Settling Ourselves in Community
February 15, 2021
Submitted by Katherine Williams
As a retired massage therapist and yoga teacher in training, I believe in the importance and power of the body. So its no surprise that I when I discovered the book My Grandmother’s Hands by Resma Menakam I found it to be an extremely illuminating book on racial trauma and healing. As I contemplated what I might share for this meditation, some suggestions in his book jumped out at me so I thought I’d share.
No matter what you think about where we are as a city, state, country around racial injustice, politics or any other contentious subject, the truth is that there is a lot of angry, hate filled and divisive talk and behavior all around us. This is not what we are called to be as a community of faithful Christians.
One of the central themes in the book is that every one of us, white, black, brown, or blue (as in police officers) are living in bodies that have something from the past unhealed within our body. And it is human to REACT first and quickly in any situation in which we feel unsafe. All to often that quick, defensive reaction creates more separation and misunderstanding between us. Leading to what Menaken calls “dirty pain”.
The first step to heal ourselves and our communities is to settle our nervous system so we move beyond reaction to compassion. We do this by SLOWING DOWN and moving into our “SOUL NERVE” (the Vagus Nerve). And the greatest healing comes when we are 2 or 3 gathered together
As we reflect on those we love and care about this Valentine’s Week, here are some ways we can begin to practice settling ourselves in community with our loved ones. In our families or even on the phone or on Zoom with a dear friend we can practice settling our nervous system down before a triggering event happens.
Hum or sing together
Rock or sway together in rhythm (hum and sing or just quietly)
Rub our bellies together in unison for a few minutes
Take a walk together synchronizing our footsteps (in silence)
Massage one another’s hands or feet
Breathe together quietly, (see if you can feel the threads of connection between you, heart to heart)
And then pay attention to how it feels to be in your own body and what it’s like to be connected either in person or virtually with your friend or family member. Take your time, be curious, laugh together and see what happens.