In reflecting on the power of breath work and body work as anti-racism practice, Living Cities staff member Lethy Liriano said, “I think that bringing meditation to white institutional cultures is a great step towards humanizing work spaces (which are microcosms of our society). Connecting to feelings and humanity is often considered unprofessional in the work environment, so modeling a connection to self during meetings begins to shift that belief and the culture of numbing staff (especially staff of color) emotions, experiences, and quite frankly, expertise. Breathing and meditation is a tangible manifestation of bringing the full person into the space. As folks are thinking about what actions they can take to support the Movement for Black Lives or the current racialized climate in our nation and globally, lifting up this practice in the work space can support those who historically have only experienced white institutional culture to reflect inwardly and deepen their own humanity, which can impact how they show up in the world, within and outside of the work space.
“Breathing collectively, normalizing this practice as an organization, and incorporating movement, art, or meditation, begin to affirm a practice alive and well outside of white institutions. In spaces where agendas, data, deadlines, and ‘professional’ distancing of humanity from the work environment are the norm, incorporating a connection to heart/spirit, and doing that collectively, begins to open a space for reimagination of what the work culture can include. It also acknowledges that staff across identity groups can experience feelings, acknowledge humanity, and connect in different ways. White people often lose culture and humanity in our racist system, and this connection can help them to heal and approach the work with more compassion and solidarity. It can also help Black people show up as more of their full selves in spaces where they have historically had to assimilate and navigate microaggressions to succeed, and not acknowledge the injustice, trauma, and grief they often hold simply because of their skin color at work and in the world.”
Our CORE (“Colleagues Operationalizing Racial Equity”) team couldn’t have said it better. This is why, when we made an intention to share how breath and body work have been incorporated into our racial equity practice, we made a decision to let our staff speak for themselves. Here are the testimonies of Living Cities staff in how this work has impacted them.