It might seem odd to pair the notion of surrendering to Spirit with a poem with such in-your-face and profane language. One rendered in such vehement and insist tones.
However, I offer, in the spirit of our literary ancestors and those who fought for our liberation, that many of us will have to be willing to hear her, she being Spirit, whisper in our ear before we truly begin to seek freedom on many levels. In fact, my experience with her, with Spirit, is that she does far more than whisper. She often screams, yells, shouts and pushes us around and knocks us upside the head,partly because most of us are running too much too often after much that does not serve us and from our fears to hear her. Me included. Sometimes, we are not open to Spirit, truly, in a way, where we let her, our intuition, our alternate ways of knowing, to guide our course, to show us to way. To find a way to be free in ways that our true and authentic selves can flourish and experience joy and pleasure in spite of the fact that our lives will also always include some form of pain, discomfort and suffering.
I was reminded again recently of the relationship between surrender and liberation. At the end of last year, in early December, I attended my first Amplify and Activate Summit organized by Jasmine Hines, Founder and Executive Director of Amplify and Activate. I was absolutely thrilled to be able to sit in communion with women who I had come to admire so much since 2017.
In October 2017, I attended a training on restorative yoga and race-based stress and trauma led by Dr. Gail Parker and organized by Keisha Battles, Owner and Founder of IAMYOGA (CLT). At the time, I was on my first visit back to the states after moving to Senegal to start Diasporic Soul and Tangor Cafe.
Honestly, I had no idea how impactful, transformative and affirming that weekend at Keisha’s house with Dr. Gail would end up being. Affirming in the sense that I was learning that restorative yoga was gonna to be an anchor and resource for me as I continued my healing journey back in Senegal. Before I had left, I had a miscarriage that devastated Eddy and I. And, be clear, I was experiencing many of the challenges of any new immigrant and entrepreneur. Yo! For real tho. Don’t let my cool demeanour now and current Wolof fluency confuse you (LOL). My first year living abroad absolutely kicked my black ass. And, restorative yoga is one of the major ways I was able to stay relatively grounded and balanced as I learned how to live in a new culture and begin building two businesses with Eddy simultaneously.
Certainly, the training weekend with Dr. Gail at Keisha’s house was also affirming and restorative because, let me be real clear here, I was with so MANY other Black yoga teachers. I mean there were like 10 of us in one room. Never, before. At least not for me, as a sistah who found yoga and did her teacher training in Cincinnati, a city known to many as the Nasty Nati in part because of it’s racial politics (read white supremacy and anti-black racism).
The weekend in the other Queen City at Keisha’s with Dr. Gail was affirming too in the sense that what I thought Diasporic Soul was to be was slowing evolving into something else, something I never quite could have imagined. That weekend sitting and laying on my mat, blankets and bolsters fully supported with these sistahs shifted something for me. But of course,as Spirit would have it, it was not necessarily all revealed to Eddy and I all at once. The true purpose and mission of Diasporic Soul would unfold over time with further guidance (read nudging, pushing, tugging etc) from Spirit and pivotal moments that Eddy and I shared with others . . .
And, then at the beginning of 2020, as you well know, Covid-19 hit. As the world slowed down and I found even more stillness, I was able to find community and feed my soul and spirit, which included, finding my way back to Keisha and Jasmine. In Kiesha’s Kriya yoga class today, I was trying to figure out how I got to Jasmine and Amplify and Activate’s Hotter Than July over the summer. I can only attribute it to Spirit. Which, Jasmine will tell you, is gangsta. Yeah, this past summer brought me back to the sistahs and the resources I had connected to in the fall of 2017. But, in a much deeper and richer way. This has included Amplify and Activate as well as offerings from the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance (BYTA) and The Sanctuary in the City. Being able to connect virtually has been a game changer. A gift. And, for that I am grateful. Truly grateful.
And, at this moment, today, after today’s class and sitting in sangha with Keisha and Jasmine waaaaaayyyyyy past my bedtime on Friday, a fact that my spirit cannot overlook, I know it is time to share this piece I wrote first thing, in one sitting, on the Monday morning after the Summit. I know that what inspired it, to go back to the Summit in December, was the testimony and wisdom and shared lived experiences of sistahs who Jasmine had convened who had declared that enough is enough; I ain’t doing it no more. As well as some of other beloveds in my life (you know who you are) who made very similar choices recently or who continue to make the choice to surrender and have faith in themselves and their dreams.
And, these past fews days, since Thursday’s New Moon, Spirit has, with her pushy, unrelenting, insistent, in-your-face, can’t-leave-well-enough-alone, keep-you-up-all-night gangsta ass, reminded me again to do the work, to feed my fire, to know that I am in fact exactly where I am supposed to be and that I am on track and on purpose. Which, going back to the tone and tenor of this poem, is not a place I arrived at by always staying silent and biting my tongue. Besides, as I approach 50 this year, I am even more resolved to honor and speak my truth sooner.
So, in that vein, when she, Spirit I mean, was pushing me around in the middle of the night this past week and playfully winking at me with wasps (another story) during my morning meditations on our sun-filled balcony, she reminded me to redeclare to myself and others,”fuck that shit; I ain’t doing it no more.”
And, to share “Fuck This Shit; I Ain’t Doing It No More!” with the sistahs and the brothas who are standing the the ledge, albeit it hesitantly, ready to jump. Ready to speak the truth as they understand it. Ready, to quote my friend Carol, to End Polite Silence.
Ready to meet with HR, do earned-leave calculations and circle dates on the calendar with a red sharpie pen.
Who are refusing to dim their light or diminish their hopes and dreams.
Who are ready to say enough is enough I ain’t doing it now more. Ready to go forward, surrendering and trusting Spirit and themselves.
Dr. Gail Parker’s book Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race-Based Stress and Trauma is now available at your favorite book seller.
For more on surrendering to Spirit, read Parker’s explanation of Ishvara Pranidhana – Surrender to Your Higher Power (158). Or, Nischala Devi’s explanation of Ishvara Pranidhana – Wholehearted Dedication to the Divine in The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras (144).
Amplify and Activate’s Let Spirit Lead Sanghas take place on the 2nd Friday of each month through the month of June.
“Fuck This Shit: I Ain’t Doing It No More” is included in my first book to be released later this year – We Got Soul: Healing Racial Trauma with Culture and Contemplative Practice (Working Title).
Musical Inspiration: “Thy Will Be Done” by India Arie & “Liberation” by Outkast.