Devi Brown (Interview)

Art by Sam Liacos.

Founder of Karma Bliss, multimedia storyteller, and wellness expert on navigating our new normal with a sense of surrender, ease, and acceptance.  

Art by Sam Liacos.

What does emotional wellness mean to you? 
For me, emotional wellness means the opportunity to experience myself without judgment and being in acceptance of who I am, in acceptance of my past history, and in acceptance of where I’m at in the present, while staying completely detached from the outcome of the future, but connected to who I’m working to become.

How can we take better care of ourselves and find balance in this “new normal?”
It’s really important for us to one, ideally work to get in a space where we are not constantly tearing our own selves down and [where] we are not in constant judgment about how we feel. Really look at our current situation, through the lens of as much logic as possible, and understand that we are all experiencing something we’ve never experienced before. Give ourselves grace and compassion that we’re doing the best we can, as we navigate something we never have.

For many of us, we are meeting ourselves for the first time in a deep way. 

Devi Brown

I think really being able to show up for ourselves emotionally [is important]. It’s important for us to be able to let ourselves feel what we feel. I think a big part of why it’s hard to find balance right now, and why a lot of people aren’t feeling like themselves, is 100% rooted in the fact that for many of us, we are meeting ourselves for the first time in a deep way. We’re experiencing a life that is not filled with distraction right now.

This moment of time is really in service to us, having the opportunity to deeply refine who we are and get to the deepest essence of our authenticity. [We can take better care of ourselves and find balance] by leaning into the understanding and having compassion for the fact that we are doing our best given the circumstance. Two, stretching our hearts to stay open right now. With a curiosity and joyfulness, leaning into the feelings that we are starting to feel about ourselves and other people–this slow unwrap and unwind of our narratives and our stories, and release. 

I think the best way to look for balance, and something that I’ve specifically been doing as some of the weeks or days feel a little bit more challenging than others, is leaning into daily self-care practices, but I’ve been really, really intentional about them and really joyfully disciplined about them. I’ve been leaning into the fact that since I no longer have evening plans, I don’t have anywhere to go or be, I’ve been utilizing that time for my highest good. Once my son goes down to sleep, and I have maybe one or two hours before I go to sleep, I no longer use that time to binge-watch on Netflix or watch a movie. I’ve been using that time in service to build my spirit. For me, that’s looked like evening meditation, body stretching, and listening to soul-nourishing playlists. I love Soulection radio; that is a game-changer for me. I’ve been doing a lot of documentation of self, a lot of journaling about myself, investigating my feelings, and stretching out my thoughts, and that’s been incredible for me. I’ve been doing little things, like lighting candles as an offering, lighting incense, and allowing myself to be with myself. That’s been tremendously nourishing for my emotional and mental health and helping me navigate life right now with a sense of surrender, acceptance, and ease.

It’s courageous right now to do the opposite of things that we have been taught, allow ourselves to feel whatever comes up without judgment, and give whatever that feeling is a name. 

Devi Brown

How do you advise brown and Black people to cope and process what feels like a rollercoaster of emotions, especially while being alone in quarantine?
It’s really, really important to let yourself feel that rollercoaster of emotions. 

We as people of color have experienced not just so much intergenerational trauma, but have [also] experienced so much complex post-traumatic stress on a daily basis…I think it’s important for those of us who have always been deprived of the ability to fully feel and speak our pain, for those of us who have often been forced into instantaneous resilience and spiritual bypass, because we had to keep going physically, financially, emotionally, and mentally for the betterment of not just ourselves, but a lot of the families that we support…I think it’s so courageous right now to do the opposite of those things that we have been taught, allow ourselves to feel whatever comes up without judgment, and give whatever that feeling is a name. Sit with yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed, check in with your gut, and say, “What is this feeling? What do I actually feel? Is it fear? Is it sadness? Is it loneliness?”

Acknowledge what that feeling is. We often think that if we acknowledge those feelings we become weaker, but the opposite is true. When we give those feelings a voice and allow them to exist and move through us, we have a better opportunity to dissolve them and to feel so much better from the inside out.

As some are learning and unlearning generational beliefs and behaviors, what is key to keep in mind?
What’s key to keep in mind is that we’re the generation that gets to break through a lot of this, and it’s truly a privilege and a gift for us to be able to do so. This time that we’re alive in, we have resources, we have depth of understanding, and we have expansive conversations that are raising our collective consciousness.

All of this framework did not exist when our parents were our age, when our grandparents were our age. There’s so much opportunity in this for us to really extend the healing we do on ourselves, in this moment, throughout our lineage–past, present, and future.  As we are unpacking and unlearning so much of some of the generational beliefs and behaviors that have kept all of us stuck or have informed and influenced the trauma that we experienced, it’s important for us to look at it through the lens of full healing and full compassion and see things clearly as what they were– some of that [may] not be as personal as it feels sometimes.

 Choosing to accept yourself as is is radical self-care. 

Devi Brown

Self-care is a complex concept for women of color, specifically immigrants and first-generation Americans. How would you advise people to practice self care?
As women of color, one of the biggest things is to choose to radically accept ourselves as we are in this moment. We can aspire to be more, in our hearts be more, but actually choosing to accept yourself as is is radical self-care. 

When we think of self-care, it also means–especially for our communities–learning how to set healthy boundaries for ourselves and then honoring those boundaries and honoring those promises. Women of color across so many different cultures have so often been taught and trained to deny themselves, to deny their own pain, and live this forced path of servitude and false righteousness. It’s so important for us to choose ourselves first, as a self-care practice. 

What do you recommend to remain vulnerable during such uncertain times?
Stay open. Continue to stay open. This is your journey, and it’s important to honor your process at whatever stage it’s at and give yourself the dignity of your process.

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