to practice spirituality for healing in quarantine has been so important
“If anything, quarantine has given me more space to focus on my emotional and spiritual well-being. Before it was a nice to-do when I could ‘fit it in.’ Now it is a nonnegotiable, daily practice. When I get off-balance, which is easy to do these days for all of us, I know the exact tools to get me back aligned, at peace, and in my power.”
—Lenora, 36, New York
“Meditation and grounding ceremonial practices have allowed me [the energy] to continue to be on the front lines of protests and come back to the recurring theme of ancestral guidance and this long-standing fight that Black and Indigenous people have been up against for centuries. When we take time to care for ourselves, we are making room to be able to care for others—rest is radical!”
—Alexis, 21, Philadelphia
“My spirituality keeps me grounded in a world where everything is changing and uncertain. I know that I have a practice to sustain me, that I have angels and spirits and ancestors and a God that is always here for me when I need them. I know that no matter how scared or alone or hurt or drained I feel, I’m never truly alone.”
—Olivia, 28, Washington, DC
“My healing is in focusing on what I can control and how I respond to things, not focusing on triggers.” —Fox, 33, Philadelphia
“The pandemic and continued racism have forced me to focus on mindfulness and awareness of what I can control. I’m not in control of racism or the state-sanctioned violence or oppression against us. But what I am in control of is my physical space—my home. When I find myself feeling anxious about the fact that we are still harmed for simply wanting to be treated as human, I pray. I count joy. I [celebrate that I] woke up today. My healing is in focusing on what I can control and how I respond to things, not focusing on triggers.”
—Fox, 33, Philadelphia
Spirituality for healing in practice: What does it look like?
“Be prepared to expand your mind. There are so many gifted content creators who focus on spirituality; try and find some who resonate with you. Be prepared to feed your spirit daily, and stay curious.”
“Try connecting with others in your life, and see if they have their own rituals or practices that stick out to you; mentorship and community within spirituality is greatly rewarding. The internet is also a powerful tool full of online communities and free knowledge regarding different ways to utilize everyday objects and environments to ground yourself and meditate. That said, it’s important to research the kind of medicines or practices you’re adopting to ensure sure you’re not appropriating other cultures or contributing to the colonial co-opting of certain practices. “
“Find people who are also on a spiritual journey, and ask if they would be willing to share what their spiritual journey has been like. Understand that your spiritual journey does not have to and likely will not look like anyone else’s. Also, do not assume that there is one spiritual path that is right for you; be open to learning about multiple traditions if you are called to do so.”
“However you identify and whatever divine entity you believe, allow yourself to explore. I was hellbent on things needing to be the ‘Christian way,’ and once I allowed myself to explore, it helped me a lot.”
On incorporating spirituality for healing into a daily routine
“My daily routine consists of morning meditations, spending time in nature, praying, talking to my ancestors, and talking to God. I notice immediately when I take days off from my spiritual practices, especially in this climate, so I try and stick with it.”
“I say a mantra I learned from spiritual advisor Emilia Ortiz:
May my highest vibration guide me night and day.
May my ancestors protect me always.
May my blessing come in plentiful, like rain.
May my heart assist me in my growth every day .
May my love’s light always illuminate the way.
I also often take meditative baths with salt soaks or turn showers into a meditative space. In these moments, I imagine the water washing away any negativity, anxiety, or heaviness I am carrying in my body and mind. I try out different forms of these rituals, and when I feel relieved or grounded afterward, I stick to or revisit them later.”
“I meditate every evening and write down whatever visions I have while meditating. I light candles every evening as well. I sleep holding crystals that correspond with the energy I need. What works for me changes depending on what I’m going through. I can always tell when I’m feeling spiritually stagnant and need to switch things up.”
“I wake up, say a few prayers, or meditate. I keep lavender and eucalyptus around for their energy-cleansing properties. I make different sprays that I use for protection. [But] it doesn’t matter what you practice—consistency in anything is going to put you in a better place. Consistency in your spirit is important, too.”
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