It is time to dive into the deep waters of healing.
And not just our individual healing, but our collective healing.
So here we go. Global warming. Racism. Sexual abuse. Pollution. Overpopulation. White privilege. Sexism.
Discrimination and unconsciousness of all sorts.
When we are just trying to keep up with our lives — work, family, friends, and all the hundreds of details of each day — it can be overwhelming to think about big-picture issues, especially when they don’t seem to be affecting us directly.
But the truth is everything that happens in the collective affects us. And we can be part of the healing or part of the hurting.
How do we balance our own inner work with furthering social justice and navigating environmental issues?
Before I started on a spiritual path I was deeply embedded in politics. In the 1980’s I marched for women’s rights, was arrested while doing nonviolent protests at the nuclear test site in Nevada, and attended meetings with radical black activists.
I was passionate, on fire, and committed. Yet I saw the anger, the burnout, and the frustration all around me. And soon I found myself angry, frustrated and burnt out as well. It felt too big, and nothing seemed to ever change. Instead of turning the anger into fuel, I turned it against myself. Instead of learning how to be effective I let frustration swamp me. Instead of looking at how to nourish myself for the long-term I burnt out in the short-term.
Have you ever had the experience of wanting to be on the change the planet team, but felt helpless, or overwhelmed, or enraged and stuck because of what you saw happening around you?
It is possible to blend our inner work with outer change, and to be a burning light of transformation for yourself, your community, and the planet.
Here are five steps to conscious spiritual activism from love:
1. More personal dance parties.
I’m serious about this! In order to stay fluid and powerful, we need to move our bodies and shake out what no longer serves us. There is nothing like good music cranked up loud to keep you bright. Or a song that lets you cry all those unshed tears. Or a lullaby that brings peace to your heart as you rock yourself side to side. Be creative in using music and motion to release and renew.
2. More stillness
When you are frayed and feel like you are running on fumes it is nearly impossible to be able to look up and see a bigger picture. The antidote to busy is to learn to connect more to your own inner stillness. Look for the gaps in your life; the places between activities. Standing in line in the grocery store. Walking down the hall to the bathroom. Waiting at a red light. In these spaces, practice getting quiet and resting into the moment instead of making lists in your head or picking up your phone to check emails or Facebook.
3. Name your vision
What do you stand for? Our Warrior Goddess facilitators recently did a live training with an amazing woman of color, Andréa Ranae, on her work called Coaching as Activism. The first question Andréa asked us was “What kind of change do you wish to see in the world?” It is imperative for each of us to create a vision of the changes we would like to see. Naming your vision and seeing what is possible, opens the doors to help us see what is not working and then become agents of change.
4. Claim the truth that every action makes a difference.
Visioning is not enough. We have to follow through with action. Apathy (it won’t make any difference anyway), spiritual bypass (everything is wonderful and we are all one!), or thinking someone else will fix the problem (it’s their fault, not mine) keeps us powerless and supportive of systems of inner and outer oppression. We are in a world that wants to distract us with shopping and Facebook rather than asking hard questions and taking action. Your actions do matter, every single one, whether it is speaking out against a racist comment, planting a tree, starting a difficult conversation, or giving money to a nonprofit you are passionate about.
5. Educate yourself
It is vital that we speak the truth to ourselves and others, and be honest about where we need more education or clarity. I’m so happy to see people speaking up against all forms of oppression: Women speaking up against sexual abuse in the entertainment industry. People of color speaking up to call out spiritual white teachers for spiritually bypassing racism and not creating safe (or any) space for people of color. If you come across a difficult topic around social justice that makes you uncomfortable, keep moving towards it rather than moving away from it, especially if you are white. And don’t ask people of color to educate you, unless you are paying them to do so. There are many great resources. I share a short list of recommended reading / resources below.
My commitment and an invitation
All we need to do is speak the truth and listen to how we can support all people, all colors, all choices. I am very aware that I am a white woman who has immense privilege just because of the color of my skin. Some simple ones: I can walk into pretty much any hotel or restaurant around the world to use the bathroom and never be questioned. I can get pulled over by a cop without fearing for my life, and will often be let go even if I am speeding.
I have many opportunities in my life because of I’m of European descent which my African, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern and Native sisters and brothers may not have — just because of the color of their skin. This does not make me bad, and I also can’t say, “well, it is not my fault, I’m oppressed in other ways, or I didn’t create this system…” It is not my fault and it is my choice and I believe my responsibility to keep learning about white privilege and how it oppresses everyone. It is also my choice and responsibility to keep listening to people of color about their experience so that I can be an ally and advocate.
I am also very aware that I am a woman of European descent teaching a spiritual tradition from Mexico. My commitment is to always honor my teacher, don Miguel Ruiz, and his mother, Mother Sarita, and their invitation to me, to pass the Toltec tools forward. I don’t claim these teachings as mine; I am deeply honored to have been asked to bring them forward in the world. And it is sometimes honestly awkward to be a representative of a culture that is not of my birth but is of my heart.
Where are you privileged? Where are there contradictions in your life? Where are you stuck in staying comfortable or safe?
This is deep healing we are exploring, not just for us as individuals but for the beautiful, varied collective.
Because we are all in this together. And yes, sometimes it gets messy. Healing can be messy. Untangling all the many ‘isms is challenging.
But my friends, it is time. Let’s find the courage to have those hard conversations, to learn as we go along, to make mistakes, to be vulnerable, to take risks, to take action, to become allies, to be allied with. We need each other. And the more we honor, welcome, and nourish diversity, the stronger we all are.
Blessings to you!
Coaching as Activism
Read Andréa’s “Here’s what I’ve come to believe” section. Brilliant.
Her writing lights fires. Beautiful
Catrice M Jackson
Check out her books; I recommend Antagonists, Allies, or Advocates.