Photo of Shambhala Meditation Center of NY - New York, NY
In more privileged & affluent healing communities, I have noticed that they get offended when a certain demographic (that they do not identify with) creates a safe space for that desired demographic. This demographic may be based around race, gender, body type, income level, sexuality, etc. Their exclusion makes them angry. The fact that they are not included makes them feel oppressed when they, in fact, still have more options and safe spaces than the people creating safe spaces for themselves. They feel the absolute need for inclusion in everything and cannot see that division, in moderation, is not a negative thing.
What these said healing communities do not realize is that life, and the world, is very different in the eyes of the "others". There are not as many safe spaces for the "others" and even if there are safe spaces, the "other" people do not always feel comfortable because they may be the only person that looks or feels the way they do. It is already bad that these "other" people do no think that yoga and healing spaces are for them because of the lack of representation, but now the "others" are criticized when they create spaces for themselves because they never were included.
What these more privileged communities also fail to realize is that sometimes the division is necessary until a person is fully comfortable in themselves in their healing journey. The division (that they often attempt to compare to segregation) is needed because in that specifically targeted space, there is no "other", there is familiarity, everyone is more or less the same. This allows for one to let their guard down. When ones guard is down, they can be comfortable and even vulnerable. They become more trusting. When someone is comfortable, they are open to the healing they came to receive.
These designated spaces for people of color, for the LBGTQ community, for Muslim people, for bigger bodies, for people with low income, for men...they are pertinent and crucial. Privileged, majority, communities do not understand that the oppressed and marginalized people are often times in "survival mode". These people are constantly fearing or concerned about their well being, how they are going to survive. To a privileged person, this may be a foreign concept, especially if they have never had to worry about money or security. To the "others", their minds (even if it is a small part in the back of their minds) are fixed on "How am I going to survive today?" "How is my family going to make it through this day?". They barely have time to think about their mental, physical, or spiritual health.
So yes, we need these safe spaces. We need safe spaces for people of color. We need safe spaces for black & brown bodies (because it seems as though we cannot even breathe without being criminalized). We need safe spaces for men. We need safe spaces for the LBGTQ community. We need safe spaces for people who do not have "typical yoga bodies". We need safe spaces for people who practice religion, especially those who are Muslim. We need safe spaces for the elderly. We need safe spaces for the youth. These groups of people mentioned are THE most vulnerable. These are the marginalized communities that are often neglected and not even thought about in the wellness world. These are the communities that need protecting. On top of falling into one of these categories, more times than none, individuals fuse and merge. Intersectionality needs to be included, addressed, and considered in regards to safe spaces.
Something that we have also noticed is that people, especially on social media outlets, seem to get loud around the times when we witness or hear about an injustice, especially police brutality or an incident motivated by race, gender, or religion.
We Heal Too came about as a way to actually do something instead of crying out in pain. We saw the protests, we saw the riots. We saw the pain and we felt the pain. We decided that something had to be done to create a safe space for all affected by the tragic events that we face as a whole. We wanted to create something that was sustainable and would last beyond the "right here, right now". Something that we could build as a legacy.
What we see, especially in the Black community is that we get really angry and upset when something happens. In the heat of the moment, we are out protesting and boycotting, we are voicing our concerns...but give it a few weeks and everyone is quiet. Everyone is back to their regular lives, caring about themselves only, forgetting that they once were concerned about their people. We see that everyone falls back into their complacency within a matter of time. (This is also something that white supremacist America banks on because they know that most of us are not about it & they can keep making their money while & long after we throw our tantrums, but that is another story.)
We see that there is a rise and fall in regards to concern about our safe spaces. There are very few people and organizations that we are aware of that maintain their standpoint when the hashtags lose their momentum, when the cameras stop rolling, when the trending topics no longer trend.
We firmly believe that safe spaces are necessary for human healing processes at ALL times. In crisis and in peace. We need to maintain that sacred space whether it be mentally, physically, or virtually. We NEED as many safe spaces as we can so that the healing process may not be interrupted, so that healing can occur no matter what is going on in the world around us, so that we can mend the spiritual wounds that life inflicts us with daily.
So whether being active in regards to promoting our safe spaces or being passive, We Heal Too will be here despite the waves of trendiness or the forgetfulness of the pain of moments past. We WILL be the safe place. We ARE the safe space....because safe spaces for ALL, for the "others", are necessary for the world to heal. We heal too, and we are healing for the people.