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Sending Metta and Much More ~ Justice for George Floyd

Last updated on June 5, 2020

At time of writing, George Floyd’s grieving brother, Terrence Floyd, has been showing more leadership than elected officials in terms of asking people to continue to peacefully demand justice and that all four police officers be locked up for the sadistic, racist murder of George Floyd.

I’ve heard so many people (and I’ve felt it myself at moments) saying that they can’t breathe thinking about it.

And, of course, George Floyd is far from the only victim of police brutality.

While I start each day with Metta (sending Loving Kindness to a range of people and the world), it hasn’t felt like enough.

I’m not saying it’s not important – the more we can work on our own shadow and integrate our whole selves, the less likely we are to project our anger, hatred and prejudices outwards.

Still, am noticing that I’m finding the full Metta (see below for an example script) an advanced practice.

I’m sharing additional self care tools which I hope you’ll find helpful in terms of managing your own self care so you can BE the change, as Gandhi said.

This isn’t about only working on ourselves but supporting ourselves enough that we’re less blubbing mess (me, often) and more supportive, holding, presence helping facilitate change.

Valerie Kaur speaks beautifully about revolutionary love in a time of rage in this TED Talk:

Ho’oponopono

This is a Hawaiian healing, clearing meditation I’ve been using since 2007.

Ho'oponopono energy clearing in honour of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. If you join late, it will be mostly silent with periodic I LOVE YOU, I'M SORRY, PLEASE FORGIVE ME, THANK YOU so do join us. And there's more info at selfcarecoaching.net/blog

Posted by Feel Better Every Day with Eve Menezes Cunningham on Thursday, 4 June 2020

For this Facebook Live, we did it for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

In case you don’t know the significance of this awful number, it’s the length of time George Floyd was sadistically murdered for.

For as long as he was able to, he begged for his life. Strangers begged for his life.

And his murderer and accomplices, four police officers, overrode any humanity they must have once had and killed him.

White fragility is a well known term for many white people’s inability to stay with even a few minutes of discomfort to allow EVERYONE to feel safe.

There are too many examples of people of colour (POC) sharing their experiences and white people getting defensive instead of taking a breath, grounding, listening and learning.

I hope that by sharing this time doing this powerful clearing meditation on Thursday, it will us all listen to each other with love.

Revolutionary love.

Ho’oponopono is something I heard about when interviewing Dharma Gaynes for the NLP Magazine I write for, Rapport about 13 years ago.

I still remember finishing the telephone interview and feeling like I’d just done an especially blissful yoga class because her energy was so lovely.

I checked out Joe Vitale, as suggested and read his and Ihaleakala Hew Len’s book, Zero Limits (Wiley, 2007), where Vitale describes this twist on an ancient Hawaiian healing process.

And, of course, writing this, am aware that while it’s been something I’ve used most days for well over a decade, and while Joe Vitale had permission to share it, I definitely want to explore the Hawaiian origins more.

Vitali writes in the introduction that Zero Limits is:

‘…the first book in history to reveal this updated Hawaiian method for healing, called Self I-dentity Ho’oponopono. But also please understand that this is just one man’s experience with the method: mind. While this book is written with the blessing of the therapist who taught me the amazing method, everything to follow is written through my own lens of the world.’

Len and Vitale, Zero Limits (Wiley, 2007)

It’s actually only writing this post and revisiting the book that I see copyright remains with the therapist who cleared prisons and mental institutions by clearing his OWN energy over and over, Dr Ihaleakala Hew Len.

So all these times I’ve taught it in yoga classes and workshops and with clients, I’ve remembered to credit Joe Vitale and NOT Dr Ihaleakala Hew Len.

While not having meant to, my lack of a simple additional bit of research has meant I was contributing to cultural appropriation and I am sorry.

I had a conversation with someone else who uses the tool today and she didn’t remember Dr Len as co-author, either.

We’ll do better.

In a nutshell, Ho’oponopono a simple clearing meditation honouring our connection to everything and everyone.

We say, I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you. Over and over.

I used to use it swimming loads. Also, walking. Crying.

Sitting in more deliberate, less emotionally turbulent meditation…

Play with it (if you want) and see how quickly it helps you clear all that gets in the way of your connection with Divine Love and everyone on the planet.

A Metta Meditation for George Floyd and Black Lives Matter

I’ve shared many Metta videos and meditations over the years.

Originating with the Buddhist tradition, Loving Kindness helps us cultivate our minds by noticing unhelpful thoughts (worry, fear etc) and, when safe enough to do so, wishing all people be happy, healthy, peaceful and at ease.

Traditionally, we start with ourselves: ‘May I be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May I be able to take care of myself joyfully. May I possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.’

For some people, on some days, THIS is challenging enough. Self loathing and shame can get in the way of being able to wish ourselves this basic wellness.

If you find it hard (especially common with trauma survivors), please be gentle with yourself.

However you find it, simply pause and notice whatever you’re aware of in your body and with your breath and any thoughts and feelings.

Then move on to someone you love: ‘May _____ be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May _____ be able to take care of ______ joyfully. May ____ possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.’

Traditionally, we then move on to someone we find challenging. I would LOVE to be evolved enough to send Metta to the murderers.

As a therapist, I know I can’t work with abuse perpetrators but I applaud and support those who can.

We are all connected and need to own the violent, racist, hateful elements in ourselves rather than acting like we’re somehow separate.

So if you feel able to and WANT to, do this more challenging round and send Metta to someone – anyone – you find it harder to send Loving Kindness to.

AND, know that it’s TOTALLY FINE to send extra Metta to yourself or to someone else you love for this round.

It’s a trauma sensitive practice and forcing ourselves to be all ‘love and light’ can actually be pretty toxic so notice whatever feels right for you right now.

Then of course, we send ENORMOUS Metta for the loved ones of George Floyd: ‘May they be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May they be able to take care of themselves joyfully. May they possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.’

And to everyone working towards justice and peace for everyone – the protestors risking their lives out there to demand justice, the activists the calming influences, the reporters who are countering the racist narrative, whoever springs to mind for you: ‘May they be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May they be able to take care of themselves joyfully. May they possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.’

And to ALL the souls lost to police brutality. From Travyon Martin (whose murder inspired the formation of Black Lives Matter) to Mark Duggan, Sandra Bland and too many others.

We can do a round for the loved ones of each of them. #sayhisname #sayhername

May ___ be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May ____ be able to take care of themselves joyfully. May ____ possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.’

We can then expand our Metta intentions geographically to specific towns, cities, countries and so on:

May they be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May they be able to take care of themselves joyfully. May they possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.’

We can also include groups of other social justice activists:

May they be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May they be able to take care of themselves joyfully. May they possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.’

When we feel ready, we move out to the world at large:

May WE ALL be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May we be able to take care of ourselves joyfully. May we possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.’

And finally, we bring that Loving Kindness back to ourselves:

May I be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May I be able to take care of myself joyfully. May I possess the courage, wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.’

Notice how you feel.

Repeat as needed. I do this every morning and sometimes (often, these days) send shorter blasts of Loving Kindness while watching the news and reading reports etc.

EFT tapping

As regular readers will know, EFT (tapping) is one of my go to tools for self care. On Saturday morning, I happened to have an EFT CPD workshop booked in with my lovely mentor, Grainne O’Neill

She asked how I was doing and the blubbing started again as I kept seeing the knee on George Floyd’s neck… Fortunately, the rest of the group were similarly heart broken.

Even though my work is all about self care, I was inwardly raging. I almost didn’t WANT to feel better. How could I feel better when people were getting away with systemic murder?

Of course a few rounds of tapping reminded me that I’m no use to anyone if I give into that sense of despair and hopelessless.

By grounding, nourishing and supporting myself with self care tools, I can make a bigger difference for the people I can serve.

If you want to tap, use your own words. Listening to our own feelings about things, quite apart from the tapping of meridian energy points is incredibly healing.

You can find a how to video and tapping points HERE

And for times where even the whole shortcut feels too much, I adore these simple Triple Warmer tools I shared a few weeks back (also learned from Grainne).

For those of us who aren’t fighting for their lives right now (and those who ARE if at all possible), giving the nervous system a break is essential.

It feels like the world is on fire but by looking after ourselves, we can be better allies.

Tree planting

By the end of the hour’s workshop on Saturday, we spoke about ways in which we could honour George Floyd’s life in our own homes and gardens (where we have gardens).

I’ve found planting trees with the intention of healing the planet very healing since moving into my first ever house with a garden let alone the field last year.

I decided to look up sycamore as a neighbour had given me some sycamore and mallow plants and I remembered that sycamores were associated with protection.

This felt fitting for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Other associations are strength, hope and divinity.

I decided to plant a sycamore to honour George Floyd, Black Lives Matter and other victims of police brutality and systemic racism between some oaks (for security and safety) as, unfortunately, the current US President is doing the opposite of apologising and calming the situation.

I collected intentions from people and wrote them down on paper (along with names) and crystals, grabbed the larger of the plants (figuring trees are bigger than shrubs) and planted it.

It soothed my soul to imagine healing, loving energy going through its developing roots, deep into the heart of the earth, energetically supporting people fighting for justice and peace.

mine and others’ intentions

As it grows, I figured, I could take comfort by sitting next to it when feeling heartbroken by so much injustice, sadism and hatred and, on days when I felt stronger and more resourceful, use it as a focal point in my meditations to send love and healing to Black Lives Matter and all involved.

And then I got a message from someone kind….

Was I SURE it was a sycamore in the last picture? ‘How unusual’.

I shame spiralled figuring I still see TREE rather than specifics. I have an enormous amount to learn.

I tried to put the pic into the PlantSnap app (which I’m too clueless to use properly. It currently just reminds me that I wasn’t very good at Latin at one of the schools I went to).

not a sycamore tree

I also looked at the google images of the leaves against the pics I’d taken.

They were all green.

I felt ridiculous and was too embarrassed to ask any of the gardening, rewilding groups or contacts I’ve made so kept deleting my posts and messages without hitting Send or Pose.

It was, in a much tinier sense, an echo of how I often feel, looking white (I am Indian Irish but have experienced and continue to experience white privilege purely because of genetics).

Feeling passionate about justice and peace and wanting to do better but not wanting to say the wrong thing, make things worse or cause additional hurt.

By the morning, I simply looked at all the plants my neighbour had given me and saw, quite clearly (looking at the much bigger sycamore I’d planted in September) that instead of having been given one sycamore treeling and four mallow plants, it was the other way round.

I dug up the mallow with enormous apologies (it’s a healing, medicinal shrub so I hope that it’s brief presence over the intentions and crystals will send additional support somehow) and replaced it with one of the little sycamore treelings.

actual sycamore treeling. Symbolic of protection, hope, strength and divinity. In honour of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement

Crystals

Crystals are something I use automatically to ground my intentions and support healing. Adding stones to represent each name and intention felt especially beneficial on Sunday when we planted what I thought was the sycamore.

As I chose the stones with my eyes closed, as always, asking to be guided to the right crystal in each instance, was amazed by all the green and white (mostly amazonite, aventurine and snowy quartz). Such healing, calming, purifying energy.

So much is coming up for healing. A nurse colleague (as in, she’s a superhero nurse, I’m not but I know her through work) talked about it as a giant infected tumour.

But as Will Smith said, it’s NOT new. It’s being filmed.

We CAN do better.

Yoga

I cannot imagine how I’d be without my yoga practice. One pose I hope you’ll find helpful is Restorative Fish.

Let yourself relax into the support of the bolster, cushions or pillows below you.

Feel the support of the ground and mat.

Allow the heart to remain open.

If it feels too much, inhale and tense the thighs, exhale and release the thighs. This trauma sensitive addition can be helpful in terms of bringing the focus back to the body and breath as well as helping us stay as still as possible while also burning off SOME of those stress hormones.

I often teach Metta meditation in Restorative Fish as it allows us to open our hearts so much with that glorious, grounded support from the earth below us.

You might also want to experiment with Ho’oponopono from Restorative Fish.

We also need to use our breath

#Icantbreathe is a powerful (heartbreaking) protest sign but we CAN breathe. And we change our physiology and our mood by focusing the breath.

While George Floyd was deprived of his BREATH as they took his life, as long as we have breath, we can use it, anytime anywhere to notice what is coming up for healing in ourselves and to calm the nervous system.

The breath – prana – is our lifeforce. We can use each breath to direct love and kindness throughout our own bodies and out towards the worldat large.

Local social distance protests

I’ve been doing my best to follow public health guidelines around Covid19 but totally understand the protestors in larger cities being unable to stay home when their lives are at stake purely for breathing.

Still, here in the west of Ireland, we have the luxury of protesting without fear to our lives or wellbeing.

I’ll share more information when I HAVE more information but was delighted to hear that something IS being organised, if we can ensure social distancing, for Saturday afternoon at 3pm in Westport.

Donating money

There are ways to donate money to legal funds and more. I don’t feel confident enough about knowing which are the best but, if you can, do search and offer what feels good in solidarity.

Educating ourselves

The Black Lives Matter site is an obvious place to start.

Here are just a few additional resources:

Books like Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge.

Comedian and Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s memoir, Born a Crime.

Becoming by Michelle Obama – the book, the YouTube videos, the Netflix special… I’d happy read her shopping list…

Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené.

Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsh

There’s the useofforceproject.org which has found that when a police department goes from using none of the 8 measures they recommend to all 8, police violence drops by 70%.

Dear White People is a Netflix series (3 seasons so far) set in a fictional university.

Ava Duvernay’s When They See Us.

So many books. So many sites.

This is a teeny selection.

Even TWITTER. Search the #blacklivesmatter hashtag and watch the interviews and videos.

I heard someone say she was worried about causing ’emotional labour’ by asking friends of colour about their experiences.

From what I understand, it’s like anything (except the stakes are so much higher. People should NOT be persecuted and murdered like this).

Imagine going into a professional group on Facebook or even a hobbyist group (I realise typing this, am way more careful with professional than personal, I routinely ask ridonkulously clueless questions about plants and trees etc) and starting a thread with a very basic question.

In a journalism forum, you may be wondering about the editor of such an such a title. Rather than drain others, google the switchboard number, ring and ASK. If that’s not available and other routes leave you empty handed, then ask in a group.

It is up to us to do basic research rather than pleading ignorance and expecting people of colour to educate us as well as having to survive in a white supremacist society.

We have to do better.

Black Out Day 2020

We’ve all proven how long we can go without shopping what with so many shops being closed due to Covid. While I’m hugely in favour of supporting the economy and especially local independent stores as they reopen, please consider not buying ANYTHING in support of the global Black Out Day 2020 on 7/7/20.

With so much love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

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