Before I relate these two “called out” stories, I want to call you in. Wanna drop in to a communal ritual of embodied healing? Give your body the love and care and nourishment it needs in order to thrive? Essentials is there for you three Tuesdays in August: 4, 11, 18. I am totally ready to meet you on the mat. Bonus: recorded session available after each class. Check the link for info, Zoom enroll, payment.
Calling out describes what happens when you stumble and fumble as you incorporate new skills and, if you’re lucky, someone cares enough to take time and considerable energy to bring your attention to bear. So now for call out story #1. Right after the George Floyd murder I was finding my way through ravaged mid-town Sacramento. I snapped a picture of the heart-breaking “I can’t breathe” poster. It was Saturday, the day before I was to hold a Sunday Sweat. I used that photo on my Face Book page, a community reach to move and feel what was arising for each of us in this pivotal moment. I can’t count the number of times I’ve held community in moments like this. Too many.
Two weeks later, a thoughtful colleague engaged me in conversation about the use of this BLM poster for promotion. Curious if I’d donated proceeds to the BLM cause. Here’s how well I know myself. When my initial internal response is “F—k you, I’m outta here” that’s when I know it’s time to wake up and stay. She was kind, curious, clear. My initial defensiveness dissipated quickly as the dialogue progressed. It took no time to realize how much I had to learn. Worthwhile learning never happens in a defensive field.
Call out story #2. Last week fifty 5Rhythms teachers gathered from around the world on miracle platform Zoom. The goal was to somehow begin to unpack this humongous topic. How does racial injustice intersect with this embodied practice? How might 5Rhythms be a map for healing this cultural wound? This skilled panel presentation was a solid warm up to a full wave of upcoming exploration. As a way to continue the work, a FaceBook page was established for further discussion.
One of the initial posts came from a teacher in Tel Aviv expressing sincere gratitude for space to explore this hefty topic of oppression. In case you are unaware, right now a vociferous faction of Israelis are protesting the systemic oppression of Palestinians. Indeed, there are so many places on the globe where oppression is rearing its ugly head in such time worn ways. Humans seem to have a built-in need to create a class of people who are “less than”.
Within moments her post was commented upon, by a black person, holding it up as an example of the habitual way white people change the conversation. “This page is dedicated to exploring anti-blackness.” This left me confused. The title of the page did not describe it as such. The 5Rhythms teacher group is international and the plight of African-Americans is so unique to a single geography. I posted a query. Aren’t we international? If we are, isn’t this page about oppression in its various guises? Instead of a quick response like this one, I hoped for a conversation with the full panel so more deliberate clarification could emerge.
And this is precisely what happened. The page was renamed Envisioning 5R As A Map For Collective Liberation: Being with Anti-Blackness. The decision of the panel was to utilize an anti-black focus as starting point. A useful, timely entry point to what may or may not become a broader exploration. This helped me understand the focus of the group and its mission to work with this unique African-American sub-set of oppression. I may have made a different choice, but hey, I’m not in charge here. Thank goodness.
Here’s how I got called out—again. A white person posted the more fleshed out explanation. She stated the panel knew a black person was more likely to be dismissed. Oof. I sat with what felt like an accusation. It stung. It was uncomfortable. I felt defensive. Oof. There was that trusty response: “F—k you, I’m outta here”. Time to wake up and stay and clean up. And so I did. I messaged my black teaching colleague and apologized. It was not easy. Nor did it go entirely smoothly. This is the nature of the work before us. Messy. And to look the other way, to ignore or gloss over this opportunity would not have been tenable. It would have felt cowardly.
The fact that I felt shamed, that I can make up all kinds of stories of what was right and what was wrong and who’s to blame and why I proceeded as I did and how I was really wrongly accused. No matter. I simply apologized. It is a lonely place to sit. Only today did I receive some support from sister colleagues. Licking my wounds. Totally willing to hang in.
How are you doing? We’re all being with our particular version of difficult right now. Quiet time of supported feeling in is medicine for these moments. I hope we can meet on the mat this week.