Grand Rising Children of My Ancestors:
As the gray rainy days of winter make way for the warm sunny days of summer, it is an especially optimal time for African people to get outside in the sun and turn our attention to nourishing ourselves with activities that uplift the mind, body, and spirit.
What we pay attention to grows, so let’s make summer a time to pay loving attention to our minds, bodies, and spirits. Let’s feed ourselves with generous amounts of joy, bliss and laughter! This approach is consistent with the theory of Optimal Psychology, developed by Dr. Linda James Myers, a member of the Association of Black Psychologists. Dr. Myers teaches us that with deliberate attention we can reclaim our spiritual identity, build our internal strength to navigate life’s challenges, and holistically illuminate our minds, bodies, and spirits.
Here are a few recommendations for your summer:
Listen to your Spirit
Sit quietly for a few moments and take a scan of your body, thoughts, feelings, emotions, spirit, and see what arises…What is asking for your attention? What are your desires? What would bring you joy? What would be fun to do? Let your knowing and knowable spirit speak to you.
Take a trip to Marcus Book Store, the historic independent bookshop opened in the 1960s, specializing in titles by and about Black people. In the bookshop, you will find an array of wonderful titles in every genre to expand your knowledge and understanding of Black people and our journey worldwide. Read the works of Asa Hilliard, Bobby Wright, Wade Nobles, Linda James Myers, Kobi Kambon, Frances Cress Welsing, Na’im Akbar, Cheryl Grills, Reginald Jones, Marcia Sutherland, Bruce Bynum and other Black mental health experts. Invite a friend or a young person in your life along for the journey to the Oakland store at 3900 Martin Luther King Way, just around the corner from the MacArthur BART station..
Dancing feeds our zest for life. Put on music and have a dance date with yourself and the people you live with. Drop into a Capoeira class, Congolese dance, or take on Orisha dance class with EMESE Sunday afternoons at Malonga Casquelord Center of the Arts at 1428 Alice Street, Oakland. Classes for youth and adults can be found on their website: www.mccatheater.com.
Walk the 3.4 miles of Lake Merritt with a friend or family member. It is surrounded by parkland, neighborhoods, eateries, and coffee shops. Stop for a smoothie or pack a blanket/lunch/music instruments (drum/guitar/shakers), and join your neighbors who are at the Lake relaxing. Take advantage of our many regional parks and let the earth and trees ground and settle you. Sit quietly in the greens and woods. Charge up your mind, body, and spirit by sitting in the sun. Breathe deeply, say a prayer, and release your stress.
Meditation and Prayer
Take time to be still and relax. Turn off the electronics and enjoy silence if just for a few minutes. Periods of deep relaxation lowers blood pressure, supports our rest, and metabolizes stress. Connecting to our Higher Power in prayer helps us to remember that we are spiritual beings and have divine assistance to make it through the trials of life.
Get a Check-Up
Summer is a good time to learn your numbers. Blood pressure, glucose, weight, body mass index. Know where you stand and what your body may be asking you to pay attention to.
Feeling blue? Facing a difficult life challenge? Seek out the counsel of a Black mental health practitioner who can offer support with thoughts, feelings, needs, and lived experiences as a person of African descent. Contact us at Sankofa Holistic Counseling Services at: www.sankofatherapy.com and 510-433-0244, and find your local Association of Black Psychologists chapter at: www.abpsi.org.
Eat Good Food
Take a trip to a local Farmers Market and get a few fresh items directly from a farm. Take your children and enjoy the samples farmers share. Try a new vegetable or fruit. If you go right before the market closes, there are bound to be sales, bonus bags, and giveaways. EBT is widely accepted. If there is not a market near you, make it a family outing and hop on the bus.
Through Black Psychology, we know that our health and well-being is never just for ourselves. Use the summertime to support our collective health, especially mental health, and wellness. Practice seeing yourself as the “cause and consequence” of the whole family’s health and well-being. Meditate on the Ubuntu affirmation, “I am because we are” on your walk to Oakland’s annual Umoja (Unity) Festival (“through unity we make vital economic and social progress”) on Saturday, August 17th, at Lowell Park, 1098 12th St. in est Oakland!
Claudius Johnson, is a licensed clinical social worker and CEO of Sanfoka Holistic Counseling Services.
*These monthly articles on Black Mental Health issues are written by members of the Bay Area Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi-Bay Area). ABPsi-Bay Area is a healing resource and is committed to providing the Post Newspaper readership with monthly discussions about critical issues in Black Mental Health. We can be contacted at (email@example.com) and readers are welcome to join with us at our monthly chapter and board meeting, every third Saturday at the West Oakland Youth Center from 10:00 a.m. – 12 p.m.