The theme for this month’s practice series is the REBEL.
Many of you may not be old enough to remember the Clarence Thomas hearings, but I do. I believed Anita Hill when she spoke up about being sexually harassed, and today I view her as a wise rebel. That was the beginning of a long conversation that needed to be spoken out loud. She did it with such grace and dignity.
I recently had drinks with a friend who told me she was sexually harassed at work, in front of her co-workers, and after she reported it, no action was taken. On top of that, no one else said anything. In 2016!! That’s a full 25 years after Anita Hill had to put up with invasive questioning from the 14 men on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Why, I wonder? Why are people afraid to act?
Unfortunately, it can still seem rebellious to speak one’s truth fully and stand up for women—including yourself. I like to think I am constantly striving to become the wise rebel. And yet, what does that really mean? The wise rebel springs from our activist self, the one who sees the world as it could be and is ready to roll up her sleeves and do the work it takes to love it there. The wise rebel knows when to speak up and when to listen, when to act and when to be still.
Here is a practice you can do in the moment, any time you need to speak up on behalf of justice and truth. If possible, you may want to leave the situation for a moment to be in a private space and then return when you’re ready.
- Stand tall, with your feet hip-width distance apart, or you can do this sitting straight up straight in a chair. Feel your feet rooted into the earth, or if seated imagine your sit bones and heels firmly rooted down. Place your right hand on your heart and your left hand on your belly. Soften your gaze or close your eyes.
- Take 5 or 6 deep inhales through your nose and sigh them out through your mouth. Feel your belly rise and fall with your left hand. Feel your heart beating under your right hand.
- Bring your arms alongside your body, palms facing forward. Listen to your breath.
- Feel yourself stand taller, your feet rooted into the earth in this version of mountain pose—a pose to improve stability and confidence.
- Here in this place of stillness and listening is your truth and compassion. This is the place to speak up from.
- Now, whether you are speaking up on behalf of yourself or another woman, allow your words to come from this place of rebel truth. If at any point you notice an edge of judgement or fear in your voice, practice returning to that place of stillness, with your feet rooted into the earth and your breath full. (Note: This can be a VERY challenging practice, so be VERY kind to yourself. You are reworking millennia of old tapes and programming.)
Image of Anita Hill by the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law on Flickr (CC).