Black Lives Matter
Today is Juneteenth, a historical day in the United States which commemorates the day when slavery ended. Unfortunately; however, racism has not. Anti-Black racism in particular, has a centuries-long history of bringing violence and pain to Black communities.
This is an unacceptable reality.
Today, in the United States and worldwide, communities are coming together to challenge this state of affairs. Communities are coming together to eliminate hate, racism and their traumatic effects. Communities are coming together to imagine a new reality that centers marginalized communities, uplifts the validity of lived experience and builds genuine connections based on open communication.
It is time to for all of us to stand up and speak out for equality and justice. It is time for us to listen and offer our presence to hear this pain. It is time for each of us to take personal responsibility for our own participation in racism.
Even if it didn’t begin with me or you, racism is a form of legacy trauma–it gets passed on across generations contributing to our unconscious biases and prejudices. And, now, it is our responsibility to take hold of what has been passed down and create change! It is time to open up to uproot racism and plant compassion.
Conscious listening illuminates a transformational path of healing.
Acknowledging our personal place in the story of the trauma of racism is an important step in the healing journey. Each of us has a unique relationship to ancestral history, lived experience, attitudes and understandings. This means that each of us can contribute to a global healing journey by tuning into our own embodied experiences.
A friend of mine was targeted this week because she is black. Today, she feels unsafe in her home. When reflecting upon her experience, my heart feels heavy. I feel a contraction in my chest and a lump in my throat. I recognize the ways in which I live an insulated life. I walk down the street without a second thought, I feel safe in my home. I feel safe driving my car. I do not worry about what would happen if I get pulled over. I often take these experiences for granted. No, longer can I deny that the reality that these privileges do not exist for many black and indigenous people of color. Sitting with the reality of this inequality, I weep.
Conscious Communication to End Racism
Racism has closed off channels of communication.
In the interest of truly uprooting racism, we must rise to the challenge. Creating change relies on us. We must listen and we must lean into uncomfortable conversations.
Anti-racism is more than a belief—it is a lifelong commitment to action. Deep humility and vulnerability are a part of this journey.
In Practice: Conscious Listening
Everyone has a story.
Listening as an art form awakens profound experiences of the self and soul offering a portal that can awaken a transformational experience of connection to others and the world. Listen for the emotional meanings conveyed by others. Listen for what is not being said. Listen inside of the space between the words.
Listening to others depends upon our ability to listen to ourselves; our own emotions and sensations. These inner responses deepen our and bring us closer to deep, authentic connection.
Join me in this practice:
- Prepare yourself: Approach listening mindfully. Be honest with yourself. Notice if your thoughts are about your “to do” list or if you have the urge to look at your phone. Is this a good time to really listen? If not, identify a better time and agree to come back. When you are ready, take a deep breath and settle into your seat.
- Attune: Listen to the words and pay attention to what has not been said. Explore the tone of voice. Pay attention to the silence and pauses between words and phrases. Don’t respond right away. Be patient. Check in with how you feel as you listen. Savor the experience and notice what is evoked within you. What is occurring within your body and your emotions as you allow the words to sink in.
- Speak from your heart: When you offer back your understanding of what you heard, allow yourself to reflect simple offerings from your heart. Share what you felt and how you imagine the other is feeling. What honors their experience?
- Listen for feedback: You will know if you were accurate in your understanding by the response you get. When you get it right you will most likely have encouraged further sharing and expression. You might see a softening or a lessening of tension. If you are unsure you can always ask, “Did I understand you correctly?”
- Fine tune: If you didn’t get it right the first time around be patient with yourself. Offer to listen again . Acknowledge that you didn’t get it right and that you are investing in listening to what they have to say. Staying engaged in the process is one of the best was to communicate that we care.
Juneteenth: A Call for Change
As I write this on Juneteenth, I commit myself to a journey of anti-racist reflection and action. Please join me. Now is the time for action, and it begins with each of us reflecting upon our role in the process of global healing. As we engage with ourselves and our communities a compassionate approach will lead us into the future we deserve.
In solidarity and with respect,
About Dr. Arielle Schwartz
Dr. Arielle Schwartz is a licensed clinical psychologist, wife, and mother in Boulder, CO. She offers trainings for therapists, maintains a private practice, and has passions for the outdoors, yoga, and writing. She is the developer of Resilience-Informed Therapy which applies research on trauma recovery to form a strength-based, trauma treatment model that includes Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), somatic (body-centered) psychology and time-tested relational psychotherapy. Like Dr. Arielle Schwartz on Facebook,follow her on Linkedin and sign up for email updates to stay up to date with all her posts. Dr. Schwartz is the author of four books:
- The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole (Althea press, 2016)
- EMDR Therapy and Somatic Psychology: Interventions to Enhance Embodiment in Trauma Treatment (Norton, 2018).
- The Post-Traumatic Growth Guidebook: Practical Mind-Body Tools to Heal Trauma, Foster Resilience, and Awaken your Potential (Pesi Publications, 2020)
- A Practical Guide to Complex PTSD: Compassionate Strategies for Childhood Trauma (Rockridge Press, 2020)