The Cook Awakening


June 15, 2020
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Meditation, Seasonal Change, Spiritual Practice

A client who’s been working with me for over a year has recently been able to more fully access a core piece of suffering. We’ve both known it was there, but it took time to establish enough safety for it to come clearly into awareness.

The doorway in was to look at the way her Inner Critic was attacking her. (I’ve written more about the Inner Critic here and here.)

“She has bad genes”, was one of the things her Critic said. Bad genes.

My client’s mother is a first generation immigrant, and comes from a people whose women are often beautifully dark eyed, dark haired, and voluptuous.

In order to be “good enough” to truly belong here in the US, my client learned to measure herself to a standard of “Whiteness”. Her mother’s people don’t look like Brittney Spears, one of the images she learned to emulate growing up.

These are the waters we swim in. It goes unquestioned, until the suffering in it becomes impossible to ignore. And, some of those standards play out in the larger context as violence — the threat of violence against, or the fear of violence from anyone who doesn’t conform to these images of what we have learned to view as “normal” — whether that be Whiteness, financial security, health, body shape and size, images of femininity or masculinity, etc.

I hope it’s obvious why I’m choosing to write about this now. The world really needs us to understand as much as we can about racism and other systemic oppression, about what it looks like in the world at large, but also what it looks like internally. How we tend to police ourselves so we won’t be policed/judged/attacked from outside. How it may become easier to judge others than actually feel our own feelings of not measuring up in whatever not-so-random ways our minds have been conditioned to believe are important.

This is not the forum for me to talk about police brutality in specific other than to say I vehemently condemn it, and am taking action within my ability to protest and demand change. I hope you are, too. If you are interested in educating yourself further about the history and current realities of living in the US as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, I will list some resources I have found useful at the bottom of this article.

The realities of what we generally think of as “political” — racism, misogyny, ageism, ableism, fat phobia, queer and trans phobia, and more — are deeply rooted in our nervous systems. Resmaa Menakem, quoted in the graphic I’ve included, writes specifically about how this plays out in White, Black, and Police bodies in the book My Grandmother’s Hands. It feels like “who we are”, whether we identify consciously with it or not.

Here’s what I want you to know. Unwinding the truth of this takes time. It takes safety. It doesn’t happen in your head, it happens in your body. It’s normal to feel some mixture of defensive, angry, anxious, overwhelmed or hopeless. But, these feelings are not a reason to give up. It’s a signal that something important is surfacing, and great kindness is needed. Remember to take time to rest along the way.

But, don’t forget to get up again when you’ve rested, because the world needs you to do what you’re here to do. The world needs you to know yourself, to be kind to yourself, and extend that loving attitude to the rest of the world. The world needs your fierce love.

My client left the session with the intention to do some research about her mother’s culture. What makes them strong? What are the depths and creativity there? Particularly women from her lineage. What images could she bring to mind that illustrate the beauty and power of her heritage?

I’ve heard it said, this is not just about the liberation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, this is about the liberation of humankind. Our liberation is bound together, inextricably.

So, please, do the work of liberation, for yourself and for all of humankind. The structures of oppression live within all of us, and can be dismantled. Give your time and money for causes in support of justice. But, also, give your time to looking inward and feeling how your life and lineage has shaped you in ways that contribute to the perpetuation of oppression, internally and externally.

And, please, don’t feel like you have to do this alone. It’s hard work, and you deserve support in it.

We are not truly free until all of us are free.

Here are some resources I have found useful:

Radical Dharma, by Rev angel Kyoda Williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Jasmine Syedullah
My Grandmother’s Hands, by Resmaa Menakem
Jailbreaking the Goddess, by Lasara Firefox Allen

13TH, by Ava DuVernay

Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police, NY Times

Notice the Rage, Notice the Silence, On Being podcast, Resmaa Menakem interviewed by Krista Tippett
Angela Davis on Democracy Now

This entry was posted on Monday, June 15th, 2020 at 12:01 am and is filed under Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Meditation, Seasonal Change, Spiritual Practice. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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