Ritual Heals: Meeting Mami Wata

Mami Wata is an integral part of our Diasporic Soul Heritage and Healing Experiences in Senegal.

Reconnecting to Mami Wata is one way that we practice ritual to deepen our capacity to experience healing and restoration.

Ritual is integral to healing, to experiencing harmony and wholeness, as Malidoma Patrice Some explains in The Healing Wisdom of Africa: Finding Life Purpose Through Nature, Ritual and Community.

In order to restore our connection to Mami Wata we must remember that we share a collective trauma that created the rupture between us and the ocean. The dis-ease some of us have with the ocean is rooted in our shared collective, ancestral and historical trauma.

Yet, as this young man explains, meeting Mami Wata as sacred ritual and with a community where he feels safe, secure and a strong sense of belonging changes how he feels about her. This young man’s named-fear-of-the-ocean has shifted to reverence and deep respect for Mami Wata. At the same time, seeing other Black people in relationship with her allows him to change how he sees his own potential and place in the world.

Meeting Mami Wata in this way, in sacred ritual with community, also allows us to surrender and let go so that we can experience joy, delight, awe and wonder. So we can play. Offering some of us a chance to reclaim our childhoods, which are often cut short as we are taught early on to hunker down and protect ourselves from the constant threats of pernicious racism and violence.

Allowing ourselves, like this young lady, to revel in the joy and delight we can experience as Mami Wata rolls up and tickles our toes and caresses our calves is transformative. She evokes awe and wonder at the same time she brings a sense of well-being and peace.

These two young people show us that spending time at the ocean, with a sense of curiosity rather than fear or dread is an act of reclamation. An act that offers us space to feel free, unfettered and unbound, as vast as the ocean herself and the endless sky above her.

There’s a power for us, as Diasporic Souls when we restore our connection with the ocean, with Mami Wata, because we are “also connecting with a part of [our] heritage.” Mami Wata was a “crucial part of our ancestors’ identities..” We are, “[t]he vast majority of us, “descended from African people who were coastal, ocean-dwelling people.” It is clear that we, as African people, as Diasporic Souls, are deeply bound with her. A connection, a bound that is profoundly healing and restorative.

Learn more about Mami Wata’s sacred place in our lives and the way she feeds our SOUL in We Got Soul; We Can Heal, Chapter VII – #Ritual Heals – Meeting Mami Wata.


Black. Dope. All Good.

Our third Black. Dope. & All Good. Communal Healing Retreat for Black Men was held on Saturday, 23 April 2022.

As a Diasporic Soul Heritage and Healing Experience, the retreat integrated SOUL (culture) and contemplative practices to deepen the capacity of our participants to experience healing and restoration. Informed with the understanding that our individual and collective healing requires community, love, spirit and ritual.

By healing we mean restoring our connection to SOUL, a transformative healing resource that reflects the cultural sensibilities of the African Diaspora (Harrell). By healing we mean remembering that we are indeed Black. Dope. and All Good. That we are Magical. Valuable. And Beautiful. That We Got SOUL; We Can Heal. SOUL combined with contemplative practices.

Held at the Cincinnati Art Museum, our retreat included the generative contemplative practice of beholding the creative works of African American artists – David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History and Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop.

And reflection.

And, bearing witness, storytelling, deep listening and engaging, frank, honest and thoughtful dialogue.

In community, where they felt a sense of belonging and “deep connectedness.” Which, as some brothers lamented, has been missing from their lives. In a community space where they could be “without any pretense,” where they did not have to perform or posture, or feel like they had to compete based on “what they do, where they live or what kind of car they drive.” In this place, in this space, Black men felt like they could be their “authentic selves” and that they were “able to present themselves how they are and [in ways] where they felt seen.”

In addition to feeling a sense of belonging and a sense of being deeply connected to one another, they felt safe and comfortable. Which, ultimately allowed them to be open, surrender and be vulnerable.

In terms of safety, I feel so comfortable here. I feel able to just be without any pretense. I feel comfortable because we all have an understanding that we all can actually have real connections with one another.

When you said you are safe outside, I felt that in my core.

The setting of safety. Vulnerability was welcomed and encouraged. The setting was perfect for letting go and leaning in.

There is this moment when you said, ‘could you be more comfortable; make sure you are comfortable.’ And, I watched men soften. I just want to thank you for creating the environment for this.

I appreciated everybody leaning into their vulnerability today.

The safe space created by the team and facilitator was amazing. Being free to be vulnerable made the experience impactful.

Safe on and off the mat. As brothers, in a collective, communally, together. All dressed in black Diasporic Soul tee shirts. Going to the exhibit hall, walking out of and back into the museum in a way that felt kinda like the moment when you see Malcolm with the Fruit of Islam lined up outside the hospital standing shoulder to shoulder in their full innate sense of dignity and worth. Taking up space. Moving in and out of a space in ways we intended to be safe while staying centered by avoiding what one brother named the white gaze. Not to mention the collection of European religious works just outside the library door and the energy of the museum lobby that could not support our capacity to stay centered or feel safe for that matter.

We held space for Black men to experience stillness. To practice self-care. Because, as one brother noted, “holding space is important because you gotta hold space for the shit Black men go through. It ain’t anything easy that we even know how to put into words sometimes.” And, because, as another shared, it is often hard to focus when you are constantly thinking about tomorrow or anticipating next week.

Put another way, [as one brother vehemently declared,] “I felt like for the first time in a long time I could unplug from hustle culture. That I can just chill and sit and feel the sun. I really like that, the idea of that chilling and sitting still and feeling the sun.” This, in lieu of high effort coping (John Henryism) and constantly doing. This, in lieu of being measured by his productivity and performance.

So, they were reminded of the importance of the breath, of consciously and intentionally connecting to it. Reminded of the value of pausing to take care of yourself. And, centering yourself. Of the importance of being able “to have a chance to slow down” and “just be” because “this journey can be very hectic and scary; it feels lonely and exhausting.”

Yoga gave me the tools to slow down and reconnect with myself.

Black. Dope. All Good. Communal Healing Retreat for Black Men Participant

And, the body, as a resource. That grounding and centering ourselves is restorative. That “there is power in just having your feet actually grounded on the floor,” as one brother explained with new awareness. “I realized I do not usually have my whole foot on the floor.”

And, that nature can offer us support as we pursue healing and restoration, as we practice self-care, with the sense that “being outside can be really great.”

Special Thanks

A very special thanks to Gee Horton for being a partner; his energy and commitment to holding sacred healing space for Black men as an artist is reflected in the success of our retreat series. It is quite clear how much other Black men trust and respect him. Many who attended did so on Gee’s word, which for Black folks, is as real and honest as it gets. Our word is bond.

Special thanks to Ihsan Walker for offering loving and unwavering support to the program from the very beginning, which included making the connections that allowed the Cincinnati Recreation Commission to serve as a partner. For always showing up, always.

Thank you to Tony Mack and Adrian Parker for their stabilizing Cancerian energy. For showing up each time to support this important work with their distinctly unique gifts and talents.

Thanks to the sisters who have supported this work, including Carol Tonge Mack, whose unwavering support included so so much, including leveraging her social capital to get brothers at each and every session, including her son, husband, mentee and colleagues. Thanks to Dr. Kyra Shahid for always embracing the vision from day one and making so many of the connections possible. Thanks also to sister Audrey Calloway, who like Carol and Kyra, is ever our cheerleader and who showed up for the last session with pure joy and light. Thanks to Deshayla and Samiya as well for being available to check in our guests and support the program throughout the day.

Thank you to the Black Empowerment Works Program (BEW) of the United Way of Cincinnati for funding this project that we designed in response to the ongoing, cumulative and recurring race-based stress and trauma that Blacks folks continue to face and grapple with.

Thank you to the Mr. Daniel Betts and the Cincinnati Recreation Commission for trusting us and Ihsan. For serving as a partner who, along with the Cincinnati Art Museum, provided access to space, staff and other necessary resources that allowed us to offer these important healing and restoration experiences to Black men. Specifically, special thanks to Carrie Atkins Maras at the Cincinnati Art Museum for her generosity and support, for being an ally.

Also, shout out to two small Black- and women-owned businesses:

Open Soul Yoga Home for the lavender eye pillows and mat straps.

Soleil Kitchen for catering our first two sessions.


Approximately seven years ago Eddy and I ended our visit to Senegal on the day White Supremacy entered a sacred dwelling, a church and shot down nine congregants. And that boy got burgers on the way to jail.

Barack sang Amazing Grace. Bree took down the flag.

Two years ago, five years after that massacre at Mother Emanuel church, we watched White Supremacy rest its knee on Brotha Floyd’s neck. And shoot Breonna in her bed. And run Ahmaud down in the street in a damn pick up truck, the kind that has kicked up fear for generations of Black people.

I cried out then. And, again, on Saturday. No, no, no. Not again. Not again.

It is not hate, generally. As they have already begun uncourageously to call it. Or the lack of gun control. As some have begun to insist. Or some switch that clicked on or off in this boy’s head. Ambiguity has a price. A huge one when it ofuscates the brutal truth about what really went down in Buffalo. A price we keep paying. With our lives. Our love. Our loss. Our grief. Our peace of mind.

This, as Eugene Robinson reminded us in his NYT column yesterday, is White Supremacy. It is the pernicious racism Roxanne Gay named in 2020 when White Supremacy killed George Floyd. And Breonna. And Ahmaud.

I will cry again. Today. And, tomorrow. And rant. And rave. Outloud. Here, in writing. And, tap. And, shake. I will breathe deeply and intentionally in child’s pose or butterfly fully supported by my mat, bolster, blankets and blocks. And my ancestors. Supported by music, soul music. Beautiful Chorus. Robert Glasper. Anthony Hamilton. I will sit in community filled with love. All to settle my nervous system. My spirit. To temper the grief and rage. The damn dismay.

And, like Roxanne and Eugene. Resmaa and Dr. Kyra. I will say exactly what this is. I will say Black when I mean Black. I will say anti-Black racism in lieu of vaquely referring to some non-specific hate. I will say white supremacy. White violence and terror. The kind that lynches and murders innocent Black folks in church and grocery stores. On branches of magnolia trees. Like Emmet’s mama insisted with her child’s open casket in the hot ass summer of 1955, we must see and look directly at this brutality, this terrorism. The capacity for the nation we built for free to wring its hands and talk sideways. Again. While simultaneously engaging in the rhetorical gymnatics in legislative chambers and rooms where school boards meet. This is that. The history that they want to protect their kids from. A violent fragility that erases reality and brutality. The kind that we saw on Saturday.

I will name what is. I will settle my spirit with my body and breathe. And the word.

My hope is that you will too. May you find and know peace. Because, for real, this is some f^#ed a$% ish.


Lunch & Learn – April 2022

Join us for one of our Spring 2022 Lunch & Learns to learn more about Diasporic Soul. You have the opportunity to learn more about how DIASPORIC SOUL Heritage & Healing Experiences can support your organization’s ongoing social justice, racial healing and diversity and equity efforts.

In North Carolina, we will convene at Serenity Farm Yoga Sanctuary (Retreat Center) where we experience nature and yoga (pranayama) as healing and restoration resources. In addition to a scrumptious lunch inspired by Senegalese cuisine by Ayurvedic Chef Amelia, we will explore SOUL as a transformative healing resource that reflects the cultural sensibilities of the African Diaspora at this tranquil and lovely sanctuary located on a 10-acre boutique farm that is nestled on Falls Lake. We will also hear from Zephia Bryant, a long-time student development practitioner, Diasporic Soul and Executive Director of the Bryant Educational Leadership Group (BELG).

No Yoga Experience Required

In Cincinnati, we will convene at the Cincinnati Art Museum where we will explore SOUL as a transformative healing resource that reflects the cultural sensibilities of the African Diaspora through two current exhibitions featuring Black creatives:

David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History

Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop

Our time together will include hearing from well-regarded Cincinnati-based artist who just had two pieces acquired by the CAM, Gee Horton will discuss his ongoing creative collaboration with Diasporic Soul on The Baobab Project.

Questions & Inquiries – madamecoly@diasporicsoul.com & 221778423650|Mobile & WhatsApp



Centering and celebrating Blackness, We Got Soul, We Can Heal calls on us to explore the ways that integrating SOUL (culture) and contemplative practices can deepen our capacity for self-care, healing and restoration. For us both individually and collectively. We Got Soul, We Can Heal offers us relevant and valuable healing resources, cultural and contemplative. In addition to reminding us what we know about race-based stress and trauma, We Got Soul, We Can Heal calls on us to celebrate and embrace our SOUL and its transformative and healing power in order to change what we believe about ourselves and our capacity to change the world. Jeffers-Coly offers us a rich mix of creative, humorous and spirited wordplay along with loving encouragement and the hard-won insights and heart wisdom of a seasoned elder-mentor-teacher living in Senegal, West Africa and the United States.

Bulk orders discounts available via McFarland; also available from Amazon and Powell’s & W.H. Smith (UK).

We Got Soul Book Signing Richard B. Harrison Public Library Raleigh, NC

Copies are also available via Wake County Public Libraries and Cincinnati Public Libraries.

April 2022.  “When Grandma Comes to Visit:  Exploring How Communion with Our Ancestors & Nature Deepens Our Capacity for Healing, Restoration, Resilience and Resistance. The Journal of Contemplative Inquiry.  Special Edition on the Wisdom of Black Contemplatives.

August 2022.  “They Are Coming to Get Something: ”A Qualitative Study of African American Male Community College Students’  Education Abroad Experience in Senegal, West Africa” Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad

Forthcoming.   “Showing Up Audacious, Bad Ass & Full from the Edges & On the Margins Like My Ancestors.  Journal of Contemplative Inquiry.  Showing Up in Our Fullness Edition.



AFRICAN & AMERICAN: A conversation w/Yemi Oyediran & Phyllis Jeffers-Coly; hosted by Naimah Bilal

View Here

What a pleasure it was to have a nuanced and thoughtful discussion about how our identities, cultures and capacity for healing intersect, overlap and inform each other. There were some powerful moments when our connection was so palpable. When our joy and passion for one another and our people(s) came through. It was a pleasure to sit with two people motivated by love of Black people and a sincere investment in our well-being. And the humility and curiosity that allowed for deep listening and great understanding.

Thank you to Urban Consulate’s Cincinnati Team for pulling us together around this metaphorical bowl of (Jollof) Rice for us to connect and truly behold one another. Here’s to reconvening again for another filling meal of SOUL Food around the communal bowl.

Yemi Oyediran; is the co-founder, with JP Leong, of Afrochine, a production & storytelling company based in Cincinnati. Yemi is multi-talented — professionally he’s an educator, researcher, jazz musician, big data scientist, public radio personality and filmmaker including the soon to be released “Queen City Kings,” about the legendary Cincinnati studio and record label King Records. Born to a Nigerian family who came to the United States in 1988 and has lived in Alabama, Ohio, and the DC area. Additionally, Yemi is an Ohio Humanities, Peoples Liberty, and Bantz foundation awardee and has served on the boards of Cincinnati Compass, and Friends of Music Hall. He’s also a proud father of three and has lived in the Cincinnati area for 20 years.

Naimah Bilal

Naimah Bilal is a fundraising executive and artistic planning expert with experience leading large scale fund development and strategic planning efforts at the enterprise level. Naimah made history at the age of 26 by becoming the first black woman to lead artistic operations for a major American symphony orchestra. The Bawse with a Cause platform is her love letter to black and brown leaders in the nonprofit space seeking to create the worlds they want to see.

Detour on Rue de la Liberation

So we have been staying on the Rue de la Liberation for the last few months. Tending to our well-being.

But as you can see, even if you do not parlez vous Francais, the road has been blocked since the end of May. The timing is downright bizarre. But the cosmic shifts are for another post to be sure. Cosmic shifts, spiders and snails in fact.

But the Rue de la Liberation is not closed completely. You can still come down the street to get to the medical center.

How ironic. Being here to focus on our health. And the healing and restoration we offer others.

On the Rue de la Liberation. Only for the road to be blocked. Partially. And with access to healthcare. And a series of detours otherwise.

Unexpected detours. Deviations. Disruptions. Being directed in ways we had absolutely never imagined. And in ways we cannot see. Or understand. Not yet.

Yoga off the mat. Ishvara pranidhana. Surrender. Trust. Be faithful. THE practice. Shit shifting. Indeed.

The Rue de la Liberation is closed, partially. For now.

And when it and the train station opens again for service where will it take us? Where will we go? What will we take with us, the lessons about liberation, healing and restoration.

After the detours. And being still and surrendering. Smelling the flowers some days. In ways that really honestly, for real tho, just ain’t easy.

An Ode to Shit Shifters . . .

Waking up this morning to a message from one of my yoga sistahs filled with pictures was a pleasant and sweet surprise. I appreciate that she took the time to remind us of our connection to one another. Us being I Am Yoga CLT’s first Advanced Yoga Teacher Training cohort. Her fellow shit shifters. What a great way for her to invite us to celebrate International Yoga Day and the first day of summer.

We understand yoga’s power to not only to bring us peace but also the ways that it unfurls us, cracks us open, if we allow it, to release what know longer serves us. To practice svadyaya, engaging in self-study. Devoted to the practice that serves us – tapas – in spite of this comfort. Open to where it takes us – surrendering to the divine energy that rides on the breath and occupies the body – ishvara pranidhana. Oh, yeah, and joy!

Graduation with Candace & Kiesha|October 2022| Sunset Beach, North Carolina.

I am so grateful to my I AM Yoga sistahs and my teachers Kiesha and Candace. And, others, including folks like Dr. Gail Parker, Shola Arewa, Maya Breuer and Jana Long to name a few. Black women who have forged a path for us to practice in ways where we get show up as we are, Black, Bold, Brilliant and Beautiful. Able to take up space and be in community with one another. Shifting shit, creating rich compost for us to root ourselves in so we can grow, flourish and thrive.

Heading to Kripalu for the Fall 2022 WOC Retreat with Maya Breuer & Kiesha Battles.

What a wonderful reminder of how much this community rooted in yoga that celebrates SOUL and centers Blackness in ways that I longed for prior to 2017. A reminder how it sustains me simply because we exist and continue to show up for one another in big and small ways. A reminder too of why I am so invested in sharing yoga as a powerful way for Black folks to experience healing and restoration.

Read more about my yoga journey in We Got Soul, We Can Heal – Chapter 13 – “Yoga Heals: Being at Home in Our Own Bodies”

Coastal College of Georgia.

Restorative Yoga is part of every Diasporic Soul Heritage and Healing Experience

Black. Dope. All Good. Communal Healing Retreat for Black Men. Cincinnati, OH.

Lemon Tarts & Cherries

I woke up thinking of my grandparents, specifically, initially, my grandmother Phyllis. My inclination, what I want to do, what keeps coming up is a heritage and healing experience that I co-curate with my Aunt Rosanne who has immersed herself in the Black history of New Bern, NC.

As I took out my markers to imagine, I remember, or was nudged to asked my Aunt Rosanne to be sure, if yesterday was my grandparents wedding anniversary. My gut guidance said it was but I was not positive. I had not celebrated it or paid attention to it or recognized it since the summer, many moons ago, that I spent going back, back, back and forth and back and forth (a nod to the Black Eyed Peas track I played incessantly in the car that summer) between NYC and DC. A summer that included a bus ride to Montclair, NJ to the church where my parents celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

Interestingly enough, yesterday was also the day that Eddy’s paternal cousins gathered in Goudomp, Casamace, Senegal to collectively pay homage to the family ancestors, including his father, Ishmaila.

As dusk settled on this little French village where Eddy and I have been in since March tending to one another and mending after seven years of entrepreneurship, I got a confirmation text with corresponding warm fuzzy emojis that evoked the kinda stickers my grandmother might have affixed to a care package or birthday envelope from my Aunt Rosanne. Along with a quick call from her in the midst of a Black history event she was attending hosted by the James City Historical Society at what folks refer to in shorthand as the slave quarters.

Around the same time as he headed out for a walk, Eddy had confirmed that prayers had been said and the folks had been fed in Goudomp, so I figured I needed to in some way recognize our ancestors here where we are so.

I think I recall that my grandfather James had a fondness for lemon-flavored desserts, so I chose a citrus tart from the bakery across the street and topped it with a deep burgundy colored cherry (or a cherry-colored cherry) because my grandparents might have ascribed to the notion, in spite of life’s hardships, that it can be a bowl of cherries.

Besides, it, the cherry, is also the color associated with the root chakra and the Chakra Empowerment card I pulled from Shola Arewa’s deck yesterday morning, one for my root chakra, which she explains in her work, Opening to Spirit, is tied to our ancestors.

I hope that they enjoy our offering as we celebrate their love and their lives.

Heritage Heals: Waking Up to Chief Mike

I woke up the other morning to a voice that felt like home, an accent, one that I typically recognize and know very clearly. I knew immediately the speaker, Chief Michael Jacobs, was from North Carolina. But, at the same time I was confused because he was in conversation with the host of a CBC show I listen to on NPR – As It Happens.

Yet, in spite of my initial confusion, I was moved. Hearing Chief Mike name the way that his community would be forever changed by the recent finding of a 1000-year old canoe. He describes the tears of his living elders and his own as the canoe was pulled from the lake, which is located a short distance from Wilmington, NC. He explained that “finding the 1000-year old canoe in Lake Waccamaw is going to impact [our youth] and help them overcome some of the trauma that they’ve experienced through being excluded at times, and even counted as not worthy. Our youth now can touch something that’s tangible. They can handle it.”

I know exactly what Chief Jacobs means. About what it means to locate worthiness in our heritage and history. Like him, I know that histories have marked us as less than human and uncivilized. Or excluded and erased us completely.

But, more importantly, I have felt the same joy and wonder as Chief Jacobs. And, pride to be sure. And, like him, Eddy and I have seen the same responses to history and heritage – tears of joy and sorrow. A sense of awe, wonder and delight. And, curiosity. Our elders. Young people. We hear and see how folks respond to their history and heritage when it disrupts how they may have seen themselves before. We hear and see how moved folks are by learning and seeing themselves more fully. As more worthy. As Black. Dope. & All Good. When they recognize and can tangibly touch the fact that they do indeed have SOUL and they can heal.

When they enter community with us at a Communal Healing Retreat for Black Men in Cincinnati and behold the works of Black artists like David Driskell and The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

When they feel a deep sense of awe and wonder as they stand beneath the mammoth African Renaissance Monument or on the top of it. Or when they are moved to tears in the Door of No Return on Goree Island or Carabane Island in Casamace.

Or see artifacts, like the Waccamaw canoe, that reflect our genius, creativity, resourcefulness and capacity to adapt and innovate. And that connect us to spirit, the divine and the unseen that our ancestors trusted so very deeply.

Or how when they visit the Kadiote Museum in Casamace and stand, looking up beneath a canopy of fromager trees and peer inside one, as they learn how these trees served our ancestors in many ways, including giving us a place to hide so we would not be taken.

Or when they meet Mami Wata for the first time and thank her for bringing them home.

How, as Chief Jacobs reminds us, that seeing ourselves more clearly and more concretely through our history and heritage can heal our trauma and the ways that we have been wounded. How we might understand in our own way that, while perhaps not people of the fallen star like Chief Mike and his people, as poet Amir Sulaiman reminds us in “In Tune” we too are connected divinely to all that is cosmically magnificent and magical. ‘That an opportunity to actually handle and touch our history is just a blessing.”

#AsItHappens #WaccamawLake #WaccamawSiouanTribe #1000yearoldcanoe #ChiefMichalJacobs #ChiefMike #NCHistory #NCStateArchaeology #IndigeneousNC

A Restorative Practice|25 February 2023

A Restorative Practice for Black Folks Who Decided that High-Effort Coping and High Stepping Were No Longer Enuf
Feb 25, 2023 5:00 p.m EST & 10:00 pm GMT|Senegal
(Join Here)

We are celebrating Blackness and signifying SOUL with this offering at dusk as the sun sets on the East Coast of the US with the hope that you will come to practice with the busyness of the day and the week behind you. At the end of February, when there “should” still be a chill in the air and you can surrender to the natural rhythms of the season when we “should” be more prone to rest and hibernation. To find some peace of mind with the support of yoga, community and a bit of self-reflection. And, some SOUL.

Signifying on the name and theme of Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf (1976), which was her first work and most acclaimed theater piece consisting of a series of poetic monologues to be accompanied by dance movements and music, and Kendrick Lamar’s most recent album, Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers, which Juan M. Floyd-Thomas call(s) Lamar’s “soul” album in “The Divided Soul of Kendrick Lamar” (Esquire 16 May 2022), the session serves as a reminder that high-effort coping and high steppin’ have not and will not serve us.

The session will include restorative yoga and journaling. Please feel free to invite friends and family to the practice. If you have restorative yoga equipment please bring it. If not, a large towel or exercise mat along with pillows and blankets will work. No yoga experience is necessary.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 298 965 5831
Passcode: SOUL

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Chocolate & Peanut Butter: Happy Birthday Grandma Jeffers

Although I have a daily practice with my ancestors, there are special moments when I spend more time at my ancestral altar and make additional offerings or give gifts to them. February is one of those times as it marks the anniversary of my grandmother Phyllis’ passing. She passed on 10 February 2018. And, February 18 marks the birthday of my paternal grandmother, which I celebrated this past week when I went to Goree Island donning our Jeffers family reunion tee shirt that features her and my Granddaddy Sidney. And, I celebrated her birthday this weekend with sweet treats – chocolate butter cookies smeared with nutella and peanut butter – seven of them – placed on top of my maternal grandmother’s round gold-colored cake box that gifted me pound cakes during much of my twenties when I resided in the DMV and on my 33rd birthday in 2014 when I spent the summer there working with my friend Nicole.

The cake box along with the pewter bowl she gave me and Eddy as a wedding gift are the centerpieces of our church pew turned ancestral altar. In addition to the cookies smeared with chocolate and peanut butter, I offered my grandmother and other ancestors a toast of fermenting white bissap (hibiscus). And, during my time with them, I also offered them a glass of gallah, which is a millet and peanut butter drink of the Serere and a bowl of thiere, which is millet couscous.

I feel grounded and supported when I spend time sitting with my ancestors. And, Eddy’s. I know they hear my cries and my requests for support when I am challenged. At the same time, I find joy and fulfillment by offering them small gifts to say thank you and to recognize them on important days like their birthdays and holidays. Each year since she passed, I have dyed easter eggs using red bissap tea (hibiscus) that turn out lavender in color, which is my grandma Phyllis’ favorite color. I know that she is with me and that she appreciates the gifts and the time I spend with her.

I will also have the dress washed today that I gifted my paternal grandmother when she asked for it a few years back. It is orange and gold and black and vibrant. My sense is that she never got to wear such bright colors like the women here in Senegal do. A perhaps puritanically-imposed muted colorless reality on our sense of what we “should” wear or not. My sense too is that she might appreciate the gifts, the attention, the celebration, the acknowledgement. While I remember vividly going to her funeral in Greensboro, I did not really know her; she died when I was around five years old. I am not sure that much of my family has found a way to attend to her spirit in ways that might be healing and restorative for her or them. But, I have decided consciously to make the effort to speak to her, the her I see in the few photos I have of her and the her my father has shown me in his stories. I know Daddy loves her and I think he has forgiven her as part of his own healing journey. I know she died in pain. So, I hope that some how my dad and I have in acknowledging her can contribute to her peace. That she feels more loved that perhaps she might have on this side, when she was alive. I cannot make amends for her or to her, but I can extend grace and love to her. She cannot fully support us as a family if she remains heartbroken and hurt. No more than she might have been able to when she was living.

Taking time to attend to our ancestors is important. Eddy and I with support of his mom and others encourage the folks who spend time with us in Senegal to find ways to deepen their connections to their ancestors. As I explain in We Got Soul; We Can Heal, doing so is a primary aspect of African spirituality. It is a simply practice that can be grounding and healing for us and them. A practice that can actually co-exist with your current faith practices. Remember that our ancestors arrived in the Americas as Africans with spiritual practices that existed long before the impositions of Islam and Christianity. Remember that they creolized and found ways to hold on and practice what they brought with them from Africa along with what they were expected to embrace in the contested colonized spaces they were forced to live and labor in. Remember that their spirituality afforded them the capacity to resist and remain resilient under brutal conditions including the white violence of Jim Crow America, which I name because clearly anti-black racism and white violence did not end when slavery was abolished.

In 2020, as part of our Stopping the Clock series, we offered a Creating an Ancestral Altar session that featured Nana Lawson Bush.

Levita receiving her hand-carved pestle and mortar in Casamace, Senegal from our cousin Ibou.

We also offered a session – Communion featuring my dear friend Levita Mondie, vegan chef, who showed us how gardening and cooking are tied to the ways she remains connected to her mother. Perhaps, you can create your own and begin to connect to those who have gone before you in intentional ways. Perhaps with an ancestral altar. Or, perhaps, in your garden and kitchen. We have lots to celebrate and be mindful of us we recognize that our heritage can be healing when we chose to explore it.

Finding Peace of Mind . . .

I hope you find some peace of mind . . .

under trees that touch the heavens

on yoga mats covered with blankets and bolsters to support you

on the shore, connecting to Mami Wata

in community where you know you belong and are deeply deeply loved and supported

feeling, sensing, knowing the divine, the seen and the unseen

in places where you can laugh and cry

in ways where you can surrender let go of your need to control everything

in ways where you are able to experience curiosity, awe, joy, magic and happiness

I hope you find peace of mind; I hope you can experience healing and restoration, knowing though that healing does not have to be a complete resolution of our symptoms. Healing can come in all forms. It can be acceptance, it can be learning, or it can be simply feeling good in your own skin regardless of what is going on.

on this holiday that celebrates a movement, resistance and the insistence on our innate dignity and worth.

Happy New Year!

Well, shit, it is the first Monday of the year. Lord, have mercy. Nobody wants go back to work. But, alas, we must do what must do.

Even though Mars and Mercury are in retrograde. Neptune too, I think. And, a full moon is just days away, lurking, threatening to open us to all that we are feeling. How we so move, when the planets are still looking back and asking us, apparently, to do the same?

Finding Joy in the New Year with SOUL.

Well, maybe a little Black joy and exuberance and loud laughter and playfulness will give you a boast to get up, get out and get something in lieu of letting the days of your life pass by (Outkast for those who don’t know).

May you be open and curious enough to experience wonder, awe, joy and delight.

MIYASoul: Check Out the Coordinates

When she texts,

“check out the coordinates real quick Ta Ta”

Samiyah left Senegal after her Diasporic Soul Heritage & Healing Experience with more confidence. Confidence to create her own clothing line. Confidence to question the curriculum of her degree program at Xavier University. Confident in her beauty and capacity to pursue her dreams.

Books & Brunch with BYTA

Watch Our Conversation about We Got Soul, We Can Heal

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