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.
For many, the beginning of a new year can evoke feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. How do I start a new year on the right foot when I’m still so utterly exhausted from the previous year? To assist us with centering ourselves for 2023, I’m thrilled to be joined again by Wellness Educator, Meditation Teacher, Reiki Healer, Author, and host of the Dropping Gems podcast, Devi Brown. During our conversation, we explore how to craft a schedule that allows for self-care practices, narrowing down your focus as you prepare for a new year, and affirmations to recite to feel grounded and whole. Devi also leads us through a beautiful meditation to assist us in tapping into our power and who we are being called to be in the new year.
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Session 287: Grounding Yourself for a New Year
Dr. Joy: Hey, y'all! Thanks so much for joining me for Session 287 of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. We'll get into our conversation right after a word from our sponsors.
Dr. Joy: You did it, sis. You made it through the year. You deserve a round of applause. Give yourself a big hug or even fall into tears as you fully accept the hard work that got you to this moment. The internal exhale you might feel that you’ve witnessed this year’s sunset might feel cut short as you realize a new year is on the horizon. For many, the beginning of a new year can evoke feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. How do I start a new year on the right foot when I'm still so utterly exhausted from the year I'm in now? Big inhale. We have two more weeks until we officially reach 2023, which means we still have time to rejuvenate and refuel.
To assist us with centering ourselves for the new year, I'm thrilled to be joined again by wellness educator, meditation teacher, Reiki healer, author, and host of the Dropping Gems podcast, Devi Brown. In our conversation, we explore how to craft a schedule that allows for self care practices, narrowing down your focus as you prepare for a new year, and affirmations to recite to feel grounded and whole. Devi also leads us through a beautiful meditation to assist us in tapping into our power and who we are being called to be in the new year. If something resonates with you while enjoying our conversation, please share it with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGinSession or join us over in the Sister Circle to talk more in depth about the episode. You can join us at Community.TherapyForBlackGirls.com. Here's our conversation.
Dr. Joy: I'm really glad to have you back, Devi, because it definitely feels like the pandemic has given a lot but it also has taken a lot. I really feel like through the pandemic, I have gotten to know you better. We met probably very, very early in the pandemic doing a speaking engagement together, virtual, one of the first virtual speaking engagements of so many to follow. And it feels like at least once a year since then we've been able to do something together, interview together and so I feel like it is an interesting way to kind of mark time. I'm just curious to hear, year one, two and three of the pandemic, how you feel like you have changed, and kind of are feeling differently each year.
Devi: Oh my gosh, what an exquisite question. I love that I get to answer this because then it brings this to life for me in my own body and in my life. I have to start by saying today it really dawned on me that 2023 is here. And how years for me, timewise, have really been feeling a lot more like months used to feel. And that is strange. I've just been kind of wondering how much of that has to do with age, and just the more established you become in your life, especially if you have children, you mark time differently. But I've just really been observing how I relate to time so much lately.
It's so interesting, Dr. Joy. In the very first year of the pandemic, when we first met and we had trillions of virtual speaking experiences, I've really been thinking a lot about that time. Because though I did really intentionally take a lot of time for myself, I was in a different position in the pandemic, as someone that had been having an established meditation and spiritual practice for about 10 years. I had been teaching for about six, seven years, and when we went into the pandemic, I was also in a lot of deep crisis in my personal life. I had this opportunity to really show up for people and bring a lot of my work and my skills and my practices that have been so supportive into other people's lives. It really felt like that first year of the pandemic, from home, it felt like I was living five lifetimes in one. And the momentum of that and really a lot of the beauty that came into my life by showing up in service for so many people in what was the most provocative, important moment of my lifetime, it's really interesting.
I've just settled into really being able to look at that and rest from that time just now in this year. The momentum carried me through, but that was quite a lot—mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. So that first year of the pandemic was a whirlwind for me. The second year of the pandemic, same. And then the first year out of the pandemic was really interesting because I felt like I was catching up to about five years of growth within that year. I was really able to see my growth in so many ways. My growth as a single mother, I was able to see my growth and my intention as a friend, and a lot of the boundaries that I had placed in my life really coming to life and blooming and having space to reap the rewards of. I was also noticing that I was fully in another life. The world had opened and so I was test driving this new me out and about so much more.
The first year out of the pandemic, which I guess I would count as this last year of 2022, it's been really fun and it's been beautiful. And it's been also tiring. I think I've been getting used to, okay, who am I now back in the world? Now that my work travel has picked back up, now that socialization has picked back up. I've just been in flow and in practice with this even more evolved version of myself in this last year, and I'm really looking forward to the ways I get to immerse myself and really live in this truth in 2023.
Dr. Joy: Thank you for sharing that, Devi. I definitely echo your sentiments of feeling like this year has felt in a different way kind of exhausting, and I think a lot of our community is also feeling that way as we approach 2023. Just feeling very tired and kind of like burned out in a lot of ways. I wonder if you can share the importance of being gentle with yourself if you find yourself in that space as we enter a new year.
Devi: It's imperative. We can't change with judgment, we just can't. I know there's a lot of different social experiments and studies that have been done related to that, but it's just not possible to really become yourself, to love yourself, to be more of yourself, if you do not accept yourself. And if you're constantly meeting yourself with criticisms or judgments, especially when you're in that really fragile, flexible time of stretching and trying on new ways of being, it's really important to give yourself grace and space to do that. We cannot master new things if we don't treat ourselves with patience and care. Spiritually, the term I’d use for that is really a gentleness, it's a tenderness with self. It's also taking a moment to inquire why a gentleness of self may feel so foreign to begin with. And spending time with noticing, what are my barriers to my own kindness? Hmm, why do I happen to always get so exasperated with myself? Why do I tend to always use that tone with myself or concede to failure so quickly? That can sometimes feel challenging, and it can bring you to a new layer of yourself and it can bring you to things that maybe have not been a priority in discovering, but are really important for that next step. And so the gentleness is truly key for any change. It's what makes it sustainable, it's what makes the initial kind of awareness that you may have about something in your life, it's what actually makes it potent and permanent and transformational.
Dr. Joy: Devi, you have raised a lot of interesting points there, especially around asking yourself why is it difficult for me to be gentle with myself? I think sometimes that can be a very painful answer because I think a lot of times, what we learn is that came from upbringing, it came from other people in our lives who were supposed to be gentle with us who were not. So I think it often presents a very uncomfortable place for people to be.
Devi: Deeply. Deeply uncomfortable. It's kind of a multitude of things and for some of us, depending on our background, it could feel really complex. It could bring to life a lot of challenge, a lot of experiences—with caretakers, with people in your life as a young person who didn't give you the freedom to be yourself or didn't see you as your own being. It can also be so much of the societal stuff. Every generation has its own curriculum that society is kind of forcing on it, this way of being, the stereotype of how you're supposed to live, and that's a lot of it, too. At least in this millennial generation that I can speak to, because I live this experience, I think we were met with so many contradictory expectations. As women, especially. It's like you need to hustle, you need to grind, you need to go harder, you need to be a martyr, you also got to show up perfectly in your friendships and over-give and have over-responsibility. And you got to be this to your man, and you got to know how to like throw shade and read people. It was just so many things that really didn't speak to gentleness or rest in any way. So there's always something to be unlearned. I think when we take that approach of that self inquiry of asking “why do I treat myself this way,” it's important to, yes, do that deeper dive that can feel immensely, immensely triggering and can be painful. And do the societal view too. Say, what did I pick up from friendships? What did I pick up from work atmospheres? What did I pick up from television? That's really the only multifaceted approach I've found is the way you really are able to break some of those patterns and make it lasting.
Dr. Joy: You've already mentioned how you feel like you have changed just in the past three years and I would imagine that your self care, your self care rituals have changed with it. Can you talk about how they have changed for you, and why it's important for us to kind of have different rituals and different kinds of things that we do at different parts of our lives?
Devi: Oh, yes, it's changed so much. It's something that I was really reflecting on recently in my life, and just seeing the beauty in how much we do have to commit to the process and to the gentleness. And to understanding that when we speak to self care practice, the most important word that is being spoken is the word practice. Actually letting ourselves give that word a definition, I am in practice of this. And so every day, it's so important, and every day does not have to look identical. You are not winning some kind of award by something observing you that's keeping count. There isn't this need for perfection every day. It's just like if you were on the court with a ball—as my dear friend Resmaa Menakem says, getting your reps up—you just keep shooting the ball. And you make some baskets, and the ones you don't make, you just keep dribbling, you keep trying. There's not that same sense of pressure if you're doing it for fun or if there's no expectation of you making it to the league. I think we have to look at our practice in that same way.
When I think back to when I began my journey meditating, and this is 10 years ago, sometimes I could barely get through five minutes. When I tell you it was like pulling teeth, my journey beginning to meditate, the very first time, I knew it would change my life but it didn't mean I liked it and it didn't mean I was “good at it.” It took years. After a couple of years, I bumped my practice up and I was locking into doing 30 Minutes two times a day and now, I find that it's most beneficial for me in my life if I can find a way to meditate for two hours a day. That's usually about 45 minutes to an hour in the morning, 45 minutes to an hour in the evening. Doesn't always happen, I have a four-year-old, and life will life. But for me, because I know that's a priority, it also doesn't feel like a hardship. I don't watch television, I don't really watch a lot of movies, I'm not someone that is super plugged in to talking to people in my life all day throughout the day. So I have ways to find that time for myself but it's incredibly important.
I think now, the way that I've really been growing in my practice, something that has become more important than it's been is spending more time with my body. I really have a dedicated stretch practice right now, which has taught me a lot about myself and it's taught me a lot about barriers I had to being present with myself, barriers I had to noticing my body and acknowledging when I had aches and pains. This might resonate with some. I lived with chronic pain for many years and so doing physical things, I would find myself avoiding them. Even though I was on a meditation path, I was not doing yoga for many years because it was very triggering me. Every time I tried to get into a yoga posture, I would be noticing everything that hurt and everything I couldn't do and so I would kind of reject it. So the last couple of years I've been enhancing my practice by working on my yoga postures, stretching. I love doing abhyanga, which is Ayurvedic self massage, where you get oil and you spend a lot of dedicated time just nurturing your body, rubbing the oil on your skin, noticing knots, and tensions and giving yourself release. That's a part of my practice I have fallen deeply in love with. It's allowed me to feel really my best. My body feels powerful, I feel like I have more control over being able to bring myself pleasure, relief, just a sense of being unburdened.
Dr. Joy: More from my conversation with Devi after the break.
Dr. Joy: Devi, I'm very impressed by you saying that you basically have days uninterrupted. That you're not talking to people kind of throughout the day. Can you share how you've been able to craft a schedule like that?
Devi: Yes. One, by nature of my work, something that I have is my “away” email: I'll respond as I can, but my work is rooted in present moment awareness, so I don't have urgency about getting back to you. My away message to my email says that. Something that was really beautiful in the pandemic, and I think a lot of us noticed this, is by having that disconnection, we craved connection. We were able to really reset in a lot of ways, or that was the case for me. I was able to reset and say what are the essential friendships in my life? What are the essential relationships? And what are things that I've been feeding that have never shown return on investment? That even looks like sometimes if someone texts me that I knew and I would feel a little bit of charge about it and not know why because our interactions were always delightful, I just started scrolling up in our text history and saying, what is the truth of the way we've been operating?
What I noticed with some people was very often it was someone pinging me to receive advice or want guidance in some way or invite me out to talk about things working in their lives and in their curriculums. But it wasn't the same level of enthusiasm of recognizing things I was doing in the world, speaking to that. There wasn't really a lot of inquiry about me and my experiences. And so sometimes for some of us, when you are that role model in your life or if you have wisdom to give, you can get really burned out. I started looking at little things like that. I started looking at something I spoke to earlier, was this generational thing we had as millennials, this societal pressure and guidance that was also put around networking. This belief that we always had to be out. Sharing our card, interacting with people, getting names, getting yourself known, but very rarely do any of those have depth and very rarely did any of that turn into anything collaborative.
I also got real about the fact that what I do for work, I don't need to network. That's not actually a part of what makes my work move and so I just got very clear on things that were essential for my purpose, things that were essential for my internal life, for my family, and things that weren't. Then I got very intentional and I cut out everything that wasn't. Something that a lot of my friends also know about me is I am that friend that is gonna show up and I am that friend that is going to be with you through literally anything. I'm also the friend that loves to turn off and have fun and I'm the friend that really likes to be alone. I was just very upfront with that with the people in my life. I don't operate like everyone else, I don't enjoy gossip, I don't want to be just talking about things for the sake of it, I really like to be in silence a lot. And so I just designed my life around who I am. That is not the case for everyone, nor should it be, but that is uniquely the way my life operates and so I had to make the adjustments to support that.
Dr. Joy: I also know that affirmations are a big deal for you. Can you share one affirmation that you feel like has really helped keep you grounded and whole during this year?
Devi: Every year, at the top of the year, usually on the first or second of the new year, with the exception of being with my son, I try to be in silence for almost the entire day. I use that day to really connect with myself and god and say, what is this next year going to mean in my life? What do I need to do to meet that occasion? It's a deeply meditative day for me, a day that I love to journal a lot, and a day that I love to create meaningful affirmations that I base off of what came up for me in meditation. And so when we kind of reemerged back in the world last year, we were also emerging with everyone and everything that we've walked through and gone through. People came back to life very differently. At least where I live in Los Angeles, I started noticing so much tension everywhere. There is a lot of charged energy in the atmosphere right now and people are walking through a lot, people are triggered when they least expect it. I just started noticing a lot more accidents on the road, a lot more anger present in day to day scenarios. And so I created this affirmation with my intention of how I wanted to show up for people and how I wanted people to show up for me.
The affirmation that I've been using this last year is, I attract, receive and experience the highest version of every being whom I encounter. I attract, receive and experience, the highest version of every being whom I encounter. Saying that every day, I really noticed a significant change, I really noticed that I was not attracting a lot of that charge when I'd be out in the world. And I was also holding space for the fact that we are all walking through significant things in our lives right now. Even if we've all put back on our garments from 2019, even if we've all been kind of trying to pretend we're in a “new normal” or getting back to normal, we're not and it never will be and we are different. And so how do we shape our lives around that and how do we also give grace to people who, maybe because of so many different things, may not have been able to experience the pandemic in the same way that we did?
Dr. Joy: Devi, I feel like you have just unlocked a whole new episode conversation. Because I agree with you. I also feel that charge and I think, because of what we do, we're tapped into it in a very particular way. But I feel like a lot of people feel it and I think a lot of it is, as you're saying, we're putting on the same clothes and whatever from 2019, but the world is very different. I don't think we have processed the grief and the loss and the disappointment and the anger and the hurt and everything that has happened. I'm honestly confused about how we move forward. I feel like it feels so big that it feels hard to even help people understand what they need to do to try to course- correct in some ways. I know this is a big question, but what are your thoughts in terms of how we even help people get started at chipping away at some of this energy?
Devi: It is so, so hard. Not to speak for you, I know some of us that are really observers of and servants to humanity, it feels like, in a lot of ways, the gap got even bigger. Like a lot bigger. And it felt like there are demographics of people who surged forward in really powerful ways and demographics of people who stayed the same. But the thing is, if you’ve stayed the same while everyone moves forward, you are behind. I don't think that there is anything that can change that. Because to be quite honest, my thought is, if for whatever reasons you are not able to move through some of your spiritual curriculum, move forward, lay some things to rest during the pandemic (which was that one moment in time that everything stood still and you could really dive in), I don't know how possible it would be in another circumstance. A practice that I've been in, to kind of work with this energy, I've had to really expand my compassion practice.
I don't want to sound overly ethereal but I say this to say there are things in life that do not have hacks. There are things in life that do not have tricks, that do not have a line of advice or wisdom, and I think we're in a very complicated time. I'm excited about this time that we're in but I think that we're gonna start to see pain rise to the surface in a way that we never have. I think that we are going to begin to unpack conversations about really complicated and complex abuses that people have experienced that we never have as a society. And it's dark, and it's heavy, and there is no way around it.
And so for me, I think the best case scenario is to not try to bypass any of it, to witness all of it. Even if you can't be a part of the solution, hold space for it with neutrality, with non judgement. Be willing to look at it. If you can't offer anything else, just keep your eyes open. And I think I'm just trying to always cultivate as much grace and compassion as possible and to also use my discernment and my intuition at the highest levels that I can. Intuition, discernment, it's not just for who you're gonna date. It's not just for friendships, it's not just for the little thing that you're looking on Instagram about trying to figure out crack the code. It's to be used in your day-to-day interaction. So if something tells you not to launch into that conversation, not to honk at that person when they cut you off, listen to it. That's what I'm really trying to be present with right now.
Dr. Joy: This conversation comes up a lot around intuition: how do you know the difference between intuition and anxiety? Do you have some ideas about how we can firm up that intuition muscle and not necessarily give into anxiety?
Devi: Intuition is not dread. When I think of what the feeling of anxiety at least has felt like for me in my life, there is this sense of being out of control, there is this sense of doom and gloom coming, there is this sense of charge. Intuition, to me, feels like peace. Even if it's the no, even if it's something that I don't want to hear, it doesn't feel like a fight. It feels like a deep knowing and it feels like a guidance, like a gift. So I think sometimes intuition begins to feel more like anxiety if you are trying to force a different outcome than what your body, mind and heart are telling you. That can lead to what is felt as anxiety in the body, I believe.
Something I was thinking about recently, I use the term god, I also use the term universe. And I'm speaking to my specific relationship with the creator, which is nondenominational but includes a lot of wisdom traditions and a lot of devotion and faith and trust. And so I ask god for guidance about everything every day and then I wait and I listen. And sometimes the answer is no and I don't always like it, but I listen. And I think that's what intuition feels like for me. It's whether it is what you think you want and desire or not, coming back to you as intuition. It's the choice or it's the thought or it's the knowing that it’s for your protection.
Dr. Joy: Thank you for that, I appreciate that. You mentioned earlier that part of the way that you try to start the new year is in silence. You shared a blog post recently that I would love for us to talk about as you talk about how we can prepare for 2023. You said:
There is no better way to map out a new year of abundance, fulfillment and joy than creating with intention. The end of the year is often shrouded in frantic energy. There seems to be so much external exertion and an imbalance of inner reflection. In the ever-shifting cycle of expansion, I have practiced creating my new year intentions in November and December so that my daily routine, vibration, and vision is already in motion come January 1.
How might we also follow in these footsteps of being more intentional about creating what we want 2023 to look like?
Devi: I love that. I would say first of all, go deeper, go deeper, go deeper, go deeper, go deeper. I'm certain that anyone listening to this show is into that. You know, this is not a surface show that's just like “Yeah, girl, you want that new car? Put it on your vision board.” Go deeper. When we think about the things that we want for ourselves, if the first thing coming up is something materialistic, cool, you deserve that too. And think about the things that support whatever that material thing is. Think about some of those deeper connections that you can maybe reverse engineer to see what the deeper need to be met is and consider really setting that as the goal. Maybe it's I want to be more expressive, I want to be more emotionally open. Go for the gold, go for the big things that are going to have a massive return on the investment if you work on them. The things that kind of allow other things to come in more seamlessly. But my favorite time of year to kind of start to do this prep, it's really November, December. A lot of times people will wait till the first day of the new year and New Year's Eve to kind of say, okay, what do I want? Who do I want to be? If you get started two, three, four, five, six to eight weeks in advance, your brain and body are kind of already moving towards those intentions that you set. And when the top of year begins, you feel really clear on who it is you'd like to be more of or on the things you'd like to see happen in your life.
I say make lists. Journaling is such a beautiful tool for this. A recapitulation exercise is so powerful to do. I usually take the month of December to do that, where every few days, I will go over a month from the past year. Recapitulation means you are going over the things that have happened or that you've experienced. You're acknowledging them one by one and then you're releasing them. It's a beautiful practice to do every single day at the end of the day. It really helps you sleep, it helps you unburden, destress. When you do it at the end of the year, it brings you into a completion with a lot of the things that you've experienced. You're able to see the power of the life you've lived, you're able to see your growth, you're also able to see the things that maybe the “ball dropped on” without judgment. You're able to see, where can I just say I'm done with that? You can complete circles. Are there projects I started that didn't finish and I don't have any plans to finish? Let me acknowledge that and just call it out and say it so that I'm done. Are there things that I experienced that now make me really ready to experience X, Y and Z in this next year? It just makes you more equipped to make wiser decisions, to make more impactful decisions in your life, and to really be someone that brings more creativity into who you are. By creativity, I mean feeds your purpose, feeds your work, but also feeds creation. What can you create in yourself? What can you create in your life? So getting those thoughts kind of started earlier and starting some note-taking earlier before the new year starts can be really, really powerful.
Dr. Joy: I like the idea of this recapitulation exercise, I've not heard of this before. I'm wondering, and I'm guessing many other people will be too, how are you doing this? It sounds like you are a pretty active journaler so you're probably going back through your journals to kind of make sense. But if somebody wants to do this and they have not been keeping track, I'm trying to think like, okay, am I gonna go back to my Google Calendar and try to figure out what was going on? How would you do that?
Devi: That is perfect, that's exactly what I do. This is the thing that I've noticed. If we're working on a project or we're working on something that other people are going to see, we are so diligent. We may have our highlighter, we have our notebook, we can pull up all the forms, we can get in the fibers of it, take notes, make our to do list. Somehow, when it comes to our personal growth, our spirituality, our own nourishment, we like to just fly by the seat of our pants. “Well, if it's mine, it'll be mine.” “Alright, I'm gonna say that prayer now.” And it's just like, no, feed your internal life with the same level of excellence that you feed your professional life. And so at the end of the year, in December, when I start this practice for myself… Now, I am an avid journaler and by avid journaler, I mean I be journaling and it's very categorized. So I journal by the month and I date everything. I don't journal every day but I journal as thoughts come to me and it's monthly. It's by the month. And so when I want to relook at January, I open my journal to the tab that says January and I look through what I was thinking in that month, what I was doing.
What were the breakthroughs that I was having, what releases was I having? What were things that were just naturally quotes, people, places, on my mind? And then I do pull up my Google Calendar and I say, what were the things that you did this month? Oh, wow, you did that? You went there. Oh, god, you were so sick that month, or the baby was so sick that month. I just take stock of the fullness of my experiences. On one end, the recapitulation feeds you in so many ways that I've already expressed, and it helps you to acknowledge yourself. It helps you to really look at yourself and how you use your time, how you're using your life. In that practice, I would definitely recommend, take your time. Say, alright, I want to think about January of last year today. Look at your calendar, glance at it. What was I doing? Oh, wow, I forgot about that. Oh, my god, I talked to that person? Or I stopped talking to that person. That was the day that I had the difficult conversation. How has that worked out for me over this last year? How has that decision played out for me? It allows you to become a lot more powerful in the way that you're able to show up for yourself and your own desires.
Dr. Joy: I know something else that a lot of people do in preparation for the new year is try to think of a word or phrase, or an affirmation like you mentioned you try to do. What suggestions do you have for people to kind of narrow down on what they might want the focus of 2023 to be?
Devi: I definitely recommend having a meditation for yourself. Really taking a moment, five minutes, 10 minutes, 45. Taking a deep breath and saying that question to yourself aloud and internally. What am I meant to know this year? What am I meant to do this year? Close your eyes, take a breath. Don't let your mind try to fill that space with an answer but see what naturally begins to come up and emerge. If you close your eyes and say how can I make my experience better? How can I make my life better this year? It comes immediately. Whether you want to acknowledge that particular thing (because it might have charged to it) or not, it comes. We can say, oh, I don't know, and I don't really know what I want to do. You know, and you are spending your time performing and saying and hemming and hawing to otherwise. Which is cool if that's what you wish. But if you want more, you have to practice being honest with yourself and you have to practice listening to yourself.
Dr. Joy: You talked a lot about trying to get in touch with the personal meditation. I forget what you called it last time. But you shared that also about spending time to try to get in touch with whatever your personal meditation is going to be for the year.
Devi: Yeah. You know what, in psychology, a process you might do with someone is like a Gestalt. Where you check in and have them switch roles with someone that holds charge in their lives. We can do that process with ourselves, we can do that process with our own souls and our spirits. We can ask ourselves a question as long as we're detached from ego with trying to just say, “I knew the answer.” But we can ask ourselves a question and be silent, and really let those deeper layers of our thoughts and our feelings emerge to give us the answers that we're looking for.
Dr. Joy: When you were with us last time, you also talked about crystals and taught us all about some of the healing properties. I'm wondering, which crystals have you found yourself reaching for recently? And are there some crystals we should be thinking about as we kind of try to ground ourselves for a new year?
Devi: Thank you for this question. Yes. I think a crystal that I'm really connected to right now, and it's an OG, it should be a staple for everyone that's into crystals, is selenite. Selenite looks like a milky white and it has a texture that is a little bit porous and it can kind of be a little bit brittle. But selenite is a really beautiful stone for purifying energy and for neutralizing spaces, bringing light into things, drawing out negative energy. That's just been one I think I've been using in the last few months more than ever and I think it kind of just speaks to that charge that we're experiencing in the world. Sometimes I notice when I get home, I'm not just trying to like come down from my day, I'm trying to come down from all the energy I picked up from everyone else in the day. I love just holding on to that stone for about a minute and just like, not even anything too precious or complicated, but just holding it and squeezing it in my hand for a couple of minutes and then letting it go.
Another stone that I really love right now is fluorite. Fluorite is really amazing. It's believed to be a really beneficial stone for your brain. And for clarity and the deeper sense of like just really sharp thinking and the ability to keep your brain feeling a little more vibrant, a little more focused. So I've been loving that. And I love chrysocolla. Chrysocolla is a really beautiful stone that is a heart opener, it's gorgeous to look at but it's supposed to be very, very good for your emotional health and balancing.
Dr. Joy: I love that, sounds like very beautiful crystals to experience, especially as we find ourselves in this time of the year and preparing for a new year. You had a beautiful conversation on one of your most recent episodes of Dropping Gems (which is your podcast) about who are you being called to become? I wonder if you could speak a little bit about the difficult but meaningful process of being who we are called to be?
Devi: I don't think that there is anything more important that we can be doing with our lives than really understanding who we are and why we're here and how we're meant to serve. That question, I remember I was on a Zoom friend group when the pandemic first hit, and we would get together on Zoom every Sunday and just be each other's companions while we were doing other things for the afternoon. And we were talking on our very first one and I remember I just kind of blurted out of my mouth, “Just think about it like this. Who are you being called to become right now?” This is when we thought the lockdown was going to be three weeks. And so I was just like, what can we do with this three weeks? Who are you being called to become, what can we create? It actually became like the ethos of two years for me. Who am I being called to become?
That kind of inquiry, it takes you out of the roles that you play, it takes you out of the striving, it takes you out of the “I want to get this promotion, or I want to be perceived in this way.” It’s, no, who are you being called to become? Which means you're not all of that yet, so there's something to be remembered, there are some areas to get clear. It also means that it's not your ego. Its divine will coming in and guiding you. And so when I use that term, who are you being called to become, it opens space for more than you can conceive of in this moment with your limited view of your life. I think it's an important question that we all ask.
Dr. Joy: What other questions might we be in conversation with around who we are being called to become?
Devi: I think questions that help us foundationally get really clear is on noticing any things that we have up against more. Having some inquiry around do I like myself? Before you even ask “Do I love myself,” do I like myself? What do I like about myself? What do I kind of reject about myself and why? And then being able to move some of that out of the way. Because when we hold all of that, we can't become more. We are in too deep of judgment of ourselves, we have locked in too tightly to this narrative that we and others have created about us, this projection, that it doesn't create the space that's actually necessary for you to, not just move forward, but to ascend higher. I think we have to have an ongoing inquiry practice with ourselves in order to actually utilize who am I being called to become more. And I think it also speaks to… Purpose is a really hot topic the last couple of years. It's something that we're saying a lot, but I think it's really, very often misused. In Vedic tradition, in Sanskrit, you wouldn't use the word purpose, you'd say, dharma.
Dharma loosely translated in English to purpose, but dharma in Sanskrit, it's really the totality of your life experiences and what they're meant to be. It means it's a mixture of understanding your karma. What are the patterns? What are the trends that I've been repeating? What are the pains that have been the guiding posts of my life? What are the joys that have been the guiding posts in my life? What is the work that feels really meaningful for me? What are the ways that I'm meant to show up for others? When we think of purpose in more of the ancient way, it speaks to everything about us that needs to be in alignment. When we just use the word purpose in English and in western tradition, it is very often just seen as how do I quantify myself? How do I stand taller? How do I have the job that I want to have? How do I have the title that I want to have? And how do I make sure that people perceive me in X, Y, and Z? It's more so looking to quantify yourself through ego or through society. I might have gone all around the park on this, but when I think of that phrase, “who are you being called to become,” it speaks to everything about you. Yeah, it can speak to how you want to make money, but it also speaks to who do you want to become emotionally? Who do you want to become mentally, spiritually, physically? All the facets of this human experience.
Dr. Joy: I love that, Devi. It's okay for you to go around the park. We’ve landed in a beautiful place. More from my conversation with Devi after the break.
Dr. Joy: You've talked quite a bit about meditation as a through line, kind of, of all of the things that you've kind of shared today. And so as we wrap up today, I would love it and be very honored for you to grace us with another meditation that kind of pulls together some of the things that you've shared, and really helps us to ground ourselves as we close this year and prepare to welcome 2023.
Devi: My pleasure. First, I’d like to ask everyone listening, as long as you're not driving. If you're driving, you pause this now and you finish later. But everyone listening that is safe to do so, I want you to allow yourself to position your body into a comfortable position, whatever that means for you. For me, in this moment, I am sitting in a chair. I'm going to uncross my legs and my arm. I'm going to allow my spine and back to be upright and strong. My belly to become soft. My feet to be flat on the ground. If you're on the floor, perhaps you're sitting in cross legged position or your legs are in front of you. If you're able, you can even lay down for this and support your neck a little. Get nice and comfortable but keep your body in a position that is both strong and relaxed. Allow your hands to fall on the tops of your thighs or to your sides with your palms facing up in a state of receiving.
If you haven't done so yet, I want to invite you to gently close your eyes and now allow yourself to connect to the natural rhythm of your breath. If this is possible for your body, connect to a nostril breath, in and out through your nose. Take just a moment to regulate your breathing here... As you're noticing that sensation, the rise and fall of your chest, let's all take in some breaths together in a sequence of three. Beginning your inhale through your nose—one, two, three, four. Hold the breath, one, two, three, four. Release the breath through your nose, two, three, four. And hold the breath at the bottom, two, three, four. Begin your inhale here again through your nose, two, three, four. Hold it at the top, two, three, four. Exhale through your nose slowly, two, three, four. Hold at the bottom, two, three, four. Beginning your inhale through your nose counting silently for yourself inside. Hold the breath. Release through your nose. Hold at the bottom. We now begin a gentle inhale-exhale through your nose at your own pace…
Now begin to notice your body, your breath, naturally coming in and out. Allow your body to relax even further into this present moment. Loosen your jaw, relax your mouth. Move your neck slowly from side to side. Release your shoulders and let them drop. Release your stomach, relax your thighs. Relax your knees. Relax your toes. Bringing your attention back to the rise and the fall of your chest.
And now bring your awareness into the center of your heart. The beautiful heart beating in your chest. Imagine yourself in the center of your own heart. Some may notice a vibrant green color beginning to emerge from the heart chakra anahata. And just be in that feeling for a moment without any judgment, noticing any sensations that are present in your heart. Noticing anything that may want to be released before you begin this new year. What's happened in 2022? What happened in 2021? What happened in 2020? What can you lay down and release from your life and experiences before this new year begins? Where would you like to soften inside of that heart, inside of this body? Set that intention and send love to it here.
And as you sit inside your beautiful heart and notice it beginning to stretch itself open even more. Noticing the relaxed feeling you feel inside of your body, noticing that beautiful, supportive, vibrant, vital breath that fills those lungs and circulates life through all of your being. I want to invite you to imagine who you'd like to become and how you'd like to feel in 2023. Outside of any societal goals, outside of day to day experiences, a zoomed out view of your life and yourself. A life of endless possibilities and a life of endless opportunities for choice making. Noticing yourself here. Focus on the feeling that you'd like to feel inside of your body mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Notice how you'd like to feel in the world and in your life, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. What is the deeper truth of who you are, and how you're meant to share that, that you have not had access to yet, that others have not been able to experience from you yet? What is craving to be birthed in your life? And as you hold this knowing, focus on the feeling inside of you and let the universe send you the exact thing that will make you feel this way. Connect into your breath, hold here for the next two minutes with this deep wisdom that is emerging inside of you.
And now coming back into the present moment, releasing all thoughts that have come up. Holding in your heart space for the highest good to emerge in your life. Allow yourself to wiggle in your seat, bringing yourself back to life a little. Perhaps you want to sway back and forth. Gently wiggle your toes and your fingertips. Connect to a breath pattern that feels natural and nourishing. And if it feels comfortable, allow yourself to bring your right hand to heart center, letting the palm of your hand, the bottom half, connect right in the center of your chest. And in this moment, allow yourself to birth for yourself what your intention for 2023 is. Don't judge it, don't force it. Allow it to emerge naturally. Saying internally or aloud “my intention for 2023 is…” And sending love and light to that intention. If it feels comfortable, you can bring both hands to heart center in prayer position, your palms touching. Taking a gentle bow for yourself and all that are listening at the exact moment that you are now. The light in me recognizes and honors the light in you. Namaste. [Exhale]
Dr. Joy: So beautiful. Thank you so much, Devi. It feels like such a beautiful practice to enter us into a new year.
Devi: Thank you. And whatever intention came up for each person in this meditation, please write it down. Anything that came up, just grab a pen, grab a journal as you finish this episode, and jot down any and everything that came into your mind, even if it doesn't make sense.
Dr. Joy: Where can we stay connected with you, Devi? What is your website as well as any social media handles you'd like to share?
Devi: Hit me up on the gram @DeviBrown. All my socials are the same, Devi Brown, and my website, I actually just relaunched it so I have some goodies on there. DeviBrown.com, I've added some blogs, you can also check out my podcast there and everywhere. My podcast is called Dropping Gems. It is a wellness-based podcast where I talk to people of all walks of life. We talk about everything that is a part of the wellness experience, from higher consciousness, to psychedelics, to sex, to healing, to intergenerational trauma. You can check out my show, iHeart Black Effect Network-Dropping Gems.
Dr. Joy: Perfect and we'll be sure to include all of that in the show notes. Thank you so much for joining us again today, Devi. I really appreciate it.
Devi: Thank you, Dr. Joy. Always a pleasure to be with you. Thank you for your work in the world.
Dr. Joy: Thank you, likewise. I'm so glad Devi was able to join us again this week. To learn more about her and her work, visit the show notes at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/session287. And don't forget to text two of your girls right now and tell them to check out the episode as well. A gentle reminder that we're taking the next few weeks off to enjoy the holidays and spend time with family and friends. But we'll be back with our first episode of our January jumpstart series on January 4.
If you're looking for a therapist in your area, check out our therapist directory at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/directory. And if you want to continue digging into this topic or just be in community with other sisters, come on over and join us in the Sister Circle. It's our cozy corner of the internet designed just for black women. You can join us at Community.TherapyForBlackGirls.com. Thank y’all so much for joining me again this week. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all in the new year. Take good care.