What I Learned from Questioning My Personal Shame About Racism
A lot is happening worldwide, activating a strong sense of emotional upheaval. Some of us wish to marinate in the waters of ignorance and inaction, and others experience deep discomfort as we choose to take a stance.
I am ashamed to admit that I participated in the ignorant and inactive team initially. An incredibly beautiful and impactful movement is taking place as much of the world is speaking up in strong support of Black Lives Matter and BIPOC communities and individuals. Unfortunately, many of us are still staying silent, perpetuating a racist mindset, or spiritually bypassing what is happening.
Walking the Walk
I was silent for days, and my shame was erupting from my heart like a wildfire every moment that I didn't stand up and listen closely. I teach yoga and meditation. I coach to create a union of nature among us all. I share knowledge with the premise of making a change in the world.
However, I wasn't walking the walk initially because of fear of discomfort.
I was scrolling through Instagram one Sunday morning and saw an incredible video posted by a yogi who is a woman of color. She called out the yoga community for being silent and not practicing what we teach and preach to others. She called us out with love and conviction. She called us out with faith that we could do better.
I was incredibly inspired by this message, and, at the same time, I experienced an extensive amount of shame. The shame didn't come from this yogi but from within myself.
I'm incredibly grateful that it did.
The Truth About Silence That Stems from Shame
To be silent in the spiritual and wellness community where unity is the ultimate intention is a complete contradiction to this path. After experiencing an immense amount of shame, anger, helplessness, and hours of tears, I checked in with myself. I looked within and reflected on all the lessons passed down to me from my mentors and teachers that I have further passed down to others.
I knew, deep down inside, I was experiencing this self-imposed shame for a reason. This would create a transformational shift for both myself and the communities I am involved in.
After sitting for my regular meditation practice that Sunday evening, I brought myself back to the foundation of yoga as I gradually moved through all the elements of Yama and Niyama every few breaths. I was at a standstill when I reached the third Niyama: Tapas.
Ask Yourself This Question
Tapas is most commonly known as "self-discipline" or "heat." It's being able to look within ourselves to notice where our internal fire originates and what action needs to be taken for this intuitive fire and impulse to be followed.
Tapas means to be disciplined enough to sincerely listen to our heart, our greatest intuitive source, and ask the question, "Why?"
The question for me was, "Why am I experiencing so much self-imposed shame?"
I wasn't speaking or acting. I wasn't speaking or acting for unity. I wasn't speaking or working for the foundational purpose of yoga. I was experiencing shame because I wasn't following my heart when it asked me to be an active ally in this unforgettable and incredible world movement for racial justice.
When experiencing an intense emotion or discomfort, it is important to go within and return to the foundation of our mindfulness practices. Return to what is far more critical than bending in half in an asana class. Return to our greatest knower: our heart.
I am still unlearning and learning how to be the best ally I can be and use my voice and action to make BIPOC voices even louder, heard, and listened to. I hope my journey inspires you to come back to the foundation of your practice to navigate shame and no longer stay silent in the face of injustice.
Understanding and healing from racial trauma is an important part of allyship. Try this class, Love Your Race by trauma expert Valerie (Vimalasara) Mason-John to understand the importance of loving your race with no attachment to ego, prejudice or shame.
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