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Lesson 2, Chapters 4-7

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Nicole
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Q: Complete the body practice on pg. 77. Reflect on your experience. (If you are working with different page numbers- this is the first set of body practices in Chapter 5)

Q. Complete the body practice on pg. 93. Reflect on your experience. * For white folks and non-Black readers. (This is at the end of Chapter 6)

Q. Complete the body practice beginning on pg. 105. How did paying attention to the experience of your body change your view of the incident/experience you imagined? (This is at the end of Chapter 7)

This topic was modified 11 months ago by Nicole

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David Westlake
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1. Interesting experience. As I practiced this exercise I felt very constricted in my upper body and found my breathe shallow. Lots of heaviness in my body and mind. The process of identifying a micro-aggression was in itself a curious exercise. My mind immediately went to a particular series of events with one specific toxic person from a former work place then it was a matter of letting things settle through the overall sensation in my body to let it settle on a couple of incidents before I could even choose. 

2. This was a fun exercise to imagine and move through. The awkwardness of being externally different from others and letting the conditioned prejudices settle was enlightening. It's so telling how we have learned so many of these judgments and presuppositions as well as how they ingrained within our psyches. I go through this sometimes when working with Native Alaska communities or when entering a prison situation to teach yoga.  

3. There is such a rush of power when speaking ones truth or standing up for oneself. I remembered  the moments of standing up and taking care of myself. There is a lot of inward resistance to this, a reconditioning of inner doubt and an ability to see the situation with some objectivity. 

 


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Shawn
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1. I did not enjoy this exercise. I thought back to several instances where my lived experience was not acknowledged or even believed. It was minimized as not being as bad as it was and compared to others who may have it worse. As I replayed the events again and focused on bodily sensation, I felt constriction, anger and even shaking. It took conscious effort and several minutes of resourcing to bring my body back to a regulated state where I could sense ease again and let it go.

2. This body practice was interesting. I've experienced situations in real life where I was the only white body in a group. I definitely felt my lizard brain activate. I felt uncomfortable and self-conscious and on high alert the first few times I was in these situations. I felt so visible and like I had to really be hyper aware of my actions and language. It was really eye opening to me how embedded these beliefs and biases are in our bodies, even when the thinking brain knows better. Over time, I've noticed my body relax more in these situations and I almost never feel the hyper-alert sensations that I did before, but I realize it is taking some conscious effort.

3. I really appreciated this body practice. I settled on a situation where I decided to use my voice and stand up for myself after being shamed by an older family member, something that was particularly difficult for me since I was usually conflict avoidant. At the time, I remember feeling unvalidated, sad, a sense of despair and constriction in my body. However, after taking some deep breaths and sitting with the sensations of going over that event again, the experience is completely different. I felt strength, hope, deep purpose and ease in my body. Through stillness and listening, I'm realizing that this was a real pivotal moment in my life where I gained some power in speaking my truth.


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Caroline
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Microaggressions

I remembered feeling embarrassed and surprised by my friend's comment (this friendship was relatively new).  I laughed the comment off and shut down by remaining quiet.  It made me question how the other person viewed me and wonder if they judged me in some way.  I did not feel comfortable asking what they meant or sharing my feelings.

Imagining myself in these different scenarios was not difficult to do because I have experienced some of them in real life.  When I thought about imagining myself at the wedding, the comment made, and being "caught" as seeming hesitant, I felt a feeling of shame come into my body.  The shame was accompanied by a need to explain myself and perhaps "flee" the situation.  Something about another person noticing my behavior stirred a physical insecurity and need to apologize.  

 


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Nicole
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@breathingstillnessgmail-com

You mentioned that you sometimes go through the felt experience of being different than others around you, including when you enter a prison. I am curious about what that experience is like for you, and if there is anything you do in particular to settle your body?

 


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Nicole
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@shawn-chereskin

Similar to what I asked David, I am curious to know if there were specific practices you did to help settle your body when you felt your lizard brain activate at times you were the only white person in the room. You mentioned that over-time your body has relaxed more in these situations, and I am curious to know what you think led to this change. Where did you place your conscious effort?

 


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Nicole
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@carolinecl

 

I notice you chose the words "caught", "shame", and "flee"  to describe the embodied experience of picturing the wedding scenario. This reminds me that our body often detects emotional experiences, like this, as a threat, and reacts very similarly to when we are in physical harm. It helps me understand why someone might seek to avoid or leave the situation, rather than confront it. 


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Carrie Hoffman
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Pg. 93 - Imagining the situation of walking into a wedding reception where I am the only white person was very interesting. I definitely felt a sense of intense discomfort and hyper-alertness in my body, especially around my heart and shoulders. This surprised me a bit because I have been in this situation many times in my life. However all of those times were when I was living in Tanzania as a Peace Corps volunteer. I like to tell myself that I adapted to being a minority and feeling out of place. However when I think back on what my body experienced at that time of my life I think there was a constant underlying hyper-vigilance. Part of that was due to living in a new place where I didn't speak the language and part of it was definitely due to my inevitable discomfort at being the only white-skinner person in the community. Also, even in that situation it was easier for me to "adapt" because I was entering the community with a special title, "white savior"-ish job assignment, and the innate power that comes from being an educated white bodied individual no matter where you are in the world.


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Joanna
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Body practices:

1. To me a micro-aggression is definitely a powerful feeling, a sending of energy we are afraid to confront, usually because it's a minor annoyance and we expect the other person to already know how we feel. I have an overactive sense of smell and also can be extremely sensitive to certain sounds - I know there was a name to my condition but it escapes me. I commit micro-aggressions if either of these is present such as my husband noisily crunching his apple at lunch time. This feeling causes constriction in my chest and a tightness in my throat. Sometimes I just leave the room. A micro-aggression requires an awareness and sensitivity, so perhaps like my husband they can go unnoticed. It can also be non-intentional like when someone accidentally cuts the line at the sandwich counter and we want to respond. When this happens I usually assess whether it seems intentional or not and that can affect my response. None of it feels good.

2. Because I now live in a predominantly white community, I am very aware of the few people of color who live here and often think of how they must feel in this environment and how I would feel if the situation was reversed. We have one black man who works out at our gym and he keeps to himself. Inside I want to make this person feel comfortable and safe, but I don't actually even know how he feels. When I was in college, my boyfriend's father was a pastor of an all-black church and we attended services a few times. I was feeling quite self-conscious, and all eyes felt like they were on me. But the genuine acceptance and encouragement that I received far overrode my anxiety. After the service, many people thanked me for coming and welcomed me to return. I was surprised and felt supported. 

3. Asking a black body to comfort or protect me - I have not done this recently but I experienced it second- hand. I coach track and cross country at a small Christian high school that has only a handful of non-white students. Recently they hired a black athletic director who after a year became the school principal. This man was warm, out-going, gregarious and genuine in all of his interactions. This was also very likely the first time that most of these students ever interacted directly with a black man and perhaps even the same for many of the parents. I could always see that he went out of his way to make people feel comfortable, he engaged in difficult race conversations willingly and openly. One day I heard a white student ask him if he needed to wear sunscreen. I was so uncomfortable but he recognized it as a question of real curiosity and he answered directly and calmly, building a relationship and reaching across the barriers. I witnessed this kind of interaction many times but I also felt that he had a heavy burden that was wearing. He always had to be perfect. 


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Shawn
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@nicole Looking back, I think it was just that...conscious effort to override the lizard brain. I am used to tapping into sensation when I'm feeling uncomfortable so I did just that. I had to ask myself in the moment why I was feeling these things, breathing into my heart space and then a knowing that I was safe and ok and these sensations were the work of my unconscious bias. I think having the awareness of how trauma and unconscious bias work were huge as well as repeated exposure to situations where I was a minority were helpful in settling into a more comfortable place. I know that I still have work to do as the unconscious biases and ancestral trauma run deep so I'm committed to staying with the work when I notice my nervous system activate in these situations.


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Marjorie
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Q: Microagression: I liked that exercice, it was really constructive. I wrote the different memories and it helped me to realised the projection of fear and pain than I received and absorbed during my life, how my body patterns shown it as how it was reflected into my reaction or my relation with the person, but also the gender group, the racial group, religeous group, concerned directly or indirectly by that micro agression.

It shown me also, how much it is important to make the effort to analyse conflicting situation/ micro agression, to understand what that situation is waking up inside me and inside the other person? Why am I reacted like this? Why he/she is reacted like that? What does the situation is  reflecting about his/her own story, my own story.

It shown me how much I have done a work of awareness and desconstruction of my white mind, but also of my mind as a daughter of a traumatic closed mind father, and a family carrying trans generational trauma.

The awareness of the trauma of people and their influence on their behaviors, help a lot to look at people with more belevelance, more understanding, compassionate thoughts, as well, to adapt his own behavior to the concerned people. It is helping a lot concerning his own evolution, andhaving an heathly way to interact with people.

 

 

Q:

  1. First, I am not confortable at ceremonial meetings/ reception, in general, its not enough relaxed for me ( a prejudice built up from experience ;)) , so, I would arrive late probably because I would have inconfortable feeling about to be in that kind of ceremony. Then I would feel unconfortable to feel different, and I think I would laugh about myself, as a white representing the minority of the reception. I would think about Franz Fanon, and be happy.

  1. I would be surprised, and I would feel an inconfortable feeling in my body as my mind would have to addapt to that new information than I didn't expected.

    I would be glad to see my brother happy, and be glad/proud to see that he would choose to have a relationship with someone instead of fisical handicaps. I also would just hope than i=she wouldn't be adopted, to can enjoy the richness of intercultural relationship!

  2. I would feel inconfortable probably.

  3. I lived in african districts, and I felt stupid when I came in a bar, full of Black people, going to take my African dance classes. I felt watched and inconfortable, not because I was white, but because I was a woman and the bar was full of Black men. I felt also stupid to realize than I had the prejudice to think than all Black people were good dancer.

 

Q: I have a lot of tattoo, and I already get the help of Black people, or people from migration. I already have done hitchhiking with people coming from africa. I am now, with my experience, more focus on what say my instinct when I met someone, than how he is looking. I am not feeling capable to answer to that question with a white colonized mind.

 


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David Westlake
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@nicole for me it’s really about the breath and my intention before stepping into the facility. Back when the prisons were open it was a two and half hour drive to the max prison for teacher prison over the mountain pass without any signal. No phone, radio or distractions unless it was a download. I started to use that time and the drive as a meditation making it as a way to get grounded, go through what I was planning to offer and having the drive be the mindfulness experience. That’s one example. 


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Nicole
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@m-denisgmx-fr

I appreciate the point you make of being mindful of the way both people react when a microaggression takes place. What caused each person to react the way they did? What is their story? 


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Nicole
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Wow! Such a long car ride- just one example of your dedication to this work. The facility I serve is less than ten minutes away from my home. I always find myself getting there early, and sitting in the car to collect myself and prepare my mind and body to hold space. I also found that when I jumped into meetings right away after leaving the facility, I had chaotic energy. I needed more time to decompress whatever I took in. 


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David Westlake
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@nicole yes I experienced that too, when I would try to do something light or just a different sort of thing  afterwards my experience from inside was with me for a while. Actually I had to work on really letting that go or I would be in this particular charged sort of way for the rest of the day maybe the week. When I went to the max prison the drive home helped. We (when Darcy our co-founder came along) had a ritual of stopping at a coffee stand just down the road from the prison along the highway and getting creamy drinks and these weird breaded pretzels they randomly sold. Then we would drink and eat these treats in silence for a while driving through the mountains until we could start to talk. Always such a weird contrast to leave the blocks and bars then step out into majestic Alaska. 


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