By Cassandra Fenelon & Katie Carpenter
As we reflect on the first anniversary of George Floyd’s tragic murder, how do we move forward when our minds, bodies, and souls are exhausted?
At a special TPT virtual community event, Manifest Your Strength: Mind, Body & Soul, on May 27, 2021, community members gathered with experts and community healers to experience the healing benefits of a grounding meditation for breath, body, and heart through light, accessible body movement; music; and ways to discover self-compassion and wellness.
The event was part of TPT’s One Year Later programming to inform, connect and support our communities one year after the murder of George Floyd.
The event was a collaboration of Twin Cities PBS, Peaces ‘n PuzSouls, Embody Yoga + Expression, University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development, School of Kinesiology, and MacPhail Center for Music.
Dr. Sheila Sweeney, Psychotherapist and Founder of Peaces ‘n PuzSouls, guided the flow of the event, beginning with a moment of silence for George Floyd, one year after his tragic murder in South Minneapolis.
It has been a challenging year for our communities, facing the pandemics of COVID-19 and racism. Dr. Sweeney asked the event attendees to share responses to the questions: How do you take care of YOU? What do you do for self-care? Here are the responses represented in a word cloud infographic:
Meditation, breathing, exercise and prayer were popular among the responses. The event was designed to add a few more self-care tools to attendees’ wellness toolboxes.
Through light, accessible body movement, Embody Yoga + Expression instructors, Kassira Absar and Lindsey Madla, led the attendees in a grounding meditation for breath, body, and heart.
Watch and experience their yoga session in the video below.
Lindsey Madla is a trauma-Informed and certified Hatha Yoga instructor, and Founder of Embody Yoga + Expression. She shared about the importance of movement, “I connect with the repetition of movement. It’s calming and soothing to know what’s next, for once.” She emphasized that it’s OK to give yourself permission to slow down. “Slow, subtle movement, connecting breath and body… it is undeniable how calming it can be for the body.”
Kassira Absar, is a certified yoga instructor at Embody Yoga + Expression, and is informed with training on topics in trauma awareness & resilience, cultural competence, racial healing & equity. She shared, “For me, self-care is about doing less, not doing more. It’s about listening to what I need and throwing expectations out the door.”
She describes movement as a grounding way to move inward. “Movement serves a purpose to center ourselves. Movement moves rocks out of the way to create a better flow of energy so we can move inward and center ourselves,” she said, adding, “I struggle with stillness. Movement makes my body feel better.”
Daheia J. Barr-Anderson, Ph.D., MSPH, FACSM, is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development, School of Kinesiology. She joined in a conversation with Dr. Sweeney to offer expert insight on the important roles that sleep and nutrition play in wellness and self-care.
Learn about nutrition by watching the video of the conversation below.
Dr. Barr-Anderson shared, “Sleep is sometimes elusive to folks and it is the foundation of how our body responds, even to the food that we intake.”
She also emphasized the many healing effects of nutrition. “Lots of the healing that needs to take place in us is driven by stress. When we’re stressed, we turn to comfort foods to fill a void. Foods that are high in carbs, refined sugar, alcohol, sodium and caffeine provide temporary satisfaction. With common comfort foods like baked goods and chips, we get a sugar spike- but what comes up must come down.”
What we put into our bodies is key to our overall wellness. “When we ignore the needs of our bodies, we are not giving ourselves the vitamins and nutrients needed to create a foundation that sustains us to live,” she said.
Dr. Barr-Anderson’s healthy foods list:
- Dark chocolate
- Whole grains
- Leafy greens
- Water- “Got to stay hydrated!”
She added, “Eating healthy foods contributes to your body’s creation of dopamine. Your own body creates its own euphoric chemical for a natural high.”
Being healthy doesn’t mean you can’t stay true to who you are. She shared, “Stay true to your culture and who you are and eat the foods that you like. But we need to pay attention to the way that we prepare it, portion sizes and moderation. You can eat your collard greens and ham hocks- just a little bit!”
HEALING THROUGH MUSIC
Ivory Doublette is a teaching artist at MacPhail Center for Music, primarily working in the early childhood music program, Sing Play Learn®. She has performed regionally with a variety of theatre companies and with her family’s Gospel Quartet, SeVy.
Ivory shared about the healing power of music, “Music helps to release stress and soothe you by releasing dopamine in the brain. There are so many benefits of music. It can encourage you and give you a boost! Anita baker puts me right where I need to be! That’s the healing power of music!”
Experience the healing power of music in the video below!
Ivory put a smile on everyone’s face with her guitar-playing and singing! She also played one of her favorite uplifting tunes, “Happy,” by Pharrell Williams, while Dr. Sweeney promoted attendees to share their own favorite uplifting songs to create the shared “Manifest” playlist below!
Check out the uplifting music in the Manifest Playlist, a community collaboration at the Manifest Your Strength event.
WORDS OF HOPE & HEALING WHEN TIMES ARE DARK
During the event, Dr. Sweeney asked each panelist to share personal words of hope and healing for when times are dark.
I can surrender and live and keep living, pushing and fighting and not give up. I know where my help comes from, and I know I don’t have to do it alone.
I love the quote, ‘When its’ darkest you can see the stars.’ It reminds me to keep working towards a vision. The one constant is change. I just remember that when things get hard, it means that there is change in the future.
When times are dark, we lean into community like we’re doing right now. This gives us hope. We can choose to lean into community. When you do, you might be surprised how much you have in common with your neighbors. We need to lean on each other.
It’s in the little things that the Divine gives us glimpses of hope, like looking into my daughter’s eyes or seeing the wind blowing in the leaves in the trees outside. It is about slowing down and doing less.
-Dr. Daheia Barr-Anderson
Build your toolbox when times seem dark. Reach within.
-Dr. Sheila Sweeney
We offer a heartfelt “thank you” to our amazing panelists who shared with our communities, their unique gifts and tools for manifesting strength and healing.
Event attendees shared after the event:
- I was feeling heavy when the program started, but by the end I was energized!
- My heart and soul have been lifted. Grateful to these women and to TPT for this event.
- This was simple and honest. These ladies took the time to foster a space that embraced and nurtured vulnerability.
- Need all of the collaborative support, love and partnerships we can get these days!! Just wonderful!
- Intention was communicated and clear. It was respectful. Joy was shared and felt throughout.
Thank you to those who attended this event and we hope to see you at more Racism Unveiled events! Stay tuned by subscribing to the Racism Unveiled newsletter.
A collaboration with the Racism Unveiled storytelling project with generous funding from the Otto Bremer Trust and additional support from HealthPartners and the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations.
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