Since 1976, under the guidance of president Gerald Ford, during the height of the civil rights movement, Black History Month was born. Now, years later, we still have so much to remember, learn from, and cherish.
As a black American woman, I can say with every fiber of my being that last year was tough. Black people are taught at a young age to carry the weight of difficult moments on their shoulders with strength, perseverance, and resilience. But, when those moments are compounded by things, such as a global pandemic, Black Lives Matter, starting or stopping a new job, etc., it becomes a lot harder to remain grounded and continue with that silent strength. I found myself asking, how can I carry on through moments of resilience when met with so much resistance from others?
Meditation is something that I rediscovered during the height of a seemingly weighted time: I had just finished a corporate job at a major tech company, had witnessed a few deaths in my building, felt isolated and scared due to Covid, and had this gnawing sense of wanting to help my (black, woman) community with what little energy I had left. External experiences and situations had started to deplete me (Black Lives Matter was TOUGH), and I felt that all of this stress and trauma was going to kill me. After all, how much can one person handle? Working with be.still taught me a very important and lifelong lesson that took 32 years to learn: come back to your breath. Things in America (and the world) last year became truly out of control and hard for any person to understand—it all felt so overwhelming—and I learned that I couldn’t do a single thing to help others if I didn’t first help myself.
Let’s lean into tenets of mindfulness to allow our minds and total beings to celebrate black people and our history in America. I urge everyone to replenish their power and energy reserve by taking a moment to acknowledge the resilience, perseverance, and strength of our ancestors. Black people who look like I do were capable of accomplishing astronomical things—fuelled by a passion to overcome situations and use their inner strength to bring about change. We need to honor the people who came before us, recognize that we are made of the same stuff they are, and celebrate the fact that we are all in this together.
Each year, in February, we are reminded of the men and women who carried the weight of the world on their strong backs. Let’s use that to guide and inspire us, remembering that we are capable of accomplishing great things if we can first and foremost remember to return to our own breaths.
Kristyn Potter is Founder of Chez Nous Guide, a global directory for finding businesses owned by people of color, women, and LGBTQIA+ founders. She also helps provide content support for be.still and is working on developing a daily meditation process.