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Mindful ActivityPermission To Take Up Space

Permission To Take Up Space

Your thoughts, feelings, and actions are valid and worthy. Therapist Jor-El Caraballo guides you in an exercise to take up space because you deserve to be wherever you are.

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Taking up space. It's a concept that's thrown around a lot in self-care and self-help circles. But when you're black, and especially if you're black and living in America, taking up space can feel like a daily challenge. Your instinct might be to stay quiet or keep your head down. You might want to make yourself smaller or apologize. Sometimes it can feel scary or even paralyzing, and it's human to feel that way. There's even a term for it that might resonate with you, "Racial battle fatigue." Racial battle fatigue was coined by critical race theorist, William Smith in 2008. And it borrows from the mental health impacts of literally being on a battlefield. Smith's research showed that race related stress can lead to mental, emotional, and physical strain on people of color. Some of those symptoms include stress, anxiety, and a decrease in self-confidence and self-worth. When you're constantly facing explicit racism, or racial microaggressions, it takes a toll. It gets easy to feel like your world isn't safe. As a black man, I feel the impact of this toll too. In these moments, it's easy to forget that we have agency. We have the power to stand up for ourselves, and one way to do that is by giving ourselves permission to take up space freely, even if the world around us won't. When you take up space, you are reminding yourself that your thoughts, feelings, and actions are valid and worthy, that you're someone who can make a difference, that you can advocate for your needs, and that's powerful. There are so many different ways to take up space. You can take up physical space in a room or at a protest, fighting to end injustices. You can also take up space with your words by opening up about your thoughts, feelings, and ideas, and it all comes from a place of knowing and trusting your power. We can check in and remind ourselves of that right now. If you can, make sure there's some space around you to move a little. Gently close your eyes if you'd like, or lower your gaze softly. Take a deep breath in and let it out. Get settled and find a position that's comfortable for you. Once you have, take another deep breath in and out. Notice any tension you might be carrying in your neck, jaw, shoulders. Let it go with a deep breath in again and shake it all out on that exhale. And we're going to do some small movements now. Everybody is different, so just do what's comfortable or accessible for you. Keep breathing deeply and slowly start to raise your arms up to shoulder height. Stretch them out from the top of your shoulders all the way through the ends of your fingertips. And continue up until your arms are above your head. Interlace your fingers and maybe take one good final stretch up towards the sky. Breathing in and let them slowly fall...


TypeMindful Activity
Duration10 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

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  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

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