The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.
One of the qualities I most appreciate about people who regularly practice mindfulness is the ability to cultivate inner calm despite what is happening on the outside and I think this is definitely something many of us can use more of right now. To help us learn more about mindfulness practices, today we are joined by Wellness educator, Meditation teacher, Reiki Healer, and Author Devi Brown. Devi also serves as the Chief Impact Officer for Chopra Global and is the voice of daily inspiration on the Chopra App.
Devi and I chatted about the wellness practices she incorporates into her life, how to get started with using crystals and primordial sound meditation, the importance of affirmations and she shared a beautiful guided affirmation that can be experienced over and over to help keep you grounded.
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Session 190: Creating Calm Through Meditation & Affirmations
Dr. Joy: Hey, y'all! Thanks so much for joining me for Session 190 of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. One of the qualities I most appreciate about people who regularly practice mindfulness is their ability to cultivate inner calm despite what's happening on the outside, and I think this is definitely something many of us could use more of right now. To share more about her mindfulness practices, today we're joined by Devi Brown.
Devi is a wellness educator, meditation teacher, Reiki healer and author. She currently serves as the Chief Impact Officer for Chopra Global and is the voice of daily inspiration on the Chopra app. Through her best-selling book (Crystal Bliss) and her podcast (Dropping Gems) Devi’s work is rooted in sharing tangible healing modalities with Millennial and Generation Z women of color in support of whole life enhancement.
Devi and I chatted about the wellness practices she incorporates into her life, how to get started with using crystals or primordial sound meditation, the importance of affirmations, and she shares a beautiful guided affirmation that can be experienced over and over to help keep us grounded. If there's anything that resonates with you while enjoying our conversation, please share with us on social media using the hashtag TBGinSession. Here's our conversation.
Dr. Joy: Thank you so much for joining us today, Devi.
Devi: Thank you. I'm so excited to be here. Big fan.
Dr. Joy: Likewise, likewise! I'm so glad we were able to make this conversation happen. I am just fascinated by your journey, Devi, and have just been so interested in the changes you've made in your life and the route that you're on now, just in terms of sharing your awareness and information around crystals and affirmations and meditation. Can you tell us just a little bit about how you started? I know your book is called Crystal Bliss and that is something that a lot of people are talking more about right now, it's just like using crystals in terms of wellness. Can you tell us a little bit for people who don't know anything about crystals? Like how do you use crystals as a part of wellness?
Devi: Yeah, totally. A little bit of my background is I used to work kind of in the entertainment and media space but I felt a little bit like it was time to dive into a deeper calling. My curiosity has always led me. I am an only child raised by a single parent, so that kind of lends itself to a lot of self-excavation and introspection, you kind of become a little bit of a detective of you and your life. Curiosity has always been my greatest superpower and my driving force. When I kind of realized that I was longing for more depth, I was longing for a healing that I didn't have language for, and that I was longing to help extend this healing to other people, that's when I really kind of surrendered to the greater gifts of my life and some of the deeper ritual work that I do, and really made it the biggest piece of who I was and what my career would be centered around.
And so the first leg of that journey, my first offering, was my Crystal Bliss book and through my business, Karma Bliss, we sell crystals and ritual kits. Crystals are such a beautiful, beautiful complement to one's selfcare practice and a big part of the work that I do is also related to *[inaudible 0:04:37] and educating people about crystals. Because I think especially within black and brown communities, being in a space where we are perhaps connecting with nature, leaning into some ritual or even just investigating ourselves and sharing that, it can feel foreign depending on where we're from or what our belief systems have been thus far.
With crystals, I always like to tell people this is not your magic wand. You're not Potter, the expectation isn't the “abracadabra now this happens.” But crystals are a beautiful tool that are of this earth. I believe that God made us, it's very obvious that God made the planet and so God also made crystals and everything that we can see, touch and feel here. And this was in a time before there was medicine and before there was different elements of science and different things that we use now that have kind of really disconnected us from our ability to be our own spiritual scientists and our own healers.
And so crystals are pieces of the earth, they are very often hundreds of millions of years old. There was a crystal found in the last couple of years that dated at two billion years, so they've been here and they have been energetic tools from the very beginning, before we even got here as humans. It's known that crystals hold energy and they have different vibrations and it's believed that each crystal has its own energetic resonance, where it can bring forward different tools and different subtle energies into your life to assist you as you also do the work of self.
Dr. Joy: Nice. How do you know where to start? Let's say that I am wanting to work on bringing more energy into my life, is there a particular crystal associated with that? And then if there is, then what do I do with it?
Devi: One, I would say everybody get my book. Or just in whatever way you're able, start doing some research. A thing that's kind of said quite often within the metaphysical space and within this community in wellness is “the crystal chooses you.” And so I found that that is very true, that when you're going out and you're crystal shopping, whether it's online looking at images or physically being in a store and being able to really touch them, what you're drawn to is typically what you need, and then look up the elements afterwards. Nine out of 10 times, you'll say, “Oh my god, that is so spot on. I needed that energy.”
So just play with it, there's no way to do it right or wrong. Don't spend time overthinking it but find a crystal then spend some time researching what energy it has. The next thing that you would do is clear its energy and so I like to do that with sage or copal or incense and you light it, you ask that any negative energy, any previously set intentions that have been placed on it are removed. And then you really sit in meditation with the crystal and you think: If this crystal is meant to represent (say for instance) emotional healing or self-love or expanding your heart to receive more love, if those are the energetic traits that are associated with it, how can I call that into my life? Is that something I'm looking to have more of within myself or within my relationships? And then you kind of really think and set intentions based on that–the greatest vision for your life–and you bring your tools with you to further support where you're headed.
Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. You mentioned already that the crystal is not a magic wand, and we talk about that in therapy, too. Like that if we could wave a magic wand, we would but until then, like, tell me how we can kind of get you from point A to B. But I think sometimes it is kind of confusing about where you start to kind of do the work that you’re maybe wanting to do, I think especially now that there are so many routes. Like we have crystals, we have therapy, we have Reiki we have sound baths, all of these things: I'm wondering if you can kind of speak to how someone would know, like, which route might be a good one for them.
Devi: You know, I think that this is such a great opportunity for people to begin to trust their own internal GPS system, to really sit in their intuition and say: Does this feel good for me? Does this feel like something I want or need? And really listening to and honoring that inner voice. As you said, Dr. Joy, there are so many tools available to us now, more than have ever been in human history. We have access to things that all of the generations that came before us really didn't have and had no idea even existed.
And so I think it's important that it's not just one thing. Our healing journey is our personal recipe, it's our personal box that we're filling with the tools that resonate with each of us and for each of us, it's gonna look different. I think it's so important. For instance, I'll share a little bit about my selfcare ritual. The way it used to look was really, really rigid. I was like, “Okay, this is what I need, this is what I need. I read about this, so I want to try that.” And so when I would approach my selfcare plan, it would be very stringent. It's like, “Okay, meditate. Now, do yoga. Now stretch. Now do this, now do that.” And it didn't really allow me to embody the healing. It kind of kept me stuck at the intellectualization phase. I was going through the motions, I was doing it, it was beneficial for my life in many ways, but I wasn't breathing it. It wasn’t in my cells, it hadn't come down from my brain to my heart.
And then with the pandemic, it became such a gorgeous opportunity for me to deepen my own selfcare practice and get really clear on, okay, outside of what looks good on the ground for healing, outside of what people in my community are doing, what do I actually need in this moment? And then I just kind of built my box from there, so it's like you can be in therapy, you can be in church, you can also have crystals, you can journal, and you can meditate. You can do all of the things. It's not about one or the other; it's really about picking and choosing what is making you feel the most nourished and connecting you to the highest version of yourself, and there is no right or wrong answer for that.
Dr. Joy: I have seen you talk a lot in the past couple of months about how this has really given you some time to go inward. I have heard other people say that too, but I think that there are also a lot of people who feel like this has not felt like a good time to go inward. I wonder if you could kind of speak to what has allowed you to do that and maybe some things that if people are finding it difficult to kind of turn inward right now, what suggestions you might have.
Devi: Oh, absolutely. Something I feel really grateful for, like the deepest part of my journey, started about 10 years ago. That's when I really started looking at my life and looking at my behavior and looking at the way I felt about myself and the way I experienced other people in the world. I started taking more ownership of that and really looking to free myself and so I'm really grateful in that I have amassed so many different kinds of tools from so many belief systems that I have had in my toolbox.
And so when we arrived at this moment, it was kind of like: You know what, let me really look and take stock at what I need in this moment. Let me reach into that reservoir and really pull out some meaningful and powerful things for myself. And I'm equipped with so many tools: I’m certified in many things, I teach meditation, I lead a lot of programs on emotional healing, create curriculum around it. But I also have been navigating depression on and off for the last year, regularly. Two weeks ago, I was deeply depressed and I sat in it and I held it for myself and I said, “Okay, you are hurting today. This is feeling really confusing, you're being triggered about a multitude of things, so let's sit in it. Let's gift you with some of your own compassion. Let's show up with some of your own supportive self.”
Luckily, when I'm in that space now, it's not to say that it's not gonna happen to us. Like there are things that we're experiencing even in the most recent, watching the Capitol getting taken over, these are things we never fathomed that go against everything that we believe to be true about ourselves and the world. It's really pulled the veil of control and safety away from us. But even in that, it's like, how do I still show up for me? I cannot control the world, I cannot control anyone else's behavior, but how can I show up for me and love me more? How can I be in less judgement of myself when I'm having reactions to different things? That's really what I lean into.
I really want to stress: none of us are getting an A in this pandemic, none of us are gonna walk through this saying, wow, I really killed that. None of us. Not any guru, not any therapist, not any mindfulness teacher, like we are all submerged in our human experience right now. But it's just for me about how do I lessen my suffering? How do I not add on to my suffering with my own behavior? I don't want to participate in my own destruction. Life will kind of handle those challenges. And so that's kind of how I've been approaching it and I think this moment in time, it's so uncomfortable for so many of us because it was designed to be. I've looked at this from day one as being kind of like a divine timeout. This has been a moment where I was very clear that, okay, this is going to be a tough year but there's opportunity here, so who else can you become? How can you become more right now in this moment?
My advice to anybody that is really struggling or really embedded in a challenge of this moment, open yourself up to a little bit more curiosity and add some joyousness to that. Something I try to do when I feel pain or discomfort, I flirt with it. I'm seductive with my pain. I like to really question myself but with playfulness and instead of saying like, “Oh, why do I feel this way? Oh, I hate feeling this way about myself.” I kind of say like, oh girl, what's wrong? Like, what is this? What's this feeling? Okay, let me sit with it for a second. Where's it coming from? Okay, what's the deeper truth of that origin? Where did it start? What do I think that this feeling means about me? What do I think it means about the people in my life? And just being really gently curious and investigative with yourself and not condemning yourself. We're doing the best we can.
Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. Yeah, and that is something we talk a lot about, just kind of giving ourselves grace always but especially right now. Like you mentioned, there are no grades coming out of the pandemic, like we are all really just trying to survive. Literally, really just trying to survive and so really being gentle with ourselves. And I think it's interesting that you brought up how therapists and meditation teachers and everybody, I really feel like this has added a different dimension to the work that I do with clients. Because usually, even though you're in it with your clients, like there is a very different level of in it right now because we are also holding our own stuff and trying to process in real time as we are providing a space for our clients to do that.
Devi: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's really inspired me to supercharge my spiritual practice and my rituals because I realized very early in this, it's not sustainable. I lead women's groups, I work for a global wellness brand, Chopra Global, which I love. I lead meditations, I do all these things and, energetically, it's really taxing. It really, really is a lot when you are a mental health professional, when you are a light worker or just in service to others. You show up powerfully but it also really depletes you and so how can you make sure you're filling yourself up? And that's really what I've been exploring and kind of practicing on myself during this pandemic.
And really listening to our innermost needs, realizing, especially as women, that we don't have to martyr ourselves. Like, yeah, we’ve got to show up for a lot of people right now but we don't have to do it in a way that destroys us or doesn't honor us.
Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. I was having a conversation with my own therapist, I think that was this week (maybe last week) just talking about, like, how to continue to build resilience throughout all of this. She was saying that one of the things that she has talked about and researched is meditation and mindfulness as being one of those things that does allow us to kind of like, okay, we take the licks but then we can dust ourselves off and get up to do another day, and I know that that is also something that you do a lot with. So can you talk a little bit about the different types of meditations there are?
Devi: Yeah, well, there are so, so, so, so many. But I think that the leading ones that we work with quite a bit are guided meditations which is coming into a space where someone who is trained in this work or has an established practice, kind of walks you through different perception shifts and different breathing techniques. That's something that I do every day, actually, on our Chopra app–I lead our guided meditations and daily meditations. There's also the style of meditation that I practice. It’s primordial sound meditation when I'm doing like my one on one practice with myself, and that's based around a mantra.
And there's a lot of different meditation systems that use different kinds of mantras. Primordial sound uses a really beautiful Sanskrit word that resonates with when and where you were born and where the planets were at that time. And it's a word that doesn't technically have a meaning but it's a vibration, so when you repeat it silently in your own mind, it's used as a really beautiful guiding post when those thoughts do come in. Because it is completely normal to think during meditation, but the goal is to (every time you think) look to release it. Just observing, “Oh, I just had a thought. I don't have to think about that right now, so let me release it and let me try to lock into my stillness and my silence.”
And that's the space we like to call the gap. So that is the space that is in between one thought and the next, where pure potentiality exists, where your healing can really be found. And then there's also the beautiful meditation system of just pure silence and pure stillness. A little tip that a friend gave me many, many years ago, a monk that I did some work with, was look at the tip of your nose with your eyes closed. When you feel your thoughts coming in, to re-center without using a mantra or without being guided, look down at the tip of your nose while your eyes are closed as a way to refocus inward.
Dr. Joy: I was trying to practice that while you were... I’ve got to remind myself I'm actually talking to you! So, doing practice in the moment.
Devi: When we did that, did you feel it, though? Like, isn't that such an interesting feeling?
Dr. Joy: It is! Even though you know your nose is there but there's something about trying to look at it with your eyes closed, that’s a very different experience. So, I want to go back to the primordial sound meditation that you were talking about. Is it a different word for everybody, since we all have different points at which we were born in the stars? And is it like a different word that's uttered for everybody?
Devi: Yeah, there is... There's some people that the words are going to be the same, because depending on where the planets were and depending on where, you know, some of us share the same birth dates and birth times and things like that. But when you get your mantra, you are supposed to just keep it for yourself and not share it out loud. Never say it out loud and don't share it with other people. Because it's kind of like your sacred personal tool, your personal vibration.
I have a two-and-a-half-year-old son and I actually... Maybe six months ago, I taught him how to meditate by using his sound and it is his favorite thing to do now. In the morning, we come downstairs, he goes, “Let's go meditate,” and then we say like his little sounds together. I won't say his sound, but he loves to just say “Om” and he like, closes his eyes and he loves the way that vibration feels on his face. And so that's been a really fun thing to start exploring with him. Obviously, he's not going to sit there for more than perhaps 30 to 60 seconds, but even that is laying a foundation where it's showing him: I know how to access and feel safe inside of my own body and I think that that is really the goal of these practices, at least in the way that I see it and the way that it has expanded in my life.
Like, when you meditate, yes, on real world level, we are trying to lessen the amount of stress that we hold, lessen the amount of tension, really dissolve some trauma and create an open channel between ourselves and between creator. But it also is such a beautiful way of learning how to feel yourself. Like really from the inside out, how to experience yourself and notice the subtle cues of your body and your mind. And for me, that has been one of the most transformational and beautiful parts of my personal journey. Every time I close my eyes, there is a galaxy in my chest. Every time I close my eyes, I have now this rich vivid inner life where I'm fully entertained and engaged and at peace, being completely by myself with my eyes closed. And that wasn't always the case.
And that is usually the space that is very scary for people when they start learning meditation. Most people are not used to not being distracted in some way. When we're distracted, it keeps us from actually knowing ourselves, which keeps us from healing ourselves. I love meditation as a tool, especially to really feel comfortable inside of you.
Dr. Joy: I'm glad you mentioned that, Devi, because I think that is the feedback that I get most often from people who are a little leery about meditation or they try it and it brings up a lot of discomfort. Because we aren’t used to being quiet and so I think for people, kind of depending on what is there that's been uncovered, it can make you run away from something like meditation, because you haven't quite learned the skills to be okay with that. So can you talk about some work that maybe you can do before you're really ready to kind of sit in the discomfort that comes with really being still?
Devi: Oh, god, it's so good. And absolutely, because that is the number one thing that everyone says. And it's so funny because everyone thinks that they are the first or the only person that feels this way and it goes like, “Oh, I think too much.” Every single person, including myself, that has ever learned meditation has had that as their excuse before trying it. And so if you feel that way, that is one million percent normal. The average human beings think thousands of thoughts a day. It's not about not thinking.
I think that there is perhaps a small handful of people like Deepak, like Dalai Lama, like some of our just incredible sages on this earth, who... Perhaps they are like there is no thought that comes in, like they might be doing it perfectly. But for the rest of us, we're just in practice, we're just in surrender to this, we're just human beings and it's okay. And so I think the bigger piece of that is, one, it makes them uncomfortable with stillness and quiet because then who am I if I don't have all these stories going through my head? Who am I if I'm not currently playing a role for other people or for myself?
But I think also, for many people, it's just the fear of not being good at something right away. When you're an adult, we take away so much of that natural wonder and curiosity, that ability to kind of try. When we're kids, we're celebrated for trying, we get the A for effort, we are applauded for the attempt. Then when we become adults, we judge ourselves if anything is less than perfect or if we're a novice at something or if we can't predict the outcome. And so that is the deeper fear that really keeps us from meditation, but we don't have to subscribe to it.
A big piece for me whenever I feel any resistance towards doing something that I know honors me or that I know adds nourishment to my life, is I ask myself questions about it. Why do you really feel so charged about not doing this? What are you actually fearful of? If you know this feels good, if you know this is good for you and you're making the conscious choice to not do it, what's the underlying story there? And I'm not judging myself for the story. I might say, well, it's this, this and this. Okay, that's fine. I understand it now. Now I can attempt it in a different way or I can keep trying. But I think for most people that want to start meditation, it's really just “start it, and then just keep doing it.”
Even if it's five minutes. You don't have to do the full recommended 20 to 25 minutes a session, you don't have to do the hour a day that I like to do now, but five minutes, two minutes. And I think for people that are in that space especially, get started by doing guided meditations. That really takes the pressure off because then you're hearing this other voice, it's very clear that they're guiding you somewhere, and you just kind of hang out for the ride.
Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. I'm glad that there are people like you and Tracy G and other black women and women of color who have been able to offer guided meditations. Because for a long time, I think it felt very uncomfortable, especially for black women, to have these guided meditations in voices that did not sound like ours. And so I think that that has made it a more inclusive way for us to kind of be brought into this wellness space.
Devi: Absolutely, 100%. I know I said this earlier, but I really love doing these on the Chopra app. Every day, I do guided meditations and I really, really work to do such an array of topics on each day so that we can really speak to a vast amount of experiences that people can be individually having. I think it's important too to know that even if you're in a space where you don't necessarily see someone who you resonate with... which, unfortunately, in wellness can be quite, quite often. In my journey, I was always the only person my age and person of color in every single retreat I went to, every certification program I did, for years. For like close to a decade, up until the last year or two years.
And so I think it's important for people to know you still have the power to be your own healer, you still do have the power to sit with yourself and offer yourself these gifts. It's not necessarily always ideal, it does feel really good to build tribe and build community, but we don't have to look at it as a cookie cutter box. Like this journey of healing is a bespoke experience for each of us. We get to really create what it looks like and it does not matter what anyone else thinks or feels about it.
Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. And I think that that's the other cool thing about so many people talking about their journeys now, is that it gives other people permission to kind of be on their own journey as well.
Dr. Joy: But you know, the other thing, and I'd love to hear your thoughts about this, Devi, because I'm sure you've seen this. It does feel like there can be a tendency to want to do too much, so almost kind of picking apart everything about you. Like oh, I don't like this about me and oh, I gotta dive deeper into this. Almost, like you were mentioning, kind of like, “I gotta check off all of these boxes,” in a way that I feel like makes people miss the point of actually engaging in these practices.
Devi: Mm, god, that's so true. So much of the reason that we're hard on ourselves, obviously, is learned behavior. It's like either our families were really critical of us or even emotionally isolating and so we got hyper vigilant about ourselves. Or society was. So it's just so important not to apply those same techniques to ourselves. We have to treat ourselves with a gentleness and with a tenderness. The way that I look at it now, I am not looking to fix myself.
When we use that kind of terminology of like “I'm fixing myself, I'm working on myself,” I get it. I get the intention and I know that that's the popular language, but I think it's so much more important to lend ourselves grace by looking at it as “I am remembering myself.” We came to this earth whole and complete. We came to this earth perfectly designed. It is everything else that happened in between us coming out of our mother's wombs and this moment in time, that has changed our perception of self or created all of these barriers to our healing and all of these experiences that don't feel good. But it's not because something is wrong with you. You don't have to fix yourself because you're broken and something is wrong. You are remembering the deeper truth of who you are.
Dr. Joy: What a beautiful sentiment. I feel like that is really grounding. We did come here with everything we needed to kind of be fine and it's all the other experiences... It's life, right? Like it's the life part that kind of gets in the way of everything that we came here with and to be, and it is kind of getting in touch with those kinds of things.
Devi: Yeah, absolutely. And I think especially, like this really has to be heard by black and brown women. The groupings of people who have never been allowed to feel anything in real time, have never been allowed to process, have never been given the dignity of their process or, to a large extent, empathy of any kind. It's like you tell yourself this loop, this belief that you are not enough or somehow you're a little less worthy than other people. Especially a little less worthy than whiteness in our society, when everything about our day to day interactions tends to reinforce that.
You come to this earth, you experience all of these different kinds of traumas and spiritual curriculums but then also, every day, there's something somewhere happening, no matter how slight or how grand, that further informs your belief that you're just not as good or something is wrong or life is meant to hurt or feel painful. And it's so important for us to always reframe that and know what's us and what is society, so that we can really see ourselves as enough and whole and equipped for the moments that we face.
Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. I'm so glad that you said that, Devi, because it definitely feels like... Especially and we've kind of seen it just in recent weeks around all of the praise that it feels like black women and other women of color get for working. Like, “Oh, you turned the state blue” and “look at black women” and “believe black women” and all of these things, right? But it feels like that praise only really happens when we are working, like not just for our existence. So I feel like this is a real calling to “You're worthy, regardless of the work.”
Devi: You are worthy because you exist. God commanded it. There's nothing more worthy than that, than your existence was required here on this earth. It's everything else that gets in the way.
I feel so grateful to be alive at this moment in time and to be alive as a woman of color in this moment in time. When else have we been able to be this free, especially inside of ourselves? And it's frustrating now, like we've had an awful year. Even this week that we're talking, the most insane things have been unfolding. But even still, even in the midst of that, we do have personal privilege of self. Which is we have the privilege of loving ourselves even if the world says otherwise. We may have to relearn how to do that, we may have to study and train how to do that or surrender into doing that. Our own love is always available to us.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, and I know that one of the ways that you do this so powerfully is by offering affirmations and mantras and also teaching people how to do those for themselves. Can you say a little bit more about how we can develop affirmations and mantras for ourselves?
Devi: Oh, yes, this is my favorite thing. Such a game changer! What was really a game changer for me–affirmations of course and mantras, nothing new, it's been around forever. But when we get really invested in seeing ourselves and being clear on what we want to cultivate or grow in ourselves, which takes quite a lot of self-honesty and looking at ourselves through non-judgmental, very clear eyes, the things we're able to manifest, the accelerated pace within which we're able to grow, it's just mind blowing. And so I'm a big believer that when we're creating affirmations and mantras for ourselves, it's really important for us to deepen our emotional language to do that. Because that really helps us understand who we are and where we're going.
And I think that's a big issue with why so many family structures are so dysfunctional and so many of the ways we feel about ourselves and the world is dysfunctional. It’s because we don't have the languaging for the expression. And when we get that, when we start to be able to expand on our experience verbally, that's how we are able to start to heal and dissolve. And so with our affirmations, it's like, for instance, you have an affirmation about perhaps wanting to forgive someone in your life or forgive yourself. I think a traditional way someone would do it is like “I am forgiveness” or “I am loving.”
Those are beautiful and those are workable, but if we really sit with ourselves and then come up with something like “I am fully surrendered to the possibilities without understanding them yet. My heart is open with loving, and expanded to forgive the experiences of my life.” When we start to really create a little deepening of our narration about our goals and about the things that we want to become, it just really accelerates it. And so a few years ago, something that I wanted to work on in myself was really healing this detachment I had from the younger versions of myself (from childhood Devi) and really being able to integrate child me and adult me. Because here I was as this adult woman that was like: I think I'm amazing. I love me, I love my life. Look at me doing this and that. But then I didn't want to think about younger me. I'd remember a version of myself at a different age and I'd be like “Ugh! Get away from me,” as if that little girl didn't also deserve to live inside of my life right now.
And so I really started exploring like what was it that was keeping me that disconnected and what was I afraid to see? And how would it feel to surrender to that and to relearn how to love little me, and how to treat her with the kindness and the dignity and the gratitude that she deserved to feel then and now? And so when I was sitting with that, some things that started coming up for me were: What words would feel really good to hear every day, that would really help me change my perception of my childhood and who I'm allowed to become? And so like a word that came forward was precious. A word that came forward was this desire to be joyfully disciplined about my goals. I had always looked at that word discipline and it had felt like I was lacking something if I didn't measure up to it, so how do I add joyousness to that?
And so when you're creating these affirmations, pull out your thesaurus, pull out your dictionary and really start adding into the language of: What is it that I feel? What do I want to feel about me? And so the affirmation that I came up with in that moment was: I'm a precious child of God, living in the mastery of my most loving and authentic self, exercising joyful discipline and leading from my soul center.
I had identified at the top of the year I really want to be able to powerfully lead in my career and in my workspace and make sure that I'm doing it from the deepest part of my authenticity, not from a perspective of maybe likes or attention. I wanted to experience myself as someone that was cherished and precious and held close to God and I wanted to really build upon my ability to have more discipline but through joy. And so when I identified, like, what are the qualities that I really want to fully embody? I found the words for them and then I wrote myself this little couple of sentences and I repeated it every day, every day, every day, every day. And now I have like 20 of them I might do a day that are equally as long, it takes quite a while, but I found that it has just been such a powerful tool of amplification of our own compassion for ourselves and our ability to grow.
Dr. Joy: I would imagine, much like the meditation, you would not suggest everybody come up with like 20, right? But to start with one maybe that you would like to have become more in your life.
Devi: Yeah, absolutely. I think very quickly you'll start to have more grace for yourself to where you can think of five things and you won't feel ashamed about it or you won't feel judged about it. But even if you think of one like: I want to feel more free, I want to feel more peace. Writing some beautiful sentences even around that one word. And just saying like, I embody lightness of being. I am joyful, playful. I experience fun with ease, I experience rest with ease. Maybe you're just doing too much and you're feeling like a martyr and you can just say like “I joyfully experience ease in every fiber of my being and my body is nourished and rested each day.”
Dr. Joy: Devi, I would love to hear some feedback around the language used in affirmations. Because I know some people struggle with this feeling like I'm not quite there yet. Like maybe I don't feel like my life is full of ease yet–this is what I'm telling myself. Is there a way to be tentative in the language or like what kind of language should you use when you're coming up with your affirmations?
Devi: You have to go big. You have to go big because here's the thing: if we're just using our current level of consciousness to manifest our deeper dreams, it's not enough. We can't even fathom yet the vastness of what our life could be when we're in a place of feeling stuck or in a place of lack. It’s really important that you always go big because it's not supposed to be true yet. If it was already true, I wouldn't have an affirmation for it, I wouldn't need to tell myself it every day. And so when we say that and we say it from that powerful space of like present tense word usage, as if we already are that, at first, even the first few weeks, you may roll your eyes every time you say it. That's okay. Like, so? Go ahead, feel irritated with it.
When I first started some of my inner child work, I would pick out a picture of myself from different ages, I would frame it in a really beautiful frame and I'd put it somewhere where I was forced to see it every day. My goal was talk to her every day, tell that picture you love her every day. And for at least the first month or two, every time I did it, I was so irritated. I was very triggered, I would roll my eyes, I would do it, “All right, I love you.” I would do it really fast and then before I knew it, the healing was happening within my body without me even having to like really push for it. Because I had just opened up that opportunity to be kind to myself or to dream a little bigger or to feel something I hadn't known yet, for me.
The same is true with our affirmations and I'll just use this example that I just used. Like if you were exhausted, if you feel like you show up for other people but you're not showing up for you or other people aren't showing up for you, the way you should do your affirmation is I want you to look dead in your eyes, in your own eyes in the mirror, and say it with conviction until it becomes true. And say, “I have a joyful, energetic body. I am filled with enthusiasm for myself and my life. I am able to receive and gift myself rest, freely and easily.” Whether or not that is true for you in this moment, it can be and so we really speak to that aspiration of self until we are able to embody it.
Dr. Joy: Yeah and I imagine that a part of what happens is that by repeating this to yourself so often, you then begin to look at ways in which you are not acting what you are affirming.
Devi: Yes, that part! That part, exactly. Yeah, you start noticing, you start witnessing your life and then you're able to make really small, easy changes based on that. That's something I've really learned, Dr. Joy, on my journey that I feel so grateful for in this moment. When we experience ourselves and our past and our history, when we experience the world as being really hard, really painful, really challenging, we think our healing has to happen the same way. So we think we have to beat ourselves up to heal and that we have to excavate in this really dramatic painful way, and I've gone that route. But I've also recently learned in the last couple of years that healing can happen in a twinkle of an eye. Healing can be instantaneous, it can be a dissolving and not a fighting against. And so the way that I like to go about it is doing things like we just said, using those tools like the affirmation and the meditation, using gentleness with myself to do that and to be that.
And so part of our healing journey is also as we unlearn all of the stories that don't serve us, we also get a chance to redefine what healing can look like for us. I believe that I can heal through joy and so that's the route that I take. When I'm feeling the tinge of depression coming on–because I'm a human being living in wild times, that's natural and to be expected–I lean into joy. I do things that make me feel good, even in a pandemic. If it's going outside and looking at a flower, if it's feeling sunshine on my skin. And taking a moment to actually really feel grateful for that, no matter what is happening around me. That's how I heal myself. Life is challenging; the way we treat ourselves doesn't always have to be.
Dr. Joy: I think, honestly, in the moments where we have experienced the most pain, the best thing that we can do is to be the most gentle with those parts of ourselves.
Devi: Yeah, yeah. You and I are talking about it and it sounds so beautiful and so gentle. But the thing is–for everybody listening–it really is. It really is and if you haven't been treated with gentleness and joy by the people in your life, you just haven't learned how to do that for yourself yet, but it doesn't mean it's not possible. It's just something new you'll be learning how to do.
Dr. Joy: There will be lots of bumps and bruises. When you’ve had that bottled for yourself, then you won't necessarily know like how to do it for yourself.
Devi: Yeah. But also just saying that's okay. That's okay.
Dr. Joy: Right. Again, giving yourself grace.
Devi: Give me all the grace. I want to stand in a shower of grace every day.
Dr. Joy: And with one another, you know, so this is something I think we've talked about somewhere on the podcast or maybe in the social media community. But the other very cool thing about grace is that when we are able to do more of giving it to ourselves, we can also extend it to other people. Because I think that there is far too often, just this harshness with one another that is not fitting and not actually helpful in terms of building community. And I think a lot of it comes from us not giving ourselves enough grace so that we can extend it to others.
Devi: Oh my god, so true. Yeah, that projection is so real. It's so real and it's so fun and interesting to look at when you begin to get on the other side of it. Really noticing where you were projecting on other people when you thought you were being righteous.
Dr. Joy: Right, right.
Devi: I've definitely had to eat my own words before.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, and I think that that is just a reminder that we are all human doing this work. It is all a practice. I love that we call them practices because it's nothing that you are gonna get an A+ on.
Dr. Joy: We're gonna take a quick break and come back with our Press Pause moment.
Dr. Joy: Devi, I know that you will be able to do this beautifully. Here on the podcast, we have a segment called the Press Pause where we like our guests to be able to offer something like a brief meditation or some affirmations that might be helpful for them as they kind of move throughout their day.
Devi: Mm, I love that, yeah. Okay, I would love to ask everybody listening to the show right now to just practice some gentle breathwork with me. And wherever you are in however feels comfortable, just get into a position that feels good for your body. You can be sitting down, you can be even laying on your back, and just gently close your eyes. Let's just feel ourselves inside of ourselves for a second.
And I'd like to invite you to take your right hand and just go ahead and place it over your heart center and take your left hand and place it over your sacral chakra. So that is the space where your womb is, underneath your belly button. Just have one hand there, one hand on your heart and just feel yourself for a moment. Feel your own touch, feel your own support, feel the warmth of your hand, the space that it's taking up. Let's just take a few deep breaths in and out through our nose with our eyes gently closed. We can take a deep breath in through our noses together... and just hold it at the top for a couple of seconds and then we're gonna release through our mouths with a sigh...
We'll do that two more times, taking a really big inhale with our noses when we get going and imagining even your lungs as two beautiful balloons, really stretching and expanding with that inward breath. And then we're going to hold it right at the top for a few seconds and then we'll release with that sigh, just allowing ourselves to really release anything inside that doesn't serve us. Create some more spaciousness around our hearts. We'll do that two more times. Go ahead and inhale through your nose...
And for our last time, we'll do that beautiful inhale, hold it at the top and then let yourself sigh it out, really release our last one together. Now inhale... Now your right hand’s still on your heart, your left hand still right there over your womb. Back to regular, gentle breathing. And as you're holding yourself in this moment, just really showing up powerfully for you, I want you to think of something that you feel grateful for. It doesn't have to be grand or a really big joy. It can be a tiny joy, maybe someone let you merge in front of them today and there was ease to that or you lucked out in some way or saw your child's smile or you're just grateful to exist. And I want you to hold that feeling deep in your chest as you hold yourself, and just really allow yourself to savor it. Feel safe in that gratitude. Even if it feels natural, let yourself have a smile come across your mouth. Really holding that space of gratefulness and worthiness and enoughness. And just say to yourself right now, as we close out silently in your own mind, “I am worthy. I give and receive love freely. What God has for me is enough.” A couple of more breaths. Whenever it feels comfortable, you can gently open your eyes... Namaste.
Dr. Joy: Thank you so much for that, Devi. What an incredibly powerful but also brief thing that people can practice, I think, over and over. Which is what we talked about, like just being able to cultivate even brief moments to kind of dive into yourself.
Dr. Joy: Yeah. I would love for you to share with us more about where we can find your work. Can you talk with us about some of the really cool things you're doing, both with your community and with Chopra?
Devi: Yeah, absolutely. Hit me up on the ‘gram. I'm on there, @DeviBrown, and through there you can also link to Karma Bliss which is my business. On there, I have a community called Karma Gang, we have monthly zooms and meditations, a book club. We do different challenges every quarter to really grow yourself and test out some new tools and see what fits and see what can feel really nourishing.
And then at Chopra, which I am just so in love with my company that I've worked for. At Chopra, we have an amazing app called the Chopra Well-being app that you can find on your iPhone, and every day I lead daily meditations on that app. I'm the Chief Impact Officer for Chopra Global and so a lot of the work that I do is around our curriculum and our events and really, really pushing for the democratization of wellness and making sure that these healing tools and these belief systems are accessible for everyone, of every economic background everywhere.
We do really, really beautiful work at Chopra, really rooted in Deepak’s life practice and in Ayurveda. Head to our website, Chopra.com. When the world opens up, we have gorgeous in-person retreats where you can really deep dive into this meditative journey and cultivate more peace, because that is what it is all about for me.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, we definitely need that, especially right now. Well, Devi, are there any books? Because people really love diving into books that you’ve found particularly transformative or ones that you find yourself recommending over and over. Anything you'd add to that list?
Devi: Oh, yes. Well, one, my book. Go get Crystal Bliss, little plug. A book that really meant so much to me in my life... There are so many books but there are two that I really recommend for people, that were just immeasurably valuable in my life. And that is The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. I still read that book every single day. It's a really small book that is so powerful and you can kind of do it where you go over one law each day but really learning, and the law of detachment that's featured in that book is probably one of the biggest game changers of my life.
And then I also recommend The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. It is an incredible book that... You know, I'm somebody that loves ethereal and esoteric and metaphysical, but I also really love research and I really love psychology and making this kind of map in your mind of what leads where. And I thought that that book, The Untethered Soul, was such a beautiful mix of really tangible understanding of this work and some of the deeper parts of the sacred journey.
Dr. Joy: Beautiful. I definitely want to add those to my list as well. Thank you so much, Devi, it is always a pleasure to share a space with you. I really appreciate you sharing with the community today.
Devi: You are so amazing. It was such an honor to be on this show and I have just loved, loved, loved following your work. And I want to say I just really honor you for being who you are in the world and for showing up for all of us so powerfully with your work and everything that you've created. Thank you so much.
Dr. Joy: Thank you.
I'm so glad Devi was able to join us for today's conversation. To learn more about her and her work, visit the show notes at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/session 190. And please be sure to text two sisters right now and tell them to check out this episode. If there's a topic you'd like to have covered on the podcast, please submit it to us at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/mailbox. And if you're looking for a therapist in your area, be sure to check out our therapist directory at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/directory.
If you want to continue digging into this topic and connect with some other sisters in your area, come on over and join us in the Yellow Couch Collective where we take a deeper dive into the topics from the podcast and just about everything else. You can join us at TherapyForBlackGirls. com/YCC. Thank y’all so much for joining me again this week. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all, real soon. Take good care.